Putting theory into practice

Faculty of Social Sciences
From the Field

By Marah

Student, Honours in International Studies and Modern Languages

Picture of a bag with some little international flags on it.
“Every day, I apply knowledge from my personal background and academic degree while continuing to grow and learn.”

Marah, Honours in International Studies and Modern Languages, Alternatives, Palestine, Teacher Creativity Centre (TCC). 

My time at uOttawa has taught me many things, from International Relations theories to Italian verb conjugations. As I neared the end of my undergraduate degree, I could not help but wonder what a career in my field would look like. Plans to gain professional experience during the summer were put off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but an email from the Faculty of Social Sciences presented a different kind of opportunity for the Fall. Before beginning this online work placement, I was very unsure of what to expect and how it would develop. However, I can confidently say that this internship has given me the exceptional chance to work with both Canadian and international NGOs, and gain valuable insight into what a career in this field would look like.

I am currently working with the Teacher Creativity Centre (TCC), a Palestinian NGO that works on a variety of education-centered issues, in collaboration with Alternatives, a Montreal-based NGO that works with diverse partners to strengthen collective rights. Although only halfway through the internship, I have already learnt so much about the education sector and the situation on the ground in Palestine. Objectively learning about the political history of a country and its current reality is one thing, but working with people who experience it on a daily basis has been an eye-opening experience. Even though my work is online, I am able to link my theoretical knowledge on Palestine by listening to my colleagues and seeing through their eyes, and in turn aiding them by doing my job as well as I can.

Another way I have been putting theory into practice is more specific to the placement I currently hold. As a student in a research position, I am able to utilize my research skills and knowledge from academia and apply it to the projects I am tasked with. Tasks such as creating methodologies and outlines, analyzing data and preparing interviews have moved from being classroom examples to real life case studies. I am especially glad I held onto my political research coursework as I have found myself returning frequently to my notes to help with internship assignments. I am grateful to have the chance to perform this kind of professional work while still being in university and finishing my studies.

This virtual internship will undoubtedly differ from future job positions but, considering the circumstances, it has been an invaluable opportunity. Every day, I apply knowledge from my personal background and academic degree while continuing to grow and learn. It’s hard to ask for more.