Summer Volunteer Program 2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2020
During summer 2020, three Columbia University students volunteered with organizations affiliated with the Alliance of Historical Dialogue and Accountability Fellowship (AHDA) alumni and one with an organization affiliated with the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) alumni. These opportunities were created through the Summer Volunteer Program based at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights.
Luis Angel Gasca Trivino, Human Rights Major, Columbia College, joined the online opportunity with the European Observatory on Memories (EUROM), University of Barcelona Solidarity Foundation (Spain). Columbia student helped to process EUROM data and to add to the Mapping Historical Dialogue Project (MHDP); to collect and to process information from EUROM partners; to visualize EUROM projects addressing issues relating to historical dialogues, historical and transitional justice, human rights, and public and social memory, and  to contribute to creating content for the EUROM website. The volunteer produced two reviews that will be published in the EUROM magazine and supported the effort to animate EUROM’s social media. Luis wrote a short self-report about his experience as a volunteer and his reflections are available here.
Grace Elizabeth Miner, Human Rights Major, Columbia College, volunteered with the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC) based in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The volunteering opportunity was meant to broaden student’s knowledge in a variety of areas, including transitional justice, human rights and reconciliation. The PCRC encourages its interns to be able to share and to disseminate information they have learned in their own communities. Some of the tasks that summer volunteer performed included writing articles for ‘Balkan Diskurs’ and PCRC's blog. Balkan Diskurs is a regional multimedia network of writers, bloggers, multimedia artists, and activists who respond to the lack of objective, relevant, invigorating and independent regional media. Grace helped to develop several multimedia campaigns and has written an article for one of the PCRC projects. Grace’s profile has been highlighted on the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC)  #InternshipSpotlights account on Instagram. The organization will also share a blog post about the experience of a volunteer during the pandemic. 
Hunter Zhao, Human Rights Studies M.A. Program, served as a volunteer with the Community Stabilization Unit based in Erbil, Iraq with the International Organization of Migration. The goal of the internship was to map the progress on post-conflict justice in Iraq; evaluate humanitarian needs and human rights of migrants in Iraq; measure the impact of COVID-19 in Iraq on peacebuilding, human rights and post-conflict justice. Hunter prepared a draft of a report on how to strengthen the humanitarian-development-peace nexus in the mission’s stabilization programming. Some of the tasks included completing a desk review of relevant academic and policy literature, conducting interviews with IOM/UN staff members, and analyzing internal project documents, proposals, and logframes. This report will be finalized and published later in Fall 2020, where it will be distributed by IOM/UN and will help to inform how other stabilization actors can contribute to the operationalization of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. Although this internship was through a virtual platform due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, it created new opportunities to access various actors for informational interviews or research advice. The volunteer benefited from gaining a strong background on stabilization programming in Iraq and the opportunity to contribute useful novel recommendations to the organization.
Nay Alhelou, Human Rights Studies M.A. Program, volunteered for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Latin America and the Caribbean remotely. Her worked was focused on doing research for two projects: one about peer education and its effectiveness in the context of HIV/AIDS services for youth and the other focused on HIV/AIDS and women. For the first project, Nay's research stressed the importance of using a human-rights based approach to the provision of services and trainings. For her second research project, the objectives were to to identify the populations of women who are at risk of HIV/AIDS as well as the factors contributing to their vulnerability; to identify problems that women in particular face in accessing services or even after they access them; and to identify and explore strategies/policies/approaches that are best tailored to the needs of women. Additionally, she developed an infographic that focused on GBV during the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship to HIV/AIDS.