Don’t Forget about UN Day … Not This Year.

 

For twenty-two years my late husband worked for an international organization, the Asian Development Bank. He and his colleagues, men and women from every continent except Antarctica, devoted themselves to the economic development of developing countries in Asia.

Asian Development Bank Bldg., Roxas Blvd.

As a result of his job, our family moved to the Philippines and later to Vanuatu and I became an expat wife. Like military spouses, expatriate wives consider themselves supporters of and contributors to their husbands’ work. So it may not be surprising that I feel strongly about the work done by international agencies and NGOs and the people who devote their lives to cooperation among nations and service to strangers.

During the past year, sadly, my country seems to be turning away from ideals of international cooperation. The latest example is the US withdrawal on October 12, 2017 from UNESCO (the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization). Among other things, we’re also withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord and threatening to drop out of the Iran nuclear deal that we negotiated together with our European allies.

UN Day

UN Day, October 24th.

I’ve mentioned UN Day in my blog before. But this year especially I don’t want to forget about it.

At the international school where our daughters studied, UN Day was the biggest holiday of the year. With students from all over the world, the school couldn’t very well celebrate national holidays.  For American children, that meant no Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day, end-of-summer Labor Day, or even American Thanksgiving. In a student body of varied religions, celebrating religious holidays didn’t make much sense either.

At the Manila International School, the UN Day celebrations often lasted for a week. The older children participated in mock-UN sessions and learned national dances. The younger children brought their mothers in to share games, crafts, and traditional dishes from their respective countries.

The culmination of the week-long festivities was the Parade of Nations.

The United Nations was born on October 24, 1945. This coming Tuesday, it will be 72 years old. Let us all wish it a happy birthday.

Here is a list of its four main purposes as found in the UN Charter:

  1. Maintaining worldwide peace and security
  2. Developing relations among nations
  3. Fostering cooperation between nations in order to solve economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian international problems
  4. Providing a forum for bringing countries together to meet the UN’s purposes and goals

Worthy goals all.

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About Nicki Chen

About Nicki Chen
Nicki Chen is a writer living in Edmonds, WA. Her first novel, Tiger Tail Soup, is set in China during the Japanese invasion and occupation, 1937-1945. She’s working on a second novel set in Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation where she and her late husband lived in the early ’90s.

Culture, expatriate life, holidays, Philippines , , , , , ,

12 comments


  1. Happy UN Day, Nicki. I do remember you writing about it in a previous post. It’s amazing how the school your children went to celebrated it – then again, it was an international school. I went to school in Malaysia and there were students from the States, Europe and Australia in my class. But we never celebrated UN Day. The first I heard of the day was much later on in high school. It was a day that those in the debating team always looked forward to and they would always remind the rest of the class about it.




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    • I’m flattered, Mabel, that you remembered my previous posts on UN Day.

      I’m guessing that the reason the debating team in your school in Malaysia looked forward to UN Day was that they took part in a Mock United Nations session. The first Mock United Nations was held in 1949 at St. Lawrence University. Since then, it has spread all over the world.




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  2. Yes, Happy UN Day! I remember learning about the UN. I hope children today will somehow learn the value of countries working together, despite what’s happening currently.




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    • I share your hope, Linda. It isn’t easy to get 193 countries working together on anything, but just the fact that that so many countries have joined and have shown some interest in cooperating is something to be celebrated.




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  3. Now there is a protest I’d like to see — the entire country giving Trump the finger by celebrating U.N. Day. Maybe we can get it trending on Twitter. 🙂




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  4. Like you I am not a fan of this current isolationist policy the current administration is following (especially since two of his wives were immigrants). Locally UN day is not celebrated or even known about. I will celebrate it with you and hope that in the future we can return to a country that embraces diversity.




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    • It just seems silly to try to be isolationist in the 21st century when we’re so interrelated and can communicate with people all over the world on our cell phones.

      One of my Facebook friends grew up in Mexico. She said UN Day is celebrated in schools all over Mexico. I wonder if that’s true in any other countries.




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  5. Happy UN Day to the world. We need international cooperation and understanding that places like the UN work to develop.




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    • Developing cooperation and understanding is hard work, especially between countries. But without at least some effort and some success, we’re much too likely to go to war.




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  6. Excellent reminder, Nicki. Thanks!




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