While walking by the Joseph F. Smith Building his sophomore year, Chris Johns noticed a poster for an internship program in New York. He contacted Ken Stiles, professor of political science and the international relations coordinator who mentors the program, and learned that there were many small missions at the UN that needed help from American college students. Johns applied to five countries and was offered an internship with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations.
The Maldives mission consists of only five people, so it was difficult for the small group to attend the daily morning and afternoon UN meetings. One of Johns’ responsibilities was to cover the meetings, take notes, and prepare briefs for the ambassador and diplomats. He also had the opportunity to assist with the Maldives’ successful reelection campaign as head of the Human Rights Council.
Working at the UN was demanding for Johns, and the internship posed several challenges. The UN vocabulary was like a foreign language at first, and Johns often used Google and Wikipedia to help him understand what was going on. And because the internship was unpaid, he lived off $0.99 pound cakes and pizzas. Plus it was hot. “Those are the things that added to my experience,” he said.