2010 PFIG Recipient Anne Stoler
College of Arts & Sciences
2011 Graduation Year
Internship: Amnesty International
Notes on the first week
When I arrived at Amnesty International’s offices in Washington D.C., I was not really sure what to expect. I arranged the internship while abroad in Uganda, and thus had not really spent much time finding out about what I would be doing. I knew that Amnesty was the world’s biggest human rights organization, and that I would be working for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office as the Human Rights Education Service Corps coordinator. But I wasn’t too sure of what that job would entail. I was also worried about the transition from third-world country to busy workplace, but all of my anxieties turned out to be unfounded. When I arrived at Amnesty, I found a high-energy office where everyone was friendly and wanted to ease the transition as much as possible. I went through a half-day intern orientation, and then was sent to meet my department and find out more about my role.
As the Human Rights Education Service Corps (HRESC) coordinator, I am in charge of coordinating a program that trains university students and members of the DC community to teach a 9-week human rights education course in DC public schools. The program does not run in the summer, so I am occupied with preparations for the fall semester such as updating the curriculum, recruiting volunteers, building relationships with schools and community partners, and organizing the office. Because Amnesty is a largely volunteer-run organization, interns play a huge role, and my job in particular is very independent because I am the only coordinator for my program.
The highlights of my experience so far have been visiting the two D.C. high schools that host the program and recruiting more teachers to participate, getting to know the staff and the twenty-five other interns in the office, and attending a reception in the Cannon House office building. As the summer continues, I hope to become more confident working independently, help strengthen the HRESC program and ensure its sustainability, and attend more of Amnesty’s advocacy events to get a better feel for the work of the organization as a whole. I feel so lucky to be involved with such an incredible organization, and want to thank the Parent’s Committee for making this opportunity possible!
Halfway through my time at Amnesty, I am still loving the experience and learning more every day. At first, I was really intimidated by the independence demanded of me as the only coordinator of my program, but I have come to appreciate the trust placed in me by my supervisor.
Working so independently requires me to set my own goals and fulfill them without the promise of reward or recognition; this is always more challenging than working toward goals enforced by others. However, it is also more rewarding and has really taught me the value of being goal-oriented and self-motivated. I have really grown a lot from being able to create my own priorities and take initiative on my own projects.
My main projects have been recruitment of facilitators for the human rights education classes, outreach to local universities, and preparation of the curriculum for the coming school semester. The biggest challenge faced by the program is continuity because the program is intern-run and therefore the coordinator changes every semester. This has been very frustrating for me at times; I often do not know what has been done in the past and thus feel like I have to come up with things on my own. It is also frustrating to know that I am putting so much into the program only to leave right before the semester starts.
Despite this frustration, I have had many extremely positive experiences. It has been really exciting to see the amount of interest the program generates among young people who want to become involved in their community. The program is entirely volunteer-run and requires a fairly large time commitment, so it is pretty inspiring to see people so willing and excited to donate their time to the cause. I have also really enjoyed getting to know everyone in the office and hearing about the incredible projects that they are working on.
I came into this internship with an open mind and not a lot of expectations. But I can say that so far my experience has been incredibly positive. I have become very personally invested in the success of the human rights education program, and I really hope that my work will help to increase the sustainability and quality of the HRESC program. In the remaining part of my internship, I really hope to explore other avenues of Amnesty’s work and get to know people working in other departments. Next weekend, I am attending the annual conference of Amnesty’s country specialists, who volunteer their time and expertise to help with Amnesty’s research. I am really excited to see the research side of the organization, since that is what I ultimately hope to be involved in. I can’t believe how quickly my time at Amnesty is flying by, and I want to take advantage of all the opportunities and experiences that come my way in these last few weeks!
The end of my summer internship with Amnesty International is bittersweet. On the one hand, I feel so lucky to have enjoyed such a great experience and I think it will enrich anything that I choose to pursue after this. But at the same time, I am sad to leave behind the work and the people that I have enjoyed so much. It will be hard to let go of the program I have been coordinating for the whole summer and hand it off to the incoming intern.
My experience at Amnesty International has shown me that I definitely want to continue working in public service and specifically in the field of human rights monitoring. This internship also affirmed my interest in education, and I want to incorporate this interest into a career in human rights work. Working at Amnesty taught me the value of a positive work environment, which makes you excited to come to work everyday and provides the support needed to do work that is sometimes emotionally taxing. I never thought that I could handle a "boring" desk job, but I found out that what you are doing is more important than how you are doing it.
I grew so much as a person through this experience as well. I gained independence thanks to the trust placed in me by my supervisors. From day one I knew my internship would be independent, but I always felt included and comfortable approaching anyone in my department. My supervisor really pushed me to take initiative, which made this a really great learning and growing experience, but he was also always there for support and guidance when I needed it. The Mid-Atlantic office was such a great team and I consider them all good friends now.
I learned so much: how to work independently, think critically, engage people in an issue they may not be familiar with, reach out to the community, and recruit volunteers, among other things. I also learned a lot about human rights issues and AIUSA's work through the human rights seminars and gained real-life human rights advocacy experience.
This internship turned out to be so much more than I could ever have expected, and I want to thank the Parents' Fund for helping me to take advantage of this opportunity.