Peace Boat US youth delegation attends “Friends of World Oceans Day 2020” meeting

World Oceans Day will be celebrated all week from June 8 – June 14, 2020

On January 16, Emilie McGlone of Peace Boat US, and two youth delegates from Hollins University’s signature academic internship program attended the “Friends of World Oceans Day 2020” meeting at the UN Plaza. 

June 8 is World Oceans Day, the United Nations day for celebrating the role of the oceans in our everyday life and inspiring action to protect the ocean and sustainably use marine resources. The World Oceans Day Theme for 2020 is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”.

Each year, we have an opportunity to raise global awareness of the benefits humankind derives from the ocean and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably. Future generations will also depend on the ocean for their livelihoods! Aquariums, science centers and research institutions, NGOs, communities and governments all around the world mobilize millions of people around events big and small. Together with the United Nations Family and our partners, let’s celebrate all that the ocean gives us every day: from the oxygen we breathe to the inspiration that moves our poets.

The Friends of World Oceans Day meeting covered the overview of this year’s main event for the UN World Oceans Day to be held on June 8, 2020, and welcomed inputs from meeting participants from different locations, including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Diego in U.S., Sweden, France, Italy, and Mexico. Emilie McGlone, Director of Peace Boat US, proposed that Peace Boat will hold celebrations during World Oceans Week with all of the UN partners on its ship. It will also host receptions with guest speakers, performances, and music on its ship which will dock in NY at the end of World Oceans Week on June 14th, with SDG Number 14 “Life Below Water” as its overall theme. 

“Friends of World Oceans Day” meeting in session.
Chin Wai Wong and Leena Gurung attended the meeting.

After the “Friends of World Oceans Day 2020” meeting, Hollins interns also participated in an interactive dialogue with Brittany DeGirolamo from the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), a youth-driven non-profit organization based in San Francisco, where they learned about SOA’s mission of protecting and sustaining the ocean through innovation, technology and youth empowerment.

Welcome Brittany DeGirolamo representing SOA to Peace Boat US office.
Hollins University interns Chin Wai Wong, Leena Gurung, Irina Conc, and Sajila Kanwal learning about SOA.

This post was created and published by Chin Wai Wong and Leena Gurung.

Peace Boat US interns attend “Eyes on the Goals: A digital series premiere” at the UN Headquarters

On January 17, the Hollins University interns attended “Eyes on the Goals: A digital series premiere” at the ECOSOC chamber in the UN headquarters. As part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP and Sustainable Partners Inc. partnered with seven unique social influencers to emphasize the role that digital and social media can play in achieving the Global Goals. The premiere included short films from actor Rainn Wilson; Olympic gold medalists Hope Solo and Michael Johnson; Josh Horton: 19-time Guinness World Record Holder; actor, dancer and choreographer Sean Lew; wildlife photographer and TV host Robert Irwin; and the Platinum-Certified alternative band AJR. The films were geared towards spreading the message of the 17 SDGs through the diverse and creative utility of digital media for social good. They entertained, educated, and raised funds simultaneously. Each view of the video equals to one dollar, all of which goes to organizations working to achieve the SDGs that the video is about. Such a strategy invites and engages everyone to contribute to the SDGs by 2030.

Hollins interns attended the “Eyes on the Goals: A digital series premiere” at the ECOSOC chamber in the UN headquarters.

It was a profound and mind-broadening experience for everyone to see artists incorporating activism in their expression of passion like dance, juggling, sports, wildlife conservation, comedy and music. Peace Boat Interns had the opportunity to listen to some leaders who work with celebrities like Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and Shawn Mendes and how they apply various SDGs in their work and thus, contribute in achieving the SDGs. While networking with the attendees, the students also met Betty E. King, representative of the United States to the European Office of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from 2010 to 2013. Participating in their first United Nations event held in the UN headquarters in New York was a unique opportunity for the interns. They are thrilled to have more UN related interactive and educational experiences in future through Peace Boat US.

This post was created and published by Chin Wai Wong, Irina Conc, Leena Gurung and Sajila Kanwal.

Peace Boat US interns learn about Peace and Security at the United Nations Headquarters

On January 8th, the Hollins University interns took their first educational tour of the United Nations headquarters in New York. Under the guidance of an exceptional tour guide, they were able to visit the General Assembly hall and the chambers of the Security Council, Economic & Social Council and Trusteeship Council. After becoming more familiar with the building, they now have a better understanding of UN goals and functions such as the UN Peacekeeping Missions, the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that countries get recommendations to work on. They also had a chance to observe the diverse and unique design and architecture of the building in addition to the artwork gifted by many countries that symbolize different significant themes like the awaking of humanity, cooperation, peace, prosperity, freedom and independence. 

Sajila Kanwal excited to enter the UN building.
Irina Conc looking at one of the decorative pieces inside the building.

It was a mind-broadening opportunity for the interns, especially for those who aspire to work in the United Nations in the future. Not only did the experience provide a deeper insight about how an organization, as vast as the United Nations, functions in a physical space, but it would also help the interns when they attend future UN events during and after their internship.

Chin Wai Wong proud to visit the General Assembly Hall.
Leena Gurung standing next to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals painted at the entrance in front of the UN building.

This post was created and published by Chin Wai Wong, Irina Conc, Leena Gurung and Sajila Kanwal.

Peace Boat US Welcomes 2020 January Interns from Hollins University

Peace Boat US welcomed four talented students, Chin Wai Wong, Irina Conc, Leena Gurung, and Sajila Kanwal from Hollins University as its new January interns. Founded in 1842, Hollins University is a private, liberal arts college in Roanoke, Virginia. During each January term, Hollins University provides its students with the opportunity to join their academic signature internship program. In this program, students get the chance to apply and develop skills in their affiliated fields. Peace Boat US has offered this internship opportunity to Hollins students since 2013. It continues to support their academic program to give students a first-hand experience working with an international NGO affiliated with the United Nations.

The four students interning with Peace Boat US this January term are introduced below:

Chin Wai Wong is a sophomore at Hollins University majoring in Communication Studies. She is passionate about travelling, learning languages, and communicating with people from different cultures and backgrounds, because she believes that in order to be involved in this modern world, communication is the key to create and maintain connections with people who share ideas to make the world a better place. As a yoga instructor, she has been connecting herself to nature more than ever, which has been inspiring her to appreciate nature and act on protecting and improving the environment. In the long run, she is looking forward to working in the field of education, teaching the next generations about the past, the present and the future, inspiring them to be individuals and teammates who are proud of whom they are, and spreading peace between people and nature. 

She highly identified with the goals of Peace Boat and would love to be part of the team to help realize the goals with great diligence and sense of responsibility. By utilizing her skills acquired in Communication Studies, creativity in Theatre, and previous volunteer work as a book-reading project co-founder in her high school, she understands how to turn ideas into tangible objects, how to cooperate with teammates to achieve a greater goal, and how to create greater positive impact with the work she does to invite more prospective volunteers to join the team. 

Leena Gurung is a sophomore at Hollins University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Studies as a major and International Economics and Social Justice as minors. Born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, she has lived most of her life there but aspires to become a world citizen. Growing up taking mostly science classes till grade 12, she finally discovered her passion for social justice in an international students conference about poverty alleviation in Kyoto, Japan. This and a year-long experience working as a Local Committee Vice President at AIESEC, a global youth-run organization present in 127 countries and territories, has led her to believe that a cross-cultural experience is essential for gaining a broader perspective of the world as it challenges you to empower yourself and those around you.

Leena wants her present and future to hold a dynamic combination of travel and activism. Apart from this, she is also interested in photography, videography, dance and spoken word poetry. At Hollins, she was elected as the first ever international student Class Vice President in her first year and is now working as a Resident Assistant. 

The values of Peace Boat align with what Leena aspires to do in life. Through this internship, she hopes to utilize her experiences and skills in support of the tenets of Peace Boat US and in this process, gain a stronger understanding of the inner workings of an NGO in New York City. She is very grateful and thrilled to have received this opportunity.

Sajila Kanwal is from Gilgit, Pakistan. She is  a sophomore at Hollins University in  Roanoke Virginia. She came to the United States at the age of seventeen in 2018. She is pursuing  a bachelor’s degree in international studies and social justice. She has been serving as a social worker since her childhood. Sajila is passionate about working on global issues and issues which arise from her immediate surroundings. 

As an international studies and social justice student at her college, Sajila is interested in working for refugees and immigrants around the globe. She has been working with immigrants from the Middle East in Roanoke, Virginia. She is looking forward to working with the UNHCR in her future. She is working on her Arabic and Persian speaking skills in order to achieve her long-term goals to work with refugees and immigrants from the Middle East. However, Sajila can currently speak seven different languages and is capable of reading and writing in four. 

Sajila is a student leader at her college as a mentor for the international students  and at different colleges in her state as an AAUW( American Association of University Women) ambassador, where she talks about religion based conflicts. She successfully organized three youth camps in summer 2019 in her hometown, Gilgit, Pakistan. With the spirit of activism and bringing positive change in the world, Sajila looks forward to applying her skills at Peace Boat and contributing to the wonderful effort of the organization. She is excited about her forthcoming experiences at Peace Boat, the UN, the networking she would have, and the knowledge she will receive at the end of this program. She is hopeful to share her knowledge and experiences with other people in future.

Irina Conc is a junior at Hollins University, VA who will be graduating with a major in International Studies and a focus on Communication Studies and Public Health. She was born and raised in a small town in Austria where she always dreamed of traveling the world to help people who are struggling with oppression and poverty. Irina started her first fundraiser for families in Romania when she was 12 years old and found passion in raising awareness for global issues. While volunteering at the Center of College and Community Service at Durham Technical Community College in Durham, NC, she worked with various non-profit organizations to support the Durham community. Additionally, she was writing about her work in a blog to raise awareness of these local and global issues and encourage more people to volunteer. After an extensive research project about child marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa, Irina felt motivated to extend her work more globally. Through this project her passion of helping improve Gender Equality and Education grew even more and led her to join the Peace Boat US team as an intern to get familiar with different ways to improve these SDGs.

She is very excited to learn more about the work of Peace Boat US and the United Nations that will benefit her in her intended career within NGOs and non-profit organizations. Her hope is to use her communication and networking skills to bring more awareness to Peace Boat US to motivate people to volunteer and live a sustainable life.  

This post was created and published by Chin Wai Wong, Irina Conc, Leena Gurung and Sajila Kanwal.

Peter Weiss: “I was 20 in 1945”

Wednesday, 20 November 2019, United Nations Headquarters in New York

Peter Weiss: “I was 20 in 1945” at The United Nations Head Quarters, Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The international human rights pioneer Peter Weiss gave a lecture on November 20th in the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The lecture entitled “I was 20 in 1945” was held in collaboration with the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and was the Sixth Annual J. Michael Adams Lecture and Conversation.

“One way is to tell the story of my world”. The lecture began with an Introduction about Peter’s personal history. Here, Mr. Weiss was drawing attention to the history of Japan, when the atomic bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Remembering the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who died, and to this point Mr. Weiss adds, that he still felt ashamed of knowing how they had died. From that moment, Mr. Weiss knew that he would be committed to work for a nuclear-free world.

As President of the American Committee on Africa, Peter Weiss was actively involved in the global support to the end Apartheid and colonialism in the region. His work included activities on decolonization in collaboration with several people fighting for human rights including President Obama and Nelson Mandela, delivering the message of freedom and anti-colonization.

Mr. Weiss concluded his speech with an emphasis on the critical role that the United Nations plays: “Let us not forget that the United Nations is there to lead a charge.” And he added, “You can’t achieve peace by just working on climate change, nuclear weapons or poverty or simply on women’s rights; if you want to cure the sickness within the society and international ones, you have to approach in a holistic way”.

Mr. Sitharaman reflected afterward on Peter’s remarks and added: “Peter is a fighter. A Fighter for justice, equality and non-violence”. By that, he referred to the anti-nuclear movement, human dignity, rights, and values. Concluding remarks were an encouragement of love: “The heart has become very narrow – let us not narrow our hearts.”

Cora Weiss gives closing remarks and encouraging words towards a more peaceful, just and nuclear-free future together with civil society, academia and United Nations partners.

Written by Amanda Koefoed Simonsen, Youth Delegate, Peace Boat.

Introducing the Peace Boat US Global Scholars

Peace Boat US welcomes students from the University of Michigan, participating in the Global Scholars Program (GSP) for the second year of a mutual partnership to encourage youth to become more involved in programs for peace and sustainability. GSP is an academic living-learning community that prepares sophomore, junior, and senior University of Michigan students to be interculturally competent global citizens, champions for meaningful change, and innovative leaders of tomorrow. In a community that includes U.S., international, and exchange students, participants learn about global justice and human rights issues from multiple cultural perspectives.

Learn more about our new team of scholars:

Deanna Miree is a sophomore student at the University of Michigan, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is from Southfield, Michigan and identifies herself as African-American. With her major, she hopes in becoming a traveling nurse that works in multiple parts of the world catering to different adverse communities. This past May, she was given the opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, where she examined the various aspects of the relationship between sports and society in Spain with an emphasis on traditions in Catalonia. With working with Peace Boat, she hopes to learn more about how international relationships have a grand effect on human rights issues, as well as help push Peace Boat’s 2030 agenda. Two of Deanna’s sustainable development goals that she wants to fire to focus on would be 1) Life Below Water and 2) Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Esau Delgado is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. Esau is originally from the South Side of Chicago and identifies as Mexican-American. He is majoring in Sociology and will graduate in April 2022. With his major, Esau hopes to find a career that provides resources for first-generation college students. He joined the Global Scholars Program to learn more about global perspectives and is eager to intern at Peace Boat to promote sustainability around the world. The UN Sustainable Development Goals that Esau is most interested in are 1) Ensuring that everyone receives an inclusive and equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities and 2) reducing inequality within and between countries.

Ibitayo Fadayomi is a junior at the University of Michigan. He is a dual major in Psychology and Cognitive Science. Ibitayo is from Big Rapids, Michigan and currently has an interest in studying research pertaining to moral decision making through social perception, emotion, and cognition. He has always been interested in learning about the world and his role in making it better. He is excited to be an intern for Peace Boats this academic year as he hopes to continue to learn about international relations and human rights issues. He is also excited to work for a non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment. His top sustainability goals are 1). No poverty and 9). Industry, innovation, and infrastructure.

Adaku Anaele is a sophomore interested in studying Business at the University of Michigan. She is interested in Consulting but very open to many business fields. She expects to graduate in May 2022. She is originally from Chicago but her family roots are in Nigeria. She loves traveling, meeting new people, and puppies! Although she does not know where her college degree will take her, she is passionate about making an impact on society through social interaction. She is excited to learn from Peace Boat and carrying on their mission. One of her top sustainability goals is Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. Another one is Reduced Inequalities. Growing up, she felt she could connect with these personally which fueled her motive to change this way of living.

Anubhav Awasthi is an international student at the University of Michigan. He is currently a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering and is getting a minor in Economics. He is from Botswana and has spent all of his life there. He can speak English and Hindi fluently and is conversational in Setswana. With his major, he would like to enter the field of engineering for sustainable development, therefore the UN’s sustainable development goals have a strong link to his academic background. He is particularly interested in the goals of Reducing Inequality and Clean Water and Sanitation. These issues were close to him while growing up in Botswana.

Caroline Theuerkauf is a sophomore studying Political Science and International and Comparative Studies at the University of Michigan. She is fluent in German and English and has basic French skills. This past July, she had the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Cambridge, where she gained international and cross-cultural experience. She would like to pursue a career in the international law field upon graduating. She has a passion for activism and advocacy, which she is excited to utilize while working with Peace Boat. Two Sustainability goals she is passionate about are quality education and affordable and clean energy.

Alyssa Klotz is currently a student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration with a dual-minor in Sustainability and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She is planning on graduating in May 2022. Learning more about other cultures, travelling, and promoting environmental justice are several things she is interested in. This past May, she had the opportunity to study abroad in China where she developed cross-cultural skills and learned more about corporate strategy through action-based learning. Upon graduating, she hopes to combine her interests in strategy and sustainability to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She is excited to work with Peace Boat and promote the 2030 agenda. Her top two Sustainable Development Goals that she cares about the most are Climate Action and Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Qingyi Cai is a transfer student double majoring in Statistics and Sociology of Medicine and Health at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is born and raised in Wuhan, China, therefore she is a native Chinese Speaker. She hopes to promote equal healthcare worldwide, hence being more involved in the global community and exposing herself with diversified culture will be beneficial for her future career path. She wants to work in non-profit organizations, so she is exhilarated to bring her passion for cultures to Peace Boat. She is also happy to learn more about intercultural dialogue with the global voyage of Peace Boat. “Good health and well-being for people” and “Quality education” are the top two sustainable development goals for her.

Maxwell Rambo is a sophomore transfer student at the University of Michigan studying economics. He is originally from the Grand Rapids area in Michigan before moving to Ann Arbor. He plans to pursue a career in economic advising in New York City after graduating in 2022. He is eager to intern for Peace Boat where he can promote peace and human rights with a worldwide non-profit organization. His top two Sustainable Development Goals that he is interested in promoting are Quality Education and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

Peace Boat US and Global Green partner: Supporting sustainable communities in Puerto Rico

Peace Boat US and Global Green partner to provide funding to organizations which are supporting community development and continuing disaster relief in Puerto Rico. Peace Boat fundraised through various events with Parties4Peace in New York after the natural disaster in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria in September of 2017. The storm reached Category 5 strength and brought catastrophic disaster to the island. Most of the people suffered from flooding and lack of food, supplements, and shelters. The total loss of the Hurricane is estimated to $91.61 billion and around 130,000 Puerto Ricans have lost their homes. The storm caused the worst electrical blackout in US History and thousands of homes and businesses are still out of power (Giusti, Carlos. “Puerto Rico issues new data on Hurricane Maria deaths”. NBC News. Retrieved August 2, 2018). Day-long power outages still happen from time to time, especially in rural areas. Some homes still have tarps instead of roofs. Collapsed utility poles and uprooted trees are common (Emma Schwarts. “Quick facts: Hurricane Maria’s effect on Puerto Rico”. Mercy Corps. August 27th, 2019). Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans from the island are continued to face the challenges every day. 

It has been about 2 years since Hurricane Maria, and people are still slowly recovering from the storm. Puerto Rican residents stated that people are dying from the lack of food, medicine, and health services. Another hurricane is imminent to arrive in Puerto Rico and it is crucial to support sustainable communities in Puerto Rico. 

Global Green USA is the U.S. arm of Green Cross International and a national environmental organization. For 20 years, Global Green USA has been a national leader in advancing smart solutions to climate change that improve lives and protect our planet. Partnering with Global Green, Peace Boat US will fund the local communities that can provide medical and food supplies to the Puerto Rico residents to fight hunger and can support local community development.

Peace Boat US has now partnered with two organizations who are from Global Green’s network in Puerto Rico to dedicate the funding: Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico and COSSAO.

Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico

Established in 1988, Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico have a network of 128 Agencies and partners who serve annually over 1.2 million persons in the Island. Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico is an organization that aims to mitigate hunger in Puerto Rico by distributing food and improve their lives by providing personal hygiene, cleaning products, and educational programs to Puerto Ricans. Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico is recognized as the leading food bank in Puerto Rico for providing programs, nutrition, education, and excellent service and reach through its partners and collaborators. Having distributed over 18 million pounds of food last year, Banco de Alimentos Puerto Rico, Inc (BAPR) proved its steadfast commitment to mitigating hunger. Its donor contributions allowed the organization to distribute over 15 million meals to over 1.2 million people in all 78 municipalities. These food products and other essential supplies are distributed to non-profit organizations and churches who in turn help the sick, the needy and families in poverty, particularly children. 

Child hunger is an epidemic in Puerto Rico.  According to the Kids Count Data Book 30 Edition, over 57.8% of Puerto Rico’s children population live under the federal poverty levels. Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico believes the best place to start fighting this health problem is within elementary-aged students because it will promote a healthy growth at a time when they need it most. The consequences of child poverty in Puerto Rico are shown in the high costs of physical and mental health, high index of food insecurity, low academic achievement, and high index of absenteeism and desertion.

The Mochila Alegre Backpack Program

Since 2008, Mochila Alegre has been helping children receiving the nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals they need. Mochila Alegre is an ideal program that leads students to practice healthy habits, promotes access to quality education, and improves their quality of life. By providing nutritious food to children during the weekend, the program was able to fill in the gaps when they may not have easy access to healthy food. This program is an enabler for healthy growth, confidence, and ability to achieve life goals. Administration, volunteers, and nonprofit agencies of the Mochila Alegre provide these children with supplemental nutrition on the weekends. The Peace Boat US grant will help Mochila Alegre achieve greater impact, site expansion, and provide meals, education, and so much more. Peace Boat US will ease the cost of over one hundred backpacks that are necessary to expand the Mochila Alegre program starting in September 2019. The Peace Boat US grant will support children that have to overcome hardships in their lives with resilience to survive in extreme conditions. 

This donation will increase the availability of food served to children in need. Many of the community members have lost their principal source of meals since the disaster in September 2017 (Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico, Inc).

It will also contribute to the success of “Mochila Alegre” Backpack Program by supporting poor municipalities with free meals after Hurricanes Irma and María heavily affected Puerto Rico.

COSSAO

COSSAO is a community organization created in 2013 that has developed projects for community health. COSSAO is a non-profit clinic that also provides medical services to the nearby municipalities of Jayuya, Florida, and Ciales. “The hurricanes of September 2017 sharpened the challenges facing our residents to gain access to health services. We needed new strategies to address this reality. The seven community health promoters will be respected neighbors of the community who will be trained to support residents to obtain the health services they need and coordinate health promotion, health education and disease management activities,” Francisco J. Valentín the president of COSSAO explained. 

This post was published by Amanda Simonsen (Intern from Peace Boat US).