Fall 2010, Issue#24
-BROCHURE (inside)
UN-NG0 Briefings - October 28,2010
Presented by Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organizations

“Learning beyond limits.”

Promoting Diversity of World Cultures and the Links that United Them
(In Observance of 2010 International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures)

undpi_briefing_oct28_10 From left to right: Allan Goodman, Rochelle Roca-Hachem,
Maria-Luisa Chavez, Thomas Uthup and Tina Richardson.

On 17 December 2007 the General Assembly declared the year of 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, amongst International Year of Biodiversity and the International Year of Youth. The main goal of the Rapprochement of Cultures is to “demonstrate the benefits of cultural diversity by acknowledging the importance of the constant transfers and exchanges between cultures and the ties forged between them since the dawn of humanity” [UNESCO publication]. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) agenda for the year of Rapprochement of Cultures, the organization decided to focus on topics such as, high-level dialogue and/or informal interactive hearings with civil society, interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace during the year. Furthermore, these goals achieved/will be achieving through activities and events such as, cultural, art and music festivals that promote culture and peace, exhibits, seminars and workshops on topics such as heritage, peoples, and cultures, conferences that focus on topics such as interculturality, globalization, religions and civilizations.

Report and Photos by:

The recent UNNGO Briefings titled "Promoting Diversity of World Cultures and the Links that United Them", took place at the The Salvation Army Auditorium in New York City on 28 October, 2008, which moderated by Maria-Luisa Chavez, Chief of NGO Relations, Department of Public Information, and the panel formed up with Ms. Rochelle Roca-Hachem, the Officer for Culture in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) New York office; Dr. Thomas Uthup, the Research and Education Manager for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UN AoC); Dr. Allan Goodman, the sixth President of the Institute of International Education (IIE); and Dr. Tina Richardson, an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Lehigh University.

maria_luisa_chavez rochell_roca_hachem
Maria-Luisa Chavez: Chief of NGO Relations, Department of Public Information,
moderator of the briefing - October 28, 2010, NYC.
Rochelle Roca-Hachem: Officer for Culture in the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
New York office

During her speech, Ms. Roca-Hachem mostly focused on providing mutual understanding in order to build peace and stability all around world. According to Hachem, one way to provide mutual understanding is accepting, recognizing and respecting the cultural diversities in order to create effective platform for dialogue among civilizations and cultures. Therefore, the basic roles of UNESCO in the process of providing advance/mutual understanding are; rebuilding schools; peace/stability building through exchange of science/education, Intercultural/interreligious peace dialogue, rebuilding/reflecting cultural heritage that belongs to all of humanity since they symbolize the consciousness of States, preventing looting/trafficking of cultural heritages, protection/return of cultural property, preventing cultural intolerance/armed conflicts, protection/promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (the Convention on the protection/promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is legal international agreement that ensures cultural professionals, practitioners and citizens worldwide can create, produce, and enjoy a broad range of cultural good, services and activities), and safeguarding of endangered languages.

• 1 language disappears on every two weeks.
• 96% of world’s languages are spoken by 4% of world’s population.
• Half of the 6,700 languages spoken today are in danger of disappearing before the century ends.

UNESCO’s flagship activity in safeguarding endangered languages is the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, with an interactive online resource now complementing its third print edition.

Dr. Thomas Uthup: Research and Education Manager for the
United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UN AoC)

During his speech, Dr. Uthup focused on the solutions how to reduce tensions across cultural divides that threaten to inflame existing political conflicts. According to Dr. Uthup’s data currently, 108 out of 143 conflicts are the conflicts with cultural dimension. Therefore, promoting policies/initiatives at improving relations between diverse cultural communities is the main aim of United Nations Alliance of Civilations (UNAoC). In order to make the policies/initiatives more effective the Alliance works in four program areas, which are youth, media education and migration. The key goals of the organization that mentioned by Dr. Uthup are; strengthening the role of media in enhancing inter cultural understanding (global expert finder, journalist training, engagement of religious media in Pakistan workshops), advancing cultural dialogue through education and youth (media literacy education, academic exchanges, fellowship programs, research network, youth solidarity fund, global youth movement, international year of youth, summer school), fostering integration of migrants in urban areas (IBIS, Plural +, interethnic cities), encouraging peaceful relations between religious communities particularly in the Muslim and Western World (European Muslim opinion leaders’ media network), championing women’s initiatives furthering cooperation among culture, and using technology to facilitate intercultural understanding.

Dr. Allan Goodman: sixth President of the
Institute of International Education (IIE)

Dr. Goodman opened his speech with a striking fact that Fulbright Scholarship does not include North Korea, Iran and Cuba. According to Dr. Goodman what is mutual about Fulbright is students/professors from America go everywhere in the world on a bilateral bases and equal number of people around the world can come to the United States in order to achieve their master or PhD degrees. However, if there weren’t a Fulbright program, most Americans would go to countries whose languages that we speak, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand. Most Americans would study abroad only in English speaking countries, since Fulbright program is bilateral/mutual it opens our doors and the minds of our students.

Another striking fact stated by Dr. Goodman is that 70% of American citizens don’t have passport and half of who do are over 60 years of age. Furthermore, less than 1% of Americans who are in their higher education actually use their passport to study abroad.

Last but not least, Dr. Goodman talked about Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund. The main purpose of the fund is to rescue/protect threatened scholars so they can continue their work in a safety world. The cases include, terrorist organization attempted to blow out the history professor because he was teaching the period of the history that the terrorist organization didn’t want it to be mentioned or authorities of the regime preventing scholars to teach poetry in a language from section of the culture that the regime no longer wanted to recognize.

Dr. Tina Richardson: Associate Professor in
the College of Education at Lehigh University

“Learning beyond limits.”

According to Dr. Richardson speech Lehigh University’s College of Education are focusing certain challenges, including; understanding cultural identity and diversity, developing better learning programs for children who are at educational risk, researching effective organizational leadership in urban and suburban schools, and preserving culture/heritage was really about people not just the buildings and the structures, physical existence of things.

During Dr. Richardson explained the partnership of Lehigh University and University of Liberia. The main goal of the partnership is to emphasize the role of Psychology in peacekeeping/policy making around peace in terms of reducing the negative impact of conflict and the impact/experiences of people in post-conflict environment. As a result of infrastructure were being destroyed as a result of civil conflict in Liberia, Dr. Richardson and her colleagues are addressing the issues of mental/behavioral health were being ignore because of physical health issues. It is no surprise that the students who returned to educational context have return being scared by the conflict and being fearful. Last but not least, Dr. Richardson emphasized that healing/recovering of mental/behavioral health should be move into global context and that’s why psychology will be used as a higher disciplinary learning tool to be more global.

Facts about Lehigh University and United Nations Partnership:
• In August 2004, Lehigh became the sixth university in the world to be fully recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization by the U.N. Department of Public Information.
• Lehigh is able to take students to U.N. conferences, private briefings by U.N. officials, and other educational seminars held there.
• Open doors to serve as interns at any NGO office worldwide.
• Created lasting connections with NGOs from India, Ireland, Singapore and United States.
• First students in the world to serve as delegate proxies to U.N.

Q&A Session

Q: How do you balance cultural sensitivity with the complex that comes up when you deal universal human rights?
A-(Rochelle Roca-Hachem): Of course, we are always promoting preservation of cultural values. We are always in the context of respecting all human rights. This might raises the question of; ‘But the practice of female genital mutilation it’s cultural, and are you supporting that because you preserve/protect cultural values?’, of course not, we are always in the context of protecting human rights and respecting human rights and celebrating all the cultural aspects whether it’s religious, or traditional.

Q: The organization called Universal Esperanto Association is deeply concern about the disappearance of languages. If Esperanto is taught in the European Union the large number of problems would disappear. Do you recognize that Esperanto spreads non-violently and it’s five times easier than English or French to learn? Wouldn’t that be a tool in the literacy and in the world if simplified second language was taught that is five times easier than French?
A-(Rochelle Roca-Hachem): I’m not aware of the policy on behalf of the UNESCO about Esperanto, I certainly had say that we are preserving all languages and promoting literacy in anyway possible. As a deep note UNESCO produced The Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, which is about the endangered languages. After all, I haven’t actually heard Esperanto being suggested in the discussions within UNESCO. Furthermore, It is domestic/governmental and international issue as well but it comes from this government perspective and unless governments really want to promote the language, we have to create a committee by scientists/experts to discuss how we can promote multilingual education and prevent the loss of the endangered languages.

Q: As a president of World Movement of Mothers, we do a lot of workshops in the difficult suburbs and certainly when French mother meets a Muslim mother or African mother we dialogue, we try to understand each other at the end of a day there is so much connection in a community level.

5 years ago in the suburbs of France there were huge fights and we had an action as mothers by connecting together and now we have much less violence in suburbs. However, there so little money donated to organization such as ours, we struggle to get funding for us from any governmental even from private sector.

Mothers are the pillars of the society.

It is wonderful to talk about schools, wonderful to talk about teachers, going exchanges but lets face it; its at home where it all starts.

If a child sees that a French mother is afraid of or talks badly about her neighbor just because the neighbor dresses differently or comes from different culture, the child no matter what he/she hears at school he/she may carry on that feeling. And I am very sad to see that so little money goes into efforts like ours, and there is so little recognition of our efforts.

A-(Thomas Uthup): As the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations we emphasize that these are the efforts even they are very small and effect one neighborhood they can be recognized in a global level. By getting recognition these small organization can get funding.

For instance, in Amsterdam, there is a neighborhood where mostly minorities reside; minorities who have no role models around them. So there’s this project created and the head of the project brought Dutch lawyers and Dutch doctors so they can work with the immigrant communities to give them examples of how to become a lawyer or a doctor. Another example is also from Amsterdam where people got educated about Ramadan.

Q: How do governments allow the oil companies to destroy the indigenous people and their environment for the sake of developing oil process? I believe we have to secure the people by protecting their habitats.
A-(Rochelle Roca-Hachem): speaking for UNESCO, there’s awareness raising, there is a momentum, there is a shift, there is change happening but it’s slow. There’s a permanent forum for indigenous people’s issues within UN now that meets every year and it helps governments come into a dialogue of indigenous people’s communities and governments now are starting to change their policies. In 2007 they adopted the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which talks about indigenous languages; so that is one sense of raising awareness and pressure on governments. Last but not least, through social networking platforms and media, the awareness is also raising.

Q: What are the channels that NGOs could collaborate or work together with UNESCO’s projects and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations?
A: As UNESCO, we are certainly working for the most of the part with governments. But we do work in the field and for many projects, we do work with local communities, which already has accreditation with UNESCO. Besides that, we are always encouraging all NGOs and civil societies to play role in issues that concerns their communities.

A-(Dr. Thomas Uthup): In cooperation with the Georgia Department of Education, The UN Alliance of Civilizations co-sponsored an Art and Essay contest held by the Istanbul Center in Atlanta, Georgia, for middle and high school students. Other partners and co-sponsors of this year’s contest included local universities, media, NGOs, the Honorary Consulate General of Turkey for Georgia, as well as the British Consulate General in Atlanta and the Consulate Generals of Germany, Israel, and Switzerland in Atlanta. The first-place winner, sponsoring teacher, and their local district superintendent receive an all-expenses paid visit to Turkey for ten days. 

About the Panelists:

Ms. Rochelle Roca-Hachem is the Officer for Culture in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) New York office. Her liaison position covers a wide range of cultural issues including cultural diversity, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, multilingualism, indigenous peoples, and intercultural dialogue. An American lawyer, Ms. Roca-Hachem was based at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters from 1994 to 2006. Prior to her arrival in New York, she worked in UNESCO’s Division of Cultural Heritage, focusing on illicit trafficking in and return and restitution of cultural objects – a subject on which she has published several handbooks for UNESCO, as well as independent articles. Before joining UNESCO, Ms. Roca-Hachem practiced in a private law firm in Washington, DC.

Dr. Thomas Uthup is the Research and Education Manager for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). Current major projects managed by Dr. Uthup include a clearinghouse on Education about Religions and Beliefs, a Research Network, and “the expansion of exchanges.” His academic focus is on the complex relationships between culture and society, with special attention to South Asian and Middle Eastern politics, religion and politics, societal globalization and higher education administration. He has been described as a “walking Alliance of Civilizations.” He was raised as a Catholic in majority-Hindu India in a community that claims Jewish and Middle Eastern heritage, studied Islam for his dissertation in the United States, and is married to an American of Slovak-German descent. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics, Politics, and Sociology from Bangalore University (St. Joseph’s College) in Bangalore, India; a Master’s in International Journalism from Baylor University in Waco, Texas; and an MA and Ph.D. in political science from Binghamton University (SUNY).

Dr. Allan Goodman is the sixth President of the Institute of International Education (IIE), the leading not-for-profit organization in the field of international educational exchange and development training. IIE administers the Fulbright program, which is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and other countries. Prior to his appointment at IIE, Dr. Goodman was Executive Dean of the School of Foreign Service and a Professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of books on international affairs published by Harvard, Princeton and Yale University presses and Diversity in Governance, published by the American Council on Education. Dr. Goodman also served as Presidential Briefing Coordinator for the Director of Cultural Intelligence and as Special Assistant to the Director of the National Foreign Assessment Center during the Carter Administration. He was the first American professor to lecture at the Foreign Affairs College of Beijing. Dr. Goodman also helped creates the first U.S. academic exchange program with the Moscow Diplomatic Academy for the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs and developed the diplomatic training program of the Foreign Ministry of Vietnam. Dr. Goodman holds a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard, an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.S. from Northwestern University.

Dr. Tina Richardson is currently an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Lehigh University. Her teaching and scholarship focuses on international and multicultural education and counseling psychology. Dr. Richardson actively engages in recruiting diverse students both nationally and internationally. She is dedicated to mentoring student growth and professional development, innovative teaching (i.e., technology enriched, online, and international teaching methods) and scholarship. Dr. Richardson also served as the Training Director of the Counseling Psychology Program in the College of Education at Lehigh University. As Training Director, she was responsible for sustaining a culture that included a visionary curriculum, rigorous scholarship and a collegial spirit. Under her leadership, the Counseling Psychology Program received the American Psychological Association’s 2007 Richard M. Suinn Award. Dr. Richardson was a Fulbright-Hays Scholar in Ghana, West Africa and a 2-time recipient of the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad grant from the United States Department of Education. This grant enabled her to lead educational tours to benefit K-12 teachers and university faculty working in international curricula development. She directs a new university partnership program between Lehigh and the University of Liberia that promotes behavioral health, reconciliation and recovery from war in Liberia. This partnership will result in professional development for faculty, pre- and in- service teachers, provide infusion of educational resources for students in Liberia, and contribute to the recovery from war processes in the country.

Source: Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organizations

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