Summer internship case studies

Discover the amazing stories and benefits of undertaking a summer internship as part of your International Relations with Politics studies

Emmy Noklebye – Teaching at the Ndulu English Project in Nias

In the second year of her study, in the summer of 2017, Emmy Noklebye volunteered at the Ndulu English Project, based in the south of Nias Island, in West Sumatra, Indonesia. The project’s mission is to provide quality English language instruction and enrichment activities to the village children.

“The project is purely voluntarily led by a local entrepreneur and his family, with help from foreign volunteers. Classes run from 14.00-16.00, Monday to Friday, after their regular school, and are free. The interest is very high, and the two open-air classrooms at the beach are crowded with an average of 100 students a day. Partly for that reason, in addition to considering a varied level of English, the children are divided into different groups.

“During my three weeks at the project, I was teaching intermediate and advanced groups of children. In the former, we were going through very basic topics with a lot of repetition. Standard themes could be the body, colours or family. The focus was to give the children confidence to speak, as well as helping them to remember words and form simple sentences themselves. We applied some songs too where appropriate, which was very engaging.

“The main challenge teaching this group was there were so many they couldn’t fit on the benches and under the roof, which became a difficulty when it was raining, affecting their concentration. For this reason, we divided the youngest students into three groups instead of two, which also gave room for adapting the lessons accordingly.

“I really enjoyed teaching the advanced, smaller class with older students, and thought it was engaging to plan the lessons and observe individual improvements. Typical exercises would be to write a poem about dreams or writing about pros and cons of their village, in addition to help and correct grammar and spelling."

“I found it challenging to take into consideration that our differences in childhoods and opportunities for the future, were not necessarily comparable to each other, so subjects like weather and seasons, favourite TV shows or travel, was not always suitable to use as learning materials."

“It was greatly enriching to take part in this project, as we as volunteers were so free to structure the lessons and discover suitable teaching methods. It was very rewarding to get to know the children and recognise their language development."

"This project was a perfect opportunity to dedicate oneself to learning Bahasa Indonesia, as this adaption to the culture made it far easier to communicate and learn from people’s life experiences, particularly the effects of the tsunami and earthquake that hit the island in 2004/2005.

“All the children in the school were from the local village, so I got to know almost every family along the road, which made me feel very welcome and gain a better understanding of the everyday life of an island family in North Indonesia. 

"In addition to running classes, we also participated in beach clean ups with the government and the navy, and tried to raise awareness around the local and global environmental effects of polluting the ocean, which we are all so dependent on."

<p>Emmy Noklebye – Teaching my first class in the outdoors classroom<br></p>
Emmy teaching her first class in the outdoors classroom
<p>Emmy Noklebye –&nbsp;Implementing songs with other volunteers to the intermediate education<br></p>
Implementing songs with other volunteers to the intermediate education

<i></i>Emmy Noklebye&nbsp;– In the classroom with some students from the advanced class and volunteers</p>
In the classroom with some students from the advanced class and volunteers
<p>Emmy Noklebye – Beach Clean at Lagundri Bay, where the Ndulu English Project is based<br></p>
Beach clean at Lagundri Bay – where the project is based

Daina Ramanauskaite – Supporting the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the State of Israel

As a part of her studies in International Relations, Daina Ramanauskaite completed a seven week internship between July and September 2017, at the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the State of Israel. Daina was responsible for assistance in providing consular services and delivering the daily tasks for the Chargé d’Affaires Ramunas Davidonis, Ambassador Edminas Bagdonas.

“Each day of my internship started by reviewing a selection of regional newspapers, since the news had a substantial impact on the work that I had to do. At the end of the week I had to write a regional news report, which was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. 

“During my internship, the consular was away on leave so I had a great opportunity to familiarise myself with the job role and carry out the daily tasks of the consular in their absence. The consular assistant played a key role during my internship – she gave me detailed training and always found time for my questions and was willing to help. 

“The daily tasks for the Chargé d’Affaires and Ambassador included writing speeches, official letters and translating texts. Furthermore, I attended the Europe Union Ambassadors meeting in which discussions focused on current affairs in the Middle East (at the time of the Temple Mount crisis). I also took a part in preparations for the programme of the official visit of the Lithuanian’s Foreign Minister to Israel."

“I assisted the consular with legalisation of documents and in processing applications for issuance/replacement of passports for the Republic of Lithuania. I also assisted with the documentation of reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship, for the persons who held citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania before 15 June 1940 and were exiled from the occupied Republic of Lithuania before 11 March 1990. 

"Besides that, every day I would be contacted via email or phone asking various questions related to reinstatement of citizenship, issuing passports and visa application inquiries.

“Before the internship my knowledge of the actual work carried out at the embassy was minimal. Now that my internship is over, I feel I have really learned a lot:

  • I became more familiar with the embassy day-to-day life and I deepened my knowledge about Israel and its region. 
  • I was out of my comfort zone, so I had to learn quickly and adapt to new challenges in a professional manner. I feel like the internship contributed to my personal development too. 
  • The internship broadened my career opportunities and will have a valuable impact on my CV. 
  • The internship opened opportunities to meet new people and networking at work. 
  • It made me realise what further steps I need to accomplish to do well in my career in the future.”

<p>The Temple Mount in Jerusalem<br></p>
Daina at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

</p><p class="wysiwyg-text-align-center">Israeli West Bank barrier in
Israeli West Bank barrier in Bethlehem

</p><p class="wysiwyg-text-align-center">Israeli West Bank barrier in

</p><p class="wysiwyg-text-align-center">Tel Aviv from Jaffa (an ancient
port city in Israel)</p><p></p>
Tel Aviv from Jaffa – an ancient port city in Israel
<p>The view to the drying the Dead Sea form the rock of Masada. Masada is an ancient fortress in southern Israel’s Judean Desert.<br></p>
The view to the drying the Dead Sea form the rock of Masada – an ancient fortress in southern Israel’s Judean Desert

Aaliyah Lightburn – Working with the Embassy of Belize

Aaliyah Lightburn had the experience of a two week internship in Cuba in 2016, working in the Embassy of Belize.

“My internship in Cuba, although short, was full of opportunities for both professional and personal growth. I had the opportunity to work in the Embassy of Belize with a mostly Cuban staff from 9.00-17.00 and sometimes until 23.30. Weekday evenings and weekends was my chance to learn about Cuba and experience the country for myself. 

“In my first few days of working at the embassy, Ambassador Lou-Anne Burns, Belizean ambassador to Cuba, explained to me several times the importance of everyone’s job working in the embassy – from the gardener to the ambassador. No one’s job was above another’s and everyone had a valuable part to play in keeping the Embassy functioning. Now reflecting on that, I find that is essential for those working in diplomatic service, especially at foreign postings. Without a staff that felt appreciated, the Embassy of Belize would not be able to operate efficiently. I found out that even I as an intern had a very important part to play, even though I was there for only a short time. I was given a variation of work throughout my time that was simple but extremely important.

“Thankfully from the work I did, I now know what can be expected of me if ever I was to join Foreign Service in the future. My assignments ranged from administration to more technical work like operating Photoshop. First, I was tasked with enhancing and tagging images of important newspaper articles taken at the Cuban National Archive that were to be put in the Belizean National Archive. The tagging would make the process of digitally searching for images simpler than before, thus improving the quality of the National Archive. I was also asked to help organise the Embassy's financial documents in preparation for a continued audit by the request of the Auditor General of Belize. While these were simple tasks, I had to be extremely mindful of what I was doing because one small mistake or misfile could greatly alter public information.

“My work in the Embassy wasn’t without hardship though – gaining some insight into running a diplomatic posting in a country suffering from an embargo. The work I had could have been done in a timely manner had there been equipment, software and internet readily available to me. I learnt, however, that these things aren't easily attained in Cuba, especially by a small country with limited resources. 

"Very often during the day, internet at the embassy would stop working, thus rendering it impossible to work or research information online. Alongside the unstable internet there was also a data cap, so only certain things could be looked for fear of exhausting all the data available to us for the month, which would then be very expensive to reinstall. This often led to me abandoning my work for the day to think of work I could do that didn’t require the internet. 

"When I did have the chance to use software and equipment available to me, they were rather old and difficult to use. In addition to the software issues, one problem I encountered that I had never considered before, was being able to use software and equipment in Spanish. While I have no problems speaking conversational Spanish, I did have some difficulty adjusting to technical software terms in Spanish. I eventually overcame this hurdle and managed to finish my work.

“Besides the work given to me by the Embassy, I had to assist former ambassador to Cuba, Ambassador Assad Shoman, with information that he needed to be researched. Ambassador Shoman has been a key figure in realising Belize's history and helping with the ongoing dispute Belize has with one of her neighbour's. Having the chance to research information on Belize (then British Honduras) for him was an incredible opportunity. While researching for him, I was able to go more in depth with information about our history that I only managed to skim the surface of in school when I was younger. Ambassador Shoman also took the time to speak to me about his work and the importance of it for our country."

“When I wasn’t working in the office, I was able to see the relationship between Belize and Cuba – its history, present and future. During an Embassy function, I met one of the most important figures in the Caribbean who brought the Caribbean countries together and, unknown by most people, was a key figure in the Cuban revolution and a right-hand to Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. To meet someone who has been on the forefront of one of the most important revolutions in the world and to see him then fostering a relationship not only between Cuba and Belize, but also between the entire Caribbean is an experience I will never forget. To this day he still rallies behind his region and does everything he can to make sure the Caribbean countries are progressing together.

“I was able to learn so much about the Cuban people and their country that I wouldn’t have the chance to learn otherwise. The Cuban people are quite isolated from the international community, due to their limited internet access and hard time travelling off the island. 

“I found the Cubans extremely friendly and always up for chat – in Spanish, English and many other languages. I took these opportunities to practice as much of my Spanish I possible could. Even though they knew my Spanish was not fluent, everyone was extremely patient with me and even went ahead to enunciate every word and speak extra slowly when it got complicated. I, in return, helped them practice their English and sometimes French. I am extremely grateful to the Cuban people to help me practice my Spanish in a comfortable environment that encouraged me to grow my language abilities.

“I learnt about the resilience of the Cuban people through their infamous período especial in the 1990’s where their economy had collapsed and the Cuban people and government needed to find ways to survive. I heard of the hardships they had to endure during then, some slow improvements that followed and the hardships that they face to this day. I spoke to many people about this, but one conversation that stuck out to me was from a Spanish as a Foreign Language teacher, who told me that after the recent disintegration of PetroCaribe, which helped not only the entire Caribbean when it came to fuel but especially Cuba, she felt as though Cuba was going to entire another períodio especial

“Through speaking to people I was able to really hear what it was like to be living in present-day Cuba. The teacher, as well as my Cuban colleagues, also spoke to me about second jobs that they needed to attend because earning from one job was simply not enough. Cubans simply did not have enough. Cubans are a resilient people, however, and that does not stop them from finding a way to live their best life."

“The trip to Cuba has been the most educating trip I’ve ever had. It was not only educating from an International Relations standpoint – Cuba’s revolution and the diplomatic relationship Belize has with Cuba, but also from a personal one. The skills I learnt at the Embassy and the knowledge I gained from people were acquired separately and under different circumstances, but they will all be beneficial to me in the future. I will carry these skills with me into future jobs, as well as future interactions with people.”