U.N. Across America Visits Charleston,
June 28 - 30, 2009
Connie Milstein, the Chairman of The Humpty Dumpty Institute, often says that the purpose of these trips is to familiarize the Ambassadors with different parts of the United States they might not normally have the opportunity to visit during their tenure in the U.N. Diplomatic Corps. The fact is that the Charleston opened up their homes and hearts and welcomed the U.N. Delegation with great enthusiasm. The President of HDI, Ralph Cwerman, accompanied the group on this journey. Upon the arrival of the Delegation, prominent Charlestonians, James and Julie Swink, hosted a reception in their magnificent colonial home overlooking the sparkling waters of Charleston Harbor. A local historian briefed the Ambassadors on the colorful and significant history played by Charleston in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Leading civic and business leaders attended the reception and greeted the U.N. Delegation.
Following dinner at the Charleston Harbor, the Delegation was invited to board the Romanian Tall Ship “Mircea”. With its 130 member crew, it was among the biggest ships in Charleston for the city’s annual international Regatta. The Permanent Representative of Romania and the rest of the Delegation were treated as special guests for an evening tour of the mighty ship. The following morning the Delegation traveled slightly south of Charleston to visit the world renowned Clemson Coastal Research and Education Center, where a group of agricultural specialists have been attempting to bring back from near extinction rare seeds and grains that grew exclusively in South Carolina more than 200 years ago. The group toured a special farm growing these crops where a local university professor explained to the Ambassadors the importance of rice to the economy of Charleston. The group’s next stop was St. Helena’s Island, a beautiful undeveloped island 90 minutes south of Charleston and home of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. This unique group with their own distinct history, language and culture are the ancestors of the Gola, Angolan, Gidzi and Kissee people of West Africa who were brought to the New World and sold into slavery. The Ambassadors spent the afternoon with the representative of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and heard their unique and incredible story of preservation and development.
The group returned to Charleston for a special meal at one of the city’s finest restaurants, McCrady’s, whose executive chef, Sean Brock, explained to the Delegation the significance of each of the foods he had specially prepared using locally organic foods. The last day in Charleston started with a conference organized by Jennet Alterman, Executive Director of the Center for Women (click here for story). Jennet brought together a number of South Carolinian State Legislators and heads of women advocacy groups to meet with the U.N. Delegation and to discuss the challenges facing the women of South Carolina and to hear about similar challenges facing the women of Romania, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan and Africa. Ambassador Filip described the underrepresentation of women in Parliaments around the world. A detailed discussion followed enlightening all participants. Following the conference, the Delegation had a fabulous lunch at one of Charleston’s most beloved dining institutions and the focus of much attention on the Food Network—the Hominy Grill. After a lunch of shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, roasted oysters and barbecued chicken, the Delegation headed right back to New York and U.N. Headquarters.
This U.N. Across America program is among The Humpty Dumpty Institute's most popular activities. We have now taken more than 100 Ambassadors to nearly 20 cities across the country.