Back in the nineties, I applied for the United Nations exams for translators since I speak three of the official languages of the United Nations; Arabic, English and French. By the time I received an acceptance and invitation to the exam centre, I had other plans. I moved to Cairo, got a good job and fell in love with the country and people…

But the dream of visiting the United Nations headquarters was always at the back of my mind.

For my license as a sworn translator, I’ve to spend at least ten days in an English speaking country. So, this year I decided to go to New York and visit the United Nations premises.

I booked a group guided tour and headed to the visitor’s centre. We were greeted by a Japanese guide who was very enthusiastic to tell everything about the UN in a couple of hours, especially in relations to the three pillars:

  • Peace & security
  • Development
  • Human rights

We were supposed to visit the main hall, but a meeting was in progress. So, that was left to the end of our tour.

We visited the Economic and Social Council first. Our guide took the opportunity to raise awareness about 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). He started his speech with the motto “Leave no one behind” that is originally a military protocol of “no man left behind” that I particularly love because it symbolises the sense of camaraderie and how communities empower global cooperation.

The tour guide maintained the same enthusiasm talking about the work in progress of all development agencies and volunteers who adopt the do-no-harm approach. I, personally, gained more insight in relation to my translation work and the SDGs I specialise in; mainly “Gender justice” and “Peace, justice and strong institutions.”

Much was achieved but a lot of work is still required…

I was intrigued by the whole building of the United Nations General Assembly and the architecture in the Turtle Bay neighbourhood of Manhattan. I looked up the ceiling and the guide told us that it’s been intentionally left unfinished as a symbol of “work in progress.”

I was truly inspired by the authentic leaders and resilient nations who have the ability to create lasting transformation in the world instead of rushing out in search of the next success secret. And this gives me the energy to create deep results with my clients in the long term.