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#166 Affiliated Staff

August 27, 2012

Submitted by KDog

Every EAW in his or her early years is well aware of the pecking order that separates senior staff from junior staff, staff from affiliated staff, and affiliated staff from interns. A few years in the field dodging bullets and learning how to self-medicate every ailment from stress to amoebic dysentery, and the once intern-then-affiliated staff-then junior staff looks forward to the monotony and paper pushing associated with a stint at headquarters.

This junior EAW is easily distinguished from his more experienced counterpart, the senior EAW, who will not greet his new homestead with an involuntary smile as he touches down at Geneva airport, nor abound in joy over the scantily clad women at la Terasse, nor look forward to the perfect mocha-latte churned out in the staff cafeteria. This is because the senior EAW was once a junior EAW, and that experience has taught him to dedicate considerable time to negotiating the minefield of conspiracies left to fester among colleagues crammed together in small spaces at headquarters.

Meanwhile, the junior EAW is happily unaware that while he has been earning his badges in the field like any good boy scout, headquarters has been subject to stringent cost-cutting demands imposed by donors who, having noticed there are no refugee camps skirting the Palais des Nations, decided to invest their resources closer to ground zero. The surge of temporary assignments granted to interns and external applicants necessary to cover the gap has in turn given birth to an entirely new breed of EAW: the affiliated staff.

The affiliated staff is recognized by a strong dedication to the beneficiaries she has never met, and a strong sense of self-entitlement prompting never-ending soliloquies detailing the number of years she spent in the corporate sector, and how, given the efficiency of the corporate sector itself, she should be put in the fast lane for an EAW position along with a suitable number of subordinates and a corner office. This, the affiliated staff argues, would right the wrongs that have so far prevented the United Nations system from imposing harmony on a world struck by war and famine. The affiliated staff detests three-letter acronyms because she has not yet had the time to learn them, and above all she takes offense to EAWs recounting life in the field. This experience, after all, is what separates the EAW from the affiliated staff. Besides the pay and your own office phone, of course.

The junior EAW now begins to reconsider the merits of headquarters, and pays increasingly more attention to the fast-track positions churned out as a result of a never-ending string of catastrophes, all of which the more experienced corporate sector affiliated staff would have prevented in the first place. And thus, the junior EAW flees headquarters, leaving behind a conflict fiercer in scope than that seen in Darfur or Sri Lanka, and returns to the field, where, he argues, he will be with his kind. And with this abandonment, the circle becomes complete, as headquarters is again left to interns who want to be affiliated staff, and affiliated staff who want to be staff, and staff who long for the time when they were interns.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joseph Keller permalink
    September 4, 2012 10:00 pm

    To be fair, the mocha-lattes from the Palais aren’t bad (and, for Geneva, only cost the equivalent of one full meal in some field locations, rather than the equivalent of a week’s wages, as a latte from the starbucks at bel air would), but not as good as (insert reference to some obscure local drink)…

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