Reflection on my time at the UN

Picture: 
At the office farewell party. From left: Emeka Obiezu (Augustinians International), Abagail Lawson (intern with Marianists International), Alexandra Sajben (Dominican Volunteer with Dominican Leadership Conference), Jennifer Choi (intern with Congregation of the Mission), Susanna Seibert (Augustinian Volunteer with Augustinians International), and Sister Margaret Mayce, OP (Dominican Leadership Conference).
Body: 

When I first applied for this ministry position, I wrote that a sense of hope is essential for working towards long-term change. I laughed when I pulled out my admissions essay this week, because those words were more prophetic than I had realized. Unlike the direct service opportunities of my peers who worked in domestic violence shelters, schools, and food pantries during their volunteer year, I will not necessarily see the fruits of my labor. Working towards structural change requires patience and a long-term view of things, and I grew to understand that. While it’s obviously not possible to solve the world’s problems in a year, I did try to contribute my small portion to the global fight for social justice during my volunteer term.

I wish I could sum up a typical day of the UN, but every day is truly different. I attended UNITAR training sessions on subjects ranging from international migration law to the implications of the upcoming Arms Trade Treaty. I monitored the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as well as the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Social Development. I helped educate young women from Dominican high schools about the importance of international social justice. I wrote briefings, newsletters, and filed the occasional paperwork. I sat on NGO Committees and participated greatly in their taskforces.

The majority of my work this year lay in increasing the Dominican presence in human trafficking and women’s issues. I helped create and film an educational video on youth empowerment and education regarding trafficking in persons. I liaised with representatives to raise awareness of the exponential increase of trafficking in persons surrounding large sporting events such as the Olympics or the World Cup. I showed potential novitiates for the Dominican Order around the United Nations.

I would like to thank the Dominicans who so generously allowed me this opportunity to see a glimpse into the lives of sisters around the world who devote their lives to others, serving the poor and marginalized. They have been very inspirational witnesses for me, and I will treasure the memory of each sister I have met. Sister Margaret Mayce especially has been an outstanding mentor and boss over this last year. She is passionate about preaching truth to power, and her knowledge of social justice issues has been invaluable to me.

I am currently applying for jobs in international policy, humanitarian aid. While I am unsure as to where I’ll be next year, I do know that I will apply the lessons I’ve learned at the Dominican Leadership Conference throughout my career. Please accept a heartfelt thank you for allowing me to serve all of you this year!

By Alexis Sajben, Dominican Volunteer