On Friday, Eastern Michigan University hosted “America Engages in the World,” a day-long forum intended to help recognize the influence America has in the world.
Held in the Student Center, the forum included a variety of guests from multiple organizations.
Groups such as the Red Cross, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, the Great Lakes PeaceJam, the Ann Arbor Chapter of Vets for Peace and the United Nations were represented with lecturers and speakers.
Topics addressed ranged from national security and human rights to community building.
Provost Jack Kay began the keynote address at noon by saying, “I think it’s so appropriate that on 9/11 we are engaged in very serious conversation about the importance of relationships and the importance of nations and individuals working for those nations.”
Kay then turned things over to President and CEO of the UN Association of the United States, Ambassador Thomas Miller.
Miller spoke about the foreign policy agenda of the Obama administration and answered questions from the audience about the war, U.S. involvement in Africa and possible military conflict in China and India.
Red Cross Emergency Service Specialist Ashley Cieslinski spoke about her organization and its involvement in the country and the world.
“One thing unique to Red Cross, we help whoever, wherever,” said Cieslinski.
Some of the challenges that the Red Cross face occur right here in Michigan.
“Just last year in Washtenaw County, we responded to about 63 disasters which tend to be house fires or apartment fires,” Cieslinski said. “We assisted about 128 families.”
Being the largest humanitarian organization in the world with 97 million employees and volunteers, the Red Cross deals with natural disasters, homelessness, blood drives and anywhere else help is needed.
As Cieslinski put it, “Whether there’s a hurricane, whether there’s a heart attack, a call for help, a request for blood, Red Cross is there.”
Cieslinski also spoke on the Red Cross’ actions in providing shelter to refugees of natural disasters.
“These people are forced to flee their home,” Cieslinski said. “They take what they can on their back, and go to a place where they’re not familiar with.”