ICSC Internships | Pippa's storyby Newcastle University
Since 2021, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC) has offered internships to Newcastle University students to help bridge the gap between past and present human rights challenges.
The ICSC helps to preserve the memories of historic sites and memorials around the world to educate future generations on the reality of past atrocities.
Internships are just one of the ways Newcastle students can gain experience working abroad through NU Global Opportunities. We caught up with Combined Honours student Pippa to ask about her experiences during an internship in Cambodia with Youth for Peace.
Why did you want to do the internship?
I spent four weeks in Phnom Penh on an internship with an NGO called Youth for Peace that works to educate young people across Cambodia about the Khmer Rouge genocide and the importance of peace-building. I had never been abroad alone before and this experience was something that initially I found quite daunting.
I wanted to challenge myself and do something out of my comfort zone. It felt important to do something that would help build my confidence and give me new skills and experiences outside of a seminar room. More importantly, researching and reading about the work of the charity was inspirational and I wanted to do something to support the important work that this small group of dedicated people do memorialising and helping communities heal from the Khmer Rouge regime while raising the next generation of peacebuilders.
I was feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of leaving university but knowing that I was about to embark on a unique internship made me feel assured that I was doing something that hopefully would enhance my CV and set me apart.
What was the application process like?
The application process was quite straightforward. I had already signed up for weekly email alerts from the GO Global team, something I recommend everyone does even if you don’t think abroad placements are for you.
I originally signed up because I wanted to do a study abroad placement, but after researching this I felt it was not for me and I wanted a shorter, flexible experience. I began to forget about going abroad, getting distracted by final-year assignments. However, when the email landed in my inbox, it piqued my interest. There were about twenty or so internships for the summer all around the world at amazing NGOs, from Human Rights initiatives in Croatia to the Immigration Museum in Sao Paulo.
My degree was a Combined Honours with Geography and English Literature but applicants from a diverse group of backgrounds were able to apply. I was worried that my lack of language skills would be a barrier but there were lots of options where extra languages were not required.
I submitted my application and completed two stages of interviews and by March 2023 it was confirmed – I was going to live alone in Cambodia for four weeks!
What was work life like?
My internship reflected my academic interests as I worked alongside the charity’s executive director on project proposals, grant applications, and producing material such as educational booklets about the charity’s work. I was privileged to go on multiple trips around Cambodia visiting rural areas to witness Youth for Peace teams conducting interviews with victim-survivors, workshops with young people, and religious community ceremonies.
The variety of experiences during my internship meant that no two days felt the same and I was constantly learning new things.
Did you have any worries going into the internship?
When I first arrived, I felt homesick and a little overwhelmed by what was ahead of me.
However, after FaceTiming friends and family who pushed me to challenge myself, I began to explore the city and found myself loving it more and more. With the help of the amazing people I worked alongside at Youth for Peace, I was able to experience authentic Khmer food, meet new people, and explore new places. They made such an effort to include me and help me find a home away from home.
If you do not feel confident applying to work abroad, I would encourage you to reconsider. It will challenge and shape you in so many ways and I am so glad I was brave enough to apply and experience living in Cambodia.
How is it different to spending a year abroad?
By doing an internship at a small NGO (the office in Phnom Penh has six employees) I was able to immerse myself in a new culture with native speakers who showed me how they live. I don’t think I would have experienced such authentic Khmer culture in any other way.
The benefit of the internship was also that I got to work at a fantastic and unique charity. This internship has helped to show me what my skills are and how I can best apply myself in a work environment without the pressure of a long-term position.
How did the internship benefit you?
I feel so grateful to the people who made it possible, both from Newcastle’s Go Global team and the people at Youth for Peace for welcoming me so wholeheartedly.
I have tried so many new things (frog curry and cow intestine stir fry being a few of them; both delicious by the way) and I have learnt so much about myself and most importantly that I can overcome my fears and achieve my goals.
I hope that by reading about my experience doing a summer internship it has sparked interest for you to do something similar in your summer break next year.
Saum Arkoun, Leahaey!
Thank you very much, Goodbye!
Published By Newcastle University on 04/09/2023 | Last Updated 19/09/2023