Hyeon-Soo Jeon, from South Korea, was interested in starting a career in international development, and just after graduation was selected for an international UN Youth Volunteer assignment, fully funded by the Republic of Korea, with the United Nations Development Programme in Kosovo (as per UN Security Council Resolution 1244).
In 1999, two large humanitarian crises were unfolding: Kosovo and East Timor. The United Nations was tasked to support local authorities in both places to establish administrative and governance structures.
I had decided on my career path in international development during my studies in Korea and Spain. What became apparent though was that I desired to work in the field, to be closer to the lives we aim to impact. I started searching.
My first experience with the United Nations was with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo* (UNMIK) in February 2000. I was responsible for preparing for the first ever elections in the newly divided region. The excitement of working with UNMIK was incomparable to anything I had done before.
I came into contact with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme later when I was heading the Victims’ Recovery and Identification Commission. I got the rare opportunity and privilege to work with a team of UN Volunteers.
A UNV-supported initiative in 2015 empowered young men and women from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) community in Kosovo to start their own social entrepreneurship initiatives and advocate for community needs as “Changemakers”.
Prishtina, Kosovo: Building on our achievements with the foresight exercise for unemployment in Kosovo, our innovations team at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which I am part of, is now moving on to the Big Data realm. Every day, people around the world are generating massive amounts of data that, when aggregated and depersonalized to protect the privacy of each one of us, can be used to get insights into the state of society and enable us to respond more effectively and efficiently to its needs.
Prishtina, Kosovo: From my very first day working as a UN Youth Volunteer as part of UNDP’s Inclusive Growth Team in Kosovo, I started to realize that all the statistics showing high levels of unemployment, particularly among youth, are hiding the true and disturbing extent of this issue. With more than 35 percent of young Kosovars neither having a job nor going to school, they grow impatient, pessimistic about their chances to have a decent life, and frustrated with not being heard.
It’s a rare sunny day here in the Roma/Ashkali/Egyptian (RAE) quarter of Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje; a welcome respite from a long spell of chilly, overcast winter weather.
It’s also the perfect day to skip school. Or, if you’re not enrolled in school – as is the case for nearly 15 per cent of the school-aged children in this impoverished neighbourhood – it’s the perfect day to skip your two-hour literacy and numeracy class at the local The Ideas Partnership (TIP) centre.
With a quiet focus, Hateme Krasniqi, an Ashkali woman in her mid-30s, keeps her eyes trained on the tip of her pencil as she carefully draws one letter after another to spell out her first name: HATEME. Today, bundled up in her winter coat while a chilly drizzle rains down outside. Hatemes hands are cold and red but increasingly well-practiced in writing her name. But this is something very new and very exciting for this mother of six from the marginalized Ashkali quarter of Fushe Kosove, Kosovo.
On 24 May, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme joined the largest cleaning campaign in Kosovo to date. As part of the global initiative ‘Let’s Do It! World Clean-up’, over 130,000 volunteers participated with the aim to clean the environment in Kosovo.