UN Stories, U.S. Voices: Bettina Hausmann
The work of the UN reaches 193 countries and the World Federation of United Nations Associations reaches 95 countries. UNA-USA members represent a melting pot of educational, religious, and cultural backgrounds that are united in their commitment to promoting the values of the UN in the United States. Bettina Hausmann not only has been a member of United Nations Associations (UNAs) in four countries, but also she is currently the Executive Director of the UNA San Diego Chapter, an executive member of the UNA Southern California Division, and a UNA-USA National Council Regional Representative.
Bettina’s involvement in UNAs started in 1991 when she joined UNA-Germany: “I was exposed truly to what the UN does in terms of peacekeeping missions and it was really unusual for Europe to have this so close to home, during the war where actual UN involvement took place. It was a curiosity that really brought me to the UN Association in Germany. It formed in 1951 in Berlin so now having the (Berlin) Wall removed and a reunited Germany, I had access to the civil society group of really interested and engaged international members and how they work to promote the UN in their countries.”
Bettina then moved to the United States from East Germany in 2003 after working in France, Switzerland, and Austria. In California, she completed two Master’s degrees at the University of California at San Diego, focusing on international relations. “[San Diego] has a landscape of incredible NGOs and civil societies like the World Affairs Council, and the San Diego Diplomacy Council. There are so many different networks that we tapped into.”
Having attended over 10 UNA-USA Global Leadership Summits, Bettina is an active member. However, the ability to share her voice with political officials holds a tremendous amount of importance, saying, “I’m here whether or not that it carries any weight. The point is that they’re listening to what I have to say and then again when you see everyone being so excited in your group, you’re filled with this worth of what you’re doing with yours. It’s bigger than you because whatever you do impacts others, elevates others, and it informs others.” Bettina notes how this is not something that is available in every country, and the opportunity to share all of the work that UNA-USA does with elected officials is not something to take for granted.
“The work of the UN encourages advocacy and has really reflected the belief that unless we recognize we’re in this together and that these resources are finite, we must engage in sustainable practices so that we can ensure the survival of us on this Earth.”
In a series called “UN Stories, U.S. Voices,” we will be finding opportunities throughout the year to highlight some of the amazing histories and connections UNA-USA members have to the UN to celebrate its 75th anniversary.