Peace Boat US Interns Tour the United Nations

This week the Peace Boat US interns participated in an educational tour of the United Nations to learn about the history of the organization and their current projects for international peace and sustainability. While on the tour, they saw areas of the UN such as the Council Chambers for the Security Council, the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the General Assembly Chamber, along with the Hall for Disarmament, exhibits on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Peacekeeping Missions, and a short talk on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Here are a few of their impressions about the UN Tour:

Aubrey Hobby:


“I thoroughly enjoyed the entire tour and loved the experience of getting to see the Council Chambers. In particular, I found the Wall Exhibition on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights especially moving and beautiful. Even though I knew about the UDHR, written in 1948 by a committee headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, and knew several of the articles, it was still moving to see such a beautiful and conspicuous display devoted to them. It was both sad and uplifting to read the articles again, knowing that as a world we have come so far and yet still have so far to go to achieve universal human rights.

Two articles that seemed particularly relevant to me in today’s political climate were Article 14, about how all people have the right to seek asylum in another country if they are being persecuted in their own, and Article 25, concerning how everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their family ‘including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’ In times when these and other rights expressed in the Declaration are being threatened in various ways, it is our duty to protect and advance the implementation of them instead. There has been an enormous amount of progress towards achieving the goals stated in the Declaration since it was written in 1948, especially in the realms of education, healthcare, and the elimination of discrimination. However there are still so many people denied the rights set forth in the document, such as the right to affordable and quality education and the right to have an adequate standard of living for the health and well-being of themselves and their families, and it just illustrates how much we still need to do.”


Katie Grandelli:


“Our guide took us into a hall of the UN that is dedicated towards disarmament. She categorized all of the weapons in the world into two main categories: conventional and weapons of mass destruction. During her discussion of conventional weapons, she focused on the long-lasting effects of landmines. One would think that something as fairly complex as a landmine would cost hundreds of dollars to make, but the opposite is true: landmines only cost a government $2 or $3 to produce. Because of the cheap cost, there is a huge number of mines that were used in a combat zone yet never detonated. For two nations in particular, Afghanistan and Cambodia, upwards of 70% of their land is uninhabitable because there are many undeployed mines buried in the soil. Children are the main victims as a result of this; they have not learned the difference between a landmine and a toy. Unexploded landmines also make it extremely hard for refugees to return to their homeland since the land is unsafe. Seeing all of the unintentional destruction that can be caused by a government spending $2 made me further recognize the need to find diplomatic solutions to issues instead of immediately turning to violent measures.

Then our tour group moved to looking at exhibits from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The UN has a statue from a church that was 500 yards away from where the atomic bomb detonated in Nagasaki. The front of the statue is still intact because it fell face forward, but the backside of the statue is covered in a different pattern from the rest of the statues because it was exposed to the heat and pressure from the atomic bomb. I had not seen this statue before; it was sobering to see the extent of damage to solid rock from the pressure and heat of the blast. There were also some small household items that had been greatly warped and broken due to the pressure of the blast. I never thought I’d see a sturdy glass bottle warped in such a way.”


Zeynep Sayiner:

sdg.png“While on the tour, our guide discussed the Sustainable Development Goals with us. The United Nations has 17 of these goals, all of which are incredibly important: quality education, zero hunger, good health, and gender equality are just a few of these goals. But the most basic and important goal, in her mind, is the sixth SDG, “Clean Water and Sanitation.” Every year thousands of people die around the world because of different bacterias in the water that they drink and use daily. Because of a lack of infrastructure and general development, it is very hard to clean the water in these countries. Most young female students are unable to go to school because they have to help others collect and clean the water. So by working to solve this problem, people also simultaneously make a significant impact towards achieving the goals concerning general health and wellbeing as well as providing quality education for girls and boys.

Before our guide shared her thoughts with us, I thought that there were other SDGs that held a higher priority than Goal 6, but now I can see how important achieving this goal is. Water is one of our basic needs and our need for it affects everything we do; among other uses, we drink it, use it to wash our foods, and use it for cleaning and sanitation purposes. Without basic cleanliness and sanitation, so many of the other goals cannot be achieved. So I am definitely in agreement that the change should start with helping people get clean water, a goal that organizations like UNICEF have made significant progress towards achieving.”


Amanda Davila:


“Taking a tour at the United Nations for the first time was a unique and special experience for me. I was inspired to be in a place where many efforts have taken place to resolve conflicts and to promote peace and sustainability. Visiting the different councils, such as the General Assembly (where all 193 Member States meet to work on international issues), reminded me of the importance in cooperating with people around the world in order to attain international peace. While on the tour, I came across a quote on a wall that impacted me. It read “The world is over-armed and peace is underfunded.” This is an unfortunate truth, yet one that gives me hope because such a statement does not have to be true. Knowing that the United Nations is working on projects to mediate conflicts and to make sure that catastrophic events like Hiroshima and Nagasaki never occur again gives me the desire to help make the world a better place. It also provides me with the motivation to educate myself more about peace and sustainability, and to participate in activities that promote peace.”


Emily Garcia:


“I’ve always wanted to go to the UN – the center of international nations that continuously strives for peace and cooperation. My first visit today met and exceeded any expectations I had. It was extraordinary to learn just how interconnected not only the UN member states and organizations are, but feel it in practically every corner. From the diplomatic gifts from other countries to learning about different nations’ contributions to the construction of various Council Chambers, it was a mesh of connectivity that I knew defined the United Nations, but didn’t really understand the extent of until my visit. One of the most impactful moments from the tour was in the disarmament hall. I’ve been aware just how underfunded peace operations are, but it was illuminating to see such a stark comparison to just how overfunded armament and military action is in relation to peace movements. It was also horrifying to know that only about $2 is needed to buy a mine, which plagues nations like Afghanistan and Cambodia. This, along with other vital information that was shared, reiterated the point that so much work is needed if there’s ever a chance of having a peaceful and healthy world.”


Introducing Our January Term Interns From Hollins University

Hollins University is a liberal arts school located in Roanoke, Virginia. Each year during the month of January, students have the opportunity to choose between studying abroad, interning with an organization, researching independently under a professor, or taking a course on campus. This is the fifth year that Hollins and Peace Boat US have partnered together to give students a closer look into what Peace Boat does for the world. Peace Boat’s current projects and initiatives work to promote peace and sustainability. This month, four Hollins interns will be promoting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, attending events hosted by the UN, and canvassing for the spring and summer Peace Boat voyages “Sailing for Sustainability in Asia” and “Peace Education and the Sustainable Development Goals in Latin America.”

Spring 2018 Program in Asia

Summer 2018 Program in Latin America



Aubrey Hobby will be graduating in the spring with a double major in English and Political Science and has special interests in human rights, international law, and the intersection of literature and politics. Prior to this internship, she interned with the Forced Marriage Initiative at the Tahirih Justice Center and in the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress. She was also fortunate enough to study abroad in London, a wonderful experience that greatly expanded her perspective as a global citizen. Aubrey believes that the peacemaking process must be pursued from a variety of angles in order to succeed. She is looking forward to expanding her horizons even further with this internship as well as the opportunity to observe and assist professionals in the peacemaking process, especially from a non-governmental perspective.


Amanda Davila is a sophomore at Hollins University majoring in Environmental Studies with a double minor in History and Psychology. Her passions for education, human rights, and environmental sustainability are what drew her to Peace Boat US. Her first year classes on environmental science and poverty and globalization are what sparked her interests on issues in the environment and the effects it has on people. Aside from her classes, Amanda gained a deeper passion for helping and working with people at home and in other countries when she went on a service trip to Jamaica, where she lived and worked in an impoverished community. In her spare time she enjoys being outdoors, reading, engaging in other cultures through traveling, and blogging.


Emily Garcia is a senior double majoring in International Studies and Spanish. She immediately found her passion in international studies with her very first class at university: an introduction to international studies. She hopes to go to grad school and later be an analyst in an international organization to aid in the continuous struggle of obtaining and understanding information that is vital for future policies to be implemented. She’s interested in how intersections in our global society form, shift, and influence one another. That lead her to explore how Latin American and European Spanish interconnected when she had the chance to study in Chile and then Spain.  Her interest in Peace Boat stemmed from their mission statement about striving for a culture of peace, since that’s an aspiration that many would deem improbable. She admires those who never give up on peace, especially when they understand the importance of raising understanding and respect between the myriad of cultures in our world.


Katie Grandelli is a sophomore at Hollins University pursing a major in International Studies and a minor in Economics. She is passionate about nuclear policy, human rights, and the role that the international community plays in those two areas. Ms. Grandelli has taken any opportunity presented to her to pursue being a better global diplomat, whether it be studying for two weeks in the vast Mongolian countryside or presiding over a Model Arab League conference. Outside of her scholastic responsibilities, Ms. Grandelli can be found on Hollins’ equestrian team, watching British political TV shows, or singing Broadway songs with her friends. She is thankful for her chance to open 2018 with Peace Boat and all of the work they are doing in the world.


This post was published by Sabrina Oliveto.

UN PGA High Level Event on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda

HL-UN Event

Peace Boat US participated in the recent UN PGA High-level Event on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda, where leaders from around the world gathered to discuss the challenges they face to mitigate climate change, making it clear that many nations are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the well-being of the Earth today and in the future. The event provided an opportunity to highlight synergies between Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda and to gather representatives of Governments, International Organizations, the Private Sector and other stakeholders who are advancing solutions to implementation of the SDG and Climate Change agreements.

20170323_165436 (1)Agreeing on the fact that the planet should not warm by more than 2 degrees Celsius within the next century, it is the responsibility of each and every nation, developed and developing, to implement new practices in response to this ongoing environmental crisis. New, old and improved climate change action plans were brought to the audience’s attention through shared information on what has been tried before, what methods are actually working, visions of innovative approaches and predictions of a substantial amount of positive change. As was pointed out at the conference, global temperatures are rising each day, and we must remember that this affects us all. Temperature change is not limited to a particular part of the world, but contributes to all weather patterns globally.


Many representatives from developing countries put emphasis on their need for committed support from developed ones. Every nation is to provide concrete ownership and share the responsibilities of implementation of the SDGs. Peace Boat supports the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the message stated by Ambassador Sareer from the Permanent Mission of the Maldives to work towards solutions to climate change across all sectors and take significant steps to reach the goals of the Samoa Pathway outcome document. Greater improvement requires all forces to join together to help those vulnerable populations in creating new lifestyles that are “harmonious with Mother Earth”. Climate change not only affects the environment, but trickles down to other SDGs such as poverty, health care, and social and economic growth. Representatives from the Philippines and Nicaragua stressed this point in order to present the need for assistance when determining how to adapt its population to the change. Representatives from the Permanent Mission of Sri Llanka agreed that, “Adaption is the most suitable way to approach climate change”, while representatives from Morocco reassured everyone that their methods of reducing greenhouse gases and energy dependencies continue to work. They are willing to transfer this knowledge to others and to continue to spread awareness to conserve the environment.

The 2030 Agenda,  which “recognises that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge” (according to the UN Division for Sustainable Development), and the Paris Agreement, which “brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so” (according to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), influenced the direction of presentations for many speakers during the assembly. Representatives from Panama shared that what is done by other countries should benefit everyone. Integrating new policies, innovating strategies and assuring everyone’s commitment should start things off on the right track for a better future for the planet and its people. With Earth Day coming up in April, the shared perspectives were useful and necessary to spark innovative ideas globally and locally to protect the environment within our own communities.

This post was created and published by Sommer B. Flood (Intern from Peace Boat US). 

A Day at the UN: Together Campaign, The Ocean Conference, and Forging Partnerships

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The United Nations has declared 2017 “the year of peace,” and on  January 19, Peace Boat interns gathered to hear the first briefing of the year at the DPI/NGO (Department of Public Information/Non Governmental Organization) Inaugural meeting in New York City. It was the first time this team of interns had the opportunity to sit among NGO representatives at the table. Speakers Maher Nasser and Damian Cardona introduced the TOGETHER campaign, which is an umbrella coalition to counter xenophobia and negative perceptions and attitudes towards immigrants and refugees. This global movement aims to distinguish between facts and myths of narratives circling in the media about immigrants. Daniel Shepard and Kim Quarles spoke about the upcoming Ocean Conference being held June 5 – 9, 2017. The conference aims to build partnerships among the private, public, and civil society society sectors; develop a firm commitment to act and preserve the oceans; and to educate and share a more robust understanding of ocean issues and the negative impacts of these.


We also had the opportunity to attend the UNDESA/DSPD (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Division for Social Policy and Development) Stakeholder Engagement Series on Partnerships to Transform Goals. Speakers Daniel Perell, Chair of the NGO Committee on Social Development, and Hanifa D. Mezoui, Senior Advisor of the Humanitarian Affairs and Civil Society, emphasized the importance of bringing all voices to the table such as those of indigenous peoples, older generations, and people with disabilities. The guest speakers emphasized inclusive NGO meetings that are representative of a variety of backgrounds and NGO work. Together, the meeting participants agreed to start a dialogue on specific tasks they can do to ensure that the information collected and discussed in their meetings is dispersed throughout the entire UN. The team also agreed to develop a statement to collectively emphasize the team’s stance as well as educate non-members on the activities and initiatives of the team.


Utilizing Information And Communication Technology For Sustainable Development

csm_unsustainabledevelopmentgoals_cover_01_43148a588aToday Peace Boat US interns attended “The Role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in accelerating the achievement of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development” at the United Nations Headquarters. They learned that while 98% of Americans have access to the internet, only 47% of the global population has similar access. This meeting focused on the opportunities and concerns involved in increasing the connectivity of the international population.

Of particular interest to our interns were the impacts ICTs could have on the environment. They learned ICTs can serve as an integral tool in collecting big data for analysis of biodiversity, pollution, weather patterns and ecosystem evolution. In addition, satellite monitoring increases accountability by providing accurate global data. Running parallel to these positive impacts of ICTs, however, are the concerns. An increase in ICTs also creates an increase in electronic waste (e-waste).  According to the EPA, e-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America. Internationally, 40 million tons of electronic waste are created each year. In addition to having a negative environmental impact e-waste is also a health hazard, particularly to the impoverished young girls and women who scavenge for survival in various countries. Peace Boat interns were thrilled to learn about the various opportunities and concerns surrounding ICTs, and how they can be used in the undertaking of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. They look forward to incorporating this knowledge and awareness into Peace Boat’s mission of promoting sustainable and equitable development around the world.


(This post was created by Lilly Potter)


January Term 2017 Interns from Hollins University

Collaboration with Peace Boat US and Hollins University

Hollins University is a liberal arts school located in Roanoke, Virginia. Each year students have the opportunity for the month of January to choose between studying abroad, interning with an organization, researching independently under a professor, or taking a course on campus. This is the fourth year Hollins and the Peace Boat US have partnered together to give students a closer look into what the Peace Boat does for the world and current projects and initiatives to promote peace and sustainability. This month 4 Hollins interns will be promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through various activities in New York, attend events hosted by the UN and other local partnership organizations such as Global Kids, research funding opportunities for building the world’s greenest ship, the Ecoship, and canvass for the summer Peace Boat voyage  entitled “Peace Education and the Sustainable Development Goals in Latin America.”


Nicole Curran is a senior International Studies major at Hollins University. Through her major, Ms. Curran’s studies focus on the DPRK (North Korea), China and Japan. She is interested in the censorship and its portrayal in media; specifically how it creates preconceived notions and negative effects that play around the world today. Peace Boat US caught Ms. Curran’s attention because it is a place where anyone from any background and anywhere in the world can come together to create sustainable dialogue and break barriers to promote peace.

15879361_10210563412428810_1154074831_nAlexis Hughes will be a graduate from Hollins University in February of 2017 with a degree in philosophy. Prior to the Peace Boat US, Ms. Hughes interned with the largest child law program in Virginia, the Legal Aid Justice Center, advocating for equal access to education and proper support for children with special needs and mental health issues. She worked briefly with the Legal Justice Aid team on the RISE for Youth campaign to close juvenile prisons and promote community-based and rehabilitative alternatives to youth incarceration. Ms. Hughes is enthusiastic about women’s rights as well as moving education and religious systems forward. She is skilled in problem solving and public speaking. Alexis plans to devote her life to advocacy for disenfranchised populations and will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution in the fall. She’s thrilled to have the chance to be mentored by professional peacemakers at the Peace Boat who spend their time fighting for a more equal, just, and peaceful world.

15942703_10210563412588814_767808214_oLilly Potter is a sophomore at Hollins University double majoring in English and International Studies. She is passionate about human rights, international relations, and sustainable development. Ms. Potter has taken every opportunity to be a global student, listen to foreign perspectives, and immerse herself in other cultures. She was fortunate enough to study environmental sustainability through urban development and eco-farming while in Singapore and Malaysia. Ms. Potter is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue her global education as an intern at Peace Boat. Looking forward, she hopes to take the lessons she has learned at Peace Boat and apply them in her pursuit of a graduate degree in international law.


Dade Hundertmark is a sophomore at Hollins University double majoring in international studies and philosophy. At this time, she is also the standing president of Humans for Justice, a 501(c)3 that supports education for survivors of human trafficking within the United States. Passionate about ethics and developmental economics, she looks forward to this opportunity to observe and participate in an internship that will allow her to see the extent to which nonprofits can make their mark on the world. Outside of her work, Ms. Hundertmark is an avid equestrian and a resident feminist killjoy, as well as a fan of nail polish, Daenerys Targaryen, and the mangrove ecosystem. She believes that through practical application of theory, passion, and an ear toward the community, both sustainability and development can flourish, while protecting the rights and customs of native communities. Ms. Hundertmark also firmly believes in the role that youth serve to further these goals in this age of communication, and is grateful for her chance to serve Peace Boat US for this term.

One-on-one Conversation with Cristina Gallach


On October 27, 2016 Peace Boat US joined an event organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) that gave NGOs the opportunity to have one-on-one conversation with Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations.

The meeting began with moderator Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division in the DPI, thanking Peace Boat for the “Floating Festival for Sustainability” event it organized on October 20, 2016 in collaboration with the DPI. He also thanked Peace Boat for its acknowledgment of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ms. Gallach expressed her gratitude for the work done by civil society, as well as the importance of continuing to work together and support one another. The planet is more unstable than before, she said, and therefore it is important to promote diversity, integration and dignity, which is one of the campaigns of the DPI. Currently, the global community is in a phase of transition, especially in regards to the change of the UN Secretary General, and it is crucial to make that transition smooth and easy she noted.

Various questions were raised during the meeting, many on the topic of access and sharing on social media. For civil societies to work with UN agencies, it is necessary for NGOs to have easy access to information provided by the UN–an effort the UN is constantly trying to improve through their live Webcast and through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This is also linked to how they are engaging youth. Youth are constantly changing how they use social media, and therefore the DPI is trying to change as well to keep up and to engage the youth, given that young people are the leaders who will need to use the SDGs to effect change. To raise awareness about the SDGs, it is important to bring more youth organizations onboard, and Mr. Nasser said: “You shouldn’t wait to get invitations; you should knock on the door and make your voice heard.”

Peace Boat knows the importance of awareness of the SDGs, and actively works to raise it.  It organizes voyages that focus on sustainability and the SDGs to this end. In 2017, Peace Boat will hold its 94th Global Voyage for Peace, and invites youth to join the Latin American segment of the voyage in the summer to learn more about the SDGs. To see the full voyage itinerary visit:

This post was created and published by Cecilie Barmoen (Intern from Peace Boat US)