Graduate student represents Russia at UN summit

Photo credit: UN PhotoCia Pak

Photo credit: UN PhotoCia Pak

by Pattrik Simmons

A  School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) graduate student was one of only 193 young leaders around the world chosen to represent member states at the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit in New York late September.

RafikovaAlina Rafikova – a Fulbright scholar pursuing a master’s degree in mass communication with a specialization in global strategic communications – represented Russia, where she lived since she was 12 years old after moving from Uzbekistan with her family.

Rafikova participated in the negotiation process of the UN’s new sustainable development goals.

“I was honored to be a part of the group of young passionate leaders who will be playing an essential role in the implementation of the established goals,” she says.

The UN’s “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” agenda contained 17 new goals and 169 new targets. It was partly based on 2000’s Millennium Development Goals, which served as a guide for the past 15 years.

The summit was held Sept. 25-27. Pope Francis and Malala Yousafzai were in the audience.

“It was a great honor for me to be invited to the ceremony by the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. It has been always my dream to work for something so meaningful,” Rafikova says.

Rafikova’s professional goal is to work for the UN, and she got taste of that this summer during her internship with the intergovernmental organization.

“Being an intern at the UN, I experienced even more the importance of intercultural collaboration. I explored a new value of engagement for me: to live like a local while being abroad with people from all over the world. It is a process of active, reciprocal learning. Exploring another culture while representing and sharing your own is an invaluable experience,” she says.

Rafikova credits the Global Strategic Communications program at the SJMC for helping her get an internship with the UN and participate in the Sustainable Development Summit.“Given the notions of modern globalization, there is an increasing need for those able to navigate communications across borders, customs and ideologies,” she says. “[The] program provides the opportunity to learn about professional ‘tools’ needed to work within international settings.”

She adds: “Growing up, going to universities, working and participating in educational events in countries as diverse as Uzbekistan, Russia, Germany, Japan, Thailand and the USA enabled me to understand the importance of cross-cultural dialogue and engagement.”