Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dr. Imad Enchassi

“Sometimes I think God exposed me
to so much hatred and violence.
so that I can be a voice for love and peace.”


We are extremely pleased to announce that Dr. Imad Enchassi, the senior Imam for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, will be a featured speaker at our Peace Day event at Oklahoma City University on Sunday, September 21st:

Sunday, September 21st -- 6:30pm
The Great Hall of the University Center
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder, OKC


You are invited to join us as we celebrate the International Day of Peace.

Dr. Enchassi is a renowned voice for peace, interfaith understanding, and religious tolerance in Oklahoma and beyond. He is the recipient of the 2014 Humanitarian Award of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, the "Dialogue Award" of the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, the Community Service Award of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma, and in 2011 he was recognized by The Oklahoman newspaper as a Visionary in Religious and Education Outreach.

Beyond these many accolades, Dr. Enchassi is a gracious man of gentle humor. He inspires confidence with his knowledge and ability to communicate. He is a highly sought-after speaker.

The son of a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother, Dr. Enchassi grew up in the Palestinian refugee camps of Beirut, Lebanon.

“I am a third generation refugee," Enchassi recently told The Red Dirt Report. His father was Palestinian, his mother from Syria.

As a teenager, Enchassi and his six siblings were in the Sabra and Shatila camps when they came under attack from the fighters of a Christian militia group. It was September, 1982.

It wasn't just an attack. It was a massacre. More than 30 years later, the world can't forget the deaths of so many unarmed civilians. Estimates of the death toll range from 762 to 3,500. The UN General Assembly condemned the slaughter, which stretched over the course of 3 days.

As related by The Oklahoman newspaper: "Enchassi said surviving the massacre made him think long and hard about the power and destructiveness of hatred."

“I knew that hatred had to stop,” he said.

After surviving the massacre, at the age of seventeen, Enchassi moved to America, beginning a long journey of education. He studied business management at South Plains College in Texas as well as at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany. Eventually, he earned a masters in management from the University of Phoenix.

“Making it to the U.S. was a dream,” Enchassi told the Red Dirt Report. For nearly two decades, he excelled in the restaurant industry as a regional manager and consultant.

For the last ten years, Dr. Enchassi has focused his life on building up the Islamic community in Greater Oklahoma City. He succeeded in creating the first accredited Islamic school in Oklahoma City. During that time he also became the founder, Imam and President of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma ‘City (ISGOC).

ISGOC has grown to become the largest Islamic Center in the state of Oklahoma.

Dr. Enchassi and his wife, Judith, are the proud parents of five children.

Appearing along with Dr. Enchassi at our Peace Day program will be a group of students from Mercy School. They are preparing a musical performance that we're sure you will enjoy.

The theme will be peace -- our common aspirations for peace, our right to live in peace.

You are invited to join us. 

"History has shown that, no matter how fierce, conflict can end, peace can prevail and reconciliation can triumph. On 21 September, at concerts around the world -- in major cities and small towns, in conflict zones and peaceful communities –- people will broadcast this essential message. They will celebrate the value of human diversity and the strength of our unity.  
"...I urge every peace-loving person to engage with their friends and neighbors, their community organizations and governments. Together, let us demand the right of peoples to peace."

 --Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kristen Swartley and El Sistema

Our Observance of Peace Day in Oklahoma City
will Feature Music by the El Sistema Jazz Combo


Do you know about "El Sistema?"

It is an international movement for music education -- "The System," in English.

It came to Oklahoma about a year ago, the result of a commitment by Phil and Cathy Busey, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, and the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University.

Kristen Swartley, a teaching
artist for El Sistema Oklahoma,
will introduce the orchestra's
jazz combo at our Peace Day
celebration on Sept. 21.
The first concert of the El Sistema Oklahoma youth orchestra was last October. One hundred children in grades 3 through 6 delivered a rousing performance in downtown Oklahoma City. It included young people from several Oklahoma City elementary schools, including Sequoyah, Putnam Heights, Cleveland, Linwood, Gatewood and Kaiser.

As a mission project of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in partnership with the Wanda L Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University, El Sistema Oklahoma benefits from a variety of community partners for their success.  In addition to St. Luke’s and OCU, Trinity International Baptist Church provides classrooms for after-school practice sessions.

“We are honored to serve our community by providing a place where children and their families can feel an abundance of grace, hope and joy on a daily basis.  When children see that they can be good at something and be part of something great, it has the power to change the trajectory of their lives,” says Robyn Hilger, Executive Director of El Sistema Oklahoma.

We're happy to report that a group of young musicians from El Sistema Oklahoma's new jazz combo will perform at our Peace Day event on Sunday, September 21st:

For your viewing pleasure: Here's a 30-second clip
of El Sistema Oklahoma's full orchestra performing
Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" on YouTube.


Sunday, September 21st -- 6:30pm
The Great Hall of the University Center
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder, OKC


The program is free. We hope you'll join us.

Introducing the jazz combo will be Kristen Swartley, a teaching artist for El Sistema Oklahoma.

Ms. Swartley will talk briefly about her experience living and working in Bolivia in 2009 and 2010. It was there that she heard about El Sistema and realized its potential for youth development and social engagement.

Appearing with Ms. Swartley will be Robyn Hilger, the executive director of El Sistema Oklahoma.

Children who study music don't just get better at playing
the trombone or violin. They also gain a better ability to
process language. That's according to a new study published
in The Journal of Neuroscience. Learn more from NPR:
"This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Music"
El Sistema started in 1975, inspired by a Venezuelan economist and musician, José Antonio Abreu.

Abreu believes that an orchestra represents the ideal society, and the sooner a child is nurtured in that environment, the better for all.

We are fortunate that we have visionary leaders in our community who are willing to invest in the education of our young people in this way.

And, we are proud to showcase the El Sistema Oklahoma Jazz Combo as part of our celebration of the International Day of Peace.

"Music has to be recognized as an agent of social development, in the highest sense because it transmits the highest values - solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community, and to express sublime feelings"
--José Antonio Abreu

Find out more about El Sistema:

"El Sistema"
CBS News, 60 Minutes

(12 minute video report)

"Venezuela's El Sistema"
The New York Times

(3 minute video)

"Fighting Poverty, Armed with Violins"
The New York Times

(online article)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Albert Gray Eagle

You're Going to Like our Peace Day
Program on Sunday, September 21st


One of the featured presenters at our annual celebration of the International Day of Peace this year will be Albert Gray Eagle, a noted flute artist, story teller, and creative writer.

Mr. Gray Eagle is a teaching artist for the Oklahoma Arts Council. If you have children in an Oklahoma school, they may have participated in a workshop with him. He is frequently invited to enrich the classroom experience of children in Oklahoma City and beyond. 

As described on the Arts Council's website:

"Residencies with Gray Eagle may include the art of flute making and playing of the instrument while building on an understanding of history relevant to the Native American. He may provide storytelling for both children and adults that offer a perspective and philosophy of Native American culture of the past and present. Through his artistic talents and gentle nature for teaching, participants will be guided to develop their creative and artistic selves. As a U.S. Army veteran, Gray Eagle performs frequently for veterans events." 
Read more about Gray Eagle
at the NewsOK.com website:
"Tuneful tradition: Albert Gray Eagle's
flute music entertains, teaches"
by Brandy McDonnell

Mr. Gray Eagle hasn't always been a teaching artist. In 1973, at the age of 17, he joined the U.S. Army. After completing his military service, he worked for a dozen years as an office manager. Then another 12 years as a truck driver.

But the flute has been his passion for many years.

Born in Colorado, Mr. Gray Eagle grew up in a Native American family. He is of Oglala, Cheyenne and Apache descent.

As a teen, Gray Eagle's great-uncle John Eagle showed him how to make and play flutes.

"He told me God gives you all kinds of gifts inside your soul, and you'll learn to respect them when you unwrap them. And you won't know what they are until you unwrap them," he said.

Beyond his workshops in Oklahoma schools, Gray Eagle has been a popular entertainer at the Red Earth Festival, at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, and at other public and private performances.

Gray Eagle has won praise from educators across the state. Mike Woods, superintendent of Fargo Public Schools, has said:

"He exemplifies the good of Oklahoma, the heritage we have here, the quality of the people we have here."
Enjoy a 2-minute YouTube video featuring
Albert Gray Eagle's voice and flute.
"The Lord's Prayer in Cheyenne"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5byHU3FC4nM

Gray Eagle often performs with his friend and collaborator, Matheson Hamilton, a story teller and creative writer.

We expect that Mr. Hamilton will join Gray Eagle at our Peace Day event on September 21st. They will perform together, with Hamilton offering a poem or other reading while Gray Eagle plays the flute.

At his website, Gray Eagle explains his motivation for teaching:

"With the air we breathe we choose whether to say something nice to someone or to be mean and create hate. We would rather have the people we teach create an instrument and use the air they breath to create music; allowing them to express who they are as individuals through their artwork, and hopefully through this introduction, give them the opportunity to express themselves through a universal language."

Through his workshops, Gray Eagle inspires his students -- young and old, alike -- to:

• Develop imagination and craftsmanship
• Explore cultural heritage
• Learn patience and respect for others
• Learn to work together as a team

We hope you will join us at our celebration of the International Day of Peace:

Sunday, September 21st -- 6:30pm
The Great Hall of the University Center
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder, OKC


This free program is co-sponsored by Joy Mennonite Church, the Oikos Scholars program of Oklahoma City University, the Center for Conscience in Action, the Peace House, the Oklahoma City group of Pax Christi USA, the Respect Diversity Foundation, and by your Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA.

Watch this blog for future articles about the other featured speakers at our Peace Day event.






"Together, let us demand the right of peoples to peace."
 --Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tickets on Sale Now!

Reserve Your Seat for Our UN Day Luncheon
Sign Up Online & Pay Online, too ... It's Easy!


Are you planning to attend our UN Day Luncheon in OKC on Saturday, October 18th?

Many other members and friends of the UN Association will be there. We will enjoy an informative discussion of The Refugee Crisis -- with an All-Star Panel.

Regular price tickets are on sale now for $25. If you're a student, you can get a ticket for just $10 -- what a bargain!

Here's how to reserve your seat at the Luncheon.

First, complete your ticket reservation form. Here's the Link to our "Constant Contact" webpage ...

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e9shbqhehzncst3b/a015chzneo9i0/greeting

Advance registration is required. So, don't wait to reserve your ticket. There is limited seating, and we want to get a count of how many members, friends, and guests to expect.

Second, make your payment. There are two ways to pay --


You can send a check (made payable to "UNA-USA") to:

United Nations Association of the USA
Greater Oklahoma City Chapter
P.O. Box 60856
Oklahoma City, OK   73146-0856


(Please make sure your check arrives before the day of our luncheon).

Or, you can pay online by going to our "Payment Button" page ... HERE.


Many of our members enjoy the convenience of registering and paying online.

It's so easy, even your cat can do it ...


This dog is making reservations right now ...


Thanks for supporting your Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association!

We hope to see you on Saturday, October 18th!


The Payment Button


Look at these happy people ordering tickets for our UN Day Luncheon on Saturday, October 18th, in Oklahoma City.

They started by reserving their seats online ... HERE ... at our "Constant Contact" survey form.

Then, they came to this page to complete the payment process.

Here's the button to make a payment:

Ticket Type
  

Select "Regular" or "Student" ticket; then click "Add to Cart." You'll be directed to a secure payment site managed by PayPal.

If you need to purchase additional tickets, you can do so by choosing the "Continue Shopping" option on the PayPal site. (You'll be directed back here to choose the ticket type and add your second ticket to the cart).

Here's another happy person using her credit card to make a payment online:















She's buying a Student Ticket at a special reduced price of only $10 ... What a bargain!











A simpler way to pay.

With PayPal, you have the freedom and flexibility to pay the way you want -- using your credit card, debit card, or bank account -- all while keeping your financial information secure.

Click the button above to make the payment on your luncheon ticket(s).

Thanks for supporting your Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association ... We'll see you on October 18th!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Refugee Crisis

Join us for an Exploration of the UN's Role in Protecting Refugees


Enjoy our Annual United Nations Day
Luncheon Program on Saturday, Oct. 18th

In June of this year, the UN refugee agency reported that “…the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people.”
Are you on our mailing list?
Don't miss announcements from your
Oklahoma City chapter of the United
Nations Association. It's easy to sign
up for our 'Constant Contact' email
list. Click here ... Sign Up Now.

It's no wonder. If you've been paying attention to the news lately, you know about the growing number of people fleeing from violence in Iraq, Syria, the Central African Republic, and elsewhere. And that doesn't count the surprising number of unaccompanied children who have crossed into the United States along our southwest border -- many of whom properly meet the definition of "refugee."

It's for this reason that our annual Oklahoma City observance of United Nations Day will focus on
the topic of "The Refugee Crisis."

You're invited to join us as we celebrate the 69th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations by exploring the UN's role in protecting refugees around the world.

Our annual UN Day Luncheon will be:

Saturday, October 18th -- 12 Noon
The Center
4325 NW 50th Street
Oklahoma City, OK   73112

Tickets are on sale now. Regular tickets are reasonably priced at $25; student tickets are offered at a special discounted price of only $10.

Advance registration is required. Reserve your seat today. We hope to see you on October 18th!

Our program will feature three knowledgeable and informative panelists:
  • Dr. Imad Enchassi, president and founder of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (ISGOC).
  • Joe Meinhart, Ph.D., director of the Oikos Scholars program at Oklahoma City University and co-director of the Social & Ecological Responsibility Initiative at OCU. 
  • Julie Lewis, director of Refugee Resettlement for Catholic Charities of Oklahoma.

Priya Desai, president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association, commented on the topic of the panel discussion:
Jewish Refugees, 1939
In 1939, thousands of Jewish refugees escaped
Nazi persecution to the only place that was
open to them: Shanghai.
"The UN has had an historic role in addressing the problem of refugees around the world. After World War Two, an international consensus emerged regarding the proper treatment of refugees. As a result of that consensus, the nations of the world agreed to offer protection to people who have been forced to flee from their homes."

"Our panel discussion will examine how well we in the United States are living up to our obligations under international law. We will also explore the growing problem of refugees around the world."

Why focus on the refugee crisis at our UN Day Luncheon?

Well, for one thing, from a perspective of international law, the UN was instrumental in creating
the Refugee Convention of 1951 and its related protocols.

The Refugee Convention serves to describe the obligations of all nations to receive and protect people who have been forced to flee their homes because of war, conflict, “a well-founded fear of
persecution,” etc. The international consensus on the treatment of refugees evolved from the world’s experience with those fleeing from Nazi persecution before and during World War Two.

Additionally, the UN has a central role in responding to the international refugee crisis with
practical aid and assistance. Through the UN Refugee Agency – and with the support and cooperation of NGO’s like the Red Cross, etc. -- the UN helps to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid to refugee populations.

We think our program will be timely, informative, and interesting to many people in our community.

Enjoy our program; Meet interesting new people. Reserve your ticket today ... Buy online!

Our UN Day Luncheon program will also include the presentation of the UN Association's 2014 Public Service Award. This year's winner is Ms. Jacklyn Brink-Rosen, who works for the State of Oklahoma as a legislative assistant. Ms. Brink-Rosen will be recognized for her exemplary work in support of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and for her leadership and volunteerism on public policy related to hunger and food security.


Signing the Treaty
The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of states. The 1967 Protocol removed geographical and temporal restrictions from the Convention. To read more about international law related to the treatment of refugees, see the UNHCR website, here ... www.unhcr.org/pages/49da0e466.html

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Celebrate Peace with Us

"Peacemakers extending their journey of peace to the next generation"
Sunday, September 21st


Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly of the United Nations has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

In Oklahoma City, we will celebrate Peace Day with a special program at Oklahoma City University featuring:


With performances by singers from the Mercy School and a troupe from the "El Sistema" youth
orchestra of Oklahoma.

Sunday, September 21st -- 6:30pm
The Great Hall of the University Center
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder, OKC

This free program is co-sponsored by Joy Mennonite Church, the Oikos Scholars program of Oklahoma City University, the Center for Conscience in Action, the Peace House, the Oklahoma City group of Pax Christi USA, the Respect Diversity Foundation, and by your Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA.

Ban Ki-moon
"History has shown that, no matter how fierce, conflict can end, peace can prevail and reconciliation can triumph. On 21 September, at concerts around the world -- in major cities and small towns, in conflict zones and peaceful communities –- people will broadcast this essential message. They will celebrate the value of human diversity and the strength of our unity. 
 
"...I urge every peace-loving person to engage with their friends and neighbors, their community organizations and governments. Together, let us demand the right of peoples to peace."

--Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General