UN Internships

Summer Student Internship 2015 at the United Nations

We are sorry to inform you that our 2015 UN Summer Internship program is fully booked. If you have applied you should have received an acceptance letter or wait list letter. If you have not received a letter, you will get one as of 1 April explaining that our enrollment is full. Please consider applying next year.

Thank you,

Alison Van Dyk, Executive Director

June 22– July 24, 2015

Welcome to the 2015 UN experience:  a unique opportunity for young adults to have an in-depth exposure to the role and responsibilities of an intern for a Non-Governmental Organization. We are pleased to announce that Amy Pacula will be the head teacher for the program this year. Amy comes with a background in education of 9 years at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, 91st St, New York City. She has a background in Model UN and international education: Bangkok, Thailand and Belgium. During this 5 week program, under Amy’s excellent guidance, you will get a view of world events through observation of committees, lectures and high-level meetings which we hope will encourage you to become Global Leaders.

The Temple of Understanding is a Non-Governmental organization (NGO) with Consultative Status at the United Nations.  Students accepted to this 5-week program will gain insight into global issues, learn how an NGO functions at the UN, and discover their individual passion for a cause. Each student will be given a UN Grounds Pass enabling attendance at open meetings on a wide variety of topics in the Security Council, General Assembly and various committees. At the end of ten days, you will be required to choose a focus of interest and to research this topic in preparation for written and oral reports to be presented at the end of the internship. The strategy is to allow you personal choices while we assist in developing your ability to make serious intellectual decisions. You will be expected to be self-motivated and to take seriously this unique opportunity.

Each day begins with an 8:30 am meeting to review that day’s events at the UN.  Some days we give students time for individual work and to meet with Amy Pacula or her assistants for direction on projects. There is a mandatory interns meeting every Friday at 9:30 am at a designated site. Depending on your interests, meetings will be set up with representatives of UN Missions, Agencies, NGOs and others working on relevant topics.

To obtain your UN Grounds Pass you will need official identification such as a Passport, Drivers License or an alternative official ID.  The UN will not issue a Grounds Pass to anyone under 16 years of age.

There is an administrative fee of $1,500 for the program which covers costs incurred by the Temple of Understanding. However, if the fee presents a financial hardship, you are encouraged to suggest an affordable arrangement. We do not want anyone to miss the experience solely due to financial hardship.

We are not able to provide room and board for students. Each student is responsible for their own accommodations and meals.  The fee covers our expenses for running the program. 

Our Expectations:

  • That you will show up on time for all meetings and appointments.
  • That you will visit www.un.org, to learn about UN issues before you begin the internship.
  • That you will conduct research for your chosen topic. Websites are useful for UN information, but the NGO Resource Center and the UN Library are helpful as well..
  • That you will be independent, self-starting, curious and respectful of UN proceedings.
  • That you will take full advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.

Upon successful completion of the UN Summer Student Internship, the Temple of Understanding will issue a certificate in your name.

Temple of Understanding Contact Information:
Alison Van Dyk, Executive Director
777 UN Plaza, Office 3E
New York, NY 10017
email: Alison@templeofunderstanding.org
website: www.templeofunderstanding.org

Complete the UN Summer Student Internship Form 2015  and return one hard copy to the Temple of Understanding at the MA address below and  email copies to Alison Van Dyk at Alison@templeofunderstanding.org,  Amy Pacula at apacula@cshnyc.org and Shravana Sidhu at s.sidhu789@yahoo.com by APRIL 15, 2015.

c/o Alison Van Dyk
P.O. Box 1715
West Tisbury, MA 02575


To read more about the internship and see some past projects please scroll down.

Since 1995 the Temple of Understanding has implemented its commitment to education of young people by hosting a Summer Internship at the United Nations.  High School and College students from New York and different parts of the USA as well as China , Spain and Mexico have spent program time  learning about the United Nations by attending open meetings of the Security Council, the General Assembly and their various Committees. They have begun a career as global citizens who care about the humanitarian goals embraced by the UN.

Each year they have chosen for research a topic they are passionate about and they present their research to their colleagues at the end of the program.   Since many are debaters many consider both sides of the issue but do not fail to make an ethical judgment.

In the summer of 2014, our interns looked at a number of timely  issues under discussion at the UN. Here are the topics they chose to present on.

Annie Abruzzo – UN Peacekeeping missions
Robert Borek – Education in conflict zones
Gea Bozzi – Human trafficking
Julia Byrne – MDG 6
Isabelle Davis – sexual violence against women in the Middle East
Priya Gada – changes in the laws of war
Noah Gelles – Children and armed conflict
Matthew Grillo – UN micro finance program
Yervand Melkonyan – Biowarfare
Teddy Neuman – Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Dylan Peer – environmental sustainability
Luke Pramberger – child mortality in third world countries
Regina Soriano – women’s rights
John Kim – Sustainable development


2013 saw 20 young people whose chosen issues fall into three categories: Human Rights Violations, the Millennium Development Goals 3,7 and 8 and Civil Unrest .  The executive summary of their topics are reproduced here. The Millennium Development Goals that students use as a guideline for their topics are:

Eradication of Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Achieve Universal Primary Education
Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Reduce Child Mortality
Improve Maternal Health
Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Disease
Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Develop a Global Partnership for Development


In 2013, interns looked at a number of important and timely issues. Here are the summaries of their power point presentations.

  1. Women’s Rights
  2. The Environment
  3. Trade and Natural Resources
  4. Human Rights
  5. Civil Unrest


These research topics chosen by the students are of contemporary importance each year and were on the summer agenda for the United Nations. See presentations from 2010 and 2011 below.


What Interns have to say about their experience:

“First, I would like to thank you again for all that you did to make the UN internship possible.  I have fully taken advantage of the “bragging rights” that Mr. Gelles mentioned, and practically everyone at Nightingale is now clamoring to apply next year!  I even invited Mr. Josh Black from the US Mission to be a guest speaker at Nightingale, and he was the most dynamic, engaging, and popular speaker we have ever had.  I think I am realizing even more now what an amazing and unique opportunity I had this past summer.  When I looked up the UN journal a few weeks ago, I wished I could have been there for all the important meetings about ISIS and terrorism, especially when all the presidents came from all around the world!  I know that I would not be so privileged to have had this opportunity without all your hard work with the Temple, and for that, thank you.”   ~ Annie-2014

un internshipsIn retrospect the internship at the UN was one of the most moving, intellectually stimulating, and fun activities I have ever participated in. I was so intrigued at all the speakers and meetings we saw that I feel the internship has changed my views on worldwide politics and numerous major issues including climate change and many more. Additionally, I feel it has made me more interested in careers in NGOs and foreign policy. I want to extend another thank you to you and everyone at the Temple for allowing me to experience such an amazing internship.” ~ Christopher – 2010

Thank you for allowing me to be part of something so extraordinary. I can confidentlysay that during these past weeks I learned more than I ever thought possible. Not only did I learn about the issues the world is facing, I also awoke to my deepest passions for life.” ~ Besa-2010

It was an experience that broadened my horizons and one I will surely never forget.” ~ Bobby-2010

2011 Interns at The UN

I take with me a long and rich experience….. I realize, as you no doubt do, that we hold differing ideologies and viewpoints, but I have learned that such differences bring about discussion and dialogue – whether interfaith or international or simply interesting.” ~ Brian

Through the meetings at the UN, our smaller meetings at the Temple and each other’s final presentations, I was able to gain insight and perspective that I know will be useful in my academic work, but more importantly, in becoming a responsible global citizen.” ~ Kelsey-2010

The lessons I learned and new viewpoints to which I was exposed by the Temple staff and at the UN are truly innumerable. I hope to incorporate what I have learned into my life with the intention of becoming even more of a global citizen. The program you have created for students my age is remarkable and unparalleled.” ~ Kristen-2010


Internship Presentations 2010

Internship Presentations 2011

The Developing WorldHow Global Poverty is Addressed by the UNPolice BrutalityMaternal HealthChild SoldiersUN G2O Relations UN Project PresentationUN ICCPalestine-Israel RelationsSex TraffickingNorth Korea DisarmamentPeacekeeping UN Child HealthBirth RegistrationDrug TraffickingHealth Education in African NationsFinancial Institutions Response to Global EconomyPrimary Education of the Phillippines and Ethiopia