Today marked the opening session of the UNESCO General Conference 36th Session in Paris, France. Live from the UNESCO headquarter. Lamia Jouini, LO to UNESCO and Roopa Dhatt, Vice President for External Affaires share their first day of conference wandering from booth to booth, building to building and even to event.
Lamia and I began our day in a hurried rush, as we went to get our official badges to enter the world of national delegations, NGOs, and various partners. UNESCO has a different flavor that many of the other UN agencies as it embraces culture and diversity to its true meaning. From the room filled with people adoring their national costumes to our agenda filled with culture heritage events, we could feel that we were in an UNESCO assembly–an organization dedicated to education, science, and culture.
For Lamia the opening day was “From the Youth Forum to the General Conference, just older delegates, fancier attire or “costumes,” more careful wording and diplomacy, but the same excitement and enthusiasm as our IFMSA delegates.”
We spent the day among some familiar youth delegates and many new faces. The events were primarily routine events with the opening session, establishment of the credentials committee, adoption of the agenda and the chairs, very similar to our GAs.
In the evening we attended an evening reception to honor the inauguration of the permanent exhibition OPEN UNESCO. This expo on OPEN UNESCO is about : “Enhancing awareness of UNESCO’s role, its activities throughout the world, the work conducted by its staff on a daily basis and its specificities within the United Nations system are the goals of this exhibition.
Open UNESCO is staged in an original, entertaining and appealing way, based on seven “island” stands, each focusing on a theme:
1. UNESCO: an idea in action;
2. crisis preparedness and response;
3. knowledge sharing;
4. cultural diversity;
5. one planet, one ocean;
6. human rights;
7. and peace and dialogue.
Visitors are invited – within the seven areas, adorned with symbolic objects – to listen to the stories of the Organization’s staff, represented by a flamboyant character, to watch a large animated fresco or to sit behind a console and select videos, pictures, interviews, sound recordings and multimedia publications.
We concluded the day with a very unique experience–the Mongolia Gala.
During this event dance, song, and music from the folk and contemporary repertories of Mongolia were represented throughout the show. “The Mongolian traditional art of khöömei and traditional morin khuur music, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, were on the programme. Khöömei is a form of throat singing from western Mongolia, in the Altai mountains. The singer imitates nature by simultaneously producing two sounds: a continual hum and a superimposed melody of harmonics. Morin khuur (fiddle with a horse’s head), a two-stringed fiddle whose design is closely linked to horse worship, occupies a prime spot in Mongolian nomadic culture. It is most often played solo, but can also accompany dances, long songs (urtiin duu), myth recitals, ceremonies and day-to-day tasks linked to horses. Even now, the morin khuur repertoire still features airs (tatlaga) specifically aimed at taming animals. The simultaneous presence of a fundamental note and harmonics has always made it difficult to transcribe into classic notation, and explains why morin khuur is passed on orally from master to apprentice through generations.”