Two Maori students, Dan Bidois and Natalie Coates, after receiving Fulbright awards for their study, recently graduated from Harvard University.
This is a particularly uplifting story of achievement against the odds, one we need so as to bolster up our determination to build a viable future for our planet. ‘All is connected…’
Dan Bidois left school at 15, and worked in a supermarket before studying for two degrees at Auckland University. At Harvard he studied economic and financial public policy, and worked with the NZ Education Ministry on lowering the cost of early childhood education and increasing participation rates for Maori and Pasifica children.
Natalie Coates followed a more traditional path, studying at Otago University before going on to study human rights and social justice law at Harvard.
It seems these two young people want to make the world a better place, using their talents to change outcomes for the better for their communities. They seized the opportunities offered to them, rather than giving up, or blindly treading outworn paths.
We need that hope for the future. I believe that young people are taking up the challenge. Witness the young who went to Rio plus 20 to ask for a future for humankind. Sadly, the adults – politicians, bureaucrats, entrenched in the old ways of doing business, were not equal to the challenge. No matter that those ways no longer work and disaster is looming closer every hour. Are they frightened of grasping the nettle? Or do they have no vision?
Here are some more optimistic observations of the Rio conference by Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, currently a member of the Elders and the Club of Madrid, and an Honorary President of Oxfam International.
‘The Rio declaration does set some important processes in train, like developing Sustainable Development Goals, which address all three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic … Processes have also been established to strengthen environmental governance at the international level and to make progress on financing for sustainable development. These should be action oriented, aspirational and measurable, so that they complement the Millennium Development Goals.’
Likewise, we must thank God that the Rio Principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were reaffirmed, in face of some opposition. It is now up to the ordinary people of the world – us – to take the initiative in building a more sustainable future, making use of the processes agreed to at Rio. It is grassroots stuff and we need to keep pressure on our elected representatives – employed by us – to follow our lead now, as we in turn follow youth’s example with courage and trust in our Compassionate Creator. Tricia Kane.
Tricia Kane is a retired librarian and a grandmother
News category: Opinion.