Name: Melanie Rae Perez
Birthplace: Miami, Florida
Who is your major? Religious studies with a certificate in human rights. Global Medal of Learning student
Where are you interning? This summer I had the unique opportunity to practice ICS Center, an NGO that defends LGBTQ + rights in Vietnam.
What is your title? When I started my internship, my title was advocacy and fundraising intern, but by the end of my time with ICS, I was set up to lead internship.
How did you get your internship? I first learned about international practices through Office of Overseas Education. From there, I was a partner at TEAN Education Outroad, which then placed me with ICS.
What are you doing there? As a compassionate person, defending human rights for individuals around the world brings great joy. With ICS, I have been able to be part of advocacy and fundraising campaigns to help the LGBTQ + community through Vietnam 4th the Covid-19 pandemic wave as well as prepare for the upcoming VietPride virtual events.
What projects have you worked on? During my eight weeks with ICS, I was able to use my creative and research skills to create written fundraising proposals for VietPride as well as to create my own LGBTQ + Covid Relief fundraiser. Recently, I created a fun and informative presentation for funding partners and attendees about upcoming Pride events.
How does your internship relate to the course assignments? My work practice has provided a very real and personal perspective on the daily obstacles faced by marginalized people around the world. This has given me a new perspective on what it means to be a human rights lawyer in other countries, as well as the challenges that come with it. My religious studies assignments have provided a background in understanding the cultural values of the Vietnamese people, and my human rights courses have given me the foundation on policies in the country to better assist these people.
What is the most interesting thing about your practice? This practice has given me a global view not only of human rights issues but has introduced me to the leadership and work styles of another country. My supervisors and I have had to get creative with language barriers, time zone changes, and even cultural changes; but it was good to work together for the common goal of helping people.
What did you like most about your experience? I loved being creative in advocacy campaigns. Creating videos, photos, slide shows, and social media posts to get the message across to the masses was fun.
What have you learned about yourself? I learned how much motivation and passion it takes to get things done. Doing things from the heart allows projects, goals, and dreams to flourish.
What advice do you have for those starting the internship process? If you follow an international practice, know that work culture and communication styles will be different than here in the US Different cultures have different views on being late, email communication, information sharing and document structure. Allow yourself to go with the flow and learn it all!
How has the position increased your professional confidence? I have always been a motivated and creative person; this practice has given me the confidence to share my ideas openly and to believe that my thoughts are valued.
How to practice EXTENDED your professional network? This has given me excellent connections in Vietnam as well as other countries. Also, I know if I ever go to Vietnam that I have a team of people waiting to go explore with me.
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