My name is Florence and I am currently interning at Religions for Peace (RfP), a non-governmental organization (NGO) partnered with the United Nations in New York City. I’m from London and I study history at the University of Leeds. As I love travelling and experiencing new cultures, I decided to take a year out of university and intern abroad – New York was where I wanted to be! After applications, interviews, and a lengthy visa process (that InterExchange helped me greatly with), I booked my flight and prepared for my American journey.
Before I arrived, I researched extensively into the work of my new employer and what I could bring to the organization. Religions for Peace is the world’s largest multi-religious coalition which works to promote peace through stopping war, combating world hunger and protecting the earth. My six-month internship at RfP is within their communications department and their Women of Faith Network, so my tasks include managing RfP social media accounts, writing their monthly international newsletter, organizing and photographing events, conducting research for projects, and much more! In my first week I was thrown in the deep end, as we had two refugee events to organize. Both events were a real success and allowed me to work with the whole team, so I got to know everyone pretty fast.
After my first two weeks, the General Assembly at the United Nations began; this meant the entire area I work in was swarming with important people, and the atmosphere was incredible! As RfP is partnered with the U.N., I was able to attend several exciting events. One of those events was the International Day of Peace, where Leonardo DiCaprio, Stevie Wonder, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon all gave inspiring speeches that focused on this year’s theme of sustainable development. I also attended a high-level meeting on countering violent extremism that was organized by U.N. Women and led by the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg. It was remarkable listening to the women on the panel, some of whom worked at a grassroots level to fight extremism and spoke of the atrocities they witnessed. I felt very lucky to have been given the opportunity to hear such important people speak; I was truly inspired.
I have now been living in New York for a month, but I’ve not even begun to make a dent on the list of things I want to see and do here! There are so many museums, galleries, and landmarks on top of all the incredible places to eat and drink. Recently, I attended a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, organized by Kristen at InterExchange. The gardens were beautiful and it was great to meet people from all over the world and who were in the same position as me - still finding their feet and wanting to make new friends.
Living on the Upper East Side with my uncle has meant I’ve been lucky with not needing to find accommodations; however downtown Manhattan is definitely the place to be! I hope to explore the area more and immerse myself further in New York City life.