A three-day virtual fieldtrip at the UN

I was accepted to attend a three-day virtual fieldtrip organized by Sahar and Irene.

In the early morning of day one, we were introduced to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where we learned about the establishment of the EU countries after WWII ended. This session was very informative and concluded with a tough quiz. The second trip of the day was to the International Organisation for Migration, hosted by the head of IOM, Giorgi Gigauri who was based in Bangladesh, he took us through the main crisis in Bangladesh, for the Rohingya people. I found this session very insightful and intriguing to want to know more. The day ended with a presentation from a spokeswoman for the European Women’s Lobby in Brussels, who discussed the crucial accomplishments the organisation has made in improving gender equality for women.

UN head quarters

The second day was jam-packed day with back- to- back sessions. We started off speaking to Anja Slany, based in Geneva, about the core aspects of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and went into the afternoon with a presentation by a local UK-based NGO named the Bike Project, which works with asylum seekers. They aim to provide asylum seekers in the UK with a bike so that they can go about their daily lives while also making a positive impact on the environment. Next came the highlight of the day which was a virtual tour of the UN headquarters. Daria, our New York tour guide, gave us an overview of the UN’s origins and formation. We were soon greeted by the upbeat energy of a UN civil society member, named Felipe, who attracted our attention with his ambition and enthusiasm. This was not your typical speech; his energy radiated back to us in the UK, and everyone was completely immersed in his delivery.

virtual field trip - pizza contest

On the final day, we ended the trip with a session from some members of the Westminster Alumni who have gone on to work with organisations like NATO and the UK Home Office. This was an opportunity for us to learn about their experiences since graduating from university, as well as learn about the problems they encountered and ask them questions. Sahar and Irene had planned a quiz and a pizza party after two days of thought-provoking talks from some influential people. Surprisingly, I came in third place in the quiz, and we said our goodbyes to the alumni students, with some students staying for the pizza party to make DIY pizza kits that had been sent to us. 

To reflect, this trip has given me a fresh perspective on the work that these organisations do. The session which left the biggest impression on me was by the Head of IOM, Giorgi Gigauri on day one. I went into this session with no previous knowledge of the organisation and came out knowing much more about the Rohingya crisis than I had expected. Giorgi provided us with valuable feedback and practical advice on how to handle working for an organisation like the UN in the current climate. This session sparked my curiosity and made me want to learn more. In terms of my desire to learn more about a potential future career working for one of these large organisations, this trip has fuelled my desire to pursue a career in this field even more. I enjoyed making connections and learning about the work that these organisations do behind the scenes. Once again, I’d like to express my gratitude to Sahar and Irene for organising this trip and allowing me to virtually visit such a monumental organisation.

*****

Big thanks to Anisa for writing this blog, we hope you find it useful! Anisa Rashid is a second year student studying BA International Relations and development, interested in the development side of IR and learning about international organizations. If you wish to be informed of future fieldtrips related to Politics and International Relations, please contact Sahar: S.Rad@westminster.ac.uk

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