Thursday, November 19, 2009

GAA’s Interns Attend the International Day of Older Persons at the United Nations in New York

On October 8, 2009, the GAA team attended the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) organized by the NY NGO Committee on Ageing and sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay to the UN; the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Cindy Le Helley, GAA’s French-speaking research associate, wanted to attend the IDOP at the UN because it gave her “the opportunity to witness the organization of a conference and to understand better the role of the different attendees: NGOs, governments, UN staff and older persons.” Most, she admired speakers who intervened in debates, giving concrete examples of what can be done to help older persons.

Denis Chikunov, GAA’s Russian-speaking research associate, found the IDOP useful and “a pleasurable experience.” He says: “I have never attended such an important and big event in my life. For the first time, I saw Ambassadors from Spain, Brazil, Jordan, and Benin as they spoke about the situation of older persons in their own country.” According to Denis, the ambassadorial panel revealed a general optimism about the situation of older persons and avoided describing the difficulties older persons face in their countries. Denis was much more enthusiastic about the aging activists who he felt addressed more action-driven campaigns, such as Grandmothers who campaign against the US war in Iraq. In the afternoon, Denis participated in a workshop on educating older persons about the UN Principles on Older Persons. He says: “This workshop gave me an opportunity to express my opinion and compare my views of older people with the others.”

Yixing Nan, GAA’s Chinese-speaking research associate, had the chance to talk with an older woman present at IDOP that she escorted to the conference room. “I explained to her what I do at GAA and also some of my background. Then, she kindly invited me to her house out of the blue. I feel that older people sometimes can have very different mindsets from younger ones, just as my grandmother does. Obviously, “we” - the younger people- wouldn’t invite or expect to be invited to someone’s house after 5 minutes of talking. Although the conversation was merely five minutes, I very much enjoyed myself talking to her. I wish I had written down her name and contacts so I could have been able to visit and spend more time chatting with her. Living in a big city like New York with no family around, life has been tough and overwhelming to me. That encounter on the IDOP made the day even more heart-warming.”

1 comment:

  1. Great to read these young people's ideas. Thanks, Anna Bahr