By Emmy Labbé
During the last 3 months, I have learned so much about the rights of people with disabilities, especially in Peru, but also in international law. As part of my internship, I had a three-hour class every week on different topics of this area of the law, and the rest of the week, I would work independently on various mandates.
During the classes, I learned a lot about accessibility, reasonable accommodations, stereotypes, legal capacity, power narratives, and ethical implications. Through thoughtful discussions with my colleagues and professor, I was able to have a better understanding of the realities of people with disabilities here in Peru. These were eye-opening for me since it was my first time working more deeply on the rights of people with disabilities. Every week, I would get out of class with a new understanding of the world, and I would notice more the different reasonable accommodations and accessibility tools put in place around my neighborhood, and in Lima in general.
My mandates, outside of the classes, were more research focused. I spent many hours reading jurisprudence cases about disabilities and summarizing the actions the Peruvian judicial system would take regarding violations of the rights of people with disabilities. I learned a lot through my research, and it allowed me to participate with pertinent insights to the class discussions.
Since I had some free time during my weeks, I decided to look for an opportunity to get more involved within the community. Due to my great interest in migration issues, I started to do some voluntary work for the Legal Clinic for Migrants and Refugees with the organization Encuentros. As a volunteering law student, I had the chance to participate in many of the clinic’s projects. I helped lawyers with client intakes, I worked with sociologists on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resettlement mandate, I attended training offered by the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and I participated in “in-community” legal clinics. I think this was one of the most enriching experiences of my time in Peru. I had the chance to go with the legal clinic team in different neighborhoods of Lima to offer legal services directly to migrants and refugees. This volunteering opportunity was really enriching for me since it allowed me to learn more about the complex migration situation in Peru, the Peruvian migration law, and international organizations’ mandates in Peru regarding migrations.
The combination of my internship and my volunteering implication gave me the opportunity to gain incredibly rich knowledge on two aspects of human rights: the rights of people with disabilities, and migrants’ and refugees’ rights, which will, for sure, be really meaningful in my work as a law student and future lawyer. Moreover, having these enriching work experiences, entirely in Spanish, allowed me to improve greatly my Spanish and to gain confidence while speaking. By the end of my internship, I was able to participate more in class, write documents and conduct client intakes on my own, all in Spanish, which was a big achievement for me.
To conclude, although my weeks were well-occupied, I still found the time to travel within Peru and discover this amazing country. The thing that surprised me the most, is that Peru has it all. It truly does! It has the jungle, desert, snow-capped mountains, canyons, beaches, and historical cities. The culture is so rich, the landscapes are beautiful, and the food is delicious. To anyone wondering if Peru is worth visiting, it truly is, and I highly recommend discovering this country and everything it has to offer, because you will be more than amazed.