Author Archives: UNA-GB

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill: Finding Faith in a Divisive Place

On his way to a six-day trip to Mexico next week, Pope Francis I will make an unscheduled stopover in Havana, Cuba on February 12. There he will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the religious leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. This unprecedented meeting marks a milestone in the strained relationship between the two churches who have been at odds since 1054.


Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill

The meeting of these two religious leader has been in the making for decades.  Negotiations for a meeting between Patriarch Alexy II and Pope John Paul II were held in 1996 but ultimately fell through. This event marks the first time since the churches split in the 11th century that the leaders of these two institutions will meet, although President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Pope Francis I met briefly in June 2015. Formal relations between Russia and Vatican City were established only recently in 2009.

Both parties have released statements express optimism for the meeting. They are expected to meet for two hours before presenting a joint declaration.


UN Announces Sustainable Development Advocacy Group


H.E. Mrs. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Co-Chair of the advocacy group

To promote the Sustainable Development goals laid out in September 2015, the United Nations has announced the launch of The Sustainable Development Advocacy Group, an organization of eminent personalities with access to unique resources through which to promote the Sustainable Development Goals. New advocates include star-powered celebrities and athletes such as Shakira, Forest Whitaker and Argentine soccer heartthrob Leo Messi, but also include more politically and economically active individuals such as Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Doha of Qatar. For the full list of Advocates, click here.


The baby girls were born in September 2015

But it’s not just people supporting the UN’s goal of sustainability.  Baby twin Pandas in Chengdu, China have been declared the first ever Animal Goodwill Ambassadors. A naming campaign for the baby girls will continue into June.  Vote for your favorite name and learn more about the UN Development Programme’s here!



Ms. Leymeh Gbowee, Director of Gbowee Peace Foundation

The Sustainable Development Goals are a list of 17 goals to help achieve the end of poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. Goals are diverse, ranging from the strengthening of state institutions to the maintenance of good health and well-being for all global citizens. To learn more about the Sustainable Development goals, click here.

Akon Lighting Africa

In February of 2014, Grammy-nominated R&B/hip-hop singer/songwriter and rapper Akon, political activist Thione Niang and entrepreneur Samba Bathily launched Akon Light­ing Africa, an initiative that aims to develop an innovative solar-powered solution that will provide African villages with access to a clean and affordable source of electricity. Now, almost two years later, 100,000 street-lamps, 1,000 solar micro-generators and 200,000 household electric systems have been installed across 14 African countries.  The installation of these lights makes public spaces safer, allowing businesses to conduct sales longer, children to study and learn longer and provide jobs for many people who work to install and maintain the lights.


Akon, who is known for his suggestive club anthems, was born in St. Louis but spent most of childhood growing up in West African nation of Senegal. “I was one of those kids you see run­ning around with no shoes on liv­ing in straw huts,” Akon said in an interview with the National Journal. “I was blessed to be able to come to the U.S. with my dad and I’ve seen a bet­ter life, but it really hurts a lot know­ing that Africa has all these re­sources and we haven’t fully taken ad­vant­age of it.”


But Akon, who is also a successful business man and founder of two successful record labels, sees this as an economic opportunity as well.  “I get tired of hear­ing that Africa is a char­ity case,” Akon mentioned in the same interview.  “Africa is wide open for busi­ness, and we’ve found a good busi­ness mod­el. Africa will nev­er run out of sun.”

Learn more about the musical mogul’s work here.

Meet the Interns: Fall 2015

The fall semester is almost at a close and we thought we would take the opportunity to introduce our incredible intern team!  If you’re interested in joining our intern team in the future, see our criteria here!

SherSha AtifSherShah

Where are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?
I am from Peshawar, Pakistan. I study International Relations & International Communications at Boston University.

Based on the Food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?
Based on the food alone, I would like to visit Turkey.

What would a movie based on your life be called and who would play you?
A movie based on my life would be called “Connect the Dots: The 3rd Culture” and the actor that would play me would be a young Marlon Brando.

What were you for Halloween?
For Halloween, I was a monkey.

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
What I love most about UNAGB is the team enthusiasm for the collaborative work that we do.

Siobhan Billings Pearce

10470600_731891333537978_2061723635056516309_nWhere are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?
I am from Norridgewock, Maine and I go to Emmanuel College where I am a senior double majoring in International Studies: Sustainability and Global Justice and Spanish.

Based on the food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?
One time I saw Andrew Zimmern on Bizarre Foods eat a brains and liver soup from a street vendor in Bangkok and he couldn’t stop talking about how delicious it was. I’ve dreamed of eating my way across Thailand ever since.

What would a movie based on your life be called and who would play you?
A movie about my life thus far would be called Pero, like, and would tell the story of my travels and struggles through Spanish-speaking nations with my limited Spanish.  Emma Stone would play me because I am a ridiculous person.

What were you for Halloween?
I was Kim Possible. Call me beep me if you want to reach me.

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
I love that my supervisors trust me with serious tasks. I feel that my work here is appreciated, I feel supported and it is wonderfully fun to see a project you’re working on be finished to completion and to see the people it affects.  I also like the other interns.  We learn a lot from each other.

Linnea Erickson


Where are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?
Mount Desert Island, ME. Emmanuel College. Political Science with minors in History and Middle Eastern studies.

Based on the food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?

What would a movie based on your life be called and who would play you?
“Uh-oh” played by Haley McKinnon

What were you for Halloween?
I was “Irish” for Halloween. Wore green, gave myself two clover sharpie tattoos, and kept the red hair. I rocked it.

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
Honestly, I love the people I work with

Shehab Fass

ShehabWhere are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?
I’m originally from Egypt but I moved to the U.S three years ago. I go to Alnoor academy (high school) and planning to major in international relations next year!

Based on the food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?

What would a movie based on your life be called and who would play you?
SHEEZUS, Daniel Radcliffe

What were you for Halloween?

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
I love the flexibility and the inclusion of all interns. The teamwork is AMAZING and we all feel like family together. I feel like my work has a real impact on real people out there and this in itself motivates me to continue working with maximum effort.

Bee Keswa

Where are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?Bee
Johannesburg, South Africa, Framingham State and Cambridge College, Liberal Arts and Business.

Based on the food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?
If I could go anywhere in the world based in the food alone, I would go almost everywhere. I would go to China first and I would try to catch every festival they have, particularly the moon festival because they have different traditional meals for different festivals. Then I would go to India and then I would go to Spain and Italy.

What would a movie based on your life be called and who would play you?
“Beautiful Things Are Coming” because that’s what my Zulu name means. Keke Palmer will be a young me, Gabrielle Union can play the middle me, Viola Davis can play the older me and Cicely Tyson can play the Grandma me.

What were you for Halloween?
A leopard, but only because by minion costume fell flat.

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
I love everybody that I work with. I am really happy that I have a group of people that I get along with that I can ask questions to and who I hope learn from me because I definitely learn from you guys. I like the fact that we get to be so hands on and so involved in the model UN conference and the source material that the different teachers, different schools the children use and we get to see where our work goes. I also like the whirl of information and world topics that swirl around the think tank table whether about House of Cards or ISIS or displaced people; they are conversations that add something beautiful for the experience.

Celia Lao

Where are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?
I am from Panama. I went to Lindenwood University – St. Charles, Missouri. I have a B.S. in EconomicsCelia

Based on the food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?
Italy and Greece

What would a movie based on your life be called and who would play you?
Movie: Exploring the World -Actress: Shu Qi-Hong Kong actress-many people say I look like her.

What were you for Halloween?
Olimpia – Greek Goddess

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
Making friends from all over the world!

Sabrina Marques

Where are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?
I’m from MoSabrinaorestown, New Jersey, which is only about 20 minutes from Philadelphia. I’m a sophomore at Boston University studying International Relations!

Based on the food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?
This is a tough one… My entire family is Portuguese and I love Portuguese food so I’d definitely be happy to go there to eat!! Other than that, probably Barcelona, because I love tapas, or pretty much anywhere with great seafood!

What would a movie based on your life be called and who would play you?
Hmmm… I’d like it to be some kind of crazy travel adventure story, because I hope to travel a lot throughout my life, but I’m not sure what it would be called. To play me, I’m thinking maybe Audrey Hepburn when she was young. This is mostly because my parents chose to name me after watching the 1954 movie Sabrina, which she was the main character in. So I feel like I have some kind of a connection to her. She was also a UNICEF Ambassador for several years, and I think that’s really cool.

What were you for Halloween?
I was Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell!

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
I really love seeing how all the work and research the education interns do directly impacts the programs! Kids use our materials and learn from them, and that’s a really cool thing to observe and take in. It’s also just really inspiring to see so many young students interested in global affairs.

Tuaha Mubarak

TuahaWhere are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?
From Lahore, Pakistan, Boston University Graduate, Studied Business Administration

Based on the food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?
The south of France because cheese.

What would a movie based on your life be called and who would play you?
Title: He Made Fetch Happen. The hope is that by the time I am 70 I will have made enough positive contributions to humanity that people will say, “He Made Fetch Happen.” Manny from Modern Family will play me.

What were you for Halloween?
A Formal Apology. I wore a suit and had an “I’m Sorry” sign around me. Get it? Formal Apology?

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
The fun, passionate, and diverse intern team. We all have such different backgrounds, which means that we learn something new every day.

Adelaide Sargent

Where are you from, where do you go to school, what are you studying?Adelaide
I’m from Gardner, Massachusetts (and technically Guatemala), I go to Northeastern University, and I study International Affairs with concentration in Middle Eastern Studies, Arabic, Linguistics, and Psychology.

Based on the food alone, where in the world do you most want to visit?
The entire Mediterranean… Spain, North Africa, Lebanon, Greece, France… I couldn’t possibly pick.

What were you for Halloween?
I was Black Swan. Not, as a roommate suggested, a duck.

What do you love the most about interning at UNAGB?
The free coffee, granola bars, M&Ms…just kidding. But those are an important perk for sure. My real answer is probably the work environment our bosses create. Everyone’s so encouraging and helpful all the time.

Human Kindness in the Wake of Horror


An improvised Paris memorial

In the wake of this past week’s global tragedies, we at UNAGB would like to express our deepest sympathies and best wishes to the victims, families and friends of the attacks in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and the earthquakes in Mexico and Japan.

In a single day, November 13 2015, more than 115,000 lives were lost because of turmoil in the world, both socially and environmentally; leaving the global community in shock and heartbroken.


The family of Adel Tormous, who tacked a suicide bomber in Beruit

In the wake to such tragedy, we are frequently assailed by the horror and it becomes easy to forget the good. In Paris, with debris still flying, people opened their homes to strangers who needed a safe place to sleep. Taxi cabs took people home free of charge. In Beirut, Adel Tormous tackled the second suicide bomber, ending his own life but saving hundreds. These are the experiences that we should internalize from these horrors. In the darkest of times, human kindness will still triumph.

Malala and Emma: A Feminist Dream Team

November 4 marked the UK debut of “He Named Me Malala,” a biopic of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Ms. Yousafzai, 18, is best known for her work advocating for female education and for surviving a Taliban assassination attempt when armed men climbed on board her school bus and shot her in the head. She is co-founder of the Malala Fund along with her friend Shiza Shahid.


“There’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So I’m a feminist and we all should be a feminist because feminism is another word for equality.” –Malala Yousafzai

After the screening at the Into Film Festival, UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson sat down for a Question and Answer session with Ms. Yousafzai. During the Q&A, which was broadcast to over 80 cinemas across the UK, Ms. Yousafzai disclosed that it was thanks to Ms. Watson that she became a feminist after viewing her passionate speech at the launch of UN HeForShe program.

The HeForShe campaign is a movement that encourages men to identify themselves as feminists and support for women’s rights because it will benefit their gender as well. This reflects an underlying theme of Malala’s life as she has been able to follow her educational dreams in part thanks to her father who allowed his daughter to follow her education and supported her through all her work.
Ms. Yousafzai finished her interview by taking questions from primary school children in England. She reminded the viewers that they are never to young to start making a difference. “Do the things that you want to do.  Don’t think that one day I’ll grow up and do things. Don’t wait for this day, it will be too late.”

Climate Change in the Arctic Circle: The Birth of a New Bear

A polar bear

A polar bear

As climate change continues to shift the dynamics of our steadily warming planet, it’s not just weather patterns that will be changing. In the wild, animals too are being forced to adapt, and while the image of a sad polar bears on ice flows has become heavily associated with climate change, Grizzly and Brown bears too have been adapting to their changing habitat. While the polar bears are making their way south in search of food, brown bears are heading north. Their meeting has resulted in a brand new bear.


A grizzly bear

This grizzly-polar hybrid, affectionately known as the pizzly, prizzly, polizzy, nanulak, Polar-Grizz or Grolar Bear, had its first recorded natural occurrence in 2006 in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The genetic make-up of these two bears (with brown bears referring to either the Kodiak, Alaskan brown or grizzly bear) differs, polar bears are the most recent split from the brown bear line, diverging between 350,000-6 million years ago, which is relatively recently in evolutionary time. While normally such interbreeding results in sterile offspring such as the liger and the mule, the majority of prizzlies appear to be fertile. Given how recent this research is and the extreme difficultly of tracking cold-weather bears, there is little to no data on whether prizzlies mate with other prizzlies or with purebred grizzlies or purebred polar bears, however genetic tests have suggested that one wild prizzly was a second generation hybrid.


A prizzly bear

The prizzly isn’t the only result of global warming. Lynx and bobcats, wolves and coyotes and other similar but unique species have begun to mate as well. While it could take several generations for this “new” bear to evolve into a completely different species, this kind of occurrence may become more common as the changing climate forces more and more animals to adapt to their new environment.

Boston Celebrates Newest Sister City!

On Friday, October 9, 2015 the City of Boston celebrated the signing of a new sister city agreement with Praia, Cabo Verde. Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Mayor Ulisses Correia e Silva have joined together in an agreement formalizing trade and collaboration between Boston and Praia, the capital of Cabo Verde.  “Boston has a strong Cape Verdean community,” said Mayor Walsh, “and our partnership with Praia is a fitting testament to our city’s diversity.” With some 40,000 Cabo Verdean immigrants living in the Boston area, this relationship is a wonderful new opportunity for the exchange of culture and ideas between the two cities. Already, trade between the two cities is well established with a cargo ship departing between the two about once a month and with Boston contractors working on housing projects on the island. There is also hope to increase a tourism exchange between the two countries. Cabo Verde Airlines used to run out of Logan Airport but has recently moved to Providence. The two city leaders also hope to collaborate on crime prevention plans as both cities experience similar types of criminal activity.


Praia is the newest addition to Boston’s extensive list of sister cities, which includes Kyoto, Japan; Strasbourg, France; Barcelona, Spain; Hangzhou, China; Padua, Italy; Melbourne, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Read more about Boston’s sister-City Program here!

A Step Towards Peace in Conflicted Myanmar (Burma)

President Thein Sein of Myanmar (Burma) has signed a ceasefire deal with eight armed rebel groups earlier today, including the Karen National Union, which has been battling the Myanmar government for sixty years. This is a step toward regional peace for Myanmar, which has been engaged in conflict with different ethnic groups since it achieved independence from Great Britain in 1948.


Representatives from the United Nations, China and the European Union were present at the signing

The Nationwide Cease-fire Agreement is the result of two years of negotiations, but unfortunately is a bit if a misnomer as it does not include the two largest rebel groups, the Kachin and the Wa. The ceasefire does not address major issues, such as how power will be balanced between the central government and the ethnic regions and only covers ethnic groups along the Thai border, ignoring the ethnic groups who live along the Chinese border.


Former combatants the Karen National Union were among the groups who signed the ceasefire

The government itself, which straddles a fine line between democracy and military governance, could be a potential threat to this ceasefire, as they have been involved in skirmishes as recently as Wednesday. Regardless, leaders of rebel groups have hailed this as a new page in history, exchanging hugs with army officers, their former enemies. Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu was not present at the signing ceremony, having stated last month she was a bit skeptic of the ceasefire.

General elections will be held November 8 in Myanmar (Burma) with the hopes that this ceasefire will lead to a large, democratic turnout. These elections will be the first time since 1990 that parties will freely challenge the military’s dominance. and the Globalization of Connectivity

In the wake of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, internet connectivity has become a hot topic. Appearing in four out of seventeen goals, global connectivity to the internet is a massive step towards development in rural and impoverished areas. Leading this discussion is Facebook mogul and creator Mark Zuckerberg. In August 2013, Zuckerberg launched, “a Facebook-led initiative bringing together technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities to connect the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have internet access.”

In March, the unveiled a massive drone designed to provide broadband services to remote parts of the planet. The drone, which is built by Ascenta and has a wingspan greater than a Boeing 737, is only designed to stay in the air for months at a time, a potentially problematic design.


The drone in all its glory

On Monday, Facebook revealed that it’s taking measures to remedy this problem by launching a satellite to provide internet from orbit. Partnering with French satellite company Eutelsat, this satellite AMOS-6 will provide internet coverage to vast portions of Sub-Saharan Africa.


A projection of what the satellite may look like

Follow Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page to stay updated on the project.

Zuckerbug isn’t the only big player seeking to bring internet to the globe. Google’s “Project Loon,” is a similar attempt at global connectivity using balloons. While these efforts are clearly competitive and partially business driven, we are still thrilled at the thought of people all over the globe having access to the world wide web. With global internet connectivity comes the potential for shared ideas, not just in terms of creation and business, but for health care and education too. We wish both companies the best of luck.