My internship with the Institute for Human Rights is officially over, and I’m back home as I write this blog. I flew back on Friday morning and landed early Saturday morning in Salt Lake City. It has been a crazy 11 weeks, all good, but I am beyond excited to be home.
The final part of my internship revolved around writing, publishing, and presenting a policy paper on a topic of my choice. Normally, the policy papers my office writes are 50-75 pages, so I was able to focus on doing a 15 page one instead. I ended up writing about what anti-discrimination policies private businesses in Macedonia have for minority workers, which was actually really interesting to learn about.
On my last day of work, I had the opportunity to present my research and findings to my coworkers and other colleagues from neighbor NGOs. Even though my research did not turn out exactly how I hoped it would have, everyone seemed really happy with what I presented, and hoped to build on it in the future. It felt really good to be part of a team, and add my little stamp to the office.
One really amazing part of this internship is that it opened up my eyes to a field I had never considered before. When I applied to the internship, I never considered pursuing a career in human rights work. I applied simply because it was something that seemed interesting, and I was right. The work I did, the people I met: all of it formed an experience I didn’t think I’d ever get. Even though I’m not so sure human rights is the field I want to pursue, I have a much deeper knowledge of it now.
A final note I wanted to make was about the experience of being a foreigner in the Balkans, but especially Skopje. From what I can tell, Skopje does not get all that many international students interning in the city, and certainly less American ones. It seems that people will gloss over Skopje and mark it as something to see later in life. I would really love to see more students, especially UMich students, experience Skopje for the summer. The city certainly isn’t metropolitan like London or Budapest, but it has this indescribable charm that makes it a great place to be. Hopefully more people in the future can take a leap of faith and just see what the Balkans has to offer.