Alumni Update from Claire Muurmans (Class of 2011)
By participating in UVIC’s EU Study Tour & Internship Program, I had the opportunity to complete an internship at the European Commission in Brussels where I worked within the Youth Policy Unit of the Directorate-General of Education and Culture. My role was to support the policy officers in my unit with administrative and research tasks, as well as work on various on-going projects. Being a native English speaker, I was also tasked with performing English language checks and editing revisions on documents.
During my time at the Commission, I was able to gain first-hand experience of the day-to-day operations of a European Union institution, and build on my existing knowledge of EU governance. I attended multiple conferences and internal meetings, which gave me the opportunity to work on my networking skills (a key factor to success in the Brussels/EU affairs job market). This experience really motivated me to stay in Brussels and look for more work in the EU affairs sector. It is a competitive and difficult market to break into, but possible with persistence and hard work! I recently started a new internship at Friends of Europe, a think-tank based in Brussels. I would highly recommend anyone wanting to work in EU affairs to do an internship in Brussels!
Alumni Profile: Gwen Temmel (Class of 2012)
This fall a UVic alumni is departing on a journey to the Andes in Peru to participate in an internship with the goal of improving the economic diversification of a small remote Peruvian village of around 500 people. How did this rather precise international development internship come about?Well, in the summer of 2012, Gwen Temmel applied to an internship advertised on the Canadian International Development Agency website for underemployed post-BA university graduates. After an extensive application process, Gwen was selected to participate in a 6 month program with the Cooperativa Agropecuaria Atahualpa (through the Canadian Cooperative Association or CCA) in Huancahuasi, Peru. At an altitude of over 3000 meters, with no internet access closer than a 2 hour drive to the nearest town (or a ten hour bus ride to Lima), the villagers in the local co-operative own 6, 071 hectares of land. Unfortunately, the co-operative in the region has had a hard time using the land to benefit its' own members, resulting in a loss of jobs and a persistence of poverty. The Canadian Co-operative Association is helping the Atahualpa Co-operative in Huancahuasi get on its feet with a project to enhance the tourism, agriculture and dairy industries already present in the region. The two interns who are the only representatives of the CCA on the ground have positions which span from aiding in the administrative and organizational aspects of the co-operative to stepping in to teach students and facilitate gender and youth engagement and waste management workshops: more or less whatever the democratically representative co-operative board of directors in the village asks for and thinks is best for the village.
This style of International Development is intended to help use the co-operative business model to benefit the inhabitants of the region for the long term. The intent is to support rural employment and local use of land which was once owned by rich land owners before much land in Peru was re-distributed to the villagers living and working on the land. Unfortunately there was little technical and administration skill passed on to the villagers during the land redistribution so the local industries such as dairy farming shrunk and the villagers now face a lack of employment for youth, resulting in the majority of the youth leaving for the city to seek a more stable income. There is a great risk of a loss of culture, of large international mining companies coming into the area and offering attractive short term deals for the mining rights on the land and of continued poverty in the area if the local resources are not administered by the villagers for the own benefit. The task Gwen and her fellow intern have embarked upon is complicated and multifaceted, but with hard work and collaboration between the Huancahuasi cooperative and representatives of the Canadian Cooperative Association, they will hopefully help build a better economic present and future in the region.
Links for more information:
CDF diversification project in Huancahuasi, Peru:http://cdfcanada.coop/our-projects/peru-economic-diversification-in-huancahuasi-peru
Canadian Co-operative Association website: http://www.coopscanada.coop/
CIDA internships website: http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/internships