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Human rights and youth leadership conference in USA Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Shakti, United Kingdom Oct 30, 2006
Culture , Human Rights , Peace & Conflict   Short Stories
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Human rights and youth leadership conference in USA The UNESCO Chair & Institute of Comparative Human Rights at the University of Connecticut invited 30 young human rights leaders from around the world to participate in an inter-generational educational conference, held on August 7 - 13, 2005 at University of Connecticut, in Connecticut, USA.

"It was a great experience because there was different point of view shared and on the other hand it was quite difficult for us since they had different styles with work and organizing presentations which was different from mine. One of the things that fascinated me was how they organized the presentations. Most of the presenters were very experienced academic people which gave us the opportunity to go deep into the information they were sharing. Nevertheless we as participants needed to make a great effort because the schedule was very intensive and we had to be ready at 8 am and most of the days finished at 10 pm."

This phrase is not only Ms. Aida Pena Celis's expression after attending the conference but it represents the all participants' views. I have picked up this expression from the email list of UNESCO chair.

In this project, young people engaged through dialogue with experienced and older human rights practitioners to gain management skills and techniques and a greater understanding of human rights issues on a global level. The principal objective was to nurture individuals to be effective leaders in the field of human rights.

In my view, conference sought to promote sharing of experiences and understanding and provide an impulsion for the empowerment of youth leaders and to enable them to play a crucial and constructive role in the development of human rights in their communities. I am confident that the conference provided tools and a platform for open debates about policies, programs, activities and processes necessary for promoting human rights leadership. I believe that conference facilitators served in an ongoing capacity as mentors to the young conference participants upon their return to their home countries.

On 1st of August 2005, I had been at JFK air port in New York. On 7th August I was scheduled to go to Connecticut for the conference. So a UNESCO bus came to pick me at JFK airport around 2:30 pm in New York. Even before the bus came, I went swimming in the sea with a brother with whom I stayed in Queens. I remember the beach was near JFK airport. I had a wonderful time there because first time, I enjoy swimming in the sea. Even though I didn’t want to leave it was late for me to go the airport.

Well, to be familiar with each other before conference we should have introduction session and make a successful conference we have facilitators' training, which we have done after breakfast on Sunday.

After American lunch and a wonderful walking tour of the campus; we had attended a leadership workshop, a significant tool in our lives. We must be discussed its characteristics like creativity, social understanding, charisma, sense of humor, ambition, intelligence, polity, confidence, generous and hard working nature and many more.

Many friends had the similar problem at lunch time since we were not used to American food. I am familiar with European and American food but I have difficulties in adjustment. Some times it really created problems for me because there was no alternative to pork and beef. I always used chicken and potato instead of those.

In the evening, we had a welcome ceremony with dinner. After the conference was finished it was time for recreational activities where we could play indoor games. These types of activities developed a good relationship among participants. But I wanted to stay quiet. On Monday, after breakfast we had team meeting, involved in developing a project. Dr. Amii Omara-Otunnu, UNESCO Chair-Holder addressed a keynote speech on human rights. He empowered youth on the human rights issues. I realize that human rights as a tool for social change.

Its time for open forum; where we shared our experience and perspectives. I shared my few years experience on human rights, youth and ICT campaign issues. I talked about the current situation of Nepal, where democracy had collapsed and a struggle for power was going on between the king, the political parties and the Maoists. I still remember one fact; Nepal is a country where rural girls are sold by their families for the sake money. It pinched my inner heart. I realized that I have much more to do in this area too.

Picnic makes excellent impression. The organizer had organized a picnic in a forest near the University. We even went hiking on a small hill. There was also a lake where some boats were floating, but there was no permission for swimming. We played a stone throwing game on the lake. In the forest we chatted and sang songs too. We returned on the picnic spot and had boiled maize, fresh almonds, watermelon, and the BBQ.

Dr. Amii talked to me about Nepal's current issues. He said he was surprised at the Feb. first 2005 royal take over. He opened an almond packet and added, "Nepalese people should develop a mechanism for peaceful movement that never attacked democracy". I agree with him, democracy is not that a thing which is give form some one.

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Enos Opati Ongute | Mar 10th, 2007
Thanks for the conference. I wish to attend as i,m an aspiring politician in Kenya. God bless your efforts. Enos

Enos Opati Ongute | Mar 10th, 2007
Thanks for the conference. I wish to attend as i,m an aspiring politician in Kenya. God bless your efforts. Enos

Enos Opati Ongute | Jul 23rd, 2007
Good work. Encouraging more young people to take action. Enos

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