Intern Interactions

by tuftsigl
Aug 11

Ananda Paez is in the class of 2016 and is an Empower Fellow.

The past seven weeks in India were full of unforgettable experiences, intense learning, and constant reflection. One of my favorite aspects of this internship has been the opportunity to work with an incredible group of interns from around the world. They came from Tibet, different parts of India and Italy; interacting with them on a daily basis in the context of our work and outside the office was a wonderful learning experience. It was always interesting to see how differently we approached the political dilemmas we were dealing with at work and how our backgrounds affected the way we reacted to them. Sara, an Italian studying in London, and I both had a Western education and were always insisting that our organization develop and improve evaluation methods for the projects we were working on. However, this was clearly not a priority  for the organization and it was often frustrating for us.  Aparna and Prathyusha, from Bihar and Hyderabad (India) respectively, also encountered cultural differences when it came to the tasks involving their personal projects. However, in general the laid back environment at the office allowed us to sit together with our laptops on a beautiful terrace overlooking Dharamsala and the Himalayas beyond and discuss our work.

One of my biggest projects was a research report on women's participation in Tibetan politics in Exile. Passionate about women's rights, we discussed how much work there is yet to be done in the Tibetan Diaspora regarding women's issues. These conversations differed greatly from the ones I was having with NGO and public officials who would point out to me how quickly Tibetan society has embraced gender equality when only decades ago (and still inside Tibet today), Tibetan women had virtually no rights. During my time there, I was able to see that there is truth in both arguments and more importantly, that the Tibetan Diaspora faces pretty much the same challenges as the rest of the world when it comes to women's rights. However, I think that if I had not been able to discuss this with my fellow interns, my perception of the issue based solely on interviews and desk research would have been completely different.

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