New York, USA – Juan Sebastián Pacheco Lozano is uniquely qualified for his position as the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) participant serving as the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) intern at Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) United Nations Office this year.
From 2011 to 2013, Pacheco Lozano learned about how to address issues of violence, poverty and oppression as one of 10 national and international participants in MCC’s Seed program in Colombia.
Twenty-six year-old Pacheco Lozano, a member of Teusaquillo Mennonite Church in Bogotá, partnered with Mennonite Brethren churches in Colombia and with grassroots, nonprofit organizations.
Pacheco Lozano says the Seed program enabled him to learn from and collaborate with people from diverse political, theological and cultural backgrounds and taught him how church communities can be positive forces for change in their local contexts.
Now he’s bringing all that experience he gained at the local level to the global arena.
At the UN, Pacheco Lozano is working on issues that directly impact his fellow Colombians, including mining safety, water quality and sanitation, as well as issues that reflect the priorities of MCC’s global partners in other regions of the world.
“Our IVEPers help bring the voice of the Global South to our work at the UN,” says Doug Hostetter, director of the MCC UN office. “They bring a passion for peace and justice work rooted in their local contexts.”
UN office interns are drawn from congregations of MWC member churches in Latin America, Africa and Asia. MCC is currently accepting applications for an intern from Asia for the 2017–2018 term.
Pacheco Lozano said one highlight of his work at the UN so far was the chance to hear Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos speak at the UN General Assembly in September 2015 about the peace process between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group.
Pacheco Lozano listened with a renewed sense of hope as his country’s president described new advances in the process and declared, “Colombia is on the path to peace.”
For IVEP participant (2008–2009) Tigist Tesfaye Gelagle, serving at MCC’s UN office helped shape her career and encouraged her to pursue leadership roles in the MWC community.
Returning home to Ethiopia, she has served with international nonprofit organizations, including Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA). Inspired by her experience at the UN, she earned a master’s degree in economic development in 2013 and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in biblical studies and theology.
She served as the African representative for MWC’s Young Anabaptists committee (2011–2015) and is now a mentor for the current committee. She was a featured Young Anabaptist speaker at Pennsylvania 2015.
Article by Rachel Sommer, MCC
A Mennonite World Conference and Mennonite Central Committee joint release.