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On a mission in South Sudan

Page last published: 24 Oct 2013

Master of International Relations graduate Tamara FenjanJournalist, author and human rights advocate Tamara Fenjan shares with us her experience in South Sudan, where she works as Reporting Officer for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). A Master of International Relations graduate, Tamara has been working in South Sudan for more than a year now.

What's a typical day like for you working in UNMISS?
UNMISS is an integrated mission composed of civilians, police and military personnel. Its joint operations centre is where all the information the entire country and mission components are collected, collated, analysed and disseminated.

A typical day at work involves writing reports regarding security, human rights and political developments in the country. My job also involves going to coordination meetings, recruitment of UN volunteers, training of new staff, field trips, and participating in mission crisis management meetings in times of crisis (such as when in December 2012 a UN helicopter was downed by the SPLA and the 4 crew members were killed).

What's the most challenging aspect of your role?
The environment and living conditions. South Sudan is a primitive country and lacks just about everything. We live in small individual containers and we share toilet/shower facilities. Not having access to proper food and clean water, and being in insecure environments is not always easy.

What's the most rewarding experience?
Meeting and working with people from the around the world, and sharing stories and life moments with them. I work in places where there are so much poverty, trauma and pain. It's such a rewarding experience being able to uplift a person, connect with a child, or make someone smile.  Knowing that what I do makes this world a little less miserable for these people inspires me to work harder.

What was your childhood dream?
As a kid I actually dreamt of working with dolphins (which is why I was attracted to Australia in the first place), or do something with languages taken that I speak several. I have always loved expressing myself. I was only 7 years old when my first text was published!

As a young adult I came to realize that I should work with people, communications and people's rights – and that is what I have done for many years. Now I can't imagine not doing that. Journalism and human rights are my passions!

How was your experience at Macquarie?
Macquarie University had the program (Master of International Relations) which I really wanted to get into. My professors were incredibly knowledgeable and supportive, and I was very happy with facilities and the university culture. What I remember the most are my fellow students and the friendships that we made. If I ever go back to university I would consider Macquarie again.

What advice can you give to those who want to pursue a career like yours?
Try to get a focus or a more in-depth knowledge about a topic/issue, and learn as much as possible. Make a work plan as early as possible to guide you in what you want to achieve. Do some volunteer work, or engage in extracurricular activities while studying - it will look good on the resume.

Interested in studying Master of International Relations?

Learn more about this postgraduate degree from the Politics and International Relations website.

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