Blog Archives

Human Kindness in the Wake of Horror

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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.

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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.

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Japan: A major player in global affairs

japan 2Japan is an island nation with a peaceful nature and large economy. As such, it plays an important role in international affairs.

Japan first joined the United Nations in 1956, and up until the present, it continues to support the UN in bringing about peace and stability throughout the world.  Its commitment to the UN shows through its participation in peacekeeping operations. For example, in 1999, Japan contributed refugee relief materials to displaced Kosavar and Timorese people, and it has done the same for Iraqi and Sudanese refugees in more recent years. It is also involved with the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations. Nonetheless, Japan’s involvement with the UN is extensive.

JapanFurthermore, Japan is currently the third largest economy in the world and thus plays an important role in the world economy. Its major exports include technology-related products ranging from cars to cameras to video games. Popular Japanese brands include Toyota, Honda, Canon, Nikon, Nintendo, to name a few.  Japan is also an exporter of pop culture. Anime and manga comics are among those pop culture exports.
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Nevertheless, Japan is a country with a grand presence in the world stage. There is no
doubt that it will continue to play out this role in the years to come.

Want to continue learning more about Japan while enjoying exquisite food and good company? Then, join us in our first “Taste of” event of the year!

Taste of Japan will be held at Itadaki Boston on Wednesday, January 23 at 7pm. Come join us and don’t miss out on the fun! We hope to see many of you there!

Tickets are available here: http://yptoj.eventbrite.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-UNA-GB staff

Local Relief Efforts for Japan

A little over a month ago, on March 11th, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Japan. It was the largest recorded earthquake in the country’s history, causing untold damage, numerous deaths, and a devastating tsunami. Numerous relief and humanitarian organizations from around the world jumped in to help and support the hundreds of thousands of victims of this natural disaster. One of these organizations — the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund — is located right here in Boston and has been instrumental in providing its services to the Japanese people.

We asked the co-founder of the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund, Ms. Atsuko Toko Fish, to provide us with more detailed insights both into the organization and the overall situation in Japan so that we could share this information with all of you. Below are her responses to our questions.

1) What is the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund?

In order to provide Kibou (Hope) to Japanese people, The Boston Foundation, Japan Society of Boston and the Fish Family Foundation have established the “Japanese Disaster Relief Fund – Boston.” The purpose of the Fund is to provide immediate relief to affected individuals and communities in Northeast Japan. 100% of funds raised will go toward these relief and sustaining efforts and we anticipate that the Fund will be expended within two years.

The Fund will prioritize immediate relief through supporting local NGOs and communities on the ground best positioned to aid those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Our intention is to disperse these short-term funds as quickly as possible. We anticipate the needs assessment, due diligence, and fund allocation for short-term aid will be completed within approximately 3 months. Over the next two years, the remaining funds will be distributed periodically for mid-to longer term aid.

2) How does it differ from other relief organizations?

This Fund is a unique collaboration with three nonprofit organizations, the Boston Foundation, The Japan Society of Boston and the Fish Family Foundation. Our expertise in grant making and our networks in Japan enable us to make direct impact grants to organizations and communities in Tohoku. In addition, all administrative costs of the fund – including on-the-ground needs assessment and due diligence in Japan— are covered by the Fish Family Foundation.

3) What is needed the most in Japan right now?

What the people of Japan need is Hope. They have lost their homes and livelihoods. They need to rebuild their lives again. They need temporary shelters, medical attention, and better sanitation systems. Many elderly people are experiencing severe health conditions after being taken out of their care environment.   In addition, the children need to return back to their schools and begin a normal life again.

4) How long do you think the recovery process will take?

It is hard to anticipate. Sources say it will take more than 5 years for the region to rebuild itself again.

5) How can individuals support the Japanese Relief Fund?

You can support the grantee organizations of the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund – Boston by donating through our website (http://japanesedisasterrelieffund.org) and attending the fundraising events in the Upcoming Events page. We have many fantastic restaurants, businesses, and communities in Boston holding events to support our Fund. It is a great way to spend your weekend to help those in need.

In addition, we are getting involved with social media to actively promote the fund. Please follow us at @jdrfb on twitter and “Japanese Disaster Relief Fund –Boston” on facebook.

6) How has the Boston community responded so far to the disaster in Japan?

The Boston community has been an incredible source of support. For example, the medical community has come together to form the Boston-Japan Medical Relief Initiative to send a group of Japanese doctors to support relief efforts near the evacuee sites. We approved a $30,000 grant to this group for travel expenses and emergency medical supplies for the first two teams of Boston doctors. The first team of doctors will be returning from Japan very shortly.

7) How can the Boston community get more informed and active?

Please keep your thoughts with the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan. They have lost their families, homes, and livelihoods. The local NGOs and volunteer communities need our financial support to assist these individuals. Please visit http://japanesedisasterrelieffund.org for donations. In addition, we are happy to review proposals for fundraising plans. Please email us with your contact information and a brief fundraising proposal at info.jdrfb@gmail.com.

Please consider supporting the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund today!

-Hanna

A UNited response to Japan Earthquake

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

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

Source: freshnessmag.com

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

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

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

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

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

-Hanna