By Dulce Martinez
Social Media Manager
FDU’s Office of Global Learning kicked off its first in-person UN/NGO Pathways Forum for the 2022 fall semester with a visit from Kuwaiti Ambassador Tareq M. A. M. Albanai.
The UN Pathways Program organizes various opportunities during the semester to foster engagement between current FDU students and faculty with the UN. Opportunities include the UN/NGO Pathways Forum, where representatives of the UN visit campus for an open discussion forum about topics related to their respective global regions. This initiative reflects the school’s commitment to promote a prominent role for higher education and global learning opportunities for its students.
The Metropolitan Campus gave a warm welcome to Ambassador Tareq M. A. M. Albanai, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the UN on Tuesday, Nov. 1, as he engaged in a conversation with Jason Scorza, Vice Provost for International Affairs.
“Our neighbor decided overnight that he wanted to wipe us out. Take us off the map. Remove our identity. Remove our home.” – Ambassador Tareq M. A. M. Albanai
At 12 years old, Albanai knew he wanted to pursue the path of diplomacy after witnessing the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Albanai further referenced “the lions of Kuwaiti diplomacy,” the Kuwaiti ambassadors that stepped up to defend the rights of Kuwait to continue existing as a country in spite of Iraq’s acts of aggression.
“I knew right then and there when CNN was just born,” Albanai said to Scorza, “that this is what I want to do.”
Years of faith and hard work first led to Albanai becoming a junior diplomat––now serving as a permanent representative of Kuwait to the UN.
“Kuwaiti diplomacy does not intend to fail anybody.” – Ambassador Tareq M. A. M. Albanai
Albanai referenced Kuwait’s identity as a small country that is no stranger to facing invasion by another country after being asked about the Kuwaiti government’s position on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Kuwait views any foreign occupation and use of force as unacceptable according to international law.
“When we condemn Israel, we condemn Russia,” the audience roared in applause after Albanai’s clear answer to Scorza.
During the Q&A, Albanai further emphasized Kuwait’s diplomatic wisdom on the global stage when asked about Kuwait’s stance on other foreign disputes: Kashmir, China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim population, and Myanmar’s repression of its Rohingya Muslim population.
“If you are wrong, we’re going to call you out. If you are right, we’re going to support you. If you need assistance, we’re going to be there,” Albanai’s response set a clear tone.
Albanai supported his stance with an anecdote of the Security Council’s trip to Bangladesh to witness the everyday experiences of the Rohingya Muslims within their refugee camps. Out of the trip, fellow ambassadors were driven to tears over the shock and full extent of how dire the situation in Myanmar actually was.
Albanai clearly underlined Kuwait’s position on any situation involving aggression: it must be condemned––illustrating the humanistic approach within Kuwait’s identity for global diplomacy.
A sense of unity.
Albanai received an even warmer welcome by fellow Kuwaiti students, whose significant presence in the forum greatly contributed to the high turnout for the event. During the transition to the post-forum reception dinner, Albanai took the time to converse with Kuwaiti students, who were more than eager to engage in discussion with the ambassador.
The unity among these students, 6,300 miles away from home, ultimately made the forum impactful among general audience members.
Based on the great turnout and the well-received reactions by audience members, there is no denying the bar is set high for future in-person forums.
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Over 40 Kuwaiti students were eager to attend the first in-person UN Pathways Forum of the 2022 fall semester, symbolizing the unity among a small community.
Art by Dulce Martinez