First and foremost, I’d like to extend my sincerest appreciation to Captain Jim Settele, Peter Fandel, Professor Singleton, and all of SPIA. We the students could not have made it to where we are, without the continued support, assistance and encouragement that we receive from you all. Huge and relentless efforts are made by the captains of our SPIA ship, stirring its wheel, while navigating in the big and open seas of knowledge. You guide us towards a more successful future, marked by SPIA as a milestone. I want to also thank the students of SPIA. We proudly are the engine, the crew, and the driving force of this ship. Moreover, we truly are a family, as we care for each other and support one another. The amount of support I received from this crew; support that took many forms is enormous. They have given me a boost to start the experience ready, and up to the challenge. So thank you my dear SPIA family for being there for me at all times.
Now, on to New York, what a fascinating place, it is complex, diverse, challenging and beautiful, and even though I have only been here for almost two weeks, I have already learned so much. I decided to write this so that I do not forget the details of my first weeks. Only two weeks were enough for me to start writing the thoughts and experiences still fresh in my mind before I get overwhelmed again and forget most of it.
As I approach the beginning of my third week in New York, I have to pause to reflect on what has been an incredible experience in the city. It is a dynamic and cosmopolitan city in every sense of the word. Busy by day and busy at night, it is always in continuous movement. To borrow from Henry Ford in describing New York, “It is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, they just don’t know what the hell the rest of the United States is”. And though it is the most famous city in the United States, the “Big Apple” is a place where English-speaking people consist a minority. If you are walking down the street, entering a supermarket or a restaurant your ears are treated to a variety of different accents, dialects and languages. It feels different, not to say weird to some extent, to enter a restaurant and talk to the waiter for about a minute and finally replies “NO English“.
My internship is in the United Nations building 1&2, which is right next to the United Nations Secretariat; the main building, (the place where I thought, and what most people thought, I will be interning in, well, maybe next time, perhaps the next time will be as a staff!) I work in the Public Administration Capacity Branch (PACB), under the division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM), and in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). My branch’s main focus includes institutional reconstructing, and human resource development. It manages a variety of activities and events aimed at building public institutions and government’s capacity to promote sustainable development, advance public sector reform and improve service delivery. The division’s training and capacity-building activities promote citizen-oriented governance, based on a set of principles such as transparency, accountability, and civic participation. It also emphasizes innovative approaches to public management, out of which, emerges The United Nations Public Service Award, “the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service”, which is the big event that all the division will be working head over heals for, till the announcement of award winners in May.
My first two weeks in the United Nation accompanied a revolution in Ukraine. With the outcome of the “revolution” still unfolding, small demonstrations are taking place, in front of the UN secretariat, shouting “Russia (Putin) hands off Ukraine. This has given me an overwhelming feeling of integration and connectedness to this place. The U.N. ties together different nationalities, backgrounds, races, faiths and politics into the one knot here in New York.
My experience thus far has been nothing short of amazing; everything seems to almost be perfect. Although, I spent my entire first week waiting for the technician to come and set up my office computer and UN e-mail, it did not hold me back from asking for work, assignments and tasks. During my first week I have received various assignments to do on my laptop, and I feel very proud to say that my documents have been very helpful to my supervisor as well as the other interns who are working on the same project with me. By the end of my first week I have already evaluated my division’s online trainings, some of which were not already put on the website. I was able to give my thoughts, ideas, and suggestions, so as to make them user-friendly and accessible. I was also given access to the public administration nomination’s lists for countries participating in the UN Public Service Award “UNPSA”, I went through all the nominees’ profiles, checked the submission of the documents; analyzed them, organized them, and presented my final evaluation and assessment.
Also, during my first week, my two dear friends, and shining stars of SPIA, Mr. Theodore Wilhite and Mr. Pearce Erensel, jointly brought forth the kind regards of SPIA, accompanied by the precious advice from the Captain. Their visit brought the SPIA warmth to the Maine-like cold of New York, and we could not let that pass without documentation (picture attached).
As always, SPIA continues to set itself apart. I am reminded of this every time I talk to a supervisor or to the other staff members in the division. I am fortunate to have had the good fortune of the Public Service Seminar, as my business cards and the professional trainings of SPIA have truly been beneficial and helped me set myself apart here in New York.
To conclude, I am more than happy to reflect and share my experience with SPIA, and I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much I enjoyed writing it. There will be more to come in the next weeks or two. As for now, I will continue to live and love my experience. One last thing, I was in touch with the Algerian mission to the UN and I will be meeting with them by the end of this week. I spoke with the minister of the mission himself. He suggested we grab a coffee outside of the work environment “just to chat”, and welcomed me to visit the mission (which is couple of blocks away from my office). I look forward to the meeting, and I will of course keep you updated.