Name: Melanie Rae Perez
Hometown: Miami, Florida
What is your major? Religious studies with a certificate in human rights. Global Learning Medallion student.
Where did you/are you interning? This summer I had the unique opportunity to intern with ICS Center, an NGO that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights in Vietnam.
What is your title? When I began my internship, my title was advocacy and fundraising intern but by the end of my time with ICS, I had moved up to lead intern.
How did you get your internship? I first learned about international internships through the Education Abroad Office. From there, I was partnered with TEAN Education Abroad, which then placed me with ICS.
What are you doing there? As a compassionate person, advocating for human rights for individuals all over the world brings a great amount of joy. With ICS, I have been able to be a part of advocacy and fundraising campaigns to aid the LGBTQ+ community through Vietnam’s 4th wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as prepare for the upcoming virtual VietPride events.
What projects did you work on? During my eight weeks with ICS, I was able to use my creativity and research skills to create written fundraising proposals for VietPride as well as create my own fundraiser for LGBTQ+ Covid Relief. Most recently, I created a fun and informative presentation for funding partners and attendees for the upcoming Pride events.
How does your internship connect back to your coursework? My internship has provided a very real and personal perspective on the daily obstacles faced by marginalized people all over the world. It has given me a new perspective on what it means to be an advocate for human rights in other countries as well as the challenges that come with it. My religious studies coursework has provided a background to understanding the cultural values of Vietnamese people, while my human rights courses have given me the foundation on the policies in place to best aid these people.
What is the coolest thing about your internship? This internship has given me a global view on not only human rights issues but has introduced me to the leadership and work styles of a different country. My supervisor and I have had to get creative with the language barriers, time zone differences, and even cultural differences; but it was nice to work together for the common goal of helping people.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience? I enjoyed getting creative in advocacy campaigns. Creating videos, pictures, slideshows and social media posts to get the message to the masses was fun.
What have you learned about yourself? I learned how much motivation and passion are needed to get things done. Doing things from the heart allows projects, goals and dreams to flourish.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? If pursuing an international internship, know that work culture and communication styles will be different than here in the US. Different cultures have varying views on being late, email communication, sharing information 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 internship has given me the confidence to share my ideas openly and trust that my thoughts are valued.
How has the internship expanded your professional network? It has given me great connection in Vietnam as well as other places. Also, I know if I ever go to Vietnam that I have a team of people waiting to go exploring with me.