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Peddie Celebrates International Day

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Melissa Onwuka'19

Melissa Onwuka'19

Melissa Onwuka'19

Elle Grant ’18, Section editor

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Peddie’s celebration of International Day this year had a special focus on the environment. Five students spoke of environmental concerns with stories relating to their home countries providing an interesting twist for those in attendance to Peddie’s International Day.

First, Christine Ayoh ’17 spoke of oil concerns in her home country of Nigeria including the exploitation of Nigeria by big oil companies which greatly affected the daily lives of the people. Yet, she finished by commenting upon how the Nigerian people’s spirit in this matter wouldn’t be broken.

Next, Sofia Urgoiti-Crespo ’17 covered a famous ocean explorer hailing from France named Jacques Cousteau. Her speech also focused on ocean preservation. Throughout her speech, she recounted a spectacular career from Cousteau including being one of the first users of underwater technology and a pioneer of wildlife filmography in the ocean. He was well recognized in his lifetime by winning several Oscars and receiving National Geographic Society’s Gold Medal from President Kennedy. Yet the speech turned from more of a biography to recognition that this wonderful, blue place must be protected. She finished with this thought: “Like the captain once said: ‘The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: We are all in the same boat.’”

Following Urgoiti-Crespo’s speech, Thuy (Peter) Le ’17 recounted an environmental tragedy that struck his home country of Vietnam. He recounted how in April of last year, Vietnamese citizens woke up to find scores of dead fish washed up on the shores. By the end of the ordeal, around 70 billion fish were killed and contributed to Vietnam’s worst environmental disaster ever. Investigative journalists discovered it was a foreign invested power plant that polluted that water and killed the fish. The government attempted to wait for the controversy to disappear. But people, as Le said, “upped the pressure even more. Much to the government’s displeasure, protests in solidarity of the environment were staged across the country, in a rare but profound moment of democratic expression.” Ultimately, the steel plant was found guilty much earlier than they would have without the public’s intervention. He finished his speech by sharing two lessons. First, that humans must always be aware of the consequences of human development. His second was that strong collective action can and will prevail, an inspiring thought for a chapel full of students.

The fourth speaker was Sara Vargas ’18 who was recounting an environmental concern for Mexico and Latin America. She spoke of an incredibly active environmental leader and protester, Isidro Baldenegro López and his untimely murder due to what he spoke out about. López is just one in several untimely murders committed by those against the environmental agendas. Sara reflected on the bravery it takes in some areas of the world to speak out in defense of the environment, and how this needed to change for future development.

Finally, senior Robin Okunowo ’17 reflected on her experiences in a country near and dear to many of the student bodies’ hearts: the United States of America. A controversy for several months now and from one presidency to the next, the Dakota Access Pipeline, has brought environmental problems among other issues to the public. Throughout her speech, she covered the why, the how, the dangers and the importance of this pipeline that has been the point of such controversy.

“We are the future who will be dealing with the environmental problems of today, and it starts with getting educated,” Okunowo declared to finish her speech.

The chapel on that International Day certainly reflected the values of community and environmental awareness and represented students’ keen interests in the future as international leaders in the areas of environmental concerns and beyond.

 

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Peddie Celebrates International Day