Interact Club travels to the United Nations

Kaleigh Hamm and Daniel Shevchenko



November 2, 2018—a cloudy autumn day, it seemed, no different from any other. School was in session, classes were running (mostly) as planned, and a football game concluded the night as on any other scheduled Friday.

And yet, there was a difference. Given away by the absence of several dozen students from the student body, perhaps, or by the silence where shouts of “VIERNES” should have been emanating from the Spanish classroom, a landmark achievement for the Interact Club had taken place on this at first glance ordinary day. The student organization, which is in its ninth year of existence, took its first major collective venture outside of Wyoming Valley—or Pennsylvania, for that matter—to the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945, months after World War II, as an effort of promoting peace, stability, and worldwide improvement after the most taxing conflict the planet had ever seen. Owing in part to its vast reach in world politics—it is composed of dozens of intergovernmental agencies and committees scattered across the globe—the United Nations has headquarters in four prominent cities, two of which are in Europe; out of these four, by far the largest and most well-known is the office on the eastern shore of Manhattan in New York City. It is to this hugely important (and famously vertical) island that the students of the Interact Club ventured at the month’s beginning.

At the start of their trip, the visitors to America’s largest city took part in a half-hour-long guided tour of the main structure of the United Nations office—the Secretariat building. Murals and mosaics gleamed on the orderly walls, each depicting its own unique take on world peace and stability. A wide variety of figurines and statuettes of elements of international cultures drew attention to themselves in their glass display cases, with notable ones including a display of miniature nuclear weapons in one room and a figure of a Buddhist temple (shown below) in another. Full-sized statues were also on show, primarily on the outdoor premises of the headquarters, with Non-Violence and Sphere Within Sphere (both below) being arguably the most famous of these.

In addition to these displays of art within and around the Secretariat building, students also visited several conference rooms of the United Nations itself. These included the chamber of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (pictured below) and, more remarkably, the chamber of the United Nations General Assembly—the main (and arguably most famous) branch of the organization. It was, indeed, a one-of-a-kind opportunity to be able to visit such highly important workplaces.

Alicia Pacheco
The chamber of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

Following the tour of the United Nations, the members of the Interact Club visited nearby Bryant Park in order to indulge in souvenir and food shopping at the Bank of America Winter Village. The Winter Village, initially formed in 2002, is an annual gathering of over 100 vendors in an open-air market in the heart of New York City. Here, edibles and objects of all kinds are sold in booths which are each dedicated to a specific type of product, ranging from ornate and multicolored sketchbooks to Asian tea to French macaroons (the latter of which many of the visitors purchased in tasteful bulk). It was here that the students spent several hours enjoying the unusually warm November day by observing with great interest the many relics on sale, or else by enjoying a meal from one of the stalls.

After spending over three hours in the Winter Village, the visitors parted with the city, heading back to Pennsylvania. Some members of the club expressed a desire to stay longer, while others proceeded to consume the remains of their food with little comment. However, the excursion was, by general consensus, a success—and a new experience for returning and first-year club members alike. It is the hope of the Interact Club to be able to organize another field trip during the 2019-2020 school year; until then, the club has a variety of activities planned for students to enjoy and participate in throughout the school year.