Linking Youth to a Global Future


The Education Committee of the United Nations Association of New York celebrated Black History Month and 2011 as the United Nations International Year for People of African Descent, with the Young Scholars Institute of Trenton, New Jersey and the Youth for Understanding International Student Exchange Program of New York and Boston.

Over one hundred students, grades 6 through post-secondary high school, as well as parents and educators, gathered at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in New York to see the highly informative presentation of FROM SELMA TO SOWETO, which was screened as part of UNA-NY's ongoing film-talk series Screening the Issues. The film depicts a critical era in African and African-American history, wherein America's political and educational involvement in peaceful efforts and protests brought an end to apartheid in South Africa.

John Sweeney, Hiroshi Murakami (President of Toray Industries America, Inc.), Paula Rice Jackson, Lord Norman Foster, Dr. Peter Rajsingh

Clockwise from left: Jennifer Davis, UNA-NY Board members Dr. Chonita Spencer and Gloria Browne-Marshall, Counsellor Thembela Ngculu, and Link Dee Scott-Huggins of The Links, Incorporated. / Photos: Tequila Minsky

In collaboration and partnership with The Links, Incorporated (Central New Jersey Chapter), the evening presented post-screening special guests. Counsellor Thembela Ngculu from the South African mission to the UN was on hand (replacing the originally scheduled South African Ambassador Batso Sangqu, who was called away to an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council), as well as the former Executive Director of the American Committee on Africa, Jennifer Davis.

Both of them spoke of their political work and journeys, and encouraged students to meaningfully and purposefully engage in career work and service that will end social injustice of human-kind, not only here at home, but throughout our world's diasporas.

UNA-NY's Education Committee, in conjunction with the CNJ Links Chapter, arranged for the students and parents to receive a pre-international education and awareness program earlier that week from Haitian American and UNA-NY Film Committee member, Christie Desir.

Ms. Desir previewed the film with the students and families, after which she rendered her career and educational experience as a Haitian and now Haitian-American. Her message provided encouragement to "seek world-wide career endeavors through occupations and service, that will compassionately make a difference in promoting peace and goodwill throughout our world."

Students and families from both Young Scholars and Youth for Understanding will engage in post-UN activities of student exchange, whereby UN committee chairs Leila Zubi and Chonita Spencer will continue UNA-NY's efforts of further promoting Student Alliances and the UN Millennium Development Goals.


reportage: Chonita A. Spencer, Chair, Education Committee