Over the past year, Human Rights Practice students have been gaining invaluable hands-on experiences through funding from the Resilience Internships and Student Experiences (RISE) Program of the Arizona Institute for Resilience.
Led by Prof. Mette Brogden, five students have focused on cultural preservation in northern Ghana, in association with the World Institute of Africa Culture and Traditions (WIACT). Led by Prof. William Simmons, three students have participated in a collaboration with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, in association with the NGO Artolution. Several other students are currently still participating in ongoing projects.
As seen in the excerpts below from the UArizona HRTS Blog, five RISE interns have shared stories about the transformative impact of their internships. We are grateful to RISE for this unique source of support for and investment in our students.
Reconnecting with Ancestral Heritage in the Savannah Region of Ghana
By Kayla Mitchell
I never imagined that I would participate in an internship involving cultural preservation in the Savannah region of Ghana when I applied to the HRTS program at the University of Arizona. I have traveled to many countries and I am a previous Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Uganda as an English Literacy Specialist. However, I was fortunate enough to be selected for an Intern position with the World Institute of Africa Culture and Traditions (WIACT) in Sawla, Ghana. Read more...
The Membership of Togetherness in Ghana
by Jessica Nwafor
Arriving at Sawla, one of the Indigenous cities of the Gonja People and the internship location, I started my first few interactions in a more westernized way ― 'Good' followed by the time of the day (morning, afternoon, evening) and 'sir/ma' as a sign of respect to older people. Of course, Sawla people always responded with a welcoming smile and even offered assistance when they felt I needed it. However, the next minute another walked past and greeted, "Anshumaa, Antere, or Anulaa," it was a different smile that reeked of togetherness, identity, love, and values. Read more...
Resilience of the Human Spirit and Learnings from our Time in a Rohingya Refugee Camp
by Candice Montaño
The complexities of responding to any humanitarian crisis can be overwhelming. Our time working with the NGO Artolution in Bangladesh, in conjunction with the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), allowed us to navigate these challenges first hand. Not only is there a need for basic services for the individuals in the camp, such as food, water, sewage, and shelter, there are also matters of safety, health, education, mental and emotional well-being that require careful consideration. There are also many moving parts, legal requirements, and permission to access the camps, as well as an intricate web of actors that make up domestic and international aid organizations. Read more...
Rohingya Voices & Finding Joy
by Abby Nelson
There are many moments and experiences in life that are transformative to who we are and change our perspectives on the world. When starting my MA in Human Rights Practice at University of Arizona, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to travel to Bangladesh and work directly in the field in a refugee camp, and contribute to a human rights issue that I care so deeply about. Our research with the NGO Artolution on their mural project conducted in partnership with the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) allowed us many learning opportunities. Going into the trip, we were prepared with our research design, but no amount of being told and shown “what to expect'' can prepare you for your first time in a refugee camp or prepare you for all of the thoughts and emotions that remain once you are back home. While there were times I experienced deep emotions, had difficult conversations, and faced challenges, the moments of joy and happiness are what stick out to me the most. Read more...
Co-creating Community-Based Strategies for Human Rights in Bangladesh
By McKenna Braaton
Graduate school is a journey in and of itself. Working in the largest refugee camp in history as a graduate student at University of Arizona was another journey all together. When I began typing up my application for the Master's program in Human Rights Practice at the University of Arizona I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do in the field. The dominant thought in my mind was “Destination: Master's degree”, knowing that I would learn about the needs of the field and my place within it along the way. As it turned out I learned lessons that changed me fundamentally as a human being and as a human rights practitioner. This past summer, a team of teaching artists, NGO founders and professionals, journalists, graduate students, and professors came together to work collaboratively on a project to learn about psychosocial supports and post traumatic growth in the context of community-based public arts education in Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Read more...