A huge part of my current gig involves going to conferences and events to spread the word and help grow the organization I run. Many of those conferences take place in NY, and many of those that take place in NY are in the tourist-infested, high priced, low value drabby hotels in Midtown (usually Times Square). Beige hallways, no windows, $8 coffee.
This past week I had the opportunity to attend the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation forum in the UN’s General Assembly. I’ve seen the space on CSPAN and in pictures, but I wasn’t prepared for how majestic it was in person.
It was a day with another enormous (March) snowstorm in NYC, and between trudging through my commute and going through the TSA-like security to get into the building, I wasn’t all that excited to be there when I arrived. That quickly changed.
After a quick stop in the bathroom full of UNIS students to change from the golashes-wearing wet rat that I was when I arrived to a more appropriate skirt suit and heels, I started walking through the halls. They were filled with beautiful artwork and mosaics of world leaders and symbols of peace. It took me awhile to get through.
And then came the General Assembly. The room was enormous, with mics at every seat that diplomats over the decades have used. At the center was a familiar podium where Ban Ki-Moon has spoken as recently as last week. And it was filling with (mostly) women who had come to discuss how to create opportunity for young women and girls — both in the States and globally. This was my jam.
It was an inspiring day of speakers and discussions, made more powerful from being in the building — and the actual room — where real change has been sparked. Definitely worth trudging through the snow. And I feel a little bit more like a real New Yorker having seen inside.
Although I did get a kick out of the outside as well — particularly the UN’s well known globe, that was much more covered in snow on the way out than it was when it greeted me earlier that morning.