Tag Archives: international development

United Nations Career Trip

Friday, October 20th, the first year IPED students embarked upon a full day of meetings and events on the United Nations complex in Manhattan, New York. The day started with a visit to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Equator Initiative office. Jamison Ervin, the manager of the UNDP Global Programme on Nature for Development, spoke with the group about the Equator Prize, the New York Declaration on Forests, and why climate justice is integral to development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Several Fordham IPED students work at the UNDP Equator Initiative office part time through the Arrupe Fellowship. Students asked questions about development finance, internships, and nature-based solutions for development.

UNDP and Fordham IPED celebrate a robust partnership.

UNDP Jamison Ervin presenting to Fordham IPED students.

After that, the IPED Fordham group headed to the UNICEF office where we were greeted by Liliana Carvajal, Statistics and Monitoring Specialist at UNICEF and 2004 Fordham IPED Alumna. Liliana showed us data on infant and maternal mortality and explained how to use this data to track trends and progress on the SDGs. We also heard from an HR representative to hear more about the application process for potential internships and jobs at UNICEF in New York.

IPED Alumna Liliana Carvajal ’04 at UNICEF.

Fordham IPED students at UNICEF presentation.

Fordham IPED visits UNICEF.

For lunch, we went to the prestigious UN Delegates Dining Room. We shared a meal with our Director, Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg, as well as current and former Alumni who work at the United Nations.

In the afternoon, we were hosted at the United States Mission to the United Nations by Political Advisor to Ambassador Nikki Haley, Leslie Ordeman. He explained the process of creating and relaying policy briefings to the ambassador and international parties. He also shared about his background and what it looks like to choose the Foreign Service Officer path.

Leslie Ordeman, Political Advisor, speaks with students at the US Mission.

The day concluded with a tour of the United Nations Headquarters. Guides showed us the UN Security Council Chamber, the UN General Assembly Hall, exhibits on the damage of nuclear war, and human rights documents, among other pieces. It was inspiring to be in a place where so much happens. Many of us were inspired throughout the day, seeing our dreams up close and within reach.

UN Security Council Chamber

Students outside the UN Headquarters

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Summer Series: Tess Hart ’18 and the Chuuk Women’s Council in Micronesia

Tess Hart, an IPED Arrupe Fellow, was awarded the Santander International Internships Fellowship to spend part of the summer in Chuuk, Micronesia working at the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC). The CWC is an umbrella organization of 64 women’s groups across the state with over 1,000 total members. The mission of the organization is “to assist women in becoming more productive and self-sufficient members of our society through comprehensive programs which enhance the social, economic and physical well-being of women and their families in Chuuk.”

Members of the Chuuk Women’s Counsel at a general meeting joined by two representatives from USAID

The Chuuk Women’s Council is currently implementing their Tongen Inepwinéú, Tongen Fénúwach (Love of the family, Love of Our Islands) Climate Change Adaptation through Family, Gardens, Food, and Health Project, which is being funded through the USAID Pacific American Climate Action Fund (PACAM). The program involves training and providing ongoing support for 45 home gardeners, maintaining 3 community nurseries, and developing and implementing a high school gardening curriculum. The program seeks to help participants improve food security through climate resilient gardening methods with a co-benefit of increasing access to nutritious food options.

The USAID PACAM Review team meeting with the CWC.

Returning to the FSM having served as a Jesuit Volunteer in the region prior to attending IPED, Tess helped the CWC team prepare for their mid-term grant review. She worked with the Monitoring and Evaluation team and Project Coordinator to compile data and strengthen implementation methods. The review included visiting and interviewing home gardeners in the villages.

One of the CWC-PACAM sponsored home gardens in Sapuk village.

Tess with one of the many young beneficiaries of the home gardening program (11% are under 5 and an additional 29% are school aged).

In addition to assisting with the PACAM project, Tess assisted the with several grant applications and helped with the preparation of summer curriculums for the CWC’s Summer Enrichment Program for second to fifth graders, which focuses improving reading, writing, and math skills while exploring the importance of the environment and the impacts of climate change. She also reviewed the CWC’s Young Women’s Empowerment Program and helped prepare the implementing team for compliance with AusAid. Moreover, while in Chuuk, Tess had the opportunity to utilize the Micronesian Seminar library, attend the Xavier High School Class of 2017 graduation, attend the inauguration of the governor of Chuuk, and meet with the ambassador of the United States to the FSM.

There is nothing like a beautiful sunset in Chuuk, Micronesia.

Tess is very grateful to the CWC for warmly welcoming her back to Chuuk and allowing her to be a part of their programs. Her advice for students considering applying for Santander funding or seeking a summer internship is to look for opportunities early, make the experience your own, and pursue an area in which you are passionate.

 

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Summer Series: Crisostomo Ala ’18 and CRS Ecuador

The purpose of my internship with CRS Ecuador is twofold: to gain work experience, insight, and involvement in the development sector and to understand the field operations of development NGOs whom I used to collaborate with when I worked for the consulting industry.

Upon my arrival in Ecuador, I was sent to Esmeraldas from Quito to support the shelter, water, and sanitation project of CRS which provided low cost housing and latrines to the most vulnerable communities affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 2016. The city was characterized by economic activity limited to the production and sale of mostly agricultural goods and also, by poor infrastructure investments concretized by unfinished buildings along the province’s coastline. Esmeraldas is locally known as a tourist destination and such investments were intended to be profitable hotels and tourist attractions. However, after last year’s calamity, they were immediately abandoned placing a great strain on the area’s economic development.

I was assigned to the project’s operations where we had to acquire raw material to manufacture into housing parts that can be delivered and assembled on site. I handled inventory, monitoring and evaluation of delivered parts, and payroll of drivers who delivered these parts. My main role was to ensure that the beneficiaries received the correct amount of parts and in good quality for them to be able to construct their houses. By fulfilling my role, I was able to be involved in the implementation of the project on the ground. Furthermore, I was also able to observe how the specific process I handled was integrated to the project as a whole and how each procedure was meant to ensure donors that budgets are being spent in a cost-effective manner. The main purpose of this was to optimize operations so that the least amount of money was being spent while retaining the same level of quality in project delivery. In essence, the goal was to spend optimally so that the savings from one project can be used in other program efforts.

As such, by contributing the operations side of the project, I was able to gather sufficient understanding of how projects are executed on the ground. I can use such experience in the future when applying for career opportunities in development NGOs like CRS and other similar organizations as well.

Moreover, apart from merely being part of the process ensuring seamless transactions at the operational level, I was also enabled to observe and understand how NGOs function at the field level. Previous work experience in the consulting industry taught me that the performance of NGOs is measured by the utility they bring the cost-effectiveness of their operations. I was able to observe this from the HR side for the past 6 years, how one can improve operations while optimizing salaries and benefits, one of the biggest costs of an organization. Similarly, from this internship, I was able to learn the importance of cost optimization not just at the regional level but also at the field level when it came to the execution of procurement transactions of raw materials for a shelter and water sanitation project. It was indeed a learning experience for me as it provided the link I was searching for between field operations and regional operations.

Overall, it was an experience filled with lessons both on international development level and actual project implementation on the ground. This internship trained me to respond to unforeseen circumstances in the field and have contingency plans in place for such instances which will be very helpful for either a career in development or development and HR consulting. Being involved at the field level allows one to understand local circumstances, gain anticipatory insight in project development, and adapt project execution to the local level whenever circumstance dictates to ensure seamless delivery.

By: Crisostomo Ala

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Summer Series: Jessica Way and the U.S. Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security

The U.S. Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security is an annual program dedicated to understanding and analyzing the conceptual challenges of world hunger. It is an initiative funded by USAID in order to bring together and build up future leaders in the area of global food security. This year, the program took place the first two weeks of June on Purdue University’s Campus in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Jessica Way (‘18) attended along with a cohort of 39 other Borlaug Summer Institute Fellows. The cohort consisted of interdisciplinary PhD and graduate students, with representatives from a diverse range of academic fields; including food scientists, anthropologists, plant breeders, economists, and others. Each participant brought a unique area of expertise to the area of global food security, and all share a passion for finding creative solutions to feeding the world’s hungry in a sustainable way.

 

During the intensive summit fellows heard from a diverse and talented pool of speakers; including faculty, practitioners, and policy makers. The presentations addressed the biggest challenges associated with global food security, and their possible solutions. Sessions were supplemented by practicums and field trips, where fellows learned about the cutting edge technologies being developed and engaged to address the world’s largest problems.

The most influential part of the program was the opportunity for collaboration among an outstanding group of individuals who all share the same drive to end global hunger. The problems are daunting. Earth’s resources are constantly more constrained, and global population is estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050.  Climate change and political turmoil provide additional obstacles. Yet, it is encouraging to know that these challenges are taken seriously by a talented group of young “hunger fighters.” One Borlaug Fellow in the conference shared an African proverb that quickly became a Summer Institute Mantra; “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” After spending two weeks with the U.S. Borlaug Summer Institute Fellows of 2018, Jessica has no doubt that together the Borlaug Summer Institute Fellows will go far in fighting hunger and promoting global food security.

If you are interested in learning more about the Borlaug Summer Institute visit the website: http://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/food/borlaugfellows/summer-institute/ Applications are due in February.

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Fordham Students supported the UNDP Equator Prize 2017

The Equator Prize winners and UNDP team celebrate before the pre-ceremony reception at Bryant Park Grill. Photo credit UNDP-Arnaldo Vargas

This September, the UNDP Equator Initiative hosted the 2017 Equator Prize in New York City, New York to honor 31 local and indigenous people working on notable climate justice projects in their communities around the globe. The winners spent a week in New York City participating in community dialogues, capacity building workshops, and interacting with media representatives as the 2017 UN General Assembly began. Several Fordham IPED students were involved in building case studies with the winners and connecting their work with the Sustainable Development Goals.

IPED student and UNDP intern, Vikktoria Brezheniuk, speaks with one of our winners at a workshop. Photo credit Mike Arrison for UNDP-Equator Initiative

Equator Prize winner, Ghulam, from Pakistan works with IPED student and UNDP intern, Owen Fitzgerald, to build a case study on the Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization. Photo credit Mike Arrison for UNDP-Equator Initiative

Winners’ projects ranged across oceans, forests, and drylands. In Kenya, the Mikoko Pamoja group created a carbon credit-based payment for ecosystem services in order to improve mangrove restoration. In Ecuador, Alianza Internacional de Reforestación (AIRES) is an organization led by indigenous Maya women that works toward food security and disaster risk reduction through reforestation and agroforestry. Each community project supports several of the Sustainable Development Goals from poverty reduction to climate action to gender equality. Check out all the winners and their projects featured on the Equator Initiative website.

The female winners and UNDP team members, including Fordham UNDP interns Tess Hart and Victoria Brezheniuk, celebrate their work and the Sustainable Development Goals. Photo credit Larissa Nowak-Equator Initiative

On Sunday, September 17th, preceeding the Prize Ceremony, there was a reception held at Bryant Park Grill. Winners, government officials, donors, and other special guests gathered to network and celebrate together.

Winners from the Community Baboon Sanctuary Women’s Conservation Group in Belize, Dorla and Conway, with IPED student and UNDP intern, Sarah Garwood, at the Bryant Park Grill reception.

Sunday, September 17th marked the Equator Prize Ceremony held at Town Hall Theatre in New York City. Many people came to speak and celebrate with the winners including Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and Gary Knell, President and CEO of the National Geographic Society. Fordham IPED students were invited to volunteer at the ceremony. Fordham IPED interns worked on stage management, social media coverage, and interpretation resources.

 

IPED student, Stephanie Swinehart, volunteered at the Equator Prize ceremony. Photo credit Wahanga for UNDP-Equator Initiative

IPED student and UNDP Intern, Greg Fischer (left), translated for Brazilian Prize winner and speaker, Benki, at the Equator Prize Ceremony. Photo Credit UNDP-Arnaldo Vargas

To see more photos and coverage of the Equator Prize and other events from the week, check out the Equator Initiative on Facebook and Twitter!

 

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