Celebrating 70 with the United Nations


I think I was a traveler before I ever knew it. Always a ‘people’ person, my former assistant principal called me ‘the energizer bunny’. I love event planning, traveling, adventuring, story-telling, activism, doing and finding ways to make the world better. I often tried to infuse my love for travel in my Global History lessons to ninth graders. Finding a way to turn words on a page into three-dimensional perspectives that worked in their world was a challenge I happily accepted. Whether sharing my own travel tales with students or encouraging them to find their own; it was my hope to show them we’re all part of a much bigger world and we all matter. Working with the United Nations Association of San Diego merged it all. Somehow – travel, worldly ventures, actionable change and a global community sharing a similar mindset invited me in to help plan this massive event. I couldn’t have been happier.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

UNA celebration at The Prado Ballroom - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

The Prado Ballroom set for UN Day

On the 24th of October, over 125 people came together at The Prado at Balboa Park to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Organized by the San Diego chapter of the United Nations Association, dignitaries from across the nation joined with local advocates, heads of organizations, youth leaders and volunteers to commemorate, celebrate, honor and eat alongside each other showcasing support for the United Nations’ goals. People of various backgrounds, political views, faiths, upbringing, heritage, gender and race sat side by side discussing world problems while they listened, chatted, viewed artwork, and enjoyed a sunny afternoon affair in San Diego, California.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” -Aesop

Dee Akers accepting her award - UN Day - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Dr. Dee Akers accepting her award

The room was filled with smiles, a colorful array of outfits and people with different experiences bringing effort, legacy, empathy and action to the table regularly. Guests checked in, got their name badges, were greeted with live music and a complimentary glass of champagne. The delicious three course meal was beautifully presented by the friendly staff at The Prado Ballroom as they impressively synchronized the delivery to each table. Between roving photographers and guests tweeting photos to the universe of social media, images from the event circulated widely.

“A celebration of the United Nations…most of all, an organization that stands for Global citizenship – ‘a leveling of playing fields’ – to build universal opportunities through ambitious and needed global conventions.” – Bettina Hausmann

Honored guests at UN Day - San Diego, CA - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Honored guests at UN Day

The event hinged on celebration. Spearheaded by Bettina Hausmann, President/CEO of the San Diego chapter, the afternoon blended stories, knowledge, and calls to action sprinkled with a bit of sparkle. The guest of honor was the grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and President and CEO of Project GRAD, Ford Roosevelt. His speech focused on his grandmother, education and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a show of thanks and continued legacy of Eleanor’s relationship with the San Diego chapter, a local artist presented him with a hand-painted portrait of his grandmother. Stephen O’Dowd, Director of Economic & Development Affairs at the US Department of State enhanced the program as the keynote speaker. The Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award was presented to Dr. Dee Akers, Director of the Joan B Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. With speakers representing the Rotary Club, United Nations Associations, MeXOXO, UNESCO and the San Diego UNA Chapter; guests were treated to a luncheon of food, entertainment, information, awareness and celebration.

“For it [the Universal Declaration of Human Rights]to make sense, we have to start to bring it and it’s meaning to places so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world…It starts with…education everywhere. We all need to find inspiration to activate our passion for the work of the UN. I’m always inspired by the work and humor of Eleanor.” – Ford Roosevelt

Stacey & Ford Roosevelt at UN Day - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Stacey & Ford Roosevelt at UN Day in San Diego

As other UN engagements simultaneously took place around the world – a joyful celebration of 70 years of the United Nations took place in southern California. The community came together to support sustainable goals and a vision to build a better world. What a privilege to be part of this global organization. I always told my high school students – GET INVOLVED! Join an organization, bring your social action and be a part of the global community. Find a way to share your story with the world. Help someone. You can make a difference. It really does matter.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall


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