Students Travel to U.N.; Discuss Student Relationships

The United Nations Building, located in New York City, was built in order to prevent World War III. It is a towering skyscraper filled with gifts from other nations, diplomats, dozens of meeting halls, security officers and a gift shop.

However, on April 13 the historic building housed a different type of guest from a foreign land, the International Students of Mercy College.

The International Students of Mercy College are students who come from across the globe, from Asian countries like Japan to less known wonders in Africa like Gabon, all of whom have come together to be educated in the United States.

In order to help the International students enjoy their time in the U.S., the school puts on certain events that they feel would be beneficial to those students.

This ranges from trips to the World Trade Center, some plays and other New York exclusive events.

This trip to the U.=N was no different as students were guided into the building past the security checkpoint. Once inside the tour guide lead the students through the building, passing gifts from countries like a miniature boat from Thailand and even a peace bell from Japan, the tour guide got into the details about the UN

“The UN is devoted to three goals. Peace and Security, Development, and Human Rights,” said the tour guide.

The UN was established in order to seek out and maintain a more peaceful world, with its halls filled with past and current peace missions.

One floor held an exhibit on the U.N.’s work during the Holocaust in Germany after WWII as the trials held in “The Hague” after the war. This part was one of several ways the U.N. dealt with the “Human Rights” aspect of their missions.

“The Hague, as you might be familiar with, is the location of the International Court of Justice. It exists to help settle disputes between members peacefully,” said the tour guide.

“It was also used to prosecute Nazi soldiers for their involvement with the Holocaust,” said the tour guide in front of images taken at one of the concentration camps after the war.

On another floor was the UN exhibit on the security council, a group that dealt with the “Peace and Security” aspect of the UN.

“The security council has five permanent members, U.S., France, the U.K., China, and Russia while ten others are elected routinely. While they have the power to vote on military intervention, sanctions and travel bans are used the most,” said a tour guide when asked about what the Security Council could do while waiting to enter one of the meeting rooms.

A chemical weapons attack occurred in Syria a few days before Mercy College went to the UN, with the Security Council actually holding a meeting as the tour was underway. This lead to one of the meeting rooms that would normally have been shown to be blocked off.

“Unfortunately, the Security Council is holding another meeting, so we can’t go in there right now,” said the tour guide after talking to security.

One of the most eye-opening aspects of the trip was when the tour guide stopped in front of a counter that had already past $2 billion. It was what the world spent on military upkeep and use, and it is reset every day.

“We are in the middle of the day and already we have crossed well over $2 billion in military spending around the globe. That’s money that could have gone to humanitarian aid,” said the tour guide.

Despite all the talks of chemical attacks, military spending, holocaust war crimes and a whole section dedicated to nuclear disarmament, the tour guide insisted that there is still hope.

“The UN has 193, with the Vatican and Palestine in observer roles. That’s nearly two hundred countries that want a more peaceful world,” said the tour guide.

“Furthermore, North Korea has shown a willingness to come to the table and talk with South Korea after being heavily sanctioned over the years. These methods do work. Sanctions do work,” said the tour guide during the section on nuclear disarmament.

The U.N. acts as a symbol of unity, it shows how a more peaceful world can be achieved through uniting people.

This trip is also symbolic of what Mercy College hopes to accomplish with its students, to unite them all. It’s a building that actively welcomes foreign nationals through its doors to promote unity, similar to the college with its international student program.

While the point of coming to another country gives visiting students the chance to interact with the locals and build meaningful connections, some students don’t take this opportunity. At least that’s what Moe Kushida, an international student and media major from Japan, had to say on the subject.

“International students only hang out with international students. We should have events that allow students to meet with local students,” said Kushida outside the U.N. building as she waited for the trip to begin.

Meeting new people can be difficult, which is why colleges usually hold events for incoming students at the beginning of the year so they get the chance to get comfortable before the year kicks in. Why such events weren’t being held so international students could have a chance to meet residential and commuter students was a complete mystery to Kushida. Even if the college did run this type of event, Kushida is not happy with how the college handles its own advertising.

“They need to advertise events more often,” said Kushida.

Kushida also noted that the school could help international students meet residential students through a simple yet effective means.

“I was grateful that I had a roommate this year who isn’t an international student. I really lucked out. A lot of international students don’t have a roommate from around the area,” said Kushida.

While some local students would kill for the chance to avoid a roommate, having students share a room allows for an exchange of cultures and experiences that can’t be achieved through classes. Its why most grad schools that partake in study abroad programs have students room with local students of the selected area on top of avoiding hotel expenses.

The international students visiting the UN from Mercy try to avoid doing events only international students do, which defeats the purpose of community that Mercy college tries to achieve, which is what Kushida liked about the college.

“I love Mercy college, my university is a big place, so I love the intimacy at this college. I like being able to talk to professors and for them to know my name,” said Kushida.

Kushida also admits that the college does a good job at picking locations most of the time.

“I think they make the most of the locations. I would love to see Wall Street. through, since it is the center of business. Unfortunately, they haven’t done any trips over there,” said Kushida.

Kushida wants to be able to see as much of the U.S. as she possibly can in order to expand her horizons, which is why she opts to take these trips planned by the school.

Safieh Elsolh, an international professor teaching Arabic at the college, also feels that these trips are good for the students.

“It’s a great opportunity, especially for students who might not normally be interested. International students might not normally have the time to go on their own.”