Four days ago, I was welcomed to Iceland and today, I was welcomed to the Icelandic Human Rights Centre! I am the summer “nemi,” or intern, at the centre where I will carry out administrative and publication tasks while pursuing independent research. I was presented with my very own office, equipped with a nearby kitchen for refills on Icelandic green tea and stacks of books on international law and human rights.
Beginning when I was young, I dreamt of a world in which I could dedicate my days to peacemaking. How could I be a peacemaker? Could I study systems and change them so that the misery sometimes associated with human lives could be eliminated? I wanted to be a discoverer of, and creator of, peacemaking processes around the globe. I took off on adventures where I learned and read about the role of resources, of demilitarization, of art in times of conflict. I realize, now, that making peace across the globe through the guarantee of human rights and the elimination of conflict is rational, not radical. I have spent the first half of my undergraduate career studying human rights from various angles, evaluating many topics through formal, political science research, like the United States’ exceptional attitude toward ratifying human rights law internationally, and the mechanisms in place to pass and implement laws domestically and internationally regarding both human rights and the environment. I have also studied Scandinavian languages, attracted to the region as an epicenter of international lawmaking and host of the top academies of peace. (Universities in Sweden and Iceland focus on peace studies as major departments.) The Icelandic Human Rights Centre carries out the type of research in which I have interest, publishing hybrids of art and law to spread mass understanding of rights, while commenting on and presenting Parliamentary bills for the betterment of human lives.
I am so excited to have my own office to call home this summer, and my own desk for days of discovery and drafting. I am so lucky to take on independent research while at the centre to provide my own piece of changemaking to their processes. Since I do not yet speak Icelandic, some of the tasks of the office will be complicated, such as translating laws, recording meetings with international delegates, or reading previously published works. However, I am hopeful that this challenge will present an opportunity to discover more, not only about my topics of study, but about the Icelandic language as well.
In the short time I have been here, I have made numerous new friends and toured the city by foot, glancing and experiencing many of Reykjavik’s secret nooks. Pursuing this research while traveling independently and discovering more of the love and light of the Icelandic capital will be transformative.
The centre was formed from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which begins, “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Let us all be peacemakers, wherever we call home this summer.