The Schull Yang International Experience Award, supported by Joseph Schull (BA ‘82, MA ’85) and Anna Yang (BCL, LLB ’88), helps undergraduate and graduate students gain first hand international experience related to their fields of study. The award provides full or partial funding to assist students with tuition, travel, and other expenses related to their international experience. The Schull Yang International Experience Award is part of the McGill International Experience Awards. For more information, click here.
The Internship Offices Network is pleased to announce the selected McGill student for the 2015 summer internship at the United Nations World Food Programme in Cuba, and the recipient of the Schull Yang International Experience Award.
Jeanne Pouliot, BSc (AgEnvSc) Agricultural Economics
Jeanne will intern at the United Nations World Food Programme in la Havana, Cuba. Jeanne was a participant of the Panama Field Study Semester Program of 2014. She also volunteered with Quebec Sans Frontieres in an agro-environmental project in Cuba. These experiences allowed her to gain a special interest in development in Latin-America. Jeanne is interested in global food security, agricultural development, and sustainability - subjects closely associated with the World Food Programme. Through this internship, she hopes to gain general knowledge of the UN system and its policies, rules, regulations, and procedures as well as an understanding of development in practice, and looks forward to a career working abroad in Latin America.
As a student studying agricultural economics, interning with the UN World Food Program Regional Bureau in Havana, Cuba, was an amazing and interesting experience. I was particularly interested in how an international non-governmental organization like the WFP can promote sustainable food and nutrition security policies. I was also looking forward to work at a humanitarian organization to better understand their structure and scope.
I first became interested in food security through an internship with Québec Sans Frontières in rural Cuba. I have also been part of the Panama Field Study Semester, which allowed me to explore more deeply the topics of food security and development in a Latin American country. My past experiences in Latin America have greatly contributed to increase my interest in these areas.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security all over the world. On average, WFP reaches more than 80 million people with food assistance in 75 countries each year. The core strategies behind the WFP activities, according to its mission statement, are to provide food aid to save lives in refugee and other emergency induced situations, to improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable at critical times and moments in need, and to help build assets and promote self-reliance among poor communities, particularly through labor-intensive work programs.
My duties as an intern included researching and analyzing data and other information about current issues related to hunger and food security and impact on regional populations and then writing reports. I edited and translated important documents such as briefs, web stories, speeches, etc. for internal and external distribution.
The highlight of my internship was the opportunity to work and share with people who, despite being from different ethnic, educational and cultural backgrounds, managed to connect to each other by working towards a common interest and goal: to reduce hunger around the world, and more specifically in Cuba. In addition, one of the most exciting moments was the launching of the WFP Cuba Country Program for 2015-2018 because I played a key role in preparing for the event with my co-workers.
One of the most challenging aspects of my internship was definitely the Spanish language. I already had good listening and writing Spanish skills before arriving in Cuba. However, the Cuban Spanish accent is very particular. Cubans speak very fast, they omit to pronounce all the letters of the words, and it was quite hard to understand everything during the staff meetings or simply when conversing with co-workers. I decided to take this as a challenge to work on my Spanish and improve it before the end of the internship. As time passed, I could already sense that my “Cuban” Spanish skills had improved. Another challenge that I faced at the beginning of the internship was not having enough work for the entire day. Since we were two interns working on the same projects and with the same supervisor, the work that was given to us was done quickly and sometimes there was nothing else to do for the rest of the day. I decided to use these free moments to work on improving my Spanish skills and to learn more about Cuba by reading online articles from the popular journals of the country.
I think this internship has shaped my future career because I now have a foot in the door in the humanitarian field. Additionally, as I’ve been exploring job opportunities for post-graduation I have found that employers are impressed with the fact that I worked with the UN World Food Program, especially in a different country and language. I now feel more confident pursuing opportunities abroad and I have a clearer idea of what type of work I want to pursue in the future.
I would like to thank Mr. Joseph Schull and Ms. Anna Yang for providing me with the necessary funds to make this opportunity possible for me. Their contribution covered all my costs, including travel allowance, rent, and living expenses. I was fortunate not to have to worry about my financial situation through the trip, which allowed me to fully appreciate and experience the wealth of culture and adventure that Cuba has to offer.
Finally, my internship at the UN World Food Program was an incredible learning experience. I improved my Spanish skills, lived in a different country, and worked on issues that I had become passionate about.