The Future Generation debuts at Philadelphia’s WHC Celebration

By Divy Agnihotri and Layla El Tannir

The Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) hosted the 6th Annual World Heritage City Celebration earlier this month, drawing elements from the past and adapting to the current circumstances of a global pandemic. Funds raised from the celebration help GPA continue its work on the World Heritage City Project, particularly through building awareness, developing education programs, continuing preservation efforts, and extending Philadelphia’s global reach. 

The 2021 Co-chairs Alan Greenberger and Reverend Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake shared the stage with the Future Generation, a new addition to the Celebration. Both Greenberger and Rev. Marshall-Blake worked with the Executive Director of GPA, Zabeth Teelucksingh, and Board Chair of GPA, Robert McNeil, to identify two global individuals who were familiar with the work of the World Heritage Project that could reach a younger audience, but more importantly, work to further the goals of the World Heritage City Project.

The 2021 Future Generation co-chairs, Divy Agnihotri and Layla El Tannir are GPA alumni, who completed six-month internships and contributed to the Emerging International Journalists Program. Together they represent five countries, speak several languages, completed degrees from Philadelphia universities, and are passionate about Philadelphia being the first World Heritage City in America and the responsibility that comes along with it. 

Together, the co-chairs and GPA leadership worked on a strategy to engage with the digital generation. Leading up to the celebration, Agnihotri and El Tannir partnered with current GPA interns to launch GPA on TikTok, with curated videos on several World Heritage sites across the city. This project was designed with the intention of creating engaging educational content to be used across multiple platforms, that can be adapted by and for the generations to follow. The hope was to start with a mix of sites that don’t always make Philadelphia’s highlight reel yet played a part in the designation it was awarded. The group also introduced a discounted rate for students and young professionals to attend the celebration. 

The theme of investing in future leaders did not stop there. Moderator Kristen Welker focused on mentorship in the virtual fireside chat with the 2021 honoree, Andrea Mitchell, a mentor to Kristen, and many others that have worked at or are currently part of the NBC family. Mitchell gave the audience some insight on her path to bringing quality journalism to the forefront at a young age and reaffirmed the importance of investing in the next generation, particularly in women in the newsroom and in leadership roles, “we need diversity on the air, behind the scenes, to make our newsrooms and management look like America….it makes decision making much more informed and more sensitive to where the country is,” she said.  Mentorship is key to connecting with and shaping the future generation, and Mitchell’s statement rings true to the world around us. 

World heritage helps thread the importance of the past, with the challenges of the current, while extending a hand to the future. This celebration confirmed that Philadelphia’s World Heritage City designation will be bonding generations together for years to come.