Week 1: BYU students take on New York City

BYU Global Diplomacy and Journalism students meet and tour with Jewish leaders in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York City, New York. (Isaac Leonard)

By Brendan Armstrong, Megan Brugger and Savannah Leavitt

NEW YORK – BYU students on the Global Diplomacy and Journalism Study Abroad explored issues of religion, immigration and humanitarian work during their first week in New York

On June 30, the BYU group visited Crown Heights, Brooklyn. This neighborhood is the headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which is one of the largest Jewish movements. Rabbis Yoni Katz and Mayer Friedman opened their homes and hearts to BYU students, sharing with them Jewish Hasidic religious and cultural customs. Student Rico Puri said that such intercultural experiences give us a “greater chance … to develop friendship and understanding with others.”

Later that day, in an effort to better understand the city, the students went on a “NYC Scavenger Hunt” scattered throughout Manhattan. From Lower Manhattan all the way to the Upper West and East Sides, students gained a new perspective of life in NYC.

As part of the study abroad, students attended a variety of briefings covering topics from foreign affairs to journalistic strategy. Students entered the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations, met with Ryan Koch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints NY International and Public Affairs Office and attended a Q&A with Colum Lynch of the Foreign Policy magazine. It was a busy, yet exciting and inspirational day.

BYU students split up on Saturday to take on both the Tenement Museum and Ellis Island to better understand NYC’s history with immigration. On the former tour, students toured apartments that once belonged to an Italian family of four in the 1930s and others toured apartments belonging to Puertorican and Jewish families. For the latter, students witnessed the historic Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Museum. 

“It was cool to see our church mentioned within the topic of immigration,” said journalism student Kamree Laursen – given that pioneers of the Church were associated with expanding West.

The final two full days in NYC were jam packed with briefings, including one from Felipe Quiepo from UN Global Communications and another from Julie Hansen from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Those briefings were tied together when students attended a guided tour of the United Nations chambers and saw where diplomacy and negotiation truly interact.

The last briefings included hearing from Michael Slackman, New York Times’ International Editor, and Revered Dr. Nate Walker, a First Amendment and human rights educator. 

“Michael Slackman was very interesting and inspiring. He was so passionate about what he was doing,” said political science student Mary Harris.

BYU students meet with Reverend Dr. Nate Walker, a First Amendment and human rights educator. (Isaac Leonard)

BYU students meet with Reverend Dr. Nate Walker, a First Amendment and human rights educator. (Isaac Leonard)

As week one in New York City comes to an end, students eagerly await the long journey to Rome, where they will attend more briefings and learn about topics regarding international relations.

Categories: New York, Study Abroad Themes

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