As I reflect upon some of the key insights from my first several months at the UN, I’ll start with Highlights, then explore some New Learning and wrap up with Looking Forward. Highlights of these first several months include:
The biggest surprise was how much of the work of the UN is available, free of charge, on the web – anyone can simply go to webTV.UN.org and check out both what is happening currently and what has happened recently.
There have been daily opportunities for New Learning, starting with finding my way around New York City! (I have found that I tend to go in the exact opposite direction of where I need to be headed. As with so many things in life, the trick is to figure out I’m going the wrong direction and simply turn around and enjoy the detour.)
The people there representing other religious orders are amazing – it is truly an honor to get to work with them. It is also an honor to work with our Loretto Volunteer, Ariana Alvarez, and we will soon celebrate her amazing year of work as she heads off to graduate school in July. (I loved meeting All the Loretto Volunteers in March – what a vibrant group!) I’ve already learned numerous helpful hints from Rosa Lizarde of the Feminist Task Force, with whom we share our office, and also from our NYC-based volunteers Paulette Petersen and Erica Carlino.
I’m sure my learning will continue at an in exponential pace as I prepare to attend next months’ high-level political forum (HLPF) on sustainable development. The theme will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world,” and over 40 nation states will voluntarily share best practices around a set of seven of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If people have interest in learning more, you can explore the event online at:
One challenge has been to be patient with myself as I learn at what feels like an exponential pace about new opportunities to collaborate and affect small, yet important, change at local, regional, national and international levels. ( I wish there was simply a pill I could take to simply ingest all the acronyms! Just yesterday, Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War: Blog, outlined this challenge when he noted that those who work at the United Nations “speak in endless acronyms, forcing anyone who enters UN conference rooms to scramble to grasp our institutional short-hand.”)
As I look forward over the next six months here at the UN office, I’ll be focusing on creating a welcoming atmosphere for our new Loretto Volunteer, Mary Louise Pabello, and exploring opportunities for us to learn and participate together. I’ll also be paying close attention to ways to assist the teachers at Loretto schools as they prepare for CSW62, and ways to better communicate the excitement and complexity of the 2030 SDGs and the UN throughout the community. Since I’ve never been more aware of the responsibilities of being a US citizen, it gives me hope to be at the United Nations, where a vast majority of the people understand and practice diplomacy and civility.
In conclusion, I’m filled with so much gratitude for the opportunity to work on a wide array of cross-cutting justice issues that relate so closely to the heart of the Loretto Community.
- Beth Blissman, UN Rep for the Loretto Community