By: Jackie Yap
Photo credits: Anna Fata, Holy See Mission to the UN
After finishing my IPED courses last December 2016, I began my full-time, six-month fellowship at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN (Holy See Mission) on January of 2017. The Holy See Mission is the diplomatic section representing the Vatican at the UN.
As a diplomatic fellow, my day comprised mainly of attending meetings and conferences at the UN headquarters. Occasionally, I would stay at the Mission office to attend briefings, discuss my insights with my supervisor, and write my reports. At the meetings, I listened to ambassadors, heads of states, and experts give statements on economic, social, and political issues. Since it is a small group, I was privileged to shadow negotiators and get a preview of what their day-to-day was like, especially during negotiations.
Given my training in Political Economy and Development, I was assigned to follow the various commissions and political negotiations in Economic and Social Committees (2nd and 3rd committee, respectively). In these commissions, I gained a better and multi-disciplinary understanding of the global discourse on various socio-economic issues surrounding Women Empowerment and Gender Equality, Indigenous people’s issues, Ocean Conservation and Preservation, Science and Technology, and Human Rights. I was assigned to manage and coordinate the staff reports during the 2-week long Commission on Status of Women week March 2017. It was a hectic yet unforgettable experience.
I looked forward to each week because it was different from one to the next. The variety gave me plenty of opportunity to learn about different issues around the globe. It was challenging to digest a lot of information but the training I received from Economic and Political Science courses taught me to write comprehensively and concisely. The summary reports that I have written and organized were eventually submitted to the head office in Rome, Italy.
It is also worth noting the collegiate and familial atmosphere at the Mission. We began with a morning meeting and since lunch was served, everyone had to sit in one large table and talk to each other. The attachés, including the ambassador, His Excellency Archbishop Bernardito Auza, were my mentors and they were generous in sharing their knowledge with the interns.
I landed this fellowship through IPED’s program partnership with the Holy See Mission. While I had to undergo the internship application process, Dr. Schwalbenberg, the program director, had been very supportive and generous, providing me the funding in order to make the experience possible.