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Yang Man: My intern at the United Nations


——“This global environment has not only improved my language skills, but also taught me a lot about teamwork and cross-cultural communication.”

In May, Yang Man posted a picture in his Wechat Moment and caused quite a sensation among his followers. Many exclaimed, “What a lucky dog you are to take a photo with Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus! ” Some even went as far as saying, ”Man, You two seem like brothers!” Yes, the picture captured the moment in time when Yang stood shoulder by shoulder with Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), both grinning at the camera. Looking back nine years, Yang Man himself couldn't have expected such an extraordinary encounter, not even in his wildest dreams. “I was just a country boy living in Heilongjiang, a Northeast province of China. My biggest dream then was to get into a good university.” But for most of his teachers, classmates, and friends who got to know him during his pursuit of bachelor's and master's degrees, they may have felt a little overwhelmed initially. However, none of them are surprised because they know that once this young man sets a goal, he will do his best to achieve it."

Yang Man takes a photo with Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) during The Walk the Talk: Health for All Challenge activity held on May 21, 2023 when WHO joins with the UN family, Member States, athletes, local sports clubs health partners and the Geneva community to celebrate the importance of healthy lifestyles and demonstrate measures to safely conduct public events.

Yang Man graduates from Tianjin University with a Master’s degree.

Yang Man, a 25-year-old young man, who graduated from Tianjin University’s Academy of Medical Engineering and Translational Medicine with a master degree in intelligent Medical Engineering, is currently interning at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). From a country boy to an UN intern, Yang Man is on his steady ascent into a broader and more expansive world.

Yang Man on Peiyangyuan Campus

From curiosity to a sense of responsibility

“When I was young, I heard a lot about the United Nations from the news. It is always connected with words like global peace, security, solidarity, sustainable development, human rights, etc. Those words sound so lofty and sophisticated to me, sparking a growing curiosity within me about the world beyond my own.”

As he grew older and learned more about the world, his curiosity became stronger. His urge to see the outside world found an outlet during his sophomore year of college when he got an opportunity to work in Thailand as a volunteer teacher. This was the first time he left the home country and set foot on a foreign land. The exotic culture and customs opened Yang Man’s eyes to a diverse world. “I want to see more and experience more. There are hundreds of countries out there, waiting for us to explore.”It was during this period that he began to have a vague aspiration of working for an international organization.

“Back then, I haven’t figured out the way to realize that idea, but for one thing, I was sure, that is to improve my English proficiency. English a tool that would unlock opportunities for international communication and collaboration.”

He completed his undergraduate degree in Software Engineering at Hebei University. During his four years there, he participated in many English-related organizations and had greatly improved his spoken English.

Innovation & Practice Programme for the Cultivation of High-level Internationalized Talents

“Then my graduate studies at Tianjin University equipped me with additional skills to work at an international organization.” He gave special credits to the Innovation & Practice Programme for the Cultivation of High-level Internationalized Talents held by the university. This training experience has brought him a deeper understanding of international organizations and an overall improvement in his own capabilities. “Through the programme, I developed a profound comprehension of the globalized era we’re living in. As young people, we should shoulder more responsibilities on the international stage.”

After completing the program with A scores, Yang Man made up his mind to seek an internship at the UN and began taking concrete actions. “My last year at TJU was unusually busy, juggling laboratory experiments, writing graduation thesis, while applying for an intern position at the UN and applying for doctoral studies in European countries.” Yang looked up for job vacancies on the UN’s official website and constantly honed his resume. “From June 2022 to October of that year, I sent out forty to fifty resumes to apply for internship in different divisions of the UN. The process is a test of patience and confidence. You have to stick to your goals and don’t waver in your path.” After dozens of times of failures, Yang figured out some rules that would enhance success rate. “The more closely related the job is to your field of expertise, the higher your success rate in the application process.” Heaven helps those who persevere. Yang Man was offered both an internship at the UNOG funded by China Scholarship Council (CSC) and the admission to further his study in a Dutch university. He decided to finish the 6-month-long intern first before he continues his study.

“I hope to see a growing number of young people from our country engage in international internship programs, thereby conveying China's voice to the international community.”

A platform that promotes diversity and inclusiveness, a life experience that opens the horizons and shapes the mind

At UNOG, Yang Man was placed in the IT Office under Division of Conference Management (DCM) of UNOG Secretariat and his responsibilities primarily involved meetings, IT-related tasks, and taking photos during conferences. “The United Nations organizes numerous conferences at various levels. To carry out the meetings orderly and efficiently, we developed a program system that provides detailed information about each and every meeting.” His main responsibilities included maintaining the meeting website and managing databases. As Chinese is one of the UN’s six official languages, Yang was also tasked with reviewing the Chinese pages on UNOG’s official websites. “It’s my duty to promptly detect and rectify grammar errors and contextual issues that may have arisen from machine translation and ensure the clarity and fluency of the Chinese content.”

Yang Man with his supervisors and co-workers at the UNOG

Another important part of Yang Man’s job at the UNOG is to take photos during conferences and in his opinion, it is a very rewarding experience. “Taking photos is more than capturing the pivotal moments of the meetings. What really matters is to convey the atmosphere of different conferences through your lens.” Yang Man lost track of how many meetings he has attended. But those meetings helped him understand a multitude of global issues, like human rights, sustainable development, and humanitarian aids. This, in turn, gave him insights into how international organizations are striving to address global concerns and contribute to global development.

“I also gained a profound appreciation for China’s significant role in international organizations. As one of the five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, our country is playing an important role in international affairs and I appreciate our government’s exceptional endeavors to provide Chinese solutions to address international affairs, for example, proposing the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind.” Yang Man couldn’t withhold his pride while talking about this. “I couldn’t be more conscious of my Chinese identity and felt proud about it on the UN Chinese Language Day when a lot of activities promoting Chinese culture were held at the UN.”

The days at the United Nations were fulfilling and enjoyable.

“First, you got to know many talented people from different countries in the world. ” Yang admitted that in the early days of his internship, he sometimes felt diminished and intimidated in the presence of the outstanding peers. That anxiety forced him to have a thorough self-reflection and a better understanding of his strength and weakness. “Thanks to my Alma Mater, it bestowed me with practical skills, down-to-earth work ethics and a critical mind to help me accommodate to the work at the UN as soon as possible.”

Yang (first from the left in the first row) takes a group photo with interns from the United Nations and other international organizations.

To facilitate interns’ study and life in the international environment, the UN provides them with training courses in the working languages of the UN, including French, English, Spanish, etc. Yang Man picked up French lessons and learned a lot from these courses. As he put it, the courses not only improved his language skills, but also taught him a lot about teamwork and cross-cultural communication.

“I have developed an appreciation for different cultures and learned essential skills in team collaboration and intercultural exchange. It has encouraged me to respect various cultures and has enabled me to represent Tianjin University and the Chinese young generation positively in this global community.”

During his leisure hours, Yang Man visited many European countries. He has ventured to the Nordic countries to seek respite from the sweltering heat of the summer months, inspired by the passionate romance and hospitality of Southern France, and immersed himself in the music paradise of Vienna. “Our world is such a diverse and vibrant place, teeming with numerous cultures and individuals. By fostering deeper understanding and connections, we can reduce conflicts and contradictions.”

Yang Man visits many countries in his free time.

Yang Man’s intern at the UN is coming to an end, but not his desire to work at an international organizations. He will start his doctoral study at a Dutch university and after that, he plans to seek a position at an international organization again.

Certificate of Appreciation: United Nations Secretariat Internship Completion in Information Technology Unit/ Production and Support Sercive/ Division of Conference Management

For Yang Man, to be open-minded and inclusive is very important in today’s world. He sincerely hopes that more young people walk out of the campus and work in international organizations for a while. With his help, a master student from TJU’s School of Environmental Science and Engineering has received the offer to work at the United Nations Environment Programme in Montreal, Canada. “Sometimes, you need a bold step, a blunt Hi to open a new chapter in your life,” said Yang Man.

By Eva Yin