New York 2024 - Primo-Levi-Gymnasium

New York 2024 - Blog

Thursday, 7 March 2024 (Berlin- Amsterdam - New York)

After weeks and weeks of preparation and excitement, the moment we had eagerly awaited finally arrived:

Thursday morning, wearing the blue group hoodies, everyone met up at the BER airport despite the S-Bahn striking. Having successfully received our boarding passes and checked in our luggage, the group headed toward the still empty security check, which quickly filled up. Mistaking an apple for a bomb and a group member for a Klimakleber, the security staff finally set us free into the airport.

We realised the flight‘s delay, but still sat happily in the sun of the large airport windows and discussed what a spontaneous stay in Amsterdam would look like, if we weren’t to make our next flight. Luckily, everything did go as planned, and a couple of hours later we did get to sprint through the Amsterdam airport.

Especially Mrs. Kurth had to run to get to a secondary security check for a group member. Fortunately, there were and are, in fact, no terrorists among us.

Twice as large as our first plane, the flight, which would take us to New York City, took off with a delay (again…)! During our flight, meals were devoured, last-minute prep for the conference was assembled, our internet presence was promoted and from those with little hope to get more of that, some last hours of sleep were snatched.

This paid off after our landing when we had to wait for another two hours to get our entry to the United States approved. At least we did not have another interrogation for our Secondary-Security-Screening-Selection group member here.

At 6 am in the morning for us (and midnight local time) we got to have our first real New York experience: taking the subway!

The time difference made us even happier to finally crawl in the awaiting hotel beds, were everyone got to snuggle up in their warm duvets except for one of us who had to survive without it the first night.

(LR and ZK)

Friday, 8 March NHSMUN

To get the day started, Ms Dompert and five of us went jogging in Central Park, which was already sunny and wonderful. Although it was early in the morning, people were playing volleyball and ice skating.

After that, around 10 am, the whole group gathered to buy breakfast at the supermarket and stores. We bought, as expected, incredibly expensive sandwiches, bagels with hummus, coffee, and water to enjoy in a pavilion in Central Park. However, there were birds perched on it, and they pooped on some of us.

Then we had some individual time with one group going to Target and a public library in Times Square and the other going to the Met stairs and a bookshop on the Upper West Side.

After attending a workshop on NHSMUN procedure with the entire delegation at 2 pm, we split up into two groups to visit interesting workshops on speechcraft and drafting resolutions to be better prepared for the conference. We got to hear one of our delegates tell us about a bad grade in a cheerful tone and another declare their love with anger.

During the break, most of us returned to Target to get food and look at Times Square.

The conference officially began with the opening ceremony at 6 pm. Aside from the large crowd, the drumming and dancing performance by the Brooklyn United Marching Band was mesmerizing, as was the guest speaker, Rainn Wilson.

At 7 pm some of us had dinner at a Mexican food truck, which was comparatively affordable, with a taco costing $4, a burrito or quesadillas costing $10, while others got falafel at the next corner.

Our first late-night session started at 9 pm. We deliberated until 11 pm which of the two planned themes we wanted to address for the remainder of the conference and expressed our viewpoints on these topics.

After waiting what felt like hours to get on the elevators due to one elevator out of three being out of order, we finally made it back to our rooms in time for curfew at 11:59

(JY and KN)

Saturday, 9 March 2024: One day in the footsteps of a diplomat

On the second day of NHSMUN here in NYC, some of us attended an interesting talk with Renata Koch Alvarenga, founder and diector of the NGO EmpoderaClima, where she told the audience about her way from gaining MUN experience to founding her own organization. The second talk was with five people who work for the US Department of State. They shared valuable information on their work and answered many of the audience's questions. Being so close to experts on how to work for the UN, we took our chance and many of our group asked more questions long after the official part of the talk had been over.

Then it was up to us again. In two long committee sessions, multiple important steps were taken in the direction of creating MUN Resolutions in all seven committees our Serbian delegation is attending. The topic of our comittee, the Disarmament and International Security Comittee (DISEC), is "The role of social media in fueling conflicts". Hence it is unsurprising, that we delivered a speech dealing with education as a possible solution. Following this idea, our bloc of allied countries, including Russia, China and other countries from their influence zone as well as ourselves, Serbia, introduced an operative clause that promotes media literacy and critical thinking through education, in our working paper. With collective diplomatic efforts our bloc members convinced enough countries to sponsor our working paper, so it could become a draft resolution. After countless moderated and unmoderated caucusus, the chairs finally yielded the floor again to the delegation of Serbia. So we used the chance to deliver a second speech on a clause of an opposing working paper. Like true diplomatic relations in the UN also tensions and disagreements must be addressed in open dialogue, which is why we used this opportunity to point out our concern about a highly vague clause, calling for the establishment of a task force supervising shared information on social media.

Since nobody would survive a whole day of debate without food, we used the two hour break to eat lunch. Luckily, we were actually able to find fruits! Although the supermarkets of New York are heavily dominated by sweets and unhealthy snacks, we found a suitable box containing grapes, kiwis, oranges and pineapple. Strengthened and full of vitamin C, we headed back to the conference with the goal in mind to enforce Serbia's policy on the topic at hand. Sadly enough, no more direct participation in debate was possible because with more than 117 delegations the DISEC chairs aimed at similar speaking times for every delegation during moderated caucusus.

All in all the second day of NHSMUN was a very successful event of hard work. Despite the tiring committee sessions, we did not only enjoy our time in New York but also the constant dialouge with people from all around the world. Thus we are glad to have the honor to stay here. Thanks.

(PL and BN)

Sunday, 10 March 2024: Last day of debates

On our last day of debate, we woke up quite early for a Sunday. The motivation was high since today's sessions were all about amendments and voting on resolutions. The debates became once more heated when discussing which amendments would be suitable to submit. However, we were satisfied to find proper compromises. We went out for lunch, took a nap and enjoyed our free time before returning for our last committee session. Voting was in order, and happily, most of our resolutions passed. Some of the committees had some time left and discussed the 2nd topic very briefly. After three enriching conference days, we were all quite sad when the "motion to close debate" came.

After the last session, we delegates finally had the opportunity to see each other again. We decided a group activity was perfect for some much-needed catching up. So, we all came together to enjoy a few slices of pizza in the heart of NYC. After all, what would a visit to NYC be without its typical New York-style extra-large slices?

While eating and chatting about our day, the room soon turned quiet. The Oscars were on. With excitement, many of us watched and celebrated loudly as our favourite Hollywood stars received awards. Some others were struggling to recognize anyone shown onscreen.

The day came to an end with the much-awaited delegate dance. Here, we all had time to show off our social skills, pretty outfits and dance moves. And while the music wasn't to everybody's taste, the location, one of the ballrooms at the Hilton Hotel, didn't fail to impress. Chandeliers, decorated walls, colourful lights - as much as one would expect from a castle! It's safe to say that all of us will remember this vibrant night.

(GV and LE)

Monday, 11 March 2024

Monday morning in Manhattan, the beginning of a new week in this incredible city, we started our packed day by taking a stroll across the street to Starbucks, in which we ordered some wraps, muffins and a cup of coffee whilst enjoying how the people of the city that never sleeps started to fill the streets. Then, we made our way to the Closing Ceremony of the National High School MUN Conference we have been attending. After hearing over 50 committee speeches on several topics, it was time for the awards. Sadly, our delegation did not receive any. Due to this poor turnout, Ms. Kurth and Ms. Dompert decided to cheer up the group when they gave us our certificates of participation together with some of the fanciest doughnuts New York had ever seen. Yum!

We were all very excited. Why? After the conference had ended, we were about to explore this unique city in more detail. We walked down to the UN Headquarters located at the East River, and having passed the security check and turned in our UN flag for the time at the UN Headquarters, we took a guided tour through the real United Nations. We were thrilled! After seeing the Human Rights Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals, we were allowed to pass through a session hosted by the Convention on the Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women in the actual ECOSOC room. This experience was only topped just minutes later by the highly emotional visit to the General Assembly Hall. Our guide was very kind and gave us some time in there. When everyone had taken their pictures, we explored the tremendously expensive gift shop.

Following our visit to the United Nations Headquarters, we went to Grand Central Station and looked for the locations from the movie “Madagascar”. After we had found them, some of us took more photos and had something for lunch.

Visiting the Museum of Modern Art, MOMA, located just across the street from our hotel, was another highlight for all the people interested in arts. Even though we didn’t have as much time till the museum closed, we managed to investigate Monet’s water lilies and Van Gogh’s midnight dream, to name but two masterworks. It was pure excitement!

We met at the hotel in the evening and went to the Rockefeller Center. There, we ascended to the Top of the Rock and were mesmerized by the illuminated skyline. We had a lot of fun taking photos and watching the light show atop the Empire State Building. Our euphoria reached its peak when a stranger jumped into our group picture. Safe and sound back on ground level, we returned to our hotel. A day illuminated by laughter and surprises became night with the darkness of sleep.

XOXO Gossip Girl!

(PH and JD)

Tuesday, 12 March 2024: Exploring Manhattan - Walking tour through NYC

With the NHSMUN conference officially closed and the flight back to Berlin scheduled for Wednesday, our group used this day to explore as much of the heart of the city that never sleeps as possible - and, spoiler, we were successful!

Meeting up at ca. 9:30am in the hotel lobby, our first stop on the itinerary was Chelsea Market, where some enjoyed “Very fresh noodles” (also the name of the place itself) or strolled through vintage shops in search of souvenir posters or handmade earrings.

Then we walked on part of the iconic High Line, a former railroad track suspended above the city. We had a great view from up there and detected a beautiful piece of architecture we discovered to be Little Island, a park built on concrete “tulips” above the Hudson river. Spontaneously, we decided to visit it and had a great view of the Manhattan skyline and enjoyed the afternoon sun.

On our way to the Staten Island Ferry we visited the 9/11 memorial park, taking the time to pay respect to the lives lost and remembering the tragic events this city, and people beyond, have suffered. Continuing our journey, we passed by Wall Street and the Charging Bull. Then we finally boarded the ferry, already slightly exhausted yet excited for the cruise past the majestic Statue of Liberty.

Upon return, we made our way to Chinatown and found some reinforcement in the form of genuinely delicious ice cream. At this point, our group split up: Five students and Ms. Dompert rounded off the day with the award-winning musical “Hamilton” in Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. Amazed with the performance, they will definitely remember it as an unforgettable experience and are grateful to have been given the opportunity to go!

The others took the subway back to the hotel for some longed-for relaxation after almost ten hours of spending the day outside. Then they headed out to eat dinner, some enjoying Japanese cuisine at Wagamama, others deciding to go American with burgers.

Thank you for this incredible adventure!
Until next time, Manhattan.

(MadM and MH)

Wednesday, 13 March and Thursday, 14 March 2024: Heading home: New York => Amsterdam => Berlin

While listening to "Empire State of Mind" on our headphones, we had to bid farewell to New York City with heavy hearts. However, the last day or two brought us a final dose of laughter, chaos, and countless good memories to cherish.

On Wednesday morning, some of us started our day quite early by heading off jogging and saying goodbye to Central Park. Despite encountering huge crowds of dogs a couple of times, we enjoyed the beauty of the park, with its nature, animals, lakes, and iconic monuments shining in the morning sun. Fortunately, New York dogs are friendly and cute, so it wasn't a problem. After the jog, we all went to get breakfast. Some people bought smoothies and coffee, while others had the last bagels from their provisions. Back at the hotel, we all gathered our belongings, searched for the key cards we had misplaced, and finally struggled with the cramped elevators to reach the storage room for our baggage. Over the last two hours before our departure, we had a great time at Times Square and the surroundings of our hotel. Some bought souvenirs and candy, and some admired beautiful ball gowns. However, our remaining time was not as peaceful as we had hoped: One of us lost their passport, causing a brief but chaotic panic, but luckily, they found it after five long minutes of search.

We also found out that the security personnel at the Berlin airport were on strike, which meant our flight from Amsterdam to Berlin could be in danger. We were worried about splitting the group due to insufficient hotel rooms or taking an eight-hour train ride from Amsterdam to Berlin. Despite all the worries, we made our way to the subway to Jamaica station. During the ride, we passed through the suburbs of Queens, and we were surprised at its small and ordinary houses compared to the towering skyscrapers in Manhattan. Upon arriving at the airport terminal, we discovered that checking in via our phones did not work, so we had to go to the counter meant for travels to the Dominican Republic. After some confusion and laughter over each other's passport photos, we finally managed to check in and continued to the security check, where we had to wait in line for almost an hour. Thankfully, we got through the security check without any significant trouble. The security personnel even allowed us to use the small body scanner to speed things up.
We all felt quite hungry at that point, so we decided to check out the food court at the airport. Shortly after eating, it was time to head to our gate. As we had a convenience store next to our gate, we took advantage of our last opportunity to stock up on food, souvenirs, and US magazines. To make the most of the remaining time, we studied for our upcoming exams on Friday, taught each other yoga poses, and did some stretching to reminisce about our first flight. Once we were finally in our seats and took off, we had the chance to see the beautiful night city lights of the East Coast of the US, which made us even sadder to leave than we already were. We spent the first few hours of the flight studying and watching movies until it was time for dinner. Considering the long travelling time, most people tried to sleep at some point, which some had more success managing than others. Shortly before landing, everyone was encouraged to wake up for breakfast. However, most of us were not hungry since back in New York, it was only 3 am.
In Amsterdam, everyone had already prepared to run across the airport to catch our flight to Berlin. To our surprise, the flight to Berlin was neither cancelled nor delayed; even better, the arrival and departure gates had changed, making it only an eight-minute walk. However, we were shocked to realize we had left our camera on the plane, which held all our videos and photos. We tried to track it down, yet at the time of writing this article, none of us know anything about its location nor whether someone took it to lost and found in Amsterdam or if it took the flight back to Atlanta and is now heading off to see the world. Despite this, the flight back went well, and to our delight, our luggage was there as soon as we entered the baggage reclaim area! Before everyone went home, we got together once more to say goodbye.
And with that, our thrilling journey came to an end. We thank everyone involved in making this experience possible, from our magnificent teachers who kept our chaotic group at bay to all fourteen lively and motivated students who truly made this a journey to remember for a lifetime!

(KS and CH)