Travels through Asia

Miu's Coffee House, Hanoi, Old Quarter
Miu’s Coffee House. Hanoi, Vietnam

At the start of 2017 I said that I wanted to travel to Asia and Asia-Pacific that year. From May I got to work in reporting and public information for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (or, more simply, OCHA) in South Asia (Pakistan and Bangladesh).

At the beginning of December and following these busy assignments I decided to make my way around India, Australia and Thailand for the first time visiting Kolkata, Sydney and Bangkok. Three weeks later I was back in London spending a lovely Christmas break with my 84-year-old Mum, my brother and his family.

Sydney breakfast
Sydney breakfast
Sydney Opera House.jpg
No prizes for guessing where this is
Bangkok night market 1
Bangkok night market
Bangkok boat
Bangkok

Then I hit the road again in the first week of 2018, taking in Phu Quoc, Ho Chi Min and Hanoi in Vietnam; Colombo and Galle in Sri Lanka; and Bali, Indonesia where I am now. It’s actually cheaper to be here than expensive London, whilst waiting for my next assignment, plus I get to miss all that city’s tiresome cold winter.

Acoustics bar, Hanoi, Old Quarter
Getting ready to perform at The Acoustics Bar. Hanoi, Vietnam

I like the song that blasts out from the Vietjet flight on landing in Vietnam (the link below will take you to the YouTube video).

 

Galle, Sri Lanka.jpg
Fishermen. Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle, Sri Lanka snake
Rather him than me. Galle, Sri Lanka

 

A funeral procession in Zadar, Indonesia
A funeral procession in Sanur, Indonesia

 

 

Breakfast in Kuta - tender buttermilk chicken, spinach and poached egg
Breakfast in Kuta, Indonesia – tender buttermilk chicken, spinach and poached egg

 

Work and Live Abroad – part 2

Embed from Getty Images

 

Finding those pesky international jobs

Here are some ideas.

General international jobs

LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s job board includes a nicely designed layout, good keyword search tool and a wide variety of advertised jobs. Also being able to message directly through InMail makes the process a bit more personable. I’ve sometimes found that jobs can be out of date, and be aware of the scams, but useful on the whole.

Escape the City

Sends out a mailing list of both paid and volunteer roles. I’ve had an interview through this and seen some interesting roles, so worth a shot.

Jobbatical

These companies and organisations will usually sort out your visa and flights once they’ve offered you a contract.

Remoteok.ie and Problogger

For those of you who are looking for jobs they can do remotely, although they seem to be targeted at US professionals. Still worth a look.

Fiverr

Fiverr has great blog community resources and engagement, and I find this a user-friendly remote work portal, especially for creatives.

Workaway

Pay a (tiny) annual fee and find free lodging – even sometimes a room of your own – anywhere in the world in exchange for your skills.

A word on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

Be careful with this one. I’ve attended a course at a fairly reputable TEFL school in London and even there, students were caught out in at least one scam job advert. Schools ask for passport details in their adverts – a standard practice in the industry and, in my opinion, a bad one. It’s a way for schools to test early on the validity of the jobseeker. But how many passports have been scammed this way?

In addition, any requests for PayPal payments from recruiters are a huge red flag.  So, take the course and apply for TEFL jobs, but do your own very careful due diligence, as one should with any international job.

International development jobs

UN Volunteers (UNV)

There are two options: online volunteers who find remote work to which they can lend their time and skills not only to UN agencies, but to a wide range of local and community NGOs and charities.

Then there are the field UN Volunteers: after registering your profile you may be approached by the UNV office in Bonn for relevant field assignments to serve with a UN office (following a written test or/and interview). Two years worth of work experience are required for the field volunteers, who are not paid a salary, but rather a decent enough living expense. Note that you can’t do any other paid work alongside the volunteer role, including freelancing.

Both online and field UNV opportunities are valuable volunteering experiences in themselves, and worth considering to determine whether a UN career is really what you want. Also, guard against turning into a serial UN volunteer, unless that’s what you want.

Internships

Along with volunteering, this is a valid foot in the door option for the United Nations or any organisation/company. If you can find a reasonably paid internship even better. But I wouldn’t recommend anyone doing these stints for much longer than a year at the start of your career – three months if it is unpaid. For a start, you are trying to build your cash reserves to travel, as well as your professional experience. And these kinds of work can turn into a kind of exploitation. So, enjoy these experiences for a while, and know when to move on.

The following joblists are useful resources:

Reliefweb

Charityjobs              –             UK-based jobs but also has some international

UNJobs                      –             lists UN and other international organisations

Eurobrussels           –             mainly for Brussels based or EU oriented jobs

Gorkana                    –             for PR and journalism jobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning right on human rights – the new world order? Philip Alston at the LSE

lse-alston-lecture

The second event I mentioned in my previous post was at the London School of Economics (LSE) on the 1st December, and nods to International Human Rights Day on December 10th.

Fresh from a flight, Professor Philip Alston delivered his lecture on populism to a packed theatre of listeners.

Right-wing populism was the focus, not only in a Trump-led United States, but also in Turkey, Russia, France, the United Kingdom (in relation to the rise of Farage and UKIP) and other countries. Whilst not quite a doomsday scenario, he said he believes we are certainly at a watershed point in history. At this time of ‘new word disorder’ it’s time to rethink our assumptions and re-evaluate our strategies about human rights, he said. In his view the key issues are:

  1. The threat to democracy – with many of us convinced that the need for security trade-offs legitimises (for example) extreme states of emergencies, such as the present one in France. Also, there is the constant erosion of civil liberties in some countries.
  2. Inequality and exclusion – we need a renewed focus on social rights, as well as the political
  3. International rule of law and international humanitarian law are dangerously undermined and threatened – including by the US and the UK
  4. The fragility of international institutions

Yes, he did offer some pointers towards potential solutions, including his urgent appeal for a social rights agenda that would address everyone and not only the most marginalised.

(My take on that last point is that he may or not be right. But I think one should have something concrete in place before viciously tearing up the rug from under peoples’ feet).

But his (almost) final pertinent point was the need for every individual to think about what their own personal human rights role or contribution might be, however seemingly small.

Professor Alston has worked broadly for the United Nations over many years but hasn’t been afraid to criticise it either, most recently in its treatment of Haitians over the cholera outbreak – read UN Chief apologises for Haiti cholera, six years later.

Grab a coffee and listen to the full lecture here.

Find and read The Economist’s review of the report The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics by John Judis (‘They want their countries back’ page 71 Dec 3rd -9th 2016)

 

Travels with the UN – Bangladesh (2011-12)

Dry, hot city. Wafts of diesel and food combined hang heavy in the air. Cars, motorbikes, rickshaws pile noisily back to back in densely congested roads. Street hawkers weave expertly through traffics of people and vehicles, whilst children scurry among the crowds, clutching goods for sale instead of school satchels. Welcome to Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Back with UNICEF for six months, this time in Dhaka. Lots of writing, lots of getting out to meet partners from international and local NGOs (such as the impressive BRAC), as well as talking to Bangladeshis inside their homes and work places about their lives and experiences with UNICEF supported projects.

25-year-old Sapan Miah teaches villagers about pneumonia and other health matters. Parathia, South Sunamganj, Bangladesh
25-year-old Sapan Miah teaches villagers about pneumonia and other health matters. Parathia, South Sunamganj, Bangladesh

I also spent a chunk of time visiting schools, including one where I had to give an impromptu ‘inspirational’ speech to the children at their prize-giving ceremony. They were very gracious – I felt like a UNICEF Representative for all of my two hour visit there!

I also got to work with a strong, hardworking and fun communications team at UNICEF Bangladesh. Click here for one of the newsletters we produced.

For more info about UNICEF Bangladesh see here