Where are you interning and what are you focusing on?
Hello everyone! I am currently working as a Capacity Building Officer for the UNICEF country office in Viet Nam, based in Ha Noi. My programme is called the ‘Provincial Child Friendly Programme’ and aims to strengthen the capacities of provincial authorities to take into account Children’s Rights. Concretely, most of my time goes to supporting UNICEF’s research undertaken in the provinces, to preparing programme documents and reports, to developing concepts and strategies for our engagement at the decentralized level and to strengthening linkages between UNICEF and other donors who work on governance in Viet Nam.
Describe one specific project that you have worked on, which promoted volunteering and was successful in mobilizing people.
Together with all the other UNV’s in Ha Noi, we have committed to being ‘Green Champions’ and to making our respective offices more environmentally friendly. In Viet Nam, all the UN agencies are preparing to move into a ‘One UN Green House’ by the end of 2012 as part of the ‘Delivering as One Initiative’. Instead of waiting until then, we have decided to already start ‘greening’ our behaviours and call upon others to follow our example. As a young and motivated ‘inter-agency’ group, UNV’s can have a real impact when they coordinate their advocacy for behaviour change in their different host agencies.
This month (September) is a huge milestone because we launch our three-month ‘Greening the One UN in Viet Nam Campaign’, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of the UN’s operations in Viet Nam. As a group, we contributed to drafting the ‘Green Action Plan’, with specific targets, which will help us gain the World Wildlife Fund’s ‘Green Office Certificate’. In addition, many of the Campaign’s activities are spearheaded by Green Champion UNV’s: for example, we are organizing ‘green (i.e. vegetarian) lunches’ and green film screenings (or ‘Sgreenings’, as we like to call them). One major challenge is improving the environmental friendliness of our transport. Getting people to bike to work, when it’s 38 degrees and humidity is 98 per cent, is no easy task! But that won’t stop us (see picture).
Have you seen any personal growth in yourself since arriving in the field?
Certainly. It’s been a tremendous experience to live and work in such a fascinating country and not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky to be here. With regards to personal growth, I believe it’s fair to say I have refined my intercultural skills and learnt much about Vietnamese, and by extension, South-East Asian culture and traditions.
What has been your favourite experience since arriving in the field?
One of the most interesting aspects of working in a decentralization project is that I have the opportunity to travel to the different provinces where UNICEF is active. In May I visited An Giang province, in the Mekong Delta Region for a consultation workshop on the ‘Situation Analysis of the Children of An Giang’, a comprehensive research report we are currently finalizing. The first evening our counterparts, staff from the Department of Planning and Investment, invited us to go sing karaoke with them. It was great fun and I really enjoyed the submersion into Vietnamese culture. The bad news was (ignoring my exceptionally poor singing skills) that all the songs were in Vietnamese, so not easy to sing along! Nevertheless, I gave it a shot, and our counterparts seemed to appreciate the effort. At least, I think they did.