Their first stop was Grand Central Terminal where they examined the constellation design on the ceiling. Mr. Clavel pointed out a dark section of the ceiling that was intentionally not renovated. It now serves as a visual reminder of what the ceiling used to look like. He also pointed out a small hole in the ceiling, which resulted from an exhibition in 1957 when a Redstone rocket was displayed in Grand Central Terminal. The rocket was so tall that the ceiling had to be adjusted to accommodate it. The boys learned that the decorative acorns that appear throughout the building refer to the Vanderbilts, who constructed the building. On their way out, they stopped in the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Foyer at 42nd Street and learned about her role in preserving the building.
Mr. Clavel led the boys toward the East River. On their way to the United Nations, they stopped by the Ford Foundation building, which stretches between 42nd and 43rd streets. The boys were amazed by the atrium garden inside, consisting of full-sized trees, greenery, and a perfectly square pond.
When they arrived at the United Nations, the boys and their teachers were greeted by Chunlin T., a father of one of the boys, before beginning their tours. The tour guides were pleased to learn that the boys were well-prepared and knew the history of the United Nations. As they made their way through the Security Council Chamber, the Economic and Social Council Chamber, and the Trusteeship Council Chamber, they discussed some of the thirty Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, established seventy years ago in an attempt to prevent another Holocaust. The boys understood how the articles complement the three main goals of the United Nations: peace and security, development, and human rights. They talked about what it means to have the right to life and why it is important to ensure that people are protected from torture and slavery. When discussing the freedom of movement, the boys learned that more than ten million people in the world have no nationality, making it impossible for them to move freely between nations. They also learned that on average, refugees live in camps for seventeen years.
Some boys had the chance to speak with an architect who oversaw renovations of the buildings in New York. He spoke to the challenges of reinforcing the structure of the building, which hangs over the FDR Drive. Other boys learned that Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace, delivered her speech in Trusteeship Council Chamber. All of the boys were excited to see the General Assembly Hall. They learned how the annual General Debate sets the agenda for the year and can last from two to three weeks. The boys also were intrigued to learn about the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, which are set to be achieved by 2030. When discussing the fourth goal of quality education, they learned about UNICEF’s school in a box, which includes neutral materials, such as paper without red margins so that children can write left to right, right to left, or up and down.
The boys had a wonderful time visiting the United Nations and exploring the surrounding neighborhood. Special thanks to Chunlin T., Mr. Brady, Mr. Clavel, Mrs. Cunningham, and to all of the parent chaperones.