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Entering the World of Diplomacy with IOM

By Leena Badri


Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.


Image 1: JPC Leena Badri


My name is Leena, I’m based in Toronto, Canada, and I am part of the current cohort of the International Youth Internship Programme (IYIP) with UNA-Canada! I have a degree in International Relations and Peace, Conflict, and Justice with a focus in African Studies from the University of Toronto. My interests include social development, cultural anthropology, diaspora, and migration. I have previously worked in various positions, including with youth activist groups, municipal government, and museums and heritage sites. I made the decision to apply for the IYIPs, because I wanted to take concrete steps toward my goal of working in the non-government sector, particularly in the realm of social development, and I knew this would be the perfect position to equip me to pursue my career goals.


Image 2: Leena Badri at a previous role at a heritage site with a 1,000-year-old shield


When I first received my acceptance letter into the IYIP programme, I was incredibly excited and overwhelmed at the same time. The world of development, diplomacy, and policy seemed incredibly daunting, and I wasn’t sure what to expect – or what would be expected of me. Freshly graduated, I was nevertheless eager to put all the theories I learned into practice. Following my acceptance, I was eventually onboarded with the International Organization of Migration (IOM) headquarters in Geneva as a Junior Professional Consultant. The first time I met all the team members, all my worries dissipated almost immediately. I was surrounded by people who spoke a variety of languages, specialized in different areas, and held a wealth of knowledge. Having lived in the Middle East, East Africa, and North America, I also quickly realized how my own personal experiences were useful in developing my understanding of topics such as labor migration, social inclusion, and harmful coping strategies.


Image 3: Leena Badri workspace

Despite working virtually, I was able to quickly get to know my team members and develop a productive working environment. I enjoyed the independence that the work environment allowed, as I could throw myself into projects and resurface to ask for guidance from the team when needed. So far, I have been able to collaborate with consultants in the realm of labor inclusion, complete mappings of migrant resource centers across Europe, and help develop reports and publications for IOM.


I did not expect that I would learn so much from my own research and discussion with other professionals in the field, but I can confidently say my eyes have been opened to many complex and fascinating topics in the field of topics in migration that I might otherwise have never been privy to! I am incredibly excited to continue my work with IOM, and I hope this becomes a stepping stone for my career in the field!


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