by Simon Chu, Director of Community Service, UNA-SNY Young Professionals
On March 20th, I attended an event celebrating the International Day of Happiness at the United Nations. The event brought together people from all over the world to celebrate the progress humanity has made thus far and also discuss what more can be done to tackle the issues that are preventing people from living more joyful lives.
The event started off with an introduction by United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Alison Smale. Following her introduction, the Global Happiness Coalition Members highlighted their work in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals that will lead to more happiness. The coalition is comprised of six countries: Slovenia, Mexico, Portugal, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, and the United Arab Emirates. It is always amazing to see people from different parts of the world come together in the interest of the global population. The audience in the room represented that shared effort, and I am proud to be a part of the United Nations Association, a group that also represents the collective desire to make a difference.
Then, H.E. Ambassador Hamid Al-Bayati, former Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations, reflected on his difficult childhood, the importance of giving, and emphasized why a country’s priority should be the happiness of its people. Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Sustainable Development Solutions Network then gave a brief overview of the World Happiness Report, of which he is an author. I remember sitting there listening to the speeches and explanations of the speakers and thinking, for an event that is supposed to be about happiness, this is pretty intense.
After the introductory panel, there were several break-out sessions. The session I attended focused on education. It was led by Ambassador Darja Bavdaz Kuret, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations and Ambassador Doma Tshering, Permanent Representative of Bhutan to the United Nations. The goal of education is to produce better well-being, as well as improve traditional outcomes in schools. It sounds trivial, but I know at least in the United States, the current education system doesn’t take into account students’ mental health and motivations nearly as much as it should.
The participants in my break-out session were inspiring. Each had their perspective on education and wanted to see it improve. I asked the group how I can advocate for quality education, and I was advised to reach out to local elected officials, speak with teachers and most importantly, stay active!
In closing, I’d like to remind everyone to stay active in whatever they are fighting for as well. Serving as the United Nations Association Southern New York Division Young Professional Community Service Director has shown me there are some difficult global challenges. We are trying to end poverty. End Hunger. Combat climate change and more. Resolving these issues take time and effort, but are worth fighting for. I believe that through this continued multi-stakeholder effort we will make the world a happier place. So keep at it and I look forward to happier days for everyone!