Author Archives: mtheriault

WorldLink: Connecting with Fall Interns

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.”

WorldLink Intern PhotoTo 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.

Learn more about the internship program | Youth Town Meeting 2014

Training with Women Peacebuilders in Turkey

IPJ Program Officer Zahra Ismail recounts her experience from two-day training in Turkey on September 25 – 26, 2013.

Training Attendees

For two days 18 women peacebuilders from 13 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia came together in Istanbul-a city rich in history and diversity. The training entitled “Women In Peacebuilding: Enhancing Skills and Practice” was put together by Mediators Beyond Borders, an international mediation capacity building and advocacy organization, and facilitated by myself and four other skilled and experienced trainers with Irish, Iranian, Indian and American roots.

Over our time together we practiced skills, shared experiences, laughed, cried, danced, sang, and shared our collective wisdom and stories of struggle and success. Among this powerful group of women were three IPJ women PeaceMakers, Radha Paudel (2012) of Nepal, Rashad Zaydan (2011) of Iraq and Vaiba Flomo (2010) of Liberia.

Radha the founder and president of Action Works Nepal (AWON), known as a true changemaker and “someone who makes things happen” shared with me as we were saying our goodbye how participating in the training had further built up her confidence. Through our two days together she uncovered the realization that despite not having formal training in mediation prior to this—these were skills and tools she was already using in her work everyday.

IPJ Program Officer Zahra Ismail with Women PeaceMakers Radha Paudel and Rashad Zaydan

For myself, being in the presence of such passionate, inspiring and powerful women left me bubbling with motivation for all the possibilities that lay ahead. As we move forward, the hope is to provide a platform for continued mentorship, support and exchange ensuring that these women, often working in isolation, have a constant reminder that they are not alone.