Mariam, Conflict Studies and Human Rights, Alternatives, Sudan, Al-Alaag, Research Officer
Over the past three months, I have had the opportunity to participate in a joint project between Al-Alaag, Sudan and Alternatives, Canada as a Research Officer On Violence Against Women.
As a fourth year student, this position allowed me to demonstrate the knowledge and skills that I have acquired throughout my degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. The international internship has advanced my professional experience and my understanding of what human rights work entails, as I am immersed in the challenges faced by NGOs that are actively working on a grass-roots level. One of my biggest accomplishments in my internship was presenting a Data Analysis and SPSS Software Seminar for some students in Sudan; this was an immense help in developing my public speaking and mentoring skills. The tasks that I have been assigned throughout my internship were both tailored to my level of knowledge and challenged me in a way that truly prepares me for the work that I will be doing in the future.
Considering that this international internship involves several actors who are collaborating on the same project while operating thousands of miles apart, the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely had an impact on important processes. Some issues with communication and internet accessibility were present, as well adjustments had to be made at Al-Alaag in Sudan, with regard to those working remotely and those at the office. Yet these challenges continuously motivated me to take initiative, as well, they helped me discover and enhance my capabilities in a professional human rights work environment. Members at Al-Alaag and Alternatives jointly and efficiently dealt with the consequences of COVID-19, and inevitable technical issues and I am very grateful to have been part of navigating such processes.
Prior to starting my international internship, I was experiencing high levels of stress as I overthinking on the quality and quantity of work that I can produce for the NGOs that I was going to be working with. As I progressed through my internship, I realized that this was definitely not the most appropriate mindset to start with and that I was being harder on myself than anyone else was. The training that we were provided by uOttawa professors was very beneficial, in that it was appropriately tailored to prepare us for the upcoming positions that we were going to occupy. My internship experience not only allowed me to see the ways in which NGOs deal with everyday dilemmas, such as COVID, but also gave me a chance to actively engage in formulating solutions for these issues.
Overall, I would say that this internship experience has surely changed my perspective of, and approach to participating in the professional work environment. Working with Al-Alaag and Alternatives on a project that is solely aimed at liberating Sudanese women is an opportunity that I will forever cherish. This special internship experience has exposed me to real life situations that required me to use my problem solving skills and creativity to produce appropriate work, engage with diverse group members to navigate issues and reach project objectives.