Sunday, June 24, 2012

United Cohorts

I honestly have to say; today was probably one of the best days of the trip thus far. Not only were we able to sleep in, but our schedule wasn't as jammed pack as usual with only two events planned for the day--one being a trip to the United Nations and the other a dinner with our Yale alumni.  

In the spirit of our "relaxed" day, we chose to start of the morning by eating breakfast at a nearby dinner, rather than quickly picking something up from the subway station like we usually do. After breakfast, we were off to our next stop--the United Nations building in New York City. Speaking off bus stops, ended up taking the bus instead of taking our usual subway ride. While the bus itself wasn't really spectacular, the view from the windows were! Not only was I able get a better look and feel of the city, but it helped give me a few ideas of some other places I would like to visit before the end of the trip. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the UN building were unable to get a tour, so we were restricted to only the main floor as well as the gift shop downstairs. That't not to say, however, that that UN didn't have plenty of thing to keep us entertained-- in fact, it was quite the opposite. 

One of the exhibits they had on display were the cultural artworks from various indigenous people. The art came in the forms of painting, weapons, wood carvings and many other mediums that traced their roots from places from all over the world including Australia, Europe, and various tribe from multiple African countries. I found the art to be gorgeous and seeing it collected all in once place just shows that the United Nations is not only a center of peace and progress, but also a cultural melting pot where many different backgrounds are both represented and admired. 

Another exhibit was the live performance of a traditional Scottish dance group. The dancers, who were all amazingly talented, continuously danced in a section of the Visitors' Lobby, whilst people enjoyed the show.  

Better yet, not everyone in the group was of noticeable Scottish descent; there were African American and Asian dancers as well. Though I may just be over thinking the situation, I think that it shows just how important both diversity and the appreciation of different cultures really are. 

Their final exhibit was, in my opinion, the most impacting one. It topic was that of a major issue that is currently affecting millions of people--the number slowly increasing trend of refugees and country displacement. Presented by the United Nations Refugee Agency--or the UNCHR--the exhibit was created to help raise awareness about this issue and to celebrate World Refugee Day, which was the 20th of this month. Every year, millions of people are forced to leave their homes and refuge with horrible living conditions. Reason for their need to flee tend to vary--they can range from internal conflict, to war, to even natural disasters--but the main issue is the same. The exhibit showed everything from why and where this was happening, to many country's initial neglect of this issue, to success stories of refugees being able to regain their citizenship and return to their home country. I think that this illustrates the UN's mission to improve the quality of living for all around the world, as well as their effort to advocate these issues. After we left the UN we returned to the hotel and began to get ready for our dinner with the Yale alumni.  

Our Yale alumni included Tana Fridland, Yohanna Pepa, Angela Ning, and Beatrice Ma. During the dinner, I mainly talked with Beatrice Ma about her time at Yale, the ILC, and what my own school is like. 

After dinner, we returned to the hotel for what will be the final time--tomorrow we move into our dorms in Columbia! 

However, before we head off to Columbia there's still one thing I have to do, and that is review all of the colleges we've visited. 

First is UPenn. What I love about UPenn are it's student policies and the extent to which they try to ensure their students' time in college is as great as possible. UPenn seem like a very encouraging environment with plenty of resources and a wonderful staff. The only thing that I wasn't a big fan of was the amount of students. Personally, while I think I get along with people well enough a college of over 10,000 students is just not for me.  

Next is Sarah Lawrence. First I would like to say that I absolutely love it's campus as well as it's student policies--this school really seems to understand the financial and social situations a prospective student may be in as well as how to academically support that student when they arrive on campus. What I'm not too in love with is Sarah Lawrence's curriculum. While I think the idea of concentrations may be a great method of learning for other student, I would personally prefer a more structured curriculum to help guide me.

Now time for Vassar. With yet another beautiful campus and a student body that is not too big or not too small. I also really enjoy it's curriculum--it's has some required classes to keep you a well rounded student, but it also allows students enough freedom to also take courses that relate to their majors. 

Finally, let's talk about Yale. Like Vassar, I also love it's curriculum. In addition, I also think that Yale's populace is nice size for me. 

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