Working with the Women's Federation for World Peace, International as part of my internship program truly was a great experience. During my time there, I was able to witness their vision statement embodied in real life--women from various backgrounds all over the world working together realizing one global family. Cheesy as it may sound, this organization truly felt like a family. It might have been the modest, cozy office or the small number of staff, but I always felt welcome.
While the WFWPI UN New York office is relatively modest, it serves as an administrative office for WFWPI chapters across the globe. This means that they are supporting local chapters in their frontline projects. Therefore, my experience there was very much an international experience, even though the office is based in Bridgeport, CT.
One of the first tasks that I was assigned to was sorting and compiling information for WFWPI's Quadrennial Report to the UN. Chapters from every continent submitted their annual project report and we had to sort their activities according to UN MDGs and SDGs. While it may sound dull and tedious, I welcomed the task as it helped me see and appreciate the work our WFWPI members have done.
After that first assignment, I was tasked with helping the administrator, Christina Lange, and director, Alexa Ward, with various projects, two of which stood out to me. One due to its education virtue and the other due to a personal connection.
Towards the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to volunteer together with Christina for the United Nations Department of Public Information's (UN DPI) Intergenerational Dialogue, an NGO Conference held in New York City on August 1, 2017. We chose to volunteer to check people in for the event as part of the registration team. I was excited and honored to get this chance. This was my first time volunteering at the UN, and I must say, it was an eye-opening experience. I was able to hear people passionately share about issues they feel strongly about and who sincerely want change. Even the youngest audience member, an elementary school student, was able to share in the intergenerational dialogue. I could see how the UN is advocating for all generations to work together as a family, where every member has an equal voice.
Of all the projects that I was involved in, "Color My Heart with Peace," is the one closest to my heart. This is a project that was first initiated in WFWP Thailand by my late mother, Delia Capa Javanasundara, who was a former president of WFWP Thailand. Growing up, I attended various WFWP activities through my mother. Because of that, I always felt that WFWP activities had a motherly characteristic, and to me, "Color My Heart with Peace" has that same special feeling. The purpose of this project is to cultivate a culture of peace in the minds of young children, aged 4 to 10 years old, through art appreciation, and to commemorate the Universal Children's Day declared by the United Nations on the 20th of November. The idea here was to adapt the project plan and bring it to America.
As a daughter, I feel proud that I could continue a project that my mother started. Early this year, my mother passed away due to her second stroke. In this early stage of loss, I felt secured in some way by being able to follow in her footsteps. It was a blessing for me to have this connection to her through WFWP. I hope that I can see this project fully implemented.
Overall, I would like to say that I am glad to be part of this organization. This internship has truly been an educational and heart-warming time for me. I want to thank Mrs. Ward, Christina Lange and Sungmi Orr for welcoming me and helping me along this journey.
Sandy Javanasundara is a graduate student at the University of Bridgeport's College of Public and International Affairs. She will be graduating in 2018 with a degree in Global Development and Peace (M.A.) and hopes to work in the nonprofit sector.