| by Valentina Bianco Hormaechea


Valentina Hormaechea
Valentina Bianco Hormaechea MANPTS ‘20

Middlebury Institute graduates discuss where they are working today, how the Institute helped them get there, and what advice they’d give to current and future MIIS students.

My name is Valentina Bianco Hormaechea and I graduated with an MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute in 2020. My language of study was English, and I specialized in the impact of counterterrorism policies in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. In 2019 I interned with the United Nations, and now I am an associate external relations and reporting officer at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. 

My UN internship was with the research and liaison unit of the United Nations Operations and Crisis Centre (UNOCC), which provides the analytical capacity to undertake in-depth mid- to long-term research studies on current political, security, and operational issues affecting UN peacekeeping missions. I was part of the Middle East portfolio and focused on tracking the evolving situation of the war in Syria, performing integrated analysis, i.e., examining the humanitarian, military, political, security, and socioeconomic dimensions. 

Currently, at UNHCR in Peru, I am supporting the humanitarian response for the more than 1.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants.
— Valentina Bianco Hormaechea MANPTS ’20

The internship I did at the UNOCC allowed me to experience the “behind-the-scenes” and functioning aspects of the peacekeeping missions and what it looks like to work in such a dynamic environment. I was able to attend UN Security Council meetings and better understand how the UN system works as a whole. I was truly inspired by my colleagues’ experiences in the field, deployed in the world’s most complex humanitarian crises and protracted conflicts. That was the reason I decided to go to Lesvos, Greece, to work in Kara Tepe Refugee Camp (also known as Moria 2 Refugee Camp) to better understand the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean region.

Reporting on Refugee Humanitarian Response Efforts

Currently, at UNHCR in Peru, I am supporting the humanitarian response for the more than 1.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants. As a reporting officer, my job is to put into words the incredible actions my more than 100 colleagues carry out throughout the country. I am in charge of reporting to donors and other audiences about these collective efforts and their impact on people’s lives, as well as supporting the preparation of proposals to receive funding and expand our action capacity in a context of increasing needs.

I truly believe that the skills I acquired at MIIS, plus my internship and field experience, contributed to my landing my current job at UNHCR.