The United Nations had an omnipresent air of diversity. There was a deep sense of pride, collaboration, and development. All parties maintained an obvious professionalism, but there was also a great feeling of appreciation and respect for all cultures that were represented. Even the physical space held a commanding presence with its walls. Rich in diversity, the United Nations is filled with rooms, hallways, and cultural artifacts that were gifts from a variety of countries. In the new wings, a room was designed by Arabic artists from the United Arab Emirates to reflect the geography of the desert. The carpet is a sand color paired with ripple patterns to reflect the wind blowing and the ceiling painted a light, sky-colored blue to reflect the cloudless, never ending sky. Another room donated by the Spanish government included a ceiling designed and modeled after the ocean floor with stalagmites and an array of colors created to display a different scene from every perspective in the room. The Spanish artist modeled this to remind delegates that different perspectives are valuable, beautiful, and worth sharing. The United Nations has helped me develop a larger perspective on how the world operates and what is required to truly make a global impact. It is this visionary-like perspectives that allow widespread change to occur.
Now for the hostel, which felt like being involved in a grassroots UN-project. Upon entering the hostel, you could feel a buzzing energy created by nearly twenty small conversations – guests checking into their rooms, travelers making plans on how to spend their time, teenagers getting the wifi passcode, and a variety of other background conversations. It was energizing and overwhelming at times. There was so much stimulation that demanded attention and to focus on one task was difficult. How exciting, messy, and inviting! I knew this would be an adventure to say the least. I arrive in my six-bed room and realize that four of the six beds are taken and mine would be the fifth. What happened that evening is something I could have never expected. Five people speaking in five different languages only knowing just enough of another language to translate for another person, who could then translate for another. For three hours, we had a rich dialogue about language, countries, politics, sports, dance, music, where we’ve traveled, why we were in Geneva, and where we were going after our stay. All of this happened in five languages! This may seem messy, overwhelming, time consuming, and possibly even painful. But to all of us, it was exciting, energizing, informative and just good fun. Geneva is filled with people from all over the world. In fact, my hostel held six floors of people from the North America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America – people were literally from half way around the world. It was the most diverse community of which I’ve ever been part. Humility, curiosity, dignity, respect, authenticity, and vulnerability helped cultivate this environment and it took all of us to embody those values for this experience to be what it was. I will forever be thankful to my new friends who helped reveal parts of myself that I had not yet discovered.
PS: Geneva is a cool city bustling with people, traffic, and ideas. I highly recommend visiting if you have the time, resources, and desire to go. It is well worth it!