<Mennonite Central Committee UN Office - Doug Hostetter>
On August 2, 2017, APPA interns paid a visit to Doug Hostetter, the Director of the Mennonite Central Committee United Nations Office. We had lunch together and were invited to his office at the United Nations Plaza, New York.
Hostetter worked as a Mennonite Central Committee staff in Tam Ky, Vietnam from 1966 to 1969. During the Vietnam war, he served as a key figure of the Vietnam Peace movement with the Mennonites. After witnessing the harsh brutality and atrocities of war, he made a resolution to work for the people who suffered from the conflicts of warfare.
Hostetter focuses on the areas of conflict in areas such as North Korea, Israel-Palestine, Iraq, and Syria. The main efforts of the UN MCC office include connecting MCC staff with UN diplomats and ambassadors and promoting campaigns or programs that can contribute to peacebuilding in those countries. He also mentioned that the UN MCC is rooted in the understanding that they are called by God to be a voice for the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized.
We heard several stories about Hostetter’s personal experience related to North Korea. He went to North Korea and saw the people living and marching in a highly coordinated and strict way. Later, when the former president, Kim Jong-il, came out to the stage, the North Koreans shed tears. Hostetter said it seemed to be true sadness--they seemed to have been genuinely moved. However, in terms of spreading the Gospel and bringing the North Korean people to God, it would be a daunting challenge to change their minds and defy the president.
Another story Hostetter told was about inviting a North Korean ambassador to his house for dinner. Although they became closer while cooking, eating and talking together, they could not exchange their phone numbers, social media accounts or addresses for security reasons. Since the ambassador eventually returned to North Korea, Hostetter was unable to get in contact with him for three years. However, a few months prior to our visit, Hostetter got a phone call from the ambassador that he had come back to attend the UN conference and he wanted to meet with Hostetter.
From this anecdote, I realized that peacebuilding does not always need to start from huge movements such as policy making or large-scale funding. In order to help eliminate conflicts around the world and achieve global peace, these kinds of close relationships and care for one another can also act as the spark for these changes.
APPA UN NGO Intern