The Sunday School senior class and their families visited the United Nations on April 17, 2014 as part of their Peace and Justice curriculum. Attendees included students,Devon Wallman and her brother Jacob Wallman, Miles Jack, Olias Bendian and his parents Silvia Acosta and Greg Bendian, Sascha Kaplan and her mother Roberta Lieberman, teachers Ben Bland Annabella Stevenson and Aimee Kass, and Sunday School Director Sabine Salandy. Members from the Riverdale and Westchester Societies joined the Bergen Society senior class on the UN mini tour that was coordinated by AEU Communications Director Emily Newman.
The group began their visit to the UN with a conversation. National Ethical Service (NES) representative Martha Gallahue, presided over a history of the United Nations and the role of NGOs within the prestigious world organization. The NES is an arm of the Ethical Culture Society and one of over 5,200 NGOs or Non-Governmental Organizations that are associated with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). DPI Director, who introduced himself only by his first name Phillipe, spoke about NGOs role in publicizing global issues such as peace and security, human rights, and economic development. Also interesting to note is that DPI has a number of programs focused on youth engagement.
After the introductory meeting, the group was processed at security and then walked through the halls of the United Nations Plaza where throngs of people representing various countries were making their way to different meetings. The Ethical Society members ended up in a large auditorium where the topic of “Towards Preventing Genocide” was being discussed by the NGO Meaningful World. The symposium began with the film “Until The River Runs Red”, a documentary that gave eyewitness account of the story of the 1915 Ottoman Turkish Genocide of Armenians.
After the movie, the group was led on a mini-tour that included a stop into a room that was a fraction of the size of the General Assembly but resembled its design to encourage open dialogue. Emily Newman spoke of how all meetings and conferences are translated into Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, and English. Even nonparticipating attendees can avail themselves of translators with ear monitors attached to their seats. The mini-tour continued to the cafeteria where the group had lunch and discussion.
Silvia Acosta a teacher at the Bergen Society Sunday School said she found the tour informative and would like to learn more about the UN.