Putting Advocacy Into Practice

Laura Robinson, of Quispamsis, NB, spent the summer in Washington, DC, learning to put advocacy into practice.

Robinson, who is honouring in Human Rights and majoring in Political Science and Science and Technology Studies, earned a three-month internship with KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights through St. Thomas’s partnership with the Washington Centre for Internships and Academic Seminars.

“I wanted to do something tangible and to advocate,” Robinson said. “Going into last summer, it felt like the right time to do it, especially with what was happening in the United States and where I was in my studies.”

KARAMAH is a non-profit organization that aims to promote human rights, especially gender equity, religious freedom, and civil rights in the United States. Robinson worked throughout the summer on family law cases, outreach, and the organization’s Law and Leadership summer program.

“The Law and Leadership summer program gathers Muslim women from all over the United States and the world and brings them to Washington to provide training on leadership, Islamic law, and conflict resolution,” Robinson said.

“Most of the misconceptions about Islam are cultural, so we teach them and equip them with the knowledge behind that. We give them the leadership to pass that on to families and communities, and the conflict resolution training helps them ease that knowledge in.”

During the internship Robinson worked from Monday to Thursday and attended classes on Friday. The centre also provided professional track training, which was catered to the focus of the intern’s studies.

“One of the most exciting things we did was act as a focus group for one of the Holocaust museums,” Robinson said. “We went through one of the new exhibits they were going to take to university campuses and we helped them narrow down what pieces they should take and how they would present it.”

Robinson also had the opportunity to go to the Supreme Court while it was in session, visit the Pulitzer Journalism Centre, and visit a number of tourist attractions.

The experience provided a chance for Robinson to connect in-class learning with work on the ground.

“This experience helped me learn in multiple ways—learning through the internship and learning in class, while also gaining life experience,” Robinson said.

“I think you need to be an idealistic person if you want to go into human rights because you want to see the world change, but you also know the puzzle pieces you’re working with and that you can’t just snap your fingers to make it happen. I knew this would be an experience that would teach me more about how to be part of the solution.”

Following the completion of her studies at St. Thomas, Robinson intends to complete a combined masters in law degree.