Discover what some of our Park Scholars abroad are doing.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
By Crystal Kayiza, '15
Having spent the past two-months residing in the capital of the international community, I have witnessed an unwavering passion global peace. Geneva, Switzerland is a small bustling community within arms reach of the French border. As part of my program I spend much of my time attending presentations and lectures at the United Nations and other international organizations in areas ranging from migration, access to health, environmental protection, and women’s rights. And recently I had the privilege of hearing Ban Ki-moon—current Secretary-General of the UN—give a public talk. Although I was honored to attend such an important event, what I witnessed was a serious turn in my study abroad experience.
While delivering his brief lecture Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was met with conflict when he began to speak about the current conflict in the Congo. As he elaborated on the United Nations efforts in Africa, a Congolese representative stood and began yelling about the international community’s apathy towards Africa. As she pointed out his mistruth, other African representatives began to do the same. The public display of outrage ended in a brief disruption of the programming and an exodus’s of the protestors. Most of the room sat in silence, anxiously waiting the words of the Secretary-General. But the fire had been put out, and the moment was met with passive acknowledgement of their legitimate inquiry. The show went on, and the room soon forgot the questions of their Congolese colleges.
The more I attend lectures and conferences I find that the complacency with muting the voice of others through funds or political power hinders the international community. And that overwhelmingly the “others” are developing communities. Geneva exposes me to new narratives, and I value the brilliant minds I encounter everyday. But there must be a change in how we approach the narratives of others. As I continue to search for ways to connect my passion for media and policy, I use this event as a reminder of one consistent truth in all my pursuits. For me to be an honest storyteller and humanitarian good intentions should never cripple a community’s voice. To understand the complexity of the outrage found that day, there is a long history that must be taken into consideration.
I may spend more time lounging in conferences chairs than on beaches, but thus far my study abroad experience has pushed and tested me in every way. As I continue exploring Geneva, I am reminded that although the acquisition of this knowledge is an incredible challenge, I will be a better filmmaker and human being because of it. And I am privileged to call the haven of the global community home.
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