I would like to express my gratitude to the founders of the McGill International Experience Awards and to Mr. Garvin Brown, for the support I have received through the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill, MIEA, that made it possible for me to intern at the United Nations World Food Programme’s Regional Bureau in Panama this summer.
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. It provides food assistance to over 120 countries and territories, hoping to alleviate the impact of climate change, conflict, natural disasters, inequality, and the COVID-19 pandemic on food insecurity. For this internship, I was working with the WFP’s Communications Unit at the Latin America and the Caribbean regional office. The communications team works on social media and more journalistic content, both of which I was able to partake in. On the social media end, I proposed and created many ideas for posts across social media, including creating videos and Canva posts, tweets, and transcribed and translated content in Spanish, English, and French.
While the social media work was quite interesting, I learned that I actually saw more of a future for myself in the journalism aspects of the communications unit at WFP. I had interesting experiences in this field, including writing an article on female farmers in Latin America for which I conducted research into the challenges that they face and recounted a story of a particular woman from El Salvador who had overcome these barriers. Furthermore, I translated many articles and press releases from English to Spanish and Spanish to English, which helped expand my vocabulary in the language. In fact, improving my Spanish writing and speaking skills in a professional context was one of my objectives for this internship and I believe that throughout the range of work that I did with WFP, it was achieved.
After a difficult couple of years, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend the first month of my internship in Panama City, where I could work with my colleagues in person. One of the highlights of my internship was attending the WFP’s 2022 Communications Retreat, which would not have been possible without having the funding from this award and the support of the ION. During this retreat, I met personnel from across the region, the office in New York and from Headquarters in Rome, which was at once an incredible networking opportunity, a great way to learn about the lifesaving work that WFP does in the region, and an incredible learning experience about how to effectively communicate the stories of the beneficiaries of the WFP.
As I previously mentioned, this opportunity really helped me come to the realization that I quite enjoy journalism, in the many forms that it can take, and that I would love to continue working to fight against social and economic inequality in Latin America. Gaining an understanding of the ways in which a major organization like the UNWFP works, as well as the important ways in which it provides aid has really helped further my desire to work for such an organization, especially in the Latin American and Caribbean region. I will likely continue my education by undertaking a Master’s degree in the region, hoping to advocate for vulnerable populations through academic research.
Thank you to the McGill International Experience Awards founders, and Mr. Garvin Brown for making this enriching experience possible! I am so grateful to have this opportunity to work with WFP and the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill helped give me the stability to put my all into supporting this organization and the powerful work it does.