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Do what you do best and help the UN

Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman. Picture by Arnab Mondal

Continue to do what you do best, was the advice from the director of the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan, Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, to “the youth of today”.

Mehra-Kerpelman was at the Millennium Hall in La Martiniere for Girls to speak on “Working for the United Nations”.

“United Nations needs all kinds of people,” Mehra-Kerpelman said at the programme hosted by the Ficci Ladies Organisation (FLO), Calcutta, and La Martiniere for Girls on October 6.

Dispelling the notion that only students of political science or international relations had a place in the UN, Mehra-Kerpelman said: “If it is the World Health Organisation (WHO), it could do with great doctors. If it is an atomic energy agency (of UN), then we are looking at other sciences. You can be good at anything. You can follow your own passion in your field of study and still be able to get into the UN.”

Admitting that her own children found the UN boring, she said: “It is true one hears that from time to time. It is heavy bureaucracy. Can you imagine getting all those countries (together) and working to get consensus on issues such as peace and human rights? ...It is highly bureaucratic but a uniquely incredible organisation that grows on you.”

The session ended with Mehra-Kerpelman fielding questions from students at La Martiniere for girls and boys, St. James’ School, Modern High School for Girls and Adamas International School among other schools.

The first question, however, came from Lorraine Mirza, the principal of La Martiniere for Girls, on how her school could be involved with the UN.

The UN official reminded the students they were fortunate to have an opportunity to participate in the Model United Nations with “dedicated teachers and incredibly talented students, which is a great recipe for churning out well-grounded candidates for future jobs”.

Mehra-Kerpelman also suggested that youngsters could become UN volunteers or enrol for the young professionals programme.

“India has its greatest power in its youth today. You have a chance to get an education, there are others who are not as privileged….In your own way...if you are able to make a difference in one other life, it is worth it and you are doing what the UN is striving to do. Continue to do what you do best,” were her parting words.