New York | DPI
Mr Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, recently spoke to 7th and 8th grade students at the United Nations International School’s Queens campus as part of DPI’s outreach efforts to bring the UN closer to students in their schools, known as UN4U.
Created by the Department six years ago as a UN Day activity aimed at educating NYC public high school students about the UN’s work, UN4U sent UN officials to speak at more than 60 schools throughout the city’s five boroughs each year. The programme has evolved to span the entire school year and now reaches middle- and high-school student in both public and private schools.
This year, UN officials travelled to schools throughout NYC and outlying suburbs, as well as to the neighbouring states of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. To better fit teacher requests and the curriculum, speakers focused on their areas of expertise, with topics ranging from general presentations about the Organization to such varied issues as food security, reproductive health, economic development, climate change, and the Middle East. UN4U speakers often address students in languages other than English, including French, Spanish, Chinese and Italian.
“UNIS Queens reminds me of my childhood school at the French Lycée in Vienna with its international environment. Now at the United Nations, I get the chance to meet people from around the globe and we work together to make a better world,“ Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal said during his UN4U talk to the group of 11 to 13-year-olds. The students listened with rapt attention and enthusiastically asked him questions about his job and the Organization. They also shared their own views of the United Nations, including on peace and diversity.
In addition to speaking to the students, Mr Launsky-Tieffenthal, who is Chair of the Board of Trustees of UNIS, met a number of administrators and parents, and toured the school, visiting students and teachers in their classrooms. The UNIS Queens campus, which moved to its present site in Jamaica Estates in 1983, has a student body of 185 representing more than 30 different nationalities.
UN4U concluded on a high note this year with the Under-Secretary General’s visit to UNIS Queens. Many teachers, students and administrators have expressed their appreciation for the UN’s efforts to reach out to schools. Plans are already under way for the 2014-2015 school year.