Rebecca's first month in Nairobi with UN-Habitat!
I’ve been in Nairobi, Kenya a bit over a month now at UN-Habitat headquarters, and the holidays are drawing near. It’s remarkable how quickly time can fly! As a student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in UNA-Canada's International Development & Diplomacy Internship Programme. I arrived Nairobi just before November to give myself a few days to settle in before starting my internship in the Youth Unit of the Urban Economy Branch. Though not my first time in East Africa, it was my first time to Nairobi and I was (and still am) awed by the enormity of the city, the paved roads, dozens of uber drivers, and the ready availability of cheese. All to say, I liked it!
My time at work has been interesting and challenging, and I’m really enjoying the projects I’m working on, the office atmosphere, and the UN campus itself. Every UN agency is represented here in Nairobi, and so the UN compound is enormous, with various office blocks, cafeterias, a recreation centre with a pool, and kilometres of trails for walking or running. It’s quiet and peaceful, except for when monkeys get into the offices (which they do at least weekly without fail) and terrorize workers as they search through lunch bags for treats.
I arrived after most of UN-Habitat had just returned from Quito, Ecuador for Habitat III and the signing of the New Urban Agenda. It was an exciting time to be in the office and to hear about everyone’s experiences at the conference. Since, I’ve been working on a few different programme evaluations; some for new initiatives and others for long-term projects. They all work with youth in some capacity, and so it’s been fascinating to learn about the specific issues that primarily affect those 15 to 24 years old. In my third week, I was asked to accompany my supervisor to Kampala, Uganda where we participated in workshops with a number of Ugandan and International partners working together towards a programme on gender inclusion in the world of work. It was an awesome opportunity to travel so soon, and to meet so many people working on similar projects.
Outside of work, my roommate (another IDDIP intern!) and I have been exploring as much as possible. I’ve met a bunch of other UN interns from all over the place, many local Kenyans, and a few Canadians as well! The national language here is Kiswahili, but everyone I’ve come across speaks fluent English and so it’s very easy to communicate. Nevertheless, I hope to take some language lessons in the New Year. For the holidays, I’ll be spending some time in Mombasa at the beach. Everyone says Nairobi is all about the “hustle”, so I’m looking forward to the famous coastal beach vibe. Then, January will begin with all that the New Year entails—new projects, new budgets, new targets, and more. Life is certainly not dull!