September 24, 2010
Contact: Rhea Borja, (323) 259-1406
On Sept. 25, Occidental College will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its United Nations program, one of the few internship programs of its kind for undergraduate students.
More than 350 Occidental students have benefited from the program since it was founded by George Sherry, a 39-year U.N. veteran and former assistant secretary-general for special political affairs. Each fall, about 15 outstanding seniors travel to New York City, where they study the contemporary role of the United Nations and intern at U.N.-related agencies and non-governmental organizations. Students attend classes, including an academic internship seminar, and complete an independent research project on a global issue.
“This is a distinctive internship program, one of the only programs that focus on the United Nations,” said Susan Popko, Occidental’s director of international programs.
Occidental President Jonathan Veitch will host the program’s 25th anniversary celebration, which will be held at Manhattan’s University Club of New York. The event will feature a keynote address by Steve Coll ’80, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and CEO of the New America Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the economic, energy, health and other challenges facing the United States.
A panel discussion will follow, “From Arc of Crisis to Zone of Peace: How Can the U.N. Increase Stability in South Asia?” The panelists include Barbara Crossette, former U.N. bureau chief for The New York Times; Philip Oldenburg, research scholar at Columbia University’s South Asian Institute; James Traub, contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine; and Mary Anne Weaver, author, New Yorker foreign correspondent, and longtime journalist on South Asia and the Middle East.
The event will close with a roundtable discussion by recent alumni of Occidental’s U.N. program, titled, “Why the Oxy’s U.N. Program Matters – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.” It will be led by Occidental’s U.N. program director John Hirsch, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone from 1995 to 1998.
This fall, Occidental students are working at the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N. Population Fund, and the U.N.’s Office for Economic and Social Affairs, among other organizations. The students get a front-row seat on how nations work with one another, how they develop international policy, and how diplomacy and trust are essential in working with diverse cultures and governments.
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