As an International Relations major with a Middle Eastern studies concentration at Pomona College, I hoped to learn more about the work of non-governmental organizations when I first decided to intern for the United Nations Association of Pomona Valley in September 2013.
My role as an UNA intern was twofold; I recruited new members and students to join UNA while also developing programs for, and supporting initiatives of, the chapter. For example, I hosted the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan at a UNA meeting on Pomona’s campus to describe the US-Pakistani relationship. I also invited Pomona Valley members to a musical and dance performance that worked to create musical bridges between people of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faith.
Besides being able to participate in UNA events involving education and advocacy, such as attending a Global Health Forum and the UNA Pasadena Film Festival, I had the opportunity to lead my own initiatives. I organized two talks for the national Membership Director of UNA, Laura Giroux, who came to campus to speak with interested students about the organization, and helped to plan, and recruited students for, the Southern California Post-2015 Development Agenda meeting in December 2013.
I planned a vigil for Syria on Pomona's campus in March 2014, the third anniversary of the beginning of the civil conflict, to demonstrate solidarity with the Syrian people and to promote awareness of the humanitarian crisis
I also helped to recruit two fellow Pomona students to join UNA as interns, one for the spring 2013 semester and another for the fall 2014 semester, and with their assistance, was able to organize an essay contest for local high school students to encourage them to become more interested in the UN and its work. Being interested in the Middle East, I planned a vigil for Syria on Pomona's campus in March 2014, the third anniversary of the beginning of the civil conflict, to demonstrate solidarity with the Syrian people and to promote awareness of the humanitarian crisis. I also helped organize a meeting for students with the office of our local congresswoman, Judy Chu, to inform her of the impact of the Syrian conflict on her constituents and the need for continued US funding for international peacekeeping initiatives.
Throughout my 7-month internship, my understanding of international issues was deepened through advocacy and education activities within the UNA chapter and Southern California division. Overall, this internship has been a great experience for me and I am grateful for the multiple opportunities that it has offered to advocate for the UN.
Leyth Swidan, UNA Southern California Intern