Certificat d'études françaises modernes", École de Langue et de civilisation Françaises, Faculté des Lettres, Université de Genève

Bachelor of Science, Teaching English as a Second Language, Instituto Pedagógico Nacional de Mujeres, Monterrico, Lima, Peru


English, French, Spanish

Languages fascinate me; they are like a puzzle. Sometimes when I read or write papers, or listen to radio in other languages, I find endless ways to combine vowels and syllables together to form completely new meanings; this is fascinating. The creation and meanings of phrases in other languages all act as a vehicle through which the heart and spirit can find expression. Even when using another combination of syllables and vowels in a language completely foreign to me, I can still express whatever I feel. To me, this is miraculous.

Peru is my home country and, like most Peruvians, I am the product of multiculturism: indigenous Indian, Spanish, and Chinese. All three cultures have had great influences on me, and have made me open to the discovery of other languages and cultures. The desire to share the gift of learning a new language with others initially led me to become a teacher of English as a second language. The minds of the young students I taught in Peru were exceptionally adaptable to learning and development; they caught on quickly, and their pronunciation was perfect. With each new word and phrase learned, I could see the fascination inside as they increased their opportunities for communication in another language.

The United Nations Reference Unit is quite a unique entity because we work with the six official languages of the Organization; My first job was at the ‘Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe’ in 1974. I then joined the United Nations Reference Group in 1976, a division that focused on the research and location of official documents in the six United Nations languages. Although my position has required intense training, I find it to be thoroughly enjoyable. My work constantly proves to be an exciting everyday challenge. I learn about myself, about others, and, most of all, about different ways of working and how differences in cultures can enrich us.

Work days are busy. The referencing duties before me are endless, and time passes quickly. I am constantly sent on missions to research and fetch documents such as national constitutions, environmental legislation, human rights records, and climate change data. Sometimes we call our unit the “Google” of the Organization. The clients I serve are translators, international and non-governmental organizations. The quality of our work depends on tagging and labelling pertinent documents for the translators. Our clients also work with international organizations, and the quality and effectiveness of their work depends upon the accuracy of our referencing work.

I consider myself to be an instrument of life. I was blessed to be given the opportunity to make a difference internationally through the ability to work with language for the United Nations. What I have learned is that the most important gift you can give to an international organization is not your skill; rather, it is your will.

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