For two hours, the dinner-table conversation revolved around affordable food, gender equality, honest government, climate change, health care, crime prevention and several other issues.
People from all walks of life, including some USF students and faculty involved with international affairs and humanitarian efforts, gathered at the Glazer Children’s Museum on Tuesday evening to discuss global issues and offer their potential solutions at a conference titled “The World We Want,” hosted by the United Nations Association (UNA), a subdivision of the United Nations Foundation (UNF).
The exchanges were transcribed by designated note takers and will be reviewed by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Sara McMillan, president of UNA Tampa Bay, said most UNA events are highly attended by USF students, more so than any other Tampa school.
“We have an interesting internship program that gives students real-world experience,” she said. “They network with foreign ambassadors and mentors who have served around the world in many different capacities.”
Though the U.N. pledged at the dawn of the millennium to end avertible human suffering, the process was non-inclusive to the ordinary person, she said.
“The ones before us have done a lot, but now it’s our turn to enter to the conversation,” she said.
In 2009, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the U.N. encouraged “grassroots” deliberation involving those affected by contemporary issues — including youth.
The consultations held in the U.S. were initiated by the UNA.
Clara Bachechi, a member of UNF who helped design and oversee conferences across the country, said input from various cities hoped to reveal a larger sample of interests, though saw strong commonalities between cities. Tampa is the seventh city of 12 she is visiting.
“We wanted 20 percent youth, we wanted people from all different parts of the community,” she said. “We don’t need just one voice.”
A survey found education, job opportunity and transparent government are consistently significant to citizens of all countries.
“It’s pretty universal what people care about,” she said. “Although in general, young people are more aware of environmental and Third World issues.”
Alexander Savelli, a senior majoring in international affairs, advocated for the construction of better roads in Africa at a transportation-themed table.
“I hope to hear interesting points from people around the table,” he said. “Strong leadership from people of different backgrounds can make better roads.”
Though better transportation leads to economic prosperity, he said debate is necessary to determine how to minimize environmentally harmful carbon emissions.
David Wistocki, an accounting graduate of the University of Tampa and the moderator for the universal Internet access discussion, said the table’s diversity created an interplay of perspectives.
“This is a unique initiative in that it allows people to give their voice to the United Nations,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how much they listen.”
Bachechi said she thought the evening successfully gave a voice to those willing to speak.
“We won’t be able to solve the world’s greatest problems tonight,” she said. “The fact that people sat down for an hour and a half is impressive. People really do care.”