United Nations Graduation Ceremony & Conclusion | Blog #5

My final week at GreenThumb involved the Youth Leadership Council Graduation ceremony at the United Nations. I had been working on projects related to the ceremony ever since the garden deliveries had ended and I was excited to see more of the United Nations outside the visitors center with NYC Parks and Recreation.

The day started early as all the GreenThumb staffed gathered at 46th Street and 1st Avenue at 8AM, across the street from the United Nations visitors center. We stationed employees all around the perimeter with signs directing youth volunteers and gardeners to the appropriate meeting spot. I distinctly recall being worried as part of the ceremony would take place in the United Nations Food Garden and it had been drizzling all morning.

The UN Food Garden.

Thankfully, the weather turned out in our favor as the skies cleared while Stina ushered us into the visitors center with our special event passes. We were led immediately to the UN Food Garden, which had only been started 2 years ago and already boasted of several full grown trees and raised beds. Mint and lavender bordered the entire green space as sunflowers reached way over our heads and squash and pumpkins aligned the pathway. While I was impressed by how quickly the UN Food Garden had taken hold, the location for the garden struck me as odd. It was situated on a large concrete balcony that had a satellite placed in the middle. This struck me as odd as the structure definitely obscured sunlight during certain times of the day.

The UN Panel.

Following the lunch came the panel discussion that I had been looking forward to. We walked into a huge conference room, the type you see on C-Span complete with microphones, ear pieces and digitized name tags, ready to discuss United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: Ending World Hunger. A group of panelists, ranging from UN officials to public health experts to youth and college YLC participants, engaged each other and the audience in conversation regarding the second of a set of seventeen international goals set by the United Nations. Each provided their own expertise and personal experience to a wide variety of social issues such as urban food distribution and urban agriculture.

The discussion was interesting, with a unique combination of professional and youth input. It was great to see how the high schooler’s involved in the Youth Leadership Council were passionate about urban agriculture, stemming from their participation in the GreenThumb community gardens.

The event ended after the discussion opened to the audience questions and comments in which more YLC participants and gardeners contributed to the panel. Wrapping up the event, I congratulated my co-worker, Zubeida, on a successful graduation ceremony with little to no hiccups. We did temporarily lose one high schooler but it turned out she had gone to the bathroom without an UN escort.

My last day at GreenThumb was that Friday, August 11th. I was surprised that my supervisors had organized a breakfast for us interns that were leaving the day before, and I had received a “Thank you” card signed by the entire office. Looking back on this experience, I realized how much I learned from working 9-5 everyday, things I would’ve never learned in a classroom. It has given me a better idea of what I like and dislike and given me a good taste of the work force.

As I conclude this last blog post, I want to give a shout out to the entire GreenThumb staff. Each and every one of them does amazing work for the city I grew up in  and it is people like them that make the city an even better place. This experience has only solidified my belief in the importance of organizations like GreenThumb for NYC communities. 

Yuxiao L.

Rising sophomore in the College of Literature, Science & Arts. Youth Leadership Council Intern at GreenThumb under the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.

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