Jeffrey Ryan (2014 Enrollment)
I had the chance to participate in an internship at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) Bangkok regional office during my last semester as a Master’s student. Working at UNIDO-Bangkok is a perfect fit for a student in the East Asia Program. First, sustainable development is at the forefront of UNIDO’s work across the broad spectrum of projects they are involved in. Second, working in Bangkok, at the heart of Southeast Asia, allowed me to better understand the diverse development strategies and achievements of countries in the region. As UNIDO-Bangkok covers not only Thailand but Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Myanmar as well, I was able to see firsthand the issues each country faces as their economies try to grow sustainably.
Much of my work in Bangkok focused on my research of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as they relate to UNIDO’s work. The SDGs are, in essence, the UN’s guiding principles for the next two decades and lay out specific targets and matching indicators that should be used for nations, and the world, to successfully develop while maintaining an eye on preserving precious resources. I worked on reports for SDGs 7, 9 and 12 which focus on equitable and affordable energy access, inclusive and sustainable industrial development, and sustainable consumption and production, respectively. My job was to create reports that summarized these individual SDGs, including updates about data availability and relevance and analyses countries within UNIDO-Bangkok’s region. This was a great project because it not only allowed me to better understand the region myself through my research, but I was able to contribute to the mission of UNIDO at the same time.
Participating in this internship was an excellent way to finish my program at Kyoto University. I spent the first three semesters at Kyoto University learning about the diverse elements of sustainable development, and I was able to spend my last semester putting that experience to work. It was very encouraging to see that the UN’s own framework for future development, the Sustainable Development Goals, are directly in the line with the curriculum of the East Asia Program. My internship reinforced the fact that what I am learning at Kyoto University will be incredibly valuable and relevant going forward.
Akkharaphon Thongpoon (2012 Enrollment)
During the 2013 summer vacation, I had an opportunity to do a full-time internship at BioThai Foundation, Thailand, for 24 official days. BioThai foundation was founded by a coalition of social activists, farmers, scholars, civil servants, and members from local communities who realize the importance, problems and solutions regarding preservation, development, local knowledge, biodiversity, community rights, food sovereignty, food security, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development, and fair trade. Working at BioThai Foundation has been very energetic and dynamic because these is a lot of work to be done by a small number of people, but due to that reason, working there was such a great experience for me.
During the internship, one of my tasks was to research about monopolization in the seed market both at the global level and the Thai domestic level in order to further the research and develop the argument of BioThai Foundation. Apart from that, BioThai Foundation have organized many activities that enabled me to participate in many meetings, field visits, public hearing, and academic assemblies, for example, academic Assembly of Sustainable Agriculture at Mahidol University; meeting with corn farmers and corn seed farmers in Prao district, Chiangmai, to discuss with them about the upcoming Thai-EU FTA; Second annual meeting (2/2013) of Thai Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN) at Richmond Hotel; TPP draft proposal public hearings organized by National Economic and Social Advisory Council; and a public hearing on a stage and parade where we delivered a proposal to Thai and EU representatives regarding the Thai-EU FTA negotiations in Chiangmai province.
I have learned a lot from this experience such as how to form good human relations in the workplace, politics and its effect and influence on the decision making of people in different grounds, the real situation of Thai farmers, NGO movements and their point of view, and so on. I was also very impressed with many aspects of BioThai Foundation, for example, all of the members are one of a kind; they are all specialized in different but related subjects. They are all very nice and kind, but also critical as if it is in the nature of anyone who works in civil society. Moreover, all of them are highly educated, for example, BioThai foundation director, Witoon Lianchamroon, has written an uncountable number of books related to agriculture subjects. Many members, including other networks, can speak English fluently with critical and rational thoughts. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to work at BioThai Foundation and to get to know many people in Thailand’s civil society. I greatly admire the work they have done for people, society, and Thailand.
Sungwoong JUNG (2011 Enrollment)
For a long time I had been eager to experience work at an international organization to understand how it deal with global concerns such as resource depletion, water shortage, food inequity, and climate change. At the end of my first year of Master’s program, fortunately, the United Nations University (UNU) at Tokyo, an international research institute of the United Nations, provided me a fruitful opportunity to work as a full-time intern for three months (46 official days, August-October 2012).
During the internship I was assigned to the GCS section (Global Change and Sustainability) which mainly focused on global climate change under the Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP), and it offered me a unique opportunity to be engaged with its various projects. While participating in its business meetings and helping organize its international conferences and symposiums, not only could I be familiarized with its research and project activities, but I could also learn a variety of approaches to global issues and sustainable development. In particular, I was so inspired by the logic and projects on ‘the adaptation strategy to climate change’, which sought to reduce the vulnerability of biological systems to climate change effects, that I made a report about it at the end of the internship.
Apart from such research and project experiences, it was also a great time for me to make special personal connections with people, who had different international backgrounds, careers and interests. Through attending international academic events at UNU, I had chances to interact with many scholars, politicians, and citizens. Also, during the internship I met three nice fellow interns from the U.K., U.S. and Japan, and we often shared and discussed each other’s study field and interests. In addition, senior staff and professionals not only helped me to adjust to the new position and working environment, but they also sometimes advised me about my future graduate studies, referring to their own interesting stories and experiences.
Through the internship I was able to both broaden my academic horizons and improve my research capabilities, and benefit from meeting many engaging people. Leaving Tokyo for Kyoto after the internship, I recalled again a quotation of “challenge is the opportunity for greatness”. The internship experience has really influenced my ongoing studies and is proving a valuable asset personally.