After two long layovers, the wheels of my EasyJet flight finally touched ground on Geneva soil. I was nervous when I arrived in Geneva, not knowing exactly what I would be doing, but I was ready and excited to see what ERI had planned for me.
At the ERI office, I was able to observe Brothers Brian Bond, Kevin Mullan and Tino D’Abreu work throughout the day and help with the various tasks they needed aid on. This was a very insightful experience for me. I enjoyed seeing what type of work goes on behind the scenes at an NGO. I was inspired by everyone in the office for their dedication to advocating for the education and well-being of children worldwide. I helped write notes at side events, create a resourceful chart on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Universal Periodic Review data, write an article and create a graphic for the ERI Youth Ambassador social media.
My experience at the United Nations is one that I will not forget. When I first arrived at the Palais to get my badge, I was awestruck at the monumental size of the building compared to its New York counterpart. My days at the United Nations would consist of a large variety of things. I had the privilege to attend many informative side events and committee sessions. It was amazing to see what I had learned in the classroom come to light. I particularly enjoyed a side event I attended about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Austerity. I read Philip Alston's reports in school, and then I was able to see him and a panel of experts question the IMF representative on how their policies of austerity affect the human rights of millions in countries which they operate. I also attended a side event on the dignity of migrants and refugees. It opened my eyes on the issues of detention centers in the USA and abroad. I now feel inclined to learn more about this issue back home.
On my last week in Geneva, I had the opportunity to attend the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) review of Australia. It was very empowering to see the international community come together and fight for an improved quality of living, equality and human rights for women. It reminded me of the importance of the community to remind politicians and nations to always look towards improving human rights conditions and to policies as affecting people, not as numbers.
Reflecting back on my month in Geneva, I have learned so much in such a short amount of time. It has helped me see what type of future I want to have in the field of international politics. I have truly been inspired to continue advocating for the vulnerable both in my country and abroad. I look forward to taking what I have learned this month back to the Iona community and my work in the future. I thank Brian, Tito and Kevin along with my advisor Dr. Tricia Mulligan from Iona College for supporting me and making this all possible.