Have you ever wondered how some of your fellows or peers are selected to attend high level conferences? You see them sharing pictures and impressions from meetings taking place in venues like the United Nations, or hosted by the OSCE PA and jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & the IOM –International Organization for Migration. You are curious about how to become part of these events, too, and you ask yourself where to begin. Well, let`s find out! NB, these recommendations are based on my personal experience, and the advice presented is not exhaustive is and not limited to the information provided.
First of all, you need to be informed about a coming event in order not to miss a deadline and a chance to participate. For this, there are several ways to stay updated:
- a subscription to the pages of international organizations in social networks
- tracking conferences on websites which announce opportunities for youth, similar to the Youth Time website and many other alternative ones
- paying attention to word of mouth, including information from your friends, classmates, or former colleagues
- entering key words into search engines
- staying informed about international conferences in your own homeland
Choose smart options and place yourself in the right defined category
Secondly, there are different options and categories to belong to in order to take part in high level conferences. You can define yourself according to your interests, your availability, your skills (English proficiency is a must, additional languages are a plus) and the current status you possess, i.e. there might reductions or outright fee waivers for students.
Public participant: it means that anyone who is interested in conference sessions can come and observe, mostly depending on the specific security measures at the conference in question and limits to the number of attendees, as well as any special status you may have based on direct affiliation and your relevance to the conference.
Volunteers are always welcome, since there is a lot of work to do, especially during the organizational part. Although you might work for free, volunteering brings numerous benefits such as free entrance and access to sessions, experience, opportunities to meet officials and even talk briefly one-on-one or simply accompany them while translating, meeting new friends, and experiencing free food and accumulating priceless memories.
Press: if you are a journalist representing the media or an experienced and respected blogger active in the sector which is the conference topic, you may be able to acquire accreditation to cover the event.
Access by internship: if you are interning for an international organization, an NGO, or a governmental institution, there is a big chance of being involved in organizing upcoming conferences by becoming part of the organizing team; alternatively, as a part of your internship, activities can be planned connected with participating in high level conferences as an observer or as a member of a partner organization.
Consider costs and affordability
Finally, another important aspect is financial, considering your own budget and ability to invest money to participate in any given conference. Another possibility would be raising money or asking for financial support from your university/other institutions/or sponsors. After all the arrangements have been made, it is time to act and enjoy being present at a high level conference. Needless to say, it is definitely worthwhile seeing how high level conferences are organized, held, and carried through.
First time at the Ministerial Conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 2013 with the future UN Secretary General Guterres
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