Camp in the City: Exploring Model UN One Week at a Time

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We welcome all levels of Model UN experience for our international security week.

Harvard University has been home to a unique camp this summer Typically, the words “summer camp” summon images of roasting marshmallows, canoeing and other woodsy activities. And while all these activities are fun, UNAGB is offering a camp that is just as entertaining with the bonus of being educational!  Our Model UN camps are designed to allow students to debate, develop speeches and prove that they have what it takes to be the global leaders of the future. Of course, there are the added bragging rights of students being able to say they have spent a week in some of Harvard’s finest classrooms!

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Our camps mix education with fun throughout the week!

Model UN is more than just an activity where you pretend to represent a country for a day, and our UNAGB camp certainly proves this. In addition to teaching students the basics of parliamentary procedure and position papers, our camp also dives into improving public speaking and research skills. Additionally, we host guest speakers to show our campers different types of careers and options after high school. It is unbelievable to watch our students end the week in an all-day conference that where they demonstrate the information they learned throughout the week with increased confidence.

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The week ends with a Model UN conference, complete with required business dress.

There are currently two weeks of camp left that still have a few remaining spots that students can sign up for. Our International Security week is open to all students entering grade 6 through incoming college freshmen. We welcome all levels of MUN experience, including those who have never attended a conference before. This camp will run from July 27th to July 30th.

Our Advanced Diplomacy week is for the Model UN delegates who have had previous experience, but want to improve their ability to debate and think on their feet. We will provide a variety of crisis simulations for a fast-paced week, along with lectures and public speaking exercises. This camp will take place August 3rd through August 7th.

Students can sign up for the International Security Week here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/myevent?eid=15571211914

And Advanced Diplomacy here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vacation-institute-in-global-leadership-summer-2015-advanced-diplomacy-tickets-15571242004

-Bridget I.

Photo Credits: Joy Cohen

The Greek Debt Crisis: What You Need To Know

Since 2009, Greece has been in the news for continual financial problems. The ongoing crisis originated when Greece was struggling to pay off a 300 billion euro debt, and since then has affected the global economy in numerous ways. Over the past five years Greece has been working with the rest of the European Union and the Greek citizens to make deals and set up repayment plans in an effort to pay off the large sum. Though Greece has gone through multiple bailouts and write-offs, the nation continues to suffer through financial difficulties, political uncertainties and staggering unemployment rates.

Recently, Greece became the first developed country to miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund. The payment had already been delayed once to give Greece extra time to raise the money, but in early July, Greece found itself unable to make the necessary payment. The government was left with a choice: attempt to make another austerity deal, or seek other options to repay their debt. In a well-publicized referendum, the decision making was turned over to the people. The Greek people held the voting power on whether to accept another international bailout or to seek a new and completely uncertain path.

Celebrations after the “No” vote won. Photo courtesy of International Business Times

Lead by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ public declaration that he would not vote to accept another bailout, 60% of Greeks voted “no” on July 5th. Many Greeks interviewed claimed they wanted more control over their country’s finances, and that bailouts had not proven effective in the past. “I voted no because in all these previous years nothing has changed and nothing has been improved. In fact, it’s only been the opposite. It has been a struggle without any outcome,” Georgia Anastasiadou told The Guardian. 

For many, the “No” vote was the lesser of two evils. There really wasn’t a solid and clear choice, as Greeks politics and the leaders’ campaigns muddied the water when it came to what the people were actually voting for. There is some debate over how much detail the people were given about the potential consequences of each vote.  As this vote has put Greece at odds with the unified European Union, it has been turned into a symbol of independence and democracy. Greeks prided themselves on making a decision to be independent, but this nationalist mindset may have ignored the fact that the real issue is the economy.

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Greek independence and the people’s right to democracy was a huge part of the “No” votes. Photo courtesy of The Financial Times Blog

It is uncertain where Greece will head now. Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister, has resigned following the national referendum. Greece’s “no” vote may or may not result in the country leaving the Euro zone in the coming months, although it appears that many efforts are being taken by both the EU and Greece to avoid that conclusion. Greece’s banks have either been closed or have restricted cash withdrawals, as there is a shortage of Euro bills. Greece has pledged to continue talks with its creditors in the hopes of reaching a more permanent solution.

Sunday will bring a meeting of 28 European Union leaders to discuss and hopefully come up with ways to resolve the crisis. The European Central Bank is continuing emergency loans to Greece to keep the banks afloat and running, but this is not a long term solution. It is likely that another missed payment will result in the end of these emergency loans. In order to salvage its place in the Euro-Zone, Greece desperately needs to scrape together money and repay its debts.

-Bridget I.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17373216

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/06/europe/greece-how-did-we-get-here/

http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/05/news/economy/greece-crisis-referendum-results/

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/international/greece-debt-crisis-euro.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/06/greek-feferendum-no-vote-why-young-people

An Intern’s Trip Around Europe

One of my all time favorite quotes says, “The world is an open book and those who do not travel read only one page.”  When I first read this quote, I told myself that I would like to read as many pages as I can. So I applied it to my life. Growing up, I was always an adventurous child. I was very curious to learn more about the world, people, food, different cultures, landscapes, and all the history. As I grew, I had the privilege of traveling to a few countries. Through that, I set my bar high and told myself that I would travel around the world one day. I just didn’t know when I would start.

I have never been a New Years resolution fanatic. I get bored reading all the Facebook posts every December/January about the endless lists of resolutions that my friends make (don’t tell them)! Just 3 years ago, I told myself that I will join the “New Year’s resolutions boat” in a fun and positive way and start fulfilling my wish of traveling around the world. I set a goal and told myself that every year, I have to travel to at least 3 countries that I have never been to, and that was the beginning of my journey. I have always been very fond of Europe, the culture, the dress style, the men, the accents, the vibe, you name it! When I planned my travels, I figured i would start exploring Europe.

Europe is a very beautiful continent with wonderful people who are so friendly. If you live in United States, you may find Europe to be very expensive but the experience you’ll get is worth every penny. Among all the European countries I’ve visited, below are a few of my favorites and what’s special about them.


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First, Norway is a must visit country! The history, the culture, the food,and its nature (not to mention the beautiful men) are among many reasons why I love Norway. You will feel safe, fall in love with the people and cities, and get lost in the astonishingly beautiful nature that it offers. While I was there, I took a train ride from Oslo all the way to the world’s largest ski jump area called Holmenkollen where you get the views of the whole city of Oslo. I all got a chance to see the deepest lake in Europe, Hornindalsvatnet!

London3Secondly, is there anybody out there who does’t like the British accent? Because I totally do and that is one of my reasons why I love England! I have to say that London is one of the cites that I have been to that has the most upbeat and amazing vibe. It just makes you want to get up and go. I love everything about London, except for the unpredictable weather! But London is one reason why I own a pair of rain boots and a raincoat because I want to be prepared every time I visit. Oh, and I love to jump in puddles so the English weather is not an issue anymore!  Last but not least, the transportation system is so much fun. Riding the tube almost makes me feel like I’m a Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. The voice announcements are just so delicious for the ears to hear!

IcelandIceland has another-worldly beauty that will keep your head turning from every direction and point you are at. I am big into nature and I like to visit scenic places. I was amazed at how much beauty Iceland has to offer. From the city of Reykjavik, to the waterfalls, and geysers; this country is a must see! The Vikings and their history, not mentioning the food that you can eat such as horse steak and shark! And Icelandic man once said to me “the world call it horse and shark, we call that food.” I tried horse steak while sitting in a historic Icelandic restaurant that had viking sculptors, hangings, and decorations all over. Not sure I would have it again, but how cool is it that I got to try it at all?!

LuxembLastly, Luxembourg is the first European country I first fell for, my first love (as I call it). If you like clean cities and are kind of allergic to large crowds, then Luxembourg is one of the places you must visit. You will get a breath of fresh air that you get from its beautiful nature, without worrying about breathing in carbon dioxide from other people around you. I do not recall seeing a single bit of litter while walking all over the cities of Luxembourg. It is spotless!


So there are my favorite European countries. What are yours and why? Hopefully I get to travel a lot more in the coming months and will be able to update you on my new favorites!

Welcome Summer Interns!

Meet our amazing team for the summer! They have already been hard at work in the office and are ready to kick off the MUN camp next week.


Joon Choi, EducationJOON

Hometown: Princeton, NJ
School: Boston University, graduating in 2017
Major: International Relations with a concentration in Foreign Policy/Security Studies focusing in Asia. Minoring in European Studies

Favorite Place You Have TraveledSpain
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Intended Career: Involved with UN and Foreign Policy development or Diplomacy

Fun Fact or Hobby: I started playing soccer and cello both at the age of 5 and am still pursuing them today at BU.

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Jessika Nebrat, Education0

Hometown: Wichita, KS
School: Sophomore at Harvard University
Major: Government

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: Barcelona, Spain
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: My dream vacation would be to take several months and just travel around Europe, staying with friends, getting to visit historic sites, and getting to know a bit about the culture and essence of each place I’d visit. I would also try to plan challenges and adventures along the way, like biking through Ireland, skiing in the Alps, or rock-climbing in France.
Intended Career: I hope to work for the American Foreign Service, as a diplomat or ambassador to other nations. I would also like to work with developing parts of the world in making their advances in a sustainable manner, and in one that improves the lives of the respective nation’s citizens.

Fun Fact or Hobby: I love exploring the outdoors, through hiking, skiing, rock-climbing, and more. Some of my favorite adventures have been hiking up a mountain in 7ft. of snow to a yurt, cliff-jumping in Guatemala, and climbing an active volcano to make s’mores at the top.

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Joy Cohen, Education & Graphicsunnamed

Hometown: New Haven, Connecticut
School: Senior at Boston University
Major: International Relations with a concentration in Cultural Anthropology & Regional Politics in the Middle East & North Africa

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: The Amazon Rainforest in Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: Cairo, Egypt or Mumbai
Intended Career: Working in resource attainment in schools abroad

Fun Fact or Hobby: My hobbies include writing, web design, consuming coffee, and yoga

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Chloe Singer, EducationIMG_0767.JPG

Hometown: Arlington, MA
School: Sophomore at Skidmore College
Major: Government

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: I loved going to Budapest, Hungary. It’s such a beautiful city with a long and interesting history.
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: I’d love to go to Dubai!
Intended Career: Consultant for Political Media

Fun Fact or Hobby: I’m very interested and passionate about American politics and have worked with other students and groups on policy projects at the state level. I also work for a representative on Beacon Hill.

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Vineet Chandra, EducationVINEET

Hometown: Concord, MA
School: Sophomore at University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Major: Economics, Minor in Computer Science

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: Hilton Head, SC
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: Road trip across Europe/Coast-to-Coast USA
Intended Career: Lawyer
Fun Fact or Hobby: I am a huge car guy!

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Rayan Atallah, unnamedEducation

Hometown: Tyre, Lebanon
School: Sophomore at Northeastern University
Major: International Affairs, due to all of my travels

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: All my life, I have been living in different countries, which has shaped my interests in many ways. Out of all the places I’ve been to, my favorite city is Cairo, Egypt.
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: One city I’d really like to visit is Berlin, Germany.
Intended Career:  I hope in the future to work for an organization like the United Nations or the World Bank, as I hope for a job where I travel often

Fun Fact or Hobby: A hobby of mine is playing bass guitar.

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Daniela Sànchez-GalvisDANIELA, Education

Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia
School: Senior at Boston University
Major: Political Science and Sociology

Favorite Place You Have TraveledIstanbul, Turkey
Dream Vacation or Travel DestinationI would love to go to Thailand and Laos.
Intended Career: Either a diplomatic career with the Colombian Government, or non-profit work.

Fun Fact or Hobby: I am part of the varsity Women’s Golf Team at Boston University!

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Samantha PacorSam, Education

Hometown: I am from a small town called Wrentham, MA, which is south of Boston.
School: Junior at Boston University
Major: International Relations and Political Science, with a concentration in foreign policy and security studies.

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: My favorite place I have visited is the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It was so beautiful and we took a helicopter ride over the canyon.
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: I can’t wait to study abroad in London my junior year. I also would love to travel to New Zealand and Australia someday.
Intended Career: I hope to work in counterterrorism or possibly as a diplomat. Another goal of mine is to work for a think tank such as the Council on Foreign Relations researching security and the refugee crisis.

Fun Fact or Hobby: I am learning guitar and Italian this summer and want to learn a lot more languages in the future. I also love Boston sports and watching movies.

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Brianna Pintauro, EducationBrianna

Hometown: Fairfield, CT
School: Senior at Plymouth State University
Major: Political Science Minors: Spanish and Peace & Social Justice Studies

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: Munich, Germany
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: Bali, Indonesia
Intended Career: Working high up in the United Nations or being a U.S. Ambassador to a Latin American country

Fun Fact or Hobby: I have been to 15 different countries in the past 3 years.

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Bridget IrelandBRIDGET, Event Planning

Hometown: Moultonborough, NH
School: Sophomore at St. Lawrence University
Major: Global Studies and Environmental Studies

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: Florence, Italy
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: I hope to be able to travel around Europe, as Ireland, UK, Greece, and the parts of Italy I haven’t had a chance to visit are all on the bucket list. I also want to see New Zealand!
Intended Career: An NGO organization focused on women’s education or environmental issues.

Fun Fact or Hobby: I have studied French in high school, a semester of Italian last fall and am planning on taking Arabic this coming year. Although I’m not particularly good at languages my goal is to be able to be able to strike up a basic conversation!

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Zenzele Best11425174_10203146001049432_9203201985899846616_n, Programming Department
Hometown: Boston, MA
School: Junior at Bowdoin College
Major: Government and Legal Studies, with a concentration in International Relations

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: Costa Rica
Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: I’ve always weirdly wanted to visit Alaska.
Intended Career: I’m not entirely sure, but definitely something government related.

Fun Fact or Hobby: I’m studying abroad in Stockholm, Sweden this fall.

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DerekDerek Barros, Education Department
Hometown: Brockton, MA
School: Senior at Plymouth State University
Major: Double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice, with a minor in Sociology

Favorite Place You Have Traveled: I have done a good amount of traveling in my short 22 years of life but I would have to say my favorite destination is Costa Rica. Being inside of a valley the country is surrounded with wildlife, vegetation, and New York hustle and bustle. Once I got off the plane I felt the Costa Rican hospitality, everyone was happy and full of life. While in the city everyone you walk by says hi even though they know you are a tourist.

Dream Vacation or Travel Destination: My dream place to travel would be have the entire continent of Africa, I cannot choose one single country because I really want to experience Egypt, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Nigeria and Guinea Bissau. These countries hold so much culture and beauty that many people do not categorize usually as a “tourist attraction”. Africa has also been the source of much neglect, so it would be a great experience to see its beauty first hand.

Intended Career: My dream job would be a judge at the ICC. It would encompass both of my interests in helping people and worker as an attorney.
Fun Fact or Hobby: I like to design and make t-shirts on my free time.

Tragedy on the Yangtze

Monday was a disastrous day for an Eastern Star Cruise, as the ship was reported to have been caught in an unexpected storm and capsized on the way to the Three Gorges Dam. Rescuers are now searching for any remaining survivors and the bodies of the passengers. At this time, only 14 of the 456 people who were on the boat have been found alive. Many of the passengers on the ship were in their 60’s and 70’s, making it unlikely that any survivors will be found.

Rescue efforts near Nanjing on Tuesday.

Rescue efforts near Nanjing on Tuesday. Photo via Getty Images

It’s believe that a sudden storm was the cause of the vessel’s capsizing. Interviews from survivors reveal that the bad weather may have come on too quickly for crew members to send out a distress signal or evacuate passengers. Other boats on the river at the same time reported rain and fog, with most dropping anchor to wait out the bad weather. However, there may not have been enough time for the Eastern Star to react. Questions are still being raised to why the Eastern Star was the only ship among many on the busy river to have gone down.

China is being open and cooperative about discussing the disaster, although very controlling as to who is allowed at the scene. While Ministry of Transport spokesperson Xu Chengguang declared, “We will never shield mistakes and we’ll absolutely not cover up anything”, the government has instructed the press not to send their own reporters and instead use the information provided by officials. The Chinese government promises to investigate the scene of the accident and the surviving crew members thoroughly. The river and boat are currently off limits to outside and to the public. The captain and chief engineer, both among the survivors, have been detained after their rescue from the ship.

A survivor is rescued. Photo via Getty Images

A survivor is rescued. Photo via Getty Images

Families of the boat’s passengers are making their way to Jianli, where the coffins of those pulled from the ship are being stored. There is concern and reports that relatives of the missing are being ignored by Chinese officials. Family members have received little to no communication or instruction from the government. Many do not know whether their loved ones have been found or are still among the missing.  Over 60 bodies have been recovered at this point, and divers are still on the job. Everyone at UNAGB hopes the family members will receive information and closure soon.

-Bridget I.

2015 Consuls Ball – many perspectives

Consuls BallIn the lead up to our annual Consuls Ball this year, we have asked several people to write what they are most excited about for the gala – past interns, current interns, attendees, supporters, staff etc. As opinions come in, we will be updating this blog post, so read up every few days on what people have said, send us your thoughts and maybe you will be included in the next post!! Now that the Ball has passed, we also asked some to write about their experience and opinions about the evening. Happy reading!


A volunteer’s thoughts on the Ball

The Annual Consuls Ball is the biggest night of the year for the United Nations Association of Greater Boston — one of Boston’s most passionate and influential non-profit organizations. While the rest of the year is spent shaping the hearts and minds of thousands of young students through their Model UN programs, for this one magical night the UNAGB gets to gather its most steadfast and loyal supporters to celebrate their joint accomplishments. From the Consuls, to corporate sponsors, to individual donors and the general public — this is a night for all to collectively support the initiatives and educational programs of the UNAGB so that one day our youth can achieve a truly lasting international peace and prosperity. With such lofty but honorable goals, it only seems right that for one night we are able to kickback and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals who have all determined that organizations such as the UNAGB are vital to ensure our future leaders have the skills and know-how to engage with each other on an international level.

As a first-time volunteer and attendee at this year’s Consuls Ball, I was lucky enough to meet a class of individuals with whom I could share my personal adoration for the Model UN program. As a young student I was fortunate enough to participate in my high school’s chapter of Model UN. Here, I discovered a passion for international subject matters that has continued to guide my educational and vocational endeavors. As a recently graduated Master’s student in International Studies, it pains me to think how my life would have transpired had I not been introduced to the Model UN. Luckily, events such as the Annual Consuls Ball help to ensure that the UNAGB’s Model UN programs remain accessible to each and every student who possesses the desire to tackle our world’s most pressing international problems and develop solutions based on mutual cooperation and understanding. For those who have been attendees at the Ball and have listened to the testimonies of past and present Model UN students, it is easy to see the way these programs have changed the perspectives and attitudes of thousands of students in the Greater Boston area.

To give the night its proper glory, a large amount of name-dropping and grandeur has to be added. To begin, the Annual Consuls Ball is held in the historic Fairmont Copley Plaza inside its magnificent and regal ballroom. This year’s attendees included foreign dignitaries and Consuls from countries as diverse as South Korea, Sweden, and Colombia. Attendees were greeted with a welcome speech from UNAGB’s President Richard Golob and Boston’s Mayor Martin J. Walsh expressed his personal gratification for the UNAGB’s tireless efforts to broaden the minds of Boston’s youth. In addition to these honorable guests were attendees from across the globe, from India, to China, to South Sudan. Each and every attendee was unique in their own way — even us volunteers! To top off the night, the Beantown Swing Orchestra hit the stage as American Idol finalist John Stevens serenaded us with his sweet ragtime melodies. As the clock struck midnight and the Ball came to a close, I know that many departed with more than just the orchestra’s gleeful rhythms stuck in their heads. This year’s attendees were left with the knowledge that they had offered their tangible support for one of Boston’s most enduring and beneficial organizations and are forever a part of the UNAGB’s enduring legacy.

– Chelsea C.


An intern’s first night on the job

This summer I am so lucky to be interning with UNAGB. As soon as I heard about the organization, went on to the website, and saw the fantastic events and conferences this organization organizes I couldn’t wait to apply to be an intern. After being accepted for the summer, I was invited to help volunteer for the Consuls Ball as my first glance at the organization. Needless to say, I was thrilled for a chance to dress up and work at such a fancy event. Looking at the Facebook posts from previous years I could see that I would be attending an event that would be an amazing opportunity to meet the many people who were involved with UNAGB.

I was astonished by how absolutely beautiful the entire ball was. Having never been to Copley Plaza before, I loved the architecture. It was the perfect setting for what would be a very enjoyable night. I was also amazed at how smoothly everything went, mostly due to the dedication of the other volunteers who were there to help out. Many had been interns at UNAGB before, just as I am this summer. The fact that they were willing to come back and help with this event, even though their internships had been completed years ago for some, was a big clue that the work of this organization is very worthwhile.

As the guests started to arrive I enjoyed interacting with them and listening to how excited everyone was for the evening. Of course, one of my favorite parts was checking out everyone’s dresses. I have to say, all the guests looked fantastic. It was truly amazing to see everyone chatting with each other and telling stories. The atmosphere was so friendly and everyone I had the chance to talk with had interesting stories to share. After an absolutely delicious dinner, the live auction was a huge hit as everyone loved watching the energetic auctioneer. The night concluded with music from Beantown Swing Orchestra, and we all loved watching the couples dance and have a great time.

Looking back, I am so glad my first day at this internship was at the Consuls Ball. This was one of the best ways I can think of to see just how much of an impact this organization has on the Boston area. The generosity of the guests completely blew me away, both during the auction and afterward at the last call for donations. I can only imagine what a huge impact the results of this night will have on the students of this area. It was a whirlwind of a night, with so many different names, faces and conversations to remember. The number of people who came to the ball to support UNAGB amazed me. I am so grateful to be given a chance to be a part of such an enthusiastic and committed team who is capable of impacting so many lives.

– Bridget I.


An Intern’s Perspective on returning for the Ball

I have been involved with the United Nations Association of Greater Boston since September 2014, and I can honestly say that being a part of this community is one of the best decisions I have made since moving to Boston about a year and a half ago. I have been so impressed with the organization and cannot begin to say how excited I am to take part in this year’s Consul’s Ball. The impact that UNAGB has on the local community is unbelievable. More unbelievable is thinking about the world wide impact the thousands of youth served by UNAGB will have in the future. To me, taking part in the Consul’s Ball is more than just a fun night of food and fun with interesting people, it is an opportunity to ensure that UNAGB’s work is recognized and that their impact continues. Every year more than 5,000 Boston youth take part in Model UN programming. These students decide to spend their time learning about world issues, finding where their passions lie, and cultivating their skills to become agents of change. UNAGB facilitates an environment for opinions to be solidified beyond passion and backed up with facts, enabling Boston’s youth to be well informed citizens not only of this country but of the world. They are encouraged to see the other side, negotiate not just to win, but to find viable solutions that are best for all parties. The skills that students gain through model UN programming are irreplaceable and imperative in a world where issues regularly cross borders. Multilateral decision making is increasingly important. The value of arming our youth with the skills to navigate this changing global climate cannot be over stated. I am so proud to take part in the Consul’s Ball on May 9th to support UNAGB, the thousands of youth that are served through Model UN programs, and the world at large which stands to benefit.

-Leigha G.


An Intern’s Perspective on her first Ball

UNAGB’s Consul’s Ball is the one event I am most looking forward to attending this year. Not only is it exciting to be part of this big and positive event, but it is also exciting to know that I will have the opportunity to be among wonderful people who share the interest of bringing change to many communities and the world. Furthermore, I am looking forward to networking with people who have different backgrounds and come from different countries, as traveling is one of my passions.

Last fall, I was honored to have met and chatted with some consuls and an ambassador, at a UN Day Luncheon. The stories I heard from them were eye opening, and made me view the world differently. For example, the Irish Ambassador to United Nations told me how he worked with Irish Aid (a program that focuses on development in countries that are overseas) in the past. I have heard of Irish Aid growing up, and all the amazing things that they do, but I didn’t really know much about the organization. After that conversation, I went home and researched their website to learn more about the organization. I ended up learning about their online volunteering program that I can proudly say that I am now part of. Without UNAGB’s event, I would not have had a chance to meet with the ambassador, and neither would I have thought about Irish Aid and their volunteering program.

I have my ball gown, and glass slippers ready to dance, eat, and be part of this amazing event!

– Tabia K.

Boko Haram: Weakened? Active?

It’s been almost a year since the Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted by the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram. April 15 of this year will mark the anniversary of the gruesome day that the world, Nigerians, and especially the victims and their loved will always remember. Lives were taken, the promised futures were ended short, and people’s lives were shaken as a result of Boko Haram.

What is the update on Boko Haram?

Since the brutal kidnapping, the attention that Boko Haram received brought international awareness from many international organizations and countries. Although the group has been terrorizing Nigeria for over 5 years now, they made international headlines just from last year when they abducted the school girls. Looking back from April 2014, although Boko Haram is still on the rise and continue to commit gruesome acts, the former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan told BBC that the terrorist group is “getting weaker everyday.”

2177170260Some people may disagree that Boko Haram is getting “weaker everyday” considering all the news reports that have been centered about the group. Not mentioning their weekly continual attacks on Nigerians and other citizens of surrounding countries. In January this year, the group made the headlines again after they attacked a village in Nigeria, killing hundreds to thousands of people. Amnesty International referred this horrendous act as the “deadliest attack” that the group has carried so far. In a village called Kanu, the Islamist militants drove around the village firing bullets everywhere while the helpless residents run for their lives, seeking refuge in the bushes.  In the end, reports claimed that at least about 2,000 people were feared to be dead, with at least 30, 000 of them being displaced (CNN).

In February this year, BBC reported that Boko Haram attacked Chad, the first attack they have carried in the country. The Islamic militant group were seen crossing Lake Chad “in four motorboats and attacking a village.” More than 10 people were reported dead. Houses were destroyed until the Chadian army got involved and drove out the militants. Cameroon, Niger, and Chad are the new countries that the Islamic militant group has attacked recently. Again, the militant group has been covering the news with new attacks claimed almost every other day.

From March 7 through March 29, the militant group claimed attacks that left many people dead and some wounded. Suicide attacks were carried out, bombs were blasted,shots were fired, peoples lives lost, and many others left in fear as a result of this militant group. Just a few days ago on March 28th, Nigeria held presidential elections. Boko Haram islamists attacked some voters and left at least 11 people killed and some injured.

Looking at the reports from the last 3 months, is it true that the Islamic militant group is getting weaker and weaker (as former President Goodluck Jonathan stated)? Or is it because not many of their attacks are covering international news anymore? The former President of Nigeria may claim that Boko Haram is getting weaker, but the militant group seem to be very active and killing people everyday. As for the abducted girls,only less than 30 school girls escaped Boko Haram since April 14 last year,  It’s been almost a year, and over 200 school girls of them remain captured. Let us continue to fight for and #BringBackOurGirls. (Read our first post about #BBOG here)

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IWD 2015 – “Positively Beautiful” – a story of HIV in South Africa

JOIN US ON MARCH 6th for the annual International Women’s Day Celebration!

On March 8 of very year, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, where lives of women and girls are honored and celebrated. It is the day when we call everyone to take part in bringing attention to women’s rights and gender equality. This year, UNA-GB together with our amazing co sponsors is proud to bring yet another wonderful event to commemorate this wonderful day.

Every day, thousands of people are diagnosed of HIV/AIDS in Africa . And every day, thousands of people die of AIDS across the African continent.

The main challenge that most Africans face is disclosing to their friends and loved ones that they are HIV/AIDS positive. The stigma, the fear, and the rejection that most HIV/AIDS patients face when they are diagnosed with the disease is what kills them. In South Africa, the HIV/AIDS rate is higher in women comparing to that of men – almost twice the amount. Most women are at risk because they are very dependent on their male partners. Because of poverty and lack of employment, it is mostly males who support and provide for their families. While the women stay at home to cater for their families’ needs, their husbands may have multiple sexual partners therefore risking lives of their partners and family. Knowing that they do not provide for their families economically, most women stand little to no chance to mediate any choices that they may have that could prevent them from getting and spreading HIV/AIDS virus.

An additional burden is that women in South Africa have a very high risk of being raped, and a huge amount of these rapes go unreported. If unreported, women don’t get tested for HIV/AIDS and if infected, continue to spread the disease unknowingly. These sexual predators are thus never convicted and also spread the disease. Sexual assault is one of the main reasons why African women are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The highest rate of infection are found in women below the ages of 30; also the group that has the highest percentage of rape survivors. (Learn more here)

In this year’s event, UNA-GB will be screening Positively Beautiful, a story about life and love in the age of HIV. In the documentary, five HIV positive people are brought together through their HIV/AIDS status. As they lead their day to day lives, their bonds grow close through all the challenges they face, and through the love the receive and share.Positively Beautiful is a universal story of triumph and of friendships ability to help overcome life’s greatest challenges.

The panelists speaking after the movie are an impressive bunch. Douglas Brooks is the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy at the White House. Mary Tiseo is the Executive Director of South Africa Partners. Mickey Aramati is an Assistant Professor for Global Health at Tufts University School of Medicine. And we are pleased to have Diveena Cooppan with us especially, the filmmaker extraordinaire who brought this story to life on the big screen.

Please join us as we celebrate this day! Learn more and register here.

Friday, March 6, 2015
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
MCLE: 10 Winter Place, Boston

Thank you to our co-sponsors:

AAUW
BNID
Center for Women’s Health & Human Rights
Fenway Health
South Africa Partners
Tufts University Department of Public Health at the School of Medicine

Help us send a Sec-Gen to Geneva!

Model UN for me, has been a transformative experience. It has made me a better student, worker, and world citizen.

UNZ_pic2AGB is delighted to announce that our 2013 MSMUN Secretary-General from Northeastern University, Zunaira Malik has been invited to chair the Human Rights Council at Geneva’s International Model UN (GIMUN) conference. Zunaira’s extraordinary involvement with Model UN, past academic achievements, and drive for international relations make her a fantastic choice for this position. What an exciting opportunity!

Throughout her time at Northeastern, Zunaira was an active member on the Board of Directors for the International Relations Committee (IRC), which organizes the annual MSMUN conference with UNAGB. With the help of over twenty volunteers from the IRC, Zunaira organized an extremely successful 2013 MSMUN event for nearly 400 middle school students from around Boston. Her dedication to Model UN and passion for working with students stems from her own personal experiences.

Chairing the MSMUN conference was an incredibly rewarding experience. Seeing delegates tackling real-world problems, collaborating to come up with creative solutions while juggling their own convictions, and that too at such a young age, it’s really very inspiring. I remember going to bed that night feeling like the future will be okay.

She explains that in her first year as a Model UN participant, she was too intimidated to speak on the first day of the conference. After hearing encouragement from her professor and mentors on her team, she gained the confidence to speak about policy issues on the second day. It was this experience that inspired her to help young people participating in Model UN conferences to speak up despite the fears they may have. In fact, as a member of the directors’ board, she sat with her younger peers and helped nurture the sort of confidence she gained in her first year.

z_pic4Zunaira has also shown incredible achievements prior to moving to Boston for college. Born in Pakistan, she moved to New York with her family in 1997 when she was in the second grade. Her working knowledge of five languages (Urdu, English, Spanish, Punjabi, and Arabic) as well as a number of high school experiences fueled her interest in international policy. In her sophomore year of high school, she was inspired by a town-sponsored leadership event that taught her about public speaking and policy negotiation. In her junior year, Zunaira was selected as one of two Presidential Scholars for New York, which is the highest honor awarded to high school students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement. Through the prestigious program, she studied U.S. politics and took trips to the Democratic National Convention, the State Office, Pentagon, and Department of Defense.

Through Northeastern’s Coop Program, she was able to work at the Department of Defense and Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s office. Last summer she was in Jordan working with Syrian refugees and then went to The Hague and ICC/ICJ to work on reconciling peace and justice in post-conflict societies. She is currently working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. and hopes to pursue a career in policy. What an impressive young lady!

UNABG is extremely proud of Zunaira’s accomplishments and honored to have been part of her very impressive Model UN (and UN) past.

(Model UN) has provided me with skills that class lectures and coops don’t cover. I have learned a lot about my leadership style, issues that I am passionate about, and most importantly how to collaborate, debate, and negotiate with others. It provided me with a platform to gain confidence in coming up with creative solutions to problems plaguing our society

We are pleased to be supporting Zunaira in her efforts to travel to the chair at this upcoming prestigious Geneva Conference. If you would like to join with us in making a donation, please visit this site. All proceeds will go directly towards her travel.

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Why should young people do Model UN?

Aina, Pakistan

Model UN is a gateway for opportunities: a cultural platform where a medley of delegations come together and pool their ideals and brainpower to work towards a common goal – a successful resolution addressing various solutions towards the world’s problems. As this world’s inhabitants we owe it to ourselves to address its issues and Model UN provides a plethora of ways to do so. After all, if we won’t do it, then who will?

Braving wind and snow, 10 talented writers took a break from the negotiations at Harvard’s Model UN Conferences to visit UNAGB’s office two weeks ago. While warming up and learning about what our office does, these international students were kind enough to share insights about the skills they have developed through Model UN as well as ideas for teaching the next generation of global citizens. Here’s what they had to say when asked, why should young people do Model UN?

HMUN Students 

Myles, Jamaica

Being a part of MUN encourages us young people to realize how the world interacts, its issues, and to take a bigger role in solving these issues. To participate in MUN helps us understand how powerful we really are.

Robert, USA

Model UN is an opportunity to understand and engage in fascinating aspects of global diplomatic, international affairs, and political strategy. In a dynamic, globally-connected 21st century world, students need to have complex understanding of policy internationally in order to succeed.

Deniz, Turkey

Model UN for me is a way to connect young people globally in order to solve the issues of the world while considering and bringing each and every creative idea together through brainstorming and lobbying.

Keanna, USA

Young people should do Model UN because it’s an ideal place to meet people who are smart, open-minded and creative. Each time I go to a conference we come together with our individual experiences to tackle problems. And each conference is unique because their creative minds think of a solution I haven’t even thought about.

Zoe, USA

Young people should participate in Model UN in order to better understand the world around. Model UN fosters communication and partnership between groups in order to better the world around them. The skills developed in Model UN are necessary for cooperating with one another in order to achieve a main goal.

Ijeoma, Nigeria

Model UN enables students from diverse backgrounds with a diversity of ideas to finally collaborate in order to develop innovative ideas for development. It allows students to have a broader spectrum of the international community and work towards a common goal – to pass a resolution that benefits everyone. It is a great experience and allows for self-development.

Karishma, Canada

Model UN is not just one opportunity but a gateway to a whole new realm of discovery. It is an experience where you are not only inspired to construct solutions to problems, but execute this in a collaborative and diplomatic way. One certainly leaves the conference as a more cultured, informed and competent global citizen.

Aviva, USA

Model UN not only teaches about one of the most important institutions in the world, but also allows students to understand the intricacies of the world and form educated opinions about complicated issues. From these opinions, future leaders and participating members of society have the proper basis to start to fix the problems in the world.

Walquíria, Brazil

Young people know their community, they know their city and they know their people. Model UN opens the global community to the youth. It is about integrating local to the global world. It is about presenting the reality of other places to someone who might never have had the opportunity and involving them in the conflicts and needs of the world.

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