A project for the United Nations

When your teacher walks in and says – for this class put aside all the theories you have learned so far. This is about to get more complex because you will be working with a real client on a challenging task – you already know it will be a good course. But, when he takes a dramatic pause and adds “And the client is… United Nations!”– then you’re like “Waaait what!” and it gets even better.

In general classes at Swedish universities are very mixed. So far we survived lectures, seminars, cases, oral exams, take-home exams, research papers and (yup!) a lot of group work. But this time was different, an external client was involved and we were ready to show them what we’re made of.

The task

As technical that Planning and Evaluation for Research may sound it was actually a course where strategic thinking has to be combined with creativity. And in only few weeks we had to deliver a final outcome that is clever and that actually helps to achieve the established objective.

Firstly, we had to choose one of the available tasks. In my group we decided to go with the Public Affairs Mission. Basically we had to develop a Fundraising Campaign for the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF) within the Private Sector in a country of our choice. It may sounds simple, but when one doesn’t have much specifications as we did, the task becomes more complex. And that much “freedom” can also be a threat, so you have to think carefully about your next steps.

We also had to consider our client’s (United Nations) “style” to work with the SDGF and stick to their standards and requirements.

How did we frame it?

After days of discussing, reading, comparing, researching, agreeing and not agreeing on things, more reading, and off course more discussing we decided upon the following: The Dominican Republic (DR) as the country where the strategy and campaign will be applied and take place; more specific within the Food Exporting Sector in the country. And as one of our guidelines, the Sustainable Development Goal 17, “Establishing partnerships within the private sector”.

Choosing the Dominican Republic was a challenge for me in particular. I knew I had to take a step back and look at things more critical, without being biased by my previous knowledge of my homecountry.

Looking back I must say this exercise was very enriching. I really got to see things from the “outside”. Especially because my group was so diverse (Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania and me, Dominican) so learning new facts about the country where I lived for the past 24 years was inevitable.

It’s all about group work

Talking about group members… one of the things I like the most about my Master is the diversity in the classroom, and therefore while doing group work (yes, you will have a lot of that in Sweden). These multicultural dynamics teach you a lot! Especially about the art of seeing the same situation from very different positions. THAT is something you can’t learn from a book, only in real life situations.

So get ready to improve your skills regarding cooperation and tolerance, identifying individual strengths and, very important, not taking things personally. If you manage all these, chances that you will deliver good results are definitely higher.

In the end…

I won’t go into many details about what we did and how we did it.  I’m not sure how to summarize 17 pages of report and a 40 minutes pitch. But in a nutshell,  the countless hours spent in the study rooms…. WERE TOTALLY WORTH IT!

And it feels good not just working for United Nations, or having an awesome group, or creating something off scratch or…. can I mention our final A? Ok, ok. But my point is, it feels good to know that communication can also be a tool for change. In only a few weeks we created a campaign that, if executed, could generate partnerships that in the long run will have an impact towards a better world.

What next?

Meanwhile you can also take action to make the Global Goals for sustainable development a reality. Here I leave you some ideas on how 🙂

For now only two more weeks to finish this second semester and a new chapter in this Swedish adventure is about to start! Can’t wait to tell you more about it.

/Ivanna

Ivanna avatar

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