With just six days left to enter Picture This, a global video competition for the planet, we talk to judge Cynthia Yue. Cynthia is the UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations and an honors student studying International Affairs at George Washington University. Cynthia has been passionate about advocating global citizenship, human rights, and youth empowerment from an early age — a commitment that has motivated her to serve as a lifelong advocate for the UN and its vital work.
Hi! First of all please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your role as UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations.
I'm Cynthia Yue, a proud first-generation American and the 10th UNA-USA Youth Observer to the UN! In my role, I represent U.S. youth at the United Nations and create year-long youth engagement programs to connect young people with global affairs. Reduced inequalities, sustainability and mental health have all been top priorities during my term. I feel so honored and grateful to have worked with millions of youth from across the globe and to speak about these issues in a BBC World documentary, at the White House, on Capitol Hill, and during the UN General Assembly. All in all, what I've seen over nearly a decade of grassroots work is that young people are the greatest change-makers of our time, and they are uniquely contributing to making the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality for all – including in the Picture This competition!
How do you use your content to inspire action and change, both on a global and local level?
I use my content to educate American youth on domestic and international affairs related to the UN's work. At a local level, I've discussed the ways that global topics such as SDG 2, Zero Hunger, have affected my community in Tennessee. Nationally, I've developed and launched content with the UNA-USA, including a Social Justice Series, a national Case Competition, plus a Space Innovation and Advocacy series.
On an international scale, I've used my platform to highlight all 17 SDGs at global conferences and decision-making spaces. In short, I amplify the people and issues that need to be highlighted. In that sense, every single young person is a Youth Observer. Each person in Generation Z inspires action and change through content creation and advocacy, and we all play an invaluable role in shaping a more sustainable future through galvanizing and inspiring others in our communities and across the globe.
We’re asking entrants to submit short-form videos that interpret one or more of the eight chosen SDGs. What are your tips for communicating complex issues in an engaging, dynamic way?
Tell us a story! Why does this SDG matter to not only you but also your community and the world? Once you have the "why" down, present your case! In your video, focus on the content over the production quality of your video. At the end of the day, we want to hear the message told from your own voice and perspective; tell the audience distinct, actionable next steps on what we can do to take action on the SDG you have chosen.
What do you feel video can communicate that other media can’t?
Tying back to the previous question, this competition is a direct opportunity for grassroots advocates and UN supporters to voice their ideas and opinions on the SDGs! This is a platform for all participants to showcase their skills, and with that, it's a way for people to tell their own stories without any restrictions and with a guarantee that they will be heard in some capacity.
What experience, expertise and skills will you draw upon when judging submissions in this year’s Picture This?
I've been a judge in several capacities, including in an international sustainability video competition from the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, the UNA-USA's initiatives such as the Case Competition on UNICEF innovation, and intercollegiate debate tournaments. Through these experiences, I've seen a wide range of perspectives on pressing global issues and have worked to objectively scrutinise proposals and submissions based on the content and quality of each proposal. I can't wait to see this year's Picture This submissions!
What criteria will you keep in mind when looking through the entries?
I look for adherence to the prompt, urgency, a distinct voice, and a clear call to action. Other than that, I'd encourage all participants to get as creative as possible – if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million!