Our trip to the DPI/NGO annual conference in Mexico City this year was truly the culmination and climax of the summer. Being in Mexico, where spirituality, energy and history abound, surrounded by wonderful, intelligent student journalists from all over the world, I experienced amplified feelings of purpose and connection.
Dr Judy and I arrived in Mexico City on Monday. The next day, the flurry of activity began. In the morning, we officially met the student journalists. Dr Judy was directing the program, and has lead the event for several years in different global locations. Last year, for example, the conference was in Paris. We met in a conference room in the Secretariat de Relaciones Exteriores, or Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The room would be come one of two headquarters of our program, at any given moment during the days of the conference, you could peek your head in the doorway and see a handful of journalists typing on their laptops, or peering over each others shoulders to point to the best photo of a recent covered event.
The Student Journalism program was divided into two divisions of International and Mexican students, respectively. College students from Mexico, the US, Israel, Italy, and Austria flew in to attend the event after being selected based on journalism experience, relevant coursework and interest in global studies. Most of the students are actively studying international studies or politics in their universities.
One Spanish and one English-speaking student covered every one of the twenty-four workshops of the conference. The theme of this year’s conference was Peace and Disarmament, and workshops featured noted NGO directors, political figures and volunteers who spoke about the work they were doing in their communities. Titles of workshops like “Trafficking of Women and Girls: Threats to global Development and Security in the 21st Century” and “World Youth against War” dotted the program.
Back to Tuesday.
After meeting the journalists and going in en group to pick up our credentials, Dr Judy and I departed to go to the rehearsal for her band’s peace concert that night. After arranging chairs on stage and meeting with the children who had a small role in the concert, Dr Judy and I left to go put up our posters on peacebuildling between Japanese and Americans through music. We put up both the English and Japanese versions- it was so cool to see them both side by side.
Running back to the concert hall, Dr Judy put on this fabulous black sequined dress and the show began! A sizeable number of people showed up to the event, and the energy was great in the room. Shinji Harada, a Japanese pop star, performed songs like “Hiroshima” and “Yamasde,” and Russell Daisey performed on the keyboard with accompaniment by Dr Judy and the children. A peace flag ceremony concluded the event. We finished the night with drinks and food with Shinji and fellow student journalists at the Sheraton.
Wednesday. The opening ceremony of the convention was attended by Moon, the Secretary General of the UN. Three other students and I were chosen to ask a question of the Secretary General at a press conference immediately after the opening ceremony. The topic of the event was the launch of the 100-day twitter campaign
Chendil, Paulina, Eli and I arrived very early to the event, and got our seats. The location was one of the museums with a Diego Rivera mural. The Secretary General arrived and stayed for about thirty-five minutes, in which he spoke about the campaign in the search for nuclear disarmament. Chendil asked a question of the SG, regarding international conflicts, and got a succinct answer. It was very exciting to see Chendil up there!
Wednesday night was work night. That is, Dr Judy, Russell and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning (and Dr Judy didn’t sleep at all…) editing and working on the newsletter. After the lights turning off on us in the Secretariat, we had been forced to relocate to the hotel room.
Thursday came along as expected, and the three of us continued to work all day until Dr Judy’s afternoon workshop. The workshop, all about youth involvement in NGOs, featured youth leaders from around the world who spoke about their involvement in different projects. I wrote my article about this particular workshop for the DPO newsletter, and also featured the event as part of my write-up for the Sophian at Smith College.
We continued to work until dark, with Dr Judy and Russell pausing to attend a reception in the evening. Later that night, Brady and Steph came over to the hotel to finish the day’s work…they stayed until 4am! Sleep is no object when you have work to do; that was the lesson of the night.
Friday, it came so soon. What do you think we did for the majority of the day? Work!! So much to accomplish. The closing ceremony in the evening was an absolute festival, with speakers and an incredible Mexican dance show complete with guitar, beautiful dancers, and 9-foot tall dancing animals! Arriba! A party afterward gave all of the student journalists a much-needed chance to catch up and relax after a hectic few days. The trip concluded with a bang, with many heartfelt goodbyes between international students who felt strangely connected with one another after such a short stay.
Did somebody say Student Journalism 2010: Melbourne?