If it was not easy for me to mentally prepare to be back in the United States after nine months of living in Spain, my ten students must have been going absolutely bonkers with excitement. Many of them would be experiencing the U.S. for the first time by visiting New York City. From May 15th to May 21st I had the great honor of accompanying ten students, two teachers, and one other Fulbrighter, Thirii, to New York City for the Global Model United Nations conference. As we waited in Barajas for our flight to N.Y.C., the anticipation in the air was palpable. The flight felt as though it would never end, we simply could not wait any longer. Once we arrived and boarded the bus that would take us to the hotel, the kids began playing a game in which everything was somehow better because it was from New York–the taxis, police cars, buses were all better.
I was happy to see that from the get go, the kids got along super well. Once we arrived at the Grand Hyatt, Thirii and I went into conference logistics mode and the rest of the group went to visit their New York buddy school and the N.Y. neighborhood of SoHo. Thirii and I would be part of the logistics committee for the duration of the conference and so would be rather busy. We met a lot of wonderful people from all over the world who volunteered to make the conference successful.
The day after we arrived, the opening ceremony took place at the United Nations General Assembly. This was a surreal experience for all of us; to be in the same room where countless world leaders have addressed the assembly was amazing. Over one thousand students and conference participants from around the world gathered inside the hall allowing one to truly experience the universality of the United Nations and this wonderful “Global Classrooms” program. During the day on Friday and Saturday, the students were busy giving speeches and writing resolutions; Thirii and I were working behind the scenes, making sure that the conference ran smoothly. During the evenings, we had the opportunity to tour New York. We visited Times Square, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Empire State Building, 5th Avenue, and many more places.
After the closing ceremony on Saturday evening, the student-participants enjoyed a night of dancing at the hotel. On Sunday, we went on a boat tour and enjoyed a view of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge; the only unfortunate part of the tour was that it was cold and rainy. Later in the day, we went to Ground Zero and then spent the rest of the day shopping. The next morning we met up with a Spanish Fulbrighter studying in New York who took us to Central Park. We spent the few remaining hours shopping. By the time we arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport we were all exhausted, the whirlwind of a trip was over. I am so happy that the students enjoyed New York and long to return; what a joy it was for me to experience N.Y. with them. This was definitely one of the highlights of my Fulbright year.