During my first fall at Sanford, I knew I wanted to be abroad for the summer – the only question was where, doing what, and how. I knew I wanted to be working on strengthening civil society and bolstering marginalized populations, particularly in turbulent regions. Thanks to the generous support of the Carlucci family, I was able to land my dream internship in Lebanon. A tiny country, Lebanon is stunning yet polluted, resilient yet fragile, at the crossroads of peace and conflict. Nested between Israel, Syria, and Jordan, Lebanon not only experiences turbulence from its volatile neighbors but also struggles with its own complex legacies of civil war, human rights abuses, and colonial challenges. Despite – and in some ways, because of – its complexity, it remains an eminently lovable country.
This summer, I worked with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN ESCWA) in its Centre for Women (ECW) in Beirut. UN ESCWA serves as a regional hub for Arab states, providing technical assistance and research on a wide variety of topics. At ECW, the team focuses primarily on the role gender plays in the current Arab context, most notably in the realm of conflict, peace, and security.
My supervisors involved me in a variety of workstreams during my time at ECW. I attribute this in large part to the rigorous training I received at Sanford this past year, which significantly improved my writing skills. I served as primary researcher on a number of initiatives, focusing on strengthening democratic institutions, improving protection of women in conflict, and supporting Arab women-led civil society. I provided talking points for senior staffers on the state of women, peace, and security in the Arab region for international donors, wrote speeches for public events, and designed Among my work outputs, I contributed a chapter to a groundbreaking report on women’s shelters in the Arab region, authored a parliamentary document for the Commission on the Status of Women on the resilience of national women’s machineries, and produced an op-ed on the plight – and power – of Sudanese woman human rights defenders and the fall of Omar al-Bashir. And my colleagues were not only experts in their fields but also excellent examples of strong Arab women. They represent many of the women across the Arab region whose stories of resilience we don’t hear enough about in media.
Living in Lebanon this summer was a fantastic experience, and it was a pleasure to work at ESCWA. Without the Carlucci family’s gracious support, I would never have been able to pursue this opportunity.