June 15, 2020
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When she started her search for an internship the summer before her senior year, Winnie Thaw ’17 knew what she wanted most — an opportunity to showcase her aptitude for helping others. A lucky string of connections helped her land such a role. She passed her resume to a family friend who works for the World Health Organization, and the resume made its way to the desk of Aye Win, country director for the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Myanmar. Win then contacted Thaw about an internship that would allow her to work with locals in her hometown of Yangon, Myanmar.
“It was more fate than anything,” Thaw said. “It was incredible.”
Her academic interests and extracurricular activities made Thaw an ideal candidate for the communications and outreach internship with the UNIC. The UNIC had been searching for a student interested in social sciences, and Thaw, a history major concentrating on European history, fit the bill.
Her mornings began early, and her activities were focused on making UN-related information accessible to the people of Myanmar. Every day, Thaw posted updates in both Burmese and English about the organization’s projects, and she helped to achieve the company’s goal of reaching 10,000 likes on UNIC Yangon’s Facebook page. In addition to her online work, Thaw compiled daily press briefs about events in Myanmar that were circulated through every UN office in the country. She also attended various UN events with Win.
Thaw’s experiences gained through extracurricular activities at Kenyon made her more prepared to handle UN tasks. She serves as a peer advisor through her work as an Upperclass Counselor (UCC), and Thaw is involved in intercultural affairs as a member of the Council for Diversity and Social Justice (CDSJ) and as co-president of the Asia Society. However, it was Thaw’s work as a Sexual Misconduct Advisor (SMA) that particularly impressed her supervisors.
“They were amazed with the SMA program,” Thaw said. “They liked that I was working with the law and helping people, because that’s what they do.”
Through her service as a SMA, Thaw already had experience working with others in highly emotional situations, but she said her time with the UN greatly improved her social awareness. "Being exposed to the realities of the world was amazing. People can forget that suffering and poverty exist in the world, but by being part of the United Nations, I could help fix these things," she said.
When she graduates, Thaw wants to work with an international organization dedicated to human rights and helping people, and her internship with the UN has helped her get closer to that goal.