United Nations Visit Impresses St. John’s Delegation

By Gregory Bruhn, Director, Outbound Programs, Office of International Education

St. John's group of students posing for a photo at United Nations facility
March 14, 2024

St. John’s University’s global mission and spirit were on full display around the Queens, NY, campus the week of November 16, 2023, as students, faculty, administrators, and staff participated in a variety of events featuring international speakers, crash courses in foreign language, special activities, and a luncheon to celebrate “global stand-out” faculty and students from each of the University’s Schools and Colleges. It was a moment for our community to bring focus to the breadth and diversity of our academic, intellectual, and service commitments to global discourse.

One of the events that had special meaning for me was the visit to the United Nations in Manhattan, NY, sponsored by the University’s Office of Global Programs. Having worked at the UN as an interpreter for various initiatives and annual meetings, I was reminded of my own connections to the organization upon entering the UN Plaza, which felt at once majestic and familiar.

There, I was joined by a small, yet enthusiastic, cohort of our St. John’s domestic and international students and scholars, all representing different corners of the world and in different stages of their academic and professional careers within our University.

As someone passionate about international affairs, I eagerly embraced the opportunity provided by St. John’s University to visit the United Nations,” said Ose Imhansoloeva, an international graduate student in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.

Our group was treated to a guided tour, where we heard about the history of the United Nations and the current focus of its work under Secretary General António Guterres. We also viewed significant gifts and art installations within the grand halls of the headquarters, as well as paintings and sculptures promoting the UN ideals of peace and collaboration.

The grandeur of the headquarters, along with the immensity of the work undertaken by the UN, deepened our group’s familiarity with the history of the United Nations. As Ose noted, “I gained insights into the UN’s structure and the intricate dynamics of international diplomacy, and how countries collaborate to find common ground, negotiate agreements, and address global differences.”

Our St. John’s delegation also gained access to the inspiring General Assembly, which seats 193 international delegations. For Peter Shen, an international graduate student in The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, this was one of the highlights of the tour.

“I had only seen UN meetings on TV before. It’s really amazing!” he said. “This visit also reminded me that peace does not come easily and should never be settled by force if it can be negotiated.”  

Ose echoed that sentiment. “This experience left me inspired to play a more active role in addressing the world’s most pressing problems in my own capacity.”

Greg Bruhn selfie

For me, these halls have never lost their grandeur, and I feel privileged to have been involved  there as an interpreter for the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, and in the filming of Romuald Sciorra’s documentary series, Inside the Glass Building: Interviews with UN Secretaries-General. As an international educator, accompanying this fine assortment of young academics and being a part of the experience renewed my hope for St. John’s commitment to social justice and my faith in our future generations.