To close out a busy and successful 2022, we hosted two workshops with San Diego Diplomacy Council’s Global Youth Collaborative students, and the final International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) delegations for the year. The IVLP is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program that brings current and emerging foreign leaders to the United States for short-term visits to meet with counterparts in their field and build understanding.
On the morning of Saturday, December 10, SDDC staff and students convened at UCSD Park and Market to meet with the following groups:
- Human Rights Across the Americas; a project for 10 participants from the Western Hemisphere implemented in partnership with Cultural Vistas on behalf of the U.S. Department of State
- Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists – Research and Investigation II; a project for 22 participants from around the world implemented in partnership with FHI 360 on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.
Meeting with these delegations were 14 students from various SDDC programs, along with SDDC Program Intern Andrew Steck, and Program Officer Lulu Bonning. Two students put together a thoughtful summary of the experience. Read on to hear their thoughts!
Behind Closed Doors: Crises Around the World left Understated and Unaccounted
By Allegra Martin
Although international journalists and delegates were able to inform the students of the Global Youth Collaborative of humanitarian crises in their respective countries at a round table discussion this past December, voices outside of the U.S are left suppressed and unheard due to a pandemic of fake news and discrimination.
Delegates from various Spanish speaking countries described how their home is facing a serious national emergency, and appropriate action has not been taken to create significant change.
For instance, a human rights activist and delegate from Venezuela described how an unheard of amount of people have fled the country due to threats of violence and lack of food, medicine, and a proper education. According to The United Nations Refugee Agency, 7.1 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela have been identified. The delegate described fighting for change as “risky work”, because the government prosecutes those who speak out and broadcasting networks do not report consistently without bias.
Meanwhile, in Argentina, prejudice has swept the country. In Argentina, the stigma of only 2 genders thrives, even though the government has made efforts to protect transgender rights. Within communities, a delegate explained that if you do come out as LGBTQ, you will be discriminated against, thrown out, and perhaps killed. According to NPR, “The life expectancy of LGBTQ citizens in Argentina is 41 years. Fortunately, Argentinian organizations such as Mocha Celis are fighting to erase this stigma and urge the government to pass more impactful laws to protect human rights, education, and recognition of LGBTQ in Argentina.
Additionally, in Uruguay, minorities such as those of African descent continuously face systematic and everyday racism and microaggressions. TRT World explains that the Uruguayan government maintains a façade of equality, but does not act when the largest ethnic minority in Uruguay faces prejudice. This inefficiency has led to many making their own efforts to immigrate and escape the judgment that minorities continuously face.
Journalists who range from Slovakia to Nigeria at the San Diego panel explained how a corrupt political and social climate within countries provides a perfect outlet for fake news to thrive off of the fake news and chaos. While real news outlets are discredited by viewers based on personal opinions, outside sources who appeal to interest driven viewers have become valued higher, surfacing especially through social media. Thus, a cycle appears. A politically/socially corrupt climate leads to a humanitarian crisis and fake news. These effects result in discrimination, which eventually leads back to a politically/socially corrupt climate.
Following this eye opening information, delegates urged those in the U.S to do what they can to create change by educating others and consistently educating themselves. Knowledge truly is power, and when it comes down to it, can be the greatest weapon against discrimination.
Global Youth Collaborative Article
By Nicole Santarsiero
On Saturday, December 10th, 2022, I was glad to attend the “Discussions on Global Topics: Global Youth Collaborative and IVLP” hosted by the San Diego Diplomacy Council.
During this event, young students from San Diego were able to meet and learn from the extraordinary speakers of the “Human Rights Across the Americas” delegates and from the attendance of acclaimed international journalists from the “Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalism” focusing their activities on research and investigation.
Both programs were implemented by the U.S. Department of State to discuss and analyze the status of a democratic free press and to discuss and analyze the status of human rights, and DEI in the world.
In the first half of this session, we were able to interact and familiarize ourselves with the Human Rights delegates and their focused areas of work in which they operate. During the discussion, we were able to listen and understand how the delegates are working towards protecting human rights in urban and rural communities.
While in the second half of the session, we met journalists that specialized in research and investigation. As we broke down into breakout groups, we immediately discussed how information can be manipulated in a society that is easily influenced by social media. The other main topic we talked about focused on freedom of speech and the free press, specifically how it is not a guaranteed right in many countries, and what type of consequences it develops upon journalists in their work and life.
Before attending this event, I had previously participated in the Global Leadership Youth Program hosted by SDDC; which taught me how to be curious about everything that happens around me. This happened particularly during Diplomacy Simulations, where I learned that everything is connected, especially in socio-political issues in both local and international systems.
During the two conversations, I learned how socio-political inequalities are impacting communities all around the world. I saw why we can’t stop gender-based violence without improving social-economic relations and accessible education; or how freedom of speech will not be guaranteed in most countries as long as political groups will influence and manipulate news and information. Additionally, I was able to expand my knowledge and understanding of topics that were completely unknown to me. I found it very interesting how in Venezuela the higher education system is controlled by the government, and how advocating groups fight to protect students’ rights in all environments, going from the classrooms to their homes. At the same time, I learned the harsh risks journalists run through every day just to get sources that are truthful and reliable.
Lastly, during the two sessions, I made memories and learned lessons that I will never forget, and I truly enjoyed meeting such amazing people. The three most important things I learned during this discussion was to be your investigator, advocate for yourself and others when institutions don’t listen and discover the truth when others want to push it away from the public.