International UN Student Interns - FAR2018-047.1.27_1


International UN Student Interns

Maker: USIS Photo Lab
Medium:Gelatin silver print
Geography: New York, New York, United States of America
Date: 1957-1958
20.7 × 25.4 cm (8 1/8 × 10 in.)
Object number: 2018.90.1.27
Credit Line: Gift of Sneih Charan (née Dass). Courtesy The Family Camera Network
Not on view

This image is part of a picture story about international UN interns in New York. It shows a group of interns reading letters from home in the UN lounge after a luncheon.

A typed caption on the verso reads: "Picture Story No. 509 / UN TRAINS YOUTH IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS / In order to give young people from many lands opportunity to acquire a broader knowledge and understanding of its principles and activities, the United Nations has established three in-service training programs at UN Headquarters in New York City. One of these, the Special Interns program operated on a year round basis from September to September, is open to 20 students of Member States who have completed two or more years of college education. The pictures in this set show some of the activities of the men and  women who, under the Special Interns program for 1957-1958, studied and worked as temporary staff members of the United Nations Secretariat. / [...] Reading letters from home in the UN lounge after luncheon are (left to right) Sumiko Fujiwara of Tokyo, Japan; Jose Fernandez of La Paz, Bolivia; Frederik Breitenstein of Helsinki, Finland; Kanta Gupta of New Delhi, Jacqueline Liautaud of Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Rafael Stevenson of Bogota,  Columbia, and Rubella Manuel of Kuala Lampur, Malaya."

This photograph is from an album that was compiled by Sneih Charan, who worked for the United States Information Service (USIS) India in the 1950s and 1960s. USIS, later known as the United States Information Agency (USIA), was a US agency that operated until 1999. Its mission was to promote public diplomacy between the US and countries abroad. The album contains 40 professional photographs, mostly taken by USIS (India) photographers. It includes documentation of the USIS program in India with images of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru (in office from 1947-1964), and his daughter, Indira Gandhi (who served as Prime Minister from 1966-1977) at special events. Other subjects include: performing artists, UN Youth training in the United States, the Nixon/Kennedy presidential election, and a theatrical production of The Hasty Heart. Many of the photographs help to capture aspects of Sneih's professional roles and networks. The album is illustrative of how professional documentary photographs are incorporated into personal family photo collections.

Sneih Charan was born to a Hindu family in Multan, Punjab (now Pakistan) in 1932. Her mother was a homemaker and her father was a doctor in the Indian Medical Service. She attended the Woodstock school, an American Mission School located in what is now Himachal Pradesh, and later a women’s college at Lucknow University. In 1961, she was awarded an East/West Center scholarship, which was based at the University of Hawaii in Oahu, where she completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Drama and Theatre in 1963. Sneih’s professional career began with a position as social secretary for the Belgian Delegation to a United Nations Conference in Delhi in 1956 and then, a year later, she was an executive assistant for the newly opened International Cultural Centre. She was invited to run the Indian branch of the UNESCO Theatre Center, later called Bharatiya Natya Sangh, leading to her involvement with United States Information Service (USIS), where she served as the executive assistant to the cultural attaché of the United States in their New Delhi office. Part of her role was to organize shows for entertainers travelling to India as part of the Cultural Exchange Program. While in New Delhi, Sneih continued to be involved in the theatre community, joining the Little Theater Group (then the Unity Theater) and helping to establish the Yatrik theatre company. In 1965, Sneih emigrated to join her fiancé who had migrated to Canada in 1963. They were married soon after and had two daughters. While living in Montreal, Quebec, Sneih completed a diploma in Administration at Concordia University in 1979. Sneih continued to work in theatre, helping to establish a theatre puppet group, Rostringlo, which presented shows to community groups in both French and English. She worked with Rostringlo until 1992, when her family relocated to St. Catharines, Ontario.

This object is part of The Family Camera Network public archive at the Royal Ontario Museum, which includes photographs and oral histories, among other objects from family photo collections.

South Asia
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