I can’t believe my 5ish-months internship at UNESCO section for Teacher Development/International Teacher Taskforce for Education 2030 has come to an end. My last assignment was to provide support to the Secretariat of the Teacher Taskforce during the 11th Policy Dialogue Forum which took place just last week in Jamaica. Getting to see our work come to fruition during the Forum was one of the most rewarding experiences of my internship – and spending one week in Jamaica only made it that much better!

During this Forum, member organizations and member states of the Teacher Taskforce came together to discuss relevant issues and concerns among professional educators. The discussions were in line with the recently published Strategic Plan of the Taskforce. Moreover, smaller discussions took place among members who organized themselves into Thematic Working Groups according to their interests. These smaller groups came together to discuss actionable points which they could work on – until the next Policy Dialogue Forum – to support the advancement of the Teacher Taskforce in terms of research, advocacy, knowledge sharing, and fundraising among others.

Prior to the Forum, my role had been to coordinate these Thematic Working Groups. I did so by reaching out to the groups’ coordinators, facilitating member sign up to each group, outlining the Terms of Reference of the Thematic Working Groups, and providing with work plan templates for them to follow. To do this, I communicated extensively with members and coordinators of the groups via e-mail prior to the Forum. Meeting them in person was great, not only because I was finally able to put a face to the names, but also because it felt like picking up a conversation with old colleagues rather than meeting them for the first time. Moreover, Jamaica’s Teacher Council organized some school visits for us too. It was great to see how teacher policies come to live in a context that I am personally not familiar with.

I could not have thought of a better last week at my internship than to spend it in Jamaica working on my biggest project this summer alongside my colleagues!

Nonetheless, spending one week in Jamaica should not overshadow all the professional and personal experiences I have accumulated over the last 5 months and will cherish for years to come. To recap, here are a few of the things I worked on during my internship:

  • Heavily supported the team’s communications officer to polish messaging, edit, and translate all messaging related to UNESCO’s celebration of World Teachers’ Day 2018 and the 11th Policy Dialogue Forum of the Teacher Taskforce.
  • Planned and managed the Award Ceremony for the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers.
  • Drafted the TORs for the Thematic Working Groups at the 11th Policy Dialogue Forum of the Teacher Taskforce and followed up with the groups’ coordinators to plan their sessions and facilitate member sign up.
  • Supported the on-site management of the 11th Policy Dialogue Forum.

The most valuable lessons that I take with me are the importance of politics in development and the value of relationship building. These are the things that you can’t quite master in the classroom, but you cannot leave a big intergovernmental organization such as UNESCO or the Teacher Taskforce without a good sense of its politics.