Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids in the United States

On Wednesday, September 18th, Lauren Aronson gave a presentation titled “Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids in the United States: the Journey and the Destination.”

Aronson is an Associate Clinical Professor with the College of Law at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Previously, she has worked at Louisiana State University directing the Immigration Law Clinic, at Michigan State University as a Clinical Teaching Fellow, and with the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago where she worked directly with detained unaccompanied immigrant children.

Wednesday’s discussion was based on Aronson’s experience working with unaccompanied immigrant children in the United States. She began by explaining a number of acronyms that are often involved in discussions on immigration. They are:

  • UAC____________Unaccompanied Alien Child
  • CBP____________Customs & Border Protection
  • ICE_____________Immigration & Customs Enforcement
  • ORR____________Office of Refugee Resettlement
  • NTA_____________Notice to Appear

Aronson then continued her presentation by walking us through the process these children face, and sharing with us her personal experiences and anecdotes from working with the National Immigrant Justice Center. According to Aronson, at the end of August of this year, there weremore than 72,000 unaccompanied children living in the United States, a huge influx from 2010 when the number was around 18,000. Of these children, a large majority migrate from four Central American countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Aronson explained that these children are labeled as “unaccompanied” when they are under age 18, lack legal status, and do not have a legal parent or guardian living in the United States. However, because it is very difficult to locate family members and find out if a legal guardian is living in the U.S., often a large number of these children are detained despite actually having family in the country.

Unaccompanied children come to the U.S. a number of ways, and for a variety of reasons. Many children come by bus, train, or walking or hitchhiking, some families pay smugglers to take their children over the border, or sometimes, you can find children smuggling other children. These children come from countries with high poverty rates and high homicide rates. Currently, the homicide rate in the U.S. is between 4.5% and 5%. The homicide rate in Honduras alone is nine times that. Sometimes because of this overabundance of violence, unaccompanied children are enabled to stay by seeking asylum. But more often, these children are held in detention until they leave voluntarily or are removed from the country.

The process begins when a child enters the United States and is taken into custody by CBP (Customs & Border Protection). Within  72 hours, these children are expected to be transferred under ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) authority, and moved to an ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement). These resettlement centers are considered to be “shelters” for children waiting to be reunited with their families. But more realistically, these detention camps treat the children more like captives; the children are unable to come and go as they please, they are forced to wear uniforms, and they have to adhere to a schedule. In the detention centers, every child is given a medical examination and legal screening which involves things like being vaccinated, having dental work done, and meeting with a lawyer or legal aid so they can be told their rights. While in detention, the children have one hour of recreation time every day and usually start learning English. Social workers and mental health services are often available to children, but the detention centers have been given the name “las hieleras”, or “the iceboxes”, because the centers are so cold, and often these children are left exposed without proper necessities. When some children can no longer stand living in detention, they volunteer to be removed. If they choose to stay, they must wait until they receive an NTA (Notice to Appear in Immigration court), and go to trial. The average stay of a child living in an ORR is  57 days.

If a child does not choose to “voluntarily depart”, if they do not age out (become 19  years of age while living in detention), and are given an NTA, they have the opportunity to go to immigration court and plead their case. When a child arrives at his/her Master Calendar Hearing (MCH), they are presented with their “alien number” and the allegations against them. These allegations are usually given in the following structure:

  1. You are not a citizen of the United States
  2. You are a citizen of ________
  3. You entered the United States around this area, and on or around this date
  4. You are present in the United States without a lawful visa

When a defendant pleads guilty, their only hope of staying is to then argue for “immigration relief”. This relief consists of an individual either seeking asylum on the basis of some kind of cultural, political, social, or gender violence, or by filling for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which involves proving he/she has been abused or neglected by a parent in his/her home country.

Aronson explained to us that this lengthy process involves endless obstacles for unaccompanied children, and her hour-long description is only scratching the surface of what is going on in this country. A large number of children never make it to the point where they can go to immigration court and plead their case, and even if they do, there is no guarantee their appeal to seek asylum or SIJS will be approved. Aronson took several questions and expanded on more finite details of the conditions the children live in and how they arrive, and ended with the statement that, while the overabundance of unaccompanied children and the treatment of them is daunting and dreary, there are many things we as citizens can do to help.


To learn more about Lauren Aronson, visit her faculty page on the College of Law website. https://law.illinois.edu/faculty-research/faculty-profiles/aronson-lauren-r/

To learn more about this topic, visit the University Library’s libguide. https://guides.library.illinois.edu/c.php?g=966084&p=6979851

To follow current events pertaining to immigration in the U.S., follow the proceedings and publications of organizations such as the National Immigrant Justice Center. https://www.immigrantjustice.org/issues/unaccompanied-immigrant-children

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International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day is an international holiday sponsored by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), a specialized agency of the United Nations that focuses on issues relating to education around the world. On their website (hyperlink), UNESCO identifies “the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights” and insists there is a growing need “to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society” (1). International Literacy Day was established by UNESCO on October 26th, 1966 in an attempt to bring awareness, not only to the high level of illiteracy worldwide, but also to the importance of literacy for the individual and the community. Every year, the UN chooses a specific theme to address various obstacles to literacy and quality education. Previous themes have included “Literacy and Sustainable Development”; “Literacy and Health”, with a focus on Epidemics such as HIV, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; “Literacy and Empowerment”, with an emphasis on Gender Equality and the empowerment of women; and “Literacy and Peace”.

This year, for its 52nd year, International Literacy Day will focus on “Literacy and Multilingualism” in hopes to embrace “linguistic diversity in education and literacy development” (1). With the theme “Literacy and Multilingualism”, International Literacy Day hopes to enable discussions of how multilingualism is characterized and utilized in a world today, a world that is both highly globalized and digitalized.

The lowest literacy rates today can be seen in North Central Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Typically these low literacy rates are tied with people’s inability to access quality education, whether dictated by a lack of resources, poverty, gender inequality, or other cultural factors. 

However, despite the high rate of illiteracy in Africa, the Middle East, and many parts of Asia, these regions have seen leaps and bounds in youth literacy. While the high rate of illiteracy of elders has remained the same in the past ten years, statistics have shown more and more children and young adults are becoming literate.

  • According to Merriam-Webster, the terms “literate” and “illiterate” can be defined as follows: 
    • literate – “educated; able to read and write” 
    • Illiterate – “having little or no education: especially unable to read or write”

Today, 17% of the world remains illiterate, and while 17% doesn’t seem like a lot, the population of the world in 2018 was just over 7.5 billion people. That means 1.3 billion people around the world are unable to read and write today.

When considering the significance of this number, it is important to keep in mind that this number denotes only the number of people who cannot read or write. These “illiterate” people are still capable of communicating and interacting with the rest of the world by other means. For example, numerous communities around the world today remain oral societies; this means they communicate, operate, and pass information along orally, without writing down their thoughts, ideas, and/or histories. 

As part of the western world, Americans often forget that literacy is not exclusive to English. Literacy refers generally to the ability to read and write a language, not the ability to read and write in English. So this year, together with the celebration of this year’s International Literacy Day, one September 8, people around the world will celebrate and bring awareness to what Multilingualism is and how it operates in different countries, all the while seeking to educate and remind the world that literacy is a global issue, not an English issue. 

For more information on International Literacy Day, visit the United Nations website found here.


(1) “International Literacy Day,” UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/literacyday.

(2) Figures courtesy of UNESCO Institute for Statistics, “Fact Sheet No. 45”, Sept 2017. 

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International Studies Research Lab 2019

Friday August 2nd marked the end of the 2019 International Studies Research Lab! 

Sponsored by the Center for Global Studies here at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the ISRL promotes the internationalization of education by providing a unique opportunity for community colleges nationwide. The ISRL was created as a joint initiative with support from the Center for Global Studies (CGS), the International and Area Studies Library (IASL), the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC), the European Union Center (EUC), and the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies (CEAPS). An annual event, the ISRL brings together faculty, librarians, and administrators from community colleges around the U.S. interested in developing global studies curricula and instruction in less commonly taught languages, expanding library collections, or establishing international education programs at their home institutions. We prioritize projects for minority-serving institutions, as we identify these institutions specifically to be in need of global and international resources and support.

The International and Area Studies Library (IASL) serves as the home base for ISRL participants, as it offers extensive services that facilitate access to a wide range of materials relating to globalization, language, and global and regional studies. While on campus, our participants receive courtesy borrowing privileges for our entire library collection, not only those materials found at the IASL, and also have the opportunity to set up individual consultation sessions with the Global Studies Librarian and/or other international reference specialists. These specialists provide individualized support and guidance on developing and evolving curricula, library collections, and international education programs. 

With the acknowledgment of the University as a National Resources Center, together with the recognition of the University’s exemplar, extensive, diverse, and ever-growing library collections, the ISRL attracts self-motivated scholars from community colleges who, without the help of ISRL, may not have the resources and/or support to create materials with a global or international focus. While many participants choose to diversify their collections, curricula, and language and education programs in relation to one specific country or region, many choose to cultivate a more generalized global perspective. But regardless of approach, all participants develop materials that interact with international, intercultural, and global dimensions. 

Near the end of the lab, participants are invited to a collaborative workshop where they can present and discuss their projects and network with their peers. Participants are invited to share their work and establish collaborations in a day-long workshop. Individuals specializing in community college engagement are guest speakers every year, offering to participants insight into the process of internationalizing curriculum, programs, and library collections in their community college environments. This year’s workshop took place on Friday July 26th and showcased several guest speakers including Dr. Timothy Wedig, Associate Director, LAS Global Studies (UIUC), and keynote speaker Sashti (Raj) Rajgopal, Founding Director of the International Studies Consortium of Georgia. 

Participants’ final projects are deposited into the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS) at the University of Illinois. IDEALS collects, disseminates, and provides persistent and reliable access to the research and scholarship of faculty, staff, and students. Topics deposited from the ISRL are very diverse in nature and originate with many different perspectives and disciplines in mind. Some of the topics and themes from the 2019 ISRL include research on the conflict in Palestine, Iranian history from 1906 to the Abdication of Reza Khan, the past and future of the Turkish-American Alliance, developing global studies certificates, and local immigration activism. Past materials that have been added to the ISRL web resources site in IDEALS have been downloaded for use over 6,000 times, with the top three most-downloaded entries relating to developing themes on global studies in English classes, cross-cultural psychology, and writing about Chinese culture. The ISRL strongly encourages and values the depositing of lab materials into IDEALS so that individuals around the world can have open access to, and freedom to download, resources relating to the internationalization of education.

We wanted to take this moment to thank all of our participants for this year’s International Studies Research Lab, and look forward to more individuals taking part next summer!

For more information on the ISRL, you can visit here. However, please keep in mind that the current showcased information is for this year’s lab. New information will be made available on our website as plans progress for next year’s lab.

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The Number of Displaced Peoples Around the World is Growing

Here are the facts:

  • There are 68.5 million people displaced worldwide.
  • 25.4 million are refugees; 3.1 million are asylum-seekers
  • 40 million are internally displaced – meaning they currently still live in their native country, but have had to shift from their home region to another
  • 85% of all refugees move to developed countries
  • 57% of refugees today live in South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria
  • There are 10 million stateless people – this means 10 million people around the world have no nationality, no citizenship, and no rights
  • 44,400 people flee every day
  • 45% of the Syrian population (11 million) are currently displaced
  • The world’s largest refugee camp currently holds 329,000 people in Dadaab, Kenya
  • 51% of refugees worldwide are under the age of 18
  • 3 million refugees have settled in the United States since 1975

Types of displaced peoples:

  • Refugees – people who escape natural or human-made disasters such as flood and drought or persecution based on race, religion, politics, or association with a particular group
  • Asylum seekers – a type of refugee who has fled to another country, but has yet to receive refugee status
  • Internally displaced peoples – people who migrate to another region within their home country
  • Stateless persons – people who have no nationality and do not belong to either their home country or the country in which they are seeking refuge
  • Returnees – former refugees who return after their time in exile

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) employs 16,765 people around the world, and is currently working in 138 countries. But despite the expansive presence of the UNHCR, and the amount of money the United Nations uses towards aiding displaced peoples, it’s not enough. Refugee camps around the world are thought to be mini sanctuaries for those seeking asylum; people often think refugees living in camps are much better off, and have escaped to a better life. But the truth of the matter is that millions of refugees are living in abysmal conditions. When they first fled and began to settle in northern Libya, Eritrean refugees had many resources. The UNHCR brought doctors, medications, food, blankets, and other supplies. But not too soon after, resources ran out, the doctors went home because they were no longer able to be paid, and the medications were taken with them. Because of this, there has been an outbreak of tuberculosis, and because the refugees live in small cramped spaces, illnesses such as these spread like wildfire.

The situation in Libya is but one example of the struggles refugees face. When fleeing, many refugees lose contact with their families, become human trafficking victims, or are exploited in informal labor arrangements. More than 300,000 children migrated without their families in 2017. But as the number of displaced peoples grows, so does the need for monetary support. The country of Syria has disbursed the largest number of refugees in the shortest amount of time, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) illustrates how refugees can migrate over a series of decades. Like many countries in Africa, many of the Congolese were displaced internally, trying to escape from war and civil unrest, but many were inevitably forced to flee into East Africa and other parts of the world. Refugees from the DRC have been fleeing for more than twenty years.

World Refugee Day is held on June 20th every year. On December 4, 2000 the United Nations General Assembly decided the 17th of June would be commemorated in honor and respect of the continuously growing number of refugees and peoples displaced around the world. This was later changed to coincide with Africa Refugee Day on June 20. World Refugee Day is observed by numerous countries around the world in an attempt to bring attention to the millions of refugees and other peoples displaced because of conflict, war, and/or persecution, and on the 20th of every year, people around the world come together to bring awareness to refugees’ stories — the challenges they face, the places they reside, and the communities they call home.

Past themes from World Refugee day have covered topics relating to families being torn apart, how refugees find a new sense of home in a foreign land, and how/if countries have programs and services in place for the protection of displaced peoples. In 2016, the United Nations Refugee Agency began the #WithRefugees campaign in an attempt to show support for the growing number of displaced peoples by taking action to ensure refugee children have access to education, families have access to safe and secure shelters, and all refugees have the opportunity to develop skills or find work and provide for their families.

Numerous non-profits and non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International and the Red Cross International have been trying to offset the challenges refugees face. But as the population of displaced peoples worldwide continues to grow, resources dry up, and even those projects funded by the United Nations are not enough. In a world where war and conflict seem never-ending, we need to be thinking more seriously about how we can make conditions for refugees more humane and sustainable.


Other Resources

Connable, Ben. From Negative to Positive Stability: How the Syrian Refugee Crisis can Improve Jordan’s Outlook. Santa Monica, RAND, 2015.

Fleming, Melissa. A Hope More Powerful than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival. New York, Flatiron Books, 2017.

Hammerstad, Anne. The Rise and Decline of a Global Security Actor: UNHCR, Refugee Protection, and Security. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Kassa, Derese G. Refugee Spaces and Urban Citizenship in Nairobi: Africa’s Sanctuary City. Lanham, Lexington Books, 2019.

Kingsley, Patrick. The New Odyssey: the Story of the Twenty-first-century Refugee Crisis. New York, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017.

Maina, Andrew. Is My Claim Meritorious?: Congolese Experience of the Refugee Status Determination Process in Kenya. Danish Refugee Council, Great Lakes Civil Society Project, 2014.

McDonald-Gibson, Charlotte. Cast Away: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis. New York, New Press, 2016.

McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino. The Global Refugee Crisis: Fleeing Crisis and Violence. Minneapolis, Twenty-First Century Books, 2019.

Ribas Mateos, Natalia. Migration, Mobilities and the Arab Spring: Spaces of Refugee Flight in the Eastern Mediterranean. Northampton, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.

Sasikumar, Karthika, and Danijela Dudley. Political and Military Sociology: the European Refugee Crisis. London, Routledge, 2018.

Wilmer, S.E. Performing Statelessness in Europe. Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Woolley, Agnes. Contemporary Asylum Narratives: Representing Refugees in the Twenty-first Century. New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.


*Statistics and definitions courtesy of the United Nations. https://www.unhcr.org/

*Diagrams courtesy of Amnesty International.

For more information on what is being done around the globe, visit the following sites

Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/global-refugee-crisis-statistics-and-facts/

GlobalGiving https://www.globalgiving.org/world-refugee-day/

MercyCorps https://www.mercycorps.org/articles/worlds-5-biggest-refugee-crises

American Red Cross https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/international-services/migration-and-refugee-crisis.html

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Nuclear Testing in North Korea

According to BBC News, North Korea has begun firing short-range missiles again, despite Kim Jong-un’s statement last year that he would stop nuclear testing and cease launching intercontinental ballistic missiles. Over the last week, the South Korean military has issued a notice that North Korea has fired two short-range missiles in two separate weapons tests. The missiles were fired from Kusong North Korea (156km from Pyongyang), reached an altitude of 50km, and then flew into the sea. This is the first missile test to take place in North Korea since November 2017.

Tensions have grown between North Korea and the United States after Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un met for a summit meeting in Vietnam in February of this year (2019). The meeting was scheduled in hopes that Trump and Kim would establish a truce where North Korea would give up its nuclear program. But these hopes failed when Trump refused to lift the sanctions put into place by the United States in the 1950s.

The summer before, Trump and Kim met in Singapore, and Kim agreed to work towards the denuclearization of Korea. But the meeting in Vietnam this year disbanded any ideas of truce. Since the summit with President Trump this year, Kim has also begun meetings with Vladimir Putin. But despite his sporadic and unpredictable actions, analysts such as Jonathan Marcus, Defense Correspondent, believe Kim’s threat of nuclear war are simply that — a threat — and are only in place to guarantee the survival of his regime.

Analysts say Kim Jong-un has been trying to pressure the United States after the Trump meeting in Vietnam failed to bring together an agreement and a peace treaty, and with Seoul South Korea as the target, this new stream of tests aims towards showing Americans that Kim Jong-un is an intolerant and volatile man, and is quickly losing patience in the game.

Because the testing of intercontinental range systems would breach the agreement North Korea has with the United States, Pyongyang is demonstrating their short-range ballistic missile range as a kind of threat. But this agreement only lasts until the end of 2019. After that, who knows? North Korea has made claims that they have developed both ballistic missiles that could reach the U.S., and a small nuclear bomb that can fit on a long-range missile.

Some background: Born in 1983, Kim Jong-un, the current leader of North Korea is the grandson of Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea. Kim is thought to have attended Liebefeld-Steinholzli public school in Koniz, Switzerland during the late 1990s. He was described by his classmates as a shy boy who cared not for politics, but was obsessed with American Basketball. He was often found to be sketching portraits of famous players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Toni Kukoc. Kim attended his grandfather’s university, Kim Il-sung Military University and received a physics degree, in addition to becoming an army officer.

Despite being the second child of Kim Jong-il and Ko Yong-hui, Kim Jong-un was named heir apparent and became the “Supreme Leader” of North Korea in 2011 after the death of his father. Kim Jong-un’s older brother Kim Jong-nam was intended to be the next ruler of North Korea after his father. However, he allegedly fell out of favor in 2001 when he tried to visit Tokyo Disneyland with a fake passport. Jong-nam was killed in Malaysia in 2017, poisoned by two East Asian women. For many years following his death, suspicions revolved around the involvement of North Korean agents employed by the Kim family. However, other significant news has surfaced recently suggesting Jong-nam was an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and would travel to Malaysia to meet with agents. It is still being debated whether or not he was discovered to be working with the CIA in 2017, and whether or not this played a role in his death.

Kim became Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea in 2012, and holds the titles of Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Kim Jong-un ordered the execution of his uncle on 2013, and is rumored to have also issued an execution for his half-brother in 2017. Many countries consider him to be dictatorial and power-hungry, even though East Asian politicians argue he cares for his people more than his father or grandfather did.


*Photos courtesy of Newsweek, BBC, and Center for Strategic & International Studies respectively.

The program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security here at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign conducted a four part series titled “The Korean Peninsula in Crisis?” To find more information on this event and watch segments from each section, you can go here.


Current Events News Resources:

“North Korea Crisis in 300 Words” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40871848

“North Korea Nuclear Timeline Fast Facts” https://www.cnn.com/2013/10/29/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-timeline—fast-facts/index.html

“New North Korea Concerns Flare as Trump’s Signature Diplomacy Wilts” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/world/asia/north-korea-missile.html

“North Korea Fires Two Short-Range Missiles, South Says” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48212045

“North Korea’s Latest Missile Tests Don’t Break Any Deals with Trump, Because There is No Deal” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/05/09/north-koreas-latest-missile-tests-dont-break-any-deals-with-trump-because-there-is-no-deal/?utm_term=.76f36be12a16

“North Korea Launches New Missiles” https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2019-05-09/north-korea-launches-new-missiles

“North Korea’s New Missile has Russian Fingerprints ‘All Over’ It” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/north-korea-s-new-missile-has-russian-fingerprints-all-over-n1004151

“Kim Jong Un Tells N. Korea Military to Keep ‘Full-Combat Posture’ after Second Missile Launch in Week” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kim-jong-north-korea-military-full-combat-posture-second-missile-launch-in-

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World Environment Day

The campaign for this year’s World Environment Day (WED) is all about Air Pollution.


The first World Environment Day was held on June 5th, 1974. Created in an attempt to bring awareness to environmental issues around the world, WED was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 in unison with the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. In 1974, the annual holiday began with the theme “Only One Earth.” Over the past four decades, WED has discussed a variety of environmental issues and challenges relating to desertification, the ozone layer, clean water, climate change, green cities, endangered species, rising sea level, and the state of our oceans.

Annual World Environment Day Themes:

2019 – “Beat Air Pollution” hosted by China

2018 – “Beat Plastic Pollution” hosted by India

2017 – “Connecting People to Nature” hosted by Canada

2016 – “Go Wild for Life” hosted by Angola

2015 – “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” hosted by Italy

2014 – “International Year of Small Islands Developing States” hosted by Barbados

2013 – “Think. Eat. Save.” hosted by Mongolia

2012 – “Green Economy” hosted by Brazil

2011 – “Forests: Nature at Your Service” hosted by India

2010 – “Many Species. One Planet. One Future.” hosted by Bangladesh

2009 – “Your Planet Needs You – Unite to Combat Climate Change” hosted by Mexico


Other countries that have hosted World Environment Day include Pakistan, Kenya, Thailand, Sweden, England, South Africa, Turkey, South Korea, Russia, Japan, Australia, Cuba, Lebanon, Spain, the United States, Algeria, and New Zealand.


An Earth Anthem was written by Abhay K to commemorate WED in 2013, and has now been claimed as the WED Anthem. The lyrics are as follows:

Our cosmic oasis, cosmic blue pearl
the most beautiful planet in the universe
all the continents and all the oceans
united we stand as flora and fauna
united we stand as species of one earth
different cultures, beliefs and ways
we are humans, the earth is our home
all the people and the nations of the world
all for one and one for all
united we unfurl the blue marble flag.” (1)

(1) K, Abhay (27 April 2014). “Earth Anthem”. Earth Anthem Website.

This year’s World Environment Day is celebrated through 6,306 events worldwide. Every year, schools, businesses, and non-governmental organizations participate by organizing unique and interactive events to inspire a desire to take better care of our environment.

On their website, UNenvironment always includes suggestions on how you as an individual can help with that year’s issue. This year, the #BeatAirPollution campaign suggests you

1. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use

2. Choose heating systems, stoves, and other appliances that are more eco-friendly

3. Refrain from burning trash that may add to air pollution


In addition, most years come with a “challenge” intended to spark discussions on social media. This year’s challenge is called the “Mask Challenge” and calls individuals to post photos of them using masks, illustrating that 9 of 10 people around the world are forced to breathe polluted air.


Photos courtesy of worldenvironmentday.global.

For more information on World Environment Day, you can go to the WED Website here.

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Constructing Solidarities in the Global Justice Movement: A Feminist Perspective

Rapporteur: Bansari Patel

On March 13th, 2019, the Center for Global Studies proudly hosted “MillerComm 2019: Constructing Solidarities in the Global Justice Movement: A Feminist Perspective” presented by Manisha Desai. Desai is currently a Professor of Sociology and Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut. Her research and teaching interests include Gender and Globalization, Transnational Feminisms and Women’s Movements, Human Rights movements, and Contemporary Indian Society.

In her talk, Desai focused on comparing two global justice movements –  The 2017 International’s Women’s Day Strike in New York, United States, and the 2012 Idle Know More Movement in Ontario, Canada –  to construct solidarities between movements of women activists situated in different local and global systems of power. Across the globe, the International’s Women Day Strike takes place annually in March and brings awareness to the various challenges faced by women globally including: labor laws, reproductive rights, gender violence, and many other causes. Idle Know More is also an ongoing movement that began in December 2012 in Ontario, Canada by three indigenous women and one non-native ally. Idle No More aims to advocate for Indigenous inherent rights to sovereignty and reinstitute traditional laws and Nation to Nation Treaties by protecting indigenous lands and waters from corporate destruction.

The International Women’s Strike, a global movement and postcolonial approach, aims to bring international women together while the Idle Know More Movement, a community organized and decolonizing approach, insists on leaving indigenous people, land, and waters unbothered. From studying these movements, Desai interpreted that Decolonized Feminism has more possibilities and demonstrates dependent traits, while Postcolonial Feminism emphasizes spatial differences and promotes independence. In her closing remarks, Desai concluded that although both movements have different visions, no solidarities can be built without love.

Desai’s talk also brought awareness to problems that women all around the world have overcome and the problems that they continue to face, discussing how these issues can be remedied with postcolonial and decolonial efforts. For example, Desai spoke on how the Transnational Women’s Movements primarily attract educated, higher income women because they have more resources. This trend discourages uneducated, lower income women from voicing their concerns and fighting for their never-ending struggles with gender inequality. During her Q&A session, Desai suggested that Latin American feminists prefer Decolonial Feminism while South Asian feminists prefer post-colonial efforts, inferring that postcolonial and decolonial approaches in a region are based strongly  upon history and geographical location.



Desai, Manisha. Gender and the Politics of Possibilities: Rethinking Globalization. Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009.

________. Subaltern Movements in India: Gendered Geographies of Struggle against Neoliberal Development. New York, Routledge, 2016.

Desai, Manisha, and Kenneth Cuno. Family, Gender, and Law in a Globalizing Middle East and South Asia. Syracuse, Syracuse University Press, 2009.

Desai, Manisha, and Lynn Walter. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Women’s Issues Worldwide: Asia and Oceania. Westport, Greenwood Press, 2003.

Desai, Manisha, and Nancy A. Naples. Women’s Activism and Globalization: Linking Local Struggles and Transnational Politics. New York, Routledge, 2002.

Grabe, Shelley. Women’s Human Rights: a Social Psychological Perspective on Resistance, Liberation, and Justice. New York, Oxford University Press, 2018.

Gourley, Catherine. Society’s Sisters: Stories of Women Who Fought for Social Justice in America. Brookfield, Twenty-First Century Books, 2003.

Lyman, Linda L., Jane Strachan, and Angeliki Lazaridou. Shaping Social Justice Leadership: Insights of Women Educators Worldwide. Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2012.

Maier, Elizabeth, and Nathalie Lebon. Women’s Activism in Latin America and the Caribbean: Engendering Social Justice, Democratizing Citizenship. New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 2010.

Tsomo, Karma Lekshe. Buddhist Women and Social Justice: Ideals, Challenges, and Achievements. Albany, State University of New York Press, 2004.


Other Resources

Idle No More Website. http://www.idlenomore.ca

International Women’s Strike USA Website.  https://www.womenstrikeus.org/

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IASL Receives the Survived Collection of the Rekidai Hoan from the Ryukyu Kingdom

Rapporteur: Laila Hussein Moustafa, Assistant Professor – Middle East and North Africa Studies

On March 5, 2019, the International and Area Studies Library (IASL) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign received a donation from Professor Koji Taira. This collection consisted of diplomatic documents of the Rekidai Hoan from the Ryukyu Kingdom. Professor Koji Taira is an emeritus professor in Economics at the University of Illinois.

The Rekidai Hoan collection provides a partial record of diplomatic correspondence exchanged between 1424 and 1867, a time that spans from the reign of Ryukyu King Sho Hashi to the twentieth year of the regency of King Sho Tai. This period immediately preceded the Ryukyu kingdom’s incorporation into the Japanese state in 1868. The collection also provides a record of contact between the Ryukyu Kingdom and countries such as the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.

The original collection consisted of three separate collections of documents containing 262 volumes and a four-volume supplement of 30 volumes. A complete copy of the manuscript copy is preserved at the National University of Taiwan.

The original copies of the Rekidai Hoan were lost around the time of WWII when bombings from the Battle of Okinawa destroyed the library in which they were housed. The Kume documents became the only surviving record.

A number of complete copies were commissioned for the Taihoku Imperial University library after the year 1936.  In 1950, another new copy was made of the Rekidai Hoan, which was housed in the Department of History’s library in the College of Arts, and the older text was preserved and moved to a secured room in the library.

The complete copy of the Rekidai Hoan can be found today in the National University of Taiwan. It includes 249 volumes and a total of some 17,271 folios.

Scholars have the opportunity to study the materials and use them to shed light on topics relevant to medieval Japan, including Japan’s trade with Southern Islands and the Orient, and its diplomatic relations with Manchuria, Korea, and the southern regions. The collection is also invaluable to researchers because it provides a survey of primary sources in Ryukyuan, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.

The event was attended by many Japanese scholars and local residents including Professor Koji Taira and his wife, his grandson Ethan, Professor Zong-Qi Cai, and Professor Lynne Rudasill who presented IASL.

The IASL thanks Dr. Koji Taira for donating the collection to the library and ensuring that the Rekidai Hoan materials are available to present researchers and preserved for future generations.  The IASL also thanks Dr. Steve Witt for his participation in getting this important collection donated to the University library at the University of Illinois.

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World Health Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) was created on April 7th 1948 as a means to identify, assess, and address how issues relating to health are handled around the world, and in 1950 the WHO agreed to establish “World Health Day” on the 7th of April every year. Today, the WHO employs more than 7,000 people, covering more than 150 nationalities. In addition to working at their headquarters in Geneva, the WHO holds a presence at 150 country offices and 6 regional offices.  

Last year celebrated the 70th anniversary of the WHO, and this year marks the first time where one topic will span two years. Fully committed to this cause, the WHO is extending their campaign to help ensure all people have access to quality health services regardless of where they live or how much money they have. Working under the influence of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the WHO believes Universal Healthcare (UHC) is a right, not a privilege, and that efforts taken towards UHC should include an analysis of health systems and the intersections between quality, efficiency, equity, accountability, sustainability, and resilience.  

A Decade of World Health Day: International Topics

2018 Universal Health Coverage

  • The start of a topic so concerning it continued over into 2019, the WHO decided Universal Healthcare (UHC) needed to be addressed in 2018. UHC is a major concern is many parts of the world, in both developed and underdeveloped countries. The WHO campaign for UHC revolves around the idea that all individuals should have access to quality healthcare, treatments, and services.

2017 Depression: Let’s Talk

  • The idea for 2017’s theme came from the WHO’s belief that awareness of mental health issues can lead to empathy and overall acceptance of people who deal with depression. Their goal was to help reduce or remove the stigma surrounding depression in hopes that, without that stigma, more people will seek out help.

2016 Halt the Rise: Beat Diabetes

  • In 2016, the WHO wanted to create a campaign in response to the rapid rise of diabetes in low and middle-income countries. In their campaign, the WHO supported the process of diagnosis, self-management education, and affordable treatment.

2015 Food Safety

  • Responsible for hundreds of diseases, unsafe food is a major cause of death in many parts of the world. Food can be contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or even chemical substances, and consumption of these contaminated foods can lead to up to 2 million deaths annually. This campaign was created to address prevention, detection, and response of foodborne pathogens and disease outbreaks.

2014 Vector-borne Diseases: Small Bite, Big Threat

  • Focusing on the overabundance of commonly known vectors like sandflies, ticks, snails, bugs, and mosquitos, the 2014 campaign brought awareness to how these little organisms can spread parasites and pathogens. Malaria in itself, transmitted to humans through mosquitos bites, causes more than 660,000 deaths annually, and more than half of the world’s population is at risk for other diseases like dengue fever, japanese encephalitis, and yellow fever.

2013 Healthy Heart Beat, Healthy Blood Pressure

  • The WHO campaign for 2013 sought to bring awareness to a disease that is both preventable and highly treatable. Hypertension, also known as raised blood pressure, is estimated to affect one in three adults, and can cause issues related to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and death. More proactive than most, this campaign was created to try and educate individuals on what they can do to prevent becoming hypertensive.

2012 Good Health Adds Life to Years

  • In response to the growing worldwide life expectancy, the WHO wanted to create a campaign to address the need for long-lasting healthcare, since people are needing healthcare for longer periods of time and more frequently as they age.

2011 Antimicrobial Resistance: No Action Today, No Cure Tomorrow

  • This campaign in 2011 called for an increase in global commitment to safeguard antimicrobial medicines for the future. It focused on the need for governments and organizations to create policy and practices for the prevention and combat of highly resistant microorganisms.

2010 Urbanization and Health: Make Cities Healthier

  • With their slogan “1000 Cities, 1000 Lives”, the 2010 campaign called for public places to be opened up for discussions of health by holding activities in parks, clean-up campaigns, or town hall meetings. In addition, the WHO also wanted to collect 1000 stories of urban health champions who have made a significant impact in their communities.

2009 Save Lives, Make Hospitals Safe in Emergencies

  • Placing an emphasis on disaster response and emergency treatment, this campaign focused on health facilities and those working inside in order to identify how healthcare professionals can better care for vulnerable peoples.

Working for over seventy years to bring awareness to global issues relating to health, the World Health Organization has devoted itself to the prevention and treatment of many conditions, and the educating of people from around the world. World Health Day not only brings awareness to issues that need it, but it also creates the unique effect of uniting people from around the world in a way no other holiday can. World Health Day stands to remind us that all peoples struggle with health, regardless of social status, skin color, religion, political views, or culture, and with this humanizing of people from different cultures, we begin to see that we are all the same, and all deserving of certain rights like quality of life, education, and health care.


If you are interested in learning more about global health, and the resources available here at the University of Illinois, visit the Global Health libguide. https://guides.library.illinois.edu/mbh/globalhealth

For more information on the World Health Organization or World Health Day, visit the WHO website. https://www.who.int/


Other Resources:

Benatar, S. R., and Gillian Brock. Global Health and Global Health Ethics. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Brown, Peter J., and Svea Closser. Foundations of Global Health: An Interdisciplinary Reader. New York, Oxford University Press, 2019.

Farmer, Paul, Jim Yong Kim, Arthur Kleinman, and Matthew Basilico. Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2013.

Holtz, Carol. Global Health Care: Issues and Policies. Burlington, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2017.

Hughes, Barry B. Improving Global Health: Forecasting the Next 50 Years. Boulder, Paradigm Publishers, 2011.

Kim, Do kyun, Arvind Singhal, and Gary L. Kreps. Strategies for Developing Global Health Programs. New York, Peter Lang, 2014.

Lakoff, Andrew. Unprepared: Global Health in a Time of Emergency. Oakland, University of California Press, 2017.

Leon, Joshua K. The Rise of Global Health: the Evolution of Effective Collective Action. Albany, State University of New York Press, 2015.

Matlin, Stephen, and Llona Kickbusch. Pathways to Global Health: Case Studies in Global Health Diplomacy. New Jersey, World Scientific, 2017.

Packard, Randall M. A History of Global Health: Interventions into the Lives of Other Peoples. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.

Singer, Merrill. Global Health: An Anthropological Perspective. Long Grove, Waveland Press, 2013.

Skolnik, Richard L. Global Health 101. Burlington, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012.

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A UN Progress Report: The Sustainable Development Goals in 2018

Three years into the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Program, the United Nations has reason to believe ample progress will be made in response to the seventeen goals outlined in 2015. (1) 

Photo courtesy of the United Nations. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

Goal 1: Poverty

While numerous local and international organizations have identified the eradication of poverty as a global priority, the presence and unpredictability of natural disasters holds serious implications for numerous communities around the world. In 2017 alone, over $300 billion was spent on disaster relief – the majority of it going to the aftermath of three hurricanes in North and Central America.

Goal 2: Food Security, Nutrition, Agriculture

Interestingly enough, the growing problem of climate change seems to have a hold on the rate of world hunger, and it has been noted that the progression of climate change has a direct causational effect on agricultural hubs. In 2017, the percentage of undernourished people worldwide was 11.0, a 0.8% increase from the year before. While a 0.8% increase sounds minuscule, the difference in this situation accounts for 38 million people. It is significant to remember that climate change has serious long-term implications for people, animals, and the environment.

Goal 3: Health and Well-being

Pursuing health and well-being for individuals worldwide is one of the biggest obstacles the UN has set for itself, and while statistics show progress has been made within this development goal, the overabundance of individuals who die from preventable diseases is daunting. The rate of maternal mortality and child mortality has gone down with the increase of access to skilled health care providers, and the number of people affected by HIV has been decreasing slowly over the last few years. However the number of people affected by malaria has been steadily increasing, and the number of people who died worldwide from cardiovascular disease, 

diabetes, cancer, or chronic respiratory disease was more than 32 million in 2016. Overall, Goal 3 is progressing slowly and steadily. However, more needs to be done in response to ending mosquito-related diseases and mortality rates driven by unsafe sanitation.

Goal 4: Education

The world has shown great process when it comes to the number of children worldwide enrolling in early childhood and primary school with an increase from 63% of children worldwide in 2010 to 70% in 2016. Even in LDCs (least developed countries), children are receiving the opportunity to go to school. In addition, there has been a rise in training opportunities for primary school teachers. However, with the focus on primary education, secondary education and higher education has seen little effect or influence from local or international organizations, and while the quality of teachers and the number of students is steadily increasing in primary schools, the lack of electricity and running water still proves to be an issue in LDCs.  

Goal 5: Gender Equality

With all the attention campaigns like #MeToo are receiving, issues relating to gender are on everyone’s minds. But while Americans and other groups in the Global North are rallying around issues of sexual harassment, often we forget other issues more commonly found in the Global South. Achieving gender equality continues to be a challenge where the presence of attitudes towards gender are often directly related to social norms of a community. Legislation has made it possible for more women to be allowed into areas of government and fewer girls to be forced into marriage unions, but the influence of religion and culture makes problems of circumcision, gender-related violence, and unpaid care work very challenging.

Goal 6: Water and Sanitation

The problem of lack of accessibility to water effects billions of people worldwide. But with the presence of countless non-profits focusing on issues of water, the end of the World Water Crisis may be obtainable in our lifetime. If you conduct a simple Google search of non-profit organizations addressing water, you can instantly find a list of sixteen organizations that deal exclusively with water-related projects (although there are many more). With groups like Charity: Water and Water.org who have provided water to 8.4 million and 13 million people respectively, the solution to the lack of water accessibility is clearly attainable (2-3). 

Goal 7: Energy

Access to energy has made some advances, especially in LDCs where access to electricity has nearly doubled since the creation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000.

Goal 8: Economy and Employment

The majority of issues relating to employment are universal. While other SDGs may be more heavily focused on specific regions, when it comes to employment, there are only a few issues exclusive to the Global North or South. Certainly different issues affect different regions more or less, but many problems related to the gender pay gap, informal employment, and unemployment can be seen worldwide. It is significant to note, however, that the gross domestic product (GDP) rose 1.3% globally and labor productivity has grown 2.1% since 2017.

Goal 9: Infrastructure, Industrialization, and Innovation

It’s hard to believe that communities without basic needs have access to 3G broadband networks, but that’s the fact. In 2016, third generation (3G) mobile broadband networks was accessible to 61% of people in LDCs and 84% of people globally. In addition, Goal 9 boasts an increase in global manufacturing and a decrease in carbon emission intensity.

Goal 10: Reduce Inequality

Inequalities in income, export tariffs, and remittances remain prevalent. It appears that not much attention is being given to Goal 10, despite the ever-constant presence of transnational and international inequalities.

Goal 11: Inclusivity, Safety, and Sustainability in Cities

With the steady increase of the human population, many cities around the globe are experiencing a myriad of problems arising from rapid urbanization. The inability to remove waste, the overabundance of ambient air pollution, and the presence of detrimental natural disasters are but three examples of how urban areas are struggling to meet the demands of the growing population, and with the uncontrollability and unpredictability of population growth, Goal 11 in by far an urgent endeavor.

Goal 12: Consumption and Production

As the human population continues to grow, so does our global material footprint. Consumption and production will always have an overwhelming presence on the global economy, but the stress on sustainability is more important now than ever, especially in developed countries where the per capita footprint is more than double that of developing countries. However, the material footprint of developing countries has seen an increase from 5 metric tons to 9 since the creation of the MDGs.  

Goal 13: Climate Change

We’ve all seen the advertisements about saving the polar bears, and whether or not you love animals, it is no joke that animals and ecosystems are being destroyed in direct response to global warming. In conjunction with the Paris Agreement, many countries are starting or continuing to take climate change seriously. With the presence of disastrous hurricanes, rising sea levels, and extreme weather conditions, there is no denying the current state of emergency when it comes to climate change. The United States alone experienced seventeen hurricanes during the 2017 season – the aftermath of which climbed to over $200 billion in damages. (4)

Goal 14: Oceans and Seas

Eutrophication and pollution continue to be some of the biggest problems around the world when it comes to our oceans and seas (5). Every year more and more marine waters are being protected, but without a supportive global network, the state of our waters are in crisis. Eutrophication in itself is estimated to increase 20% by 2050 if more actions are not taken.

Goal 15: Ecosystems

Despite many organizations like World Wildlife Fund (WWF) who have been working hard to protect the world’s animals, the list of threatened species remains lengthy. The impact of humans and their activities, such as unsustainable agriculture and deforestation, have direct effect on the overabundance of habitat loss. Another growing issue, invasive alien species are on the rise and pervasive as ever. But it is worth remembering that issues pertaining to ecosystems are not only disruptive to animal life. Issues of deforestation and land degradation have had a huge impact on human settlements and their quality of life too.

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies and justice for all

Injustice shrouds our world in a number of ways, including but not limited to human trafficking, child punishment, wrongful incarceration, bribery, and targeted violence. Human trafficking continues to be a global issue, with both boys and girls being trafficked for sex and/or labor. Human trafficking is a tricky problem to solve mostly because, if we do not directly see the effects, we do not give much thought to the problem. But it is vital to remember that human trafficking is happening in all parts of the world – even the United States. The last decade has shown no decline in the number of individuals incarcerated without a sentence, nearly one in five organizations claim they have received a bribery offer, and over one thousand human rights defenders and journalists have been killed since 2015. All three of these issues show little development, and prove that corruption still has a hold on many parts of the world. Fortunately, many countries are creating, and utilizing, national human rights institutions. But all in all, more needs to be done to minimize corruption and expand justice for all.

Goal 17: Global Partnerships

Official Development Assistance (ODA) has decreased over the last year. However debt service as a part of exports has increased steadily in LDCs since 2016, despite merchandise exports declining during the same time frame. Overall, the UN suggests that more financial support needs to be provided to developing countries so that they are can have more resources with which to establish and maintain various development agendas in areas where they need it the most.


Endnotes & Bibliography

(1) “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018.” UNstats. https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2018/overview/.

(2) “We Believe We Can End the Water Crisis in our Lifetime,” Charity: Water, https://www.charitywater.org/.

(3)  “Opportunity starts with safe water,” Water.org, https://water.org/.

(4) Willie Drye, “2017 Hurricane Season was the Most Expensive in U.S. History” last modified November 30, 2017. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/11/2017-hurricane-season-most-expensive-us-history-spd/?user.testname=none.

(5) Eutrophication is the process in which excess minerals and nutrients ran off in a body of water leading to the depletion of oxygen, the growth of plant matter, and the death of animals within the ecosystem.


Additional Reading

Amutabi, M.N. Africa in Global Development Discourses. Nairobi: Centre for Democracy, Research and Development (CEDRED), 2017.

Dodds, Felix, David Donoghue, and Jimena Leiva Roesch. Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals: A Transformational Agenda for an Insecure World. London: Routledge, 2017.

Education for People and Planet: Creating Sustainable Futures for All. Paris: Unesco, 2016.

Halbery, Niels. Global Development and Organic Agriculture: Challenges and Prospects. Wallingford: CABI, 2006.

Indigenous Knowledge: Local Pathways to Global Development. Washington D.C.: World Bank, 2004.

Little, Daniel. The Paradox of Wealth and Poverty: Mapping the Ethical Dilemmas of Global Development. Boulder: Westview Press, 2003.

Mal, Suraj, R.B. Singh, and Christian Huggel. Climate Changes, Extreme Events and Disaster Risk Reduction: Towards Sustainable Development Goals. Cham: Springer, 2018.

Mehta, Lyla. Displaced by Development: Confronting Marginalisation and Gender Injustice. New Dehli: Sage, 2009.

Perspectives on Global Development and Technology. Leiden: Brill, 2000.

Picciotto, Robert, Funmi Olonisakin, and Michael Clarke. Global Development and Human Security. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2007.

Shawki, Noha. International Norms, Normative Change, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2016.

Tomalin, Emma. The Routledge Handbook of Religions and Global Development. London: New York, 2015.

UNECE Policy for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women: Supporting the SDGs Implementation in the UNECE region (2016-2020). Geneva: United Nations, 2017.


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