During the academic year, McGill students often think of themselves as some of the busiest students in the world, and the summer is no different. Many McGill students, whether interning, working, or taking classes, kept themselves busy this summer combining travel and work experience.
Danielle DaCosta, a U3 Anthropology student, spent her summer in Uganda at Children of Peace, a non-governmental organization. Children of Peace works with orphans to provide them with education, nourishment, and medical care.
“The three months I spent with Children of Peace proved to be truly incredible,” DaCosta said.
“It was really rewarding to see what a difference the Children of Peace program made for people.”
Despite the success of her internship, DaCosta encountered some challenges at first.
“Upon arriving in Uganda, I faced a bit of [a] culture shock,” she said, “but I just kept an open mind and tried to stay flexible and I was able to adapt very quickly.”
DaCosta plans to use this experience to help her with her Anthropology Honours thesis.
Ana Douglas, a U3 East Asian Studies student with a minor in International Development Studies, saw her internship in Mongolia as an opportunity to combine her two areas of study and supplement her education with real world experience.
“While I appreciate the freedom both of these interdisciplinary faculties offer, I sometimes get frustrated by the lack of hands-on, practical skills taught within the world of academia,” Douglass said.
“As such, taking part in an internship became essential for me if I was to truly understand the field in which I have been studying for four years.”
Douglas worked for the National Center Against Violence, an organization that tries to prevent domestic violence and abuse. The group provides shelter for victims of domestic abuse, and classes to help prepare victims for life without their abusive spouses. Douglas said that domestic abuse was a large problem in Mongolia, partly because of its male-dominated society.
Douglas explained that one day while at her internship, “…an angry husband threw a brick into the back window of the shelter, hoping to scare his wife into coming back home. Needless to say, witnessing these events firsthand made me realize the extent to which Mongolian women—as they make up 99 per cent of domestic violence victims—are unprotected by the law, legal authorities, and a traditional society in which patriarchal values are embedded.”
Douglas said that while events such as the one she described were disconcerting, she and her colleages felt optimistic about how their work could and would make a difference. Douglas plans to pursue a career in law as a result of her experiences, and expand upon her time in Mongolia through a related course she is taking this year.
Lesley Williamson, a U2 International Development Studies student, also spent time interning abroad this summer. Williamson did not intern for an NGO; instead, she was part of the Disney World International College program in the United States.
“The experience was amazing,” Williamson said of the three month long program.
“Work was still work, but a kind of work you’ll never experience anywhere else. And when you’re not working you have all the Disney parks, as well as Florida’s beaches, Universal studios, and much more to explore.”
Williamson added that the program was well suited for those looking to pursue a career in guest relations.
A few McGill students chose to spend their summer in Montreal, including Elizabeth Flannery who spent the summer taking classes and enjoying the culture offered by Montreal’s many summer festivals and concerts.
“I enjoyed the freedom that staying in Montreal by myself gave me, and I appreciated the chance to be able to focus on improving my French,” Flannery said.
“I would definitely recommend staying in Montreal over the summer.”