UNIS Vienna focus on interaction with students on UN Day
This year's United Nations Day put a strong focus on interacting with students: bringing the UN to the classroom as well as taking students into UN offices.
Following the successful example of the UN Office in Geneva, the first "Shadowing Programme" took place in Vienna. The aim of the programme was to invite university students to the Vienna International Centre to accompany UN staff members for one entire working day between 17 - 31 October 2012 (with the focus being on UN Day - 24 October) and "shadow" them - meaning to be with them as they arrive in the morning and be with them for the entire working day.. This gave the students the opportunity to see at first hand the daily work of our colleagues and discover how the UN machinery works and how versatile that machinery was. The project was very well received among the students. In total 125 students with such diverse backgrounds as Law, Political Science, Biomedical Engineering and Communications registered for the programme, of whom 43 were selected to participate. Thirty staff members from all major Vienna-based Organizations volunteered to take one or two "Shadows".
Feedback was very positive from both sides: One student left us the following comment: " Just wanted to say THANK YOU for my day at the UNOOSA - it was an amazing experience to get such a deep insight into your organization. This Programme broadens one's mind - would be great if you keep it up." (Lisa Maria, Business Administration)
UNIS is looking forward to repeat the programme next year.
UN lecturers from different Vienna based Organizations also formed part of a seminar titled "The UN as an International Actor" offered by the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna. UNIS Vienna Director Janos Tisovszky opened the seminar with a general introduction to the UN on 18 October.
Also on the occasion of UN Day, UNIS Vienna, in cooperation with UNIPORT, the career service of the University of Vienna, invited law students to an event on 30 October, titled "Working for the United Nations". This informative meeting showed the participants possible working opportunities at the UN in their professional field. Five staff members with legal backgrounds from different Vienna-based organizations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) presented their personal ways into the UN. Following a plenary session and a general introduction by UNIS Director Janos Tisovszky, staff members split up in different rooms to have individual Q & A sessions with the students. The students were able to move freely between these rooms and ask individual questions. The event generated high demand among the students who filled the available 160 seats long before the registration deadline.
Middle and high school students are the target group of the project "The UN in the classroom" which kicked off on UN Day (24 October). The initiative - so far in a pilot phase -- involves tour guides going out to schools and give students an interactive presentation about the UN and Vienna-based UN organizations. The winter semester 2012/13 is considered to be a test phase. At the American International School, UNIS was already present with a booth at a UN Day event a week before UN Day, informing students about the work of the United Nations. Regina Rohrbach, Public Information Officer at UNIS Vienna, gave a lecture to primary school kids. She explained the functioning of the UN in a way that was both exciting and suitable for children.
High school students were also the focus of this year's UN Day celebrations in Slovakia. Deputy Director Sonja Wintersberger held a lecture on the UN within the framework of the UN4U initiative on 24 October in the Grosslingova secondary school in Bratislava.
The Austrian UNA and AFA have organized a guided tour at the VIC on 24 October. 55 participants attended the tour, followed by a briefing on the priorities of the Secretary General and the VBOs from UNIS Director Janos Tisovszky. .
Additionally to the UN Day focus on youth this year, UNIS took part again in the Open Day activities of the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs on 26 October 2012. Tour guides presented the mandate and the work of the United Nations to the general public. They handed out different information brochures and let visitors create their own buttons featuring diverse UN-related motives. A life-size paper figure of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was of particular interest for many visitors serving as a highly demanded photo opportunity.