STUDENT EXPERIENCES: Fordham students internship experiences at the UN
Here's some impressions students shared after they have had the opportunity to intern within the UN and/or NGOs because of their involvement with Impact Initiative, attending UN briefings etc.
Amanda Angri, B.A. Middle East Studies and Impact Initiative Student Coordinator
As student coordinator of Fordham University's Impact Initiative, the Impact Initiative has opened a lot of doors for me. This Fordham student group created under the Office for International Services, has made for me, along with others involved, aware of the MDGs and many United Nations opportunities such as conferences, events, internships, and serving on committees at the UN. Firstly, I was grateful to be interviewed and chosen to serve on the Student Advisory Panel for the Second Annual Youth Pre-Conference, in preparation for the 63rd annual United Nations DPI/NGO Conference in Melbourne, Australia, with the theme of Global Health. Through this panel, I was involved in many things. I researched speakers for the preconference, contributed to the welcome letter and mission statement, gave creative input concerning our website, and helped arrange the set-up of the conference. During the
pre-conference event I was a rappateur; writing down the main points of each of the guests who spoke that day-to be published on the conference website. This conference enhanced my management skills, social skills, and allowed me to network with my peers and speakers, such as ambassadors and leading youth in the community. Through this conference I met Salwa Kader, president of United Federation for Middle East Peace (USFMEP). As a result of this opportunity meeting, I later was selected to intern for this wonderful NGO. USFMEP is an NGO with consultative status with the United Nations. Through this internship, I go to various United Nations conferences, some with the focus on the Middle East. Being a Middle East Studies major, this internship really satisfies my interests. As I am in the process of interning with USFMEP, I hope to gain more United Nations and Middle Eastern knowledge. I also served on the Youth Advisory Council (as a result of being on the preconference youth board) assisting with the planning of an MDG Village Exhibition -8 booths designed by students in the US and Australia that was displayed in Melbourne during the UN DPI/NGO conference Aug 30- Sep 1, 2010. I await to see what other opportunities Impact Initiative brings to me, as I hope to reciprocally share some insight with those involved with Impact Initiative!
Radha Desai, B.A. Peace and Justice Studies
My upbringing in sub-Saharan Africa is why I am passionate about humanitarian affairs and my recent internship at the United Nations helped me realize my goals. The events leading up to my internship with UN DPI were a culmination of international and national internships, coursework centered on humanitarian issues at Fordham and other Universities and an amazing amount of support from other professionals in the field. These experiences, however, could have never prepared me for the grueling but inc
redible six month commitment at the U.N. Working with UN DPI was challenging and rewarding. Even after reading books and taking an entire course to understand the inner workings of the multilateral organization, being a part of its process is something you can’t prepare for. From the badges, to security clearances, to high level meetings and NGO briefings, every single thing has its own unique system. The chaos keeps you on your toes, so it never gets boring.
Aside from learning how to function within the organization, I had the opportunity to meet and work first hand with many of the department’s associated NGO’s at weekly briefings and talk with them about their work. The biggest impact this internship has had is opening up the possibility of working at the U.N. in the future. I was able to take the UN ASAT, a pre-requisite exam for working at the U.N. and now have access to vacancies within the organization at their headquarters and offices all around the world. My internship with the U.N. has had a profound impact on my professional goals and has also helped me hone my interests within the organization for future work.
Mengyuan (Candice) Ni, M.A. in Public Communication
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”-Mahatma Gandhi. It is at the NGO Relation Cluster of Department of Public Information (DPI) of the United Nations (UN) that I got to know what activists are like. They are ordinary people like you and me, but they also share some distinctive characteristics that you and I might not have. They are determined,
courageous and aspiring. They care about the poor, the old, the minority, the deprived, the coerced, and the tortured. I believe there is no other place in the world wherecan meet as many activists as in the UN, more specifically, the NGO Relation Cluster of DPI.
I am very grateful to the Fordham Impact Initiative because it offered me a valuable opportunity to work with versatile colleagues and dedicated NGO members at the UN. When I say colleagues, I mean not only the paid staffs there but other interns as well. Interns come from all over the world with diverse backgrounds. By working six months together, I developed strong friendship with most of them, and more importantly we learned each other’s culture. It is amazing to find out how similar or distinct youths in different countries could be. Friends like that are tremendous asset for anyone in a globalized age. Peers today could be the partners tomorrow.
The NGO Cluster is broken down into two offices. One office deals mainly with the weekly briefing and annual conference preparation; the other one, which is also known as the Resource Center welcomes NGO members across the world every day Monday through Friday. At the Resource Center, I was able to learn a lot from the NGOs by observing what they did, listening to their work/ life stories and helping them solve problems. I also worked with the other office in the weekly briefing. The briefing itself is a gorgeous venue to explore any topic you can think of under the UN agenda. Certainly, the most exciting moment was when Secretary General Ban Ki Moon came to our briefing and shook hands with us. The UN is an immense organization. Learning how to navigate oneself in it is not an easy job. I regard the internship as a great preparation for me to work with efficiency and patience in any sophisticated organization or corporation. The UN definitely bears little resemblance with the ivory tower, but the spirit of the NGOs could serve as a wonderful model for any youth who wants to make a change to strive and fight for the goal. Genuinely speaking, Fordham students are lucky to have such a platform provided by Impact Initiative to “be the change” and make the change.
Sandra Choi, B.A International Studies; Theology
I began my work with the (Academic) Impact Initiative when I learned of Fordham University's opportunity to work directly with the United Nations in support of the Millennium
Development Goals. Through the support of the organization, I was able to obtain an internship at the NGO Cluster at UN/DPI. I enjoyed being challenged by the assignments given and learning the personal stories of the activists and my colleagues. Other highlights included attending the UN DPI NGO conference on Disarmament in Mexico Citywhere I had the opportunity to meet Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The time spent at the UN allowed me to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the organization's operations as well as how civil society groups were carrying out their vital work around the world. In an increasingly globalized society, there are many in my generation who are actively seeking ways to support efforts which contribute to creating positive changes in the international community. (Academic) Impact Initiative is one of the mediums in which students and young adults can accomplish this.