My Experience as a Youth Ambassador for the United Nations: Sustainable Development

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The opportunity of a lifetime has officially begun. I have become The Culinary Institute of America’s Student Representative for the United Nations. The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization that maintains peace and security relations among nations. The United Nations recognizes certain organizations as Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) to support their efforts and disseminate information about its agendas. The Culinary Institute America is an NGO and we work to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals like quality education, zero hunger, sustainable jobs, etc. As a youth ambassador, I will be going down to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and sitting in on some of the NGO briefings and chat series. But first I had to get my Grounds Pass.

From Grand Central Station, I made the short walk towards UN headquarters. I could see the nations’ flags waving from a block away. When I arrived at the NGO resource center, I was buzzed up to retrieve my grounds pass. The emotions inside of me were a mix of excitement and anxiety. I knew there were so many important diplomats around me and I had to be the most professional I had ever been. As I was filling out my paperwork, the clerks behind the desk were so friendly and genuine. I could not help but laugh and smile. A weight was truly lifted off of my shoulders. I remembered we were all people, and we were all here for a reason. I shouldn’t be intimidated or afraid, I was supposed to be there! I took my ID picture with a great big smile and gleamed with excitement as I proudly swung my ground pass around my neck.

It was finally time. I walked back across the street and flashed my pass at the security guard, then through the metal detectors. I asked, “Do I have to do this every time?” Security answered with a chuckle “yeah.” I guess I wasn’t quite as cool as I thought. But that’s okay! I made it into the courtyard. The perimeter was lined with art pieces donated by various nations. Through the decorated doors I went, greeted by a statue of Nelson Mandela. I took a very necessary selfie, I never wanted to forget that feeling of elation. Just to the left was an advertisement for the exquisite dining options at the UN. I would definitely have to check that out. I continued to explore, there was no briefing scheduled for the day.

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My favorite part about the UN is all of the beautiful art that constantly flows through the building. There was an exhibit currently up relating to gender and women’s rights. The photography was breathtaking. There were photographs of women from all around the world. So diverse, so breathtakingly beautiful. The quotes that accompanied the images added to the bold message photos delivered. The women looked fearless, and I could feel every ounce of it. Later I came across an exhibit on peace. Paintings sprawled down an entire hallway from artists across the globe, sending the message of peace through their work.

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Much of what makes the UN unique is that many of the spaces have been given as gifts from other nations. The Security Council Chamber was a gift from Sweden. The Trustee Council Chamber was a gift from Denmark. These gifts symbolize peace and community from all over the world.

The hard workers at the UN, trying to solve world hunger and accomplish world peace, have to eat too! They had several dining options that really were quite interesting but made perfect sense. The options were all super health conscious and displayed variety. I even came across a crepe kiosk! They made crepes to order right in from of you with all the fixings. That was a pleasant surprise.

I ended my day in a very special room where people go for silence and relaxation. It had the fluffiest carpet I have ever stepped foot on and lounge chairs that could put anyone to sleep— in fact many people were! The chairs faced the floor-to-ceiling window that looked out over the river with high-rises in the background. It was a perfect view. I took it all in. I can’s wait until next time, when the real fun begins.

By Khori Eubanks

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