The UNIS New York Exchange: Interactions Cross Cultures


Everyone wants to visit places that they’ve never been to, whether it is the Big Apple (also known as New York City) or the dynamic and unique city of Hanoi. These two places share a special commonality… they each are home to the only two United Nations International Schools in the world! Hence, the opportunity of exchange that the schools provide is a way that we can can glimpse into the two different worlds. The experience that blends the two unique cultures together allows the selected group of exchange students to get a sense of the different schools and the communities within. This trip allows visiting students to stay with the host students and enables them to get a real live-at-home experience, to spend time on each campus and to tour and see what Hanoi or New York has to offer as a city. For the NY students, time quickly passes at local Vietnamese restaurants, or experiencing the mountains and scenery of Sa Pa. The UNIS Hanoi exchange trip supervisor, Mr. Baha, had a few interesting points about the trip and how it is a meaningful experience:

“What does the annual trip provide for the students in the UNIS community?”

This trip is a great opportunity to build connections with our sister school in New York, which is the only other UNIS school in the world. It also allows our students, most of whom have never been to New York (or even the USA) before to be exposed to a new culture and new experiences. It’s also an opportunity for the UNIS Hanoi students to visit the UN Headquarters and see the center of global diplomacy in action.

“How do you think building bridges/relations between the two schools improves the community for those experiencing it?”

“One of the best things about the exchange are the friendships, which are created between UNIS NY and UNIS Hanoi students. These friendships continue long after the trip is over. Several students who attended the 2015 exchange continue to write snail mail letters to each other and stay in touch. This is the direct result of the friendship created during the exchange, so this is great to see.

The NY students participate in several service learning programs when they come, attend service trips, go to Sapa, and, for the past couple of years, participate in the UNIS Spring Fair. It’s great to be able to include them in these activities that are a large part of our UNIS community here in Vietnam.

On a lighter note, it’s also interesting to see students compare campuses during their visits. The NY students are often very impressed by our campus and its facilities whereas the Hanoi students are interested in the UNIS NY campus’s city location and the delicious offerings in their canteen! Our campus is about 15 years old and the UNIS NY campus is about 50 years old so there are definitely some interesting differences.”

The UNIS Exchange guys had a fun time in the concrete jungle of New York City over the Spring Break!