Making the Most out of 2020

Faculté des sciences sociales
From the Field

Par Lauren

Student, Honours in International Studies and Modern Languages

A continental map
(En anglais seulement)

“I am sure that you are all sick and tired of hearing complaints about 2020 and our current pandemic situation.”

Lauren, Honours in International Studies and Modern Languages, Alternatives, India, Indian Civil Watch International. 

Fortunately, I am not here to complain, but to inform, and explain what I have been doing over the past couple of months regarding my international internship with Alternatives Canada and the Indian Civil Watch International (ICWI).

The world as we know it has changed in the way we learn, the way we work, and the way we socialize. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I filled out my application for an “at a distance” internship, but I am honestly so pleasantly surprised at how it has turned out.

As an International Studies major, the past 3 years I have spent taking numerous political science courses including political violence (which to this day has always been my favorite), but I hadn’t gotten the chance to actually put any of what I had learned into practice. This is why working for the ICWI has been an amazing opportunity to learn more about concepts taught in that course, specifically political prisoners and terror legislation across the world. The ICWI’s goal is to spread awareness about the current issues in India regarding political prisoners, and how unjust their anti-terror laws are.

That is where my internship comes into play. My role with the organization shifts and changes as time goes on. At first it was important for me to get more comfortable with the material, and prove to my superiors that I semi knew what I was talking about. I started out by reading articles and writing short synopses for each one. I continued to do this for the first month or so, as well as created an annotated bibliography that will be used in the future to more easily find sources.

Next, I started to analyze and critique the ICWI’s current website. This has probably been my biggest accomplishment thus far as I believe it will prove to be the most useful written piece I have come up with. The website is quite outdated, so I recommended how they could better market themselves in order to obtain more visibility, and in turn have a better chance at spreading awareness. I got to present my ideas to my supervisors and explain why these changes would ultimately be beneficial.

My next tasks will be to start comparing terror laws in India with other countries terror laws, as well as come up with a series of questions that I will be asking prominent political and human rights activists in a series of interviews next month.

It is obviously a very different experience, working at home online instead of being on the ground in India, but I believe that it is still teaching me so much, teaching me skills that I perhaps wouldn’t have if I was actually there.  I am not an extremely “techy” person, so I have had to adapt and try to improve on that. I also feel that I have more freedom to express my opinions on the subject matter, without fear of judgment were I to really be on the ground in India.

Again, I know that what is going on today is far from ideal, but my goal moving forward is to continue to make the most of my internship and continue to learn as much as possible. Now is the time… Seriously! It is not like we have anything better to do.

If you are hesitant about doing an “at a distance” internship, don’t be. There is so much to gain by working with these organizations. Not only will you be gaining some much-needed experience, but you are also working for something that is greater than yourself. Every one of these organizations is looking to make the world a better and safer place, so I highly encourage you to apply!