Last week, Eric Carlson shared how he created global connections with his students through a Pan-African student delegation and participation in Model UN. Impassioned by their experience, his students wanted to see the real thing. A trip abroad was out of reach, but his students ended up working tirelessly to raise the funding to travel to the United Nations in New York City a year later. From trying new cuisines at Jamaican and Indian restaurants to seeing foreign diplomats at work, read how a trip to New York City truly transformed Eric’s students.
This summer, I took a group of students to visit New York City for four days and nights, with hardly a moment of downtime. Our lodgings at Hosteling International New York proved to be a critical component of our immersion into the internationalism of New York, as students enjoyed spontaneous conversations with world travelers happening at all hours of the day. Meals were also a valuable part of the multicultural agenda, as our students sampled new cuisines for the first time at Jamaican, Indian, Venezuelan and Halal restaurants scattered across the neighborhoods of Manhattan and beyond.
As far as my students are concerned, it was easy to judge the profound impact of the trip by the looks on their faces as they bit into their first cannoli, caught glimpses of foreign diplomats at work, and gazed up at the lights in Times Square.
To enhance our geo-education experience, we also spent much of our time immersed in museums, participating in walking tours, and visiting other places of interest. At the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, students gained a deeper understanding of a tragedy that connected to complex global issues. During our fascinating trip to the Tenement Museum and our riveting walking tour of the Lower East Side, students came to understand the push and pull factors that led Italian, Jewish, Chinese, and other immigrant groups to make New York their home since the city’s founding.
One of the trip’s most unforgettable moments was our visit to the Statue of Liberty, where my students, most of them first- or second-generation Americans themselves, were able to gaze upon this nation’s most iconic symbol up-close and imagine how countless newcomers before them might have felt to behold that same image in another age.
The crown jewel of this internationally-focused trip, however, was our visit to international territory (no passport required) at the United Nations headquarters. After attending numerous Model United Nations conferences throughout the school year, students were absolutely giddy over the fact that they were sitting in the same rooms where some of the most significant global initiatives of the past 70 years were decided upon.
Without a doubt, our adventure in New York was one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences I have had as an educator. As far as my students are concerned, it was easy to judge the profound impact of the trip by the looks on their faces as they bit into their first cannoli, caught glimpses of foreign diplomats at work, and gazed up at the lights in Times Square. One of my dreams for the future remains to bring students abroad, but in the meantime I am more than satisfied with our domestic adventures in one of the world’s most international cities.
This post was written by Eric Carlson, a high school teacher at the Beijing National Day School in Beijing, China. Before moving to Beijing this past August, Eric was teaching Human Geography, Global Issues, and United States History at Kelly High School in Chicago, Illinois. He is also part of the Geo-Educator Community Steering Committee.
The Geo-Educator Community is a community for educators committed to teaching about our world. To learn more and join, visit www.geo-education.org.