The International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) of my school (The New School) organized a trip the United Nations, here in New York. I remember, when I applied to Parsons School of Design in December 2016, I was exploring the school and its courses etc in more detail, when I stumbled upon this ad by the ISSS about such a UN trip, back in Feb 2017. I had then asked the ISSS about how we could apply and get in on this trip and they told me to watch out for the mailer if I get into Parsons. I got in, and today I am at the UNO HQ.
Views from outside the UN Plaza and from inside it, watching the skyline and the Chrysler building neighborhood.
My friends who were with me told me that, at the HQ, I was looking like a kid in a candy store! My jaw was dropped wide open each time I entered a council, each time I saw one of the gifts from the countries and I was jumping with my hand up everytime the tour guide asked questions! So why so much excitement? Well, other than singing, movies, engineering or design, this was my other career choice – to be a diplomat in some form or the other. Of course, at this point, this can only be a dream and that’s why I reveled in this moment. It also springs from the fact that since I was born, I wanted to roam the world, visit all the 7 wonders, mingle and work with cultures of different countries and remain a travel bug throughout my life. I am exploring all this in my own ways now with all my world trips, but today, I was a make-believe Ambassador of India at the UN.
Outside the UN HQ and inside the UN General Assembly
Portraits of all UN Secretary Generals, from first to current
We started out at 2 pm and clicked pictures outside the UN HQ near the visitor center. After the group assembled, we entered in, and I was now in Wonderland. Every wall and every corner had a gift from some country or the other – a painting, a relic, an art piece, a cultural symbol, a religious artifact, and so many more (some shown below). Whats great about everything is that they are not just gifts and representation but they are symbolic and filled with meaning as to what they stand for, and the good that they want to share with the rest of the world. From above, Gift from Thailand – Boat hand-sculpted from a single piece of wood, Gift from the USA ‘Do for others what you want them to do for you’ (quite ironic I must say), Gift from Canada – “Inukshuk” Igneous Rock, Gift from Morocco – Moroccan Carpets, Gift from New Zealand – Rimu and Tukutuku Wood Panels
Inside the Economic and Social Justice Council
Every painting or gift means something, for example – the diplomats in the UN General Assembly enter the hall to see a painting of a representation of World War 2 for which the UN came into existence, and while they exit the hall, they see the painting of ‘Peace’ both to remind them of what the need to keep focus on (showb below)
I entered the UN General Assembly (with a green carpet – gifted by Ireland), the Economic and Social Justice Council, the Trusteeship Council and I could only manage to stand outside of the one and only Security Council because it was in session. However, we could see on the TV screen outside, how the 5 permanent members or the Veto powers, were voting on an issue and the non-permanent members, of which India, unfortunately, is still a part, sat around them on the vote. This experience was thrilling, exciting and more than all, inspiring.
We went through the installations, exhibits and art pieces that represented the UN’s peacekeeping mission, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the exhibit of the real reason that forced the formation of UN – ‘Little Boy’ the bombing of Japan by the USA (shown above). It was a magnificent experience even for a few hours! I will never ever forget it, and I can’t wait to do this again, probably next semester. This time I was a make-believe Ambassador of India with a suit, but next time, I’m going in as the Foreign Minister of India with my native Indian formals, the kurtha. Until then, U. N, me, in this beautiful world…