UH Hilo senior Josefina Pereira represents Timor-Leste at 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit, New York

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.

Josefina Pereira stands in front of banner with title of summit. She wears a sash with the words, "Timor-Leste." Sign in background woth words: 14th Annual International HUMAN RIGHTS, August 24-26, 2017. United Nations. Youth for Human Rights International.
Josefina Pereira, a senior at UH Hilo, represented her homeland of Timor-Leste as a Youth Delegate at the 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit held at the UN headquarters in New York.

Josefina Pereira stands in the galley of the summit. IN background is the seats for delegates and large screen for presentations.

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.

Josefina sits in galley with other delegates. She wears headphones for translation. A sign on the desk in front of her reads, "Timor-Leste."
Pereira sits with other youth delegates.
Josefina at podium, Words HUMAN RIGHTS on front of podium.
Pereira gives remarks at the 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit in New York.

“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.”

Josefina stands in front of banner with words: 14th Annual International HUMAN RIGHTS SUMMIT, August 24-26, 2017. United Nations, New York.Group photo of all delegates during award ceremony. Projector in background with words: 11th Annual International Human Rights Summit 2017. YOUTH. Human Rights Summit.Josefina stands with the Brazilian delegation. Each with sash of their country: Brazil or Timor.A group photo of youth delegates, they all wear blue t-shirts.

This post was edited on Sept. 1 to include details about Pereira’s scholarship and add some other minor details for clarification.

Story by Susan Enright, public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

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