International student presents at United Nations conference

Mark David Magat/The Skyline View
Franck Yao getting interviewed on March 9, 2018.

An international Skyline College student was invited to speak at a United Nations (UN) Conference and won the Outstanding Delegate Award. Franck Yao originally grew up in Ivory Coast of West Africa where he was inspired to at least make a difference in his home.

“Back home I grew up in an area that most of the people in my community and other communities don’t really expect anything positive,” Yao said. “There are communities that are exposed to human trafficking, drugs, prostitution and other bad stuff.”

Yao attended the UN conference, “Future We Want Model United Nations: a Global Initiative for Young Leaders” (FWWMUN) Conference, on March 2018 in Manhattan, New York where his goal was to present and promote his campaign in order for the UN to pick it and to connect with other investors.

Yao revealed that his presentation contained a large audience and he would later know if he would have any potential investors in his campaign.

Even though this was started while he was in high school, the program became famous around the country where it spread. The program conducted activities such as forming a club in his high school that was committed to making a difference by cleaning up their communities and a few other activities such as becoming better public speakers. The club had soon expanded to other schools and the inspiration to address certain stereotypes were based on gender relations and committing his campaign to helping people who are refugees and in poverty who have the same issue in common of not finishing their education, where Yao revealed that he could relate to.

“The area was named ‘no light-no hope’ so basically when you leave there you don’t believe in any future,” Yao reflected. “You don’t think that you can do something positive…just because you come from this community.”

Since the campaign began as a club, Yao and his group would get funding by using Ivory Coast as a tool since it’s a tourist spot where they acted as guides to guide tourists, which in return would pay them.

Soon, the U.S. Embassy noticed it and began to support the project and Yao himself for a college education program called EducationUSA.

He was able to lead the program for two years. The counselor of EducationUSA program met Yao and had become his mentor. The program was located at the U.S. embassy where he met the San Mateo District Vice-Chancellor Eugene Whitlock. Whitlock was there while he was on tour marketing Skyline College at a student education fair where Yao was eventually became a youth ambassador.

Yao had received a full scholarship after he applied for the district scholarship for international students. The scholarship ,which is known to be extremely competitive, gave Yao the funding to have his tution paid for his education where he entered Skyline in 2016.

“The UN was choosing their youth ambassadors to congratulate them and to encourage them to keep doing what they’re doing now,” Yao stated. “I was selected to represent my country…and I’m representing my school too, Skyline.”

Doctor Regina Stanback Stroud of College had heard about Yao’s accomplishment and personally talked about how he got there and what was to come.

“The selection of Franck Yao to represent Skyline College and South Africa at the United Nations Youth Summit is a real testament to the way in which Skyline College is committed to empowering and transforming a global community of learners,” Stroud said.

Stroud also stated Skyline was proud that Franck was selected and that he also received multiple distinctions and encouragements from Secretary-General António Guterres.

Yao was especially grateful and wanted to send thanks to Stroud, Wisseme Bennani, the official international student manager, and Whitlock.

During the last spring break, Yao was able to travel back to his home country as a student ambassador for the district to promote Skyline College and recruit students for this fall 2018.

“Growing up I always had the idea to do something to my community and to do something for my country,” Yao said. “But it started with my community first and I feel like if I didn’t, nobody would do it because nobody would think about it, so this is my motivation.”