U.N. International Day of Peace – U.N. Headquarters – New York, NY

This past Friday, David and I had the honor of joining in on celebrations for the U.N. International Day of Peace (IDOP). In attendance were, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, many of the U.N. Messengers of Peace including, Michael Douglas, Eli Wiesel, Dr. Jane and newly appointed Messenger of Peace Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan.

The day of celebrations started with a peace bell ceremony outside the U.N. In this ceremony Mr. Ban spoke about peace as being the highest calling for the UN, the aspiration that “defines our mission” and “drives our discourse”. With this and the celebrations of the day, Mr. Ban called for a 24 hour world-wide cease fire. The ceremony concluded with Mr. Ban ringing the famous Japanese Peace bell cast from coins collected from 60 different countries.

Following the ceremony we attended the U.N. Student Observance gathering for IDOP. In this gathering Mr. Ban and the Messengers of Peace spoke about peace with 700 students at the U.N. and live via webcast in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, and Sudan. Each Messenger spoke of how they saw peace happening in the world and what they were going to do as Messengers of Peace to see their visions become realities.

After these speeches we had the opportunity to view three short films about youth living in the DRC, Lebanon, and Sudan. These films were followed by personal stories from the country of origin, and discussion. To hear and see what it is like for youth in war torn countries is something that brought me to tears. It was so inspiring however to learn that there were youth stepping up, and taking some action to make their world a better place.

After the video section of the student observance we heard from a panel of youth leaders from across the US and internationally on how they were participating in efforts for Peace. Our very own Mitch Paine was amongst the panel of speakers. In his speech Mitch eloquently told his own story of working to save the endangered Salt Creek Beetle, and how his experiences with Roots & Shoots taught him that when youth come together they can make a difference, they can make change.

Following the celebrations at the U.N. David and I ended our day with Roots & Shoots College Leaders Zach Storey and Nina Martin by flying a Peace Dove at the highest point in Central Park, Belvedere Castle.

This day was truly inspiring and hearing so many youth speak about their ideas and solutions for peace gives me immense hope for the future.

Welcome!

Hello blog world,

This blog is dedicated to documenting the travels, triumphs and trivial tid-bits of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots Fellows. David Chase and Shawn Sweeney, youth leadership fellow and graduate fellow respectively, are two of the youngest members of the Jane Goodall Institute’s staff and work around the clock (often literally) to bring a youth voice to an international organization whose arm reaches into 100 countries.

I am David Chase. Originally from Cape Cod Massachusetts, I enjoy a good slice of pizza, a good song and a good pair of birks. But only if the slice does not have meat on it, the song does not belong to the rap or classical genre, and the birks are worn year round despite any amount of snow. I graduated the Sturgis Charter Public School with a full IB diploma and I will attend St Mary’s College of Maryland after this year long fellowship.

I first got involved with Roots & Shoots in my middle school, which was oddly located between a Chinese restaurant and a hair salon in an underground strip mall. I carried on through high school and I was a founding member of the New England Youth Leadership Council. Basically making eight years of Roots & Shoots experience, including two international trips, six summits and two retreats.

I am the second youth leadership fellow, following Chase Pickering (which means I will respond to David, Chase, David Chase Pickering or Chase2). The Youth Leadership Fellow position was created to bring a youth voice to the Roots & Shoots staff. The fellowship is the ultimate form of youth empowerment. As the Youth Leadership Fellow, I am also responsible for overseeing our national campaigns and our Youth Leadership Initiative.

The second member of our dynamic duo is Shawn Sweeney. Shawn enjoys too many TV shows, music that I don’t and blended salads (with orange juice). On a serious note, Shawn has a passion for primates, a degree in psychology from College of Wooster and a skill for graphic design that never ceases to amaze.

Shawn started a Roots & Shoots group at his college and joined the College Leadership Council. He has since become a leader among leaders. Shawn is the first Graduate Fellow and is responsible for not only bringing a youth voice to the staff but also helping to support our college and university groups around the country.

So, welcome to the fellow blog and check it out often to hear about our travels! We are currently in New York City and we will fly out to Los Angles tomorrow morning, we will put up our travel schedule shortly.

For more information on Roots & Shoots go to www.rootsandshoots.org

For more information on the Jane Goodall Institute go to www.janegoodall.org