Published on Jan 8, 2012
Whether acting as a United Nations Field Officer or as a local student volunteer, Tanya De Mello’s work has always been focused on building communities. Whether it’s through creating community service initiatives at universities, managing humanitarian aid donations in Senegal or assisting with refugee relocation planning, Tanya excels at bringing people together around shared ideas to build vibrant communities.
Her commitment and zeal for enacting change has earned her several distinctions, including McGill’s prestigious Scarlet Key Award and Princeton’s esteemed Donald E. Stokes Award for leadership and academic excellence. Between co-founding two Non-Governmental Organizations and working for the United Nations, Tanya finds the time to kick-start new initiatives such as the Community Action — a community-led group that organizes charity fundraisers for legal aid and student to work not just in the community, but with the community.One recent project called “Community Captured”, was a photo display that addressed the complex dimensions of pressing social issues, while inviting community members and organizations alike to participate in the process of creating change.
And what’s the common denominator that underlies all of her achievements? Tanya firmly believes that efforts taken to bring about change, even at a very local level, can be as transformative as the largest of international development projects.
Start small, but start now — that is what will make the greatest difference tomorrow.
COMMENTS • 85
Laura Zimmerman2 years ago
Let’s make this a hell of a lot shorter.
“How did I make it to the UN?”
1. Give a shit about the thing you’re doing because otherwise you come off as a fraud
2. Volunteer (Habitat for Humanity, helping the homeless: coming up with cute stories)
3. Do well in school and get a Master’s Degree (high GPA and advanced degree)
4. Know someone who will recommend you (from your Uni)
5. Apply online at the UN website
Michelle Yoo3 years ago
“Because we can’t do everything, we do nothing at all.”
This sentence really moved my heart.
mylife83471 year ago
Useless 17 minutes rhetoric… no matter how much you volunteer or stay involved in community services, you aren’t going to get a job at UN, one needs some internal reference and qualification for that.
stilgottheblues1 year ago
She graduated from University of Waterloo and landed on UN. But what I can do? I am from Bangladesh and graduated from local university. So I see very little hope to get a job in UN. Ted talk is good good but reality is different (my opinion).
Mellyanda Ratu11 months ago
One of the most inspiring talks I’ve encountered on TED. This has successfully affect me so deeply.. Truly widens my horizon a lot farther.. Thank you Tanya De Mello.
Panasonic1 year ago
After Mother Teresa became a Saint recently, I read up on why she was sainted and I was in disbelief. And then I read about how her organization received millions from around the world and gave the majority of it to the Pope and not to the village she was claiming to help.
Sometimes I wonder if people actually look into the religions they practice. And the organizations they give money to.
Anyway, this was a helpful speech and I enjoyed it. But I just had to comment about Mother Teresa.
Leonard Kabongo1 year ago
Do not do small things ,just do great things with love!! This is amazing
Anas Audeh1 year ago
Her advice is very simple, get US passport, so you can visit any conflict area to volunteer for few weeks, then go back study in Waterloo and Princeton. You end up a UN officer. Most important don’t be fooled with humanitarian ideals.
potwhovian1 year ago
Man I really needed to hear those words. Thanks
anna linda Orosz2 years ago
Thank you for sharing this motivating, sincere message and your example!
TheKen29422 years ago
Bitch, I’m afraid you wasted my time, I was looking for some real practical answers.
Joyce Li2 years ago
Thank you so much for the speech. I love the advice!
1) to do something, anything, now
2) contribute in your own way
3) make sincere connections
What if you had half an hour to help others, but couldn’t tell anyone, what would you do?
You won’t be busier than you are now, do it now.
1) As a volunteer for Tzu Chi Foundation, I definitely relate to how meaningful accomplishments are all composed of many small deeds together, not just one big deed, 2) my little contribution at this moment is to 3) invite you all to check out Tzu Chi in your area or on the internet (we’re international with over 10 million volunteers and members and recognized by the Red Cross/Governments/UNECOSOC, and more!) We volunteer with our hearts, and wherever there is need, no matter how small the contributions, we do our best to help, and know that it does make a difference.
saptarishi1005 months ago (edited)
what a crap of the world….i was an intern in WHO i applied for 40 jobs since 2013 and i was rejected in all, starting from a senior managerial post to an office assistant….UN is the most corrupt organisation in the whole world as i got to know how my superior was extracting dollars from Poorest African countries by just doing some crap workshops….
yes u can get a job in UN if you have some very good connections or ur country is like of this lady eg USA, UK, GERMANY, FRANCE etc….forget if ur from INDIA….
Plus there is a huge racial discrimination in the work place in the HQ i have experienced the same…….its a shame when this happens to coloured ppl from Poor countries like India…
Keep Calm5 months ago
Most of us don’t have the money to go to Princeton. I know more people without degrees who are more qualified than these educated fools.
Keep Calm5 months ago
U can only get a UN job if… you have connections! I am sad to say this is the truth. This lady did not say what parents do or her relatives. I don’t buy the bs of good deeds.
Optimus Prime5 months ago
While she makes good points, she doesn’t answer the actual questions. More than 90% of the time, you need to have an internal contact to get anywhere in the Govt or even the UN. It would have been more accurate if she was straight forward instead of a ‘motivational speaker’ blurb.
bluehoney61 year ago
how can I contact this powerful woman? I need to talk to her, I feel so moved! If you ever stop by please reply this message, Tanya!
ameeserdna2 years ago
Not all the time good work and intentions are traced, sometimes destiny and luck matters, glad that your true heart and commitment was seen, recognized and rewarded ! True that who is inspired to make difference, empathize and respond at to instances of pain around us, we would definitely make our world a heavenly place to be. Driven by crave to get in UN and other top short organizations perhaps why world is turning cv oriented forgetting morality and integrity in humanitarianism.
The Truth5 years ago
and now she’s working on Bay street representing corporations! lol
What The3 months ago
YOU SUCK! Whoever booked you needs to be fired. Also, that dress looks terrible.