Addressing the issues of children’s rights and global opportunities for education, 2002 Henry E. and Nancy Horton Bartels World Affairs Fellow Carol Bellamy spoke to an audience of alumni, faculty and students in Statler Auditorium yesterday.
After discussing her experiences as executive director of the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Bellamy engaged the members of the audience in a dialogue about a range of topics including equal education, globalization and the increased interest in providing humanitarian aid to developing countries.
“We have found that the re-affirmation of education helps to re-establish stability in the midst of chaos,” said Bellamy. “Good education can help to mobilize communities, reduce the infant-mortality rate in developing countries and offer better opportunities for economic progress.”
Bellamy visited Afghanistan in November to emphasize the critical role children will play in the future development of the country. Working with the Afghan government and the United Nations, UNICEF aims to provide the teaching resources for more than 1.5 million children beginning classes on March 23.
“In our view, there could be no better barometer of the success of the Afghan government than the introduction of education opportunities,” Bellamy said.
Students responded to Bellamy’s lecture in a question and answer session as well as during the following reception.
“[Bellamy] addressed education in terms of people realizing their capacity, their rights and what they are capable of bringing to themselves and the world,” said Mai Truong ’02. “Things like terrorism, poverty, the rising gap between rich and poor are there because of a lack of education. That is something she definitely stressed and I agreed with that. If you ultimately want to solve these problems, education will be the absolute key point.”
Bellamy joins the list of internationally renowned political leaders brought to Cornell as Bartel Fellows since the program was established in 1984.
“The function of the fellowship is to have principally undergraduate groups involved with international studies,” said Henry E. Bartels ’48. “I think students are much more interested today in what’s happening in the world than a year ago. I believe that if you have a broader education you will be a better citizen of this world.”
Hosted by the Mario Eunaudi Center for International Studies, Bellamy joined undergraduate representatives from the Cornell chapter of UNICEF and other undergraduates for a lunch time discussion.
Bellamy also met with the Participatory Action Research Network (PARN), a group of 56 graduate students, faculty and staff involved in an international “Right to Know” education project within communities that are struggling with the AIDS/HIV pandemic.
Graduate students working with PARN in foreign countries such as Ghana, Macedonia and Yugoslavia to help educate people about safe sex and AIDS/HIV prevention discussed how different educational strategies can be effective.
“I would make a distinction between being informed and being educated,” said Lydiah Bosire grad. “In the past we have tried to have the community take control of the situation themselves. Now in some countries the people are bombarded with information. But being bombarded doesn’t necessarily change [high-risk] behavior.”
“Education is such an important thing, but it’s so hard to quantify,” said Megan Sullivan ’02. “You can quantify food production or nutrition to some extent, but it’s so hard to put a value on [education].”
Students from Cornell and community public schools addressed issues of equal education as well as how to begin humanitarian work straight out of college.
“This was a good opportunity to hear more about UNICEF and the Peace Corp,” said John Farden ’02. “There’s been a push from the U.S. government to talk about [service in the public sector] more and that has had an effect on many people in our generation.”
“Bellamy did a good job of talking about health education,” said LeeAnn Richter, ’03. “In light of incidents this year there has been increased awareness to be active worldwide.”
Bellamy focused much of her attention on the increased interest of college students in international studies.
“Understanding that there are a lot of countries with humanitarian problems is important. Afghanistan has been in the headlines, but there are many other nations that are fully submerged in conflict such as Burundi, Somalia and Sudan. For Americans to be more knowledgeable and have a broader awareness of [global issues] would help in the long run,” Bellamy said.
“In the nearly six months that have elapsed since the attacks on the United States, we’ve been reminded in the endless litany of memorial services that bad things can happen to good people on an unimaginably vast scale. But at the same time we’ve also learned that good things can come out of horrific and cataclysmic events,” Bellamy added.
The increased awareness of international humanitarian problems was cited by Bellamy as one of the positive trends to follow the terrorist attacks.
“If any good were to come out of 9/11 it is a renewed interest of Americans in the opportunities of public service. There’s a renewed eagerness in young Americans to try and understand the world beyond their borders not only on the political side but in the cultural and religious sides as well. The question now is whether the current spike in interest will come and go as those in the past,” Bellamy said.
Now serving her second term as executive director of UNICEF, Bellamy continues to work internationally to ensure the rights of all children and fight poverty.
“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, then it cannot save the few who are rich,” Bellamy said, quoting former President John F. Kennedy.
Archived article by Dan Webb