Peace Boat US speaks about Youth Education for the SDGS during the 62nd UN CSW Conference in March 2018

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Mark Twain, “Innocents Abroad” 

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On March 13, Peace Boat US Director, Emilie McGlone, participated in a panel in a Parallel Event to the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). The panel, titled “Education for Sustainable Development: A Tool to Empower Rural Women and Girls” explored how education for sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of non-violence, and global citizenship can contribute to achieving peace and empowerment for all, and to improve dignity, respect and the overall living conditions for rural women and girls.

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IMG_8501Moderated by Dr. Liberato Bautista, Assistant General Secretary for the United Nations and International Affairs of the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, the four panel members discussed their respective organizations in regards to utilizing education for the SDGs as a tool for rural women and girls to achieve sustainable development in their local communities..

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LILY GRAY, Liaison Officer at UNESCO New York Office

“Traditional knowledge has been recognized as an important pillar of sustainable development.”

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an ambitious, universal agenda, supported by all UN agencies, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to IMG_8507.JPGend poverty through sustainable development by the year 2030. To begin the panel discussion, Lily Gray, Liaison Officer at the UNESCO New York office, emphasized the importance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a key element of quality education and a crucial enabler for global development. Ms. Gray discussed previous as well as ongoing initiatives taken by UNESCO to achieve the 2030 Agenda including: the UN Decade of ESD (2005 – 2014), the Global Action Program for Sustainable Development (2014 – 2019), and the annual UNESCO-Japan Prize on ESD which awards 3 individuals or groups $50,000 for impressive projects related to Education for Sustainable Development.

In reference to the empowerment of rural women and girls, Ms. Gray stressed the importance of sharing and strengthening “traditional knowledge”, or knowledge developed and embedded within the cultural traditions of indigenous, or local communities.

EMILIE MCGLONE, Director of Peace Boat US, ICAN Member

“It is important to bring the SDGs into local communities and to learn from their traditional practices to see how we can work towards a more sustainable future together.”

IMG_8517.JPGEmilie McGlone, Director of Peace Boat US, presented on the organization and its mission. Addressing questions such as: How does Peace Boat contribute to global peace and sustainability ? How can we be socially and environmentally responsible travelers?  How can we measure local impact ? 

Touching on the work Peace Boat does regarding disaster relief, the United People’s Alliance, and the Hibakusha Project, Ms. McGlone stressed the need for global peace and education. Appealing directly to the theme of the panel, Ms. McGlone explained the International Student Program which aims to increase access to peace education and conflict resolution training for young people from post-conflict regions. unnamed-2In addition to peace-building and  training, the international students programs have a strong focus on the Untied Nations Sustainable Development Goals and learn directly from the communities they visit throughout their time traveling with Peace Boat. This experiential learning is integral to the success of Peace Boat and international education. The ship, Ocean Dream, serves as a flagship for the UN SDGs with the Global Goals logo painted on the hull of the ship, and continuously promotes the SDGs in local communities while employing traditional learning and teaching. “When we dock in port,” said Ms. McGlone, “we are not there to teach, but rather to learn from the communities we visit.”

AKARI YAMADA, President of PPSEAWA USA

“Friendship is an undervalued commodity in this world.”

IMG_8523.JPGThe Pan-Pacific & Southwest Asia Women’s Association, celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, is known to be the only international women’s organization devoted to families, peace and understanding in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Akari Yamada, head of the USA sector of the organization, discussed the the first part of PPSEAWA’s mission, friendship, and how it is integrated into different programs globally. Focusing on three projects, though making clear that there are many more, Ms. Yamada explained the work being done in Fiji, Thailand, and Indonesia to empower and strengthen women. From leadership training for marginalized girls in Fiji to the mission to ensure equitable access to life-skills learning in Thailand and quality education in Indonesia, PPSEAWA recognizes that “when we educate a girl, we educate a village.” The notion of education for all, especially rural women and girls, is more important now more than ever.

SAIONARA KÖNIG-REIS, Representative to the UN and Head of NY Office, Dianova International

“Women have so many talents, and often times their ambitions are taken away by the roles imposed on them by their communities.”

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Dianova International aims to implement advocacy initiatives to defend and promote a number of causes. Among these are gender equality and women’s empowerment in all areas. Ms. König-Reis focused two areas where Dionova International is implementing positive change: Chile and Nicaragua. In Chile, the organization is working to equip women to become teachers and role models. By emphasizing the need of capacity building and sustainability of programming, Dianova promotes women empowerment through teachings of an amalgamation of gender equality, peace, and citizenship.

In Nicaragua, Dianova is working to utilize basic facilities in rural areas for education purposes. In addition to empowerment, Dianova in Nicaragua aims to break gender norms, implement family involvement in SDG learning, teach basic life skills, and prevent teenage pregnancy among the rural youth.

While Ms. König-Reis had much to say regarding the work done by Dianova in South America, she ultimately let this video to do the talking.  Thank you to everyone who participated in the panel and we look forward to more partnerships towards reaching women and girls in rural areas with education for the SDGs.

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This post was written Shelby Moulton, Intern
Rutgers University Division of Global Affairs
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Peace Boat Interns Attend the 2018 ECOSOC Youth Forum

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This week Peace Boat US interns took part in the 2018 ECOSOC Youth Forum. Interns Gin and Zeynep attended a Youth Forum Side Event titled “Leaving No One Behind: A Lens of Practices that Strengthen Inclusivity in Poverty Alleviation”. During this conference styled presentation, DPI NGO Youth Representatives and other panelists engaged in a heavy IMG_2139dialogue concerning the importance of youth involvement in the area of policy making and poverty relief at the grassroots level. Afterword, the interns made their way towards the SDG Media Zone where they were able to attend a live broadcast in which various speakers shared their passion for the UN SDGs and the important ramifications that they have globally. Interestingly, during the broadcast, a special new partnership between SONY and the UN had been unveiled by actress Meghan Boone.

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Later in the week, Peace Boat US participated in the “Youth 4 Global Goals” event of the Youth Forum. The event was about the new game that AIESEC and UN Habitat have teamed up to launch together. The aim of this game is to raise awareness about SDGs and to demonstrate to the youth that anyone can contribute to the realization of the SDGs. The game revolves around all SDGs and their relation to SDG 11. The main mission is to create better cities while fighting typical urban challenges along the way. #UrbanAction

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This post was written by Gin Sanchez, Intern

Rutgers University Division of Global Affairs

 

Review of Climate Week NYC

Climate Week in New York City brings together businesses, social enterprises and non-governmental organizations to work together on creating a world in support of the United Nations’ 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This year, Peace Boat attended several of these events held from September 19-25, and hosted one called “Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action” to present its Ecoship Project. In addition, Peace Boat  attended the Sustainable Investment Forum, the Social Good Summit, and the International Conference on Sustainable Development during this week.

Social Good Summit

The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world. Held annually during UNGA Week, the Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. Our theme, #2030NOW, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” During the Social Good Summit, global citizens around the world unite to unlock the potential of technology to make the world a better place.– Social Good Summit website

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Social Good Summit Digital Media Lounge

For more than 30 years, Peace Boat has been working for the social good, fostering global citizenship, and carrying out activities that are embodied in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, so Peace Boat US’ presence at the Social Good Summit in New York City on September18-19, 2016 was a natural fit.

The Social Good Summit brought together inventors, artists, activists,  youth, and UN leaders, and featured an incredible line-up of speakers that included Vice President Joe Biden, actors Alec Baldwin and Michelle Yeoh, and singers Demi Lovato and  Cody Simpson.

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Cody Simpson, Singer; Emilie McGlone, Peace Boat US Director

In addition to being a singer, Cody Simpson is a surfer whose strong connection to the ocean has made him a voice for ocean preservation—a topic that is also of great importance to Peace Boat as it sails around the world. Cody spoke about fuel alternatives that would be better for the environment, and expressed interest in Peace Boat’s Ecoship Project, which is aiming to build the world’s most sustainable cruise ship and reduce carbon emissions by a whopping 40 percent.

At the Summit, underwater photojournalist Brian Skerry, whose work is featured often in National Geographic magazine, also spoke passionately about our oceans and climate. He focused on the damage caused to ecosystems from overfishing, and proposed the concept of fish farming instead. We should go from being a gatherer under the sea to being a farmer under the sea, he said.  Alec Baldwin talked about indigenous peoples, forests and climate change. Tropical forests are essential to fighting climate change, and we should invest in the people who are protecting the forest, he emphasized.

2030nowPeace Boat US looks forward to continuing to work with other organizations and individuals throughout the world toward global sustainability—especially with those who hold strong visions for positive solutions as represented at the Social Good Summit.

 

 

 

International Conference on Sustainable Development 2016

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Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica

As an international organization that strongly supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the goal of ending poverty worldwide, Peace Boat took a special interest in the fourth annual International Conference on Sustainable Development held at Columbia University in New York City on September 21-22, 2016. Keynote speakers at the conference included Andrew Holness, the Prime Minister of Jamaica; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway;  and Jeffrey Sachs,  Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  With a focus on how to end poverty, the conference included panel discussions on the SDGs and how they related to the private sector, youth involvement in solutions, and data.

Prime Minister Holness spoke about his goal to end poverty not only in Jamaica, but also in the larger world.  Though not everyone believes this can be accomplished, nor does

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Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

everyone believe in the SDGs, he stated, everyone wants to develop into something better.  This aim and desire for something better is the power we need to use to effect change, he asserted. Jeffrey Sachs spoke about the ethics of politics, and where countries should place their focus.  Currently, the United States is spending millions of dollars on war in other countries, he pointed out, while this money should be spent on education instead. By focusing attention and funds on education, we could teach more about the SDGs and make a significant difference.

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Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway

Prime Minister Solberg talked about her work for the SDGs, and how she was chosen by the UN Secretary General to lead the working group for the SDGs because of how Norway operates.  Our current young generation is the last generation that will be able to eradicate poverty from the world, she emphasized, and it is therefore important for youth to learn more about sustainability in order to be able to reach the SDGs.

The panels at the conference focused on different approaches to reach the SDGs, such as through the involvement of the private sector, youth, and effective use of data.  Various participants were invited to show what their company is doing to address climate change and poverty.

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Panel discussing different approaches to reach the SDGs through involvement of the private sector

It is important to work towards the SDGs, but it will be hard to reach these essential goals for global sustainability if most people in the world are not aware of them. Therefore, Peace Boat encourages youth to travel to Latin America in the summer of 2017 with Peace Boat to learn directly about the SDGs as part of a special study program. To see the full itinerary of the Peace Boat voyage in which the program will take place, visit: http://peaceboat.org/english/index.php?page=view&nr=122&type=4&menu=64

 

Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action

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Jon Bruno, Executive Director of the International Ecotourism Society (TIES)

How can world leaders and decision-makers understand the fear that people living in small island countries face regarding the effects of climate change–and how can they viscerally understand the need to take urgent action–when global discussions about the problem take place in comfortable hotels in cities like Paris, far removed from the realities of those on the frontlines?  This was the question posed by Peace Boat Director Yoshioka Tatsuya at an event called “Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action” held on September 22 as part of Climate Week New York City. Climate Week is an international event that gathers business and government leaders together to demonstrate how continued investment in innovation, technology and clean energy will drive profitability and lead toward net zero emissions.

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Yoshioka Tatsuya, Founder and Director of Peace Boat

At the event, Yoshioka spoke about how Peace Boat is currently developing the world’s most sustainable cruise ship—a project that will decrease the vessel’s CO2 emissions by an astonishing 40 percent through the use of wind and solar energy.  This Ecoship will also feature vertical gardens, a zero waste water system, and other innovative features. Peace Boat’s aim in building the ship is to not only offer a solution to climate change and set a high new standard in the shipping industry, but to take thousands of people around the world every year to places that are directly feeling the effects of rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.  This will give people a much better understanding of the urgency of the problem, and of the need to help find solutions with those who are most affected.

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Ambassador Ahmed Sareer of the Permanent Mission of the Maldives Republic to the United Nations speaks about the effects of climate change on island states. 

Peace Boat was joined at the event by Ambassador Ahmed Sareer of the Permanent Mission of the Maldives Republic to the United Nations, who emphasized the importance of taking action on climate change.  Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Board of the Green Belt Movement, highlighted the important role that Peace Boat plays in providing education and experiential learning opportunities to young people, noting that Peace Boat has given people the opportunity to help plant trees in Kenya and learn from Green Belt Movement members about reforestation and other issues. John Bruno of the International Ecotourism Society noted that Peace Boat’s plan of reducing emission by 40 percent is truly groundbreaking, considering other companies and organizations generally aim for cuts of 2 percent. Margo LaZaro of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development expressed the importance of forming partnerships to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and lauded Peace Boat’s plan to use the Ecoship as a flagship to sail for the SDGs.  Clayton Banks of

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Clayton Banks, Founder of Silicon Harlem

Silicon Harlem spoke of the need to provide young people greater access to the technology they need in order to succeed in education, and noted that Silicon Harlem and Peace Boat have the shared goal of giving people access to the technology and opportunities they need to reach their fullest potential. “We are all united in this,” he emphasized.

The speakers also agreed that being on a ship in the middle of the ocean is akin to our experience here on Earth—just as one cannot simply leave the ship when waste builds up or suddenly find new resources while at sea, human beings cannot simply exit the Earth to leave behind our devastation or to seek out new solutions. We must be aware of our existing environment and work together to find solutions to keeping it sustainable. Creating and expanding partnerships with governments, the private sector, schools, and civil society organizations is the key to making this happen, they concluded.

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Yoshioka Tatsuya, Peace Boat Founder and Director; Margo LaZaro, Co-Chair, NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY; Jon Bruno, Executive Director of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES); Emilie McGlone, Peace Boat US Director

Peace Boat is aiming for its Ecoship to sail in 2020, and experts from various fields have already met and created the ship’s design. To contribute ideas to the project, including on how to fund the ship’s construction, contact Peace Boat.  No idea is too big or small for consideration.

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Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Board of The Green Belt Movement speaks about empowering communities to take action for climate change.

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

9/11 Memorial

Fifteen years ago this month, Peace Boat joined the world in feeling deeply saddened by the September 11 attacks on the United States. This year, as a number of 9/11 anniversary img_1766
events were held in New York City–including moments of silence at the World Trade Center, a Tribute in Light that illuminated the New York City Sky at the 9/11 Memorial
Plaza, and the ringing of the Bell of Hope at St. Paul’s Chapel across from the World Trade Center–we again remember the innocent lives that were lost.  We also pay tribute to those who survived, to those who helped others to survive, and to those family members and friends who lost loved ones.

 

When Peace Boat’s ship docks at Pier 90 in New York City on October 20-21 of this year as part of its Global Voyage for Peace, our hope is that it can be a small symbol of the inherent yearning for peace that citizens around the global share.  A symbol of the rejection of violence, and of the importance of creating new opportunities for friendships, learning, and positive action.  A symbol of the value of people-to-people diplomacy, and of the importance of minds coming together to create a sustainable world in which all people call thrive.

img_1727As we open our ship to the New York City public and welcome onboard officials from the United Nations, from governments of countries large and small, educators, students, civil society representatives, artists, musicians and others, we look forward to creating an “International floating village” here in New York City just as we do when our ship is sailing around the world.  We look forward to the exhilaration that is felt when people of different walks of life come together and share a common vision of humanity living up to its highest potentials.

Lastly, as we prepare to visit New York City next month, 15 years after 9/11, we feel tremendously grateful to all those who made extraordinary efforts in the days, months and years after the tragedy to help the city to recover.  It is your resilience and caring that makes our visit of peace possible.

 

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

The UN Prepares to Remember Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

If you have visited the United Nations recently or plan to, you may notice a large space on the first floor waiting for its blank walls to come alive with pieces for an upcoming exhibition. You may also notice that across from that space is a wall of informative panels that will make up part of the larger exhibition. This special exhibition is well worth the wait.  It is being prepared to commemorate the UN’s International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which will be held on March 25.2016-02-16 15.48.30

Every year, the UN hosts a series of educational activities to mark this day, including film screenings, roundtable discussions, and a global video conference in partnership with UNESCO featuring students living in countries affected by the transatlantic slave trade. There will also be tours of the newly established  “Ark of Return” permanent memorial, which honors the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, as well as the exhibit on the first floor that is currently under preparation. All activities are part of an important effort to spread knowledge and awareness of the causes, consequences, and lessons of the slave trade.

The exhibit will include fascinating narratives that are little known, such as an exhibition on Africans in India that details how Africans became slaves, generals and rulers in the country.  This exhibition was created and curated by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The New York Public Library, and is being presented in partnership with the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme and the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.

2016-02-16 15.39.14So mark your calendars for March 25; it will undoubtedly be a powerful, moving, and eye-opening exhibit.To receive further information, please visit:rememberslavery.un.org or write to education-outreach@un.org

This annual exhibit is very much in line with the values of our organization, Peace Boat US. Peace Boat travels by ship promoting peace, human rights, equality, and understanding. Interestingly, our 93rd global voyage will be traveling from Africa to Brazil, which used to be part of the slave trade route, but is now a route we take as we advocate for peace. For further information about Peace Boat’s upcoming 93rd voyage, please visit: http://peaceboat.org/english/?page=view&nr=121&type=4&menu=64

This post was created and published by Claire Jolly (Intern from Peace Boat US).

Humans of Peace Boat US, Panyin Conduah

Peace Boat is dynamic in that it boasts a broad array of partners and participants working on projects in various corners of the world. Both on deck and on shore, members exchange ideas and knowledge, and quickly create bonds of friendship through common interests and motivation to engage in projects that promote a culture of peace and sustainability. On Peace Boat’s 88th Global Voyage held in the autumn of 2015, one such person included Panyin Conduah.

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Conduah is a recent graduate of DePauw University in New York, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Writing and Communication. She is a freelance writer, as well as a videographer, and has interned at various production houses. Currently she participates in the Downtown Community Television (DCTV)  Apprenticeship program in Pro-TV under the instruction of Johnny Ramos.

DCTV has been partners with Peace Boat US since 2003, and provided Conduah with the opportunity to film her experience on the 88th Global Voyage. DCTV is a media arts center offering a cooperative workspace used for professional training. Dedicated to using media to promote social justice, this program highlights economic as well as social divides in an effort to advance tolerance. Conduah’s latest project, for example, examines the effect of tuition costs and student loans on people’s lifestyles by illustrating their struggle. As a part of Pro-TV, the largest free media arts training program for youth in New York City, Conduah has honed her videography skills by taking lessons on cinematography and learning how to use video editing software, including Final Cut Pro.

Upon hearing about Peace Boat, Conduah was not sure what to expect. However, having thoroughly enjoyed her travels through Europe, she was eager to experience Central America on a three-day study program that would start in Mexico, continue on to Belize, and end in Panama. Conduah was also enthusiastic about having the creative freedom to film as she wished while maintaining a focus on sustainability issues.

Conduah’s first experience with Peace Boat’s sustainability project took place in Mexico. She helped communities become more aware of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by helping to paint a mural depicting the seventeen goals. Goal fourteen, which promotes the sustainability of oceans, features prominently in the mural. Catching to the eye and mind alike, the painting successfully emphasizes the importance of conservation for future generations.
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In Belize, Conduah, along with her fellow adventurers, stopped to enjoy a few hours of snorkeling in the renowned coral reefs of the country. Conduah was keen to let me know that Belize has the second largest coral reef system in the world after Australia. Despite her initial alarm at the presence of nurse sharks, she later enjoyed a swim and embraced the sea life in the ocean. She now remarks upon the beauty of the nature she had the opportunity to be so close to.

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The trip ended with final projects being carried out in the Kuna indigenous community in Panama that Peace Boat has worked with for the past decade. On this particular voyage, Peace Boat US aided the community in three ways:

(1) Supporting local Kuna women with their fair trade project making mola handicrafts. Mola are part of the traditional dress of women in the Kuna community and are worn on the back and front side of blouses.

(2) Constructing an improved sanitary system.

(3) Building safe pathways within the community of approximately 900 people.

Peace Boat US helped to raise funds to support these activities as part of the Music and Arts Peace Academy (MAPA) project in 2015. A total of $5,000 was raised. Peace Boat visits this Kuna community twice a year and is the only regular supporter of the village.

Conduah describes her involvement onboard Peace Boat just as positively as her experience on land, likening the ship to an incubator for sharing ideas. Cultural exchange through workshops and lectures en route allowed for knowledge sharing between a broad demographic of participants.

Piquing her interest in sustainability, Conduah says her experience onboard Peace Boat opened her eyes to future possibilities in terms of what she can give back to society to make the world more accessible to others. Her participation in Peace Boat’s projects has made her even more determined to travel and share the stories of underrepresented people. Conduah hopes her positive experience during the 88th Peace Boat Global Voyage will inspire others, especially youth, to partake in sustainability projects that support grassroots initiatives on future Peace Boat voyages.

In the near future, Conduah looks forward to screening her footage from Central America at the DCTV studio in New York, as well as the United Nations Headquarters. For now, she often relives her time in Central America with Peace Boat through watching her footage from the trip, some of which can be viewed here.

This post was created and published by Tara Richards (Intern from Peace Boat US).

“A Journey through Indigenous Communities in El Salvador and Panama”

On September 23,rd 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Permanent Missions of El Salvador and Panama to the UN and Peace Boat US hosted a film screening of a documentary which was created as a collaborative project between Peace Boat US, the non-profit Downtown Community Television (DCTV), and youth from New York City who joined Peace Boat’s 84th Global Voyage as participants of the Music & Art Peace Academy (MAPA). Peace Boat US sponsored the ten-day trip for three teenage youth from the non-profit organizations Global Kids, DCTV and the Brooklyn Community Media and Arts high school to visit El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama. The film aims to raise awareness about issues that local indigenous communities are facing in Central America during the 2014 UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

Peace Boat’s International Coordinator Emilie McGlone introduced the organization and the background behind the film to attendees, including representatives from El Salvador and Panama, indigenous leaders, and three of the students who participated in the Peace Boat voyage and helped create the documentary.

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The film documented the students’ trip through indigenous communities in Central America this past summer as they traveled with the Peace Boat. The documentary started with the MAPA students’ first stop in El Salvador at a school in the Pilpil community. Here, children from the community participate in a language immersion program to learn Nahuat, the indigenous language, as part of a language revitalization program where Pipil women teach the local language to children. As of now, only about 150 to 200 people still speak this language, and according to UNESCO, Nahuat is a critically endangered indigenous language. Since the project to preserve this language started in 2003, there are now 11 schools participating in the project, and 2,500 preschool children aged three to five who are learning Nahuat.

The documentary followed the MAPA students’ to their next stop, the city of Colon, Panama, where the Embera community, consisting of eight families and 40 people, sustain their culture through eco-tourism. In the documentary, their leader, Atilano Flaco, discussed their goal to improve living conditions for each family member and younger leaders in the community discussed the importance of access to education.

Among the main speakers at the documentary screening was Salvadoran Ambassador H.E. Ruben Zamora, who stated that “in 1932, indigenous people were massacred in my country,” however, “we have been overcoming the invisibility of the indigenous communities in our country.” He explained that the government is working to devise better policies in order to improve the situation for indigenous people in El Salvador. He stated that, “a bonus has been granted to the last Nahuat speakers- trying to encourage them to speak the language in their houses.” He stressed the importance of dialogue between the government of El Salvador and the indigenous people, in order to overcome many obstacles.

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Her Excellency Paulina Franceschi, Ambassador, and Deputy Permanent Representative of Panama to the UN, congratulated Peace Boat for their work on peace and human rights and recognized that, “there are a lot of things to improve” in the lives of Panama’s indigenous peoples, and assured the attendees that, “there is political will and commitment to their well-being and quality of life.” She welcomed two indigenous community leaders at the event who attended the UN Conference to advocate for their communities in Panama and El Salvador.

A representative from the Ngobe-Bugle indigenous community in Panama, who was working along side the Permanent Mission of Panama to the UN during the Conference, began her speech by thanking all of the attendants and stated, “As the highest authority of my community, to express the main concern of my community, I’m here for all of Central America, not just my territory.” She invited those at the event to visit her country and see their culture. She explained that protection of indigenous culture and communities are written “in the constitution, but are violated.” She said, “it is important to express our concern since our lands are violated by transnational corporations. We are living in two different countries: the rich and the poor. The poor don’t have a voice.”

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An indigenous leader from El Salvador who also attended the event said, “I am happy to see the children learning the indigenous language. But I think there is a long way to go to strengthen the culture of my people.” She noted that June 12th, 2014 the national constitution was reformed, and Article 63 now officially recognizes indigenous people and commits to pursuing polices which will improve the situation for indigenous people in El Salvador. She noted that, “this is a very important achievement that we’d been fighting for, for a long time, but we still have a lot of things to do to strengthen the indigenous people in El Salvador.” She also added that “as an indigenous woman, I am happy to be here with my indigenous sister. Some efforts have been done, but we have to go deeper into the rights of the indigenous people. The transnational companies want to use our resources but we don’t want the interest of the empire to be above the national interests of the country.”

The event closed with a short discussion session where attendees expressed their interest in the work of the governments of Panama and El Salvador and the efforts they are currently undertaking to improve the conditions for the indigenous communities in both countries.