UN New York: Internship pushed me out of my comfort zone
By Maryam Farooq
When I first began my internship at the Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI) UN Office in New York, I was not sure what to expect from the experience. I had done my research and was familiar with the purpose of the NGO, but I was not sure what kind of activities I would be able to assist with. I had just assumed that I would not be playing a major role in the team, since I was only a student with a limited skill set, but I was quickly proven wrong. I was so pleased to meet Mrs. Ward, Deputy Director, her staff members, and the other student interns who all welcomed me and allowed me to contribute to their team.
In one of my very first meetings with Mrs. Ward, she shared how this experience is not just an opportunity for their staff to have another intern, but also an opportunity for me to grow and learn. She made it very clear that I can share what my future goals are so that my tasks can help me explore my interests further. I was so surprised to hear this because many internships aren’t primarily concerned with the desires of the intern but instead on the needs of the organization. The very beginning of my internship started off with me sharing my interests, which allowed my internship to be tailored specifically to me.
What I am grateful about is the fact that my internship allowed me to learn from so many different people and institutions. Not only was WFWPI and their diverse group of members a wonderful place to learn, but their relationship to the UN only added to my experience. With a grounds pass to the UN, I was given the opportunity to attend certain events in and around the UN that many people may not have access to. Things like this not only increase your knowledge about the world but allows you to connect with and learn from people of all backgrounds. By attending events at the UN, such as the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, the founder of an NGO that provides many services in Afghanistan. This relationship has not only developed into a friendship but also an opportunity to learn from an expert who is actively involved in making a change in the world.
One of the experiences I will always remember is getting the opportunity to connect with the Permanent Missions of the countries I am from: Pakistan and Afghanistan. Having the opportunity to reach out, set meetings, and speak with them individually as a representative of WFWPI was such an incredible experience. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone by giving me the chance to do something I would have never had the platform to do before. Another experience that pushed me outside of my comfort zone was moderating a side event we organized for CSW. It was nerve-racking at first but showed me that all it takes is trying something new to realize you can conquer any fear.
My experience with WFWPI thus far is quite difficult for me to summarize in such few words. From co-chairing a parallel event for CSW62 to meeting with the representatives from the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have had many incredible experiences.
I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work so closely with WFWPI, Mrs. Ward, and the other members of the team. These experiences have played an important role in my life and helped solidify my passion for education, which is why I am currently applying to master’s programs to study International Education Development.
I hope to gain the skills necessary to conduct quality research to help guide education reform and policy in underdeveloped countries.