The Daughters of Charity NGO Office encourages and facilitates learning opportunities for students at the United Nations. Their experience is that the learning is always two ways, as students bring so much. Carol Palacios interned with them for the spring term. Sister Catherine Predergast, D.C., believes that her experience can best be described in her own words.
My time at the UN has been an eye opening, inspiring, and life changing experience. When you’re surrounded with world leaders, ambassadors, NGOs, and others trying to make an impact in the world, it gets a little overwhelming. It also sparks a newfound passion for helping others.
As I learned about situations such as climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and many more, I knew this was a career I wanted to pursue. You see, my entire academic career has been geared towards occupational therapy. But after interning at the UN, I’ve had a sudden change in heart. I know helping underdeveloped countries such as Honduras, my parents’ birthplace, is something I would not only be passionate about, but also an area in which I could make a difference. This is why I know I want to pursue practicing occupational therapy in developing countries. I feel as if it would be more rewarding, and helping others less fortunate than myself will fulfill my desire to contribute to the world.
One specific issue that impacted me the most was climate change. When people speak about climate change they usually refer to our depleting ozone layer. However, as someone who was actually present at the signing of the historic climate-change agreement, I know this issue profoundly. There is more to it than just the “ozone layer.” We as the human race continue to be a part of the reason the earth’s temperature is rising consistently. The UN reiterates the fact that it is our fault, and because of our carelessness, Mother Earth is dying. It also emphasizes the idea that individuals can make a difference by engaging in small things, such as recycling, walking more, and eating organically.
I also learned that NGOs encourage presentations by grass-roots people, who give real faces to the victims of ISIS, of trafficking, rape, racism, and all the other topics people are too afraid to talk about. With this strategy, the audience may connect with the victims and bring even more awareness to what is going on in the world. For young people like myself, it sparks an undying desire to find out more. This has developed into a habit of looking up news from countries like North Korea, China, Russia, Honduras, and others.
During my stay at the United Nations I hoped to gain several things. To begin with, I wanted to strengthen my communication, decision-making, and planning skills. The United Nations is a place where leaders around the world come together to speak about key issues. Here it’s vital for you to speak to others based on your research and opinions. I spoke to many people of stature, power, and diversity. This strengthened my ability and confidence in approaching others and expressing my ideas.
The internship placement at the United Nations is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and anyone who has the chance should definitely take it. It prepares you for the professional world in that you must always be dressed in business attire, present a badge to be allowed on the premises, and conduct yourself in an appropriate manner. It also allows you to interact with individuals with stature and power. More than anything, it allows you to network with these individuals for future partnership when you become a professional.
There is much room for personal development in this internship experience and the opportunities are endless. It will not only develop an individual but also inspire others. It inspired me in such a way that I picked my career path—it affirmed that I knew I wanted to help people; I wanted to help people with fewer opportunities than myself. That is why I would recommend this placement to anyone looking for an internship. This placement is so diverse, that it appeals to students of various fields of study, no matter which career path they want to follow.