A calm soul in a shaking body
14 Jul 2016 by Laura Bohantova and Augustin Stepanov
We here at UN Moldova recently challenged ourselves to practice what we preach.
We asked ourselves: How do we take solid steps to embrace diversity?
That’s how we ended up with our very first UN-wide internship program in Moldova designed for persons from vulnerable groups. People who may otherwise have a hard time receiving internships, not because they do not have the skills, but due to limited life opportunities they have faced.
In the beginning, we wondered: How do we make sure we provide an internship opportunity that not only makes them comfortable but also gives them space to grow?
But we’re happy to see things advance smoothly. As it turns out, we have as much to learn from them as they had to learn from us. Our interns have boosted our vision about what UN is meant for and gave us a new outlook on life.
Just read this testimonial by one of our interns, Augustin, and you will understand why. You will not find jargon, but only strength.
My name is Augustin Stepanov and I am intern at UNDP in Moldova.
If you knew I’d been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome* at six, you’d understand this is no regular feat.
Being diagnosed was hard, especially at the beginning, without much chance for rehabilitation.
My schooling was often interrupted with treatments to slow down my uncontrollable and unpleasant tics. Tics in my voice. Tics in my throat, bitter taste. Tics in my eyes, hands, feet and abdomen.
I am a calm soul in a shaking body. But not being able to control your body, especially in the presence of others, can be tormenting.
Things did improve. Over time, I worked on myself, achieved increased control of my body and boosted my self-confidence. I took to writing poetry.
When school was over, I wondered what to do next. I had two options: work as a pastry chef or a computer assistant. A diverse spectrum, isn’t it?
A friend of mine helped me to enroll at the university. I successfully graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Now I had a degree, but how about employment opportunities?
I have been rejected many times due to my condition. Whenever I disclosed my health status in my CV – I received nothing but silence. When I removed it, I was invited to job interviews. I wasn’t asking for mercy or pity – just a chance.
Then came the internship call from the UN in Moldova. I always wanted to become part of the UN team.
This was my dream since I was accepted at the university. I remember walking down the street and staring at the UN House building with hope.
I work in operations, helping to make sure everything in the office runs smoothly, from procurement to human resources. It’s been a rich experience, working alongside an exciting group of people. I have learned many new things, which I will definitely use in my professional development.
My girlfriend and I are expecting a baby girl. I want to make sure that I give them the future they deserve. This experience might just help pave the way for that.
* Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder, which most often begins between the ages of 2 and 21, and lasts throughout life. The syndrome is not degenerative and people with it can expect to live a normal life span. The syndrome manifests through involuntary, repetitive movements, tics and vocalizations.