Several Lebanon Trail High School students participated in the United Nations Global Engagement Summit via a virtual field trip this past week. Students had the opportunity to engage, learn and contribute in breakout sessions with several dignitaries.
Usually, the event is held at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, but due to the pandemic,it was held virtually, and that opened up the opportunity to attend this unique event that covers the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
“While the pandemic has created challenges, it has also created opportunities for students to engage in their learning on a global scale,” said Lebanon Trail World Languages department chair Kimberly Church. “Understanding global challenges and collaborating on solutions is part of the curriculum in World Languages, as well as a cross-curricular translatable skill, and the students were eager to engage and learn in this unique opportunity.
“I'm always inspired by students who take their learning beyond the classroom and apply it to activate their potential. These risk-takers are gaining skills that transcend academia and will serve them (and our planet) for their entire lives.”
Lebanon Trail students participated in several discussions with U.N. leaders including U.N. Director of Advocacy and Humanitarian Affairs Micah Spangler, educator and TIME Top 100 CNN Hero Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, President of Institute for Humane Education Zoe Weil, National Geographic Education Fellow Andrew Brennen and several more.
Students also had the opportunity to go on U.N. virtual “field visits” to Kenya and Venezuela.
Riley Williams, a junior at Lebanon Trail, was listening to the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and typing her questions in the chat while her family stood in disbelief behind her that she was actually interacting with dignitaries.
When she joined the U.N. Population Fund’s Venezuela field visit and saw an opportunity to engage with the Coordinator of Humanitarian Response Rafael Cuestas, she seized the opportunity to use her Spanish, even if she knew it was not perfect.
“I thought about how my teacher has emphasized the importance of communication and how people are just happy when you try to speak their language, so I asked my question,” Williams said. “Sr. Cuestas told me it was a great question and explained that it is something that they are actively working on.
“I was really proud of myself for using my Spanish to work on solutions with U.N. leaders.”
Meanwhile, Lebanon Trail sophomore Eliana Eastmond engaged on the topic of sustainable development goals at the Global Engagement Summit with Chairman Gregory Meeks, Congressman for New York’s 5th Congressional District, and Major General Hugh Van Roosen, Deputy Military Adviser.
“My experience was extremely informational and gave me a new outlook on the different innovations I could do if I believed in myself,” Eastmond said. “The lasting thoughts of the Global Engagement Summit are that there is so much an individual could do if only we didn't underestimate ourselves and the power we hold in social media.
“I've gained a new perspective on this world and the sentiments I feel passionate about.”
Congratulations to all of these students for taking advantage of an opportunity to travel across the world from the comfort of their computer while digging deeper into their studies.