Posts Tagged ‘Graduate Student Intern’

Guest Blogger, Alejandro Witschi

Sunday, May 17th, 2015
Back to School

Help From My Alma Mater

On May 17, the Brandeis International Business School honored 244 graduates at its 21st annual diploma ceremony. One of them was Alejandro Witschi, who was a graduate student intern at Prisere LLC last summer. UNISDR’s Regional Office in the Americas published a paper developed by Prisere LLC, to which Alejandro had contributed. We invited Alejandro to contribute a guest blog about his experience, which follows below. We wish him every success as he embarks on his career.


When I started searching for internships for the summer of 2014, I was looking for something in my field of expertise, banking and risk management. But in a pleasant turn of events I met Donna Childs; she was in need of a graduate student to support one of Prisere’s projects for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. After an interview, we decided to combine forces for this project, and maybe my background was not the usual for a job of this magnitude, but I had a strong personal attraction to this project.

My interest in contributing to this project relates to a disaster that occurred in my country and my personal feelings. A disaster struck Vargas State in Venezuela on 15 December 1999, when torrential rains and debris flows destroyed thousands of homes, and led to the complete collapse of the state’s infrastructure. The exact number of casualties was difficult to establish due to the lack of reliable census data in the state, but it is estimated that between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed. My other reason for interest in this project relates to the recent loss of my uncle, a former UN official and former Delegate of the Red Cross International Committee, who helped people around the world for almost 30 years. This motivated my interest in helping people as well, as my uncle did, precisely contributing to dissemination of best practices in disaster risk reduction communications in the Caribbean region.

At the beginning of the project, I reviewed the literature related to the United Nations work for disaster risk reduction in the context of the social and economic developments in the Caribbean region. Then I began to research regional best practices in disaster risk reduction. The process included gathering information from senior government officials in the Caribbean countries, each charged with responsibility for disaster risk reduction, emergency management or humanitarian response. I also interviewed leaders of NGO’s, including the Red Cross, in the Caribbean region. The experience was amazing because all of the participants in the project openly shared their experiences and this is reflected in a final report that I hope contributes to a safer, more resilient Caribbean region.