2017 PFIG Recipient Stephanie Xiao
Journal Entry #1
On June 10th, while I was visiting China, I finally received my security clearance after a 4-month process. I got the airplane ticket and found an apartment within three days, traveled to New York City on the 18th and started my internship on 19th. It was a quite overwhelming and exciting week for me. On Monday, I woke up at 6:30am and tried to figure out my way to United National Plaza. I have to complain a bit here; NYC’s subway system is really complicated for someone is new to the city and has not taken subway in NYC.
OKAY! This summer, I am interning at Department of State, U.S. Mission to the United Nation (USUN), Economic and Social Section (ECOSOC) in New York. The U.S. Mission's Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) Section represents the United States on the intergovernmental bodies which oversee the UN's normative work on economic, social and human rights issues and the UN's field operations in the areas of development, post conflict, peace building, and humanitarian assistance. The ECOSOC section also serves as the primary liaison with the UN's Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, the Department for Economic and Social Affairs, UNICEF, the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Development Fund for Women (UN Women), and other UN bodies, providing the U.S. Mission with the most current information on UN responses to development needs, gender issues, human rights incidents and situations, and humanitarian emergencies.
My responsibilities as an Intern would be learn how the United Nations system works, in particular, the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies and the UN’s humanitarian and development assistance activities; attend and report on meetings and negotiations, draft briefing memoranda, cables, emails and other correspondence for Principals in the Mission, between the Mission and counterparts at the Department of State, and other Washington agencies; accompany officers in negotiations and meetings with colleagues from other missions in New York and assist the ECOSOC section in the logistics of US participation in ECOSOC and other bodies. Looking forward to hit the ground and running!
Journal Entry #2
Today, I started the 4th week of my internship. My first week was quite slow because a UN badge is required to attend all the meetings and negotiations at the UN. I spent my time learning how UN system works and how USUN coordinates with other bodies within UN system and the D.C. office, figuring out every staffs’ projects, what they do, then discuss with my supervisor to see which projects I might be interested in and work with one to two specific staffs (also mentors).
On the second week, my UN badge was issued and I have been attending meetings regarding a good variety of topics at the United Nation (across the street) for three weeks so far. Speaking of my day-to day work, half of my time is representing United States attending negotiations and meetings at the UN, and another half of my time, I draft different types of report and summary for my boss and the Mission. These three weeks have been fascinating. I got the chance to work in an environment that people are from all over the world at the UN, as well as, a group of amazing and knowledgeable staffs who dedicated to promote and defend U.S. interests at the Mission. As a “Delegate” representing the U.S. at UN in various meetings, I saw the importance of diplomacy. More importantly, how these controversial issues, human trafficking, antimicrobial resistance, war and many more effecting the civil society and how everyone here cares about others and dedicated their life to alleviate these issues.
These four weeks running on projects and all the conversations with Foreign Service Officers about their experience working and living abroad or domestic make me become more and more interested in Foreign Service. For the next half of my internship with the Mission, I hope to get to work on a wider array of projects and get to know more people in the Mission and delegates at the UN.
Journal Entry #3
It has been an amazing summer working at USUN. I did not encounter many challenges except for a small one. During a negotiation at the beginning of my internship, my boss asked me to find if a resolution passed by voting on my cellphone, which was a pretty urgent request. I took a long time but could not find the answer because I was not familiar with UN resolutions and the online searching system. My boss promised to teach me after we go back to the office, but I felt I disappointed her. However, I kept searching for the answer until I found it. The answer was very helpful to her negotiation and I’m glad I did not give up.
Besides acing all solution searching, I have also learned profound knowledge about human rights in context of trafficking in organ, trafficking in person and indigenous people. I was very fortunate to participate in a reform project for UN NGOs Committee, improving the efficiency of the consultation applications. I have expanded my network with Foreign Service officers and Civil Service officers, learning their experiences working in embassies all over the world. I appreciated sitting in meetings with delegates from different Member States and learning about the subtitles behind their arguments, incorporating the knowledge I have learned in school to the meetings and negotiations. Department of State summer internship application usually closes in October. I did not network for this internship, but contacting staffs who worked there could be helpful.