- What goes on in the field?
- What is a typical day?
- What projects do you work on?
You’ll find answers to all of these questions and many more by reading comments from Faculty of Social Sciences interns on this blog. Students posted all around the world will share their experience, challenges and success stories with readers. Please visit this blog regularly to find out about their adventures!
Please visit the French version of this web page to read the French postings published by our Students.
Reflecting on my PositionalityEmma, Masters International Development and GlobalizationInternship Country: Myanmar, posted in ThailandCanadian and local NGO: Forum of Federations
Before I embarked on my internship, I was asked to develop three learning questions to guide my experience. For one of my questions, I decided to investigate how my positioning as a Chinese Canadian would affect my interactions at work. So, in my final blog post I’d like to reflect on this question and the ways in which my identity (ethnic, national, and linguistic) affects my day-to-day life in Chaing Mai.
One of my biggest concerns before starting my internship was the language barrier. I don’t speak Burmese; however, all my colleagues speak Burmese as their first language and most of our work is conducted in Burmese. In order to address the language barrier, I knew that I would have to make a special effort to be more outspoken and vocal. For example, if I don’t understand something then I need to ask for clarification.
Luckily the language barrier has not been a major challenge. From day one, everyone at the Forum of Federations Myanmar office has made me feel welcome and comfortable. They have gone above and beyond to include me in their conversations and activities. I know that their warmth and openness has been the #1 reason my internship experience has been so positive and I feel very fortunate.
Outside the office, the language barrier has been slightly more challenging. Although I have learned some essential Thai phrases, I mostly rely on google translate when ordering food or asking for help. Often when people discover that I cannot speak Thai they will switch Mandrin. However, I do not speak Mandrin, and this can lead to additional confusion. As a Chinese adoptee have always wanted to learn Mandrin, and this internship experience has inspired me to start lessons.
Another thing I’ve been grappling with is how Western concepts of development conflict with local understandings of development. Obviously, this is a very important issue in the NGO space, and I wondered how Forum of Federations navigated that dynamic. As a person who was raised in Canada and received a western education, I knew that my internship would also have implications related to global development cooperation at Forum of Federations.
Throughout the course of my internship, I have learned about the importance of inclusive partnerships and locally led development. For example, I’ve witnessed close cooperation between the local team and international experts. And in terms of my own positionality as a Canadian grad student, I think it is important for me to check and acknowledge my privilege daily. I also recognize that it is my job to listen and learn from my colleagues whose breadth of knowledge far exceeds my own.
Overall, I am incredibly grateful for this experience. I cannot believe how much I have grown in the past 12 weeks. I know that I will carry these lessons with me as I continue my studies and work.
Experiencing new thingsDiyaa, Honors in Psychology (BA),
Internship Country: Vietnam
Canadian NGO: Mines Action Canada
Local NGO: Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (AEPD)
During the past couple of weeks working with the Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (AEPD), I have found that I have a new respect for the things they do in order to create a better environment for those around them. The ways that they include my own learning into projects that they would like me to do allowed me to stay interested in the planning and postings of work assignments.
I personally chose to work with AEPD because I have worked with people who have disabilities before,and I disliked the idea that there are places all over the world that choose to not give people jobs due to their physical or mental well-being. To be able to help provide those minorities with a new view of the world allowed me to stay interested and be more open to ideas that others told me. Prior to starting my internship, I found that the trainings that we were given allowed for me to broaden my viewpoint on how I should interact with my host NGO. It also allowed me to create relationships with those around me and escape from my shell. When I first met both my host NGO and my local NGO, I was terrified, the idea of having a strictly work relationship with no way to have fun was a thought that stuck in my mind.
After meeting my Canadian NGO, I realized that it was not like that, they also wanted me to be comfortable and honestly created a situation where I was happy to ask for help. The kindness and welcoming atmosphere allowed me to be comfortable in a job that I would be at for a while. Starting off, It was hard to get adjusted to the new working environment and implement ideas I had. I was tasked with social media and brochures, and that was kind of up my alley. It allowed me to play off my strengths and create new media that will be eye catching for them to look at. I personally love this aspect of my internship and can’t wait to experience new things as the time moves on. Recently, as I started to get more familiar with my work, the ability to learn and grow allowed me to keep my ambitions up. I can’t wait to learn more as I continue to work with these NGOs.
An Opportunity to Learn New SkillsMia Song, International Development and GlobalizationInternship Country: NepalCanadian NGO: CECILocal NGO: Lalitpur District Milk Producers Cooperative Union (LDMPCU)
Hello! My name is Mia, and I am now working remotely as a marketing officer for Lalitpur District Milk Producers Cooperative Union (LDMPCU) in Nepal to help them to promote their services and products. LDMPCU is a cooperative union that provides financial and production advice for the farmers so they can become more self-sufficient. As a country that has over 60% of its population working in agriculture, many small-scale farmers are not sure how and where to sell their products. The organization aims to help these people to overcome such difficulties and become less marginalized. For me, the main task is to help the organization to develop online marketing tools, plans and assist with their marketing activities to have more people in the local community to be aware of the organization and its products.
I have always hoped to work with an NGO during my undergraduate study, and I have been paying attention to this FSS program for a while in the past two years. After entering my fourth year of study, I realized that I needed to give myself a push before I graduate, or I would miss this great opportunity. As a fourth-year International Development and Globalization student, we have learned a lot about sustainable development, and I also took a course related to food security which made me decide to apply for this position. Before this internship, I have some experience in social media marketing, and this position allows me to combine both my professional experience and academic interests.
Halfway through my internship, I kept pushing myself to learn new skills even though I already have some experience in marketing. In the past weeks, I have learned how to make and operate a website, design a brochure, and many things else, both from my colleagues and by myself. While working alone, I tried to push myself to learn more new skills and more details about the local culture, as a big part of marketing needs to be based on the local community’s preference. The organization has also supported me in having a deep understanding of the local needs, their work, and their goals. This is a great opportunity to learn new knowledge as I realized I might not do the same thing and have this chance if I did not work in this position. Finally, despite the fact that we could not meet each other face-to-face, we worked together to overcome the time difference and language barriers.
Experiencing South East Asian Culture Through FoodEmma Davy, Masters in Globalization and International DevelopmentInternship Country: Field Internship in Thailand (working on Myanmar Issues)Canadian NGO: Forum of Federations
Did you know that the phrase “have you eaten?” is a common greeting in countries across Asia? This phrase doesn’t belong to one particular culture or nation, instead it is shared between Thailand, Myanmar, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and many others. When I heard this greeting for the first time, I was struck by the warmth and concern it conveyed. It also inspired me to think more deeply about the power of food to connect people across through time and space. So, for my first blog entry, I will attempt to describe my experiences in South East Asia through the delicious dishes I have tasted and the people I have shared them with.
I first learned about this greeting from my Burmese colleague. We work together at the Forum of Foundations in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I have only been here for five weeks, but in that short time I have shared many bowls of noodles, pots of tea, and learned about Burmese and Thai culture in the process.
One of the most spectacular things I have experienced so far are the night markets which pop-up across the city every night to feed locals and tourists alike. Here you will find hundreds of food stalls, selling dishes from across the globe. Picture rows upon rows of tents, nestled between sacred Buddhist temples in Old Chiang Mai. The blend of history and religion that define the scenery of the night market are just as striking as the blend of flavours and textures that define the food.
At the night market, you can also see how the legacy of colonization, immigration, and cultural transfers has influenced Thailand. Vendors selling Chinese gyoza sit beside vendors selling French crêpes, sashimi, pork vindaloo, and pad thai. The night market is a melting pot of cultures and flavours.
My colleagues have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome here. On my first day of work, they invited me to go to lunch with them. Now, we swap food and stories every day over lunch. And with every meal that passes, I learn a little bit more about life in South East Asia, their experience of political conflict, and their hopes for the future.
October 10th is Thanksgiving in Canada. It is a day to give thanks to all of the people and things that make one’s life special. In light of the holiday, I decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my office. It was an opportunity to share my Canadian culture with colleagues and to show my appreciation. It was also everyone’s first time celebrating the Holiday and they really enjoyed trying the new foods like garlic mashed potatoes, apple pie, and green beans. We connected over our holiday traditions, over food, family and friends. This year, I am thankful for this opportunity to study and work and Thailand. I am thankful for the delicious meals I have eaten, but most of all I am thankful for the people I have shared them with.
Ok, I actually enjoyed my internship experience a lotJerry, International Development and GlobalizationInternship Country: MyanmarCanadian and local NGO: Forum of Federations
It has been more than 10 weeks now since I started my internship with Forum of Federations. It has been a very interesting experience that I will always cherish. Doing an international internship was something that I looked forward to for the last two years of my university education. I had the pleasure to work with an international team and it gave me great insight on what a career in the development field could look like. Obviously, the remote work made everything more challenging, but I still enjoyed and appreciated the experience that this opportunity provided, which I’m also sure will look great to future employers.
My work mostly entailed helping by doing research on federalism in Myanmar. I also helped around by reviewing documents and offering my assistance whenever it was needed. The fact that the Forum of Federations does not operate like other NGOs, by not being an organization that generates development aid like we would think, greatly shaped my experience as well. Since the organization mainly focuses on sharing knowledge with partners and other NGOs, I was somewhat forced to lean harder into the research aspect of my work. This made me not only learn a lot about a country I previously had a limited knowledge about, but I also dipped my toes into a subject I was not initially as interested in. Working at Forum of Federations made me want to look more into federalism and decentralisation and how it affects policies around me.
As much as I appreciated this experience and enjoyed it, it was still bittersweet for me. I did find myself longing for more personal contacts with my teammates and not just over a screen. As we know the pandemic, coupled with the fact that Myanmar is currently under a military coup made this impossible to accomplish. I still wish I had in-person contact with my colleagues because I think that it would have my experience even more impactful. I understated the importance of face-to-face contact when collaborating and this was felt throughout my internship. The silver lining however of having this internship online was that it was more affordable for me since a lot of the costs were not included.
In conclusion, I’m very happy of my time at Forum of Federations and I’m happy of my work there. I’ll certainly keep contact with my colleagues in my future endeavors. This was a greatly formative experience and I'm thankful to the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Ottawa but also to the Forum of Federations for making this possible.
Developments in the Recent Weeks as a Virtual International InternDarya, CriminologyInternship Country: South SudanCanadian NGO: Mines Action CanadaLocal NGO: South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA)
The circumstances of my internship have not changed much over the last few weeks in terms of my growing relationship with my host NGO and my Canadian partner NGO. However, my communication with my host NGO as well as my knowledge regarding armed violence and landmine clearance has grown greatly over the past few weeks. I have been able to build on my knowledge week to week, keeping myself up to date on events that occurred in previous weeks.
Working remotely in Canada and not being in South Sudan has often made me feel as though I am unable to fully understand the advocacy my host NGO does, however working at a distance has also come with some advantages. I do Weekly Media Monitoring Reports for my host NGO, gathering news regarding the political, social, and economic state in South Sudan as well as incidences of violence, allowing me on a weekly basis to update myself on events that occurred the week before. I only involve the news headlines I find crucial for my host NGO to be aware of in these reports, however I also read all the other news headlines for each day of the week from my home or from my phone throughout the day. This has allowed me to make myself as informed as possible regarding the state of South Sudan, even if that means reading an article regarding an influential individuals failure to visit the state. I am also able to continue with my daily life while completing such tasks for my host NGO
I also met with my supervisor at my host NGO and was able to learn more in depth about the driving force behind their advocacy and how it is done. I was previously aware that their main goal is to advocate against armed violence, but I did not know all the angles at which they approach the issue. I learned that one of their main focuses is civilian disarmament, addressing where the guns are supplied from as well as why civilians have a demand for these weapons, what motivates civilians to acquire firearms to begin with and in what context they are used. Often these weapons are obtained by citizens because they feel unsafe in their own homes, in their own communities, or they want to get justice against those who have perpetrated crimes and armed violence against them. Addressing the supply of these weapons is also crucial to the SSANSA, figuring out where they are imported from and which borders they must cross to get into South Sudan.
I have been getting more assignments from my host NGO, tasks which are often research based, gathering information on a specific topic given to me by my supervisor then summarizing the key points from numerous sources of information into a short report. For my Canadian partner NGO, the tasks are also research based but are often centered around advocacy for a certain piece of legislation and why it is crucial to the issue of landmine clearance. On the day to day my workload has increased, as I have more communication now with my host NGO, I get more assignments which I try to do over the span of the week, working through them each day.
The main lesson I have learned in the last few weeks has been regarding the multifaceted nature of armed violence, the numerous issues one must address in order to make a difference.I have already learned a great deal from my internship, meeting one of my main goals when I started this internship which was to learn more regarding the issues of armed violence and landmine clearance. I look forward to continuing my internship and gaining even more knowledge regarding such issues.
Sino-Sri Lankan relations and the 21st Century Maritime Silk RoadWeiguang, Political Science and EconomicsInternship Country: Sri LankaCanadian NGO: AlternativesLocal NGO: National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (NAFSO)
In my recent internship, I was tasked to research how integrated is Sri Lanka's diplomatic relations and China's relations with Sri Lanka. The main reason for this focus is that since Sri Lanka does not occupy a very important international position, it does not have strategic relations with major powers (USA, Russia, etc.). So studying Sri Lanka's relations with Western countries would make the results generally cumbersome. Therefore, after talking with the leader of the study and some research, I decided on the topic of "What does the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road" represent for China and Sri Lanka.
In my research, I will try to answer the following questions: firstly, what is the significance of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road; secondly, how has China's foreign policy in Sri Lanka changed after the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was proposed; thirdly, what is the significance of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road? Fourthly, what is Sri Lanka's perception of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and how has its foreign policy consideration of China changed after the proposal of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. I will also look at the following questions: what are the risks and challenges facing Sino-Sri Lankan Relations? what risks and challenges faces Sino-Sri Lankan relations;
With the introduction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, China's foreign policy considerations towards Sri Lanka have changed as Sri Lanka is a crucial node country in the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. China's foreign policy consideration toward Sri Lanka has also undergone new changes. The strategic significance of Sri Lanka to China among South Asian countries is becoming more and more obvious, including the following aspects:
- Sri Lanka has a superior geographical location. Sri Lanka is located halfway between the oil-rich Middle East and Southeast Asia.Strengthening relations with Sri Lanka will give China direct access to the main international shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean, enhancing China's energy and trade security.
- Sri Lanka has an important position in the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" initiative, and as a key node, the country's demonstrated significance is obvious. Sri Lanka is located in a key position in the Indian Ocean, only 10 nautical miles away from the main international shipping route.So its geographical location is very important. Sri Lanka, as a small country, influences India, a large country in South Asia, China, the United States, and Japan, a large country outside the region. One of the important aspects of the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" initiative is to use key ports as nodes to build a smooth, safe and efficient transport corridor jointly. The ports of Colombo and Hambantota in Sri Lanka are two important ports on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the construction of which will benefit not only China and Sri Lanka but also the economic development of the entire South Asian region.
If Sri Lanka's diplomatic relations with China do not change negatively for special reasons, then the benefits of the Maritime Silk Road will outweigh the disadvantages for Sri Lanka. However, because of Sri Lanka's special relationship with India, China's relationship with Sri Lanka is not destined to be smooth. India, the largest country in South Asia, is geographically close to Sri Lanka, and historically the two countries have had very close ties. Thanks to the FTA between India and Sri Lanka, the trade volume between India and Sri Lanka is four times higher than that between China and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's geopolitical positioning is culturally aligned with India, geographically equidistant from East Asia and East Africa, and at the interface between East and West in terms of sea lanes. If Sino-Indian relations develop smoothly, Sino-Sri Lankan Relations will not be disturbed; conversely, if Sino-Indian relations go wrong, Sino-Sri Lankan Relations are bound to be negatively affected. The development of China-Sri Lanka relations cannot bypass the Indian factor.
Sino-Sri Lankan relations represent the main points of my research and analysis. This study was my main tasks throughout my whole internship.
A meaningful internship experienceXingyi, honours Psychology,Internship Country: VietnamCanadian NGO: Mines Action CanadaLocal NGO: Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (AEPD)
This internship has brought me a lot of different experiences, since it is not only a remote internship but also an international internship. Personally speaking, the advantages of remote working is way larger than the drawbacks. When teamwork is needed, we will set up video conferences so that all members can have a sense of participation and arrange each other's tasks quickly and reasonably. At the same time, when deadlines are already set, people can arrange their work time according to their own schedule. If I don't hear back by email within a short time, I'll send a follow-up email the next day to make sure the person hasn't forgotten or missed the message. As for social interaction, I think proper arrangements of meeting chat have some positive effects and can effectively improve the relationship between me and my colleagues. The remote internship also brought me a lot of convenience in life. Like helping me avoid missing work because of travel issues. I also work more flexible hours and don't have to worry about the weather.
As a remote international intern, culture clashes are hard to avoid. Fortunately, we have a lot of respect for each other and our cultures and ways of doing things. Because of language and cultural differences, it is hard for me to maximize the value of my abilities. Moreover, some of the work I am good at cannot be carried out due to the language barrier. I solved this problem by finding more tasks that didn't require verbal communication and helping them with advocacy campaigns in my own country. For example, instead of talking to landmine survivors, I made pictures for them to spread the message. If the situation becomes too difficult for me, I turn to someone more experienced. That's what I've been doing lately. I turned to the daughter of an NGO worker, who gave me a lot of advice on my experience and helped me contact her family at AEPD to provide me with more valuable information. I also tried to contact the previous international intern of AEPD to communicate with her and get more inspiration.
In general, this experience has brought me a lot of useful knowledge and skills and made me learn how to adapt to new situations quickly. Thanks again to my Canadian NGO and Vietnamese NGO for helping me have a pleasant and meaningful internship experience.
Valuable Hands-On LearningPaige, International Economics and DevelopmentInternship Country: NepalCanadian NGO: Centre d’étude de cooperation international (CECI, Nepal)Local NGO: Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Limited (NACCFL)
Now that I’m nearing the end of my internship, I’m pleased to report that it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. While doing this internship in the summer months has allowed me to avoid some summer classes, this was not the only positive.
First, it’s been enlightening to see just how applicable the information I’ve been learning in my program at uOttawa is to hands-on international development practitioners. My program entails a lot of research, writing, and analytical reasoning. This internship has allowed me to further develop these skills and related knowledge streams. My program delves deeply into concepts like sustainable development, the importance of grassroots movements, and how disaggregated data can tell a more comprehensive story than the aggregate data that is commonly collected today. While working at the NACCFL I found that they championed a lot of these ideas, and I was well prepared to support their initiatives which aligned with these goals.
That said, working for the NACCFL has challenged me in more ways than one. In my pre-internship training it was emphasized that I would be needing to adapt to new situations, as each organization’s needs are unpredictable and frequently changing. This was not an exaggeration. While I applied to work for the NACCFL as a Documentation Officer, this quickly turned into more of a Communications Officer position I was happy to step on board in this role to support my host organization’s goals, and I received enough support to handle the changing dynamic.
As a result, the internship has broadened my horizons to tasks that I would not have been given the chance to conduct otherwise. I was surprised by the amount of trust I was granted to create content for NACCFLs website, PowerPoint, and brochures/pamphlets. It was very rewarding to know that my work was making a tangible difference. Rather than doing work to fill time or receive grades, which much of student-life can entail, this placement gave me a heightened sense of personal responsibility over my work knowing it would be made available to the public.
Ultimately, this internship has surpassed my expectations with respect to the training offered, work tasks I was given, and learning opportunities in the field. I’m so pleased to have taken part in this experience this summer!
Gaining ExperienceKenza, Master of Arts (MA) in Public and International AffairsInternship Country: KenyaCanadian NGO: United Nations Association of Canada (UNAC)LOCAL NGO: UN-Habitat Kenya
I am grateful to the faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) for making my dream come true. In fact, this international internship represents a huge opportunity for me. Working for a UN agency has always been my aspiration, and I feel honoured to have been selected as an intern at UN-Habitat in Kenya in the Human Rights and Social Inclusion unit.
The internship includes a full-time position and also a course component. It is important to mention that the course component offered by the faculty is essential to succeeding in the internship. In fact, the preparatory meetings and training sessions we had prior to the start of the work term guided us through the internship. We learned how to manage stress, risk, and ourselves in the internship environment. Our professor also explained how to handle ethical dilemmas and accountabilities in international cooperation and how to navigate the dynamics of social inequality and privilege in international development practice. Therefore, when I faced challenges during the internship, I already had the tools to overcome them. Then, after starting the internship, the university kept guiding us through different meetings in which each one of us would share their experience and concerns, and we were given the best advice. In reality, the supervision of the faculty is of great help.
For the tasks I’ve done so far with my NGO, I initially got a chance to learn about the agency’s work by taking a few online courses. UN-Habitat promotes urbanization as a force for positive transformation for people and communities, victims of discrimination, poverty, and inequality. The agency works with its partners to build safe, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities to ensure a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world.
I have also been given the task of retrieving information about a few groups of individuals in order to study their existing dynamics. Moreover, I researched some of the individuals who will attend the World Urban Forum that will happen from June 26 to June 30 and provided their bios.
In regard to the distance aspect of the internship, it is fair to say that it has its challenges, especially in communication. However, I think that a virtual internship is the best way to build new skills, as you not only learn how to put theory into practice but you also develop resilience and flexibility. In fact, being at a distance forces us to accept and adjust to a different reality, which allows us to find new ways to succeed in the internship.
Finally, I can say that this internship is rewarding both at the current moment and in the future of our career. And, I am confident that I will only keep learning by gaining experience on multiple projects and with various partners. Therefore, I encourage anyone who’s still hesitant to go ahead and do the internship; it can only be positive and will represent a plus for their career. The university has really created a unique program which offers many international collaboration opportunities for its students.
Finding my pathKatherine, International Development and GlobalizationInternship Country: LesothoCanadian NGO: AlternativesLocal NGO: Lesotho Association of Teachers
As a student nearing the end of my Undergraduate Degree, it is challenging to see where different roads of employment and the future will lead me. As for many students in Social Science programs, the field is vast with expansive options of engagement. The discourse around programs like mine often involves students seeking government work and opportunities. Especially for students trying to find a sense of stable footing during and after their education, government work is very desirable for this. Like an unwritten step to being successful, almost all my peers during co-op semesters or summers were employed in student government roles. During my second and third years of university, while I listened to my peer’s experiences in their new jobs and how well they were doing, I felt that I had missed out on success. That they had a head start and I was left to the sidelines. It wasn’t until I was accepted for the International Internship program at the University of Ottawa, that my mindset changed.
Within international development, it is often the NGO, civil society, grass-root and union organizations that are crucial and integral to building resilience in under-developed nations. Organizations like the Lesotho Association of Teachers, whose soul purpose is the uphold and protect the rights to free and quality education for all, are the ones on the ground protecting teachers and students. It is organizations like these that work and fight against the damaging symptoms of capitalism and corruption. It is organizations like these that are run by local people, who know and advocate properly for what their communities need and hold the key to their development and happiness. Since the start of my internship ship, every day I see more and more of how important this organization is in protecting the social and human rights of the teachers and students in Lesotho.
Not only has this internship exposed the plethora of paths to the future in front of me, but it has also given me tangible international work experience. I believe it is true, that working within the NGO field gives you a deeper level of engagement with world issues. It can be easy to forget your purpose and passion when you are stuck in an office and have no contact with the people you are trying to help. NGO work breathes life into practice and represents the heart of what development is. I hope future students and people looking to get involved in the field of international development consider the value of NGO work and do not subscribe to other's paths of success. But instead, to know that when you stay true to your goals, everything will work itself out.
The Day-to-Day as a Virtual International InternDarya, Honours CriminologyInternship Country: South SudanCanadian NGO: Mines Action CanadaLocal NGO: The South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA)
Throughout this internship I have already had to opportunity to acquire a great deal of knowledge regarding the fight against armed violence and efforts towards landmine clearance. Being able to intern with not only my host/international NGO, the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, but also my Canadian partner NGO, Mines Action Canada, has been an eye-opening experience. Along with my other peers I am unable to travel to my host country of South Sudan due to COVID-19, however it has been just as engaging, as I have been able to attend certain talks, including Senate Foreign Affairs Committee meetings. However, I do feel as though if I had travelled to my host country, I would be more integrated with the daily affairs of the NGO.
The South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms advocates against armed violence through a series of campaigns. The day to day for me includes monitoring news websites looking for daily updates regarding politics, security, the economy, taking note of the state of society in which my host organization is trying to advocate. This gives me the ability to learn more about the current affairs in South Sudan, as well as keep my host organization informed of any events which may impact their ability to effectively advocate.
As stated on their website, my Canadian partner NGO, Mines Action Canada works to eliminate the serious humanitarian, developmental and environmental consequences of indiscriminate weapons. It is a leading humanitarian disarmament organization attempting to prevent suffering by restricting weapons which can pose risk both during and after conflict. They work to end suffering caused by weapons such as landmines, explosive weapons, and cluster munitions. I have attended senate meetings as well as a couple of conferences held regarding armed violence and landmine clearance, information which can aid my host NGO, the SSANSA, as well. I have meetings every couple of weeks with my supervisor and fellow colleague at Mines Actions Canada which allows me to express concerns, ask questions, and speak of future assignments for when I do not have much work to get done for my host NGO. I feel as though I have support within the organization as when I have questions or concerns, they are immediately acknowledged.
Working with both NGO’s has allowed me to new insights into the fight against armed violence, not only the damage done to civilian populations during conflict, but also the dangerous aftermath in terms of unexploded ordnance.
I have learned from my experience so far that there is always more than one can do if they are motivated to do so, like doing more research, attending informational sessions. In this internship I believe one can learn as much as they like regarding the advocacy their NGO’s do. My supervisor at Mines Action Canada for example sends me articles and meetings I can attend to learn more about landmine clearance, and I can do further research beyond that to get some background information.
So far, I have found this internship eye-opening and enlightening, and I look forward to the rest of my internship.
The difference between school and workCandice, Honours PsychologyInternship Country: LesothoCanadian NGO: AlternativesLocal NGO: Lesotho Association of Teachers
I am already halfway through the internship. And I have lots to say about this unique experience. My internship was with the Lesotho Association of Teachers. My primary responsibility was to do resource mobilization and establish a curriculum model. Usually, I prefer to find possible grants that my organization can apply for during the first part of the week. Then, I did some research on the curriculum model.
I felt lucky that I was not working alone with the NGO. I had a colleague who came from the same university as me. We always shared our ideas. It feels so good when you have someone to work with and with whom you can get feedback. I enjoyed the feeling of teamwork during the project, which required us to complete an EU proposal within a limited time. The proposal was about European Commission on Human Rights and Democracy. Our whole team lacked any similar experience with writing an EU proposal. Therefore, we chose to work together to figure out where we should start. Also, I was stressed and extremely busy with my graduation application. It took some days to re-balance my personal life and the work I had. During this time, my colleague gave me lots of support. This experience made me realize the importance of teamwork. In addition, this internship improves my multi-tasking skill when having stressful tasks to complete. Through this experience, I can better cope with multiple stressors from different resources. Also, I found my favourite way to relieve stress: working out. I believe that in the future, I can handle more tasks at the same time.
The most important thing I learned from this internship experience is the difference between school and work. At school, I used specific criteria and evaluation standards for every assignment and project. All I needed to do was follow the guidelines and meet the requirements. However, there are no specific when you are in a job. I had to decide what my project should look like, what elements should be included in the project, and how detailed every aspect should be. All of these components needed to be determined by myself. Every decision I made would directly affect my work and my organization. My responsibility was more important than before. I may need more time to adapt to this. It was a big challenge for me to overcome during this internship. Also, it prepared me better to deal with a similar situation in the future. In addition, I also enhanced my self-motivating skills. No one would push me to move forward during work. I had to set different goals for myself and keep working on them. Overall, this internship experience allowed me to understand how an NGO operates and it's daily work.
Problem solvingXingyi, honours Psychology,Internship Country: VietnamCanadian NGO: Mines Action CanadaLocal NGO: Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (AEPD)
I really appreciate the opportunity to work with Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (AEPD). AEPD provides help to Vietnamese landmines survivors. I especially cherish the chance to remote work as an international intern. It gave me the experience of collaborating with people on the other half of the earth.
I choose to work in AEPD because I had the experience of helping disabled children in my country of origin. I believe destiny doesn’t treat everyone in the world the same, so people who are able to provide help to these minorities should lend a helping hand. After I went through the job profile, I felt like it well matched my ability, so I submitted the application and I was accepted.
I attended a pre-training session before actually starting my internship. The information and lesson provided to us were very helpful. We were taught how to cope with the stress and deal with the relationship with the host country’s NGO. I was so nervous when I finally meet my Vietnam NGO for the first time. My worry just went away after that first meeting. They were so kind and welcoming about my joining their organization. We talked about tasks but we mainly got to know each other.
I felt a little lost when I first started working. There are a lot of ideas that came to mind but they were difficult to implement. At first, I wanted to organize an online informal meeting with the survivors to relieve some of their stress. Unfortunately, most of them did not speak English, so the plan had to be shelved. There were a lot of things like that that left me feeling a little frustrated and wondering if I could really help AEPD. I gradually began to adjust my mind, telling myself that some things can not be forced, as long as I have the ability to change things that are worth self-recognition. Then I started making pictures to spread the word about the organization and help them get more people to help them. At the same time start looking for fundraisers to provide financial help to the organization.
I started to get more familiar with my work and positive about any difficulty I faced. Hope I will keep my attitude and get better for the rest part of the internship.
First weeks as an intern for Forum of FederationsJerry, International Development and GlobalizationCountry: MyanmarCanadian and local NGO: Forum of Federations
I decided to take on the opportunity of the international internship for the summer. It came at a perfect time for me since this would be my last semester as a university student. Even though the international internships were supposed to happen in person, the remote option was also very helpful because it helped me ease into my new position of intern and the new environment. The organization that I chose to work with is Forum of Federations. It is a Canadian Non-Profit Organization (NGO) whose main goal is the advancement of federalism and decentralized governance in the world. The organization works by sharing their expertise and knowledge on the topic to important stakeholders like other civil society organizations and political leaders. I, however, am working more specifically with the team from Myanmar, also known as Burma, on the project of federalism and gender. The situation in Myanmar is very critical right now, which forced the team to relocate in Bangkok. The relocation, combined with remote work, is an entirely new way of working because of the need to create new connections and familiarize myself with a new team and colleagues while not being able to connect in person.
So far, the work that I do is centered on reading documents and making myself acquainted and knowledgeable enough on Myanmar’s recent coup. I’m also working on summarizing and translating different trainings on federalism and gender equality in Myanmar. This work is very interesting for me because I’m using a lot of the skill and knowledge that I learned so far in my four years of university as a student in International Development. And at the same time, I’m gaining real life experience by being acquainted to working in an NGO environment where I won’t always be working with a team I’m familiar with. I was very excited going into this internship and so far, my expectations have been met and I’m still excited to see where this experience will take me in the future.
Navigating as an intern...Seema, Political Science and Economics ProgramInternship Country: Lebanon, virtual internshipCanadian NGO: AlternativesLocal NGO: Arab House for Adult Education and Development (AHAED)
After finally being matched with an NGO, the Arab House for Adult Education and Development (AHAED), I have been navigating how to work as an intern for the first time. This organization specifically focuses on working to expand adult education in the Arab world through helping people navigate the field while also bringing resources to promote adult education in the Arab world. They are made up of several organization to help meet the education and literacy needs to help promote adult education. They conduct newsletters as well as conferences to further develop their mission and to help address issues and solutions involving adult education and illiteracy.
I am currently working with AHAED to develop their newest newsletter. As their newsletters are originally drafted in Arabic, I am working on the English versions to assure all is written appropriately and in the correct format. While converting an Arabic newsletter into English, I have discovered that there is much more to it than just simple translation of text. There are graphical designs and tables that need to be reorganized while simultaneously trying to follow the same template as the original. I have learned tricks on how to reorganize the direction of text for tables while also learning how to navigate translation services to assure I am getting the most accurate translation possible.
I was a little reluctant to working on translations, primarily because I do not speak Arabic so I believed that it wouldn’t be done affectively. It was insisted that I try to translate a small document, and after it was reviewed, they told me that I had done a sufficient job in translation and they would be sending me large documents from the newsletter to help translate. I am proud to have learned many tricks on how to help with assuring that my translations are accurate, specifically through referencing off of AHAED’s website and other newsletters to assure everything is accurate.
I am given my tasks every Monday and I use the week to complete what has been assigned to me. Then, on Friday’s, I am scheduled to have a meeting with AHAED to discuss my work from the week while also discussing any concerns or questions. This allows me to have a consistent cycle of communication with the organization to assure that everything is being done correctly, while also being able to address any questions of concerns. The organization also remains extremely supportive and helpful for any doubts or concerns that I’ve had and help me become more confident in the work I am doing as they are often very supportive and positive in response to the work I do.
A New Learning OpportunityPaige, International Economics and Development,Canadian NGO: Centre d’étude de cooperation international (CECI)Local NGO: Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Limited (NACCFL)
Like many of my uOttawa peers, I was hoping to do an in-person international internship in my host country. Travelling to Nepal would have been a dream, but I knew that waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to lift could leave me without doing an internship during my undergrad altogether. After considerable experience working online in school and my co-op placements, I was confident I could handle an online internship as well. I knew this was a unique hands-on opportunity to learn about the international community while exploring my own interests and skills. So, I took the plunge and applied!
I’m currently enjoying my studies in International Economics and Development, and I was lucky enough to find an internship placement with the Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Limited (NACCFL) which offers a mandate that closely aligns with my interests. The NACCFL primarily focuses their work on partnering with local smallholder farmers and encouraging their productivity and value-chain integration through agriculture, business, and technology training programs. They’ve also made considerable strides in policy lobbying for small farmer rights and the development of community welfare programs.
I strongly believe that dignified and community-based initiatives that can help all citizens access safe economic opportunities is how we can start to tackle the enormous global wealth gap we see today. International cooperation allows for idea and skill-sharing that can help ease these economic transitions. However, for this to be achieved, an intersectional approach must be taken. I’ve been blown away by NACCFLs commitment to inclusive and accessible community development. They are working diligently to ensure their programs target the most marginalized groups in Nepal (namely women, low-caste groups, LGBTQIA+ people, and Muslims). By taking a stance to minimize these exclusions, NACCFL is molding the social environment in Nepal into one that can offer more well-rounded prosperity.
While I’ve only completed 5 weeks of this internship so far, it has already opened my eyes to Nepal’s specific social, political, and economic environment. I have been working as a Documentation Officer to help guide efficient project management and reporting, as well as helping with their communications efforts–producing and distributing promotional materials. I took part in extensive trainings with my host-country colleagues who made me feel comfortable entering such an unpredictable online work environment. I’ve felt supported and appreciated every step of the way. I’m looking forward to continuing to help expand the size and scope of NACCFLs fantastic work!
From Student to Staff Member
Candice, Bachelor of Arts with major in psychology and minor in management
Canadian NGO: Alternatives
Local NGO: Lesotho Teacher Association
The internship is a very special experience for me. I had never imagined that I would have the opportunity to work with people from the other half of the earth. Before the internship began, I had no idea about the country I would work with. After doing some research and completing several meetings with my colleagues. I learned that People from Lesotho are welcoming and hospitable. The culture was quite different from my home country, China and Canada, so it took a while to adapt to Lesotho’s culture. Gradually, I began to know what the internship was really about. It’s more complex and more complicated than I thought before. I felt confused at the beginning of this internship.
I didn’t know what I should do and how to complete the tasks I got. The sudden change from student to staff is challenging for me. My identity here was not a student anymore but a team member, a colleague. No more teacher or professor who would assign a specific task to you, and all I need to do is follow the guidelines. During the internship, I had to learn by myself. Finding a solution to a problem without any guidelines was challenging for me. There were no specific standards or rules on how I should figure this problem out. All I needed to present to my colleagues was the final project or the outcome I got. There was always more than one way to a solution. I didn’t need to try each way out specifically. All I needed to do was find the most efficient way and that guaranteed the quality. During the internship, I attended many meetings. At first, these meetings were pretty stressful for me because I felt so anxious to speak up in front of people. However, as time goes on, I felt more comfortable joining meetings and sharing ideas with my colleagues. These pre-internship meetings helped a lot. It prepared me with tolls for the internship. In addition, it taught me many solutions to release stress. During these past weeks, I felt more and more comfortable with my new identity as an intern. Also, I became more familiar with Lesotho’s culture and became clear about my tasks and goals. I hope that I can work even better during the remaining weeks of the internship and have a happy ending.
Becoming more flexible
Sofia, International Development and Globalization, World University Service of Canada (WUSC), Sri Lanka Centre for Women’s Research
Naturally, I’m someone who enjoys having a routine and a plan in advance. Prior to my international internship, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of my schedule and how many hours a week I’d be working, or whether I’d be able to keep my job. During my internship, the plans had changed a few times, and so I wasn’t able to answer these questions throughout the semester. At first, I saw the multiple changes as a negative experience; however, with time, I realized that the modifications to the plan were a positive thing. While flexibility is something that I had to improve during the pandemic, it is a skill that I expanded upon while working at my international internship.
In our pre-departure trainings, we discussed some possible challenges that we may encounter during our internships. The pre-departure trainings were especially helpful in preparing us to do the remote international internships, as we learned skills to cope with these challenges should they arise. Such obstacles included: working remotely, having different time zones, potential language barriers, and having a change of mandate. Most of these difficulties applied to me, but I’m so grateful that I was able to experience them, as they’ve made me a better student and a more flexible worker. I also strongly believe that the positives of doing an international internship heavily outweigh the negatives!
The future of the post-COVID-19 world is online work, whether that be in school, work, diplomacy, or personal life. The skills that I’ve learned over the past few months - adaptability, flexibility, and patience - are competencies that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life!
No (Wo)man is an Island, or the Challenges of Internalizing Outwardly Obvious LessonsAnitha, Conflict Studies and Human RightsInternship Country: NepalCanadian NGO: Mines Action CanadaLocal NGO: Campaign to Ban Landmines Nepal (NCBL )/ Women Development Society (WODES)
My biggest ongoing learning process in terms of skillset is in relation to establishing and maintaining a workflow for each task, both independently and in revising and acting upon my supervisor’s feedback and advice and maintaining the confidence in communicating with her effectively. The biggest barrier was the imposition of expectations upon myself of having to figure things out when I no longer knew what questions to ask and felt like I couldn’t initiate further conversation until I knew exactly what to say. This was especially true for the final report I had been asked to draft for the project I had been providing communications support for, as I would hit dead ends even after gathering as much source material as possible and attempting as best I could to hit the desired topics and angles.
When I lack enough of a vision or understanding of exactly how I plan on doing something, I tend to draw blanks and talk myself into corners in terms of troubleshooting. The real challenge is that I often don’t pace myself and conserve enough mental energy to persevere at times, as I’d often stress myself over having difficulties in the first place; as much as I don’t identify with the term “perfectionism”, I know that I often hold unrealistic expectations for myself. This is something I work on continuously, as it had mostly affected me in regular school semesters. When physical and temporal distance brought on by public health measures made my work environment resemble my pre-existing study and academic writing environment, it spread to my work environment too, where previously work had often been easier for me to manage than school.
Progress on the report came in fits and starts, and I did my best to break up what felt like spinning my wheels over one particular task by filling the time with others. My ongoing task of copy-editing landmine and IED survivor stories helped me do something productive, and I got through a total of 119 stories, 101 of which would be selected for publishing. After briefly losing contact with my supervisor for logistical reasons, I gathered myself to schedule a call with her and discuss where I was stuck and what kind of information, I felt I needed to help me. I was given more resources and ideas to try, and I realized that I tended to create too rigid of a structure for my working draft. What ultimately helped the most was to acknowledge my frustration over not being able to execute the task smoothly from start to finish with no addition feedback and ask for help even when I didn’t have precise questions.
I had acknowledged the actual issue and likely solution before being able to gather the determination to apply it, as I know I would often avoid trying to course-correct when I grew guilty or ashamed of not having course-corrected earlier. Unrealistic expectations of being self-sufficient and the irrational insecurity that comes with them create a vicious cycle. Accepting uncertainty by asking for help in spite of doubts of it not making a difference means accepting that you deserve the help, and that you are capable of moving past your mental block, even if your trajectory deviates from your plans much more than you expected.
Moving forward, I set out to be more honest with myself. When you know what needs changing and what you need to do about it but you’re momentarily stuck on how, it’s best to acknowledge when you need help, especially when the first thing that needs changing is your willingness to ask for help without knowing exactly where it will land you. You don’t need to have your entire trajectory planned in your head in order to ask for guidance because the roadblocks themselves are to be expected. Honesty also means confronting the unfounded anxieties around having gone off-track and letting down yourself or other people; when I was able to accept my earlier avoidance of asking for help, I was able to get to the point that I finally made more progress in writing my report.