Name: Lo Po Yee Iris
University: The University of Hong Kong
Degree: Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Social Work and Social Administration
UN Host Agency: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China Office
Assignment: United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Team
From July to September in 2016, I got the precious opportunity to work as an intern at UNDP China Office in Beijing. I undertook various tasks in operations, communications, and research under the UNV team. This invaluable internship has not only allowed me to enhance knowledge and practical skills, but it has also provided me with unforgettable experience of meeting and working with amazing people who have encouraged me to continue to strive for excellence and serve the wider community.
My internship has offered an ideal platform for me to know more about not only UNV and UNDP China but also different UN agencies in China. Under the supervision of Ms. Xiandan Zhang, Country Programme Assistant of UNV China, I assisted in volunteer recruitment for various teams in UNDP China including Monitoring and Evaluation Team, Environment and Energy Team, and Communications Team, as well as for different UN agencies, including UNOPS and UNICEF. I was also responsible for operational management of UN volunteers assignments across different UN agencies as well as via the online platform.
I maintained UNV information database and photo library and updated them on a regular basis.
These tasks were very challenging as they required the ability to multitask and communication skills to collaborate with different stakeholders. Meanwhile, I enjoyed these challenges very much because I found it so rewarding to facilitate the recruitment of talented and passionate UN volunteers and to contribute to the management of human resources. It was also so encouraging to witness the spirit of volunteerism of other young people who have been devoting their time and energy to serve our society!
Additionally, as a self-motivated learner and researcher who is enthusiastic about knowledge exchange in the community, I always aspire to make the best use of my knowledge to contribute to community services. In this regard, my internship experience is particularly fruitful as it enabled me to collaborate with colleagues and experts and to implement communications and advocacy strategies to increase the standing of UNV and awareness of volunteerism among different partners and the public. During the three months, I not only assisted in writing and editing key UNV documents and a newsletter, but I also created promotional materials, including PowerPoint slides and three leaflets which will be published to introduce UNV services to the public. Besides, I was responsible for maintaining UNVWeibo account by creating information materials, sharing news and events for communication and advocacy purposes on a regular basis. I also provided logistical support to meetings with different partners including Chinese volunteering organizations as well as to two knowledge sharing sessions with UN Women and the Peking University respectively. These experiences allowed me to accumulate hands-on experience of knowledge exchange with different stakeholders and the public in general.
Furthermore, I was very excited to be able to make good use of my research skills to gather information about volunteerism and to explore potential opportunities for expanding volunteer work within and beyond China. I closely worked with Dr. Tom Bannister, Programme Specialist of UNDP China, to conduct research into volunteerism and South-South cooperation with the aim of establishing collaboration opportunities between UNDP China office, Chinese volunteering organizations, and African volunteering organizations. I also conducted research into the volunteering sector and its impact on the economy in Hong Kong.
I am very glad to see that the research work that I have done would probably have a practical and long-term impact on the client-oriented approach of UNV as it has informed the directions of UNV programmes with current and potential partners.
Last but not least, one of the most memorable parts of this internship was the invaluable opportunity to meet passionate people and to be inspired by their insights and enthusiasm for creating a better world. Not only have I learnt a lot from my supervisor and other colleagues in
UNDP China Office, but I have also broadened my horizons through connecting with amazing people outside the office. Other interns and I who were selected to be included in the UNDPPDF
(United Nations Development Programme-Peace and Development Foundation)
Internship Programme were invited to join an Oxbridge Alumni Event hosted at Rongbaozhai Mansion. It was very nice of Josie, one of the founders of PDF, to invite us to the event so that we could meet different Oxbridge alumni as well as learn about the art of painting and calligraphy during the visit. It was such a pleasant weekend to listen to Josie’s and other alumni’s sharing of their life experiences. Their rich experiences and insights, coupled with their enthusiasm for sharing their ideas with us, have boosted my courage and confidence in pursuing my life goals as well as provided role models for me to help others and serve the wider community!
The friendships formed during the internship also play an integral part of my happy memory in Beijing. I am indeed very lucky to have met other interns who share similar passion for bettering our society. Despite the fact that we are from different backgrounds or/and disciplines, we were able to have very interesting dialogues and to share splendid ideas and thoughts with each other. I really enjoyed our time working together, chatting, and visiting different places in Beijing. Although the internship has ended, we are still keeping in touch and
I am sure that we will meet sometime somewhere in the world!
All in all, I regard this internship as one of the most wonderful and fruitful experiences that I have ever had. I am very grateful to have this invaluable opportunity to participate in the UNDP-PDF Internship Programme so as to better equip myself with knowledge and skills, to meet amazing people, and to strengthen momentum to achieve my life goal in making this world a better place in the near future!