By: Priscilla Mawuena Adjeidu
National Service Personnel, UNDP Ghana
Remember the good old days in primary school, where one has sleepless night, waiting earnestly for daybreak to go for the vacation ceremony usually called “our day”? Yes, to many of us, that was how we felt a night before 3rd September ,2018, a day we were to report at the offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to begin our national service.
Questions bordering the mind were numerous: How is working with UN like, more especially with the UNDP? What will be the expectations?
Well, for me, it can be understandable since this is my first official work after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. Although I have ventured into a number of internships and voluntary works, this opportunity looked too good to be true.
Then came the day and 23 of us, the new National Service Personnel (NSPs) had to undergo a four-day orientation. To be honest, the first thought that came to mind was, “okay well ... we are going to be trained on what the UN does… as that is what an orientation should be about”. Surprisingly, that was not the case at all. Rather, it was motivational, full of powerful life lessons that I believe will forever guide most of us in our professional journey. Throughout the orientations, the key message from all the UNDP staff that came to interact with us was “be determined to learn and this would set you apart from the crowd”. Throughout the orientation, this echoing message was emphasized, reminding us of the importance of allowing ourselves to be groomed during the ten-month service period at UNDP. I must admit that, the four-days orientation experience left with me and many of my colleagues, inspirations that will forever remain with us.
Key Lessons from the Orientation
Orientation began after few interactions with the Human Resources (HR) Personnel at UNDP, (Stephen Agyare and Jill Quaye). Prior to meeting them, I had in mind how stern HR officials are. Well, are they not the ones who recruit people, so they must be tough and strict. To my uttermost surprise, their humility was one that drew most of us, the service personnel, closer to them. My first lesson came to light: “In life, be yourself and be guided by the principles of humility, it would take you far”
Then was a presentation by Peter Segbedzi-Pongo of the Finance Unit who briefed us on UNDP’s financial sources and structure. Interestingly, he found a way to fuse interesting rules of life into his presentation. He said, “make sure whatever goal you set out to achieve during this ten months is successful, don’t just pass through UNDP, let UNDP pass through you”. This statement gave me another powerful life lesson: “Do not be too engrossed in your work only, explore, read more and grow’.
The next session was the briefing by the United Nations Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS). To be frank, I have been taken a lot for granted as far as security is concerned. That briefing restructured my approach to handling things and issues. He touched on professionalism and admonished us to observe deadlines, remain calm in stressful situations and be a master of our various professional areas. As a young person, this then gave me another important encouragement: “In life, no one is remembered for everything, we are always remembered for something. Make sure, you are identified with something.
“Be determined, aggressive and opened to learn. Work very hard”. These were the words from the Communications and Procurement units, respectively. The enthusiasm with which these words came from the Communications Analyst, Ms Praise Nutakor and the Procurement Associate, Simia A. Salawu, inspired us a lot, making us understand that: “it is important to approach everything you do with a positive spirit, learn to love what you do, and with determination, you will triumph”.
The orientation on gender equality by the UNDP Gender Analyst, Ms. Jennifer Asuako was very striking. The gender Analyst made a profound statement that I wish every gender advocate would hear “Gender is about complements and not a competition”. This basically hinged on the fact that one cannot do everything in life alone, the support system is necessary to push everyone to the next stage, as no human is an island.
Similarly, briefing by the Assistant Country Director of UNDP Ghana, Mr. Louis Kuukpen on UNDP’s learning framework was an eye opening for making our career decisions. He hinted on the need to be deliberate in making decisions in relations to our future career. One thing I observed was the organization’s key interest in the personal development of staff, which is very motivating. He reminded us on the need to plan, leading to my lesson number 6th: “Every step you take, you need to plan, plan your days, your week, your month and your year”.
Finally, was the in-depth knowledge expressed by Myra Togobo of the Resident Coordinator’s (RC) Office during her presentation on the UN structure, UN agencies and what they do, the UN delivering as one concept and the new UN reforms on delinking the RC system from the UNDP Resident Representative. This emphasized the importance of reading, giving me another lesson: “Read more, read wide to gain knowledge”.
Indeed, the four days intensive orientation exposed us to the diverse realities of life. It renewed in us a great determination to forge forward for the best. Undeniably, it enlightened us on the path to take, upheld our curiosity as young professional to know more. I believe, these lessons will help renew our energy to accomplish our set goals, anytime laziness creeps in, or too much familiarities knock on the doors.
This one-year journey absolutely started on a good note. We will continue in a positive spirit, with the hope to end it on a note worth remembering.