Students attend United Nations Day program

Oct. 21—SCRANTON — About 100 local high school and college students Thursday learned about the work the United Nations does to support peace, dignity, equality and a healthy planet.

The students participated in the annual United Nations Day program at St. Mary's Center sponsored by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the United Nations Association and led by Elizabeth Bonczar.

Keynote speaker Michael Fairbanks, an international development specialist and University of Scranton alumnus who worked in several countries devastated by war and genocide, urged students to work to become strong leaders driven by a moral purpose.

"A great leader focuses everyone on the crisis at hand ... imports the knowledge that the community needs ... (and) defines the moral purpose that's going to get us out of a problem," he told participants, which also included numerous community leaders.

Fairbanks also encouraged students to take risks and not be afraid of failure.

"Jump in over your head," he said. "You just have to get comfortable with failure. It is the fastest way to learn."

Following the speech, students from Penn State, Scranton Preparatory School, West Scranton High School and the Lakeland, Mid Valley and Dunmore school districts broke out into workshops that focused on global development and civic engagement.

Students also learned about how to apply for funding from the Global Development Project Fund, which provides money for teachers and community-based youth organizations to conduct service learning projects that are connected to a global mission.

The NEPA Chapter of the United Nations Association has raised $41,800 so far and hopes to raise $100,000, said Joe Riccardo, the organization's secretary.

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