Blog Archives

A Brief History of the Mighty Sushi Roll

Hello readers!

We hope that you all are excited for the Young Professionals cultural event TONIGHT, Sushi Rolling Night with Young Professionals! Have a look at the interesting facts about the history of sushi to prepare you for the amazing cultural event that is in store for you this week!

Image

The first meaning of the Chinese symbol for sushi is believed to be “those made with fish”, then became “food where fish is pickled by rice and salt”. This cuisine bares little resemblance to the Japanese sushi we enjoy now!

With sushi readily available to most cultures around the world due to globalization, it has rapidly become a popular dish around the globe and even a symbol of Japanese culture. However, the sushi that most cultures experience today is not exactly how it was introduced to Japan during it’s inception. There are many forms of sushi that exist. The very first form of sushi introduced in Japan was called Narezushi. During the process of creating the Narezushi form of sushi, raw fish were stuffed with rice and then placed through a fermentation process. The fermentation process would take a couple of months until it was almost complete. Before the process of fermentation was complete, the fish stuffed with rice were prepared for people to eat in order to save the rice from dissolving. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Japanese sushi was transformed into more of a commonly produced food.

During the 19th century, as commoners began to receive permission to create businesses of their own, sushi transformed into a new form called edomaezushi, and became a type of fast food in Japan. Raw pieces of fish were placed on top of rolled squares of rice infused with vinegar. During this time, merchants were forced to become creative in the preservation of the fish used for sushi as raw fish spoils quickly. Depending on the type of fish they were using, merchants would cover their product in salt, wasabi, vinegar, or soy sauce. This allowed merchants to keep their product for a longer, although still limited, amount of time. Edomaezushi is now popular all throughout the world and sometimes changes shape to compliment other cultures. In the United States some types of Edomaezushi come with an assortment of sauces that you wouldn’t typically see in Japan.

Image

The earliest written mention of sushi, according to OED, was in the 1893 book “Japanese Interiors”

Sushi has made a drastic change in America. A prime example of this change can be seen with the extremely popular California roll. There is a legend that says Japanese sushi chef Ichiro Mashita is actually the chef that created the California roll. Upon opening one of the very first restaurants that featured a sushi bar in Los Angeles, Mashita wanted to find a substitute for Toro (fatty tuna) in his cuisine. He realized that avocado holds the same greasy texture of Toro and decided to use it as a substitute. He also turned the roll inside out in order to appease his American customers who did not like seeing the Nori (dried seaweed) when eating their sushi, which is how you would typically order sushi in the U.S. today. The type of sushi that Mashita crafted is actually called Makizushi, which is translated as “rolled sushi”. Makizushi and Edozushi are some of the most popular ways that sushi is experienced within the United States!

Now that you have some background into the history of sushi and the different ways it can be experienced we hope that you will join us and your fellow YP’s at Sushi Rolling Night!!

Advertisements

All about Poland and Pierogi

Flagbig

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!

Taste of Japan

Our “Taste of” series are back! Young Professionals kicked off the new year by enjoying authentic Japanese food!

           photo-1

On the 23rd, a group of 25 YPers came together at Itadaki Boston on Newbury Street for “Taste of Japan.” We gathered in a private room in the basement and had exquisite buffet-style Japanese tapas including ginger salad, Japanese spring rolls, pan fried gyoza, potato croquettes, boiled chicken and lotus root, and sushi rice.

photo-11

Akira Muto, Consul General of Japan in Boston, was our guest speaker, and he spoke about his experiences as a diplomat. Also, we had the head chef of the restaurant give a few remarks about the delicious Japanese food that we were served.

While we were enjoying our authentic food, we also played a fun game of trivia in which fun questions about Japan were asked. Some examples of the questions include: What is the name of the academic and research arm of the UN, established in 1973 in Tokyo? United Nations University! What is the name of the tallest mountain in Japan called? Mt. Fuji! What does Itadaki mas mean? “Thank you for your life (everything).”

photo-4

All in all, it was a fun night of good food and good company! Check out more photos from the evening here and make sure to join our upcoming events!

The next “Taste Of” event will be in mid-February and we’re focusing on Ethiopia! Stay tuned for more information and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Inspiration, Perspiration, and Celebration: 2012 UNA-USA Annual Meeting Recap

This year’s UNA-USA Annual Meeting just wrapped up last week, and was a great success with more than 150 UNA-USA members from 63 Chapters and 31 states coming together in Washington DC from June 10-12 for Chapter development sessions, briefings at the U.S. Department of State, and Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.  We had an impressive showing by Boston members this year; along with staff member Kaitlin Hasseler and Board Member Alma Morrison, we had 5 members actively participate in the conference.  Read their recaps of the activities below.

UN Foundation President Tim Wirth and Dan Sullivan at the UNA-USA ’12 Meeting

Dan Sullivan, former Young Professionals chair and current UNA New England Region Steering Committee Member:
The state of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is strong and vibrant. UNA members met for the annual meeting in our nationʼs capital June 9-12th as a unified cadre of committed citizen ambassadors representing the principles embodied in the United Nationsʼ mission. Newly elected CCR-Steering Committee representatives assembled Saturday for dinner and their first official meeting.

Alma Morrison, UNA-GB Board Member and outgoing CCR Chair (far left), with Patrick Madden, UNA-USA Executive Director, and additional chapter members.

A palpable energy was evident in the Westin DC City Center Hotel on Sunday as members convened for the first time since the UNA-USA-UNF merger was finalized last year.  The meeting opened with Executive Director Patrick Madden and our very own Alma Morrison, outgoing Chair, Council of Chapters and Regions presiding over the annual business meeting and awards ceremony. Alma was recognized for her extraordinary, selfless allegiance to UNA-USA throughout a challenging time. She is a legend and a hero to all UNA-USA members and we are immensely proud of her at UNA-GB.

The morning continued with a regional breakout session and working lunch. UNA-GB members, along with Alma and UNA-GB staff member Kaitlin Hasseler met with leaders from the two Connecticut chapters to share programming successes, ideas on membership and retention, and the possibility of hosting a joint event in the coming year. The great Gillian Sorensen (who we were thrilled to have as a keynote speaker at our UN Day Luncheon last Fall) discussed with us some of the myths and misperceptions of the UN and why she commits her life to serving as an “advocate, debater, and defender” of the United Nations. Aaron Sherinian, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at the UN Foundation presented on utilizing online media strategies for chapters while Laura Giroux, Membership Director at UNA-USA and Andrew Cornelius of the UNA-USA Denver chapter gave a presentation on how to retain members and attract young professionals.

The UN Foundationʼs newest campaign, Shot@Life, champions the cause of vaccines
in the fight to save childrenʼs lives in the developing world.  Director Devi Thomas spoke of how to effectively advocate for global vaccines. Chapters seeking advice on how to integrate Model UN programs were able to meet with Global Classrooms staff and chapter leaders in the afternoon.

Young Professionals Happy Hour at the UNA USA 2012 Meeting

On Sunday evening, the UNA-National Capital Area Young Professionals hosted a happy hour attended by over 40 UNA-USA members of all ages to share appetizers, cocktails, and conversation on UN news and chapter activities.  Following the happy hour, a film screening of Iron Ladies of Liberia was showcased at the hotel.

On Monday, members were treated to a spectacular, unique opportunity to enter the State Department for a day of high-level meetings and a memorable luncheon in a hallowed, historic venue, the Benjamin Franklin Dining Room. The morning began with a panel discussing Agenda 21 and how to battle the misperceptions rampant now. We were then regaled by one of Americaʼs legendary diplomats, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, on peace and security and the state of the UN Security Council. Concurrent sessions followed on human rights and reproductive health. The elevators filled as we rode to the luncheon in the famed Benjamin Franklin Dining Room, taking time to savor the many paintings and artifacts displayed there and to walk out on the veranda overlooking Washington with the enormous Stars and Stripes and State Department flags waving proudly in the June air. United Nations Foundation President and former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth and Reid Detchon, Vice President, Energy and Climate, UN Foundation spent the luncheon informing us of the key energy and climate issues surrounding the Rio+20 Conference and the historical progress made since 1992. The day at State concluded with a terrific overview of U.S.-UN relations by Dr. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, U.S. Department of State. Dr. Brimmer need be thanked for so kindly setting up our luncheon.

The meeting culminated Tuesday with an early breakfast at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation before our march on the Capitol to wear out our soles promoting legislation to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, compel Congress to ensure the U.S.
seeks a second term on the UN Human Rights Council, and that congressmen support the Senate Appropriations bill which includes full funding of the U.S. monetary obligation to the UN. Meetings with house and senate staff took place throughout the day with a lunchtime break in the Kennedy Caucus room to hear from John Danvers, Foreign Relations Committee Staff Director to Chairman John Kerry, U.S. Senator (D-MA). UNA-GB representatives articulated the agenda with poise and precision, meeting with the offices of Congressmen Tierney, Lynch, Capuano, Markey, and Keating as well as the offices of Senators Brown and Kerry. Staff welcomed us with open arms, open ears, and open support for our advocacy acumen. The day was a great success for UNA-USA as members passionately sought support from their congressional delegations to maintain a robust U.S.-UN partnership keeping with the recent data from two prominent, national nonpartisan polling companies showing that 86% of Americans support a strong U.S.- UN relationship.

The 2012 UNA-USA Annual Meeting concluded Tuesday afternoon as members made
their way to trains, planes, buses, and automobiles for their journey back home. After
four days of inspiration, perspiration, and cerebration the state of the UNA-USA is the
most vibrant it has ever been. Bringing UNA-USA and the United Nations Foundation together has fostered a new, vigorous pursuit to advocate for and defend the work of the UN and its role in the international arena. On behalf of myself and UNA-GB, thank you to all who made this meeting a tremendous success. Let us continue the vital work of informing citizens, educating students, and serving as dedicated citizen ambassadors of
the United Nations. The work goes on.

Below is additional feedback and the opinions of our other volunteers that attended the conference!

UNA-GB members Immaculate, Ritah and Virginia (L-R) outside the State Department’s renowned Benjamin Franklin Room.

Immaculate Nansubuga:
“I joined the UNA-USA early this year and I am greatly honored to be a part of the largest network of UN supporters in US history.  I was so fortunate to attend the 2012 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, where I enjoyed not only the talks and discussions on some of the recent world’s most pressing challenges, but also I was greatly inspired by the various speakers, staff and chapter members of the UNA-USA whose impeccable dedication, passion and support for UN was explicit in numerous ways.  Our meetings with Members of Congress were smooth, thanks to Kaitlin, Alma and Daniel who delivered the keynotes and asks with just the right mix of hard data, examples and opinions.

I learned a lot about how the UNA-USA connects people, ideas and resources to help the UN solve some of the major global problems.

I also learned the reasons why it is more important than ever for the US as a nation as well as each individual who wants to see a better world, to show our continued support for the UN, goals and objectives.”

Ritah Nakandi:
“My objective of attending the conference was to broaden my knowledge of UN’s activities and familiarize myself with its progress in the global affairs. From the speeches and discussions, I was able to identify UN’s input especially with the MDG’s and its advocacy for Congress’s continued support of UN’s activities in the future. It was such a great experience for me to enlighten UN’s contribution in the world especially by demonstrating it’s progress in the Millennium Development Goals. I was mesmerized by UN member’s enthusiasm in implementing UN’s goals like the SHOT@life which captivated me.  Most importantly, the people have high energy and their loyalty to the UN mission is an everlasting selfless act that is a worthy call that I will always be drawn to.  I learned the significance of member engagement and how it consolidates one to have successful outcomes. This empowerment makes us, the UN members feel as one and as a family striving for a common goal and always be hopeful. It was such an informative and fruitful experience for me and I was really blown by the ambiance of the places that I never thought I would even get a chance to visit.”

Virginia Kinene:
“It was a great pleasure meeting you at the conference. As a new member of the UNA-GB, i found the conference very informative. I gained first hand information about the organization’s mission, objectives and how the organization is of great value to society through it’s development  goals such as, ensuring child education is promoted and its significant achievement so far, as reflected in the statistics.

I too enjoyed the great presentations and discussions conveyed by the the various UNA and State representatives on interesting topics such as awareness on human rights and the mechanisms for establishing standards in human rights, communication mechanisms, and the various advocacy methods, among other topics.

It was also an amazing experience meeting great personalities of both the U.N and the State and to also have made professional relationships with people from diverse regions and culture.”

Martin Ssekyewa:
“It was an honor to have such a great opportunity to meet with UNA-USA members from almost all states, people who have devoted their time, experience, and money to sacrifice for the good of humanity. I believe that this meeting was about the common good for all humanity. I had a chance of exploring the millennium goals which do not only favor Boston, but the whole planet and even back to the community where I came from in Uganda.

I have learned to work together with others in order to address the global issues and to find ways how to help my community here in Boston and back home in Africa. From the conference I learned new skills of being a model citizen; I am now well aware of the means I can use to bring back harmonious co-existence and harmony between the environment and man, because without the existence of one, the other is affected. I was so excited to learn how UNA has incorporated the millennium goals for all groups of people despite of their origin, race, gender and color, to work together as a one family.

According to my knowledge, the UNA programs have contributed a lot toward the National Development Plan, with a focus on equity and inclusion, peace, recovery, population and sustainable growth, to mention but a few. I encourage all people to join and support the UN Missions.”

Thank you to Dan, Immaculate, Ritah, Virginia, and Martin, who attended the event on behalf of the UNA-GB! We greatly appreciated your comments, feedback and participation in the event! And we hope we can see exponential growth at next year’s UNA-USA meeting as well!

Learn more about this year’s Meeting, see photos and video, and access post-conference materials (powerpoints, handouts and more!) here.

Bon Appetit: Cuisine and Conversation with UNA-GB’s Young Professionals

On Tuesday, May 7, UNA-GB Young Professionals (YP) said “bon appetit” with 25 young professionals of Boston at their bi-monthly Taste Of series. While sipping on French wine, authentic cheeses, hor’ dourves, and desserts at  Petit Robert Central Bistro attendees discussed the culture and current events of France. The hot topic of the night was the recent presidential election in France.

Image

Dominique Thomas, a student from France, gave insight on Francois Hollande defeating Nicolas Sarkozy in the election that gained worldwide coverage.  Hollande won 51.9 to Sarkozy’s 48.1 with 80 percent of the French population voting. Hollande, the first socialist president in almost two decades, could alter the future of the European Union.

Dan Sullivan, YP Leadership Board

Dan Sullivan, a YP leadership board member, educated the group on the relationship between France and the United Nations. France is one of 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. France is present in 10 of the current 15 peacekeeping operations including Afghanistan and Lebanon.

A game of trivia was played for those who were not so familiar with their French facts.  France ranks second among host countries for the Olympics with five, falling behind the US who has hosted the games eight times. France ranks first with Nobel Prize in Literature with twelve.

The evening ended with further discussion on French topics and a chance to network with other young professionals of Boston. Please stay posted for the UNA-GB next event at the end of July! Stay updated through Facebook and Twitter!

Santé!

-Olivia

Una Noche de Comida Chevere!: Taste of Venezuela Recap

UNA-GB’s Young Professionals were eager to kick off the new year by coming together for the “Taste of Venezuela” to celebrate the unique cuisine and culture of the South American country. The evening combined the flavors, traditions, and hot political topics of Venezuela.

The night took place at Orinoco Kitchen in Harvard Square, their newest location of three. Everyone experienced a Venezuelan style three-course meal. Martha, the manager of Orinoco, was born and raised in Venezuela and was happy for us to sample some of her favorite dishes of home.

Special guest, Venezuelan Deputy Consul Ingrid Ramirez, got the conversation off to a quick start speaking about the food, culture, and traditions of Venezuelans. She entertained the group with a story about the most popular Venezuelan food, the “arepa”. Deputy Consul Ramirez then went into the upcoming presidential elections in Venezuela.

The diversity of the guests contributed their knowledge of and experience in other South American countries such as Columbia and Brazil. These viewpoints gave everyone more of a perspective by comparing countries.

Everyone took part in an interactive trivia game put together by Venezuelan, Nacy Lir.  A few facts learned: Venezuela is the 6th largest nation in South America and the price of gas is the lowest in the world at $.19/gallon.

The Venezuela natives were impressed by the authenticity of the Orinoco’s food, including Asado Negro, Polvorosa de Pollo, and Quesillo.  As a non-native, I was impressed by the taste too–I had Polvorosa de Pollo for the first time and would highly recommend it!  All in all it was una noche de comida chevere – a night of great food!

Next month, the Young Professionals will be hosting “On Tap: Women’s History Month,”  and discussing women’s rights issues on the international forefront on Wednesday, April 4. Also join us for our next Taste Of event to be scheduled in late Spring.   Stay updated via twitter!

-Olivia

The Savory Side of El Salvador

UNA-GB’s Young Professionals came together last week for a taste of a rich and historical culture at the “Taste Of El Salvador” event.  Close to 30 young professionals gathered at Mi Pueblito restaurant in East Boston to learn about the culture, history and politics of the Central American country and enjoy an authentic Salvadoran three course meal complete with Salvadoran beverages.

The event welcomed a few special guests to share with the group some cultural background of El Salvador. The Consul General of El Salvador for New England, José Edgardo Alemán Molina, expressed through his diplomatic representation the hope and dreams of El Salvadorans both in their homeland and in communities around the US. As mentioned, Boston has one of the largest immigrant Salvadoran populations in the world.  “While I am not the mayor, I still feel it is appropriate for me to say: Welcome to East Boston”  the Consul General said, adding that 18% of the neighborhood’s population is Salvadoran, East Boston’s largest ethnic population.

Following the Consul General’s remarks was Ms. Zulma Romero, la Reina Carnaval de San Miguel Boston 2010-2011, who shared her experience as a Reina with the group.  A resident of Worcester, MA, Ms. Romero will compete with Reinas from around the world to earn the title of Carnaval Queen of The Carival de San Miguel, an important part of Salvadoran culture and the second largest Carnival in the world.

Also there to share experiences were a number of Returning Peace Corp Volunteers, who had served in El Salvador.  Joe Dizoglio, the coordinator of the evening’s Taste Of event and RPCV spoke about his experiences, and shared mementos and photos, as well as offered up extensive knowledge about the menu for the evening, which included pupusas, Carne Asada, and Empanadas as a few of the samplings (complete menu here).  It was a wonderful way to honor the more than two years of service and community building with the Salvadoran people.

The event was a success, through the sharing of the stories and cultural lessons from each of the presentations, and the incredible meal and discussion experienced among the young professionals.  Check out more pictures from this event now!

Stay tuned for more “Taste Of” and “On-Tap” events coming up! Every other month, the UNA-Greater Boston Young Professionals group meets for a “Taste Of” event at ethnic restaurants in the area to not only enjoy specialty dishes but also to increase awareness about other parts of the world.

-Nate Tassanari, YP Chair

From Main Street to Capitol Hill: 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting Recap

Last week I joined UNA-USA members and staff from more than 60 chapters across the country to raise awareness about the United Nations and the critical role it plays in advancing American national security and foreign policy goals during UNA-USA’s Annual Meeting in Washington DC.  The Annual Meeting agenda focused on how we can continue to strengthen support for the work of the UN at the grassroots level.

UN Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and UNA-USA Executive Director Patrick Madden at the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting.

The week’s meetings were particularly exciting, because it was the first Annual Meeting since UNA-USA officially joined the United Nations Foundation family.  A number of new faces were on hand, including former Senator Timothy Wirth, President of UN Foundation, and Kathy Calvin, CEO of UN Foundation.

Conversations emphasizing “focus” and “change” dominated the Annual Meeting.  Many of the speakers drove home the need to focus on the work of the UN and how we can better advocate for a strong US role in promoting global cooperation.  Our support for the UN is imperative to peace.  As Ambassador Rice so eloquently put it, “Now more than ever, Americans’ security and wellbeing are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems. And that is why the U.S. is so much better off—so much stronger, so much safer and more secure—in a world with the United Nations than we would be in a world without it.”  In her keynote address at the conference, Ambassador Rice also highlighted the immense change going on in the world, seen most clearly in the Middle East.  She encouraged everyone to “break out of old habits and find new answers to 21st-century challenges.”

The partnership between UNA-USA and UN Foundation seems well-positioned to find new ways to leverage the strengths of each organization, creating a powerful synergy and focus of missions.  UNA’s grassroots outreach, combined with UNF’s grasstops mobilizing and campaigning, creates a real opportunity for progress. While it’s true that change never comes without growing pains, UNA members and leaders expressed excitement about gaining access to strong UNF campaigns like GirlUp and Nothing But Nets, and the elevated co-branding opportunities that exist between the two organizations.

In addition to meeting the UNF key players, those in attendance heard from UNA-USA’s new Executive Director, Patrick Madden.  Madden set forth a strong vision for the future of UNA’s work and partnerships.  He also challenged us to grow our local membership, engage young professionals in our programming, and expand our advocacy efforts.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the chance to take up Madden’s call to action to advocate for the UN, and foreign affairs as a whole.  On Tuesday, all of us UNA members went to the Hill to meet with our respective congressional members My Massachusetts counterpart, Alma Morrison, and I deftly navigated all 3 House buildings and 2 of the 3 Senate buildings to meet with staffers from the offices of Reps. McGovern, Capuano, and Lynch, and Sens. Brown and Kerry.  We shared our concerns and wishes regarding US engagement on global issues and made sure our elected officials knew these issues are important to us and our fellow UNA-GB members, their constituents.  It was clear that with drastic budget cuts looming, now more than ever our elected officials needed to hear about our values and priorities directly from us.

I came away from the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting inspired to take action more concretely and to continue to mobilize the greater Boston community on the issues that matter to the UN.  As the oft-repeated mantra goes, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”   It is imperative for us to act now.  I look forward to more fully engaging with UNA-USA, UNF, and the UN, as we work together towards stronger and more successful action and messaging!  I sincerely hope you join us!

-Kaitlin Hasseler, UNA-GB Program Manager

YPIC Annual Meeting

On August 10, Young Professionals for International Cooperation (YPIC), held its annual meeting for 2010. The meeting started off with members and prospective members discussing their personal backgrounds, international experiences and interests over pizza and drinks. With the onset of the meeting, Dan Sullivan, YPIC Chair, gave a brief history of the United Nations and YPIC. He also explained that the goal of YPIC to promote increased awareness of social issues and of the United Nations among those between the ages of 18 and 40.

Other leadership committee members including Nate Tassinari spoke about recent events YPIC has held (the Spring Panel Discussion on Fair Trade) and its next event, Taste of Russia, a dinner at a Russian restaurant in Brookline in mid-September to discuss Russia-related topics and to enjoy great food with YPIC members. Lastly, questions were answered and ideas for next year were discussed.

YPIC welcomes you to become a member, attend events, and apply to join the leadership committee.

For more information on how to get involved with YPIC, check out YPIC’s website, blog and Facebook page! Or just send an e-mail to YPIC@unagb.org with your contact information to receive YPIC event announcements and updates.

-Christina

Fair Trade Panel for Young Professionals

“We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women. We do not finish breakfast without being dependent on more than half of the world. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge which is provided for us by a Pacific Islander. We reach for soap that is created for us by a Frenchman. The towel is provided by a Turk. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African. Before we leave for our jobs we are beholden to more than half the world.”

These are the words of Martin Luther King Jr in his book Strength to Love and were reiterated last week at the Fair Trade Panel for Young Professionals hosted by UNA-GB’s Young Professionals for International Cooperation (YPIC) and co-sponsored by Boston Faith and Justice Network. The panel included speakers from Boston Faith and Justice Network, Proxy Apparel, a sweatshop free apparel company and Autonomie Project, a fair trade apparel and footwear company.

Even more so than in Dr. King’s time, we are exposed to global products and processes in our everyday lives. Whether it is the food that travels thousands of miles to arrive at the local grocery store or the garments that are cut, sewed, dyed, embroidered, and packaged around the world before arriving at the nearest shopping mall, the everyday products we buy have global connections and can significantly affect producers’ lives.

Last week, the YPIC panel discussed how audience members can make more informed decisions as consumers that will improve the lives of the producers: buying sweatshop-free items and Fair Trade certified items, which may guarantee consumers that fair wages and labor conditions were involved with the production process.

In essence, your simple everyday purchases can help or discourage trade justice in the world and can mean food on the table for a farm worker’s family. The panelists made it clear that our purchases do have global consequences and it is up to us to demand Fair Trade products in the supermarket and in our shopping malls. One way to care is to provide only Fair Trade items in your place of work. This is a part of a greater movement by Fair Trade Boston to declare Boston a Fair Trade City in 2010.

A simple way I personally plan to be more proactive about my purchases by asking store managers where products are made, if the products are Fair Trade and whether the products were made in non-sweatshop conditions. Only if we take action can we make a difference to more just production practices.

The Impact of Fair Trade Apparel Video

Christina