On Friday, September 28th, we launched our Perspectives from the Field Series, a speaker series that invites CLACS alumni from a wide range of professions to speak about their experiences since graduation, and how their studies at CLACS prepared them for the work that they are doing today. The topics that our invited speakers discuss in the series include development, education, human rights, business, public health, and more.
Our first speaker was Tamar Hahn, Regional Communications Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean for UNICEF in Panama. She began her talk on her journey from her upbringing in her native Argentina, to her undergraduate studies in Israel (where her mother is from), to her graduate studies with CLACS in New York. Hahn mentioned that “it’s funny that in order for Latin Americans to learn about Latin America, we have to go outside of it.”
After completing the joint MA program in Latin American and Caribbean studies and journalism at CLACS in 1998, Hahn got her first job as a journalist covering Latin American finance and managing editor of The Earth Times newspaper in New York which covered issues related to the United Nations. It was through contacts that she developed at the UN that allowed her to begin working directly for the UN as a freelancer, and after freelancing for a few years, she came across an opportunity to work for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2004 working in New York and Geneva.
As Regional Communications Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean for UNICEF, Hahn is now based in Panama, and oversees all communications issues related to all countries in the region. She mentioned talking about her most challenging case to date – the massive earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. Being that her office was the closest to Port-au-Prince, Hahn became the UNICEF spokesperson in Haiti and spent many months dealing with the problems that this tragedy brought on Haitian children, most notably child abduction and unsupervised “adoptions”. However, on a positive note, Hahn informed us that after two years of recovery Haiti is finally showing signs of improvement. Eighty percent of the debris is gone, half the earthquake camps have been cleared, and Haitians are now aware of public services, such as healthcare and education (which had been privatized pre-earthquake).
However, tragedy is not all that Hahn deals with at UNICEF. She spoke about a recent anti child trafficking campaign that she proposed to do with MTV Exit in Miami and the famous Puerto Rican duo Calle 13. She helped produced a short documentary featuring young survivors of human trafficking, which Residente calls the “Slavery of the 21st Century”, as well as a music video called “Preparame la Cena” with the band.
Looking back at her journey Hahn seemed pleased with where life has taken her, and will continue her work with UNICEF, looking forward to her next adventure with them.
If you would like to know what some of our other Alumni are up to, please join us for our next talk on Friday, October 19th, as we sit down with our second speaker of the series, Ana María Blanco, Communication on Progress Manager at the United Nations Global Compact, to hear how her training in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at CLACS prepared her for her career. We hope to see you and some friends there for interesting conversations and great networking opportunities – it’s never too early to think about the future!
Sisa B. Holguín is Program Administrator at CLACS and Managing Editor for the CLACS-NYU Blog