Thanksgiving in the Big Apple!

Thanksgiving in the Big Apple!

With the Thanksgiving holiday, I found myself with some time off work and ready to put that free time to use. I wasn't going to be able to fly back home, but luckily my roommate Guneev was nice enough to invite me up to New York City with him! I got to stay with his family in Queens, and from there I was able to explore the city. It was my first time in NYC, and I wanted to see it all.

 

Lady Liberty and Ellis Island

One of the main things I was looking forward to seeing was, of course, the Statue of Liberty. It's the iconic New York landmark, they symbol of America for so many people. I just had to see it for myself. My roommate and I took the ferry from Manhattan to Liberty Island, sitting on the top deck. We watched Lady Liberty get closer and closer until we were pulled up along side her. It was unbelievable to see the Statue not on a TV or movie screen, but up close and personal in real life. On the boat it seemed big but not as big as I had imagined. I didn't realize how massive it was until I was on the island actually walking around the base. THEN I got a sense of the sheer size of the Statue of Liberty.  I can only imagine how immigrants felt when they first approached New York by ship and saw it rise up from the horizon. It must have been a sense of awe and relief, knowing that they had finally arrived at the "golden door" of Emma Lazarus' "The New Colossus".

 

 

After visiting the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, it was only fitting that the next stop was Ellis Island. This was where immigrants would first arrive after crossing the Atlantic, and where they would be processed for entry into the country. Millions of people have passed through this building, so it was pretty breath-taking to actually walk through the same halls that those originals DREAMers did. One of the coolest parts was the main hall where immigrants were actually processed. There they had four stations set up showing the arrival documentation of different immigrants, and then it stated that those new arrivals are the relatives of some of the National Parks Department Rangers that work at Liberty Island today. That was amazing to see, and it was the perfect example to show that we truly are a nation of immigrants.

 

Ellis Island Immigrant Station

 

The United Nations

Another big landmark I had to see was the United Nations headquarters. New York is the seat of the UN, and it's been the host to so many influential world leaders over the years. I had to go see this global stage for myself. The first cool thing about the UN is that it is a set of buildings on a space that, for a couple of blocks, is technically international territory. That means that while I was on site, I wasn't legally in the United States, but rather in a space that's sort of partially owned by the U.S. and the other 193 member states. It speaks to the vibe of the headquarters, which is that this truly is a space for all countries and peoples to come together. The goal of the United Nations, from its very conception, has been to end war by fostering dialogue and cooperation among diverse groups. This was something that was in my mind as I toured the main building.

 

The flags of the world flank the UN headquarters!

 

Our tour guide was from Switzerland, and as we walked through the halls we passed other tour guides, security guards, and UN employees speaking multiple languages and of varied nationalities. It was a neat transition from Ellis Island. That diversity among the staff was a good sign that the UN's mission does have real value. We explored the various chambers of the United Nation's councils, and learned about the work their various agencies like UNICEF and the World Health Organization. It was really neat to be in rooms like the one where the Security Council meets. So many important decisions have been made there that have affected the world, from the international efforts to place sanctions on Iran to the UN authorization for military intervention in Libya. Finally, at the end of our tour we got to see the General Assembly. This is literally where the world comes together.

 

The General Assembly, with the main podium under the three seats at the front.

 

My trip to New York was a lot of fun, but also a lot more thought-provoking than I imagined it would be. I'm glad to have finally visited the city and seen the big sights. I left with a greater appreciation for the big role NYC has in the imagery of America.

 

Until next time,

 

Barrett

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