This semester, two UST Law students who are Murphy Institute Scholars blog about their internship experiences working to support the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See at the United Nations in New York and Geneva. Rachana Chhin writes from New York, and Joseph Grodahl Biever from Geneva. To catch glimpses of the workings of the Holy See at the U.N., bookmark this blog and follow along.
By: Rachana Chhin
Published on: Thursday, October 10th, 2013
I’ve been in New York for almost a good two weeks now. As expected, my internship with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations has begun in earnest.
I’ve been assigned to cover developments within the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, focused on international legal matters. It’s really quite exciting and I’ve already observed and sat in on some high-level discussions having to do with everything from migration and development, to the rule of law, and international terrorism. As an International Relations major in college, this is doubly a dream come true to be at the UN and serve the Church while doing so.
(Clockwise starting at the top left: Isaiah 2:4 Wall, Migration Meeting, “Good Defeats Evil” statue in front of UN, St. Patrick’s Cathedral)
My day at the Mission begins at 9AM sharp, when all of the staff members and interns come to pray Morning Prayer of the Divine Office together, otherwise known as the Liturgy of the Hours. The Papal Nuncio, His Excellency Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, then assigns us our daily tasks from the UN Journal. During this time, I ordinarily meet with the Legal Attaché of the Mission to see if he needs anything else from me.
Our first committee meetings at the UN usually last from 10AM in the morning until 1PM in the afternoon. After a lunch-break back at the Mission, we return for the second sessions and continue until those are over around 6PM. There are frequently quite a few “side-events” hosted by various other mission-delegations that we can attend throughout the day. I make my way back to Hoboken and either spend the remainder of the evening relaxing or finishing up any outstanding reports for His Excellency. As you can see, our days are quite structured and full of things to do.
When I’m not on assignment, I’ve been taking the opportunity to make the most of my time in New York by sightseeing, trying out different foods (did I tell you just how amazing Bagels and Lox are?), and catching up with friends and colleagues who live in the area. After all, what opportunity will I get to be here for a time like this again? There are so many interesting things to see and do that, I’ve come to believe, a person can live their entire life here and not see every nook and cranny.
- The United Nations Headquarters.
New York can be a bit overwhelming at times, I’ll admit. But there’s a certain sense of peace when I take a step back and remind myself of why it is that I’m here: to serve the Mission, to learn about international law, and to walk alongside others helping to fulfill the UN’s noble mission, as outlined in their Charter. To that end, I am confident that my first two years in the JD/CMSA joint-degree program have equipped me for working on various issues at the UN by integrating solid legal formation with the richness of the Catholic Social Tradition.
This leads me into my last point in that our work here, in many ways, confirms for me the universality of the Church. One of the most pleasant surprises of the internship so far has been getting to know the other interns, hailing from such nations as Syria, Kenya, Spain, and Canada, among others. This is a communion that can teach the world much. That we can come together as part of the same Mission, and yet call so many different places home, with our own unique stories and upbringings, and still share our lives with each other so seamlessly is nothing short of amazing.
Pope Francis recently spoke on catholicity and I think the same ideas are relevant here at the UN, where the world gathers together:
Let us ask the Lord to make us more catholic – to enable us, like a great family, to grow together in faith and love, to draw others to Jesus in the communion of the Church, and to welcome the gifts and contributions of everyone, in order to create a joyful symphony of praise to God for his goodness, his grace, and his redemptive love.
How beautiful is that vision of a “joyful symphony of praise” radiating from the Church? To be sure, our work at the UN is quite different in many senses, but nonetheless how exciting it is to expectantly wait for what the next few weeks and days will bring as we continue along the way — with each other and among the family of nations. Thank you for journeying with us! Please keep Joseph and me in your prayers and we shall continue to pray for you.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.