There is a flurry of activity every few months when high school students arrive at the IPJ to start the first day of their internships in the WorldLink Program, which connects youth to global affairs. Oftentimes, the students are early, anxious and excited. “I found WorldLink and saw that it was exactly what I was looking for, without even knowing it,” says Nicole Lobo, a junior at Cathedral Catholic High School. “I am extremely passionate about international relations, politics, law and foreign policy, and this internship seemed to be perfect for me!”
WorldLink offers internships for high school students year-round. Interns conduct in-depth research on global topics, strengthen their public speaking and presentation skills, produce publications and designs for the annual Youth Town Meeting, and hear from prominent leaders in global affairs.
This year’s fall interns report that of the leaders they’ve met so far, the 2013 Women PeaceMakers, who met with the interns at a workshop in October, have had the greatest impact on them. Rutuparna Mohanty of India, a lawyer who provides legal protection to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, inspired Nicole in particular. “Domestic violence is a huge problem in our world that is so overlooked in the society we live in… Rutuparna’s talk made me realize that no matter how young I am, I can really make a difference if I am passionate enough about something.”
Freida Aguilar, a junior at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, was moved by the strength shown by Sabiha Husic, a psychotherapist in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “I feel very strongly about the medical and psychological aid women and children need during and after there has been conflict in their area,” says Freida. “I really appreciate and admire what Sabiha is contributing to those affected by war.”
WorldLink is managed by IPJ Program Officer Debbie Martinez. She says, “My favorite part of the high school internship is two-fold: witnessing the growth each student experiences from beginning to end, and the moment each intern realizes that their efforts are not only valued by staff members, but also that they are crucial to the WorldLink Program and the Institute.”
Describing the moment further, she says, “WorldLink high school interns dedicate an entire semester to projects that are pivotal in promoting international awareness, critical thinking and problem-solving among youth worldwide. Each WorldLink intern will reach that moment in their internship when they realize that their efforts and their voice are truly valued in this world, and it is that moment that I cherish.”
Kellie Allen, a sophomore at High Tech High School, is using her graphic design skills to help spread the word on global issues. She is creating the 2014 Youth Town Meeting design that will be used in publications, tote bags and posters throughout the conference. “What we are doing has the potential to make a difference in the world. I enjoy it because as a teenager, it can be hard to find a way to make a difference.”
Another reason why the WorldLink internships are so beneficial is because of its location on a university campus. Nicole notes that “WorldLink’s collegiate environment and extensive resources (the Women PeaceMakers Program, campus events, etc.) help connect you and give you a glimpse of what life in the real world is like.” Freida agrees and says that WorldLink’s is “most likely the best youth internship program offered in San Diego for global affairs.”
To learn about current USD students sophomore Rayne Ibarra and freshman Catherine Zuñiga-Mata and the WorldLink internship experience that brought them to USD, read this article.