(The views expressed in this blog post are solely the views and opinions of the individual, and in no way shape or form represent the United States, Department of State, or any other government body or agency)
My internship has turned out to be so much more than I expected. Before the internship began, I did not fully grasp the impact my work would have. Sure, the internship sounded cool, but I did not realize that my work was integral to the organization I would be a part of. In nearly two months of work, I’ve come to value the feeling of importance and purpose that I’ve found in my day-to-day work.
The UN has generated much skepticism about its effectiveness in recent years. I’ve seen that firsthand in its inability to take concrete actions to stop Russia’s full-scale and brutal, illegal invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s recent Security Council veto to block the implementation of sanctions on North Korea (DPRK). These examples are frustrating; it’s natural to feel that something may be wrong with the institution as a whole. I’ve certainly noticed those thoughts popping into my head over the past few weeks. Yet, I would argue that, despite the validity of those perspectives, they are deceptive. There exist a multitude of conflicts, crises, missions, and problems around the world. The UN allows the possibility of those problems to be addressed in ways that would be impossible if its existence were to falter.
In a similar vein, some in U.S. politics question the United States’ participation in such bodies that at times appear to be ineffective. Yet I have learnt over the course of my internship that there are so many fronts that the United States has the opportunity to influence in multilateral diplomacy. To simply refuse to participate in crucial relationship-building forums and discussions, we forfeit those forums to the very countries who we may view as destructive or misaligned with our views.
Interestingly, my experience in international diplomacy has led me back to one of the bedrocks of American democracy: the first amendment. I’ve found that this important institution, which enshrines our right to speak our minds, is connected to our engagements in the global arena. To remain quiet, to disengage, to sit back, would do us more harm than good. As always, when we engage in dialogue, we are given the opportunity to leave our mark on the issues we may hold dear to our hearts. The same goes for multilateral engagement and international diplomacy, especially at the UN. I’ve sat in on meetings where this value has clearly been demonstrated, whether it be in private negotiations or a public statement broadcast for the world to see. We must stand up for our values, whether it be at school, at the UN, or elsewhere.
In my time at USUN, I’ve come to appreciate the value of working on a team. This important skill set is transferable; in nearly no professional job will one be alone and independent. Whether I continue in the field of public service or shift to the private sector, this ability will be an asset. Another skill I’ve developed is being able to condense large amounts of information into digestible chunks that can be passed on to others, and I anticipate this too to be important for my career. I even anticipate this to assist myself in class at Brandeis in taking notes and processing information.