Vienna (Austria), 4 December 2020 — More than 60 students from universities across Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia were selected for the first virtual edition of the Shadowing Programme.
Usually, students spend a day with a staff member at the Vienna International Centre (VIC). This year the students were invited to take part in a series of virtual events, due to the COVID-19 pandemic: a one-hour encounter with a UN staff member, a virtual guided tour through the VIC and a UN careers workshop held by UNIS Vienna Director Martin Nesirky.
During the 2020 edition of the programme, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) staff members Fariba Soltani, Justice Tettey, Kevin Town, Jorge Rios, Citlalin Castañeda de la Mora, Michaela Markova, Angela Me and Carla McKirdy participated in the exercise as shadowees; providing students with a bird's-eye view of their roles, the organization and its mandate.
In addition, a special online session was organized with UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly, during which two students had the opportunity to ask Ms. Waly about her work and for advice on their future careers: "You should never stop learning. You should always be hungry for more knowledge. But it's not just about competencies and skills, [...] but also making an impact and leaving your mark and changing the world to make it a better place."
The Master's and PhD students came from a wide array of fields of study including International Relations, International Development, Water Management and Environmental Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Security Sciences, Humanitarian Logistics and Disaster Management, Sociocultural Work and Organizational Psychology, Applied Geoinformatics, Cultural Anthropology and Biomedicine. There were some 30 nationalities represented.
An International Relations Master's student especially interested in Global Health and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, shadowed Fariba Soltani, Senior HIV/AIDS Adviser with UNODC. "I just had my meeting with Ms. Soltani, and I wanted to thank you again for having put so much effort into the pairings. The meeting was extremely inspiring and enriching, and I am really grateful I had the chance to participate in this year's Shadowing Programme (in spite of the pandemic). It will help me a lot with figuring out what I would like to do after grad school!"
Director-General Waly closed the programme, addressing the students in a video message. Ms. Waly congratulated the participants and urged them: " Whichever future path you choose, I hope that you will always help those around you see the value of international cooperation and inspire them to work with you for a more just, more sustainable world that leaves no one behind."
The Shadowing Programme started on UN Day, 24 October, and lasted until 24 November. It is coordinated by UNIS Vienna and organized in cooperation with all participating Vienna-based UN organizations. This year it marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in 2020.