The Perspective of a Hunger Project Intern: Convening a UN Independent Dialogue

By Isabella Maddalone, Advocacy Communications Intern

On June 1st, I began my internship as the Advocacy Communications Intern at The Hunger Project (THP). Within the first few weeks, one of my intern tasks included identifying side event opportunities to showcase THP’s impact in ending hunger and involvement in community-led development.

Not long after starting, I learned about an opportunity for a side event for Science Days, a part of the UN Food Systems Summit. This year’s Science Days theme recognized the pivotal role of science, technology and innovation in food systems transformation. The impact that THP, specifically THP-Ghana has made in bringing technological solutions to rural communities with the support of our partnerships, reflected the theme.

Image: Overview slide of Bridging the Digital Divide Event

With the support of the team, we worked together to meet a short deadline and the proposal for our independent dialogue “Bridging The Digital Divide” was accepted as an official side event for the UN Food Systems Summit Science Days. After I received the email of acceptance, I met with my supervisor where we set out a timeline to efficiently complete the event in two weeks. The advice she gave me during that meeting guided me throughout the entire process: “Set others up for success.” She followed this by adding, “You don’t have to do everything yourself, but you need to make sure everything gets done.” I took the lead and began my part in creating a successful event.

Throughout the following weeks, I reached out to potential speakers from Microsoft, Farmerline and other organizations, registered the event as an official dialogue, created social media content to promote the event, and tailored the questions specifically to the theme of Science Days and the panelists amongst other tasks to ensure I set others up for success. I also created guides for the panelists to have prior to the discussion to ensure a smooth and informative conversation. As a convenor of an independent dialogue I received various dialogue materials from the Science Days team to use throughout the creation process, as well as a platform provided by the UN to help promote the event.

I learned that in order to set others up for success I needed to ask questions, and provide all the necessary information. It was my responsibility to ensure each task was completed and that I provided the support and context needed. Throughout this, I learned it worked best to provide updates for the team everyday before I was finished, and ask for help on anything I was stuck on. If I hit a roadblock, I knew I had an entire team of co-workers who could help me. This experience helped me grow as a leader and learn to take every opportunity head on.

My advice to anyone in a similar position, is to collaborate with your team, take the initiative to complete your responsibilities, and ask questions (even if it feels like you ask too many!)

The success of the event and the entire process served as a collaborative learning experience. I learned something new from each individual task. I had the opportunity to be a leader and take initiative on my own project. Overall, the event would not have been possible without the help of my coworkers who guided me through every question I had and supported me throughout the entire process. As well as all the panelists involved who provided an insightful discussion on the success of the technological solutions implemented in rural communities. At the end of this process, I now can say that as an intern I have achieved a personal accomplishment in curating my first event for a UN Summit!

A zoom screenshot featuring 5 participants prior to the event
Me (bottom left) with the Science Days panelists and production team.

Empowering women and men across Africa, South Asia & Latin America to end their own hunger and poverty since 1977. Visit www.thp.org for more.