Major in International Studies, Minor in French, Minor in Political Science
On becoming a humanitarian
The strength of the B.E.S.T. Project Fund lies in its ability to provide a handful of lucky students with the opportunity to learn about their career path in a very practical manner. For Junru Bian, conflict zones and developing countries are the perfect place to hone his skill set for a future career as a humanitarian worker. This B.E.S.T. recipient will be travelling to Mongolia this summer to immerse himself in humanitarian efforts on the ground.
“I’ll be working for Mercy Corps, a non-governmental aid agency,” explains Junru. The 17-year-old student from Beijing will be engaged in grassroots work in the rural regions of Mongolia, where agriculture development is in a precarious state.
“My role as an Innovation and Communication intern will be to work directly with traditional Mongols and teach them how to grow crops in their harsh climate,” he says. “These people are nomads and raise livestock like goats and cows to survive, but they are only connected to their own immediate communities, which limits their potential to do business. I’ll be helping them to expand their connections with bigger businesses in larger towns in the country.”
In this unique and challenging environment, Junru will be taking on additional responsibilities to support Mercy Corps in its advocacy and communications strategy. “I’ll be writing their blog posts, taking photos, and help them with their website. I’ll be shadowing the country director as he visits the different settlements in Mongolia. He’ll be teaching me how to work with the local people.”
Junru compares his upcoming experience in Mongolia to a starter pack in humanitarian work. “It’s like a class but more interactive,” he says. “I will learn how I should approach my job as a humanitarian worker, and about the international code of conduct that every person doing this work needs to follow. This internship will teach me how to approach my job in an unbiased and professional way. It will give me a lot of great insights into managing a humanitarian organization like Mercy Corps, starting a new project, raising funds, advocating, and advertising.”
With Junru focused on ultimately becoming a leader in a similar non-governmental organization, he believes that B.E.S.T. is the perfect program to gain invaluable experience that will serve him in the field.
“The world is a chaotic place, yet humanitarian workers keep things in check. But these workers have to deal with chaos, understaffing and underfunding all the time. They’re dealing with ethical and moral challenges on a daily basis. But in the end, you can only learn about how to deal with those challenges outside of the classroom and in the field.”