Kana Endo: Voluntarism is a gate for you if you want to make a difference
My UNV Story
Hello. I am Kana Endo, an international UNV from Japan at the UN’s Resident Coordinator Office (RCO) in Mongolia.
On this International Volunteer Day, please let me use this opportunity to introduce my UNV (United Nations Volunteers) experience in the hope to promote voluntarism among youths in Mongolia.
Currently, there are a national UNV and three international UNVs at United Nations in Mongolia. I am one of the international UNVs here, working as a Communication and Advocacy Assistant at the RCO in Mongolia from September 2022 to February 2023.
Looking back on my childhood, I liked learning new things but at the same time was very shy and introverted. However, I was very passionate about learning English and cultures in different countries. Therefore, I chose a high school with English course had been dreaming of one day studying abroad.
My childhood dream came true when I went to Oregon, the United States for starting my whole new life at Lane Community College in 2019. This was one of the most engaging and eye-opening experience in my life.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted my plan to explore my future in the United States just as it disrupted many people’s lives and plans.
The pandemic stirred up some prejudice and discrimination against people from the Asian race in the United States. This has made a profound impact on me and made me rethink my future plans, which resulted in my return to Japan once.
Now, I am a senior student at Meiji Gakuin University in Japan majoring in international studies. I was transferred to this university from my college in the States the due to the hardships related to the pandemic.
Now, I am grateful for the life experiences and opportunities that influenced and helped shape my worldviews and set my life values, which I will use to the fullest.
I found more purpose and ambition to make more impact on the world we live in. Therefore, I jumped on the opportunity to join the UN Volunteers when I heard about this international opportunity to make a difference.
As mentioned earlier, even now I am an introverted and shy person, especially in the new environment and with people. However, it does not matter if you have some courage and passion about something to dive into a whole new world.
I believe that I am the only person who can change me and make things possible. For this reason, I always challenge myself even keeping away from my comfort zone to learn and improve myself.
As a volunteer, I support communication and advocacy at the RCO in Mongolia. To do so, I create visual content and messages on social platforms to raise awareness of global issues, as well as communicate on what the UN is doing in Mongolia.
One of the most challenging parts of my work is how to localize global topics and find the most effective and interactive ways to communicate with people. Moreover, I am doing the best I can and learning at the same time.
This UNV experience also validated my life goal and dream to serve in an international organization like the UN as I am majoring in international studies. Before joining the UNV program, I thought I was well aware and knowledgeable about global issues. However, I found out that there is so much to learn.
Joining the world’s largest organization – the UN – and seeing its work towards the global issues from inside gave me a different perspective. I am now more confident than ever that our actions and engagement as youth are more important to bring positive changes in our communities.
I am very grateful for the opportunities to engage with youths in Mongolia through different existing platforms within the UN in Mongolia, such as UNYAP (United Nations Youth Advisory Panel), Youth Delegate event by the UN Association, and the Model United Nations Event at the National University of Mongolia. I am amazed to see how youths here are highly active and committed to learning about global issues and taking action.
So far, my UNV experience here has been remarkably interesting and meaningful. Before joining RCO in United Nations Mongolia as a UNV, to be honest I never pictured myself living in Mongolia. Even though Mongolia and Japan are only five hours of flight away but just didn’t have any chance to visit this country.
In conclusion, my message to you is to challenge yourself to gain meaningful knowledge. Sometimes the decision that seems difficult will turn out to be the best opportunity for your growth and give you new perspectives. Be confident and try to take a step away from your comfort zone! With these, you might see a new world.
I am sure that UNV experience is one of the best ways to find your passion and skills. It is also a great chance to practice for your future career.
So, if you are interested in something and have a chance, please give it a try!