Name: Riona Jude McCormack.
Country of Assignment: Cambodia.
Area of work: Communications and Human Rights Information (OHCHR).
Where in the world have you travelled?
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Australia, USA, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Germany, the UK.
Where did you grow up?
What did you study in university?
BA in Communications (Photography and web design), postgrad Dip in African Peacekeeping & Diplomacy, and MA in International Relations.
What are the best and worst jobs you have had?
The worst was as a retail assistant at a tourist clothing store in the USA, and having to say “hello, can I help you? Let me tell you about our specials today…” every few minutes.
The best was as a facilitator for youth groups at a peace centre, being able to meet new groups of young people every day and get them to think and develop, I learned something new myself every day
Why did you apply for the UNV programme?
There are so many options but I chose to be a UNV Volunteer because I didn’t know what to do next! I was back in Ireland and a bit bored. I got excited about the opportunity to travel, to learn, and to wear a UN hat.
Describe a day in your life as a UNV.
Wake up at 6.15am, either from alarm or cockerels outside. Grab clothes, get on my bicycle, dodge killer traffic of motorbikes, and go for a swim. Brave the insane traffic again back to my office for a lesson in Khmer language at 8am. After that, there is no typical day – anything from meeting with a local NGO about some work they are doing that we would like to partner with, to designing some publicity material, to helping out at a conference, to developing our communications strategy. The only constant thing is filing – this is not really a part of my job, but someone has to do it! After work finishes at 6pm, I find some other UNVs and go eat some gorgeous local food.
What is the best part of your UNV assignment?
Getting to meet with other UN agencies and local NGOs and finding out about their work, and how we can link with them. Also, I have a lot of freedom to create my job, as my supervisor is very flexible.
What is the least favourite part of your UNV assignment?
Filing! And also, some of work takes a long time to plan and implement so sometimes it takes a while to see results. I miss how excited activists and NGOs are.
Has your UNV assignment reached/not reached your expectations?
In many ways exceeded them.
Would you recommend the UNV programme to other people and why?
Yes, absolutely. It is an incredible opportunity, every day you learn more than you imagined, and it builds your links all across the world.