More recently, during Chris Damon-Cronmiller’s Fall Semester, he volunteered at the United States International Council on Disabilities while taking part in the Maxwell-in-Washington program.
This past summer was, for lack of a better word, quite a whirlwind for me. I am glad to say that I got an awful lot out of the experience, and furthermore I could not have done it were it not for the help and support of this year’s Global Programs Award.
At the beginning of the year, my original plan was to pursue an internship with the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and their main office in Geneva, Switzerland. While I was eventually offered an internship, unforeseen circumstances unfortunately resulted in me having to decline their offer. Nonetheless, I went ahead with my original plan to partake in this year’s Graduate Internships in Geneva program (at the recommendation of PAIA) knowing that I would be able to have an enriching opportunity there.
While in Geneva, I had the tremendous honor of working under Werner Schleiffer, a 30 plus year veteran of the UN, now as Maxwell’s primary liaison in Geneva. After a week or so in the area, he was kind enough to offer me a research assignment on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The assignment entailed the following:
- Finding and consolidating general arguments for and against the SDGs, from voices of both the Global North and the Global South (so long as the voices seemed to be from reputable sources, of course).
- Figuring out and detailing the pros and cons of a select few SDGs which were either of interest to me, of which the most information existed in the world, or both.
- Finally, (using the information and work gathered for the previous two responsibilities as a basis) developed a rudimentary guideline for practical implementation of said goals.
By the end of my assignment, I gained a lot of practical information concerning the SDGs (along with their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals) that was previously unknown to me and enriched my MAIR and MPA studies on campus. Additionally, I gained new insight into the connections between them and disability rights, for real application to both the second half of my Maxwell career and for my life after graduate school (whatever that may be). The latter was particularly important to me as someone already deeply interested in international affairs due to extensive experience abroad, and with several years of disability and neurodiversity rights advocacy under my belt within the U.S. There was, all in all, more connection between these goals and disability rights than I could have ever imagined.
Living between the France-Switzerland border, touring the Swiss countryside (courtesy of Werner) and spending time in Geneva (the “world’s center for human rights and development”, as Werner put it) wasn’t exactly bad either. Despite my short time there I nonetheless created some memories that I doubt I will soon forget (and I am sure the same can be said for everyone else who participated in the practicum.
Needless to say that I have no regrets about how the summer turned out, and am greatly looking forward to the next great big adventure during the fall.