Each Wednesday, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments in order to inspire other women to be the best they can be and to fight against gender inequality.
This #WednesdayCelebrateWomen, UNIC Windhoek celebrates one of its interns, Nicola Gallagher. Read along as this motivated young American woman reflects on her positive experience with the agency and her path towards self-discovery.
Growing, learning and serving on my path to finding my true self
As a recent graduate from Boston College, a Jesuit Catholic University in the United States of America, I was worried about entering into the ‘real world.’ I was afraid of leaving the supportive University environment as I set on the path towards finding my true self. Luckily, this path has lead me across the Atlantic Ocean to UNIC Windhoek.
‘Setting the world aflame’ by being a ‘woman for others’
At University, the Jesuit priests urged me to be a ‘woman for others’ and ‘to set the world aflame’. Specifically as a communication major, I was interested in how communication could aid me in serving my fellow human beings and bringing about change.
I knew that I wanted to be part of a company or organization that worked towards serving other people and that challenged injustices in the world. From a small age, I dreamed about working for the United Nations.
Being part of the team that works to communicate the work of the United Nations with the Namibian public has given me the opportunity to utilize my academic background to create educational and informative messages that are shared with the Namibian public.
My positive experience at this internship has reminded me how important it is to do what I am passionate about and that no matter what path a person takes in life, it is important to stay true to oneself. I am passionate about questioning the world around me and promoting peace, equality and love, and I am blessed to be able to do that with UNIC Windhoek.
Grasping the opportunity to learn
Whether it was through listening to my lecturers, through reading research papers, through the conversations I had with my classmates over cups of coffee or through volunteering in my free time, I learned through my experiences every day.
Although when I graduated I knew that I would no longer be sitting in lectures, I wanted to continue to learn. I wanted to be part of an organization that opened my eyes to new ideas and people, and challenged me to question the world around me.
While working with UNIC Windhoek, I have been able to learn many new skills through every project and assignment I have been given. A large part of my learning has also come through the supportive guidance of the UNIC Windhoek Team, and it has reminded me of the importance of support structures. Positive, supportive environments have encouraged me to be the best I can be and to work to encourage those around me to do the same.
I believe that education is the key to women’s empowerment. As I have learned over the years and through my internship with UNIC Windhoek, education doesn’t have to be in a classroom. The most learning happens through conversations and experiences.
Reflecting and growing
Throughout University, I was asked to reflect on all aspects of my life: my school work, my actions, my relationships, my goals, etc. This pillar of reflection is important in terms of recognizing accomplishments, owning up to mistakes, and working towards positive growth.
With the open communication at UNIC Windhoek, I have been able to reflect on my work and the work the Team is doing with my peers and supervisors. This supportive group reflection and constructive criticism promotes personal ownership and reliability.
Also, as an American working internationally, I have been able to reflect on my life in a whole new light. As a white American, I have had many doors open for me that are not available to other people due to racism and prejudice. Working in a new country has challenged me to come to terms with this privilege and to start conversations about it and other injustices with the intention of bringing about change.
However, it has also shown me the sexism that exists. Before working at UNIC Windhoek, I worked in a different communication environment in which I felt that I was treated differently because I am a woman and did not have the agency to stand up for myself. Being silenced because of my gender was something that hurt me, but also motivated me to fight to make a difference when given the opportunity at UNIC Windhoek.
My time in Namibia has solidified in my mind that I want to dedicate my life to fighting the injustices I see and to promote positive change.
The winding path to self-discovery
Although I am not sure where my path to self-discovery will head next, working as an intern with UNIC Windhoek has allowed me to continue learning and growing all while doing what I am passionate about.