by Catherine Ndiaye
When I first applied to the International Human Rights Internship Program, I was set on working at an NGO abroad. I had fallen into the trap of believing that the only way I take away something of value from my internship was through field’s work. But, working on Equitas’ Global Rights Connection, an international online human rights training program, quickly proved me wrong. As Coordination assistant, my task included responding to emails directed to our team. As a result, I received many emails from persecuted individuals worldwide asking for help. Teaching human rights in a highly conservative country and being homosexual in a highly religious country were only some of the various reasons why people would email us. Firstly, these emails came as a shock because the authors would be quite graphic in the description of the harm done to them. But, they allowed me to realize that I took living in a relatively liberal country for granted. Being a BIPOC in Canada, I tended to focus on the parts of myself that made me oppressed, but what about the parts that made me privileged? Yes, I am a Black Muslim woman, but I am also part of the upper middle class and I have the privilege of living in a rather progressive country (which still has its shortcomings, of course). I do not have to worry about being persecuted for interning at a human rights organization and I do not have to live a double life or assimilate to hide my identity (I recognize that this is not the reality for all Canadians, as many still must conceal parts of themselves to fit in or avoid discrimination/hate crimes). One thing I took away from my internship was to re-evaluate my place in this world, and I invite everyone who reads this to do the same.