Students from the University of Northampton have had the opportunity to visit the United Nations headquarters to find out more about how the global organisation deals with issues, such as the refugee crisis in Syria.
The 22 students, who are studying International Development, Economics and International Relations, headed to Geneva for a two-day excursion which included a tour of the Palais de Nations.
They were able to hear from representatives from the different agencies that make up the United Nations, such as the UNHCR (Refugee Agency) WHO, (World Health Organisation), UNDP (Development Programme) and IOM (International Organisation for Migration).
As well as the Syrian refugee crisis, the students also found out more about the Polio eradication programme, the role of trade and private investments in development and how social media can influence public opinion towards migrants. They also had the opportunity to ask the representatives questions and find out more about the issues they work on.
One of the students Emily Pedersen said: “I found the trip extremely informative on how the UN works as an agency. Through talking to different representatives I was able to get an idea of how I would pursue a career in the organisation.
“It also enabled me to see how what I am learning at University is applied in the ‘real world’. The discussions we had with the speakers gave me a greater understanding of current affairs, what is happening in our world and ultimately how I could make a difference.
“I would highly recommend students to go on the trip next year as I gained a lot from the experience.”
Another student, Monika Prchalová, said: “Thanks to very intense programme that was prepared for us, we managed to engage our critical thinking and therefore had very enriched discussions with people who have several years of experience in the workplace where we might one day like to see ourselves.”
Dr Kevin Deane, Senior Lecturer in International Development, commented: “The trip was an amazing opportunity for students to gain an insight into the workings of the UN and the varied work that they do.
“Our hosts described our students as a ‘very lovely and curious group’, and as ambassadors for the University of Northampton they were a credit to us. Several agency representatives received quite a critical grilling from them.”