I recently graduated from Queen’s University with an MA in political science, and a focus on the global governance of HIV/AIDS. I graduated from the University of Guelph in 2007 with a BA in political science and anthropology.
While I was at Guelph, I served as news editor on the student paper, The Ontarion. and I participated in two great service learning trips. In March of 2006 I visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help with Hurricane Katrina cleanup. In May 2007 I lived in India for one month, working on local development projects with 20 other University of Guelph students in a remote community in the foothills of the Himalayas. I have travelled widely all over Europe and North America and speak three words of Hindi.
I find Oxfam’s approach really puts a lot of my ideals into practice. Oxfam is an international organization but makes an effort to always link with local partners from the communities they are involved in. They listen to these partners and decide collaboratively what initiatives and programs to implement, concentrating on long term capacity building, empowerment and participation. I find that a lot of development agencies and organizations say they believe in these concepts, but don’t really follow through. Oxfam does.
I also like that Oxfam has a large advocacy, policy and communications branch to lobby governments and other international organizations to make charges on a larger scale to complement their individual program work with grassroots partners in the developing world. I like how all the parts fit together. Oxfam’s approach is neither top down nor bottom up. Instead, everyone meets in the middle to work together on important issues such as women’s rights, equality and social justice.
I have been working with the Horn of Africa program to provide support through writing, editing and research. I edit documents from the field, compile country profiles and political analysis, and write about programs and partners.
I am really happy that I found an internship that combines my two passions: writing and international issues, and I hope I can parlay this experience into a career in a similar area. I also really enjoy working one-on-one with the Horn of Africa Program managers and hearing about their time in the field.
I feel satisfied knowing that the work I do will get back to partners in countries like Sudan and Somalia who so desperately need not only our help, but our respect and cooperation. I like that I am helping in a way that utilizes my skills. I can’t build bridges or volunteer to perform surgeries in a refugee camp, but by researching and writing in the Oxfam office, I know I am making a worthwhile contribution. I also really liked volunteering at the Coldplay concert as part of the For All Campaign and getting to watch the show for free!
I learned about how the international development `industry works. How the Oxfam office runs as well as how Oxfam collaborates with partners, both in the field and in government. I also learned a lot about groundbreaking projects Oxfam is working on in the Horn of Africa. After so much academic talk about participation and empowerment during my degree, it was great to see some of these programs in action.