2015 ANNUAL LUNCHEON HELD ON OCTOBER 21
The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists honored renowned pianist and UN Messenger of Peace Lang Lang with its Dag Hammarskjöld Inspiration Award at the annual luncheon on October 21, 2015.
“It is for his compassion and commitment to bettering the lives of children that we present him with year’s Inspiration Award,” said Fund Treasurer Seana Magee in introducing the famed musician.
Lang Lang praised the importance of a “strong and independent media” in holding governments accountable.
The Chinese-born piano prodigy also said it is vital to bring music into the lives of children around the world, “Music makes our lives better,” he said. “It heals, unites and inspires and this makes us a better people.” To hear the full remarks of Lang Lang, click here.
Lang Lang has worked to open up the world of music to children through his work for the United Nations and his Lang Lang International Music Foundation.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson spoke movingly of his personal remembrances of Dag Hammarskjold, the second UN Secretary-General who died in a plane crash over Africa in September 1961. He noted that Hammarskjold was a very cultured man who particularly enjoyed the works of classical composers Bach and Handel and who would have had a great appreciation for the talents of Lang Lang.
He also spoke passionately about the need for reporters to work in a climate free of fear, harassment and intimidation, noting the killing and jailing of journalists globally is a “very dangerous and negative” trend.
The Fund was set up by journalists in the aftermath of Hammarskjold’s death to honor him, and it is celebrating its 54th year of bringing young working journalists from the developing world to the United Nations. Here they have the unique experience of covering the General Assembly annual debate in September and other UN activities during the ten weeks that they stay in New York.
2015 fellows were from Kenya, Ghana, India and Brazil.
“This has been the most incredible journey in my career,”Kenyan fellow Mercy Juma told luncheon guests. “I have been part of incredibly intense and thrilling moments in the world, like the Papal visit and the gathering of more than 150 heads of state to adopt the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.”
“Even after several years of reporting on issues at a micro-level, these weeks at the UN have given me a crash course in how policies are framed, the difficulties and discussions that precede them, and the compromises that are required to achieve the outcomes,” said Indian fellow Karthikeyan Hemalatha.
Brazilian reporter Fabiola Ortiz dos Santos said she came with the expectation that the fellowship would have a profound impact on her life and she has not been disappointed. “The opportunity to be at the United Nations, meet world leaders and diplomats, follow sensitive international issues, and have the chance to meet other journalists would be professionally and personally transformative.”
For Ghanaian Doreen Andoh one highlight was meeting her country’s president for the first time. “He congratulated me on being a Dag Hammarskjold fellow,” she said. She was also moved by her visit to and reporting on the September 11, 2001 Memorial in downtown New York.
To learn more about the Fund’s 2015 journalism fellows, click on their names below: