Community, empathy, creativity, and… language skills? This week’s guest is a multilingual powerhouse who connects education, partying, and volunteering to be the true definition of a life innovator. Listen in to see how all these facets intersect.
Founder of Parties4Peace and Director of international non-profit Peace Boat US
Strengths: Connecting people, multi-tasking, fearlessness, empathy
Unexpected conclusion: Her mastery of multiple languages may be behind her part of her success
Find out takeaways and more goodies by checking our
Twitter, IG, Periscope @chillambitious
2:48 Knowing multiple languages help ease cognitive traps
3:06 Monolingual vs bilingual children study
4:34 Brain computes 6500 languages equally http://healthland.time.com/2013/04/23/bilingualism/
5:02 Children have trouble identifying as themselves
6:13 Multilingual ppl able to code-switch http://www.academia.edu/2649532/Why_do_People_Code-switch_A_Sociolinguistic_Approach
(Eyamba Bokamba, a professor of Second Language Acquisition at the University of Illinois defines code-switching as, ‘[…] themixing of words, phrases and sentences from two distinct grammatical (sub) systems across sentence boundaries within the same speech event’
(Bokamba, 1989). Code-switching is then one phenomenon that results from bilingualism and multilingualism.)
6:55 Multilingual drivers made less errors
9:15 Peace Boat US
30:45 “When you do something for others, you automatically have a feeling of satisfaction.” 🙂
30:58 Parties4Peace http://parties4peace.com
0:00 Flight of the Conchords. “Foux Du Fafa”. Television.
0:05 Arrested Development. Season 3. Episode 13. [Television] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7oBAnEmklk (10:18)
0:09 Berlitz. [Commercial] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT86iWiH2mI (0:24)
0:15 Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean – Hips Don’t Lie
0:21 Lost in Translation. [Motion Picture] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU0oZsqeG_s (0:12)
0:29 Eurotrip. [Motion Picture] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivSMNbaXRSE (1:48)
0:30 “The Understudy.” Seinfeld. [Television] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycDfwns61Tk (0:46)
1:32 Drake – HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)
2:05 Jin – Learn Chinese
4:13 Ab-Soul ft. Alori Joh & JaVonte’ – Empathy
8:04 Pan-Pot – Broken Engine
14:56 Daft Punk – Around the World
25:02 Trey Songz – Foregin
28:07 Azari & III – Hungry for the Power (Jamie Jones Remix)
34:02 InDeep – Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
41:04 The Sound of Music. “So Long, Farewell.” [Motion Picture] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy9_lfjQopU (0:14)
NO: And I’m NO. And together we make ONO.
O: ONO. So this is our first real deal episode which means we’re going to be talking to some guests today.
NO: Yes. And our first guest is the true embodiment of a life innovator. Because of her story, we are going to talk about community, empathy, creativity and language skills.
O: Language skills NO?
NO: Yes O. we found that her language skills allow her to find a successful career that makes her happy, to be more empathetic, to become a better problem solver, and to engage in the community.
O: Nice. Actually that makes sense with some of the research we did. We found that the benefits of knowing multiple languages actually may have contributed to her success more than anyone could’ve thought.
So how many languages do you know, NO?
NO: I know 1 full one for sure- English. I’m excellent at English. I speak… I’d say I’m half good at Arabic and I’m half good at French and then I have some little sprinklings of other languages. Like I know a little Italian, I used to study Italian, and some Spanish but…
O: I’m kind of in the same boat as you there. I know English, my first language was Chinese and then I went to school and just forgot all of it and just started speaking English. And then I know some French as well.
NO: Cool. So what are some of the benefits to us knowing these multiple languages?
O: There’s a lot of cognitive bonuses. There’s showing that people who are bilingual and multilingual do better on standardized tests across language, math, sciences, as well as comprehension in reading of course. They are also able to remember things better.
NO: Knowing more languages helps ease cognitive traps- the short cuts your brain makes- so that you start to think less emotionally and think more rationally. There was a study that was done between monolingual and bilingual children and they asked them all these questions that required them to process language. Overall the monolingual children and the bilingual children answered questions pretty similarly except for one question. They asked children certain illogical sentences that were grammatically correct. For example: Apples grow on noses. The monolingual children couldn’t answer. They would say, “oh that sounds silly,” but they would avoid judging it and giving an answer. The bilingual children said, “that’s silly, but it’s grammatically correct.”
O: These are five and six year olds.
NO: So, the bilinguals… the bilinguals, the bilingual children had a better cognitive system and the ability to access both the important information and ignore what wasn’t so relevant. Also I know this seems like it would be very obvious, but people who are multilingual have greater empathy for other people and they develop empathy sooner then monolingual children. (3:52)
O: Right. So actually they said that there are 6500 languages out there and the brain is not predisposed any of them, according to the research.
NO: So it’s able to compute any of those 6500 languages from the beginning.
O: It’s all environment, which languages become easier for you to understand.
NO: And your brain can start to identify the others at a very, very young age. It’s not like your brain thinks that if you’re spoken to in two or three different languages it doesn’t equate them all the same. It knows that they’re different languages.
O: So children when they’re first born, they actually have trouble identifying themselves. They don’t identify as themselves so everything that is happening is happening all in a blur. That’s done so that children can bond with their mother really well at the beginning. Around usually two/ three years old is when they start to think of the other. So people who are bilingual, that separation happens sooner and being able to see that what’s happening to you may not actually be what’s happening to the other person. You’ll see this with children when maybe their brother is getting yelled that, they’ll start crying. You know they just start crying because something happening is bad but they don’t know it’s directed at who or what’s going on necessarily. They just do something bad is happening.
NO: Oh yeah. Or like they look around. Like one of them falls and they look around like: should I? What’s everyone else doing? Should I cry now?
O:But if someone cries there going to cry. It doesn’t matter even if it’s not affecting them directly. So one of the other big things that is related to that and why they’re able to have this empathy, they’re just more perceptive of their surroundings-people who speak multiple languages. So they’re able to, what we call, code switch more easily. That’s literally being able to switch from English to Spanish to French, if that’s all the different languages they know. And going back again to the empathy part, or actually thinking of the right word for the right situation, people who are bilingual are usually able to speak in a way that chooses the appropriate word for the scenario. (6:32) So even if it’s in another language they’ll start incorporating it into their sentences, especially if the other person can speak the same languages they do. So that’s again showing the cognitive ability to multitask and code switch.
NO: Also there was a study done that showed that multilingual drivers made less errors when driving because of their ability to code switch.
O: Which is pretty cool.
NO: Yeah. So America, get on it.
O: So it’s not just about learning some other person’s language, there are a lot of cognitive benefits that go along with it.
NO: As much as that seems obvious, the more you go out into the world and meet new people and try and have new experiences, the less close-minded you’re going to be, the more open you’re going to be in general to everything including other races. That’s why exploring the world and getting a different viewpoint is really vital to creating a really beautiful, empathetic, open society. Speaking of having a beautiful, open, empathetic society… we have a very special guest today, Emilie McGlone.
O: Yes! We have Emilie McGlone. She has started her own nonprofit called Parties For Peace. She also organizes with Peace Boat and she listens to techno, which is how I met her. Of course she’s multilingual which is how we came up on this. So here’s Emilie. (8:08)
EM: Hi. Thank you for inviting me to the show today.
NO: Thank you for coming. Told me about how impressed she was, when she went to your office, by your ability to multi task. Like you would be talking to her, maintaining a conversation, kind of listening in the background to someone else, answering in another language. She was just like, she is so on top of it. And she was just telling me how impressed she was by that ability.
EM: It’s funny because in our office we do have a lot of international volunteers. Right now we have about five volunteers from five different countries. So there’s a lot of different languages taking place in our office all the time.
NO: That’s amazing. How many languages do you speak?
EM: I speak three languages pretty fluently, which are Spanish, English, and Japanese. And then I speak a little bit of arabic, a little French and Portuguese on the side. But you know language disappears if you don’t use it.
NO: That’s true.
O: Actually can you talk a little more about Peace Boat for us?
Sure. So I’ve been working for Peace Boat which is an international nonprofit organization that troubles the world visiting more than 20 countries every three months. Since about 2004 I started working for them as a volunteer Spanish teacher and so language came in very handy because I was able to use my second language as a way to actually travel around the world for free as a volunteer, but working every day. The Peace Boat has a cruise ship which is our venue which troubles the world visiting so many different countries, stopping for one or two days in every country as we travel. Our goal is to promote peace and sustainability, human rights, gender equality, and conflict resolution as we are traveling around the world visiting different communities and learning about these different social issues that they face.
NO: That’s amazing. Who gets to come along in these boat trips? Is it a mix of volunteers as well as an outside community of people who want to get involved for just want to learn more?
EM: Sure. Well anybody is actually welcome to join the Peace Boat. One of the things we’re very proud of is that we have a very intergenerational makes aboard the ship. So there’s about 1000 people, who we call our participants, on board and out of those participants there are ages 2 to 6 years old for our Montessori education program for kids on board. We also have a lot of young people around the age of university age who are taking a break from university or just finishing before they go to grad school. And then we also have a lot of retirees-people who have extra time would like to see the world, there are so many places that they haven’t been yet that they’re saying okay this is a great way to learn and travel at the same time. So we have a lot of different walks of life on the Peace Boat. Then of course we have international staff members like myself who come from all around the world (11:11) and found Peace Boat as a way to volunteer and get involved in an international nonprofit working for peace and sustainability. And we have guest speakers who come from all around the world as well. So quite an eclectic mix on board.
NO: So would you say this is kind of a dream job?
EM: I really do think it is my dream job. I’ve been with Peace Boat for more than 12 years now working and traveling a lot to different countries and learning about various social issues and global challenges that we’re facing in the world today. So it’s kind of like experiential learning, you’re not just reading about something you’re actually there and experiencing it yourself.
O: So that ties in very well with some of the research that we dug up earlier in terms of people being exposed to different cultures and how that helps them change their perspectives, which seems pretty clear. How have you seen that manifest at Peace Boat? Or have you?
EM: Definitely. I think that being exposed to different cultures and languages definitely helps create what we call a global citizen. Someone who is not just from your own country and focused on National issues but really sees the connectedness of the world. Definitely, speaking more than one language can help you understand what’s happening as you’re traveling and also just to connect the culture in different places through that language. So I find that our international division with Peace Boat definitely does have a broader perspective of the world and on the issues that we are looking at while we’re traveling and empathy does come in as well. Using your language skills to really understand the culture, where people are coming from and their perspectives, it does make a big difference to be multilingual.
O: Do you have any stories either with you or maybe some of the people that went on Peace Boat and how they were maybe taken aback? I feel like a lot of times when you get those life lessons, how you get that perspective comes out of nowhere.
EM: Well there are so many stories of different things we learned on the Peace Boat. I was really impressed by one of our guest speakers. His name is Idaka San or Mr. Idaka in Japanese, but he’s also known as Salvador because he spent so much time traveling in Latin America that he had a new nickname, which was Salvador. And he spent many years traveling in Latin America, backpacking around working as a journalist and writing books about Hugo Chavez during his time in Venezuela, visiting Cuba, visiting so many countries in central America that he really became very Latino. That’s something that really impressed me. He was one of the guest speakers that I was just in awe of looking at how much she had learned in Latin America, how much he was very Latino in his own actions, but being an older Japanese journalists. And he’s traveled on the Peace Boat with us so many times and I really look up to him as someone who has taken language and culture and appropriated it to kind of be his own but was also able to teach about so many global issues as if that were his own region where he came from. (14:30)
NO: That’s wonderful. Sounds awesome. I hear that you’ve been to more than 100 countries.
EM: I think so. I really kind of stopped counting. After a little while you go on the Peace Boat and you visit, like I said, 20 countries in one trip which is 3 months long. I went to six times around the world, so even multiplying 6 x 20 give reach more than 100 countries really easily. A lot at Peace Boat staff have had that advantage to see so many different places as we travel, so we’re very fortunate. Of course we’re working so it’s not the same as going on vacation or traveling on your own but you really get to connect with the local communities.
O: Do you have a favorite phrase in another language that doesn’t translate that well in English?
EM: Yeah. There’s so many. A lot of Japanese words to me have such deep meaning, maybe because of the culture and history of Japan, maybe also because of the congee characters which can mean so much in one small symbol. One really good word which kind of doesn’t really translate into English is “yoroshiku onegaishimasu,” it’s kind of the word you use to say “nice to meet you” and also kind of reflecting this “please take care of me” aspect as well. So if your boss really wants you to do something, they might say “onegaishimasu,” my boss says that to us a lot “onegaishimasu,” like: can you take care of this please? Can you get this?
O: Cool. So it can be used if you just meet someone but also if you know someone.
Yes, exactly. If you first meet someone you can say “yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” Nice to meet you and also please take care of me.
NO: I like that because it’s also setting up this expectation of kindness.
It is. That’s what’s really nice. I found that Japanese culture is very polite, is very much focused on the group as well. So that’s something that I really appreciate. I was living in Japan for 10 years and having that culture kind of ingrained in you for after a decade of being immersed in a really peaceful, thoughtful culture, you come back to the United States and you think “wow, everything here is so focused on the individual.” Whereas even the language is focused on the group. You know expecting kindness from the beginning, I really like that a lot. (17:01)
O: I was telling Noel about how I was asking my dad how to tell my cousin that something she was doing was very impressive. And he pauses and he just kind of furrows his brow and he’s like “ho yeh” which just means like “good thing,” and I knew that one so I was like “I don’t think that’s what I want to say about her,” and he was just like “there’s not really a way to talk about it so individually.” It was something broader and it’s very easy for us to do in English. There’s not really a translation for that.
EM: We’re very focused sometimes on the “me” or the “you” rather than the fact that it is a good thing that’s happening in a more broad sense.
O: I like what you said about Global Citizen earlier. How is that really tied in, do you think, with Peace Boat?
EM: Well one of our goals on the ship while we’re traveling and making these connections, merging cultures in every country, we like to just think about how it’s all interconnected. For example here we are in New York City, and what we kind of considered to be the center of the world where so many cultures come together and mix in one place any kind of think that what we do here, is not only contained here of course it exports itself to the world, but we know that people come here as well. But if you think about being a Global Citizen you might think: okay I’m living in New York City but really, new York City is connected to the rest of the United States and the United States is connected to Canada and Mexico.
O: They’re connected to us.
EM: Exactly. And we’re connected to them…
NO: It’s about reciprocal relationships.
EM: It’s about thinking about how do we kind of consider yourself a part of this world, not just from your own city or country but how what we do affects everyone else. You know I just came back from San Francisco yesterday and they’re having a major drought in California and you don’t want to think about taking an hour-long shower if you’re in New York and not thinking about the drought in California because that’s so disconnected. You know, you have to think about it more as a global perspective. It’s the connectedness really on a global level is really what the Global Citizen promotes. (19:23)
O: I actually like on your website, the Peace Boat website (http://peaceboat.org/english/), you talk about how the boat is this neutral mobile space. At first it was like a boat’s a good way to get out there but I like how you can kind of create a little life on there. It is in someways global because it is neutral, you can have all these different cultures.
EM: And there’s no borders, no barriers as far as countries go. For example we have a really wonderful program, the international students program with youth who come from conflict regions and we often bring youth from Palestine and Israel together on the Peace Boat. And one of the main reasons why we use this ship as a venue for conflict resolution in this case is because it’s a neutral space. These youth are not able to cross the wall to visit youth in Israel to visit youth in Palestine, vice versa, and if they are in either country they actually do feel that political pressure that they shouldn’t be working together or meeting together, but on the ship in this very neutral space with Peace Boat culture, which is provided by all of our staff and all of our volunteers in creating a safe environment for real dialogue and real peace building through conversations. It actually does prove to work quite well so we’ve had very large successes and small ones with these kinds of programs and we just try to maintain that Peace Boat space Best somewhere is that these conversations can take place.
NO: It’s like breaking it down to just humanity and removing anything political, because obviously you’d have the pressure of even maybe your family and what their opinions were. So before you did… before your dream job, before you did this full-time how did you afford to travel? Did you always volunteer and find a way through that? (21:22)
EM: I did actually. I think I started volunteering when I was about 16 years old. I’m originally from California but lives in North Carolina in Asheville in the mountains, and that happens to be a group of young people there who we’re traveling to Mexico to do volunteer work. So I joined a group for the first time and went down to Mexico and That was when I first realized that my Spanish could be a useful tool, if I could make friends with the people here and work together because it wasn’t just our group from North Carolina we were working with local youth from Mexico in Mérida, Yucatán.
O: Oh yeah you get to connect with more people if you know more languages.
EM: And become friends with people and actually make lasting friendships. I’m still very Close to a lot of people that I met in Mexico at that time. In fact because of my language skills, I went back again when I was 18 years old and they invited me to the volunteer coordinator when I was 19. So using language as a platform opened so many doors for me and allowed me to go back and spent two months working in Mexico as a volunteer coordinator, which then led me to really improve my Spanish and put me into another level of study classes when I went to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I was able to take anthropology and political science taught in Spanish, I was able to use my language skills to work with Latin American women for for whom English was a second language, teaching ESL to their children as well who were in school and struggling with their homework because they didn’t speak much English. And suddenly I realized how useful it was to speak two languages and from there, just experience after experience of volunteering and traveling and being part of other communities that were not just the normal, typical university experience. That really helped a lot. (23:14)
O: So you didn’t think that English was better than all other languages, and therefore American culture was better than any other culture?
EM: So many people do really think that and I don’t know where and when that was brought into our culture that “you’re in America speak English.” You know there are so many people here to speak Spanish and if we learned 2 languages, we’d all be better off. I don’t think it has to be one or the other necessarily. Of course English is useful when you’re filling out documents and applying for jobs and living your life here in United States but I think it would be really great if everyone learned some Spanish, or at least one other language. Like you said to keep your mind open and to adapt to other cultures is really useful.
O: Well it comes from a history in our country for assimilation. Before we used to just kick people out, but then they were like “if you’re not going to get kicked out, you need to assimilate and you need to speak English.” Which, I get that everyone needs to speak a common language, but there was an eradication if you brought anything from your culture and I think we still have roots of that. Like you said, most things are all in English you don’t have that option in schools to learn if you don’t speak English. But I think it is good if everyone does go bilingual. It’s not like “don’t learn English,” but we can all learn a lot from speaking other languages as well.
NO: Also you just become more interesting. Like why you study anything, it makes you a more dimensional person, it helps you meet more people, you’ll probably be more attractive to more people. There’s no reason not to, it’s not like it will do anything bad to you. Learning another language does not diminish anything else.
O: I just think about it like, predominance of a certain language and culture… for example I am Asian so I look different, and how many people who are very “AMERICA” are like, “you celebrate Thanksgiving?”
NO: STOP! You’re joking.
O: Or like, I told them that I took Spanish in college, and I had this one woman, sweetest woman ever and I actually learned a lot from her because she was my sewing instructor, but she was like, “a Chinese person speaking Spanish?” and thought that was the funniest thing she’s ever heard of. Because people have one idea about what one thing is, and everything else is the other. So yeah if we had more of this global citizen thing…
EM: You know it’s a lot of lack of education I think in many aspects. People don’t really understand how useful it is to speak another language and they don’t expect other cultures sometimes to fit in with their own culture, when really, I always tell people being American, everybody’s American. You’re here, you’re living here, there’s no color, there’s no race, there’s no language that’s more American to me than another. But for a lot of people that surprising. They’re not used to it.
O: Well yeah, it’s threatening.
NO: My mom has this hilarious story about her uncle… both of my parents were born and raised in Lebanon, they moved here in the 80s… but my mom’s uncle moved to Argentina for a while, got married to an Argentinian woman and then they moved back to Lebanon. Now his wife didn’t speak any Arabic, she only spoke Spanish, or so everyone thought. So for three years, this woman spoke barely [any Arabic], you know one Arabic word here, one Arabic word there. One day someone asked her a question and she just speaks the most perfect Arabic you’ve ever heard. They’re like, “WHAT?! You spoke in Arabic all this time? You haven’t used any Arabic for three years?” And she’s like “I just wanted to know if you guys were talking about me.”
O: 3 years!
EM: That’s a long time.
NO: That is a long time but I think that’s the funniest, longest troll ever.
EM: It is interesting. You do almost feel safer by being able to speak two languages, being able to understand what people say about you. As a foreigner taking a, not as exciting, fun trip as going to Lebanon when you’re from Argentina, but just being on the street where there might be Spanish speakers and if you don’t know your way around and you’re in a new place, a new city, just knowing that you can speak the language, read the signs, and ask for directions, it gives you a sense of security. And also knowing you can hear what people say behind you, if they’re like, “look at that gringa walking up there,” you can turn around and be like “ay, yo hablo Espanol tambien.” You have a little bit more, I don’t want to say power, but you do have the ability to understand.
O: It is empowering. (28:17)
NO: What about people who are interested in say, following in your footsteps? Volunteering more, or learning a language while volunteering. What recommendations would you give people who wanted to go down your path?
EM: I always think that looking for volunteer opportunities, whether it be for a month or two weeks or six months, however much time you can afford that works on your schedule. If you are in New York City or in another big city around the world, time is precious and you kind of have to minimize spending a long time away from your work maybe. But finding those small opportunities to practice and to travel and get immersed in a culture is so beneficial. Also getting out of your comfort zone is something that you’ll I have to think about as being the norm. Don’t expect to think it’s going to be easy or really comfortable, but you put yourself out there little bit and you find that you’re actually having an amazing experience. For example, when I was leaving university I went to El Salvador and Guatemala. I spent two months they’re working with medical students in Guatemala learning all [about] the healthcare system, volunteering at an AIDS hospice. And then I took a bus down to El Salvador with another girl from my university and we started a program called Mujeres, working with women. We did educational programs, I stayed her grandmother for a month in her house. It’s not the normal travel experience, but it was a homestay so I got to see exactly what their life is like on a day-to-day basis. And it’s just a learning experience. Consider it something good for you good for your soul, good for you to take a step out and try something new. (30:05)
O: I love how you’re able to do things that improve yourself but also connect it to service. It seems to tie in with something that you’re also… that you’re not just benefiting [from], other people are benefiting as well.
EM: When you do something for others, you kind of automatically have a feeling of satisfaction.
O: It’s motivating.
EM: Yeah. You don’t do it for that reason, you do it to give back to others but at the same time you just feel so full of life and yeah, it’s motivational.
O: That’s amazing. And it makes me think of… we didn’t talk about Parties 4 Peace (http://www.parties4peace.com) actually a nonprofit you started. What does it do?
EM: So Parties 4 Peace started in 2002 while I was living in Japan, in Tokyo actually, raising money for the project we had started the year before in El Salvador. So my focus on Spanish and Latin America was all through my younger years, but when I moved to Asia to kind of experience the new culture and be able to compare International relations, I was trying to think of how to connect people in Asia with the cause that I had already started in Latin America because most people are not very connected at those two points. So we thought let’s have a party and do a fundraiser and the funds that we raise from the door will be collected and donated towards our project in Latin America. And that was our first Parties 4 Peace and what we do basically is we invite artists to donate their time and talent and invite club owners and venues to donate the space, and then we bring in volunteers to work the door and collect donations at the door. It’s a party so we like to dance, we like music. Music is it community-based experience, where you are going to a party, you’re going to see your friends, you’re going to have a good time, hopefully the vibe is going to be good. And with Parties 4 Peace, people say that they feel the energy is different at the party because you feel like you’re making a difference. You’re not just there to go out and party, but with the money you’re donating at the door, you’re making a positive difference in the world and people can feel that. (42:17)
O: I love how that’s so obvious to you, parties and peace coming together, because I’ve mentioned the name to other people before, Parties 4 Peace, and there’s like a pause of not really associating partying with charity. Which, there’s a lot of but for some reason people think of partying as: let’s get wasted.
NO: Yeah. And also I think that people think of fundraising events as something being very exclusive, black tie, Save Venice, donate $10,000 for dinner. But you can donate in 1 million different ways.
EM: Absolutely. You like to provide that platform to because we don’t want to be exclusive and we’re looking for ways that the DJs and venues can also get involved. Because DJs are playing I’ll Friday / Saturday night all night long, they’re not going to go and volunteer at a soup kitchen on Sunday morning. Serve the homeless, for example, a typical volunteer activity that any person might want to get involved with. But by giving them the opportunity to play as a volunteer, they’re able to give back too. Let’s kind of creating community, providing that platform for others, and we’ve raised thousands of dollars projects for the past 11/12 years working in Latin America, Africa, Asia, here in the United States. For example after Hurricane Sandy, we did a party with Alexi Delano, Thugfucker, and other artists that are here from New York City and that was a really great way to give back to the city. (45:37)
O: Yeah, you keep it local instead of spending a lot of money on flying people in, which is fine, but like you said it keeps the community intact by keeping all the talent local. I just wanted you to talk about Parties 4 Peace because I think it really does just show your whole strength of being able to connect people and even with your multiple languages- DJs come from a lot of different places.
EM: That’s true. We do parties still in Tokyo, we do it DJ exchange with artists inside the man and Chile. We do a tour in Patagonia to protect the nature, [for] environmental conservation. Without having to use my language skills at the beginning and being able to go to Chile and speak with promoters and DJs there in Spanish, and writing all the press releases and everything in Spanish, and vice versa in Japan, without having had that experience to be able to speak Japanese to the club owners, Creating parties is not an easy task so you definitely have to be able to communicate with others. (46:35)
NO: That’s incredible. So any new projects coming up or anything you’re working on?
EM: We’ve started a project in the last couple of years that I’m really excited about and I’m hoping to really expand, it’s called the Music And Art Peace Academy or MAPA (http://parties4peace.com/MAPA.html). Our MAPA project launched in Tokyo just before I moved to New York City in 2012 and we started creating a space on the Peace Boat, using the ship as a venue to bring on young people as well as experienced artists, musicians. We focus on fashion, design, photography, videography, any of the arts. So the Music And Art Peace Academy is all kinds of music and all of the arts involved. Last summer we took youth from New York City, from our partner organizations that come from nonprofits, onto the Peace Boat and revisited a couple of different countries starting in El Salvador and ending up in Panama. And we worked together with a local indigenous community to create documentaries about indigenous culture that we later showed here at the United Nations during the world conference on indigenous issues. (47:46) So we used documentary film as a way to bring the voice of the indigenous communities to the United Nations for this world conference. We know that coming to the United Nations in New York is difficult for a lot of communities because you have to buy flights, get visas, pay for hotels, you have to have an invitation to the UN, so we said let’s use our grassroots collective here of artists who really bring their voice. And this year we’re planning another trip in October of 2015, and everyone is invited to join us. Anybody who is listening, or if you are interested in the arts, our philanthropy and education, we’re going to be traveling to Mexico and Belize and Panama. Last year when we created this documentary, the indigenous communities really requested help with sustainable development projects, so we’re going back and visiting that community again to be able to actually respond to their requests and provide some assistance in helping build some more latrines in the community, sidewalks, and some other infrastructural support. So that’s very exciting. (48:48)
O: Yeah. So you just said that you’re responding because they had a request. Is that how you always operate?
EM: Our Parties 4 Peace projects are always based first with the cause, so we don’t do parties just to do parties. We have a need first and then we decide, okay we’re going to focus on this project, we’re going to raise funds to do x project, which is really exciting because it means that we’re always focused on something. There’s always a point of intention for our projects and with the Music And Art Peace Academy, basically we are raising funds through Parties 4 Peace to provide opportunities for artists and youth and educational programs to take place on the peace boat and connect with local communities. So I’m kind of tying those two jobs together of working for Peace Boat and being the director, and being a party enthusiast and say let’s put those parties towards something that gives people opportunities.
You guys can come with us using your radio, this is communication too.
NO: Actually, not a terrible idea.
EM: This looks like a mobile studio to me.
NO: It is.
EM: I think we can put this on the Peace Boat.
O: It is totally mobile. So, you work with a lot of children, do you have any messages for the children in terms of things that you wish maybe when you were younger someone let you know?
I would just say for any of the youth that are interested, or twenty somethings- it’s broad, we are all youths- for anybody who’s interested in learning more and finding those opportunities, looking for something that will provide you a bit more satisfaction with your work, always try to find your passion and follow your passion because I think a lot of times we get pushed into finding a job that pays well, making sure you cover the bills, or looking for something that would make your parents happy if there’s more of a family pressure. But I think that finding your own passion is very important and just trying to go with that and use your own skills and interests to really elevate whatever it is that you want to do. And then also to also try to find a way to get back using your skills. I think that will always, whether you intend to or not, lead you to so many new opportunities. (51:10) That’s exactly what happened in my case. I was never expecting to be working as the United Nations liaison for an international organization here in New York City as the director of an office, but with so many years of volunteering and so many projects under my belt, it kind of pushed me in that direction. I think that just doing what you believe in is always going to put you in the right place.
O: It’s really inspiring to see you literally just respond to people’s needs. I think that can be scary for a lot of us. You know there’s this fear of being taken advantage of or maybe like you said there’s a lot of expectations of what you need to accomplish and it seems like you’ve just put yourself out there if someone needs something and there’s a community doing it, and I’m sure you trust your instinct sometimes maybe when you’re like: ah, this isn’t what I should be doing, but it’s just led you to good places and you end up picking up skills along the way and playing to your strengths.
EM: Absolutely. No matter what project you involve yourself in, you’re always going to pick up new skills whether it be community building, or the logistical skills, or just life skills in general, you’re always going to pick up new things when you put yourself out there. Like I said getting out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself to try something new.
NO: Beautiful. Thanks so much Emilie. You’ve been a delightful guest.
EM: Well thank you for having me.
O: Well, you have a soothing voice and you’re saying inspirational things with your amazing voice.
NO: We’ll have more info on the website with links to all the organizations that Emilie is involved with and some links to things you can get involved with if you’d like.
O: Also our research as well at any of our audio and references if you want to do some more research.
NO: Thank you very, very much for listening. We’re glad you’re here.
O: Great gratitude.
EVERYONE: Thank You!