Today I was fortunate enough to join a group of our participants and a few of my colleagues to visit the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City. The tour kicks off the summer season of events here at InterExchange. These events provide opportunities for our participants on our Au Pair USA, Camp USA, Career Training USA, and Work & Travel USA programs to experience U.S. culture and meet other travelers from all over the world.
We began our adventure outside the entrance of the impressive complex on the east side of Manhattan. After a painless trip through security, we were taken into the General Assembly Building and into a briefing room. Our advisor had been with the UN for over 10 years. After starting his career as an intern, he now works for missions focused on education and training for peacekeepers assigned to protecting women in conflicted areas.
This briefing was a great chance to learn about the history of the United Nations, how it came to be after World War II, the challenges it has faced over the past 70 years, and the evolution of its missions as the organization works with powers all over the world to support human rights through diplomacy, education, and peacekeeping operations.
After the briefing, we were introduced to our tour guide, an Italian citizen stationed in NYC, as well as the rest of our tour group, who had travelled from all over the world and America. We left the main lobby and were taken to the convergence center, a beautiful building with art gifted from various United Nations member states which contains the various conference rooms for the different councils.
We were allowed to photograph anything and given the opportunity to ask about everything. However, the one conference room we weren't allowed to enter was that of the Security Committee. In fact, nobody from the public is allowed to view their sessions. Instead, we were lucky enough to get a walk through (no talking or photos allowed) of the Economic and Social Conference room which was being used by the Security Committee to vote in two new members to the Rotating Council.
It was a powerful feeling being in the building of the United Nations. One of the most important reasons that I work for InterExchange is our mission. I believe that society will only advance through empathy and cooperation, and that war only sets us back. I've heard a lot of criticism of the United Nations throughout my life, and whilst I'm sure that the organization itself would be the first to agree that there is much more work to be done, I believe that a mission based on collaboration and open communication is the only way for us to move forward.
If you visit New York City, I highly recommend getting yourself on a tour of the United Nations. If you're an InterExchange participant, you should check out other events that are coming up this season, and you can always visit the UN. I had a great time today, and I'm really exited to read about all the other adventures our participants go on.