OP/ED

PSC 256 visits the United Nations

Tori Russel

Chief Copy Editor

On November 13, Amalia Honick’s PSC 256 United Nations class went to New York City to visit UN Headquarters and the US Mission. We started our day bright and early at 6:30am (luckily we had Dunkin’ Donuts to keep us going!) By 10:30, we arrived in New York and began our day. Due to the way our schedule worked, we had a couple hours to kill in Rockefeller Center before going about our trip, so we were lucky enough to watch the star being placed on the Rockefeller Center Tree!
By noontime, we arrived at one of the UN’s office buildings to meet with Karina Gerlach, who is the Senior Officer for the Department of Political Affairs. She is also the proud mom of a Goucher alumnus! When we visited her office, she talked about the Sustainable Development Goals, which are going to be enacted after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) run their course in 2015. Gerlach explained that the MDGs were written on the top floor of the UN Headquarters without any real help from the countries that would benefit it. She hopes that with the Sustainable Development Goals, that it becomes much more of a collaborative effort vs. the wealthier, more powerful countries telling the developed countries what they need to work on.
Our next stop was the UN Mission, where Joshua Black, USUN Sanctions and Counterterrorism Unit at U.S. Mission to the United Nations, briefed us as well as a group from George Mason University, about the work that both the US and the UN in general has been doing with counterterrorism efforts, including ISIS. Maggie Burns ’17 said, “the briefing was very informative. He spoke in a way that was easy to understand, as he did not use unnecessary jargon. The audience was really engaged in the discussion and I learned a lot of information about the ISIS conflict that I was unaware of prior to the briefing.” Black outlined the efforts, but really broke down each component of what the US was doing in a way that was very straightforward.
Our last stop of the day was the UN Headquarters itself. There, we went on a tour with two international guides. We first got to see the many gifts that the UN has received from member nations, including a large part of the Berlin Wall. Next, we got to go inside the Economic and Social Council. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations was talking about the protection of religious minorities worldwide in their meeting. Next, we got to go to the Trusteeship Council room. Though the Trusteeship Council is one of the main organs of the UN, it is not currently being used. Instead, they use the room for other general assembly meetings. That day, they were planning the International Conference on Financing for Development which is going to be held in July of 2015. The last room we entered was the Security Council. They were not currently in session, so we were able to take pictures and observe the space. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. We saw a few other pieces, such as the hats the peacekeepers wear during their missions before we headed to the gift shop and then headed back to campus.
It was a fabulous trip overall. Erin Snyder ’17 said, “ it was a great opportunity to get out of the Goucher bubble for the day and it gave me an in-depth look into a field that I one day hope to work in! I also enjoyed both our briefings. I’m excited to learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals that were mentioned and to see what the UN does in coming years.” Burns also added that, “The trip confirmed for me why I am studying International Relations!”

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