In a remarkable trip facilitated by the Global Citizenship Distinction (GCD), a group of students visited the United Nations (UN) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York. The experience, filled with insightful encounters and cultural immersion, left an indelible mark on the participating students, amplifying their commitment to global harmony and understanding.

Departing by train from Red Bank, New Jersey, the group navigated to the heart of New York City, from Grand Central Station to the United Nations headquarters. Once there, they were fortunate to secure tickets for a guided tour of the UN.

During their visit, the students were granted access to various chambers and councils. They witnessed the deliberations on critical global issues within the General Assembly, the Social and Economic Council, and the Trusteeship Council. Despite the Security Council session being closed to the public, the glimpse into its chambers provided a powerful reminder of the gravity of the discussions held within.

Students Benjamin Kuleshov, Kimberley Salinas and Eden Pela visiting the United Nations.

“At this very critical time in global history, it was a powerful experience for our students to see the General Assembly in full session and to visit the different departments of the UN,” said Dr. Raj Wesley, Psychology Professor and Faculty Coordinator of the GCD Program. “There were several exhibits to “walk through” and see people from all over the globe, either working as UN staff or visiting. The students were excited when they were informed about internship and job opportunities at the UN.”

Particularly impactful were the panels and exhibits focused on the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict and related matters, offering students an opportunity for dialogue and reflection. Interactions with individuals from diverse backgrounds further enriched their understanding of global perspectives, reinforcing the essence of cultural exchange and cooperation embodied by the United Nations.

“The United Nations was incredibly inspiring, and I’m looking to volunteer there this summer,” said GCD student Kimberly Salinas. “I’m so grateful to our International Education Center Director Dr. Janice Thomas and Director of Diversity and Inclusion/CCOG Ms. Angela Kariotis for their support in making this trip happen. It was a beautiful and educational experience, and I’m thrilled to have been a part of it.”

Following their enlightening experience at the United Nations, the group ventured to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they dove into a captivating journey through time from the Stone Age to contemporary masterpieces.

Amidst the museum’s sprawling galleries, the students eagerly soaked up knowledge like sponges, spurred on by the timeless allure and multicultural richness that adorned every wall and exhibit.

“The UN trip revealed to me the beautiful tapestry of diversity woven into the fabric of global diplomacy, where I found inspiration in the presence of great African leaders like Kofi Annan and Mandela,” said Eden Pela, a creative writing major. “It was motivating to see the artwork and names of so many great Africans on their walls and pamphlets—people like Kofi Annan and Mandela. I heard people speaking Yoruba (the language of tribes in Nigeria’s Western region, where my family currently resides), which surprised me. It was quite fresh to see representations of people like me that came from where I came from to be members and employees of such a respected organization. Likewise, the MET tour affirmed the timeless connection between humanity and art; each time I visit, it adds another layer to my understanding and connection with humanity. And by humanity, I mean beauty and art (humanity’s core).”

This dual excursion exemplified the impact of cultural exchange and learning. As the students returned home, their minds buzzing with newfound insights, they carried a renewed sense of purpose, poised to contribute to a more interconnected and harmonious global community.