The following is a reflection by Caellagh Morrissey, an undergraduate student, who was partially funded by the Global Justice Program to attend a workshop on human rights in NY.
“November 3, 2015
Re: Oxford Consortium on Human Rights: The United Nations and Community Action
This past week I was privileged with the opportunity to visit the United Nations Center in New York for a collaborative workshop with driven students from a large variety of different disciplines at institutions across the U.S. The workshop spanned a huge spectrum from the broad policy based practices and the bureaucracy of a World Governing body, to the practical and person of a single refugee. Although covering such a huge number of topics in an incredibly short period of time challenged our cohort, the atmosphere of inclusivity and intellectual rigor that we fostered was well worth the long days.
These kinds of events always serve to inspire me to action and renew my hope in the possibility of a more just world. It is amazing to come together from across the country, and find that despite our different backgrounds and opinions we can share a desire to improve the human condition. I hope that moving forward each of the people who participated in the consortium will be able to hold what we discussed in mind as we pursue our differing approaches to Human Rights in our own ways.
One of the most surprising and rewarding aspects of the week for me, came in realizing that despite all of the pomp and panache of the United Nations, huge impacts can be made on the lives of single people through small efforts. In speaking with a refugee from Sudan I was pleasantly surprised that he did not fit my stereotype of a ‘person in need’ at all. With twenty years of journalism experience and a strong reputation as a reporter on issues of democracy, this man had considerably more skills than I do. However, he was struggling to get by in a country without any Arabic Newspapers. At first I would never have considered myself capable of helping this person, but after sharing lunch with him and some of the other students we were able to put him in touch with a nearby school of journalism and may yet be able to help him get into journalism school.
Although this one small action may not make a huge world difference, it did serve to illustrate the kinds of small and practical changes that our community development leader Nabeel Hamdi had discussed with us. It also reminded me that in the search for peace and cooperation throughout the world, the biggest impact will be made through those actions which are collaborative partnerships.
Thank you for making this experience possible.
History and International Relations
University of Oregon”