Aaron Rodriquez-Amaya, Intern 2016-2017
I came in to this programme thinking I was going to learn as much as I could about international security issues from someone who has her two feet in it. And for the past six months, I’ve had my eyes opened on so many issues around the world that I had no idea existed and had direct effect on security. But aside from the intellectual growth I experienced writing policy papers, op-eds and speeches on security issues, I really got to learn more about myself, my abilities and my weaknesses. Furthermore, Alaa really pushes you to get out of your comfort zone, pushing the boundaries and even allowing you to fail, in the spotlight, so you realize what you’re good at and what can be done to get better. This is all done in a professional, yet friendly and team-oriented environment aiming for excellence.
Speaking about the team, this was definitely a highlight of this programme. It was truly a pleasure to get to know all of the interns and members of Alaa’s team. We have grown so much in terms of knowledge over the duration of this mentorship, but I will always cherish the relationships I’ve built with all the participants of this programme because of the highs and lows we’ve gone through together, working together on op-eds, staying late at night working on our speech abilities and tone, sharing one shower for 7 individuals in Bonn, all the conversations and help we’ve received from each one of us. I truly feel blessed to have them in my corner, and I am honoured to be able to call them my friends.
The best thing this mentorship has done for me is to allow me to help others in a productive and tangible way. Being with Alaa at the Festival of New Ideas in Bonn, Germany allowed me to meet several individuals, social activists, decision-makers, politicians that were all working to help others through the Sustainable Development Goals. There, I was inspired to join my ambition of helping people in my native country, El Salvador, with my passion, law, to create an organization promoting accessibility to justice in El Salvador. This project that will affect many lives positively in El Salvador would have been a million times harder without Alaa’s help, her advice, her resources, her guidance and her invaluable time when discussing about my personal project and its realization.
Finally, here are some words about Alaa Murabit. You get into this internship because you want to work with an Advocate of the UN SDGs and learn from her mind and leadership, but also because you are curious to see how someone who has so much influence on decision-makers really is. What you see on her speeches is the preparation she goes through every single day. The confidence comes from her utmost knowledge. Sitting with her in a little cafe in Montreal for a couple of hours, drinking spicy hot chocolate, and talking about security issues, education, accessibility to justice, promoting legal access, etcetera, you realize how intelligent this person is and the amount of resources she possesses, it is simply astonishing. And she is open to anything you say, she’ll listen and guide you, and wants to get better at becoming a leader, all with compassion and care.
She is an amazing human being, a great and fierce leader, and I am proud to have her as my mentor, but forever grateful to be able to call her my friend.
p.s. don’t talk to her about crunchy peanut butter.