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LU hosts Indian students

Lehigh hosts Indian students who produced award-winning MDG related films.

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November 5, 2006

Brad Woodward

Our visit to the UN this past Thursday was fantastic.  I was happy to sign up for the trip on a whim, and many thanks go to Christine and the WAC for sending out an email informing us of the opportunity to attend the NGO meeting.

The meeting itself was fairly interesting, and it was nice to meet a few new people, including the three other Lehigh students who attended as well as a graduate student at NYU studying sustainable development.  It was styled as a “Townhall Meeting” titled The Theme for the 60th DPI/NGO Conference.  A summary of the meeting’s purpose was provided for each attendee.

The annual townhall meeting will provide DPI associated NGO representatives with an opportunity to present their recommendations for the theme of the 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference, which is scheduled to take place in September 2007. 

Most presentations from the floor lasted about three minutes.  About thirty representatives from various NGOs spoke.  Some had prepared statements and others kind of got up to the podium and winged it.  I enjoyed watching each of their styles of presentation.  Speakers who left the greatest impact were those with a clear message.  Some of them grew very passionate about their topic, even though the general subject of the meeting was somewhat dry.  The mediators, Juan Carlos Brandt and Joan Kirby, ended things early because there weren’t enough presenters to fill the entire two hours.  There was no formal schedule of presenters—people who wanted to say something simply got up on stage and said what they had to say. 

A lot of the themes for the conference that representatives were proposing were very similar.  Themes included focus on the environment and global warming, poverty and development, militarization, migration, the rights of indigenous people and other human rights, racial and ethnic conflicts, and reorganization/strengthening of the “new UN.”  NGO reps who attended included individuals from various peace-advocate groups, faith-based groups, groups for the aged and people with disabilities, and other politically oriented groups.

My favorite part of the meeting was when an older lady got up on stage to speak and recommended the theme should be to bring western music, namely jazz, to communities in the Middle East.  She insisted jazz was the key to ending hatred and conflict in that part of the world.  I think most people in the audience liked the thought, but it was clearly an “out-there” proposal.

Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to attend this meeting and see UN headquarters.  I plan on going back soon on another LU-sponsored trip.

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