Friday morning began with our first ride on the Metro! We then had to walk a little ways to get to the UNESCO building in Paris. On our way, we came across a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
Yeah, we totally look like tourists.
But the view was pretty legit.
If you don't know anything about UNESCO, essentially it's like the UNICEF of the United Nations. UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. They work hard to promote peace across all continents and improve the world by implementing accessible education and preserving cultural places across the world.
Unfortunately, during the first half of our visit I was battling a stomach bug and was busy searching for the nearest restroom... I wasn't able to pay as much attention to the introduction as I would have liked, but I did gather that the organization uses educational tools, peace promoting tools, technology, and many other means to bring the world closer to peace and betterment.
The information hall at UNESCO in Paris demonstrating the many ways the organization works.
Some of the sculpting work on UNESCO grounds in Paris.
When we got to the lecture hall, we were introduced to several people who are currently working with UNESCO. Perhaps the most resonating piece of information we learned during our lecture session was that the United States has discontinued funding to UNESCO in the past year under President Obama. We were shown the following video from the Daily Show describing how ridiculous, selfish, unnecessary, and outright detrimental it is for the US to have cut off funding to UNESCO.
I encourage all readers to watch the video. This is only part one, but you'll get the gist. Something like $2 Billion is being denied by the US to UNESCO, which is already in the process of promoting education in small African countries and the like. Without such funding that makes up a large part (if not a majority) of the spending by UNESCO, these activities may have to be discontinued. I understand that we have plenty of issues on the home front that we need to take care of, I do. But I can't see how cutting this sort of funding is the ethical way to combat the deficit. I feel that this is yet another example of Obama and his regime... er, government... cutting the wrong costs and spending on the wrong things versus finding better, more efficient, ethical, and sustainable ways of reducing the deficit and improving our dwindling economy (i.e. reducing welfare dole-outs... hello, "freedom" is not the same thing as "free stuff"...). Think about it. If you had been a wealthy person all your life but had suddenly come upon hard times, are you going to discontinue your yearly donation to the Salvation Army, United Way, or weekly contribution to your church's offering plate? Or are you more likely to cut down on your own personal luxuries, like giving your kids $100 for shopping whenever they ask for it or eating out at fancy restaurants 4 times a week? I can only hope most of my friends and family would do the latter, making their own personal sacrifices but continuing to give whenever possible. So the Christian in me becomes evident.
Not to mention, the US retracting from activity does nothing to help the global economy. Getting out of the GLOBAL economic crisis is going to take GLOBAL effort. If the big players like Germany and the US step out of the ring, the gap between those with some measure of success and those dwindling on bankruptcy (like Spain and other European countries) is only going to become larger. I'm not saying the US doesn't need to look out for its own skin first, but by the same token it cannot afford to isolate itself....
In an effort to avoid becoming too much more political, I'm going to stop here on the discussion of America's discontinued involvement in UNESCO. Our visit was concluded with lunch, then we divided into groups for company visits or to be part of the "Street Team."
I was part of the Street Team, meaning I and 3 other group members were to approach Paris natives to ask them questions about how similar or different their daily lives are to our American lives. My group's topic was technology. We chose to concentrate mainly on internet use and cell phone service. Interestingly enough, their use of technology services are very similar to ours. While their service providers are different, their usage tends to be very similar, even across different demographics.
The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and getting ready for a day full of tourism to follow. A couple friends and I decided to visit Notre Dame in the evening.
In front of Notre Dame.
To all my Harry Potter fans, I found Rue Nicolas Flamel, who was actually a French apothecary/chemist. Duh, I had to take a picture. If you don't understand the connection, go read/watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone.