As a UN-related agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is charged with coordinating with States, NGOs, and international organizations to ensure that migration occurs in a safe, orderly, regular, and humane fashion. I have received an internship in IOM’s Migration Policy Research Division, the office that guides and informs the international migration policy arena based on the expertise collected from all over the world.
IOM does an excellent job at ensuring that interns receive a professional experience as a trusted partner in the world. A primary responsibility includes organizing and marketing the IOM Migration Research Lunchtime Seminars, a monthly event in which a visiting scholar gives a presentation, a Q&A session, and an interview on a topic related to migration. All have been fascinating ‘deep dives’ into a topic relevant to human mobility. To be a part of coordinating this kind of educational event is a gratifying experience.
As I write this, the culmination of much of my work here at IOM is about to come to fruition. IOM released the World Migration Report 2020, the organization’s flagship publication. Activity related to the Report has taken up a majority of my time while interning here, with tasks including the (double) verification of references against primary sources, data-checking, and data visualization. Since many academic institutions trust IOM outputs as the backstop for their own publications, IOM must ensure that the reporting of all empirical findings passes the highest level of scrutiny, which in turn, gives the Report a global reach. To provide but one statistical example, I found that the previous edition of the World Migration Report had been cited in over 550 research articles and in more than 25 languages. Based on my work on the Report, I am listed as a main contributor on one chapter and a part-project researcher for the entirety of the publication. It truly is a privilege to be a part of the team that has become one of the primary conveners of migration research globally.
Work and home life share common themes. In Geneva, since nearly everyone comes from a different part of the world, the topic of migration is never far from discussion. More than anything, I have had a glimpse into the European response to migration compared with the policy responses to immigration seen in the United States. My time here in Geneva has been a success. I hope to put the things I learn here to the service of migrants and their communities as I return stateside.
Adam Sawyer was an MAIR student who completed two semesters interning at IOM in Geneva.