Owen Fitzgerald, Therese ‘Tess’ Hart, and Viktoriia Brezheniuk (IPED ‘18) are interning at the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Equator Initiative. The main purpose of the Equator initiative (EI) is to recognize and promote the achievements and innovations of indigenous peoples and local communities. Every two years, the EI announces a global call for nominations for their prestigious award called the Equator Prize. This Prize ultimately serves “to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage.”
Therese “Tess” Hart (IPED ’18)
Owen Fitzgerald (IPED ’18)
Viktoriia Brezheniuk (IPED ’18)
Owen shared his excitement that life is never boring at the UNDP: “Our responsibilities at UNDP’s Equator Initiative are ever-changing!” Upon arrival in September of 2016, Tess and Owen were working on a research project focusing on biodiversity and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. They assessed 60 different countries’ National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), and teamed up with a few others to produce a publication highlighting their findings.
Now, their attention has been focused mainly on the Equator Prize 2017 with the help of Viktoriia, who joined the team in January 2017. The global call for nominations is being spread far and wide. In March, when nominations are due, the EI team will begin reviewing submissions for this prestigious award, a task our IPEDers will be taking part in.
As Arrupe Fellows, Tess and Owen had an automatic “in” for the position with UNDP. Viktoriia, a Ricci Fellow, was passionate about joining the team as well, so Tess and Owen offered Viktoriia’s resume to their boss and she was also accepted as an intern.
Viktoriia, Tess, and Owen at UNDP
Owen and Tess are full-time students, interning part-time as a requirement for their fellowships. Viktoriia is pursuing her education part-time while interning with UNDP part-time and working with the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham, also part-time.
Three IPED students – Armand Aquino, Katie McCann, and Jackie Yap – spent their summer in France for an intensive French language study and cultural immersion with an Alliance Française Institution. Armand was in Toulouse; Katie was in Bordeaux; and Jackie began in Toulouse then continued on to Lyon.
Armand and Jackie were recipients of the 2016 Language Immersion Study Award (LISA) while Katie is an Arrupe Fellow who decided to use her summer grant from her fellowship to pursue French language study. French language study is part of their professional development to further their careers in international development.
Learning French at an Alliance Française Institution in France is a great opportunity because of the diversity of its students. Aside from the structured lectures, Alliance Française organizes a number of activities for its students so they can immerse themselves into the French culture. Such activities include guided tours of museums and the city, “art” hunting, and cheese (and wine) tasting (this is France, after all).
In addition, Alliance Francaise arranges homestays for the students which enables them to continue speaking in French even at home.
Armand and Katie shared that the summer experience has also been great opportunity for them to expand their network in the international development space. Both have met people working in international organizations such as the International Red Cross and World Food Programme who like them are studying French for their own professional development.
When asked for advice to students considering a language study for the summer, Jackie said that “If you are just starting out in the language, I encourage you to take advantage of the language class (audit) at Fordham. It helped me learn the basics and allowed me to be more confident in practicing the language. Also, do not be afraid to practice and make mistakes. Many, if not everyone, appreciate the fact that you are trying to learn French.”
Armand in Toulouse, France
Jackie gives a two-thumbs up to the French Cuisine even though she accidentally ordered frog legs despite the waiter’s attempt to translate what “grenouille” means.
Katie in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Katie, Jackie, and Armand showing their IPED pride at Lourdes, France
The 2016 Fordham IPED Alumni Networking Night was an unmitigated success. It took place on Thursday, March 10 in the Fordham Lincoln Center campus.
Dr. Schwalbenberg welcomed current IPED students, professors, alumni, and guests to the event.
IPED alumni Ramon Fuentebella (L), Jane Wilkins, Thomas Moviel, and Claudia Pessagno discussed their impressive careers in the public and private sectors, and indicated the role Fordham IPED played in advancing their careers.
This year’s Language Immersion Study Awardees (LISA). Ryan Barthel (L) will study Mandarin in Taiwan. David Masagbor will study Arabic in Egypt. Jaclyn Yap plans to study French in France. Andy Munn will study Quechua in Bolivia. Lastly, Armand Acquino plans to study French in France.
This year’s Arrupe Overseas Field Placements include Katie McCann (C), who will be taking a French immersion course in France, and Daina Ruback, who will be pursuing entrepreneurship research with TechnoServe, Emory University, Oxfam, and Value for Women in Mexico and Guatemala.
This year’s Public Service Field Placements include Grace Avila (L), who will be working with the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Mission in Myanmar, and Tyler Falish, who will be pursing policy centered research focused on sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, among others.
Dr. Jonathan Crystal provided the closing remarks, and once again questioned his decision not to pursue the grueling career path of a stand-up comic.
Alumni night is a great opportunity for current IPED students to mingle with alumni from past years.
Katie McCann (IPED 2017) and Daina Ruback (IPED 2017) are currently Arrupe Fellow Interns at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Equator Initiative. The Equator Initiative is a multi-stakeholder platform bringing together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to promote local sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities. The Equator Initiative recognizes the success of local and indigenous initiatives and helps these groups develop the capacity needed to scale up their impact.
As an intern, Katie is currently working on the World Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Land and Sea Managers (WIN) newsletter, which shares opportunities for funding, employment, and action with the Equator Initiative’s network. WIN is a network of indigenous and local community land and sea managers that facilitates sharing of knowledge and best practices in managing ecosystems, protecting the environment, and supporting sustainable livelihoods.
Additionally, she researches and copy-edits case studies of Equator Prize winners which get published and posted in the Equator Initiative’s website. The Equator Prize is an award given biennially in recognition of local sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities. The Equator Prize puts the spotlight on local and indigenous groups for their efforts towards sustainable development. Winners of the Equator Prize for 2015 can be found here.
Meanwhile, Daina has worked closely with the group’s Indigenous Peoples Initiative. She has helped conduct research on the link between indigenous peoples’ land rights and reducing carbon emissions and deforestation. She is also responsible for the management of WIN website and for providing general logistical and administrative support. Along with Katie, Daina supported the planning and preparation for the Equator Prize in 2015 which was held in Paris, France. One of the highlights of their time at the Equator Initiative was participating in a press conference with Alec Baldwin, actor and advocate for the Equator Initiative and its work, who helped to announce the 2015 winners.
The internship with the Equator Initiative is part of Fordham IPED’s Arrupe Fellowship, offered to students with relevant work experience in developing countries and those who wish to pursue a career with nonprofit international relief and development organizations.