Daily Archives: October 21, 2013

UN Day of the Girl Child: “Innovating for Girls’ Education”

On Thursday, October 10th, Katrina Sousounis introduced Girl Rising to about two hundred and sixty attendees at a film screening hosted by UNA-GB. She explained that the most pervasive issues affecting the people of the world today (including poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, violence) disproportionately affect young women. Katrina finished the speech with a call for educational reform to give opportunities to women everywhere, and ended with this quote from the film: “Boys need to believe in girls, and girls need to learn to believe in themselves.”

Katrina is 13 years old.

UNAGB Girl Rising Girl Up

Katrina and the Girl Up Club of the R.J. Grey Junior High School

Founder of the first Girl Up club in Massachusetts, Katrina was inspired to try and solve the problems so carefully outlined in her speech. Her club is part of an organization founded to help girls and young women around the world to reach their full potential by ensuring that they are educated, safe, well-fed, and guaranteed basic human rights.

Because of this, Katrina was asked to introduce Girl Rising at UNA-GB’s screening of the film on Thursday, which was a fundraiser for Girl Up. Her presence and hard work demonstrate a distinctive part of Girl Up’s message: to help girls reach their potential around the world, we must empower girls themselves to effect the change that they want to see.UNAGB Girl Rising Film Screening

Girl Rising is the story of nine girls from around the world: Sokha from Cambodia, Wadley from Haiti, Suma from Nepal, Yasmin from Egypt, Azmera from Ethiopia, Ruksana from India, Senna from Peru, Mariama from Sierra Leone, and Amina from Afghanistan. Each girl was paired with a writer from her country to help tell her story. Each story is artistically captured differently, with varying experiences when it comes to cultural restraints, parental support, and environmental circumstances. In essence, Girl Rising is a movement to deliver a “simple, critical truth: educate girls and you will change the world.”

The UNA-GB decided to screen this film to get a dialogue started to help men, women, boys and girls in Boston and elsewhere think about solutions to various forms of discrimination against girls around the world. After the film, a musical group called “Women of the World”, which sings in 21 different languages, performed. They chose a song that resonated with the idea that together, we can create positive change.

UNAGB Girl Rising Women of the World

Women of the World Perform at “Girl Rising” Screening

In 2011, the UN declared October 11th as the first annual tribute to its goal to improve gender equality everywhere. This year, the theme of the day is “Innovating for Girls’ Education.” It sounds simple enough, but the task of ensuring that girls worldwide are educated is complex, both in implementation and consequence.

What exactly is keeping girls from going to school?

A wide breadth of causes keep girls out of school each day. Governmental policies and social issues alike can keep girls and boys out of school. Here are a few major perpetrators:

  • School is not free everywhere, and many poor families cannot afford to send any or all of their children to school. In some countries, boys are sent to school while girls stay home and work.
  • It can be dangerous: in 2012, Save the Children reported that there were more than 3,600 attacks on education around the world.
  • About half of all girls living in the world’s least developed countries are married before the age of 18. Child marriage greatly decreases a girl’s likelihood of finishing school, according to World Vision.
  • Lack of sanitary protection means that girls may miss up to five days of school a month
  • When basic needs aren’t being met and students are not healthy or well-fed, school may be a low priority.
  • There may not be a school within walking distance, especially in rural areas.
  • Governmental policies and societal norms can make it illegal  or abnormal for girls to become educated

So, how exactly does educating girls help the world?

  • According to the UN: “When girls are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, they can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families and participate in the progress of their nations.”
  • Educated mothers educate their children; this not only breaks the cycle of poverty, but their sons will be more inclined to educate their daughters.
  • UNICEF connected discrimination against women and girls and hunger. Child malnutrition in South Asia is highly linked to women’s limited access to education and difficulties with finding paid employment.

What can you do?

  •  Education, education, education! Educate yourself by exploring the issue even more- try checking out some of the links below
  • Donate! Visit Girl Up’s website, or one of the other initiatives below, to give to the cause.
  • Become an activist! Join one of the causes below, or create your own!

Happy International Day of the Girl Child!

Sources/More Information:

School Girls Unite!
Girl Rising
 Girl Up

UN Day of the Girl Child
http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/index.shtml
http://dayofthegirl.org/actnow/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/11/international-day-of-girl-child_n_4080681.html?utm_hp_ref=impact

Inauguration Day 2013

ImageToday is an exciting day for all Americans as this year’s inauguration marks the 57th quadrennial Presidential Inauguration. President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden will be sworn-in for their second term in office.  The swearing-in ceremony at our nation’s capitol “represents both national renewal and continuity of leadership.”

The theme for this year’s inauguration is “Faith in America’s Future.” It was chosen to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the new Capitol Dome in 1863. Moreover, it celebrates the perseverance and unity of the United States. The theme will be widely used for the official Inaugural Program, Luncheon, to name a few.

ImageInauguration Day not only includes the swearing-in ceremonies but it also includes other events. Some events that will be taking place on this day include: Morning Worship Service, Procession to the Capitol, Swearing-in Ceremonies, Inaugural Address, Inaugural Ball, Inaugural Parade, among others.

Image

To read more on Inauguration Day check out this link to the official website: http://www.inaugural.senate.gov

*To see more pictures check out this link: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/21/politics/obama-inauguration/index.html?hpt=po_c1

A Warm Welcome to the Summer 2012 interns!

It’s not just the temperatures rising in Boston that gets the office buzzing in June – we are excited to welcome a whole new batch of interns during the summer months!  And this summer we’re making our global to local tagline come to life in the office – we have a big group who come from a variety of different schools across the country, not just Boston, and have a diverse portfolio of experience!  Learn a little bit more about our interns below.  And for those interested in joining our stellar internship team this fall and beyond, check out more info here!

Julia Kuperminc

Intern Focus: Education

Hi! My name is Julia Kuperminc and I am an education intern at the UNA-GB.  I am a rising senior at Brandeis University where I major in International & Global Studies (IGS) and Politics.  I studied international criminal law in The Hague on a Brandeis program last summer.  Last fall, I studied French and international law in Paris.  Aside from IGS and Politics, I also study Spanish, French, and Legal Studies at Brandeis.

Miranda Mackinnon

Intern Focus: Education

I recently received a BA in Sociology from Gordon College (Wenham, MA). During my Junior year, I also studied Global Health and Developmental Policy in Geneva, Switzerland and conducted research at the United Nations and the World Health Organization. To further my research, I co-designed a community development project (Summer 2011) called “The Learn Africa Project” focused on preventing disease and promoting education in Togo, West Africa. I hope to attend graduate school for Public Health and International Development. I enjoy meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, exploring the outdoors, painting, traveling, and reading.

Ashan Singh

Intern Focus: Education

Growing up, moving around so much is definitely what made me such a globally oriented person. I was born in Mumbai, India, and spent much of my childhood moving from India to the United Kingdom, and then from the UK to the United States. Since moving from the United Kingdom, I have spent most of my life in the Greater Boston Area, and was a student in the Newton Public Schools system.  I have had a strong interest for current events and the world since a young age, and I have certainly let my passions guide me throughout my academic career. During my time in high school I co-founded Destination Education, a club promoting free and compulsory education in developing countries, and I have spent summers in both India, as well as one summer in Ghana, working at a school teaching children English. I was also heavily involved within my high school, serving in student council, as the managing editor of the newspaper, and as a member of several sports teams.  After graduating from Newton South High School in 2011, I have begun my pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in both International Development and International Relations and will be entering my sophomore year at Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana this coming fall.

Sarah Kester

Intern Focus: Education

I am a rising senior at Tufts University where I am double majoring in International Relations with a focus in global health and Community Health. I first developed an interest in international affairs at the National Cathedral School in Washington, DC, where I participated in a number of Model UN conferences. Model UN was one of my favorite things about high school so I am very excited to be helping with the UNA-GB’s Summer Institute. Outside of school, I love to sing and cook with my friends!

Molly McCabe

Intern Focus: Programs and Development

I am currently a senior at Stonehill College, as a double major in sociology and interdisciplinary studies.  Last year, I studied abroad in South Africa, where I took a service learning course in sustainable community engagement. During this time, I taught in the Lynedoch Primary School and developed a fourth grade curriculum based on the UN Children’s Rights Declaration. My time abroad spurred a passion in me for global studies, and a commitment to engaging youth in these issues.  I am very excited to be working with United Nations Association of Greater Boston this summer, where I will learn more about what I can do locally to continue this work!

Catherine Schrage

Intern Focus: Communications and Graphic Design

I am rising senior at Cornell University, studying Psychology, French and Gender Studies. I just returned from a year abroad in Paris, France where I took classes at the Sorbonne and University of Paris 8. I’m passionate about design, art and magazines and I am co-editor-in-chief of a quirky features publication called Kitsch Magazine at Cornell. I’m from Mystic, Connecticut and I am hoping to move back abroad after I graduate in December. My goal for the next couple years is to learn Arabic and Italian, so who knows where I’ll end up!

Jessica Pires

Intern Focus: Events and Membership

I am a rising senior at Colby College double majoring in International Studies and Anthropology. At Colby, I am very active in student programming, serving as Co-Chair for Live Music and am a founding member of my school’s Women of Color Alliance. Last fall I studied abroad in Durban, South Africa and did research at a drug rehabilitation facility for street children. I am originally from Boston but now live in Stow, the apple capital of Massachusetts. This summer I will be planning some of UNA-GB’s signature events, mainly focusing on October’s United Nations Day events. In the future I hope to work with a human rights organization and hope to take what I learn here at UNA-GB with me!

Leah Beaudoin

Intern Focus: Young Professionals Coordinator

I am a junior at Simmons College pursuing a dual major in International Relations and Economics with a minor in Social Justice. I am especially interested in Middle Eastern politics and cultures. I am really excited to intern with the UNA-GB this summer where I can learn even more about the world around me. I plan on studying abroad in London next year, and after getting my degree, I hope to attend law school and start a career in Washington D.C. I am interested in humanitarian affairs, and think that the UNA-GB is a great place to further that interest.

Bianca Diaz

Intern Focus: Office Assistance and Education

Hi, my name is Bianca, I am 17 years old and a rising senior at Boston Latin Academy. I have been doing Model UN for 4 years and absolutely love it.  I’ve also been the longest-standing intern – working at UNA-GB since 7th grade!! I want to move to Washington D.C and become an immigration lawyer.  I like listening to other people’s problems and helping them.  Overall I am an outgoing person to be around and I look forward to working with everyone because I like making new friends.

Stephanie Thermora

Intern Focus: MLK Summer Scholar / Office Assistance

I am 18 years old and a senior at Boston Latin Academy. I have always been interested in foreign politics and International Relations since I was young.
At a young age, I loved watching Taboo, National Geographic and The Travel Network. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to work with United Nations Association of Greater Boston this summer. I hope that I may continue learn more about the world with UNA-GB and college!

Eve Krassner

Intern Focus: Education

I am currently a junior at Boston University studying Anthropology and French, and I hope to someday go into International Relations and conflict resolution.  I grew up on a farm in Brazil, just outside of São Paulo.  I love to travel, and over the past couple of years I have spent my summers eating gelato in Italian piazzas, bargaining with crazy vendors in crowded Moroccan markets, bungy-jumping off of bridges in South Africa, and working with the most wonderful kids in Tanzania and Rwanda. This fall I will be taking on the International Honors Program, studying globalization and sustainable development alongside a group of college students as passionate about the world as me, and I can’t wait!


Honoring Our Presidents’ Words

In remembrance of President’s Day on Monday (Feb 20), let’s see what our past and present president(s) have to say about the United States. Below are the words of 12 twelve extremely influential men, 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans all agreed of the significant role the UN continues to play within the government.  (Special thanks to UNA-OKC for compiling this list!)
“I can assure you that the Government and the people of the United States are deeply proud and grateful that the United Nations has chosen our country for its headquarters. We will extend the fullest measure of cooperation in making a home for the United Nations in this country. The American people welcome the delegates and the Secretariat of the United Nations as good neighbors and warm friends….

“The overwhelming majority of the American people, regardless of party, support the United Nations. They are resolved that the United States, to the full limit of its strength, shall contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a just and lasting peace among the nations of the world.”

–Harry S Truman

October 23, 1946

“Never before in history has so much hope for so many people been gathered together in a single organization…. But the great tests and the great accomplishments still lie ahead. And in the confident expectation of those accomplishments, I would use the office which, for the time being, I hold, to assure you that the Government of the United States will remain steadfast in its support of this body. This we shall do in the conviction that you will provide a great share of the wisdom, of the courage and of the faith which can bring to this world lasting peace for all nations, and happiness and well-being for all men.”

–Dwight D. Eisenhower

December 8, 1953

 

“Disarmament without checks is but a shadow, and a community without law is but a shell. Already the United Nations has become both the measure and the vehicle of man’s most generous impulses. Already it has provided… a means of holding man’s violence within bounds.”

–John F. Kennedy

September 25, 1961

 

 

“We are more than ever opposed to the doctrines of hate and violence, in our own land and around the world. We are more than ever committed to the rule of law, in our own land and around the world. We believe more than ever in the rights of man, all men of every color, in our own land and around the world. And more than ever we support the United Nations as the best instrument yet devised to promote the peace of the world and to promote the well-being of mankind….

“The United States wants to cooperate with all the members of this Organization to conquer everywhere the ancient enemies of mankind — hunger, and disease and ignorance….”

–Lyndon B. Johnson

December 17, 1963

 

“The changes in the world since World War II have made more compelling than ever the central idea behind the United Nations: that individual nations must be ready at last to take a farsighted and a generous view. The profoundest national interest of our time –for every nation — is not immediate gain, but the preservation of peace.”

–Richard M. Nixon

October 23, 1970

 

“There is no limit… to our determination to act in concert with other nations to fulfill the vision of the United Nations Charter, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and to promote social progress and better standards, better standards of life in a larger freedom.”

–Gerald R. Ford

September 18, 1974

 

 

“The United States is committed to the peaceful settlement of differences. We are committed to the strengthening of the peacemaking capabilities of the United Nations….”

–Jimmy Carter

October 4, 1977

 

 

 

“The United Nations is dedicated to world peace, and its charter clearly prohibits the international use of force. Yet the tide of belligerence continues to rise…. We must not only condemn aggression; we must enforce the dictates of our charter and resume the struggle for peace….

“I have come to this hall to call for international recommitment to the basic tenet of the

United Nations Charter — that all members practice tolerance and live together in peace as good neighbors under the rule of law, forsaking armed force as a means of settling disputes between nations….

“We, who have signed the U.N. Charter, have pledged to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territory or independence of any state. In these times when more and more lawless acts are going unpunished — as some members of this very body show a growing disregard for the U.N. Charter — the peace-loving nations of the world must condemn aggression and pledge again to act in a way that is worthy of the ideals that we have endorsed. Let us finally make the charter live.”

–Ronald Reagan

June 17, 1982

 

“The United States is committed to playing its part, helping to maintain global security, promoting democracy and prosperity. And my administration is fully committed to supporting the United Nations and to paying what we are obliged to pay by our commitment to the Charter. International peace and security, and international freedom and prosperity, require no less.”

–George H.W. Bush

October 1, 1990

 

“Fifty years ago, as the conference that gave birth to the United Nations got underway in San Francisco, a young American war hero recorded his impressions of that event for a newspaper. ‘The average G.I. in the street doesn’t seem to have a very clear-cut conception of what this meeting’s about,’wrote the young John F. Kennedy. But one bemedaled Marine sergeant gave the general reaction when he said, ‘I don’t know much about what’s going on, but if they just fix it so we don’t have to fight anymore, they can count me in.’

“Well, the United Nations has not ended war, but it has made it less likely, and helped many nations to turn from war to peace. The United Nations has not stopped human suffering, but it has healed the wounds and lengthened the lives of millions of human beings. The United Nations has not banished repression or poverty from the Earth, but it has advanced the cause of freedom and prosperity on every continent. The United Nations has not been all that we wished it would be, but it has been a force for good and a bulwark against evil.

“So at the dawn of a new century so full of promise, yet plagued by peril, we still need the United Nations. And so, for another 50 years and beyond, you can count the United States in.”

–Bill Clinton

October 22, 1995

 

“Every civilized nation here today is resolved to keep the most basic commitment of civilization. We will defend ourselves and our future against terror and lawless violence. The United Nations was founded in this cause.”

–George W. Bush

November 10, 2001

“The American people respect the idealism that gave life to this organization.

And we respect the men and women of the U.N., who stand for peace and human rights in every part of the world….

“History will honor the high ideals of this organization. The Charter states them with clarity: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, to promote social progress and better standards of life and larger freedom. Let history also record that our generation of leaders followed through on these ideals, even in adversity. Let history show that in a decisive decade, members of the United Nations did not grow weary in our duties or waver in meeting them.”

–George W. Bush

September 21, 2004

 

“In the 21st century, the world needs a confident and effective United Nations….  With determination and clear purpose, the United Nations can be a powerful force for good as we head into the 21st century. It can affirm the great promise of its founding.”

–George W. Bush

September 22, 2008

 

“The United Nations was built by men and women… from every corner of the world — from Africa and Asia, from Europe to the Americas.  These architects of international cooperation had an idealism that was anything but naïve — it was rooted in the hard-earned lessons of war; rooted in the wisdom that nations could advance their interests by acting together instead of splitting apart.

“Now it falls to us — for this institution will be what we make of it. The United Nations does extraordinary good around the world — feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, mending places that have been broken.  But it also struggles to enforce its will, and to live up to the ideals of its founding.

“I believe that those imperfections are not a reason to walk away from this institution — they are a calling to redouble our efforts.

“…We call on all nations to join us in building the future that our people so richly deserve.”

–Barack Obama

September 23, 2009

 

“…This future will not be easy to reach. It will not come without setbacks, nor will it be quickly claimed. But the founding of the United Nations itself is a testament to human progress. In times that were far more trying than our own, our predecessors chose the hope of unity over the ease of division, and made a promise to future generations that the dignity and equality of human beings would be our common cause.

“It falls to us to fulfill that promise. And though we will be met by dark forces that will test our resolve, Americans have always had cause to believe that we can choose a better history. In fact, we need only look outside the walls around us. For through the citizens of every conceivable ancestry who make this city their own, we see living proof that opportunity can be accessed by all; that what unites us as human beings is far greater than what divides us; and that people from every part of this world can live together in peace.”

–Barack Obama

September 23, 2010

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It’s clear that the UN is an important and necessary tool for global diplomacy and peace!  You can honor the words and belief of all the past (and current) Presidents above by taking action today!  Let our current President and Congress know that the UN matters to you too!

Here’s how to help:
By scheduling face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress to discuss the importance of full funding to the UN. These in-person meetings will be the most effective form of citizen advocacy and we have everything from resources, talking points, and meeting materials you possibly could need right here!

Interested in learning more about UNA-GB’s Advocacy Committee? Read our blog post here and contact us at info@unagb.org for more information on how to get involved!

 UNA-GB’s Advocacy Committee is specifically looking for volunteers who are interested in becoming District Chairs, or liaisons for UNA-GB’s members and friends in each district in Massachusetts with their local representatives! For more information, email us at info@unagb.org

Join Truman, Kennedy, Nixon, Clinton and the rest of the 12 above in taking a stand and supporting the UN today!

-Alyson R.

An Undefined Grasp Of Failure

Check out our newest blog post from our Get Educated, One Topic At A Time blog series! This week, get educated about the meaning behind a failed state and its connection with recent news. Also, check out our last three posts in the series: “Creating A Road To Democracy”, “A Historical Moment For Genocide” and “Two Sides To Invest”. Check back each Monday for another post!

Failed states have become a growing source of concern for the international community as breeding grounds for terrorist and crime syndicates as well as representing whole regions which are utterly devoid of law and order, living hells for those suffering in them. Foreign Policy Magazine has begun annually publishing the Failed States Index, listing the world’s countries from most failed to least.

Essentially, a failed state is a country whose government is unable to perform the basic functions required of a sovereign authority. In most cases, the governments of failed states are too weak to exert any control over their countries and so they cannot provide security or meet fundamental human needs. Somalia is the classic example of a failed state, where thecentral government controls a few blocks of the capital city and is powerless to prevent lawlessness, militant Islamic terrorism, piracy, or the current famine gripping the nation.

Human rights violations are rampant in failed states as well. Not only are living conditions atrocious in many of these countries, but the absence of legitimate judicial power often results in horrendous crimes. A recent report, for example, found that every hour, forty-eight women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are raped. With little or no development, failed states truly are anarchic nightmares.

Although there is continuing debate about the extent of the dangers posed by failed and failing states, they have been recognized as obstacles to US foreign policy. The US is currently involved in two states which are considered to be failed, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US State Department has established an office specifically addressing state failure and reconstruction, the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.

But the truth is, failed states are political quagmires which are too expensive for any one power to “solve.” Even the US, with all the wealth and might of superpower status, has been frustrated in its attempts to tame Afghanistan. Recognizing the need for international cooperation over failed states, the UN established the Peacebuilding Commission in 2005. Unfortunately, the Commission has been met with only limited success, in part due to its small budget and the fact that countries must invite it to operate within their borders. The Peacebuilding Commission’s activities have so far been restricted to cooperative, geographically small nations and failed states like the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to remain open questions.

-James

News Round-Up: Week of January 17th

President Hu Visits the U.S.

Credit: New York Times

Chinese President Hu Jintao is wrapping up his state visit to the United States with a brief stop in Chicago to meet with American and Chinese businessmen. His trip to the U.S. marks a new chapter in China-U.S. diplomacy.

President Hu was the guest of honor at a State Dinner hosted by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday, January 19th at the White House. President Obama and President Hu stressed the two nations’ common interests, including potential for increased economic cooperation and the benefits of U.S.-China ties.

The two leaders also reached consensus on many important issues, including military relations, Iran, Sudan, space technology, and high-level exchanges. However, President Obama and President Hu soft-pedaled on longstanding issues that divide them, such as China’s human rights records and diplomatic dealings, China’s currency policy, and the nuclear ambitions of North Korea.

A day after the State Dinner, President Hu delivered an address in Washington in which he renounced “hegemony” and “expansionism.” President Hu also held a Capitol Hill meeting on Thursday, January 20th with Senate leaders from both parties, including Majority Leader Harry Reid.

According to China’s vice foreign minister, President Hu’s visit to Washington “proved to be successful.”

An Unexpected Visitor

Credit: berlinonnews.com

Haiti’s former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier made a surprise return to Port-au-Prince on Sunday, January 16th, after being in exile for 25 years. His return added strain to an already complicated political atmosphere in Haiti brought on by the nation’s chaotic and inconclusive November 28th elections.

A day after Duvalier’s mysterious reappearance, human rights groups demanded that Haiti arrest Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” for “crimes against humanity.” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said Duvalier, 59, should be brought to trial for the killings and torture of thousands of opponents at the hands of the Tonton Macoutes militia during his 15 years in power.

On Tuesday, January 18th, Duvalier was briefly taken into police custody and questioned over accusations that he stole millions of dollars from the treasury during his reign. After about four hours, he was released. He could still face eventual arrest and a trial.

Duvalier did not board his scheduled flight out of Haiti on Thursday, January 20th and remains in the country as a free man.

The ex-dictator was forced into French exile in 1986 following a popular uprising against his government, which was widely believed to be brutal and corrupt.

Turmoil in Tunisia

Protests continue in Tunisia, despite a three-day period of national mourning for those who died during the month-long uprising that overthrew long-time President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Credit: AFP

Although the interim government that took over when President Ben Ali fled the country in January offered major concessions, thousands of Tunisians are now demanding the dissolution of this new political entity; they are angry that several prominent members of former President Ben Ali’s government (the Constitutional Democratic Rally) have been included in the transitional cabinet, which met for the first time in Tunis on Thursday.

The protests that began in December 2010 are believed to have started over unemployment, inflation, rumors of corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and the President’s conspicuous displays of wealth. According to the United Nations, about 100 people died during the upheaval that swept across the north African country.

The interim government is currently preparing for new presidential elections and to speed up political reforms.

A Country Divided

Credit: NASA

Southern Sudan is heading for a split. 99% of the people who participated in Southern Sudan’s week-long Referendum have opted for independence with the north. Just 1.4% of people have voted for continued unity with the north.

The counting will be finished on January 31st, and the final results will be reported on February 14th. If the result is confirmed, the new country is set to formally declare its independence on July 9th.

President Omar al-Bashir has said he will accept the result of the vote, which was held after years of war.

Sargent Shriver

Credit: Los Angeles Times

On Tuesday, January 18, Robert Sargent Shriver passed away at the age of 95. Mr. Shriver’s passion was civic life, and he fully devoted himself to honoring public service with his life’s work. Mr. Shriver, a brother-in-law of President John Kennedy, was the first director of the Peace Corps, serving in that post from 1961 to 1966, architect of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, US ambassador to France, vice presidential nominee and candidate for president. He was awarded the President Medal of Freedom in 1994.

His legacy of service to this country and the world will always be remembered.

Model UN

Hello!

The UNA-GB hosts many fantastic events for its members throughout the greater Boston Area. In addition to this, it also reaches out to area public and charter schools to provide young middle and high school students a chance to participate in Model UN. Our Education interns in the office help run these programs by writing topic guides (on Clean Water, for instance) and teaching the students how to act as if they were Ambassadors to the United Nations debating an issue before the General Assembly or another UN body. I recently sat in on a Model UN simulation at Northeastern University, and it was a great experience!

Two Education interns, Deenah and Allison, acted as moderators while the middle school students debated the issue of “animal trafficking.” When the debate became rowdy, Deenah and Ali simply had to quietly murmur “Decorum” or tap a wooden gavel on the plastic table, and the students immediately quieted down.

Students represented various countries that included India, France, Mexico, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Italy, and a slew of others. Animal trafficking really seemed to strike a chord with the students as they passionately debated different solutions to the issue such as taxation or extended jail time. It was amazing to see how far they extended their thinking, including how to deal with corrupt law enforcement, the possibility of creating an animal sanctuary, and even organizing charity walks to promote awareness of the issue.

I think the best part of this experience was seeing the kids work through their differences and come to common solutions. I will admit it seemed to get heated at times as everyone had their own opinion and wanted to be heard. Although the students attended different schools, to some extent they were able to break through that initial awkwardness and work together. They embraced the fun and comfortable setting, immersing themselves in the language of the UN in every aspect of life–even when requesting ‘a point of personal privilege’ to use the bathroom.

The simulation will help them out later in life with public speaking abilities, conflict resolution in their daily lives, and even prospective interviews for future employment. Although I only witnessed the last few hours of the simulation (it had been going on all week), it seemed to me that these students were much more confident than I or any other of my peers had been at that age.


At the end of the assembly, they were given the opportunity to give feedback–what they thought went well and what they should work on if they chose to participate in the future.
I was impressed by how spot-on the kids were with their strengths and weaknesses, how they could diplomatically express weaknesses while also modestly congratulate their strengths.
It made me wish that I had had the opportunity to participate in Model UN when I was younger.

More to come!

Hannah Wheeler