It is my final week in Iceland and my final week working for the Icelandic Human Rights Centre, a country and a workplace in which I have collected innumerable experiences and skills. For my sixth and final posting from Iceland, I would like to share six major takeaways that have transformed me in big ways and small, and made my time here meaningful.
First, I learned 1) the utility of knowing and being capable of using many languages. During my three months, I have used both my second and third languages, Spanish and Swedish, and knowing more would have been of great benefit to numerous interactions. After working with individuals from around the world, I am inspired to learn additional languages.
Secondly, by working with a team of lawyers, I glimpsed the ways in which 2) studying law can help in the betterment of human lives, at home or abroad. My exposure to the legal work carried out the Human Rights Centre revealed the important role lawyers play in helping defend those without defenses.
I also got to see the application of UN agreements, learning 3) how different countries make meaningful the UN agreements to which they commit by employing small bodies to implement the rights provided for in the human rights charters that form the foundations of international law. Researching for UN monitoring reports is a task I found meaningful, by way of observing the mechanisms that help countries adhere to their international commitments.
I also 4) developed the skills needed to self-direct a research project, created on my own ideas and curiosities, and maintain a timeline for its adequate completion. Since I plan to complete a senior thesis and hope to work in academia after graduation, this experience of creating and carrying out independent research will prove invaluable.
With the research I began, I was able to 5) collect big data that will be fruitful to numerous other endeavors in my scholastic career, opening the doors for future projects. I learned of the intersections of human rights, disarmament, peace, and women’s rights, and collected datasets that will serve me beyond this summer’s project in these fields.
Finally, I have been able to 6) contribute to the achievement of legal rights for those in immigrant communities at a time when the globe is otherwise hostile and unwelcoming to these communities. Countries are building walls, rejecting boats, and passing laws which block and prevent the settlement of people from outside their own bounds. Having a role which counteracted these forces, providing instead resources for those who seek better lives to create them, was the greatest privilege yet.
Takk fyrir, Ísland!