South Africa


Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in African Politics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Afrikaans, English and French

1994 was a remarkable year for South Africa. Elections were underway to mark the end of apartheid, and the political climate was charged with a newfound sense of opportunity after decades of struggle. I was eighteen years old at the time, and just entering university. Propelled by the changes in my country and its budding interaction with the global community, I decided to pursue my Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and African Politics. One year later, in 1995, the National Model United Nations set up in South Africa, and it took little convincing for me to join its programme at my university.

The National Model United Nations initiative provides students with the opportunity to understand the work of the United Nations, with a focus on international relations and human rights issues. My first mock-Security Council debate was on the Rwandan genocide, which had occurred in 1994. Taking on the roles of Security Council members, our group acted out what the Council might have done to prevent the events that transpired there. I had always taken a keen interest in the work of the United Nations, but my participation in this and subsequent Model debates hightened my awareness of the Organization and its work in Africa. It also made the United Nations much more real and accessible to me as a potential career choice. Years later, as a national professional officer for the United Nations Information Center in Pretoria, I am still actively involved with these types of initiatives and I’ve witnessed many students inspired by the experience to pursue careers in international organisations or as foreign service diplomats.

When I hear how excited the students are about the Organization, then I know I’ve done my job. The mandate of the United Nations Information Center in Pretoria is to link our local South African audience to the global initiatives of the United Nations. Our day-to-day work includes organising and managing campaigns, media monitoring, outreach programmes and public speaking engagements.

Much of my career has grown around communication and youth initiatives. After university I worked for a non-governmental organisation called the Democracy Development Programme where, among other things, I was tasked with managing youth empowerment programs. Two years later, I joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and as a regional public information officer, travelled to Angola and Zambia working on communications initiatives. Meeting with journalists, and bringing them to refugee camps –such as the Nangweshi refugee camp in Zambia, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo– showed me a uniquely powerful way of mobilising interest in the refugee population of southern Africa. We ensured that journalists had access to refugees for interviews, which enhanced the media’s awareness and achieved our objective of informing people about UNHCR’s efforts to protect refugees. It was a very rewarding experience, and in 2001 I decided to continue my career in communications by joining the United Nations Information Center in Pretoria.

It’s been wonderful working in my home country as a National Professional Officer, and sharing what I have learnt from the United Nations with the society I grew up in. I am keen to keep working with young people, as the United Nations has a range of excellent programs for youth including the Cyberschoolbus initiative, which is an online resource for students and teachers, about global issues. For me, one of the best parts about my work is that there is always a way to improve, expand and create new projects. I tell students who want to join the Organization that they had better be innovators, as it is a chance to develop new ways of addressing the problems they truly care about, while carrying out the United Nations broader humanitarian mission.

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