A College-Style Field Trip: My IR Class’ Trip to the UN

By Seline Jung, Social Media Editor
@selinejung

Last week I went on the first field trip I’ve been on since I was in high school. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the United Nations in New York with some of my classmates from my “Diplomatic Practice” class. The trip was entirely funded by the International Relations department at BU and was sponsored and chaperoned by our professor Husain Haqqani, himself a diplomat just until two years ago.

Haqqani, who served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. for three years from 2008 to 2011, has arranged for the trip to happen every year he’s taught the class since 2004. When I asked him why the trip was important to him and what he always wishes most for students to take away from it, Haqqani said that IR can be studied in the classroom but only understood in the real world. “I expect my students to understand the value of multilateral diplomacy through the UN as well as to know the complexity of the diplomatic world,” he added.

We left campus at 7:30 in the morning and arrived at the UN four and a half hours later for a general tour. Afterwards we split into four groups to visit different permanent missions: Britain, Pakistan, France and Egypt. All of us got to meet real diplomats and UN representatives in their personal workspaces.

I was in the group that visited the Pakistani mission, where we were warmly welcomed by the staff and briefed by two counsellors, one of whom was the primary negotiator for Pakistan on climate change. We then got to meet Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Masood Khan, who shook all of our hands and gave us words of wisdom to become “global citizens” and of course to keep Pakistan in mind when some of us become involved in the foreign service in the future.

This trip was incredibly valuable for me in several different ways. First, since I was part of the organizing team, I learned about responsibility as well as reaching out to missions and embassies, which I had to do. I also had never been to the UN before, so this was brand new and exciting for me. I also came to understand the value of learning outside of the classroom, which I think professors should try more. Everyone who went on the trip unanimously agreed that it was worth the day trip to New York, even though we were tight on time. Getting to actually see things can be so much more valuable than sitting at a desk talking about it in a classroom.

Below are photos from the day:

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