FORMER TOUR GUIDES: VALUABLE U.N. ASSETS

 

NOVEMBER 2018

FORMER TOUR GUIDES: VALUABLE U.N. ASSETS


-- Lena Dissin


-- "Kiki" Gbeho

U.N. tour guides were amongst the better-briefed U.N. Staff. During a period of the organization's central relevance, they looked impressively presentable when receiving and guiding visitors and, more to the point, they managed to promote to the public a credible, positive image of an effective United Nations.

Tour guides were drawn from all continents, from varied backgrounds, were united in their valuable presence when needed most, particularly in handling negative perceptions.

Secretary-General U Thant referred to them as our ambassadors to the public. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar made sure that they felt confident enough in their work to welcome and brief visiting dignitaries. Attempts to cut down their role were confronted by relevant senior staff who made sure that they received proper attention. That included giving them a chance to apply for other U.N. posts, particularly through submitting the General Service to Professional level. Many of them succeeded in moving to various posts in different departments.

For example, Lena Dissin (from Sweden), moved as a P2 to a Department of Public Information section, then retired as a Director (D-2) at the Deputy Secretary General's office. "Kiki" Gbeho (Ghana) is now an Assistant Secretary-General on a field assignment. Maha El-Bahrawi (Egypt) is now Deputy Director (D-1) in the DPI's outreach division. Patricia Marchisio (Brazil) is a pillar in Peacekeeping operations. Mita Hosali (India) is now Deputy Director (D-1) in the DPI's media division. Hawa Taylor Kamara Diallo (Sierra-Leone) heads the NGO section. Rekia Soumana (Niger) is a vital assistant at the Human Rights, New York office. Helen Heugel (Austria), who formerly headed the visitor's section is now the chief of the U.N. Information Centers Services.

Only a few examples of so many talented former tour guides who have made impressive progress within the U.N. system.

A ceremonial gathering of the group, every now and then, may be appropriate, but it would be more effective if further attention is paid to the potential of such well-informed, dedicated individuals in enhancing credibility and effective relevance of the United Nations.