On August 31, Team WBS journeyed from their homes in Southern Connecticut and into the heart of Manhattan. Yet upon arriving at their destination, they were astonished to find that they were no longer in New York City. Or New York. Or even the United States. The BookSavers had arrived at the United Nations.
The United Nations may physically appear to be in Manhattan, but in actuality, it is considered to be a combined territory of all the 193 countries in the UN, so it is 1/193 American, and 1/9650 New York. Most of the BookSavers had never been out of the US until our visit to the UN. Instead, we had used Emily Dickinson’s mode of transportation to learn about and understand different countries and cultures: books!
THERE is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
As we were guided on a tour through the UN, we were able to see artwork from many different countries, and many different mediums of art and expression. Every picture, painting and statue had a significance and story, and represented a clear idea.
We were led through beautiful, ornate chambers where we could see the areas countries use to convene and confer. Our tour guide was from Brazil, and there were many different nationalities of people in our tour group.
Something that definitely stimulated our interest would be the programs and aid that was sent to the same countries we donate books to. We receive firsthand accounts of the deprivation of our book recipients via our partners who deliver our books and supplies. Seeing the political standpoint of the poverty also helps us to understand more about those we donate to. We learned about the ways that the UN tries to combat poverty and hunger, and we also were introduced to the UN’s answer to education: school in a box. One box costs about $200 dollars, and is comprised of: one very large metal box with a built in blackboard on the inside, chalk and an eraser, notebooks, pencils, and toys/sports equipment. In the video about school in a box, school in a box seemed rather impressive. However, when we saw what one looks like in real life, we were somewhat confused- there were notebooks, but no regular books. Hmmmm.
At the end of our tour, we stopped by the gift shop, where we saw something incredible etched into the wall- it was a quote spoken by Malala, which reads: “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.”
Upon seeing this quote, we knew that this would be our quote of the year, and now we have copies of this wisdom hanging in our houses.
Additionally, we purchased I am Malala by Malala from the gift shop, and that became the next book we read.
Overall, our trip to the UN was exciting, enlightening, and empowering. We have acquired a wealth of knowledge about global affairs and other countries, we found our quote and another book to read, and we have been inspired to see if there is any way we can assist Malala in her efforts to educate every girl and have all children be eligible for education.