Global Health Students Look Inside the UN

Marilee Sushoreba—programs coordinator for International Student Services and coordinator of the Millennium Development Goals Awareness Project at UW-Madison—accompanied seven students in the newly minted Global Health Certificate for Undergraduates program on a United Nations Study Tour in June.

The study tour sought to provide participants with a basic understanding of the UN, its network of specialized agencies and programs, and how these collaborate to fulfill UN goals, especially those related to global health. The students reported on their experiences in articles posted on the ISS-Millennium Development Goals website:

For Wisconsin in the World, several of them reflected further on what they found most interesting and what they gained:

Arianna Lund, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a junior, majoring in pre-nursing:

“The most interesting thing that I learned while on the study tour is how interconnected all the programs and agencies are. Each program or agency was working towards the Millennium Development Goals and each group did their part. Through these, they hoped to achieve a healthier, safer world. For example, the United Nations Development Programme works towards reducing poverty through environmental management. Also, the United Nations Children’s Fund works toward child protection and rights through access and availability to vaccines. Each program or agency strives to meet the goals by 2015.

“From this experience I personally learned more of my passion for global health. In particular, my interests lie in women empowerment and children’s equality and rights. I am thankful for this amazing opportunity to study in New York City; while there, I explored the city, made new friends and learned so much at the UN meetings. I would love to find myself working, volunteering or participating in an internship, at the UN. Through this experience, I feel like many more doors have opened for me, and I am now welcoming the idea of pursuing a master’s degree in public health.”

Soyoung Chung, from Seoul, South Korea, is a senior majoring in biochemistry:

“The most interesting/surprising thing I learned during my study visit to the United Nations was the importance of women’s role in solving basically a majority of the problems many developing countries are fighting against. These include health issues, human rights, are education, to name a few.

“I gained the sense of one small world while I was at the United Nations. All 192 member states came together to solve common issues of everyone that were affected regardless of their nationality, and those problems do eventually affect us in the developed countries if we do not help solving them. Also, I learned several ways to get involved at the United Nations, such as getting an internship and also gained the whole view of how a world-class organization like the United Nations operates and influences people all over the world.”

Danica Rockney, of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, is a senior, majoring in medical microbiology and immunology:

“Before this trip, I had an idea about what the UN was about and how they ran. However, when visiting the UN, that completely changed. I was unaware that in countries where the UN is active, the governments have to ask for help. Additionally, I was unaware how closely the UN works with each government in trying to find the best solutions that are sustainable based on culture and available resources. Although the UN is a huge organization, they do perform many activities on the ground that directly benefit citizens of the global community.

“This trip taught me that there are many ways to follow your passions and truly make a difference, whether it be with the UN or not. Above anything else, this trip taught me that everybody has the right to be an active participant in the global community no matter age, race, culture, religion, or country of citizenship, and when you follow your passions, you can truly make a difference.”

Madison Victor, of San Diego, California, is an international studies major:

“We often think of the United Nations as an international government of sorts; however, they are not that at all. Most all UN agencies that we met with made it extremely clear that they work with each country’s government and never control or make decisions for them. What I found most interesting is the regulation that an invitation into a country by the government is necessary before any UN affiliated organizations can begin its programs.

“I have obtained a comprehensive understanding of the United Nations, the most powerful international organization in the world. Most information we receive is very one-sided, often from the American point-of-view. Since this experience, I find that when I am trying to understand an international policy I can easily approach it from a multi-nation perspective.”

— by Kerry G. Hill