Friday, August 5, 2011

General Thoughts on working at UN Vienna

The time here went by way too quickly for me to really have a full understanding of everything that happens within UN.GIFT, much less at the Vienna International Center (loving referred to as the VIC.) However, I’d like to just make a few notes on things that I loved here and things that drove me nuts, first within the UN.GIFT team, then the VIC.
I admired and appreciated the team camaraderie and felt honored that they invited me into their little family. Livia, one of the 4 full-time staff members, is preparing for a Tuk-Tuk race across Sri-Lanka with two of her friends which will raise money for human trafficking victims, of course the entire team got involved in helping her prepare a promotional video for the race fund-raising and are all supportive of her adventure even though its being done on her personal time. Which, by the way—how awesome is that? Claudia, a lovely woman from Italy on the team, invited me to play touch-rugby with her—a sport she picked up when stationed in Serbia. I actually really loved it, despite my complete lack of hand-eye coordination. Siria had patience with my horrific Spanish and for my slow learning with web-page design—she has no clue how proud my high school computer teacher would be of me now! Last but not least, Sandra—always had a cup of coffee, words of advice and funny anecdotes about her daughter, all of which brightened my days in the dark VIC corridors.
What drove me crazy: WebCMS programming…yeah…ummm…Zan and web-design do not really mix (as you can tell from my completely boring non-techy blog.) However, eventually I got into a rhythm…plus, it gave me a chance to do something that I love: write!
It KILLED me that the more I understood/learned about how UN.GIFT is funded/how little it receives that despite the craziness of completely unknown sources/amounts/consistency of financial support that the team still managed to continue achieving so much…it just seemed so inefficient to never know for sure where, when, how, and how much money would be available, always programming on the assumption that there wouldn’t be anything more coming or from which member states, etc….so hard to watch. I suppose this is just how all UN agencies work, yet, it still just is crazy to me.
The VIC:
Okay, just a quick physical description: the VIC is a group of buildings that are all shaped like two half moons back-to-back…observe: )(. They are all different heights and all are somehow connected. The idea was to ensure that ALL offices had windows and that close to none of the buildings would cast a shadow on other parts of the complex to enable the maximum amount of natural light possible. Sounds lovely, right? Ummm…no. this resulted in a very confusing layout, I got lost literally at least twice a day all the way up to my last day on which I actually got lost four times (an explanation of why is coming…) Furthermore, this genius design also meant very narrow hallways and stuffy offices that smelled like either BO or burnt stale coffee pretty much all the time.
I loved how cheap the food was in the cafeteria, I loved the really funny bartender (yes there was a bar at the UN and yes, the drinks were all subsidized, yay!) I loved walking in the hallways and hearing a half dozen languages at any given moment. I loved the diversity of people, cultures, clothing, ideas, opinions, etc. SOOOOO…I suppose the awful building is okay, since it was full of things I fell in love with.

That’s all for now…I’m in Moldova now, I’ll write more about that soon 

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