The night of December 14th 2016 I got a message from a girl named Darya all the way from Moscow, Russia. She represented an organization called RAETA, which stands for Russian-American Educational Tours Association. She told me that they saw my blog and my YouTube channel, and that they'd love to have me attend their 2-day briefing with the UN experts at the headquarters building in New York City. Normally the participants have to pay a fee, but I was invited for free because they believed that I, being very much into politics, could make their discussion more interesting by asking the right questions. Oh boy. I was insanely honored and humbled, and needless to say, surprised. However, with another trip coming up and myself being a stereotypically broke college student, I knew this was way outside of my budget.
After talking to my parents and finding out that going to New York anyway was one of the few things my divorced mom and dad agreed on, I decided to give crowdfunding a try. I made a video on my channel and subtly asked my subscribers to donate. And, unbelievably, in two weeks, the $700 goal was fulfilled by a group of people I have never met.
It was my first time in the Big Apple and I instantly found out that A. With all the beautiful diversity and creative energy surrounding the city, I'd love to live there someday. And B: Subway might be the best thing humans have ever built. I stayed in three places, to get a real feel of it: Upper West Side, Hell's Kitchen and Midwood, Brooklyn. (Upper West Side stole my heart)
The UN Headquarters left me peacefully speechless and hopeful: different accents, languages, clothing styles - all united to help make this quite messed up world a better place. It was stunning and heartwarming.
Our speakers-lecturers were very sweet people too. So, this whole 2-day event was like a series of lectures and discussions on various important topics with UN experts holding high positions and a private tour of the Headquarters. A lot of the things we heard were tagged "off the record" right as a discussion would start. So I respectfully can't share much of that information on here. But in short, we covered all these things, with a focus on Russia + U.S. relations: Israel vs Palestine and the Middle East Crisis, Human Trafficking, ISIS and Counter-Terrorism, the UN Security Council and, my personal favorite, Climate Change. I also asked the experts a couple questions that started with "So, if Donald Trump is going to..." And if you're wondering: yes, the UN has got our backs.
Overall, this beautiful experience not only made me fall in love with New York (which is, let's be real, inevitable), but also let me participate in engaging and meaningful discussions with department leaders and see the inside of one of the most largest, powerful, noble and successful organizations in the world. If I get invited again, I won't think twice.
Today at the UN Headquarters I looked so professional I got a UN employee's discount at the cafe.— Stacy Yurishcheva (@stacyfromrussia) January 6, 2017