Human Rights Major and Alumni Profiled by UConn Today
Human Rights Major, Senior Sharon Hwang, Intern at Freedom House in Washington, D.C. Profiled in UConn Today as well as Alumni Mentor Jeffrey Smith.
Excerpt from the UConn Today article:
Hwang participated in an internship program at the Freedom House, the United State’s oldest bipartisan human rights organization dedicated to the spread of democracy through advocacy and research.
Jeffrey Smith ’04 (CLAS), ’07 MA, a political science graduate, started the Freedom House Internship Program with the UConn Human Rights Institute because he wanted UConn students interested in human rights to gain practical experience in the field.
“I hope that interns take advantage of the opportunity to spend time in an organization that is stocked with some of the world’s foremost experts on democracy promotion, as well as longtime activists who have literally put their lives on the line to fight for something bigger than themselves,” says Smith. “I hope interns leave inspired and even more impassioned about human rights than they were when they first arrived in DC.”
Hwang worked in the Emergency Assistance Program, a branch of the Freedom House that assists human rights advocates whose efforts have been suddenly halted due to unexpected and often tragic circumstances.
“Sometimes, a family member was killed for their role in a human rights organization and the rest of the family would be left without any income,” says Hwang. “So a humanitarian grant would cover school fees, food expenses, or money to flee the country.”
The shocking news that the Freedom House received on a daily basis was an emotional experience for Hwang, and she admired the resilience of the staff in consistently promoting human rights around the world.
“I took so much out this experience because the employees are so dedicated and passionate about human rights issues,” she says. “In dealing with such difficult stories every day, the natural thing to do is just to desensitize; but my co-workers were truly empathetic toward these situations.”
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