Staff and employees of the William S. Reyes Elementary School celebrated last Oct. 23 at their campus in Chalan Kanoa the United Nations’ 75th anniversary and the 45th anniversary of the Northern Mariana Islands’ decision to join the United States.
According to WSR librarian Arthur Sondheim, United Nations General Assembly president Volkan Bozkir, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-Saipan) and Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada had videotaped messages that were played at the event.
As part of the celebration, WSR teachers and staff formed a human chain to form the letters “UN,” while waving flags of 75 nations that represents the 75 charter members. Sondheim said that there are approximately 193 flags being flown at the UN headquarters in New York representing each nation that have joined the United Nations since being founded in 1975.
According to WSR principal Lynn Mendiola, celebrating the UN anniversary is important because the United Nations’ charter recognizes student rights. “The UN also includes student rights, [that] students have the right to education…and, of course, the right to play and to enjoy their childhood,” said Mendiola.
In a press statement about the event, WSR said that United Nations Day has been a global holiday since Pacific Trust Territory times across Micronesia. It has been celebrated across the globe for years and this year is a very special 75th anniversary. “Forty-five years ago this year, the overwhelming majority of Northern Mariana Islanders voted to join the United States of America in a United Nations-sponsored plebiscite,” said WSR.
In his videotaped message, Bozkir said that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the CNMI is not alone in “tackling the world’s problem but we, a combination of 193 nation, will come together to help each other.”
He pointed out that, 45 years ago, the CNMI’s grandparents and great-grandparents participated in a supervised vote by the United Nations that paved the way for the future of the CNMI. “Helping people make these choices remains a central part of the world of the United Nations today. We all have a part to play in fostering a peaceful and fairer world,” said Bozkir, adding that young people are not just the leaders tomorrow but also the leaders of today.
In his message, Sablan said the United Nations is more than ever needed these days to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, and promote social progress, better living standards, and human rights.
Ada gave thanks to the CNMI’s forefathers “for paving the way to a promising future for the Northern Mariana Islands and all the quality of education that we are enjoying today. I would like to wish both the CNMI and the United Nations a happy anniversary. God bless America. God bless the CNMI,” he said.
WSR school counselor Rebecca Flores stated that the lessons of the UN in “shaping peace together” have also to be taught to students, like peaceful ways to settle conflicts, and how they should interact with each other.
She also underscored the importance of teaching students about social emotional learning, which refers to processes or activities that help students and adults learn how to be aware of the environment, personal awareness, self-regulation, and emotion management.