UNICEF: The Path to International Relations
By Amina Salah
Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.
Image 1: JPC Amina Salah
My name is Amina Salah. I’m in my last year of university, working towards a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs at the University of Regina. As a child of first generation immigrant parents, I have always been passionate about diplomacy, geopolitics, and immigration. As someone who has gone through the process of immigration as a child, I have learned a lot about how fleeing from conflicts and disasters affects children. I applied for UNA-Canada’s International Youth Internship Programme (IYIP) because I believed that it would take me where I needed to be by the time I graduate. My goal throughout university has always been to gain experience in my field of study. I’m currently working as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Headquarters in New York City. My role is in Global Early Childhood Education.
At UNICEF, I work under the guidance and aid of the Early Childhood Education Programme in direct coordination with the Education Specialist on Secondary and Skills. Although I have only recently begun my internship, my work will be focused on analyzing and summarizing the progress of UNICEF country offices from the Country Office Annual Report (COAR) database. This is important in developing crucial points when it comes to drafting the global annual report on Early Childhood Education. This report will be based on themes that have been identified in 2022 by UNICEF. I am looking forward to this aspect of the internship the most due to the fact that it will help me understand what goes into policymaking when it comes to factors that affect and influence children’s development. Furthermore, I believe that this is going to be a great way for me to further hone my reading, writing, and analysis skills. The highlight of my academic career thus far has been learning about program evaluation and what goes into it. In order for improvements to be made to any system, the current framework must be evaluated. This is ultimately how we determine what exactly needs to be transformed. Moreover, the impact must be measured. I am excited to apply my evaluation and monitoring skills to my internship. I am also looking forward to learning about the behind the scenes of UNICEF workers. I have always been intrigued by how official documents are drafted, what goes into analyzing them, and what goes into policy making/changing. Being involved with the global annual report on Early Childhood Education will grant me the opportunity to learn all about this.
Image 2: JPC Amina Salah taking advantage of professional development opportunities at UNICEF HQ
When I started university, I was unsure of the path I wanted to take in life. As the years went by, I found myself intrigued by the field of international studies. When I received my acceptance letter from UNA-Canada, I was over the moon. I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to get my foot into the door of international relations and thereby learn from other individuals who have been in the field. This has given me the courage and confidence I needed to humble myself enough to learn from my peers and colleagues, and to realize that my experiences as a young Black Muslim woman matters. I have always been fascinated by policy making/policy changing alongside diplomacy thus I believe that my role as a JPC will guide me to my future path as a humanitarian aid worker and diplomat.