While at the summit, held at UN Headquarters in New York, the administration of justice major was given the opportunity to share her experiences and thoughts on children’s fundamental rights in Timor-Leste on behalf of her homeland.
By Susan Enright.
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo senior Josefina Pereira, who hails from Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor), applied for and was selected to represent her homeland as a Youth Delegate at the 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit held last week at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Pereira is majoring in administration of justice. In 2014, she was awarded a four-year bachelor degree scholarship by the United States Timor-Leste Scholarship Program (USTL) which is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the East-West Center.
“(The summit) was a great opportunity for Josefina, for Timor-Leste, and for UH Hilo,” says Jim Mellon, director of UH Hilo International Student Services and Intercultural Education program.
The purpose of the summit was to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.
“It was an honor to represent Timor Leste and UH Hilo as a delegate at the 14th annual International Human Rights summit at United Nations Headquarters New York this past week,” says Pereira in an email to Mellon.
“During the session, various distinguished guests (key note speakers), fellow youth delegates, youth ambassadors, observers from over 45 countries around the world were invited to share their thoughts and feelings regarding human rights issues in their home countries,” Pereira explains. “I was also given the opportunity to share my very humble experiences and thoughts on children’s fundamental rights in Timor Leste on behalf of my country.”
Youth for Human Rights International sponsored Pereira’s attendance at the summit by providing a substantial scholarship that was granted to her based on merit and covered all expenses except airfare.
Pereira says she is grateful to the International Student Services program at UH Hilo and Director Mellon for encouraging her to apply for this opportunity and for finding ways to financially support her participation.
“I was deeply inspired by each of the distinguished guests speakers and the youth delegates,” says Pereira. “Personally, I found the summit to be interesting, helpful, and educational. I highly encourage fellow youth to participate in future summits.”
This post was edited on Sept. 1 to include details about Pereira’s scholarship and add some other minor details for clarification.
About the author: Susan Enright is a public information specialist in the Office of the Chancellor. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.
-UH Hilo Stories.