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From Belgium to UK: A Recap of the 2012 Consuls Ball, Boston’s Global Gala

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The United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNA-GB) hosted our annual Consuls Ball – an elegant, high-spirited international event that gives tribute to the city’s global leaders of today while benefiting the global leaders of tomorrow – at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston on this past Friday evening, April 27. Nearly 400 guests and 34 consuls who facilitate business, trade, education, and other linkages in the state came out to celebrate the international community in Boston. The day was also a celebration of Governor Deval Patrick’s proclamation of April 27 as the official Consuls Day in Massachusetts.

The Consuls Ball commenced as the 34 members of the Consular Corps of Boston in attendance, from Belgium to the UK, processed into the packed Ballroom for acknowledgment. A toast was given by Dr. Arese Carrington, UNA-GB Board Vice President, recognizing the lasting economic and cultural impact of the Corps, which now numbers almost 60 Consulates in Boston, or nearly one third of UN Member States.

“Today, so-called ‘democratic space’ has expanded to all corners of the world; a development never witnessed before in the history of mankind,”shared Ambassador Kazuo Kodama, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, who gave keynote remarks at the Ball.  “Yet, one of the most difficult challenges confronting the UN at this juncture is how to assist countries in transition in rooting democracy and the rule of law in their home soil… I can provide full assurances that Japan is committed to extending our continued support in cooperation with the efforts of the international community at large.”  See Ambassador Kodama’s full remarks here.

The night had a special focus on Japan, with the Ball falling at the end of the first week of the new nonstop flight linking Boston to Tokyo and the rest of Asia, an event certain to extend Boston’s global footprint and strengthen economic and cultural ties not only between Boston and Japan, but between all of New England and Asia.  The Ball also coincided with the Cherry Blossom Centennial, as well as the one year marker of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan.  Along with Ambassador Kodama’s remarks, the night showcased the best of Japanese culture, from Taiko drumming to stunning Ikebana centerpieces to sushi and a special Cherry Blossom Cosmo.  The night was capped by a raffle drawing of a dream trip on the new JAL Dreamliner direct flight to Tokyo (retail value $5,000), which was won by Calvin Williams, resident of Arlington.   Roy Chase,  of Hyannisport, was the other lucky winner of our second raffle drawing – a gorgeous 18 Karat White Gold Pearl and Diamond bracelet (retail value $2,500) donated by Shreve, Crump and Low and designed by Mastoloni Pearls.

Not only did the Consuls Ball recognize current global leadership, but it also raised money for the future global leaders in Boston area schools, who are preparing to live and work in an ever more globalized world.  The Consuls Ball supports UNA-GB’s Model UN programs, which teach 6th-12th grade students in local public schools to think critically about complex global issues, increase their understanding of diversity and the world beyond our borders, and provide them with conflict resolution and public speaking skills.

“[Model UN] is an opportunity to have a voice, to jump out of your comfort zone, and most importantly take that experience into the future such as in college, the working place, and society in general”,shared Stephanie Thermora, a senior at Boston Latin Academy and active Model UN participant.  “Every student should have an opportunity to participate in a Model UN program because every student has in something they can share with the world and the capability to change the world.”

In the 2011-2012 school year, close to 3,000 students — more than half from urban schools — participated in nearly 100 schools throughout the Greater Boston area.

The evening’s events were closed with a final toast by our fearless Board President, Richard Golob, in recognition of the next generation of global leaders, our youth participants in Model UN.  It was a beautiful night of international celebration and support, and we are deeply grateful for all the support and energy provided by our sponsors, table hosts, guests and volunteers!

See photos from the Reception and Dinner Program.  You can also see our coverage in the Boston Globe’s PartyLines section.  And check back soon for a video recap!

We hope you can join us in April 2013 for the next Consuls Ball!

-UNA-GB staff

A UNited response to Japan Earthquake

Five days after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s north-east coast at 2:46 p.m. local time, the official death toll is now more than 4,300. More than 8,000 people are still missing, and half a million are homeless. Hundreds of national and international rescue teams are leading the relief effort.

Friday’s earthquake in Japan was the country’s strongest recorded quake. It hit north-east of the main island of Honshu; its epicenter was undersea, about 400 kilometers northeast of the Japanese capital, Tokyo. The quake triggered a powerful subsequent tsunami that inundated towns, villages and farmlands along the coast and devastated dozens of coastal communities. The devastation is of such magnitude that it is hard to imagine some of the communities ever being rebuilt. Town after town has been wiped away.

Source: freshnessmag.com

Now, Japan is facing another frightening reality — the possibility of a radioactive leak stemming from a second reactor at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Since the earthquake knocked out the plant’s cooling systems over the weekend, the crisis at the Fukushima plant has mounted. The first three reactors have already exploded due to build up of hydrogen gases. The repeated releases of different amounts of radiation — some large, some small — are cause for concern.  (For the latest news and updates, check here).

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his sorrow on Friday: “I want to express my deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the Japanese people and Government, and most especially to those who lost family and friends in the earthquake and subsequent tsunami…” Mr. Ban said the UN would do all it could to mobilize humanitarian assistance and disaster risk reduction teams as soon as possible.

A United Nations disaster team arrived in Japan two days ago, and local officials have asked the world body to dispatch a team of nuclear safety experts as emergency operations continue in the wake of Friday’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. The United Nations has also called an emergency meeting to discuss possible solutions to Japan’s deepening nuclear crisis.

According to the UN, a seven-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team will set up an on-site operations center to help Japanese authorities disseminate accurate and timely information on the disaster and the emergency efforts. The team of specialists will travel to affected areas in the days ahead to assess the humanitarian needs, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). They will also assist the Japanese Government in providing advice on incoming international relief goods and services.

Even though Boston is close to 7,000 miles away from Japan, there are ways for YOU to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Please consider making a donation through UNICEF, The World Food Programme, or The UN Foundation. Every contribution can help make a difference. Consider donating today and please stay tuned for additional ways to get involved as the relief efforts develop!

-Hanna

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