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Queens Chronicle

Queens celebrates UN’s roots in boro

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 2:26 pm | Updated: 1:44 pm, Thu Nov 3, 2011.

“You know bullying is against the rules.

So please don’t follow those cues.

Share some peace with others.

And they will share some with you.”

The words are from the pen of Sowad Karim, a 10-year-old fifth grader at PS 131 in Jamaica, written about a month ago in preparation for Monday’s celebration of the 66th anniversary of the United Nations on the steps of Queens Borough Hall.

Sowad was one of several hundred youngsters from area elementary schools who participated in the 90-minute event, which was presented by the Queens chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, a program of the United Nations Foundation.

From 1946 to 1950, the borough hosted the General Assembly of the newly formed UN at the New York City Building, erected to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Representing Borough President Helen Marshall, Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik explained to the youngsters that some of the most important decisions ever made were made right here in Queens County, including the creation of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“People come here from all over the world for a better life and freedom,” he said. “The United Nations is a very special organization.”

Students representing PS 99 in Kew Gardens opened the program by reciting informative lines about the goals of the UN. “It promotes human rights,” said one. “It settles disputes between nations,” explained another. “It sets goals to reduce poverty,” said a third.

Fifth and sixth graders from PS 117 in Jamaica came prepared with homemade flags representing their respective countries, proudly telling the audience when each nation was admitted to the U.N.

The Abigail Adams Children’s Chorus, featuring students of PS 131 under choral director Marisol Ponte-Greenberg, sang “Ode to Joy,” and followed it with their interpretation of “Don’t Laugh at Me,” a tolerance anti-bullying song.

The group will continue to spread its messages in a concert at Carnegie Hall on Dec. 2, in a program titled, “An American Christmas Carol.”

PS 101 in Forest Hills was next, presenting a group of students who sang and danced. The entertainment concluded with a full audience sing-along to “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

For John Tandana, president of UNA-USA, holding the annual event at Queens Borough Hall is appropriate.

“Queens is the UN,” he said. “You have everyone from all over the world. The U.N. is not perfect, but it is important because without it things would get worse. We are on the planet. This is our home. The role of the UN is so important.”

Grodenchik issued a proclamation on behalf of Marshall declaring the day as United Nations Day in Queens, and he challenged the children of Queens to make peace on earth.

The significance of the UN was not lost on the young people on hand.

Chloe Bogdashevsky, 10, a fifth grader at PS 101 and one of the performers, said, “We tried to express peace on earth in a song. I’m never nervous. I enjoyed it.”

One of the youngest in attendance, 8-year-old Julia Kaufman, a third grader at PS 101, explained what she was taught was the significance of a flag-raising ceremony.

“To celebrate equal rights,” she said.   

Welcome to the discussion.