By Paulina Mangubat
I was first introduced to Good Neighbors by an old high school classmate. In high school, she had been one of those amazing upperclassmen who took it upon themselves to mentor less-experienced freshmen. Her honest, helpful personality has led her from Smith College to a successful career in civil society, and when she informed about a job opening for the role of GNI UN Communicator and offered to recommend me for the position, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
The application process began in April, I was interviewed and tested for the job in July, and by August 26 I found myself flying back to New York a week before school started so I could attend the 65th UN DPI/NGO Conference at the UN Headquarters from August 27 to August 29.
Before I get too far into discussing my experience at the DPI/NGO Conference, though, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Paulina Mangubat, and I’m a sophomore at Barnard College of Columbia University. At school, I write for the Columbia Spectator, act in a few productions a year for the Columbia Performing Arts League, and work in the Barnard Writing Center as a fellow. As a Political Science-East Asian Studies double major, I have special interests in social justice law, international relations, and nonprofit organizations.
As UN Communicator, I attend all New York City-based NGO events and relay the information back to the Good Neighbors International Cooperation Office in Geneva via e-mail. Since GNI doesn’t have an office or official representatives in New York, it’s my job to act as its eyes and ears during important events such as August’s UN DPI/NGO Conference.
Since the DPI/NGO Conference was my first official introduction to the world of civil service, I wasn’t sure to expect. My supervisor certainly did his best to keep me in the loop: I was told the purpose of the conference was to bring together a wide variety of NGO workers, volunteers, and experts to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer volume of talented individuals I encountered during the conference proceedings.
The conference featured experts from civil society, nonprofit organizations, and universities leading roundtables and workshops that discussed sustainability and human rights in the context of the UN’s post-2015 development agenda. The conference concluded with the approval of an official conference declaration that emphasized the importance of arts and culture, empowerment of indigenous people, implementation of sustainable policy, and participation of common citizens via civil society.
By the time the closing ceremony rolled around, my laptop disk drive was full of notes ready to be converted into my first UN report. The closing ceremony featured amazing speakers, including Hadiza Bala Usman, founder of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. I’m looking forward to further updates on the status of the post-2015 agenda, and I can’t wait until my next opportunity to return to the UN Headquarters.
Thanks so much, Paulina! For more updates from Paulina, follow her on Twitter.