Friday, October 30, 2009

Baltimore Woman First 'U.N. Citizen Ambassador' from U.S.

The Baltimore Sun reports:
The United States' first and only United Nations Citizen Ambassador lives in an apartment above her father's garage in Catonsville with a couple of Persian cats, a few sticks of furniture, cameras and several computers. She doesn't have a car, so there's no way to know if the customary diplomatic parking privileges will apply, nor do lavish cocktail parties appear to be in the offing.

Still, Emily Troutman cannot help seeing her new status as an opportunity to take her international pursuits to another level, and that is apparently reward enough.

"I have the ear of the U.N.," said Troutman, one of five winners of the first and just-completed Citizen Ambassador video competition, and the only one in the United States.

For a few years now, Troutman - a graduate of Catonsville High School with a master's degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota - has been traveling, taking pictures and blogging about her experiences. She drew on that experience to create a three-minute video in response to a U.N. call for submissions last month that took the form of a question: If you could speak to world leaders, what would you say?

U.N. public information officer Einat Temkin said the contest builds on the partnership the organization established with YouTube a year ago in an effort to "engage young people with the work of the U.N." [...]

At 30, Troutman is the oldest of the five winners, who also include two men and two women from Canada, Mexico and Brazil. The five - whose videos were selected by a panel of six U.N. judges from 477 initial submissions - gathered at U.N. headquarters in New York last week to briefly meet Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and to attend the annual U.N. Day concert dedicated this year to the organization's 115,000 peacekeepers.

As the Citizen Ambassador is a new creation, Troutman said the role is still being figured out.

"They're hoping that we're going to be able to spread the message" of global citizenship through online media, she said, adding that she hopes her success in this contest will expand her opportunities to travel. In the meantime, she plans to head back to the Congo in December, dismissing concerns about safety.

"It's hard to go anywhere if you're afraid," she said.
Congratulations to Emily Troutman.

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