The United States is an essential partner of the UN, including the many Americans who work for the UN, helping build a better future for Americans and people around the world.
As part of our “Americans in the UN” project, we talked to Amy Auguston, who grew up in Long Island, New York and now serves a Communications Specialist for UN World Food Programme (WFP), based in its Rome headquarters. In addition to WFP, she has worked in New York and in the field for UN Women, UNFPA, and for the UN Special Envoy on Ebola.
What motivates you to work for the UN?
Amy Auguston: The UN has a mandate like none other – to bring peace and to foster development throughout the world. I’m motivated every day to help reach these goals through feeding those in need.
What is your message to Americans about the importance of the UN?
AA: I’d say that the UN is not only in our geopolitical interests, but also that the UN reflects our greatest and deepest values, those of justice, human rights, democracy, and caring and benevolence toward others. Now more than ever, we need to stand up for what’s right, and the UN is a powerful platform where we can make our voices heard.
From your experience, what is an example of how the UN has made a difference in someone’s life?
AA: I’ve seen so many examples! In Ethiopia, I met previously illiterate women who had learned to read and write as a direct result of the UN’s intervention, and I met children who were previously hungry but now thriving thanks to food distributions by the UN.
In Sierra Leone, I met men and women receiving life-saving health care from clinics supported by the UN.
In particular, I remember the women who had lived with obstetric fistula for years, who received surgery to repair their bodies and restore their lives. The women would dance and sing with pure joy as they thanked the UN for their help!
How did you first learn about the UN?
AA: I grew up outside New York City, so I remember going to the UN Headquarters for a field trip as a young child. I couldn’t believe that there was such an amazing place where the leaders of the world could meet and work toward common goals. Little did I know that I’d work there as an adult!
What is the favorite part of your job?
AA: WFP’s mandate is simple and powerful – to feed the hungry. Every day I feel energized to help those in need and to advocate for the world’s most vulnerable people. For me, this is a gift and a privilege.