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Seminar: “UNICEF’s Nutrition Programme and the Work of a UNICEF Officer”


(Ms. Okamura)

A career seminar titled “UNICEF’s Nutrition Programme and the Work of a UNICEF Officer” was held on Friday, July 25, 2014, for students with an interest in international cooperation. Our invited speaker was Kyoko Okamura who was a Nutrition Specialist at UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and is now a development consultant. The seminar was organized in response to an inquiry received by the Global Collaboration Center from members of the “Living Together in a Global Community” Study Group about career development in international cooperation and particularly the field of nutrition. A total of 11 people participated in the seminar, including Ochanomizu undergraduate and graduate students as well as students from other universities.

Drawing on her experience working at UNICEF’s Nepal Country Office, Tokyo Office, and Ethiopia Country Office, Ms. Okamura described programme management techniques needed both within and outside the field of nutrition and offered hints for doing international cooperation work. There was also a lively question-and-answer session that focused on the career paths and interests of the participants.

(Discussion with participants)

Incorporating many real-life examples, Ms. Okamura explained in simple terms how programme officers set final goals for a programme and then move the programme forward to achieve those goals while ensuring it remains in line with beneficiaries’ needs. She also talked about her career path which included an internship at the World Food Programme (WFP), field experience as a UNICEF officer, and study at a US graduate school. In addition, she shared personal stories that are not often shared in seminar settings, such as how to balance work and family life.

There were a few points that I found particularly interesting. First, field work in international cooperation requires not just specialized knowledge but also communication skills, negotiation skills, and management skills for the programme to achieve its goals. This means that you should not pursue one specialization exclusively. It may be a shortcut in the case of an international cooperation career to keep your sights on one purpose but to gain a variety of experience by taking detours. Second, international cooperation is more than just the goal of working at the UN or a government agency; it is a way to achieve your own purpose.

The seminar focused on field work and the details of international cooperation rather than on core knowledge. For this reason, it gave the participating students an opportunity to think about international cooperation from a variety of angles.

(Yurika Ueda, Division of Nutrition and Food Science, 3rd year student
Faculty of Human Life and Environmental Sciences)

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