Holocaust Remembrance Day at the United Nations: Diversity & Lessons to be Learned for Human Understanding

This Thursday, January 25, the Peace Boat interns attended the second UN DPI/NGO (Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations) briefing of 2018. This week’s topic was titled ‘Holocaust Remembrance: Diversity and Lessons to be Learned for Human Understanding’. The talk included four guest speakers: Sarah Kaidanow of the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center, Evelyn Sommer from the World Jewish National Congress North America, David J. Michaels of B’nai B’rith International, and Jason Sirois from the Anti-Defamation League.

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This event focused on the ways to continue educating young people about the Holocaust. Regarding Holocaust education, the Secretary General has laid out two guidelines: to remember the systematic attempt to eliminate Jews during the Holocaust and remaining ever watchful of the dark clouds on the horizon. All four of the speakers provided their different insights about new, innovative ways to engage youth with the realities of the Holocaust and similar political themes. They all showed a great faith in the power of social media and the ease of access it creates for education on a multitude of issues. “You have to choose to be ignorant,” said Sarah Kaidanow. The most poignant of the social media campaigns discussed today was the #WeRemember movement by the World Jewish National Congress. This movement has reached upwards of 250 million people at all levels of society, even including Secretary General António Guterres. The represented organizations also all believe in the strength and power behind initiatives to humanize and preserve the stories of Holocaust survivors. As Jason Sirois put it, “it comes down to remembering the Holocaust, remembering how we got to where we are today, and focusing on the future.”

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For more information on the four organizations and the work they are doing, please click on their links below:

Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center

World Jewish Congress

B’nai B’rith International

Anti-Defamation League


This post was created by Katie Grandelli (Intern at Peace Boat US)


“Peace is… Acceptance” Event featuring MIYAVI at the United Nations

On January 22nd, Peace Boat US staff and interns attended the Sixth Installment of the “Peace is…” event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York entitled “Peace is… Acceptance”. The event focused on refugees and the ways we can stand with them by raising awareness through music and art. It included a performance by Japanese musician MIYAVI, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, in collaboration with Japanese painter Fantasista Utamaro and Afghan refugee rapper Sonita Alizadeh. The event was hosted by Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, and co-sponsored by the UN Missions of Norway, Portugal, Indonesia, Germany, Costa Rica, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Thailand, the Philippines, and Colombia.

The cultural event involved a special performance by MIYAVI and Sonita in which they both sang “Long Nights”, followed by two songs titled “The Others” and “What’s My Name” which were sung by MIYAVI. Throughout the performance, Fantasista Utamaro painted messages on the “Peace Wall” located behind the singers. At the end of the live performance, the audience had the special opportunity to write what peace meant for them in their native languages on the “Peace Wall”.

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During the show, MIYAVI spoke of his experience when he visited refugees in Lebanon and the positive impact he shared when he played music for them. Playing his guitar brought joy to people at the refugee camps and that experience showed him how to help raise awareness on the situation of refugees: through music. Along with Sonita, who became an activist against forced marriages after her escape from a marriage her parents had planned for her, and Fantasista Utamaro, the talented artists demonstrated how music and art can be utilized as a force for positive change. In addition to the music and art, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Ambassador Koro Bessho spoke briefly what Peace meant for them. An important and insightful thought from them was how not only does music and art provide a path to unite people and raise awareness on refugees, but how it can also heal people and help people/refugees readjust to life. Yesterday’s event confirmed that music and art can heal people; that peace is to create common ground for a common future.  



Click the song title to listen to MIYAVI’s songs

“Long Nights”

“The Others” (UNHCR Version)

“What’s my Name”

You can listen to one of Sonita’s well-known song “Daughters for Sale” by clicking on the song title.

You can see Fantasista Utamaro’s art work by clicking on the link: https://www.fantasistautamaro.com/


This post was created by Amanda Davila (Intern at Peace Boat US)

ICAN Members, Hibakusha Stories and Peace Boat US collaborate to feature Hiroshima Film at the Japan Society

On January 19, Peace Boat US volunteer staff joined ICAN and Hibakusha Stories members at the Japan Society’s showing of the film Hiroshima. Directed by Hideo Sekigawa, this film from 1953 is a chilling depiction of the horrors of the atomic bomb. The audience received introductions to the film given by Mitchie Takeuchi, a second generation hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor), and Allison Pytlak, a part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recipients of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Peace Boat is a member of the steering committee for ICAN and recently unveiled the ICAN logo painted on the side of the ship. Peace Boat has worked closely with ICAN since its early years, and serves as the ICAN anchor in Japan, coordinating advocacy within the country.  Peace Boat US volunteers and interns were glad to have a chance to connect with Ms. Pytlak and Ms. Takeuchi and hear their testimonies regarding nuclear weapons.
Peace Boat has long worked in collaboration with Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors), and since 2008, has invited Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to participate in the “Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project.”  These testimony sessions are organized in cooperation with ICAN partners around the world, as well as member cities of Mayors for Peace.  Testimonials from the Hibakusha have the potential to deeply move people from all over the world and to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences these weapons cause. The Hibakusha and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world played a pivotal role in the negotiations that led to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Peace Boat will continue the Hibakusha project, calling on all states to sign and ratify the treaty.
Hiroshima was a sobering film that depicted the staggering realness in how it portrayed the local citizens of Hiroshima as they experienced the world’s first nuclear strike. The film itself followed a few specific characters, however the real story was in the entirety of the population of Hiroshima just looking for a way of survival. The film also tackled the stigma surrounding the survivors of the atomic bomb because of the physical affects of radiation that often causes internal harm and deformities. The interns greatly appreciated the chance to see this incredible film, and especially the opportunity to learn more about the Humanitarian Impact of nuclear weapons.

To learn more about how Peace Boat is working with ICAN towards a nuclear free future, click here :



This post was created by Katie Grandelli (Intern at Peace Boat US)

One-on-One Event with Jane Connors, Assistant Secretary General

On Thursday, January 18, the Peace Boat US interns attended a One-on-One Meeting with the Assistant Secretary-General, Victims’ Rights Advocate for the United Nations, Jane Connors. This session was the first of the Winter Meetings organized by the UN DPI and NGO offices (Department of Public Information and Non Governmental Organization). Her newly created role in the UN is to deal with the sexual abuse and exploitation as perpetuated by UN staff, as well as to continue working with the Secretary General, António Guterres, to follow his initiatives for these issues.

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Connors spoke about the initiatives that she hopes to accomplish during her year in office. Her numerous plans all revolve around creating a roadmap for victims to realize their rights and including the entire international community in dialogue about this issue. She mentioned the role of youth and the power behind the incoming generation in combating sexual exploitation and abuse. One statement of Connors that stood out to the interns was that  “one allegation is one too many.”


This post was created by Katie Grandelli (Intern at Peace Boat US)

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


sabrina-headshot.jpgSabrina Oliveto is a sophomore at Pace University double majoring in Modern Languages and Peace and Justice studies. Sabrina has been interning with Peace Boat US since August 2017. She has recently taken on the role of coordinating the  intern logistics. Prior to Peace Boat US, Sabrina was an intern with the Arab American Association of New York. There, she taught about the process to obtain American citizenship and helped prepare for the citizenship exam. Sabrina’s passion for cultural immersion lead her to Amman, Jordan where she studied Arabic and volunteered with local refugee communities. Peace Boat’s ideology of promoting a culture of peace and sustainability through global voyages appeals to her the most. Sabrina is excited to intern with Peace Boat US and combine her interests of traveling, cultural diversity, global peace and sustainability.

unnamedZeynep Sayiner is a sophomore at Yeditepe University majoring in International Management. In addition to economical topics due to her major in school; she is interested in human rights and environmental sustainability. She has been involved in special projects and volunteered in nonprofit organizations that are mainly helping the environment and communities. She is positive, open minded, willing to learn more and improve herself continuously so that she can reach her goal: being a superior help to people and environment. She finds the internship opportunity at this non governmental organization very valuable and important step in fulfilling her goals and expanding her vision. She is eager to gain more experience and knowledge at this organization while interacting with interesting people worldwide.In her free times she enjoys spending time with her pets, reading books, traveling, watching documentaries.

Introducing a collaboration with 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.

Celebrating the UN Day through “Spices for Peace”

Variety is said to be the spice of life, but Earlene Cruz, the founder of Kitchen Connection and an SDGS youth scholar with Peace Boat US, works to literally bring spices to a variety of palates and enhance people’s lives across borders.  To celebrate United Nations Day, which is held every 24 of October to mark the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter, Earlene and the UN Department of Public Information organized an event near the UN that showcased how spices and cooking can be used to create connections between people.

Earlene Cruz began the event by explaining how she was inspired to form Kitchen Connection after she traveled to Ghana and was graciously hosted by a local family. She became fond of the food they served, especially because it was prepared with much love and affection. After returning home stayed in touch with the family phone calls, and then was struck with the idea of exchanging local recipes across the world using technology. Thus, Kitchen Connection was born. You can find out more about Kitchen Connection here: https://kitchenconnection.org/.

Left: Earlene Cruz, after the success of the event
Right: Earlene in the Summer Program of Peace Boat in 2017

The event was followed by a small meditation session by Suzanna. She stated, “We need inner nourishment and outer nourishment”, and pointed out that in the effort to stay competitive and relevant to the external world, we often forget to nourish our inner beings – our souls. Hence Kitchen Connection brings together the effort to nourish our bodies and souls while also fostering peace and uniting this increasingly globalized world.

Mr. Ethan Frisch, the founder of Burlap and Barrel, also participated in the event. His organization rethinks the supply chains of international spices to make them more direct, traceable and visible. It aims to promote the lives of farmers by raising their awareness and knowledge about available international markets. Ethan highlighted the unique characteristics of spices and how they can help in our efforts towards peacebuilding. He said that “Spices are ubiquitous. Every culture and nation uses spices. They can be any part of the plant; they are more expansive by definition and more inclusive in the kind of cuisines. Spices have been the cause of trade routes, colonialism, etc.” You can find out more about  Burlap and Barrel here: https://www.burlapandbarrel.com/)



Chef Nargisse Benkabou guiding the cooking of Amlou

The event also aimed to put on display the objective of Kitchen Connection. Via a video call from an airport while on a trip from Morocco to London, Chef Nargisse Benkabou helped guide real-time preparation in the event of a dish called Amlou to give attendees a nourishing experience. This unique and tasty spread was prepared with roasted almonds, honey, a pinch of salt and cinnamon and the most interesting and pure ingredient of all –  pure argan oil. Argan oil comes from southwesternmost Morocco, where local women procure the nuts and manually break them and extract their oil. So treasured is it, that a pure bottle of argan oil of 700 ml can cost up to US $200! After preparation, the spread was offered for tasting to all of the e attendees of the event, which included representatives from various NGOs and t from the NGO Committee of the United Nations.

Extraction and preparation of argan oil

IMG_8847.jpgVegetarian Chef Andrea Lumbrano Sanchez Goldstein attended the event and gave her approval of the first batch

The event was successful in highlighting the relation of the SDG Goals 8, 11 and 15 through spices, food, talented chefs like Nargisse and passionate women entrepreneurs like Earlene.

Earlene and Peace Boat: Earlene received a partial scholarship to attend the Summer Program at Peace Boat in 2017. She believes that her experience in the Summer Program really shaped her ideas in leading a life that’s contributing towards the Sustainable Development Goals. You can find out more information about our new Summer Program in 2018 here: http://www.peaceboat-us.org/programs/peace-education-and-the-un-sustainable-development-goals-sdgs-in-latin-america-summer-2018/


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The cohort of the Summer Program in 2017