The Search for Authentic Chinese Food

By Miriam Shahidi, Travel and Foreign Language Lover and Assistant UNA-GB Blogger

Ni Hao readers!

We hope you’re ready for the next UNA-GB Young Professionals cultural event, Taste of China! Read along to gain some insight into China’s unique cuisine and rev your appetites for our event, which is only mere days away!

I’m sure most of you have heard many things about Chinese food and its sometimes bizarre ingredients and offbeat recipes. The first thing we should know about our idea of Chinese food is that what we eat here in the US is very different from native Chinese food. In fact, American Chinese food is almost an entirely different genre by itself!

What you think when I say “Chinese food”

Globalization has always brought an integration of cultures, allowing people in one part of our shrinking world to experience some cultural aspect of another faraway country, and a perfect example is Chinese food in America. What we eat here varies vastly from what people eat in China. In America, a typical Chinese restaurant will serve dishes rich in oil and heavy sauce, and somewhat uniform in flavor. To an American, this seems like an exotic dining experience, but in fact, these dishes are missing a common characteristic of authentic Chinese cuisine- simplicity. Which leads us to ask, what actually is real Chinese Food? What role does it play in China besides basic sustenance?

Food is an extremely important part of Chinese culture. China, having the largest population in the world, stands in at about 1.35 BILLION people.  That explains its huge agricultural industry and extensive  diversity of cuisine. Historically, the idea has been for Chinese people that if you want a good meal you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it, no matter who you are or where you come from. What most Chinese recipes have in common are their inexpensive ingredients and great nutritional value.  Here are some common staple ingredients in Chinese cuisine:

  • Basic grains: rice and wheat, which are either eaten as is or processed into hundreds of different types of noodles and dumplings.
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Green tea is a common addition to any meal

  • Meat, tofu, or bean curd are used as the protein of the meal.
  • Vegetables: bok choy, or Chinese mustard, has the texture of lettuce and is cooked or steamed. Eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, bean sprouts, mushrooms, snow peas, radish, and bamboo shoots are also very common vegetables to steam or fry.
  • Flavor: soy sauce, chili paste or sauce, rice vinegar, plum sauce (also known as sweet and sour sauce). All are flavor enhancing and give each specialty its energizing kick!
  • Green tea, black tea, and white tea are the most common drinks with and between any meal. They are all rich in antioxidants and carry great medicinal value. No meal is complete without a small, hot cup of tea!
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Prepared chicken feet… yum!

Authentic Chinese food has many forms and recipes, depending on the region it comes from. A trip to China in 2007 along the Silk Trail showed me how much food really differs by region. Going from coastal China’s large cities like Beijing and Xi’an, to the Gobi desert in the West, food transforms from simple, predictable dishes like rice noodles with steamed vegetables, pork, beef, or chicken, garlic notes, and lots of soy sauce, to more exotic dishes the more West you go. In the West, dishes tend to be more exotic, and sometimes bizarre, especially through the eyes of a Westerner! Somewhere in the Gobi desert, people are eating pickled chicken feet with spicy yellow curry sauce and green peppers (which would rank 5 out of 5 peppers on those spicy guides on menus in American Chinese restaurants).  Chicken feet, which are  more delicious than they sound, are something you can find in Chinese grocery stores in America. Meanwhile, somewhere in America, people are eating Sweet and Sour Chicken with knives and forks, reading their zodiac sign from a menu.  Another bizarre specialty in Western China is pig’s snout and it is eaten with flavorful soy and sesame sauce- and despite what it looks like, it’s absolutely delicious!

Real Chinese food is uniquely delicious and not to be missed. The detail, care, and craftsmanship that go into a real Chinese meal is unlike like any other. Don’t be put off when you see something like pickled chicken feet or frog legs at an Asian market in America. This is just one part of China’s vast culinary diversity. When you have the chance to taste authentic Chinese food, or better yet, make it yourself,  it’s a meal you will never forget!

Are you hungry yet? We hope you are excited for A Taste of China and won’t miss the opportunity to try some real Chinese food with your fellow YP’s! Tickets are $20 and you should reserve your spot as soon as possible!

Taste of China
Wednesday, August 21 @ 6pm
Shojo Restaurant
Tickets on sale here!

Summer 2013: Meet the Interns!

Summer 2013 has started and so have the new interns! Here is a little bit more about each one…

“Ali’s Interns” (Programming)

At PAUL Bakery in Prague

Me at PAUL Bakery in Prague eating a macaroon, one of my favorite pastries!

Brittany Osachuk
Hi, my name is Brittany Osachuk and I am a fifth year student at Northeastern University studying International Affairs with a minor in Political Science. I am a citizen of the U.S. and Finland and grew up in central Massachusetts but spent time living in Grenada and Finland during my younger years. I have a passion for travelling and experiencing new cultures which has led me to study abroad in the Czech Republic and Japan. In my free time I love to dance hip-hop and am on the No Limits Dance Crew at Northeastern. Fun fact: I can speak Finnish fluently, and yes, it is an uncommon and unusual language! If I could be anyone for a day I would be a KGB spy during the Cold War.

If I could be anyone for a day, I would be Darius Rucker so I could wagon wheel all the time.

Tim Lawlor

My name is Timothy Jude Lawlor Jr. I am a senior at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (home of real education). I am from Merica, meaning I am American from Irish background. My favorite country is Germany, and my hobbies include outdoors activities and working on my truck. Fun fact – I worked in Germany for a summer at a camp for the Boy Scouts.  If I could be anyone for a day, I would be Darius Rucker so I could wagon wheel all the time.

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Along with academics at PC, I am also a cheerleader for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and I enjoy dancing with the dance club and playing intramural soccer.

Cayla Barbour

Hi! My name Cayla and I am a rising junior at Providence College. I am a Raynham, MA native, but both of my parents are from Lebanon making me 100% Lebanese. I love my family’s homeland,but Lebanon is only one of my favorite places to travel. Being a Spanish minor, I love Spain, specifically the city of Granada. I love countries and languages, and that has inspired me to pursue a degree in Global Studies with a double minor in Spanish and Political Science. Along with academics at PC, I am also a cheerleader for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and I enjoy dancing with the dance club and playing intramural soccer. A fun fact about me is that I can lick my elbow, and if I could be anyone for a day, I would be Kate Middleton (or Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge).

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A casual picture of me skydiving recently.

Shuvam Rizal

Hello. My name is Shuvam Rizal and I am a junior at UMass Amherst. I am from Kathmandu in Nepal, but my favorite place is obviously here at UNA-GB building in Boston.  Like Tim, I am fan of Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel,” and one of my hobbies is jamming out to it on the guitar every now and then. Fun fact – A large part of me is still very angry at Scar for Mufasa’s death. If I could be anyone for a day, I’d be one of the Beatles, no question!

“Rebecca & Monika’s Interns” (Education)

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My hobbies include volunteering at my local church, playing the piano and going out with my friends!

Beatriz Pereira

Hi! My name is Beatriz, and I am currently a sophomore at UMass Boston studying Political Science and International Relations. I am originally from Vitoria, Brazil but I have been living in Boston since 2001. Officially I am Brazilian because I was born in Brazil but I have a crazy mixture of German, Portuguese and Italian because of my parents’ ancestors. If I had to visit one place I would go to Australia, who wouldn’t want to visit the biggest island in the world? I love their accents, their free-spirited style and their way of living. My hobbies include volunteering at my local church, playing the piano and going out with my friends! I would love to be Queen Elizabeth for a day, to just know the feeling of being a queen without the responsibilities. A random fun fact about me is — I am a little obsessed with painting my nails.

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I love Thai, Chinese, and Mexican food!

Maham Ahmed

Hi, my name is Maham, and I will be a freshman this fall at UMass Amherst! I am from Reading, MA, and I am originally from Pakistan. I love traveling especially to older cities like London, but I am a little biased when it comes to my favorite city as it would have to be Peshawar, Pakistan, the city I was born in. My hobbies include cooking, baking, reading, watching movies, making collages, and photography. I love Thai, Chinese, and Mexican food! A fun fact about me is that I can speak 6 languages (including English).  And if I could be anyone for a day I would probably be… Michael Kors or Vera Wang.

Wenwen Zhang (1)

If I could choose a person to be for a day, it must be Luxun, a writer who used his pen to fight against darkness and dictators, and his books influenced and inspired many young people at that time.

Wenwen Zhang

My name is Wenwen Zhang, Class 2013 in Wheaton College. I am from an ancient city Shaoxing (China) with 2,500 years’ history. I really want to visit North Korea one day and learn the local cultures and history. I love travelling and photography, and three facts about myself: 1. I cannot swim and am afraid of water; 2. I always mix “kitchen” and “chicken”; 3. I am a big fan of Mayday, a Taiwanese band. If I could choose a person to be for a day, it must be Luxun, a writer who used his pen to fight against darkness and dictators, and his books influenced and inspired many young people at that time. I am really interested in economic development and I would like to work on improving people in developing countries’ living standards in the future.

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A fun fact about me is that I won Best Hair in my graduating class and if I could be anyone for a day I’d be James Bond.

Caio Alvim

Hi, my name is Caio and I’m going to be a freshman at Umass Boston in the  fall where I’ll be studying Political Science. I was born in the town of Mendes Pimentel in Minas Gerais, Brasil. I’m a native Brasilian of both Italian and Portuguese ancestry. I haven’t traveled enough to have a favorite place picked out in the world but there’s no place I want to get to know more than northern Italy. I love my hometown of Boston and I’m a huge Boston sports fanatic! I love film and acting and I hope to one day pursue my love of acting and become a major Hollywood film star. I also love international relations and might end up choosing to become a diplomat and follow my love of international diplomacy. I love sports, and I was a Division I swimmer in high school and hope to continue swimming in college. A fun fact about me is that I won Best Hair in my graduating class and if I could be anyone for a day I’d be James Bond.

Happy World Refugee Day!

The Guardian, An Afghan Refugee Girl in Pakistan                                                     World Refugee Day is a day to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence

In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly decided that from the next year on, the 20th of June would be celebrated annually as ‘World Refugee Day’ – a day dedicated to raising awareness on the situation of refugees throughout the world. The focused theme this year is the impact of war on families – with the campaign tagline ‘One family torn apart by war is too many.’ Today, keeping with the spirit, UNA-GB is celebrating this important occasion and we hope this blog post will help our readers become more aware on the matter.

So let’s start at the very root of the subject. What exactly do we mean when we use the term ‘refugee?’ According to the legal definition, a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality and is unable to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. In other words – a refugee is somebody exiled from his or her country for having opinions and beliefs that don’t agree with the authority’s opinions and beliefs. For those of us living stably, it is hard to even contemplate just how radically our lives would change if, without notice, we were forced to leave our homes and possessions behind in order to relocate to an area where we don’t know anyone. Unfortunately, this is the reality of millions of people across the world today.

Where Afghan refugees go to

In early 2012, there were 15.4 million refugees around the world – a staggering statistic. Geographically, the highest number of refugees last year was observed in Pakistan – 4.8 million, with most originating from Afghanistan – a total of 2.7 million refugees. The pie chart to the left reveals how an overwhelming proportion of Afghani refugees eventually land in either Pakistan or Iran. Worldwide, it is estimated that 80 percent of refugees are women and children. According to 2012 data, 48 percent were women, and 46 percent of refugees throughout the world were under the age of 18.

As alarmingly high as they may be, the numbers described above do not tell the complete story of all the people that were forced out of their countries. Due to technical complications in definition, not all nationals exiled from their nations qualify as refugees. The 15.4 million people were only the ones that officially qualified under the ranks of being

Inside Climate News.org              Environmentally displaced people may also be refugees and require aid as they are forced to leave their homes due to natural disasters or the effects of climate change

a refugee. In total, about 45.2 million were forcibly displaced by the end of 2012. This figure includes the 15.4 million refugees as well as 28.8 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and 937,000 asylum seekers. IDPs are people who have been force to leave their homes as a result of armed conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. Unlike refugees, they have not crossed international borders.

The other category of displaced nationals – asylum seekers – represent the people who are looking to be recognized as a refugee, but have not yet received formal refugee status. These IDPs and asylum seekers do not qualify legally as refugees, so are also not able to receive the same legal protections or rights. Clearly, there are many technical complications while dealing with refugee statistics and we must be careful of such implications while reading data. Furthermore, because not every displaced person is qualified under the ranks of being a refugee, thousands of people do not receive the help being provided to refugees and end up waiting for official paperwork for long periods of time. In the meantime, they are stranded without a home or belongings.

Ersden.org                                                                                              The average refugee spends 12 years in camps

According to 2011 data, the countries with the most number of IDPs were Colombia (3.8 million), Sudan (2.4 million), Democratic Republic of Congo (1.7 million), Somalia (1.4 million) and Iraq (1.3 million). A total of 895,000 individual applications for asylum or refugee status were submitted to governments and UNHCR offices (more on the UNHCR coming up) offices in 166 countries in 2011. Unfortunately, only roughly 11 percent of these requests were fulfilled. What happens to the rest of these people who were not granted refugee status?

Still, 2011 saw a significant number of people seeking asylum or refugee status from countries experiencing recent/ongoing conflict or security concerns. Research has shown that the developing countries of the world host around 80 percent of the world’s refugees.

While delving deep into the technicalities and statistics can be disheartening, we must recognize that there are multiple organizations throughout the world that continue to work towards providing necessary help-to displaced people – the most notable one being the UNHCR – The UN Refuge Agency. At the request of national governments or the UN itself, UNHCR assists people in voluntary repatriation (the process of returning a person back to one’s place of origin), local integration, or resettlement to a third country. It’s headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. The UNHCR has been recognized multiple times for its work with refugees throughout the world, and has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize twice, in 1954 and again in 1981.

Along with its work in assisting refugees, asylum seekers and IDPs in attaining their needs, UNHCR also works actively in research and statistical analysis. It produces detailed and highly sophisticated research data every year in order to bring more light into the matter of issues pertaining to displaced people. A thorough and comprehensive statistical account of the status of refugees today categorized according to the geography of world by following this link here. The UNHCR also continues its work in raising public awareness on the matter. Several new programs have recently been introduced to support and to heighten awareness of the issues faced by refugees around the world. Two of these programs are products of the benchmarks set out by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

So now that you are more informed about the displaced people of the world and their current status – one question still remains. What can you do to celebrate World Refugee Day? Here are a couple of suggestions from the UNA-GB team:

  • Spread The Word!

The idea behind dedicating a day of the year to this particular issue is primary raising awareness. So do some research, form potential ideas and discuss! Over a cup of coffee, by the water cooler at work or through a Facebook status – just spread the word!

Try to experience and share the experience what it is like to be a refugee, in game form. Play “Against All Odds”, a computer game created by UNHCR and experience what it is like to flee your home, cross into a new country and start a new life.

  • Read articles, watch videos and inform yourself.

Again, the primary idea behind World Refugee Day is informing oneself as well as others on the matter. There are multiple organizations (of course, including UNHCR) that produce informative videos and release them online. Here is one of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie discussing the 2011 World Refugee Day. The first step toward change is knowledge, after all – so go ahead and educate yourself!

Also, sign up to receive email alerts containing news, events and ways to get involved through UNHCR.

  • Donate!

For an immediate impact towards the cause, the best way to go is to make a donation. There are plenty of organizations that can assist in making donations to refugee camps all over the world. The official UNHCR website is currently hosting an urgent appeal donation cause for people displaced due to the Syria Crisis.

  • Get to Know Some Refugees if You Can!

There are over 4.8 million displaced nationals throughout the world, there is a good chance you might just find a few around you. Pay them a visit, donate some items that you may not be in need of and have a quick chat – hear their stories first hand. This World Refugee day, step out of your comfort zone and meet some these brave individuals.

Happy World Refugee Day!

Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth, and Families Conference

WHEELO~1Education, health, and human rights are three prevalent international issues on their own, but they are also tightly interwoven into each other. How often do we get to see them as such? “We go to a conference on education; And we go to a conference on health care; And we may even go to a conference that focuses only on human rights, but not often do we have the chance to bring them together,” says Jackie Jenkins-Scott the President of Wheelock College. And she is right! Alone, these causes are expansive, so focusing too much on one may warrant the neglect of another, but the overlap should not be forgotten. Wheelock College is not only remembering this, they are celebrating it. Next week, the institution is holding a four day conference that will delve into global issues in education, health, and human rights. It is called Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth and Families.

From Wednesday, June 19th until Saturday, June 22nd, international activists can come dissect, discuss, and collaborate on the issues of social justice, power, protection, prevention, aid, and programs available for children and families around the world. Keynotes will be speaking throughout the conference, and they are an impressive set of minds. The event will kick off with Cherie Blair, Founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and will continue with other notables such as Kevin Carroll – Author, Speaker, Agent for Social Change, Founder Katalyst LLC, Ögmundur Jónasson – Minister of the Interior of Iceland, Kerry Kennedy – President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Simona-Mirela Miculescu – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

The six keynotes are not the only reasons to join the conference. In addition to the stimulating conversations and inspiring words of amazing individuals, there will be a Cultural Festival with international music, food, and dance, screenings of international films exploring critical global issues, concurrent sessions on education, health, and human rights, expert panelists, spotlight sessions highlighting exemplary programs in education, health, and human rights, and an Awards Celebration evening at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

The conference is a chance for 42 countries to come together so voices can be heard, and a cross-cultural think tank can be explored. Definitely something all activists will want to check out!

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For more information and registration, click here! #GlobalCauses

Also, email allison.smith@unagb.org to get a great discount code!

All about Poland and Pierogi

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Hey readers,

We’re sure you’re just as super excited for the Young Professionals ‘Taste of Poland’ event next week as we are here at the UNA-GB! In life, you may not be able to have your cake and eat it too, but here at the UNA-GB, you can make your all the pierogi you want and eat them until you’re completely satisfied! This blog post will be introduce you to the wonderful food form and throw in a few fun facts about Poland along the way.

What, exactly are pierogi you may ask? They are an age-old Eastern/Central European delicacy that serves brilliantly both as an appetizer as well as the main course of a meal. Pierogi are basically dumplings of unleavened dough – first boiled, then baked or fried with butter and onions. The best part is – perogies are super diverse and can be stuffed with anything, from potato filling and cheese to ground meat and sour cream, or even your choice of fruit. You can have all sorts of fun with cooking them too! Pierogi can be semicircular, triangular, rectangular or any shape you want if you’re feeling creative!

Fried Perogies – Yum!

Traditionally considered ‘peasant food’, the exquisite taste of pierogi quickly spread across Poland throughout all social classes including nobles. Outside Poland, they are very popular in other European countries such as Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. Many cookbooks from the 17th Century describe pierogi as a staple of the Polish diet, and each traditional holiday had its own special kind of pierogi. Different kinds of fillings and shapes are observed for occasions such as Christmas and Easter, and important events (such as weddings) have their own special kind of perogies – ‘kirniki’ – filled with delicious chicken meat. There are also ones made especially for mourning/wakes, and even some for caroling season in January!

Surely, a country that gave birth to this wonderful cuisine must be pretty amazing itself. Here are some fun facts you may not have known about the Republic of Poland to ‘chew’ over before Taste of Poland:

  • Poland is the 69th largest country in the world, 9th largest in Europe.

    Marie Curie – A Polish physicist, chemist and two-time Nobel Prize winner.

  • Poland boasts 17 Nobel Prize winners, including four Peace Prizes and five in Literature
  • Polish born astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was the first person to propose that the Earth was not the center of the universe
  • Saint John’s Kupala is a popular holiday in which people jump over fires, a tradition that predates Christianity
  • In Wroclaw there is an annual citywide medieval festival, including jousts, horse archery, medieval dances and other activities
  • Pizza in Poland does not contain tomato sauce. The waiters bring sauce to the table in a pitcher, and you pour it on top. Sometimes, the sauce is just ketchup.
  • There is a ‘Pope Channel’ on TV. Anytime one wishes to see the pope, they can tune him in
  • In popular Polish culture, bananas are peeled from the blossom end, not the stem end
  • The most popular name for a dog in Poland is Burek which translates directly to ‘brownish-grey color’
  • In Poland, the name day is considered more important than the birthday
  • Around 90% of Poles have completed at least secondary education

We hope all this information has you excited for YP ‘Taste of Poland’. Tickets are $15.00 only, and June 13th is quickly approaching. Be sure to mark your calendars, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to learn how to make pierogi from local Polish experts, enjoy eating your delicious creations, and meet with other globally minded Bostonians. Get tickets in advance please so we can buy the right amount of ingredients, details can be found here! We hope to see you all there!

Water, Water, Everywhere… But For How Long?

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Happy Biodiversity Day!

That’s right, it’s that time of year again when we remind ourselves about the importance of conserving our biodiversity on this great planet. This year the focus is on water and the vital role it plays in biodiversity. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in an address yesterday “Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are central to achieving the vision of a water secure world. […] Where once the focus was on trade-offs between water use and biodiversity, today we are coming to understand how biodiversity and water security are mutually reinforcing.”

As I am sure most of you are asking yourselves what is biodiversity and why is it so important to us as individuals and as a planet? The basic answer is that biodiversity is the variety of life and the patterns they form. Areas like the rainforest or coral reefs have high biodiversity because there are so many different species all living in the same place, and these animals are different than those who live in the desert or the arctic. Each species plays a vital role in the life of all the other species they interact with. The age-old term, and famous song, that relates to biodiversity is the Circle of Life; what effects one organism will have a ripple effect on the others and thus will impact biodiversity.

Another way of looking at the term biodiversity it is the fruit of billions of years of evolution shaped by natural process and influenced by humans.

What really is the value of having such a large amount of biodiversity in the world? Well, our own self-interest is to protect and conserve resources since we need it to survive. These biological resources are the pillars of which civilizations are formed. Its loss would threaten our food supply and industries such as agriculture and the cosmetic industry. Some facts about biodiversity and the effects it has on people:

·         70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and depend directly on strong biodiversity for their survival and wellbeing

·         The average abundance of species is declining — there has been a reported 40% loss between 1970 and 2000.

·         Unsustainable consumption continues as demand for resources worldwide exceeds the biological capacity of the Earth by about 20%.

Sustainable development, water and biodiversity should be forefront in the international community’s mind, says Ban rttc.org

This year’s theme for Biodiversity Day is Water, which correlates with 2013 being the Year of Water Cooperation. After all nearly 2/3 of the planet is covered in water. That being said, there is only three percent that is freshwater and only one percent of that is in liquid form suitable for drinking. Water is becoming scarcer as demands outstrips supply, and most of what little water is left fails to meet the minimum requirements for quality.  In Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address for today, he noted that “we live in an increasingly water insecure world where demand often outstrips supply and where water quality often fails to meet minimum standards. Under current trends, future demands for water will not be met.”

At the World Economic Forum 2013, Global Risk reported that water supply is second only to major financial failure. Water is so important that without it food production is unimaginable. Accounting for approximately 70% of global water usage, agriculture remains the greatest single demand on water and the biggest polluter of watercourses. Water demands for agriculture and the impacts agriculture can have on water quality are key management issues in maintaining both food and water security.

“I Feel Happy Too” by Fairuz Othman, Creative Commons License. un.org

“I Feel Happy Too” by Fairuz Othman, Creative Commons License. un.org

With such an important resource being threatened, the question is – what are people doing to combat the threat? One convention that has been formed to deal with this issue was the Convention on Biological Diversity, a legally binding treaty with three goals, conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of biodiversity, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.  The 193 members feel that the ecosystem, species and genetic resources should be used for the benefit of humans, but in a way that does not lead to a decline in biodiversity.

evergreen.edu

Ways we can help preserve this vital resource can be very simple – as simple as just making sure we’re not dumping anything harmful into large water bodies, or cutting back on consumption in order to conserve water locally. The key water management philosophy should be: reduce, recycle and treat before disposal.

Examples of significant opportunities to use ecosystems to manage water include:

  • improving the health of soils and land cover in farming landscapes to simultaneously achieve water security for food security and reduce off-farm impacts, including reducing water use, pollution, erosion and landslides;
  • integrating natural infrastructure approaches into urban water management to achieve sustainable and secure cities, wetlands, floodplains, coastal marshes and estuaries, to increase resilience to natural disasters;
  • managed landscapes, such as forests, to sustain drinking water supplies;
  • reducing the risks from, and severity of, floods and drought

Desertification is a real threat in today’s world britannica.com

Conserving or restoring ecosystems to manage water also delivers significant co-benefits. For example: wetlands can help regulate water but can also support a significant amount of fishery practices; restoring soils can help achieve more productive agriculture and sustainable food security; forests provide timber and non-timber resources and habitat for pollinators and wildlife; improved landscapes provide significant recreational and cultural values. These benefits should be added to water-related benefits when considering returns on investments in water related infrastructure.

Now that we have discussed the importance of biodiversity and the role played by water, we all can do our part in trying to conserve it – not only for us but for future generations so that they get to enjoy the benefits of having a diverse ecosystem.

Now, what are you doing to support water conservation? How about biodiversity? What are you motivated to do?

Pyongyang Will Persevere?

By Lesley Ta, Malden High Junior and UN Reporter for the 2013 Invitational Model UN Conference

International communication and foreign diplomacy have become increasingly imperative tools in the modern era. With seemingly endless limits to accelerated information, the world has become a place where set boundaries are surpassed with increasing regularity. There has been growing concern over the leadership capabilities of the current generation. With technology’s expanding force, many traditional methods have been abandoned; alas, the current generation is the first to ride out the newly intimate world with an edge.

Will our children seamlessly succeed into our governments?

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Students learn valuable skills, such as public speaking, conflict resolution, and compromise at MUN conferences

United Nations (UN) simulations are gaining ground throughout the world. Thousands of middle school aged and high school aged students are participants in these conferences. They often set a solid foundation for public speaking and a passion for international relations.Will they continue to fight our wars, to initiate the same mistakes? Will they learn to become informed, enlightened individuals?

In each conference, pairs represent a single country; they are responsible for accurately representing the country’s response to an authentic developing issue. The role – playing required of students can often be contemplative of oneself; it is common to observe delegates becoming passionate regarding their duties as ambassadors.

The United Nations Security Council, both genuine and simulation, is considered the most prominent congregation of the United Nations.

Absolute members of the Security Council total 15 countries; five of which are permanent: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Current totating member countries are: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Australia, Guatemala, Luxemburg, Morocco, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, and Togo.

The General Assembly (GA) is the only division of the UN with representation from all member countries. The GA elects the rotating seats of the Security Council (SC) and may constitute recommendations of action to the council. The GA is not privileged to decide on the SC responsibilities of peace and security.

The United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNA-GB) hosts the Invitational Model United Nations Conference (IMUNC) at Northeastern University (NU) annually. Sponsored by National Grid and Global Classrooms, this convention is available to both public and charter schools in Boston and it’s surrounding cities: Cambridge, Chelsea, Lynn, Revere, Malden, Somerville, Everett, and Worcester.

Middle school and high schools students were exempt from participation fees due to the financial support provided by UNA-GB’s generous donors. The 2013 IMUNC was postponed from March 8th to April 1st due to an intense snow storm.

At nine am on April 1st, participants were greeted with the well wishes from the directors of NU’s International Relations Council and UNA-GB’s Curriculum and Instruction Manager, Rebecca Corcoran.

IMUN Secretary-General Evan Brunning expressed inspirational roots; Brunning began participating in Model United Nations as a college student.

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Students step into their roles as delegates

IMUN Head Delegate Katherine Teebagey opened the floor to questions and generally received inquiries from middle school students. The younger crowd’s questions focused on the law career opportunities that the IMUNC could open.

The High School Security Council was assigned to settle on North Korea’s nuclear threats. All countries selected for this committee mirrored the existing countries in the official United Nations Security Council.

Present countries were: the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Australia, China, Guatemala, Pakistan and South Korea.

Boston Latin Academy’s delegates portrayed the Russian Federation, Pakistan and South Korea. The John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science from Roxbury sent delegates to represent Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The positions of Australia, China, and Guatemala were secured by delegates from Malden High School.

North Korea was not in attendance to this event, however would have been depicted by Lynn Classical High School. Another Course to College, Academy of the Pacific Rim, and Lynn English High School were also not present. All absentee schools had country assignments for the Security Council debate.

The first session of the Committee occurred between 9:30am and 12:00pm. Chair Teebagey opened the formal debate with a volunteer speakers’ list. Discussion and consideration of issues were scattered and disorientated. Countries were either brief or reserved in their declarations.

Toward the end of the leading committee session, Chair Teebagey declared for a more ordered speakers’ list. All present dIMG_2993elegations had to speak.

Chair Teebagey intended on ensuring the assessments of each country in attendance; her procedure proved to be instrumental for the situation at hand. After each territory had spoken at least twice, Chair Teebagey and the council members were satisfied at the clarification the proceeding gave.

With each standpoint given, perspectives were gearing in preparation for the second and final committee session.

Commencing at 12:45pm, countries were absolutely consumed and attached to means of humanitarian aid to the peoples of North Korea (NK).

Chair Darnell Louis and Vice-Chair Richard Yu of University of Massachusetts Boston moderated the committee for the duration of the second session.

The United Kingdom (UK) announced a focal point on humanitarian efforts, and was willing to give monetary reliefs; they mentioned a possible directory for self-defense in case of North Korean contentions.

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Australia expressed fierce opposition to aid contributions; however they asserted sincere concerns for the people in need. In response to the Russian Federation’s wish of “diplomatic relations”, Korea’s and Guatemala’s “economic sanctions”, Australia adamantly pointed out their personal failed treaties with NK.

Pakistan suggested befriending NK in order to “force them to act in a reasonable way.”
China was accused of “not signing economic sanctions”, however repelled such statements. Australia fired at the Chinese delegation, believing that “China’s aid [to NK] was obligated.” China confirmed that it was the “bulk of the humanitarian aid” that NK was receiving; China responded to aid apprehension by stating that the assistance was for the “uplifting of the N. Korean state.”

The Russian Federation (RF) urged for caution when the discussion shifted to military action. Guatemala and Pakistan were anxious over the possible pretense of war, and concurred with the RF. Testifying indignantly, Australia stated that “it was not the sanctions that had made NK go bad, it was the N. Korean decision to not [follow them].”

The Republic of Korea eloquently added that there must be “unity and safety within the U.N. if NK goes to war.” They spoke earnestly on how unnecessary the NK threats were. The UK reiterated the concurrence of “safety and diplomacy first,” and a precedent for last resort military actions taken against NK with prepared reserves.

The Security Council passed for a moderated caucus discussing the details of a draft resolution. The moderated caucus immediately concentrated on the types of humanitarian aid applicable, and on what manner it should be delivered.
RF eliminated the option of monetary aid, however wished to concentrate on food, shelter, children and education.

The RF also believed that random inspections may be an option to ensure the distribution of aid to the general population. China strongly disagreed with this suggestion. The UK called attention to the N. Korean mentality, and the difficulties of providing aid within such a mindset. UK also clarified its military reserves as a “defense mechanism” rather than an anticipation of an “attack.”

China indicated the contradictory actions of imposing sanctions while giving aid. Guatemala chided China’s “refusal of a resolution.”

The Security Council passed for a five minute unmoderated caucus to in order to entice all veto -powered countries to agree on all terms of the proposed resolutions.

Amina Egal, representing the United Kingdom, stated that the country was “taking the North Korean threat seriously” and that a “state of war” was a possibility.

A troubled UK was desperate in convincing China to assent with military actions.
Australia’s Wyler Giordani and Jean Gedoan were exasperated with China’s disregard for the draft resolutions.

In response to China’s insensibility to military action, Giordani stated “ .. when a country is uncooperative and/or refusing to compromise, that is when the debate is over.”

Gedeon added that there was an interminable cycle of arguments occurring between China and the other delegations. Zeyu Zheng and Jiohnnie Diaz of Pakistan aspired to pass a long term solution; they believed that a short term solution would be a militaristic based one.

Zheng commented that the heated debate between the UK and China developed because each had advantages in passing/vetoing a resolution.

Guatemala’s delegate, Cara Mulligan, disclosed that “North Korea carries a huge problem,” but does not “pose as a threat.” Mulligan made it clear that Guatemala is anxious over the unpredictability of North Korea’s actions and the possible effects Guatemala will face as a result.

Mulligan represented Guatemala solo for the second committee.

Elahd Hain and Michael John of the Republic of Korea also shared Australia’s dismay. “China’s not listening,” they briefly commented, “we want a whole set of plans and China [only] wants a part [of them].”

China refused to comment during the unmoderated caucus.

Resolution 1.1: “Should diplomacy fail, economic sanctions will be implemented.” An amendment was added to ensure that “military intervention was ok as long as there was North Korean military aggression.”

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Voting

An amendment was made to 1.1 as a result of the negotiations during the unmoderated caucus. Military action was to be the last, final resort to North Korean military aggression. This draft resolution passed with three abstaining, two “no” votes, and “four” yes votes.

Resolution 1.2: “Focusing on the people in North Korea as a government, [there will be a] discontinuation of monetary funds…but will have access to food, water, clothing, and education.”

Sponsored by the RF and South Korea, this resolution passed with a no vote from Australia, an abstain from Guatemala, a Pakistani pass, turned yes vote joining with China, RF, UK, and Republic of Korea.

Resolution 1.3 was vetoed by the United Kingdom, although had yielded a no vote from the Republic of Korea and yes votes from the rest of the delegation.

The High School Security Council had passed their resolutions around an hour before the conference ended. An emergency conflict was thrown at the Council, however did not receive much dedicated attention. The first conflict was civilian unrest in Mali of the Congo, however a situation with infighting within the North Korean government proved to be more appealing to solve.

The delegates of the United Kingdom, from The John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, were proclaimed the best public speakers.

Representatives of the Russian Federation, from the Boston Latin Academy, received the award for best position paper.

As of the conclusion of the 2013 IMUNC at Northeastern University, Malden High School’s China received the Security Council “best delegation” award.

A night of glamour at the 2013 Consuls Ball

KAT_8875Last Friday, UNA-GB hosted the 2013 Consuls Ball, which celebrates the Consular Corps of Boston, at the Fairmont Copley Hotel. During the ball, Governor Deval Patrick’s proclamation was read declaring April 26, 2013, as Consular Corps Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. About 30 Consuls from countries such as Korea, France, Turkey, Ireland, to name a few, were in attendance.

KAT_8855This year’s Consuls Ball celebrated Korean culture. Consul General of Korea Kangho Park gave some remarks. A short-clip with a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was also played. There were also performances by Ms. Youngsook Song and Dr. Chuljin Lee. Ms. Song played a traditional Korean instrument known as the Gayageum and Dr. Lee performed a traditional Buddhist dance.

The evening also consisted of a silent and live auction that included packages to amazing destinations like the island of Azores, Cape Cod, the Bermudas, among many others.

KAT_8813UNA-GB also presented its annual Leadership Award. This year’s recipient was Joseph E. Aoun, President of Northeastern University. Aoun has strengthened Northeastern’s leadership position in experiential and cooperative education, created global programs with urban perspective, and fostered a research enterprise with eight federally recognized centers and institutes.

KAT_8640The Consuls Ball helps support UNA-GB’s Model UN program. Model UN teaches middle and high school students to think critically about complex global issues.

More pictures to be posted on our Facebook page soon!

We hope you can join us in 2014 for our next Consuls Ball!

Why you should seriously consider attending the Consul’s Ball: Hobnobbing with the Elite of Boston’s International Community

If  the title doesn’t give it away let me explain.  The Consul’s Ball is a fun-filled night with dancing, dining and entertainment . Along with the dancing, dining and entertainment the Consul’s Ball gives attendees the chance to meet some of the most influential people in Boston’s international community.

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Still not convinced? 

How about the chance to win some awesome prizes? Each year at the Consul’s Ball there is a live and silent auction in which attendees can bid on some lavish and exclusive prizes. This year you can bid on a vacation in the Azores, a long weekend in Bermuda, Sports Extravaganza (with Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Revolution tickets) in the live auction; silent auction packages to destinations all over New England, fun activities to do in the city, and much more; plus add in our mystery box items and you have so many options for going home with an awesome package!

Ok if you’re not still impressed let’s see if we can pull at your heartstrings.  All proceeds from the Consul’s Ball go to help fund UNA-GB’s Model United Nations programming. Model United Nations allows students  to explore global issues and their possible solutions. Model UN has  also allows  students  to gain a greater appreciation for the world that they live  in, but also makes them  realize that they  can also make a change. It’s about letting the young people of the future become aware about the world around them and allowing them to feel like they can make a difference not later but now. 

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So if you want an excuse to dress up to the nines, hobnob with the elite , a chance to win amazing prizes and a wonderful opportunity to give to a great cause then you should definitely check out  the 2013 Consul’s Ball on April 26 at the Fairmont Copley Hotel.

 

Networking night with UNA-GB members and Professor Ian Johnstone

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On March 20th, UNA-GB hosted a members (and friends) event at Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale in downtown Boston. This event aimed to welcome new members to the organization through networking and foster a discussion about “The Responsibility to Protect after Libya and Syria”, led by Professor Ian Johnstone, a UNA-GB Advisory Council Member.

Ian Johnstone is a Professor of International Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He has just been appointed Academic Dean of the Fletcher School, a position he will assume in July 2013. Prior to joining Fletcher in the year 2000, he worked for the United Nations, including five years in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. He continues to serve as a regular consultant to the United Nations, including to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Political Affairs.

The discussion attempted to encapsulate the standing of coercive intervention within the framework of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) following the application of this philosophy in Libya and the opposite in respect to it in Syria from the United Nations. Professor Johnstone noted that in 2011, the UN Security Council was confronted with the dilemma of whether to authorize an intervention in Libya to prevent a possible humanitarian catastrophe. At that time Libya was confronting civilian casualties as a consequence of fights between the government and rebel forces and the international community was concerned that this problem would only escalate to a large scale of victims. 

The discussion question that Professor Johnstone proposed after his introduction on the background about the Libya and Syria cases within the R2P context was: why has the UN and international community’s response to the conflict been so different and what does this tell us about the practice of the R2P doctrine within the UN? Should the UN reassess the R2P philosophy for future cases? How does the Security Council play a role within the R2P decisions?

If you are interested in networking and discussing this and other international issues, make sure to come to our future members events!