Archives for posts with tag: SusanSacirbey

Football Sunday at Popcorn Park?

A “Compelling Journey” to the pine barrens of New Jersey to reach a unique animal refuge and wildlife kingdom fit for a “Princess.”

ImageDiplomat Artists are those embodying an artist’s sensibilities in the world of diplomacy, art, sports, & popular culture. They are those who are inspired beyond the stage and canvas to social and global contributions. Well, how about a personable mammal diplomat artist that moves beyond the proverbial fish bowl and captures the heart, hope, and attention for millions — children, adults, and worldwide media?

July began on the East Coast and most of the United States as a heat wave. Aquarians at heart are making it out of town for the Summer to hopefully cool off and do some body surfing at the beach. Last week doing some “channel surfing” on cable channels, by accident I fell upon the movie “Dolphin Tale” which intrigued me by its title and cast: Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson. 

The story revolves around an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin who was caught in a crab trap and lost its tale, a necessity for dolphin survival. It’s rescued at a not-for-profit wildlife conservation center in Florida who goes to all steps to care and rehabilitate “Winter.” Despite the heroic efforts of its staff and a young volunteer boy and girl, unless “Winter” receives a prosthetic tale, her outcome is bleak. The center is also in dire financial straits and about to go under water, and a never-before tried dolphin prosthesis is financially prohibitive.  Cameo appearance by Sir Richard Branson as the “white knight” saves the Center.

Most inspiring about the story is its human connection. The young boy and girl set a goal to empower Winter and go to extraordinary lengths in both time, energy, and imagination to fulfill their goal to make her capable of normal activity. In short, the team — dolphin and children never give up. It’s a tear-jerker and Kleenex prerogative when a small child from Atlanta who had heard about Winter, made her mother drive all the way to see her. Coincidentally, she and Winter shared a bond. Both were missing a limb.
The movie has a happy ending and a surprise, which I hadn’t foreseen until the film’s credits. It’s a true story. Winter resides at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida. She has her own website and you can follow her on TWITTER @WinterDolphin. Her website describes her: “The real Winter, who plays herself in the “Dolphin Tale” today serves as a symbol of courage, perseverance and hope to millions of people — both able and disabled — who have been touched by her remarkable story of recovery and rehabilitation.”

Happy Summer everyone — let’s made some diplomatic splash to treat mankind and animals as well as Winter does.  And yes — Winter is a female dolphin!

By, Susan Sacirbey

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Earlier in the week, I received an urgent message from a Facebook friend alerting me to the rising waters and dangers to the citizens of Meissen, a small province in Saxony, East Germany. Personally having lived through the recent storm devastation of Hurricane Sandy and educated at Loyola University in New Orleans (though graduated prior to Katrina) I feel an affinity to the people of Meissen.

This week we celebrated WED (World Environment Day) on June 5, two days after my message from Marc.  As global citizens, I’d like to share Marc Zoellner’s article and photos of the Elbe River to you.  — Susan

Flood in Saxony, By Marc Zoellner:

You may probably not have heard anything yet about the city of Meissen. That’s not shameful. It’s just a small village with about 25,000 inhabitants, located in the very heart of the also tiny East German province of Saxony. Meissen is indeed famous in its own way. It has cultivated some tasty wines for a thousand years now, which attracted lots of famous writers, clerics and artists during the centuries. Goethe loved to get drunk in Meissen, Lessing studied here, Ludwig Richter painted his first romantic artworks under the basswoods, that surround Meissen’s age-old castle Albrechtsburg, the cradle not only of Saxony’s, but of whole East Germany’s civilization. Meissen’s alchemists have also invented Europe’s first porcelain. The white gold, as they called it since.

But although Meissen is rich on culture, it’s also Saxony’s poorhouse. High unemployment rates, problems with drugs, crime and violence, and lots of its buildings in a decrepit condition due to East Germany’s communist heritage. However, Meissen never forsaked itself. Ten years after the Berlin Wall fell, Meissen’s inner city looked as pretty as new. Tourists started to visit this insiders’ pearl again, not only Germans, but also people from the US, from China and Japan. Meissen seemed to blossom again out of its deep sleep, until it was terribly destroyed by a flood in Summer 2002.

The trail of destruction can still be seen now. Uncounted houses’ basements had to be pumped, facades had to be de-watered, the centre’s streets, back then not more than muddy paths covered in the marsh of the rivers, had to be reconstructed from their ground. Meissen was on the edge of a catastrophe. When Meissen’s citizens didn’t have any more drinking water, food and clothes, when their banks, shops and flats were drowned, when they finally knew that their condition would last for at least several months, it was the world, that lend a helping hand to its beloved friends down in East Germany.

Volunteers streamed from every city in Germany, sometimes more than Meissen could feed. People from the old and new continent did send care packages to households, who mostly needed it. The famous pop singer Michael Jackson even invited some of Meissen’s families to recover themselves from the flood on his ranch. Meissen didn’t have much to spare over the centuries, but it was always proud to share its cultural achievements with the world. Thus, it was also very thankful for every small gesture, that came back after the disastrous infelicity.

It’s the night of June 3rd, 2013, and Meissen’s people are on the streets again. They evacuate houses, clear shops, and fill sandbags. Rain didn’t stop for the last ten days now, and the water level of Meissen’s two rivers, the Elbe and the Triebisch, is still rising. The townsmen are watching carefully the latest news on the Internet and on TV. Every breaking information is referred to friends and companions instantly via Facebook or SMS. They are awaiting the city to be deluged in a few hours, and even worse than 2002. For all of them, it’s really frightening, how nature rages this moment.

The Triebisch, for example, is usually not more than a tiny rivulet, sometimes not deeper than 50 centimetres (about 20 inches). A small paradise for anglers and hikers. Today, it rose up to incredibly 2,70 metres (110 inches), and threatens whole urban quarters in their very existence. The Elbe leads about 320 cubic metres of water per second in normal times. It’s not a really broad river, but adequate enough to let two steamboats drive on it next to each other. This evening, the Environmental Agency of Saxony declared, that the same river leads more than 2,500 cubic metres of water per second. For clarification: that’s the same amount, which flows down the river Nile, the largest river of Africa. And the Elbe is still rising.

Fortunately, the rain stopped for the last hours. So Meissen’s people can work dry, while they try to rescue, what’s still to be rescued. But the flood is coming, that’s for sure. The stream gauge of the Elbe is now about 7,50 metres high, and it’s awaited from the city’s municipality, that it will further rise up to 9,50 metres during the next two days. What’s coming afterwards, at the end of the week, nobody knows. Meissen’s citizens can only hope, that the sandbag damming will keep the worst out of their cellars, their grounds and their shops. From Berlin, the first fire department’s brigades are on their way to Saxony. Disaster alarm may soon be declared over the city. But what’s also for sure: that Meissen needs much more helping hands. It needs fresh water, foodstuffs, and in fairness also donations to reconstruct their once beautiful city once again. It will need the world again still long after the terrible flood has finally been vanished.
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Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina is no stranger to hospitality. The famous venue of the 1984 Winter Olympics is this year’s European host of World Environment Day (WED). Orchestrated by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP),  WED is an annual event whose tradition began in 1972.


A catalyst for environmental awareness, education, and action, WED’s year-round activities culminate on 5 June every year. “Think.Eat.Save” is the 2013 theme, with food waste reduction as the focus.

Bosnia & Herzegovina is a land rich in natural resources, geographic treasures, majestic mountains, and clean waterways. It is also a land that is blessed with a vibrant culture, tradition, and cuisine. Sharing food or a coffee with a friend, neighbor, or family is the inspiration for its WED message  “Because We Care: We Share!”
Creating economic growth and sustainable livelihoods for all citizens is the focus of Bosnia & Herzegovina and the goal for all global citizens as we come to accept responsibility and make constructive action plans to leave a more positive environmental footprint for future generations.

Meanwhile, any neighbors or friends coming tomorrow night for a little “chvapi” on the barbie?


By, Susan Sacirbey

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Advisory Council for Bosnia & Herzegovina (ACBH) PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Ajla Delkic, Executive Director 202-347-6742
Savajevo to host “World Environment Day”

 June 3, 2013 – Washington, D.C. – ACBH joined other Bosnian and international partners this year in showing support for the city of Sarajevo who is this year’s host of the World Environment Day (WED) for the European region. On June 5th of each year, cities across the globe celebrate WED with a goal to raise global awareness of the need to take positive environmental action. WED is run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and this year’s theme is “Think.Eat.Save” which focuses on reducing food waste.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a country that is rich in natural resources and UNEP has focused its support to ensure that BiH creates economic growth and sustainable livelihoods for all of its citizens. In addition, BiH has a well-established tradition and culture that is based on helping fellow citizens. Gathering around the table and sharing food with others is an important aspect of BiH’s culture. In solidarity with those values, BiH’s message for the WED celebration is: Because we care: we share!  
Organizers of WED in Sarajevo believe that the idea of sharing could spark solutions to many of the current global challenges. To mark the event on June 3rd, there will be a round table on sharing and innovations and the screening of the documentary ‘Taste the Waste’.
On June 4th, citizens will have the opportunity to participate in a public event at Wilson’s Lane, during which there will be a cycling event for children and youth. The event will conclude with a reception at the Embassy of Austria.
BiH is a nature rich country with a vibrant history, and its natural beauty can be found in both its people and its land.  
We invite you all to share the unique experience of WED in Sarajevo. To learn more please click on:
ACBH is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Bosnian Americans and works to improve relations between the United States and BiH. ACBH advocates for a democratic, multiethnic, and indivisible BiH with a primary goal of advancing the integration of BiH into the EU and NATO.  


Happy child with painted handsA neurological disorder normally exhibited by the third year, autism is a complex developmental disability that interferes with normal brain function and demonstrates itself in communication and social interaction. Statistically, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect five times more boys than girls. In the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in 88 children is diagnosed with ASD.  However, this is a worldwide problem that demands global recognition and action.


These children represent so much more than statistics. Behind every number, there is a face with potential. With early intervention, abilities can be enhanced and developed. Today, 2 April, the United Nations celebrates World Autism Awareness Day.  Both the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and his wife Ban Soon-taek, are committed to raising the awareness of ASD.


UN News Centre Source

“Now is the time to work for a more inclusive society, highlight the talents of affected people and ensure opportunities for them to realize their potential,” Mr. Ban said. “International attention is essential to address stigma, lack of awareness and inadequate support structures,” he added.  “Let us continue to work hand-in-hand with affected individuals which strengthens their lives and helps society as a whole,” Mrs. Ban said.

In November, the General Assembly held a High-level Special Event on Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Member States adopted a new resolution encouraging governments to strengthen research and expand their delivery of health, education, employment and other essential services. The resolution is also meant to help close the “awareness gap” in terms of developing countries’ knowledge of autism and how to treat the illness.

In New York, two panel discussions take place today to celebrate the abilities of people with autism. In addition to scholars and civil society representatives, the panels feature Neal Katz, a teenager with autism featured in the film ‘Autism The Musical’ Fazli Azeem, a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan who is on the autism spectrum; and Idil Azeem from Somalia, who has a child with autism. UN Headquarters in New York is also hosting a musical performance by Talina and The Miracle Project, which includes performers with autism, as well as a film screening.



Talent and creativity live inside all of us. Left unchecked for people with developmental disorders, it is all of humanity’s loss. World Autism Awareness Day is a special day that needs to be embraced by each of us. We have met our goal when “The Sky is the Limit” for EVERYONE.


By, Susan Sacirbey


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Music represents the great bridge over cultural and ethnic diversity and is the conduit for harmonizing and enriching humanity’s wellbeing. It seems appropriate and coincidental that today, 22 March “World Water Day”, that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) bestowed a Goodwill Ambassadorship on Tan Dun, a renowned Chinese composer. Also today, the head of UNESCO noted that 90 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries that must share water resources with their neighbours.


Tan, born in Hunan Province in 1957, is a blend of musical enrichment. At an early age he was influenced by Shaman rituals and ceremonies, which incorporated organic objects like rocks and water. Peasants provided the knowledge of traditional Chinese string instruments. Tan received classical training at the Central Conservatory of Music and performed at the Beijing Opera Orchestra on the viola. As an ‘80’s doctoral student at Columbia University in New York City, he discovered experimental musicians: Philip Glass, John Cage, Meredith Monk, and Steve Reich.


Tan’s compositions also utilize non-traditional, organic instruments like amplified bowls of water in lieu of percussion instruments. As part of his multi-media repertoire, he includes orchestras, video, and the audience. However, Tan is probably best known for his movie scores in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,”


Music, like water, is a precious resource. It must be shared, embraced, and sustained for all global citizens.  Congratulations, Tan Dun, for being a bridge over troubled water.


UN News Centre Source


UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said Mr. Tan was chosen because of his “efforts to promote intercultural dialogue through music, consciousness of the scarcity of natural resources such as water, and the diversity of languages,” as well as for his dedication to the ideals and aims of the UN.

Mr. Tan is known for his creative repertoire, which spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. He is most widely known for his scores for the movies ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and ‘Hero.’

His music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on radio and television. Mr. Tan has also conducted renowned orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Berliner Philharmoniker.

As a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Tan will join the ranks of distinguished personalities who use their name and fame to spread the ideals of the agency, such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela of South Africa, United States jazz musician Herbie Hancock and Cuban ballerina and choreographer Alicia Alonso.




By, Susan Sacirbey


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The first day of Spring, 20 March 2013, is a time of rebirth, renewal, and the inception of International Day of Happiness. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in proclaiming the day issued a call of commitment from Global Citizens to engage in furthering human development for all mankind. This encompasses the tools of education to improve potential for livelihoods, healthcare, and hunger elimination by utilizing a more secure and sustainable green environment.

Last year at a meeting of Happiness and Wellbeing, the government of Bhutan put forth the goal of “Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product.” Today, March 20, the green of nature trumps the green of the dollar! Happy Spring as we all return to our childhood roots.


UN News Centre Source

20 March 2013 – Marking the first ever International Day of Happiness, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the international community to commit to an inclusive and sustainable human development that will improve the wellbeing of those who lack basic services needed to pursue happiness.

“People around the world aspire to lead happy and fulfilling lives free from fear and want, and in harmony with nature,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the Day.

“Yet, basic material well-being is still elusive for far too many living in extreme poverty. For many more, recurring socio-economic crises, violence and crime, environmental degradation and increasing threats of climate change are an ever-present threat.”

In April 2012, the UN held a High-level Meeting on the topic of ‘Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’ at the initiative of Bhutan, a country which recognized the supremacy of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s and famously adopted the goal of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product (GDP).

In July, the General Assembly proclaimed 20 March the International Day of Happiness, recognizing the relevance of happiness and wellbeing as universal goals and aspirations in people’s lives around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.

“I am encouraged by the efforts of some Governments to design policies based on comprehensive well-being indicators. I encourage others to follow suit,” Mr. Ban said. “On this first International Day of Happiness, let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others.

“When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want.”



Susan Sacirbey


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In measuring the impact of Syria’s devastating, ongoing conflict, the month of March presents the world with some very grim statistics, The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad is Two Years in the making, causing 70,000 Deaths, 2 Million Internally Displaced People (IDP’s), and 1 Million Refugees to neighboring countries.  The $521 Million Syrian Humanitarian Response Plan is only 21.5% funded, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA.) And this figure INCLUDES the $200 Million pledged in Kuwait at January’s donor conference.


However, it was welcome news that Britain’s Prince Charles of Wales and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited the Prince Abdullah refugee camp in Jordan. The strain of so many refugees has been an added burden to host countries, and Jordan has been a model for its health facilities, distribution logistics, and shelter for so many arrivals. The Prince and Duchess commended Jordan’s herculean humanitarian response, and the Royal Couple also listened to tragic stories directly from the refugees at the camp.

UN News Centre Source

Prince Charles of Wales and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, today met with United Nations staff assisting Syrian refugees in a camp in Jordan during a visit that coincided with urgent calls from the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for emergency funding to aid more than one million Syrian refugees and another two million people displaced inside Syria.

Accompanied by Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad, Prince Charles and his wife paid an hour-long visit to the Prince Abdullah Park, where they toured the camp’s health clinic and aid distribution points, and examined pre-fabricated shelters provided by UNHCR to Syrian refugees.

The heir to the British throne praised the relief efforts and expressed “enormous respect for what Jordan and the humanitarian community have done for refugees … The Jordanian people are truly remarkable in what they manage to cope with.” “It’s remarkable what UNHCR and others are doing to try and deal with this unbelievably difficult and heart-breaking situation,” he added.

In a conversation with one of the families taking refuge in the camp, 55-year-old Musa told the royal couple that he decided to flee Syria with his wife and five children last September after he was arrested and tortured.

Also today in Jordan, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, called for additional financial aid, warning that a lack of funding could destabilize the entire region. “This is not just any crisis. It requires a special mechanism of support,” Mr. Guterres told journalists in Amman, following meetings with Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

“There is no way this can be funded by normal humanitarian aid budgets,” he noted, warning that “the consequences could be devastating for the Syrian people and for regional stability” if significant new funding was not forthcoming.

A final, probing question: “How much longer will this war last as the rest of the World watches and counts the numbers?” ,,,

By, Susan Sacirbey

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As I write this message watching a late Spring snowfall, this is my wish & prayer of the day: “WOMEN, stand together. United, we can conquer any wave or challenge. Jump in … and let’s make for a better world TOGETHER.” Happy International Women’s Day! — Susan Sacirbey


Teachers and the education they instill are the hope for a better, more sustainable world.  As we celebrate World Teacher’s Day today, I’d like to thank those dedicated individuals who make learning, the pursuit of knowledge, and curiosity their life’s passion.  As tomorrow, 8 March, is International Women’s Day, I’d like to share a news blog written by Ambassador Mo last year, “Closing Girl’s Education Gap.” It’s an appropriate message for these two days. The question remains, “Are we closing the gender gap in education?”


” Closing Girl’s Education Gap,” By Ambassador Mo

UN launched a two-day meeting in Paris devoted to gender inequality in classroom achievement and on women’s leadership role in education (with evidence showing that disparities in education widen as girls grow). The forum on gender equality in education brings together experts, government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to examine the root causes of inequality between girls’ and boys’ school performances. (From UNESCO & UN News Centre Sources)

“Worrying” Reports:
While gender equality in education remains a crucial issue for many countries, women still account for two thirds of the world’s illiterate population and the majority of out-of-school children are girls, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which organized the forum. “Equality is not a numbers game,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in her address to the meeting. “Equality implies the same chances of learning, of benefiting from equitable treatment within the school, and the same opportunities in terms of employment, wages and civic participation.” Ms. Bokova noted that UNESCO’s 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report paints a “worrying” picture of enduring disparities and challenges to equality.

Key Foundation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):
The Education for All goals were agreed to by more than 160 countries at the World Education Forum in 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, with the aim of achieving 100 per cent child enrolment in primary schools by 2015. Improving access to education is also one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

Slow or No Progress:
“Trends show that enrolment ratios have increased worldwide in primary and lower secondary levels – but that gender differences remain,” said Ms. Bokova. Arab and sub-Saharan African States face “serious” gender disparities at the lower secondary level, and the problem gets worse at the upper secondary level in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Girls Getting Lost Along the Way:
Also, research from 15 countries in East and Southern Africa between 2000 and 2007 show that learning achievements in mathematics and reading, and gender equality in leadership and teaching staff progressed very slowly or not at all. “Clear evidence is mounting from all sides,” Ms. Bokova stated. “Disparities in education grow as girls grow. These disparities start early across the world, and they run deep. “All of this shows that girls are getting lost along the way, falling out of education. It shows they are not getting everywhere an education of quality and equality.

Participants at the forum will also consider the progress achieved in reducing the gender gap, and the obstacles that stand in the way of women’s ability to achieve senior leadership positions in the public sector and more specifically in education. The outcome of the meeting will be presented at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 5 October, on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day.


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