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.
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, 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.
Here is a list of its four main purposes as found in the UN Charter:
- Maintaining worldwide peace and security
- Developing relations among nations
- Fostering cooperation between nations in order to solve economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian international problems
- Providing a forum for bringing countries together to meet the UN’s purposes and goals
Worthy goals all.