Sunday, September 25, 2011



I am officially working now at the United Nations IRIN office in Dubai, and I feel awesome and anxious, often swinging between both extremes on a daily basis. Awesome because it's the UN! Anxious because my position is temporary and tenuous.

In the last blog update I wrote (in between the song lyrics and reposted articles), I expressed how worried I was about finding a job, and my fear of resigning to a regular desk job and reluctantly bypassing any adventures. But then my desperate tango with odd-jobs and frequenting workshops and conferences led me to this traineeship, for which I'm eternally grateful and relieved for. Not only is the UN the dream of every IR graduate, but it is such a blessing during these hard times. While my stint here will be too short-lived, it's enough to re-enter the UN later when I'm somewhere more financially secure and experienced to handle my own shit.

Oh, but there's always a little room for irony. While the odd-jobs were good work if you can get it, they were just too infrequent and far between. I felt like I was jumping from ice slab to ice slab in the Arctic. I leapt to a solid piece and looked around for the next one to jump onto before the one below me starts to melt, and I always managed to (thank God) find another ice slab to jump on. I managed to 'stay afloat' as it were, but ironically it was securing myself a steady job that meant that I am steadily reaching the bottom of my shallow savings.

There are amusing upsides to the job, like receiving emails from Keisha(maza) and Maradona. After the initial shock I do a double-take and realize that somewhere within this confusing maze of UN agencies we have at least a handful of people who share the same as celebrities and send mass emails, so it's cool. You find out weird stuff like there's a branch of the UN that works with scientists who study strains of algae that could fight malnutrition (that's actually where I got the email from a Maradona from).

In terms of growth I'm surprised at not only how much I'm learning, but how I process the information. It's such a radical difference when you're learning about current events from the classroom and from within the organization. All the logistical planning and the roles of different parties involved come into sharp relief and I began to understand things in ways I couldn't before. And my colleagues are truly great people. I was worried about whether I should take the smack-talk about the UN seriously (the smack-talk being jaded expressions like "oh the UN is mostly staffed with a bunch of idiots that are only in for the personal gains, don't buy into that belief that everyone there is a bleeding heart") so I came to the office a little apprehensive, but I had nothing to worry about. They're all down-to-Earth people and they could probably work in the private sector and make three times as much money, but they're putting their efforts into humanitarian projects and are relatively behind the scenes so there's no glory either. They're always helpful and are ready to answer my random and assorted questions.

Oh and it's a giant large bonus that the office usually comes together to lunch over KARACHI DARBAR take out food or traditional Egyptian koshari! AHHHH! Lunchtime is heaven! When people ask me if working at the UN lives up to all it's hype glamor all I have to do is remember lunchtime and exclaim with a big fat "YES."

Ooh baby baby, la la la la la la

So while I'm here I'm soaking up as much as I can and keeping an eye out for other opportunities after my traineeship. I do a bunch of different things here, but my favorite is helping the translation editor post the articles online. Take a look at the IRIN website and warn me if I've accidentally posted cracked articles or explicit youtube videos instead of humanitarian stories.

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