Youth in Action: Volunteering at the UN

August 21, 2019

Youth in Action: Volunteering at the UN

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a middle-income country experiencing an increasingly large young population. It is estimated that over 60 percent of Iran’s 80 million population are under 30 years old.

In order to maximize the full potential and seizing opportunities generated by the demographic dividend for achieving sustainable development, investment in education, health and jobs targeting youth are recommended in most contexts.

Annually, on 12 August the world observes International Youth Day – which was first designated by the UN General Assembly in 1999 and serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth.

This year's theme is “transforming education” which highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. Iran is a country with significant progress and achievements in education.

Despite some challenges imposed by the current international context, its is important to note that education efforts focuses to prepare and strengthen a knowledgeable society; that there is support for a solidarity and resilient economy that encourages young people’s participation in the local economy through decent work; and entrepreneurship opportunities to help people develop their human potential, but not at the expense of the good of the social or environmental fabric.

On the occasion of Youth Day, UNDP wants to highlight the importance of volunteerism and engagement. For this occasion, we interview national and international youth volunteers at the United Nations in Iran, talk about their motivation and experiences.  Below we share their reflections.

“I believe doing voluntary work adds a whole other dimension to one’s life. Having the opportunity to do a voluntary internship at the United Nations was a dream come true. Since I joined the UNDP, I have learned a lot about core human values as I get to see them in practice at work every day. This adds more meaning to my work. Daily discussions are about finding new creative ways to helping the UN take a step further in achieving its mission. I think I only started to appreciate what the UN is all about and my being here when I truly felt what a huge contribution my little role in the UN would make as I am being supervised by the UN passionate professionals to take the right step. As I have learned at Business School, organizational culture is key; here at the UN, everyone, from top management to colleagues, is amazingly helpful and approachable. This adds more meaning to my work.”

Danial, UNDP Intern

“Volunteering at the UN has taught me skills and inspired me in ways I cannot imagine achieving at any other internship. My interest in the UN developed from a childhood living in different countries across the world, where I wondered how one organisation could have such a profound impact on the ground in so many different formats. My internship has given me an insight into how such a huge multilateral organisation works at the operational level – in particular, my tasks on UN Reform have allowed me to understand the importance of structure in big organisations. Working on tasks that feel like they have a meaningful consequence inspires me to work harder, especially with an organisation that promotes the importance of what can be done at every level, even the youth! Volunteering at the UN has also allowed me to meet dynamic people at every level, from all over the world, all of whom are willing to help with any problems or even share some of their own life experiences. The energy I have been surrounded by other employees and interns here encourages me to look for careers in the future that will share the same desire to improve the world we live in for everyone.”

Emily, Resident Coordinator’s Office Intern

“I first joined the UN as an intern to fulfill my dream to have a small contribution to an organization that is working hard all around the world to make it a better place for all humans. I believe being well educated and motivated helped me to achieve one of my dreams. I encourage all youth around the world to be focused and try hard to raise their level of knowledge and become educated because this is the only way to fulfill your dreams and to leave a footprint in this world. I am satisfied to choose this path since it gave me the opportunity to get first-hand experience to work with humanitarian and development professionals and learn about different aspects of development and sustainability.”

Ava, Former UNIC Intern