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Student Interns at UN with Iroquois Confederacy

July 25, 2014

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Saint Anselm student Matthew Gonnella interning at United NationsThis summer, Matthew Gonnella has had an up-close look at both the United Nations and the Iroquois Nation. He has been an intern at the United Nations through the Iroquois Confederacy in New York.

In May, he interned with the confederacy at the delegation at the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues at U.N. headquarters in New York City.

Now, the international relations and Spanish major is working with the Iroquois community in Syracuse, N.Y., where there is a large population of Native Americans.

There he works for the American Indian Law Alliance, which collaborates with the Economic and Social Council, a branch of the U.N., and aids in the development of both the Iroquois Indians and Indigenous Peoples.

"It has always bothered me that we don't all have the same opportunities," said Gonnella.

He is dedicated to changing that for Native Americans and Indigenous People through work with the United Nations and beyond.

During his internship at the U.N., he drafted statements to be presented at the permanent forum that are heard and read by human rights activists around the world. He also provided language assistance (speaking Spanish and French) and assisted members with daily tasks.

Gonnella has also immersed himself in the Iroquois culture by joining their national lacrosse team as assistant to the president. He recently traveled with the team to Denver, Colo., where the Iroquois Nationals came in third at the national championships.

"The Iroquois Nationals is the only national sports team they have in the entire world. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," said Gonnella.

Photo: Gonnella with the president of the American Indian Law Alliance at  the United Nations in New York.

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