Working with the USUN

February 10, 2015

in Europe, Italy, Jeremy O'Brien

Working with the United States Mission to the United Nations Agencies (USUN) in Rome has been a pleasure thus far. Primarily, I am involved in the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program, the International Developmental Law Organization, and the International Fund for Agriculture Development. After a week of work now, I can say I am finally settling into a steady routine. The work day varies on a day to day basis. The typical part is getting ready in the morning, being at the Embassy compound by 8:30am, grabbing a café with co-workers, and then getting busy through 5:30, sometimes 6pm or later.

Last Wednesday was my first day on the job. I was escorted around the compound for a tour very first thing, and then was introduced to my supervisor, Juan. He is very intelligent and extremely involved as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) in the United Nations. Twenty minutes later, the work began with a USUN team meeting. Our team is composed of U.S. Ambassador Lane, USAID, Department of State FSO Officers to United Nations Agencies, and public health officials (and me of course, the intern). After introducing myself, I quickly was taking notes on worldwide policies/issues Ambassador Lane and our team are addressing, varying from food security across the globe to Ebola in West Africa. After this meeting, Juan took me out for some fantastic pizza and gelato, helped me get things set up in my office, and just like that it was 5:30.

The following day, I spent a majority of the morning in a security briefing, both for the compound and my own personal security. I then was exposed to the world of the United Nations. My supervisor Juan drove us in a diplomatic car to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a UN agency housed here in Rome (which by the way is next to the Colosseo!). United Nations meetings are even cooler than I expected! We get to interact with diplomats from all member states of the United Nations, 193 countries across the globe! Primarily, I am responsible for taking detailed notes and reporting back to Ambassador Lane and our team at meetings. Juan, an FSO for the U.S. gets say on policies and debates. I also am encouraged to collaborate with other interns to other countries, for example, at the meeting on Wednesday there was an intern to Germany. On Thursday, I sat in on an even larger UN meeting at FAO, and we were finalizing budget proposals for the organization.

One project that has been specifically assigned to me is to research and report on Antimicrobial Drug Resistance (AMR). AMR is the issue of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. Many new strains of bacteria are developing in response to heavy usage and overly prescribed antibiotics, and drug companies are having a hard time keeping up with the fast transforming bacteria. This is a huge public health concern for not only the United States but countries across the globe, and many UN officials are talking about the topic. There is a conference on the issue in Sweden next week. With this being said, I am responsible for finding relative information, interviewing public officials/professionals on the topic, and writing a report for Washington, D.C. and the USUN. More to come on this project soon!

Over the weekend, I was also fortunate to go exploring! Two other interns and I visited the Colosseo, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and many other sites across Rome! There is so much history to see, and I am excited for what is in store over the coming  weekends!


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