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Learning ‘On the Job’ - Communication in the UN

09 March 2012

It’s an understood truth that while education in the classroom is important, it is even more necessary that this knowledge is applied in a practical manner. Knowing that this is especially the case in journalism and communications, were most professional education occurs ‘on the job’, the United Nations Information Office has prepared a series of educational seminars regarding the industry to be conducted at universities around Tashkent. The first such event was conducted at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) on the 9th of March. During this seminar, the United Nations Information Office staff taught students about the operations and role of media and communications in the humanitarian field, while encouraging them to apply this knowledge in practical circumstances.

The day’s event, conducted at the university’s assembly hall with the attendance of 60 students from various university faculties, was an extension of a previous introductory seminar which took place two weeks earlier. The number of students attending the second seminar was double that of first, indicating that a significant number of students are interested in both the UN and the media industry.

This UN educational seminar was opened by the United Nations Information Office’s Bobir Komilov, who took the opportunity to highlight multiple aspects of the UN’s international organisational structure and regional operations. This section involved an overview of the United Nations Information Office’s function inside the greater UN system, followed by a discussion of the office’s operations in Uzbekistan including its ‘UN Fridays’ program, the regularly-updated UN in Uzbekistan website, and the associated quarter-annual publication.

Following the segment delivered by Mr. Komilov, office journalist and editor James Brindley delivered a ‘Crash Course’ regarding the importance of written communications and the different forms of news coverage, such as the newspaper story, the feature article and the blog entry. The section also covered approaches to writing for TV, Radio and Social Media, in addition to a brief overview of good reporting techniques.

Information Assistant Utkirbek Tadjimov finished the day’s presentation by providing an overview of the skills required in negotiation, diplomacy and collective decision-making. In order to emphasis this section of the proceedings, Mr. Tadjimov brought the participating students back to Tuesday the 12th of January 2010, the day that a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the empoverished Caribbean nation Haiti with catastrophic consequences. He then commenced a brief MUN conference, where the participants assumed the roles of Security Council members and worked to determine the most effective means of dealing with this disaster. Combining the knowledge they had learnt during the rest of the seminar, the students quickly shared their perspectives, and managed to establish a mutually-supported resolution in less than 30 minutes.

A questions and answer session followed the seminars, giving participating students the opportunity to share their views regarding the seminar. Some participants welcome the United Nations Information Office staff back to the university to undertake future courses, while others expressed their interest in working for and supporting the UN’s national efforts.

Mr. Khabibullo Sarimsokov, a banking and finance student at MDIS and a participant in the United Nations Information Office’s education seminar, spoke of why he and his fellow students should learn about the UN’s work. “I think it is really crucial for students to learn about the UN, because there are lots of people all around our country, especially in the regions, who are in need of help,” he said. “Students in our university have lots of ideas, and they need to communicate these ideas to someone. This is what the UN represents, a place where ideas can be connected with the people who need them.”