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UN International Day of Families 2016

International Day of Families Observed in the United States

United-States-2016-05-15-International Day of Families Observed in the U.S.

New York, United States—Hundreds of families across the United States celebrated the United Nations’ International Day of Families, held every year on May 15.

This day is not just a celebration but also an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

In response to this proclamation, several UPF local chapters held their unique celebrations with families of diverse ethnicity as the center of social development and shared economic prosperity.

On Sunday, May 15, UPF-Utah hosted a “Family Day” at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City. Wendy Stovall, the executive director of UPF-Utah, warmly welcomed all the guests and thanked them for coming out for a picnic despite the torrential rain that had been falling. She went on to explain the significance and theme of the event and also the five core values of UPF with the greatest emphasis on the family, saying that the family is the fundamental unit for building peaceful nations and ultimately a peaceful world. It is in our family where we develop four realms of heart, she said, through a child’s love, sibling’s love, love for a spouse and parental love. It is through these relationships that we can learn how to relate to others outside our families and expand that love to our communities. She ended by saying that the goal for the day was to strengthen our families and that we could do this by rededicating our marriages, and she invited those who were interested in doing so to speak with her.

Following the talk an icebreaker was held in which everyone was asked to gather at specific tables according to their Chinese astrological sign. Each of the groups was asked to come up to introduce themselves as well as to say something that we might not know about them. Everyone enjoyed a delicious potluck meal and chatting with each other. After lunch the children and some adults had fun playing Frisbee, soccer and other ball games, including an egg (ball) and spoon race for the younger children.

On the same day, UPF-Texas held a peace forum, together with the local chapter of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an affiliated organization, at the Dallas headquarters of FFWPU, bringing an interfaith component to the International Day of Families celebration. After the talks and presentations, Richard de Sena, regional secretary general of UPF-North America, appointed one participant as an Ambassador for Peace.

On Wednesday, May 18, UPF-Las Vegas hosted a forum on marriage and family, which is one of the areas on which UPF focuses. Three guest panelists were invited to a discussion of the topic “How to Seek, Find and Keep a Loving, Lasting Relationship,” which was moderated by Sera Hirano, chair of the Las Vegas chapter of Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), another affiliated organization. The panelists were: Rev. Jerushia McDonald Hylton, with a Christian and African-American background, whose great concern is the youth of today; Hope Igarashi, married for 34 years with several grown children, representing FFWPU; and Nick Phillips, a husband and father of two children, a successful businessman who is now running for Nevada state assemblyman in District 41. Questions were put out for answering as panelists wished, with questions about qualities needed for a good relationship, whether dating is helpful, and the value of commitment. After the panelists, questions were taken from participants, with very open and sincere concerns raised. Nick Phillips was appointed an Ambassador for Peace by Leslie Rigney, executive director, UPF-Nevada, and Katherine Duncan, chair, UPF-Las Vegas.

The following day, Thursday, May 19, UPF-USA was invited to a program at the United Nations headquarters in New York City titled “Grandparents in the Family: Key for Intergenerational Solidarity,” which was hosted by the UN Non-Government Organization (NGO) Family of New York in cooperation with UPF, the International Council of Psychologists, and the LDS Charities.

Four experienced speakers gave a wide spectrum of insights and perspective from aging, to remembering, to influencing and having satisfying relationships, as well as the challenges that grandparents experience. Ed Ryan, senior legislative advocate of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Pennsylvania and a great-grandfather of two boys, said that his relationship with his grandchildren makes him more alive and at the same time teaches him life’s lessons and reminds him to do things that he had forgotten to do. Nandi Bengu from WFWP related her personal experiences with her grandparents and said how they molded her to become a successful and socially responsible person. Dr. Kevin Brabazon, a professor at New York University, described how the brain is wired and how it responds to aging and also remembering the moments in our lives. And finally, Renata Kaczmarska of the UN Focal Point on Family mentioned several programs and policies that are being pushed forward to protect and preserve the rights and privileges of senior citizens.

On Sunday, May 22, UPF-USA, together with the Elizabeth, New Jersey, chapter of FFWPU, co-hosted an International Day of Families Multicultural Festival. More than 100 people gathered to celebrate the importance of family and the beauty of a multicultural and diverse community. The event commenced with an international lunch buffet with homemade dishes and cuisines from Asia to Latin America and from Africa to North America.

The Elizabeth Family Church Band, headed by Pastor Darryl Franklin, opened the program with its rendition of “We Are the World,” followed by a video presentation introducing UPF and its work. Richard de Sena gave the keynote address, passionately describing the values and significance of the family as the cornerstone for peace and prosperity. He encouraged the community to host an Interfaith Peace Blessing, rededicating marriages and empowering families to become contributors to a peaceful community and world.

Different cultural presentations were staged from the young children to young adults and even the parents. Ethnic dances from Thailand, Philippines, Lebanon, and Africa were presented as well as vibrant moves from Latin America like the cha-cha and salsa and popular hits in America including line dancing. Some attendees sang karaoke. The event was coordinated by Emiljun Rapada and Elena Bahian of FFWPU.

Across the United States, it is evident that the family is still the most important institution in our society because it is the foundation of human development and the catalyst for personal growth through genuine and lasting relationships. The core education is the cultivation of heart and character, which can be expanded beyond the families to the nation and to the world.

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