My name is Dana Tohme and I am a rising senior from Lebanon, double majoring in International Affairs and Gender Studies with a minor in Spanish. This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at an NGO that partners with the United Nations (UN), called Nonviolence International- NY. I was a research analyst working on the disarmament track, which focuses on achieving sustainable peace through the elimination of the proliferation of weapons. I was also the liaison between Nonviolence International and its partners like IANSA, a group of organizations that advocates for global disarmament. Finally, I was part of the translation team as I translated official documents from Arabic to English, and UN documents from English to French.
I worked on minor projects like engaging in one of IANSA’s disarmament campaigns, such as the Global Campaign for Week of Action Against Gun Violence. I created and developed a website where I wrote an introduction and summarized all the blogs that were published. Moreover, I wrote four blogs focusing on disarmament and the crucial role women have on decision making when it comes to the reduction of gun violence. Lastly, I attended conferences at the UN, particularly two yearly events there. One of them is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was a week-long event where I learned about the daily challenges of disabled persons that are often pushed aside. Another event was the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which focused on reviewing 4 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). I was especially thrilled to attend all the main conferences and side events for the HLPF because I took several Human Rights classes at Skidmore where I learned about the SDGs. It was so inspiring and interesting to watch state parties and organizations at the UN talk about what I learned in class. Not only did this whole experience further my education on vulnerable social groups and human rights, but it also helped me confirm that this is what I want to do after graduation.
The search for summer internships was quite challenging. I had applied for several internships and did not hear back from many. It was a discouraging process, but I did not stop applying until I stumbled upon Nonviolence International. My biggest tip for students applying for internships is to keep applying until you find something that you are passionate about. Furthermore, an important lesson that I learned is to always network in your work environment. I am very shy at times and do not like to approach people I do not know. However, networking at the UN enabled me to meet and get in touch with inspiring people from all over the world, and it has opened the door for future opportunities!