Hear from VOW Intern Dominique: Reflections on a Remote Internship

By Dominique Janvier, Voice of Witness intern and University of Chicago student

Dominique and book

When I contacted Voice of Witness in early May, my expectations for the summer were quite bleak. With the coronavirus pandemic at its peak, summer opportunities seemed to be disappearing left and right. However, when an advisor of mine at the University of Chicago told me about Voice of Witness (VOW), I immediately knew I had to reach out.

What caught my eye about VOW was its strong emphasis on education and storytelling as a means to advance human rights. As a public policy major specializing in human rights, with a focus on education, I was deeply interested in exploring how storytelling in particular gave a voice to those affected by injustice. With this in mind, I was elated when I got in touch with Communications and Outreach Manager Annaick Miller and Community Partnership Coordinator Ela Banerjee, my future supervisors. Together, we developed an advocacy-focused summer internship position unique to my public policy and human rights background. In that position, I was able to explore the intersection of advocacy and storytelling in the social justice space and learn more about various human rights issues relating to migration, displacement, and criminal justice.

Though the remote format was not ideal, I felt I still had an incredibly meaningful internship experience. I would consider my time at VOW the most meaningful internship experience I have had as an undergrad in terms of both personal and professional growth.

While I learned plenty in previous internship experiences, my experience at VOW was the first where I truly felt supported in the work that I was doing. Annaick, Ela, and the rest of the VOW team welcomed me with open arms to their Zoom staff meetings and lunch conversations, and, despite the distance, made me feel a part of the team. Their support allowed me to grow in my confidence as a writer, as well as facilitated the completion of two advocacy-oriented documents I developed for VOW over the summer. In the process of creating these documents, I reinforced my organization and time-management skills, as well as strengthened my ability to work independently.

In terms of personal growth, my internship at VOW challenged me to think differently about how I choose to engage with human rights issues. I’m now more cognizant of how empathy plays a role, and why it’s so important. As an advocate for equity in education and an aspiring actor in the education policy space, I value this lesson greatly and hope that my future work will reflect its importance. I’m also more cognizant of the power of storytelling and personal narrative, and I’m excited to follow VOW as they continue to pave the way for social justice storytelling in the human rights space.

Thank you to everyone at VOW for a wonderful summer!

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