fight for rights
Human Rights program doesn't shield students
harshness life holds for many in the world.
Foulkes, AB'99, was so moved by her experience as a 1999 Human
Rights program intern that she is now studying female poverty
in Mexico and the legacy of human-rights abuses in South America
at the University of Cambridge, England.
spent the past summer at the Women's Commission for Refugee Women
and Children in New York as an intern through the University's
Human Rights program, established in 1997 by an interdisciplinary
group of faculty and headed by Jacqueline Bhabha, associate director
of the Center for International Studies and a Law School lecturer.
The program's goals are to use interdisciplinary research and
teaching and collaborations with practitioners to develop new
approaches to human rights and human-rights activism.
internships enable students to apply the theoretical work they
do in their human-rights courses to real-world situations," says
Bhabha. "For example, the internships can help students understand
what international law can offer to a victim of domestic violence
in France or Mexico, or the relationship between fact-finding
and political change."
internships are open to both College and graduate students. Prior
to their placement, participants must complete an application,
an interview, and at least one quarter of the Human Rights core
course sequence, which addresses the philosophical foundations,
the history, and the organization of the contemporary human-rights
system. The program coordinates the interns' training and provides
some financial assistance, generally ranging from $3,000 to $5,000.
all, 15 U of C students--including seven undergraduates--spent
this past summer working for domestic and international human-rights
organizations in locales from India to Guatemala. Undergraduate
placements included the Urban Justice Center in New York, Physicians
for Human Rights in Bosnia, the Majlis in Bombay, India, and the
Alianza Contra la Impunidad in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The
interns' responsibilities ran the gamut from summarizing domestic-violence
court cases to documenting human-rights violations.
Zoila Rendon, a fourth-year Spanish and psychology concentrator,
worked in San Salvador, El Salvador, for the Asociación Pro-Busqueda
de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos. Rendon translated information
booklets from Spanish into English for the group, which searches
for children who have disappeared during times of armed conflict.
have never seen such gratefulness in my life," says Rendon. "I
accomplished something--I organized part of Pro-Busqueda even
in my short stay. I appreciate that they were able to make me
part of their world."
says the comments of this past summer's interns--in the ten-page
analytical papers and five-page questionnaires they are expected
to turn in upon their return--have also been positive. Several,
she says, referred to the internship as a "life-changing experience."
student, she recalls, spent her summer working in Kigali, Rwanda,
and now plans to return to work for a United Nations organization
there. Another, she says, experienced the risk of fieldwork while
monitoring the recent referendum in East Timor, fleeing the country
on one of the last planes out of Dili.