It made sense.
Phyllis Duvall Bailey recently gave $10,000 of her own money to take 10 metro Atlanta teens to New York to visit the United Nations. CONTRIBUTED
Even if you’ve heard of the United Nations, you may not know what it actually does, how it works, or why. You may not know even that the organization was founded after the Second World War or that its mission is to maintain international peace and promote social progress, better living standards and human rights.
Starting in 2015, Bailey, 82, set out to take her students to the U.N. in New York City, to give them a "Window Seat to the World" and thus transform them into global citizens.
LeKeisha Jackson, president of the Kappa Omega chapter, liked the idea. It fit perfectly with the mission of A.S.C.E.N.D., also known as Achievement, Self-Awareness, Communication, Engagement, Networking and Developmental Skills.
“We were 100% behind it,” Jackson said. “We saw it as a great opportunity to give our students national and international exposure.”
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Bailey saw the students as future leaders and was desperate to expose them to the United Nations, its mission, its agendas and its supporting organizations. The Window Seat to the World Initiative, a joint program of the United Nations Association of the United States of America and the Kappa Omega chapter, promised to do just that.
For the next four years, Bailey and Coulibaly sought funding from local business and civic organizations to help underwrite the cost of the trip. Southwest Airlines gave them a group rate for air travel, a private donor contributed $1,000 and Kappa Omega, among others, made donations, but it wasn’t enough.
Students Devin Etheridge, Quenyaun Payne and Joshua Fail pose for a photo with U.N. representative Tiffany Irene Coulibaly (second from left) in front of the Statue of Liberty. CONTRIBUTED
“Finally, one day I woke up and thought, I’m not getting where I want,” she told me recently.
Bailey decided to give $10,000 of her own money to pay for the late June trip, enough to take 10 students aged 14-17 on a four-night stay in New York.
“I was in complete awe,” Coulibaly said.
There, they had guided tours of the United Nations Headquarters and the New York City harbor. They dined on Indian to Peruvian cuisine, visited the 9/11 Memorial and on the final day participated in a spirited worship service at Salem United Methodist Church of Harlem.
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It was Quenyaun Payne’s first trip to the city and Taylor Sappington’s second.
Payne, 17, is a rising senior at McEachern High in Powder Springs. Sappington, 15, is a rising junior at Therrell High in Atlanta.
Both said their visit to the United Nations was inspiring.
“I liked how countries are not only working together, they’re focused on common goals like global warming and keeping the peace,” Sappington said.
Taylor Sappington, 15, was one of 10 students who recently participated in the Window Seat to the World Initiative, a joint program of the United Nations Association of the United States of America and the Kappa Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. CONTRIBUTED
Said Payne: “The trip was amazing. I’m so thankful Mrs. Bailey made it possible.”
Actually, there are a lot of people grateful for the retired teacher’s effort.
The United Nations Association of Atlanta recently gave Bailey its Humanitarian Award, the United Nations Association of the USA awarded her with the National Education Award, and members of the Kappa Omega chapter will recognize Bailey during their annual awards banquet this fall.
Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.
Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
And to kick off the establishment of the Phyllis Duvall Bailey Humanitarian Scholarship by the United Nations Association of Atlanta and Kappa Omega, the organizations gave her a $1,000 check.
To be clear, Bailey wasn’t looking for recognition or even gratitude.
Over those four days in New York, she’d already felt it, seen it in the eyes of those 10 teens, Payne and Sappington included, who made the trip.
“It has been a real joy to get to see and watch their reaction to new experiences,” she said.
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