My Day with UNICEF – one young leader becomes Ambassador for A Day

Nara Phonpraserth, a 17-year-old student leader, shares her reflections on shadowing UNICEF's Representative for two days.

UNICEF Thailand
A group photo of the UNICEF Thailand Representative and four young people selected as Ambassadors for a Day. They're all making a mini-heart gesture.
UNICEF Thailand/2023/Monthalee Songphatanayothin
UNICEF Thailand Representative Kyungsun Kim, Nara Phonpraserth, and AFAD winners at the Asia-Pacific Regional Commemoration of International Women's Day on March 8.
21 April 2023

The Ambassador for A Day contest was created to inspire talented young Thais to become future leaders through first-hand experience with the UN agencies and embassies supporting the country's development. It was created with people exactly like Nara Phonpraserth, UNICEF's 2023 winner, in mind. Nara is a very impressive 17-year-old high school student from ฺBangkok, currently running her school’s Climate Club and was acting as the Student Ambassador for a film festival on climate change. She is passionate about finding sustainable solutions to climate crisis and advancing gender equality in STEM education. For this third year of the contest, more than 288 submitted video applications answering the question “How can technology and innovation help improve gender equality.” While many of the applications impressed, Nara's was the single most exciting, and won her the opportunity to spend two days shadowing our Representative, Kyungsun Kim. She is now sharing her experience with her peers.

2023/Nara Phonpraserth
The winning video submission from Nara for the Ambassador for A Day contest.
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Three ladies are seated in a casual gathering place within a room. In a check-in meeting, they are discussing something.
UNICEF Thailand/2023/Monthalee Songphatanayothin
Partnership and Advocacy weekly check-in meeting at UNICEF Thailand Country Office.

The Ambassador for A Day activity was a truly surreal and dream-like experience that left a lasting impression on me. The two days of shadowing gave me the opportunity to witness great work being done by UNICEF on the ground. My journey began at the Juvenile Observation and Protection Center and Juvenile Training Center Samhut Prakarn. Joining as part of UNICEF's Child Protection program, I saw firsthand how the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection helps children who are in conflict with the law. Afterwards, we visited the Office of the Attorney General, an agency which plays a major role in ensuring that children's rights are respected and that they can get access to justice system.

Spending a day with the UNICEF’s Child Protection team gave me a deeper understanding of how UNICEF works with many different organizations, private sector businesses, and government bodies to ensure children receive support when they most need it. Through this experience, I gained insight into the challenges children face in different situations, such as broken families, violence, and abuse. I learned the significance of carefully nurturing juvenile offenders' psychological well-being and providing them with vocational training to safeguard their future and facilitate their reintegration into society. This experience gave me a greater appreciation for the importance of child protection and instilled in me a passion to contribute to this area of work in the future.

A group photo of many people standing inside the UN building's big meeting room.
UNICEF Thailand/2023/Monthalee Songphatanayothin
Group photo at the Asia-Pacific Regional Commemoration of International Women's Day on March 8.

Another highlight of the experience was attending the Asia-Pacific Regional Commemoration of International Women's Day organized by UNESCAP and UN-Women. As a youth, this commemoration empowered and inspired me to continue striving for progress. The speeches delivered during the event provided me with valuable insights into how all stakeholders can contribute to closing gender gaps in the digital world. It is vital for us to continue leveraging technology and innovation to promote gender equality and women's rights. By doing so, I believe that we can accelerate progress toward creating a more equitable and just world for all.

The atmosphere at the Belgian Ambassador's Official Residence's welcoming reception for the young people participating in the activity "Ambassador for a Day". It's a photograph of a large group of people clapping their hands, both male and female.
2023/Belgium embassy
The Ambassador for A Day 2023 Welcoming Reception at the Belgian Ambassador’s Official Residence on March 7.
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Representative for UNICEF Thailand speaks with a young person at her office at UNICEF Thailand.
UNICEF Thailand/2023/Monthalee Songphatanayothin
Reflection session between Nara and Ms. Kyungsun Kim, where Nara shared her experiences and impressions on her time spent with UNICEF.

Throughout the two days, I was deeply inspired by the remarkable female leaders I had the privilege of meeting at UNICEF, particularly Ms. Kyungsun, the Representative. Her kind, determined but friendly nature made me feel at ease when talking to her and asking questions. She was always attentive to my concerns and provided guidance that helped me adapt to new circumstances for me.  

By observing how Ms. Kyungsun works, I gained valuable insights into the importance of diplomacy and the positive impact that can be made on people's lives through sustainable development. I will always treasure the discussions and friendly conversations we had, whether about our favorite food, hobbies, or about Ms. Kyungsun’s personal journey into the world of international development. Her empowering words helped me learn and grow as a person, and our discussions gave me a newfound appreciation for diplomacy and international relations.

Despite the shadowing only lasting for two days, it has left an indelible mark on my life that I never anticipated. The journey has fueled and inspired me to continue striving for a better future for our world and increased my interest in international relations. I am grateful for being selected as UNICEF's youth representative in this initiative and excited to see where this newfound passion for diplomacy takes me in the future!

About the Ambassador for A Day  

The Ambassador for A Day initiative offers young people between the age of 16 to 25 years a chance to shadow an ambassador or a UN women leader for a day during the International Women’s Week. Under the 2023 theme of “Innovation, technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” young people are asked to submit a 3-min video sharing their views on the topic. The participants are selected through a competitive process open to every young person in Thailand. The contest also creates a platform for youths and female leaders to connect and empower each other to inspire more change agents for our society, while reminding young people that girls can dream big and can achieve anything. 

 

For more information on the Ambassador for A Day initiative, visit: https://thailand.un.org/en/209288-ambassador-day-2023 

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