Preparing for the Regional Workshop on Global Citizenship Education

By Chloe Bacon

Chloe Bacon is completing her M.A. in Latin American studies and international education at the George Washington University. She is currently interning at the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile.

It has been a busy two months since I last posted! I have settled into my home away from home and really come to appreciate Santiago. It certainly helps that we finally got some rain – the city was in a major drought which resulted in very low air quality – and we are now moving into spring. UNESCO Santiago has also been buzzing with activity.

As I mentioned in my last post, my primary task has been to help plan a regional workshop on Global Citizenship Education. The event, officially titled the Regional Orientation and Capacity Building Workshop on Global Citizenship Education for Latin America and the Caribbean Region, will take place on September 1-3 here in Santiago, Chile. Although the title is quite a mouthful, it should be a great event. In addition to UNESCO staff from the region, we have invited 12 countries, each of whom are sending three professionals from the Ministry of Education, academia and civil society. The participating countries are: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile (obviously), Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Granada, Guyana, México, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis. Don’t ask how we picked the countries – it was a long and elaborate process to ensure that no one got upset for being left out.

GCED visual_ENNow you might be wondering what exactly is Global Citizenship Education. I must admit, before I arrived in Santiago I had heard the term but couldn’t put my finger on its exact meaning. For those of you who might not know – including my parents who kindly smile and nod in confusion when I say “GCED” – here is UNESCO´s definition (which can be found on their website.):

“Global Citizenship Education (GCED) aims to equip learners of all ages with those values, knowledge and skills that are based on and instil respect for human rights, social justice, diversity, gender equality and environmental sustainability and that empower learners to be responsible global citizens. GCED gives learners the competencies and opportunity to realise their rights and obligations to promote a better world and future for all.

Grounded in a lifelong learning perspective, it targets all learners of all ages – children, youth and adults. GCED can be delivered in all modes and venues, including formal, non-formal and informal education. In most countries, the formal education system will be the main mode of delivery of GCED. This will require the integration of GCED in education systems, either as a stand-alone subject, a component of existing programmes and/or the ethos of a learning environment and system.”

Global Citizenship Education, or GCED, has emerged as a priority for the United Nations and UNESCO specifically. I could list all of the declarations and initiatives of which it is a primary component, but I won’t bore you with the details. Take my word for it – GCED is going to play a prominent role in the Post-2015 development agenda.

For this reason, it has been a great learning experience to familiarize myself with the concept of GCED and help plan an event for subject-matter experts from across Latin America and the Caribbean. I can’t wait to meet the participants – a couple of whose publications I’ve read.

In preparation for the workshop and UNESCO´s continuing work in the region, we developed a questionnaire that will help elucidate how GCED is being understood, defined and implemented in the region. It will also help identify challenges, opportunities and lessons learned in respect to GCED at a national and regional level. To develop the questionnaire, we worked with a consultant who is an expert on citizenship education. Once we contracted the consultant I realized that I had already met her at an event in Washington DC – what a delightfully small world! It has been a pleasure working with her to develop and finalize the questionnaire. Best of all, we have had a strong response rate. It is quite satisfying to see the number of respondents on Survey Monkey go up each day. We are hoping that the questionnaire helps us gain important knowledge and insights into GCED in the region.

The next few weeks will be some of the busiest of my internship as we hit the homestretch before the workshop, which starts on September 1st. It is exciting to see the pieces finally coming together. I am lucky to be working with a great team and I am confident that the workshop will be a great success. I will be sure to share how everything went and perhaps some photos after September 3rd. Wish us luck!

If you are interested in learning more about the Orientation and Capacity Building Workshop on Global Citizenship Education for Latin America and the Caribbean please visit the event’s website here.

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UNESCO Bangkok: The Last Few Weeks

Author: Maggie Appel-Schumacher, M.A. in International Education, GSEHD

It’s hard to believe the UNESCO Fellowship is coming to a close.  What a beautiful summer it has been– for personal inspiration, insightful conversations, meaningful relationships and professional growth.  Thailand lives up to its name for being the country of smiles 🙂 filled with beautiful people, culture and traditions that have made a great impression on me.

Professionally, UNESCO’s reach within the educational realm in Asia Pacific is definitely visible from the Bangkok Regional Bureau for Education.  Across the various units in this office (APEID, APPEAL, EPR, ESD and more) publications are being distributed left and right with featured projects, research endeavors and conference concept notes to be found.  UNESCO Education in Asia Pacific’s Facebook page is very active in sending out announcements, uploading photos and supporting campaigns on education initiatives in the region. (Check it out!)

The beginning of August marked one of the most concrete learning experiences for me during this fellowship as I had the chance to participate and travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to volunteer with the UNESCO team at the 2015 Asia Pacific Conference on Education and Training (ACET).  Over 1,000 stakeholders from the ministerial to the teacher level participated in a conference on strengthening Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) systems in the Asia Pacific.

ACET Pic1UNESCO Bangkok staff, along with other UNESCO Representatives from Paris, France, Beijing, China, Kabul, Afghanistan and the UNEVOC office in Bonn, Germany, worked together with the Ministry of Education Malaysia to provide 3 action packed days for participants to address the big questions facing TVET in Asia Pacific:

  • Where are the jobs in Asia-Pacific?
  • Which skills are needed for existing and emerging jobs?
  • How can we bridge the gap through ICT?
  • How can we strengthen partnerships and coordination?

The plenaries, concurrent sessions and ministerial meetings were focused on these themes.  As focal point for note takers and rapporteurs during the conference, I was fortunate to sit in on the majority of plenary and concurrent sessions to hear first-hand from participants’ experiences in TVET.  From recently graduated youth speakers to seasoned principals of TVET academies in Asia, the conversations all came back to the main idea that TVET is critical for economic growth.  We need more people to develop concrete skills that can be maximized in a society that is moving forward as quickly as some Asian Pacific countries are. Overall, I learned a great deal about this topic in education and the conference opened my eyes to new programs, organizations, and experts in the field of TVET that can be beneficial to states beyond the Asia-Pacific region.  You can find out more about the conference here. 

I thank all the staff at UNESCO Bangkok for giving me the chance to dive into these key issues in education and for the opportunity to see UNESCO in action through meaningful conferences and events.  The opportunity to explore a new part of the world in such depths (both professionally and personally) has truly been a life changing experience.

Update from the UNESCO Jakarta Office

About the author: Yishan Ding is MA candidate in the International education program at GWU. This summer she is working for the UNESCO office in Jakarta for 3 months as a GW-UNESCO fellow.

By far I have been working in the Jakarta office for more than two months. I can’t believe that I will leave the lovely place and people in about 20 days! The whole experience is full of first-times to me, first time working for UNESCO, first time working in the area of science, first time coming to Jakarta, first time experiencing Ramadan… Out of all the wonderful and memorable moments and feelings, three keywords mark my time here.

Challenging: With all my educational and working experience limited in the field of social sciences, working inside a natural science unit is quite academically challenging to me. It was especially so when working on my first assignment of writing a literature review on eco-biotechnologies of water management. I had to take several online courses and read corresponding textbooks in the first week, in order to understand the technical terms and theories. Now that I have been working here for more than 2 months, I find the whole science learning experience was truly useful not only just for the first assignment itself. It also helps me understand what the Jakarta office is doing currently. Besides, the scientific insights I gained largely helps my next and current task, which is about water education. Without the foundation of basic knowledge in scientific stuff, I believe I will still get lost in this task, although it is closely related to my background.

Mind-opening: My interdisciplinary learning quite opens up my mind. It inspires me to jump out of my previous role as an educator, so as to consider stuff from other perspectives such as a scientist and policy maker. Besides, a lot of work done here is in the intergovernmental level and both of my two assignments so far targeted to the whole Asia- Pacific region. Working under such an environment is also quite mind-opening for me. In the past, I was used to think only from the perspectives of either China or the US, where I have been lived and studied for relatively long time. Many times working inside UNESCO requires me to think from a larger continent and global perspectives.

Fun:

Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple

The Jakarta office is so fantastic on its parties and events! I have joined two so far. The theme of the first party is 80s, during which people are dressed in colorful 80s costumes. Another one is the Iftar event to break fast in the middle of the Ramadan month. Each time it was not only a joyful time to relax and talk with each other, but also a feast to enjoy the unique and delicious food in Indonesia!

Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple

During last weekend, I visited Yogjakarta, where hosts two UNESCO world cultural heritages: the Borobudur Temple and the Prambanan Temple. Severely damaged by natural disasters and war, both temples were restored in the past a few decades by the cooperated efforts of UNESCO and local government. Speechless by the magnificent buildings, I felt more respectful for what UNESCO has done in the area of cultural protection.

Hitting the Ground Running in Jordan

Two Months in Jordan!

It’s been almost two months now at UNESCO Amman for me. I am waist deep in all that the education sector is doing, and am really grateful for the experience to be able to work so closely on such important tasks with my colleagues. The Education Sector of the UNESCO Amman Office is in the middle of implementing a project funded by the European Union called “Sustaining Quality Education & Promoting Skills Development for Young Syrian Refugees in Jordan.” This project has several components including non-formal and informal education, teacher professional development, youth mentoring, and higher education. I have been supporting all aspects of the project, but work most directly with the Youth Skills Project Officer on monitoring and evaluation of the informal education component. I have also worked heavily on increasing the Education Sector’s visibility, including putting together the newsletter: Quality Education for Young Syrian Refugees in Jordan.

©UNESCO Amman
©UNESCO Amman

What is the difference between non-formal and informal education in Jordan? 

Informal education typically means any education outside of formal schooling. In Jordan, the terminology for the education sector is a bit different, because Jordan has a certified non-formal education program. Before the refugee crisis, this program was similar to a GED program, geared towards drop outs of the formal education system. The non-formal program is now something of a certified accelerated learning program for Syrian refugees, and Jordanians. The non-formal education program is established, there is a set curriculum that leads to certification, and not much wiggle room in service delivery. Informal education on the other hand, is much more flexible. This can lead to huge differences in quality from one program to the next. The informal education projects that UNESCO is implementing with its partners include components on Arabic, Math, English, Art and Life Skills. Inclusive in Life Skills is psychosocial support.

Project Support

I travel to the Zaatari Camp in Mafraq and to the city of Irbid. ©Lonely Planet

Part of my job at UNESCO is to travel to project sites with the Project Officer, and monitor the implementation of informal education. I am concerned with supporting partners to provide the highest level of quality possible within their means, and have developed some monitoring tools to help us do that. The two sites I travel to at the moment are Zaatari Camp in Mafraq, and the city of Irbid. UNESCO has a dedicated site in District 10 of Zaatari, where informal education projects will conduct programming. In Irbid, projects are serving urban refugees.

Setting up UNESCO’s district 10 site

Zaatari Camp

Sprawling Zaatari Camp ©Tom Parry

Zaatari camp is massive, but it’s not only the size that’s overwhelming. The heat is relentless, the air is dry, and the landscape is stark to say the least. Though, while the camp itself is imposing and dire, you see glimmers of life and hope in the markets, in the laundry hanging to dry, and in the people riding bicycles on the wide dirt streets. I’m proud to be a part of bringing educational services to these people, who deserve only our best.

Personal Life

It’s the Holy month of Ramadan in Jordan right now, which means that many people stay up all night. Shops, cafe’s and restaurants are closed until sunset, and it is illegal to eat or drink in public. Needless to say, life moves by kind of slow during this time. It has been a very interesting experience though, and a huge privilege to get invited to break the fast with friends and colleagues.

One amazing event that was taking place this past week is the Arab Film Festival sponsored by the Royal Film Commission. I was lucky enough to attend three films, and stay for the Q & A with the directors. My favorite film was “The Beats of the Antonov,” a Sudanese film about how displaced people in the south of Sudan cope with their situation through traditional music.

Outdoor screenings at the Arab Film Festival

To be continued…

I hope to update you more in the future on the implementation of these projects, and how UNESCO is supporting education for refugees in Jordan. In my next post I will talk more about higher education for refugees, and why it’s so important for donors to start investing.

Update from UNESCO Bangkok!

Author: Maggie Appel-Schumacher, Intern in Education Policy and Reform Unit, UNESCO Bangkok

It is the beginning of July (Happy 4th!), which marks 6 weeks since I first stepped off the plane in Thailand! It’s amazing how fast time goes by when your senses are overwhelmed with new sights, sounds, and smells. Thailand has exceeded all expectations already and I look forward to part 2 of this extraordinary fellowship experience.

Within UNESCO Bangkok, there are several projects underway within the Education Policy and Reform Unit that have opened my eyes to key issues UNESCO is working on in the Asia Pacific region. The first is the ongoing project of the literature review on teacher management in the Asia Pacific. The first few weeks I spent doing broad based research on teacher management challenges and opportunities that have come together in a document describing the general landscape of teachers in the region. The project is still underway! There is more work to do before the EPR team can use the compiled research to shape guidelines for policy makers and school system to use as a reference when creating their own processes and professional development opportunities for teachers. Countries in the Asia Pacific can learn many new ideas from one another about teacher training approaches, community involvement, adequate school leadership and the integration of transversal skills in the classroom. But sometimes the connection between policy and practice is hard to pin down – and sometimes it doesn’t exist!

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a Children and Youth Development Conference with Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn! The conference was hosted at Chulalongkorn University and brought together Ministers of Education from across the region who have implemented the Princess Project in their countries. The conference offered incredible insights into what schools have done to address healthy nutrition in schools, vocational training, cultural and environmental conservation and other critical issues to improve education. Click here to learn more about the conference!
princess conference picture

Secondly, the Technical and Vocation Education Team (TVET) is vigorously planning for an upcoming Asia Pacific Conference on Education and Training (ACET) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This conference will bring together roughly 800 key stakeholders from vocational schools, businesses, university affiliates as well as government representatives to discuss the future of vocational education in the region. In just a few short weeks, the UNESCO team will be headed to KL to run the 3-day conference in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Malaysia.

It is an exciting time to be part of UNESCO Bangkok!

Apart from the internship, exploring Thailand the last few weeks has truly been an eye-opening experience. In an effort to discover the regional flares of Thailand that cannot be found in the bustling city of Bangkok, I’ve taken time to travel to some of Thailand’s most treasured cities and parks: Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, and Khao Yai National Park.

buddha head in tree AyutthayaAyutthaya, also known as the Ancient Kingdom of Siam, is a fascinating city and home to many ancient temples. Among the most memorable is Wat Mahathat, where the head of Buddha is nestled inside a tree trunk.

Chiang Mai Doi SuthepChiang Mai, the second largest city in the north of the country, offered an entirely new flavor of Thailand with its mountainous terrain and bustling night markets.  I visited an Elephant Nature Park and travelled to one of Chiang Mai’s most famous temples, Doi Suthep.

Bats 1

Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a phenomenal experience to say the least. The jungle is home to wild elephants, gibbons, snakes, spiders, and trees many hundreds of years old. Along with jungle trekking and tree climbing, our group witnessed nature at its finest. In one of the mountain ranges in the Khao Yai region, there is a bat cave that is home to 4 million bats. One night we stood at the foot of the mountain for 45 minutes watching all the bats fly out of the cave to travel across the valley to the jungle to feed- Thailand is full of wonders!

GW UNESCO Chair : Thoughts and Impressions

About the author: Ebote Adiang Ngulle is a second year Masters in International Education for Development student at the George Washington University. She is currently interning at the GW UNESCO Chair in Washington DC.

General Pre-internship Thoughts

A domestic fellowship with GW UNESCO Chair also turns out to be an international experience per se. Let me explain. When the UNESCO Fellowship was published, I thought it would be a good international experience for me to work on real live education development projects abroad. As I scrolled through the list of countries, I hoped Cameroon (my country) would be on the list. Why? I thought, if I engaged in the international fellowship, that would be a great opportunity to give back to my community. Cameroon was not on the list but, I was equally fascinated when I saw other African countries – of course, Africa is one of UNESCO’s main priorities. It also turned out, wishes are not horses, so I settled for a domestic fellowship but then I thought I will miss out on doing real ground work.

During our orientation sessions, one of our fellows made me look at the domestic fellowship differently. I might not be abroad from the perspective of travelling out of the US but, I actually am abroad, considering I am an international student. Whilst it might not be development work per se, it is research work that contributes towards UNESCO’s mission and I stand to gain knowledge from this experience that will become handy, applicable and practical as I move on to become an education development practitioner. So, I am equally as excited. Sounds cool doesn’t it?  Sometimes all it takes is a change of perspective in achieving a range of goals – not necessarily in the order previously intended. Also every experience is a learning process, so let us now see where I am working and what I am doing.

GW UNESCO Chair 

GW GSEHD

My fellowship is with the George Washington University UNESCO chair. GW UNESCO Chair is lodged within the International Education department of the Graduate School of Education and Human development. It focuses on the following themes – education for global citizenship, social equity and inclusion and education in emergency contexts. Within the office is a chair and two co-chair holders. It is a good opportunity to be learning from these seasoned professors who have extensive experience in the field of International Education.

Thinking about what is said about all work and no play and also looking back at the constraints of the last winter, I am excited to be in Washington DC this summer. Not only am I part of meaningful work and learning, I also have the opportunity to explore DC before winter returns from vacation.

First Assignments

My assignments are research and administrative based. Assisting the different chairs with projects related to their work. Turns out among the many skills I am gaining and developing are the ability to self-direct, work independently with limited supervision, analyze information and improve my research skills among others. I am currently assisting one of the chairs in data collection and literature review on a sponsored project. It is related to UNESCO and its relationship with the academic community – in this case UNESCO Chairs in the European Union. The final project will be published sometime in August.

I am also working on a literature review on UNESCO and US implemented strategies and policies to foster Global Citizenship Education (GCE). GCE is actually one of UNESCO’s focus and I am excited as I learn more about its relevance to 21st century education.

Another assignment I am working on with GW UNESCO chair is the distribution of a new book by Dr. Raymond E Wanner titled UNESCO’S Origins, Achievements, Problems and Promise: An Inside/Outside Perspective from the US. This book is a joint publication by GWU and the University of Hong Kong’s UNESCO Chair on the occasion of UNESCO’s 70th Anniversary. You should grab a copy! Contact GW UNESCO Chair.

UNESCO'S Origins, Achievements, Problems and Promise
UNESCO’S Origins, Achievements, Problems and Promise

As I go through this journey and the remaining two months, I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

Bienvenidos a Santiago, Chile!

By Chloe Bacon

Chloe Bacon is completing her M.A. in Latin American studies and international education at the George Washington University. She is currently interning at the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile.

The City

I can’t lie – the first thing that struck me about Santiago was the cold. That is perhaps not quite fair to the city – it really isn’t that cold – but after coming from summer it was quite a shock to my system. Once I finally emerged from under the blankets, however, I discovered a bustling city with lots of interesting sights and neighborhoods to explore.

I spent my first week in Santiago looking for an apartment, which is never fun. I eventually found a comfortable apartment near a large park called Parque Bustamante that I share with two Chilean artists. I walk the thirty-five minutes to and from work, which is usually quite pleasant, except on particularly chilly mornings like today.

I’m looking forward to continuing to explore the city in the upcoming months. Santiago boasts a wide range of cultural events, of which I plan to take advantage. I’ll keep you updated as I sample what Santiago has to offer!

The Office

The UNESCO office is a beautiful old house located next to a small park in a pleasant part of the city known as Providencia. The building is one of those old houses with multiple winding staircases in which it is easy to get lost. According to legend, one of the meeting rooms is haunted, but that is a story for another blog post.UNESCO

The UNESCO staff are incredibly warm and friendly. The office focuses almost exclusively on education, which isn’t a surprise considering it is the Regional Bureau for Education. The only exception is a Belgian scientist who works on water management issues. The office is relatively small with only about thirty staff. In part as a result of the size, everyone knows each other, which helps to create a welcoming atmosphere.

The Work

I have been working at UNESCO Santiago for three weeks and have already had the opportunity to contribute to several different projects. I began by studying some of the publications that the Santiago office and UNESCO’s Education sector as a whole have produced. The organization is incredibly prolific, and, weeks later, I still have a long list of material that I want to read. Each day I compile a list of relevant news articles that I share with the office, a task that has helped me to quickly get up to date on local and regional events. Considering the recent protests and political scandals, an increased understanding of the local context has been particularly helpful.

My primary project for the next two and a half months will be planning the Regional Orientation and Capacity Building Workshops on Global Citizenship Education for Latin America and the Caribbean to be held in early September of this year. The event will bring together UNESCO staff and country delegations comprised of representatives from the government, academia and civil society who work on global citizenship education. Prior to the event, we will be sending out a survey to analyze how global citizenship education is understood and implemented within the region. Currently I am drafting invitations and consultant agreements for the launch of the questionnaire and conference. Stay tuned for more details as the planning progress gets further under way!

UNESCO Bangkok: The First Few Weeks

About the Author: Maggie Appel-Schumacher is a soon-to-be graduate of the GW International Education Program and currently working within the Education Policy and Reform Unit at UNESCO Bangkok.

Bangkok night Bangkok at Sunset 🙂

First Impressions: The City

Thus far, from this GW UNESCO Fellowship experience in Bangkok, Thailand can be described as a very exciting, extravagant blur. With one swipe of the yellow “Rabbit BTS Card” the sky train arrives once every 3 minutes, taking a variety of different people unto their next adventures. There are lights, street signs, food stalls and motorcycle taxis galore. Bangkok is a city that doesn’t sleep- it‘s a city with a vibrant culture in every Silom and Soi. The commute takes roughly 35 minutes door to door from my apartment to the office. It’s rush hour at 8 a.m., leaving no seating room but plenty of opportunity to observe the every day life in Bangkok. Every morning begins with a sunrise through the city haze and food stalls are completely ready for business as early as 7 a.m. The Sukhumvit Road is thriving in the early morning hours, with many people ordering bubble tea, fruit and jumping unto motorcycle taxis to take them to their next destination.

First Impressions: The Office

The UNESCO office is nestled on the 9th floor of the International Science Center on Education while the main UNESCO office is under going renovations.   The office is set up in an open cubicle style, with colleagues assigned their individual workspace on an open floor. There is a steady buzz in the office. The office is decorated with UNESCO signage, booklets, posters and personal photographs and quotes, making the environment engaging and friendly. There is a big open meeting space on what has been called “the stage” that is used for meetings and discussions regarding projects and their ongoing development. In the first week, I was gifted a publication titled “Asia-Pacific Regional Education for All Report.” UNESCO Bangkok engaged in a collaborative effort to publish this regional monitoring report on Asia’s progress on some of the EFA Goals. It is an incredible experience to meet the people who have contributed directly to the publication of major UNESCO works. The office is comprised of the masterminds behind the review of EFA strategies, analyses and compilation of dynamic reports that are sent by the Ministries of Education in the region for UNESCO Bangkok’s comments and preparation of a regional synthesis. What an amazing opportunity- everyone in this office is sharp, passionate, and willing to dedicate countless hours to helping the region’s education efforts through policy recommendations and educational publications.

First Impressions: The Assignments

Within the Education Policy and Reform Unit, my first assignments are to write a literature review about teacher management and teacher effectiveness in the region. The assignment allows me the chance to review many documents related to teacher workshops conducted by UNESCO Bangkok and UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP) and external studies. Furthermore, I am assisting with the compilation of country research studies related to the policy and implementation of transversal competencies (also known as 21st Century Skills) in classrooms across the Asia-Pacific. This assignment is quite neat, as it allows me to review findings from research on transversal skills and contribute to a synthesis report that will be published at the end of this year. UNESCO Bangkok is knee-deep in a variety of critical issues related to K-12 education, policy, lifelong learning, TVET, and much more. Stay Tuned for more updates!

Elephants

This Fellowship also allows for some travel 🙂

Here are some Elephants at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai!

Work at the UNESCO office in Jakarta: First impressions

About the author: Yishan Ding, MA candidate in the International education program at GWU. This summer I am working for the UNESCO office in Jakarta for 3 months as a GW-UNESCO fellow.

Who work in the Jakarta office?  Like many other international organizations and companies in Jakarta, the UNESCO office here consists of national staff and expatriates. The expatriates are usually managers nominated by the head office, consultants, volunteers, or interns. While the expatriates, especially the international volunteers and interns, come and go frequently, many of the Indonesian staff have been working in this office for more than 10 years, even 20 years. Another interesting finding is that in this office, most staff, national or international, are women.

I have been to the Southeast Asia for several times. Still each time I am here, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed by the hospitality of local people. Once again, the first day I was here I felt the sincere kindness of people: all the colleagues at the UNESCO office were all incredibly nice to me; they were always smiling and always ready to help, no matter how trivial my problem was.

Where is it? 

IMG_3017
Galuh building of Jakarta office

The UNESCO office in Jakarta is located separately from other UN organizations. It is not in the business area, but in a quiet and beautiful living neighborhood, surrounded by plenty of tropical plants. The building of the UNESCO office used to be a personal house, making it very homey. Indonesia is a mid-developed country, with very sharp wealth gap. While as I just said, the UNESCO office is located in a beautiful and classy neighborhood, it is Slumdog just a street away.

IMG_3013
Street view in front of the office

Jakarta is a huge and modern metropolis. You can find everything you are supposed to see in a large city, skyscrapers, luxury brands, and especially the unbearable bad traffic. It is common for the local staff in the office to spend 3 to 4 hours on road everyday.

What do people do here? The UNESCO office in Jakarta is a Regional Bureau for Science Regional Bureau for Sciences in Asia and the Pacific and Cluster Office to Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste.

My first assignment was to proofread and review a strategic paper. Part of this assignment was to compile two appendix tables. I need to summarize information from a much larger data base, check whether the information was updated and then organize it into a new table. It is not very difficult, but requires more of carefulness.

Yup, above is my first impressions about work here! Do come back to check my as well as 6 other fellows’ updates about our wonderful experience in UNESCO!

From UNESCO Office in Beijing to Americans for UNESCO in Washington

About the author: Dandan Chen just finished her gap year in Beijing, China, and now back to Washington, DC for the last 6 months of her graduate study. She has interned for a variety of interesting organizations. Her most recent experience in China was with UNESCO Beijing. Now she is interning at Americans for UNESCO.

The logo of UNESCO Beijing Office.
The logo of UNESCO Beijing Office.

Two weeks after completing my 6-month internship with Education Sector at UNESCO Office in Beijing, China, I returned to my graduate school in Washington, DC. Here I started working on UNESCO-related projects on education as a GW UNESCO Fellow at Americans for UNESCO, an organization having been advocating UNESCO’s programs to U.S. Department of State ever since the U. S.’s first withdrawal from UNESCO in 1984.

In Beijing

UNESCO Beijing is a cluster office for five countries in Northeast Asia: China, Mongolia, DPRK, ROK and Japan. I truly owe a lot to this place, as all the experiences I had here, in 6 months, are so fresh that enable me to think differently about research, administration and teamwork, and so unique that give me a strong emotional attachment to UNESCO’s work. [Check UNESCO Beijing’s website to find relevant information]

3
Education for All movement. Photo from UNESCO.

To be specific, in Beijing I managed to participate in both the research and the administrative activities. Here I observed the daily routines of this lead international agency in mediating between governments to fulfill its global commitment in education development as its top priority.

What made this whole experience particularly meaningful was that the year I was there, 2015, was in fact the last year for UNESCO’s flagship initiative “Education for All.” It was a busy year for UNESCO to assess and evaluate the achievements dating back to 2000 and to compile the lessons to take in setting the new education goals for the Post-2015 Agenda.

During this time, I assisted my Japanese supervisor’s presentation in the national launch of the latest issue of Education For All Global Monitoring Report in China and Mongolia, compiled and proofread materials on education policies and laws in the five countries, and reviewed the literature and produced  annotated bibliographies for the internal research.  In the meantime, I was able to get involved in the seminars and conferences on a pilot project on sex education for the handicapped youth in China’s rural areas, a campaign against homophobic bullying.

The period of 6 months was long enough to even allow me to give the orientation to 3 new interns recruited consecutively for the office and observe their growth during their time here, which was fun!

In Washington

Capture
UNESCO’s booklet against homophobic bullying. Photo from UNESCO.

This summer, I continue to work on several areas of UNESCO’s educational programs in Washington, DC. This experience so far with Americans for UNESCO has been fruitful.

As I am getting to know this organization better, I realize it is a widely connected organization. It works with international organizations, NGOs, think tanks, the U.S. National Commission to UNESCO, and the U.S. Department of State. Its aim is to raise public awareness about UNESCO’s programs in the United States and to enable the civil society to better engage with the work that UNESCO champions.

Most recently, my supervisor called me on to produce several pages in advocating UNESCO’s educational programs for global LGBT groups. Such advocacy in the United States is particularly relevant and important today to UNESCO’s further development as the United States has withdrawn its funding at UNESCO since 2011, which equals to nearly one fifth of UNESCO’s budget. [Check Americans for UNESCO’s website to find more information]