2011 - Dionysia Rigatou, JPO with UNDP currently funded by Greece, shares with us her experience and insights on her assignment in Turkey.
My friends used to call me UN.
Now I am proud to be part of UN!
I started out very timidly during my MA studies to participate and volunteer in NGOs and become active in civil society. From volunteer I became board member and from board member I became elected member of the National Youth Council in my country. One thing you need to know about NGOs and especially youth NGOs is that they are a family, a very big family that span across the globe. I was and still am happy to call my friends people from all around the world from the Philippines to Martinique and from Estonia to Lebanon. I learned how to live, breath and work with people that come from very close or very far away.
We made the world our playground and our projects where our toys! We tried changing the world with a smile and one person at a time! These experiences changed me and trained me to join the family of the UN.
During my first days as a JPO in UNDP country office in Turkey (Ankara) I was still struggling to adapt to a city where foreign languages are not widely spoken and a brand new working environment.
Now three and a half months later I am integrated into the team of the office, had worked alongside different people, participated in two missions already and feel appreciated for my work and efforts.
Despite the fact that my logic says I am doing and experiencing plenty of things already, I am still thirsty for more new adventures and initiatives and projects and missions and acquaintances!
The future will hopefully bring more fulfilling surprises for me, like Ankara. Ankara was a surprise for me. In the beginning I was fighting against its ways until I gave in to its charm and I realized it's a city that grows on you!
You need time to appreciate the nice niches of the city, the green parks, the intimidating hills you need to walk to go to the office every day, the warmth of its people. Living the life of a JPO is exciting, frustrating, prestigious, stressful, motivating, lonely, ambitious, educational, adventurous, disillusioning. It is life but on the fast track!
My advice to you?
I have no advice, just live to fullest this unique opportunity and don't nag because "When in Rome, do as the Romans".