Blog 5: Final Week at the UNWTO

I have officially wrapped up my last week as an intern with the UNWTO! The High-Level Political Forum was extremely engaging and brought in people from around the world. Each meeting was packed, full of Member States, stakeholders, representatives of the private sector, and guests. Stevie Wonder even performed onsite one day this week! When the HLPF wrapped up, it felt great to have been part of the meetings that led up to the forum. Watching the meetings on the theme of “Ensuring that no one is left behind” and National Voluntary Reviews, it truly demonstrated the international cooperation of making sure the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development is fully and successfully implemented. Meeting topics include:

  • Where do we stand at year one?
  • Envisioning an inclusive world in 2030
  • Lifting people out of poverty and addressing basic needs
  • Fostering economic growth, prosperity, and sustainability
  • Food security and sustainable agriculture, climate change, sustainable oceans and terrestrial ecosystems—adopting a nexus approach
  • Creating peaceful and more inclusive societies and empowering women and girls
  • Science policy interface: new ideas, insights, and solutions
  • Creating ownership at the national level
  • Mainstreaming SDGs into national policies, plans, and strategies
  • Vertical cooperation—local authorities and national governments working together
  • Challenges in mobilizing means of implementation at the national level
  • National mechanisms for monitoring progress and reporting on implementations for the achievement of the SDGs
  • Delivering for Small Island Developing States, building on the SAMOA Pathway
  • Countries in special situations
  • Multi-stakeholder engagement for implementation
  • Regional experiences
High-Level Political Forum
last day
Last day of the HLPF and Development Cooperation Forum

On Tuesday I gave my final presentation on my internship experience. Dr. Randle was in New York so it was easy and convenient to present for him and my supervisors, Mr. Richard Jordan and Mr. Sarbuland Khan. Mr. Ed Chiles, an expert on sustainable food and sustainable tourism, also attended my presentation, which was great because I had learned about him in my sustainable tourism coursework. They gave me useful feedback and asked questions that I can use to edit and improve my final research project that I am turning in early next week. I am proud of the research I have done and the paper that I will be turning in. Mr. Khan wants to submit my paper to the UNTWO Headquarters in Madrid, Spain, so that feels rewarding. After my presentation we all went to a nice lunch close to the UN to discuss and share sustainable tourism ideas. 

After my final presentation, L to R: Mr. Richard Jordan, Dr. David Randle, Bianca Cassouto, Mr. Sarbuland Khan, Mr. Ed Chiles

On Friday I attended my last meeting and said goodbye to everybody in the UNWTO. Mr. Sarbuland Khan, Mr. Rafeeuddin Ahmed, Mr. Kazi Rahman, and Ms. Yanick Calixte were all very kind to me and treated me as part of the team. I give them my deepest gratitude for their kindness and guidance this summer.

I have had the best experience in New York City this summer. This city is so lively and full of unique and interesting opportunities to explore, learn, and have fun. I am so happy I spent the summer here and I am honored to have interned for the UNWTO and gotten a first hand experience of the UN working hard to make the world a better place.

Blog 4: Attending the High Level Political Forum of the UN

The High Level Political Forum started on Monday, July 11th. From July 11th to the 22nd, the HLPF will be one of the main focuses of many UN members. The HLPF is the Forum that my internship has been building up to. These next two weeks I will be covering meetings, morning and afternoon. At the end of each week, I will produce a summary report that discusses the important topics and key findings of each week. So far, the main topics of the HLPF have included the main theme of “Ensuring no one is left behind”, poverty, food security, climate change, sustainable oceans, empowering women and girls, innovation, national policies, and other relevant topics. I have found the meetings to be really interesting and engaging. The topics are universal and it is easy to make the sustainability connections within all of the topics and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.


This past week I had lunch with Mr. Sarbuland Khan from the UNWTO, who serves as my supervisor within the agency. We discussed my experience so far and what I hope to take from the internship. I also met with my external supervisor for this internship, Mr. Richard Jordan. I showed him the progress I have made on my internship final report and he gave me some suggestions on how to move forward. The due date is approaching so I have to really manage my time in attending meetings, writing reports, and writing my final report. I will be giving my internship final presentation on July 19th, discussing my research and experience at the UN. Dr. Randle from PCGS, Mr. Khan, and Mr. Jordan will be my audience during the presentation and they will provide feedback that I can apply for my paper. At this point, I only have 6 days left in my internship and 9 days in New York City until I head back home.

Blog 3: Halfway Through

Some flags on display at the UN Secretariat

After attending several meetings on the upcoming High-Level Political Forum and the longer-term position of the UN Development System, I have a better understanding on the purpose of these forums and discussions. When the Panel and Member States are exchanging recommendations, questions, and concerns, I can follow along and understand the basis of what is being said.

I also attended the Humanitarian Affairs Segment, which discusses economic, humanitarian, and disaster relief assistance. This really interested me and is also pertinent to the future of tourism in developing regions of the world.

Humanitarian Affairs Segment playing a video on displaced peoples 

These forums, meetings, and discussions are all related to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda and will require a cohesive and integrated approach to make the world a better place.

The four main principles of the SDGs are as follows:

  1. The SDGs are universal
  2. The SDGs are indivisible
  3. Ensuring no one is left behind
  4. Linking together the main themes of all SDGs
  5. Work in partnerships

I am basically half way through my internship and about a month away from going home and turning in my final paper. I have started to add to and edit my internship proposal based on my internship experiences and further research I have done on the SDGs and tourism. Some of the objectives and research objectives in my paper have been removed, however my main topic is still the same and will still encompass the applicability of the SDGs to the tourism industry.

Update: The World Tourism Organization officially moved to a new office building that is closer to the UN Secretariat Building.

New building for the UNWTO

Blog 2: Continuing to Learn


Chair for the UNWTO Representative

Three weeks of my internship have already gone by! This week was important because it allowed me to learn more about the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The HLPF is the platform used to follow up and review the sustainable development Agenda. The Forum will be from July 11th to the 22nd, the latter happens to be my last day of internship. There will be several meetings in the morning and afternoon that I will help cover in addition to my supervisor and the other intern. We have discussed a rough schedule of who will cover each meeting during the HLPF. During the HLPF, I will have to produce summary reports quicker given that there are so many meetings to attend and one cannot lose track or fall behind.

This week I met the other intern in Bryant Park to share information that I had already received from the World Tourism Organization. We will both cover different forums and meetings, however our work will overlap.

Bryant Park

I attended a meeting in a new UN building this week. I walked to the United Nations Plaza, otherwise known as DC-1 and DC-2. DC-2 gave me a chance to see a different view of NYC, as pictured below, with a better view of the Chrysler Building.

DC-1 and DC-2
View from DC-2 of New York City, including the Chrysler Building

I am still working on summary reports and getting a better understanding of how to do them correctly using the appropriate format. I continue to be pleasantly surprised as to how many people are in and out of the UN buildings each day and I especially appreciate the diversity. In other news, the World Tourism Organization is moving buildings. We will no longer be in the Daily News Building; we are moving closer to the UN Secretariat Building. The Daily News building was used to film scenes in the 1978 film Superman and the sequel in 1980 since Clark Kent and Lois Lane worked as reporters. It is cool to be working in the same building that was occupied by famous actors. The Daily News building is a National Historic Landmarked, as deemed in 1989.

Daily News Building History
Daily News Building History

New York City has been great, including the weather. I am continuing to explore, see friends, and meet new people.

Blog 1: Welcome to New York City

My first week in New York City has been as fast-paced as I imagined it would be. Everyone here is always on the go, but I appreciate that. Moving into my dorm was quite easy and I’m very happy and impressed with it. I am staying in one of the renovated NYU dorms that is apartment style, so I have a kitchen and common space that comes in handy to cook and do work.

View from my dorm room

Before my official start date at the United Nations as an intern in the World Tourism Organization (WTO), I met with my supervisor in the agency, Mr. Sarbuland Khan. Mr. Khan briefed me on the role of the UNWTO and instructed me on background information to read so that I can better understand my internship responsibilities. My first full day was Wednesday, June 1st and I was busy and happy to be learning and attending meetings. My main responsibilities are to attend meetings pertaining to the Economic and Social Council and meetings about the Agenda 2030, relating to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Most meetings run during two timeframes, either 10 AM to 1 PM or 3 PM to 6 PM. Sometimes I go to meetings in both timeframes, other times I only attend one. I also have the flexibility to attend meetings of interest to me outside of my responsibilities; the other day I attended a meeting on women’s perspective and gender rights. I’ve been writing summary reports on the meetings I attend and many of them will be sent to the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid.

The Daily News Building, where my supervisor’s office is
The UN
Inside the UN
Conference Room in the UN

On Monday of this week, I met with Dr. Randle, my Patel supervisor, and Mr. Richard Jordan, my external supervisor, to discuss how my internship is going so far. Richard gave me the opportunity to speak for a few minutes at the Inaugural RASIT-EkoRE Agora Meeting titled Transforming the World Through Sustainable Energy for All: Leaving No One Behind. I spoke on the importance of the SDGs and the tourism industry, the main topic of my final report for the Capstone Internship. It was an amazing opportunity and I am so thankful to have participated in an official UN meeting as a speaker. Here’s the webcast of the meeting:

Speaking at the RASIT-EkoRE Agora Meeting

I am continuing to develop my summary report writing skills by attending several meetings and note taking. When I am in the Conference Rooms in the UN building, I am continuously reminding myself how fortunate and grateful I am to have an opportunity to intern in such a progressive, diverse, and respected organization. I am honored to be in the same room as so many important people. The delegates, representatives, and others of the UN are extremely humble and treat every person equally; their words are genuine and it makes me, and everyone else I assume, feel so appreciated.

Before the start of a meeting