Ashlen Nimmo wasn’t in Haiti when a devastating January 12 earthquake hit the capital city of Port-au-Prince and killed hundreds of thousands of people, but she’s felt very close to the situation despite living nearly 3,000 miles away.
Nimmo, set to graduate May 23 with bachelor’s degrees in sociology and Spanish and a minor in Peace & Justice Studies at the University of San Diego, has been busy. She spent her last semester as one of five spring interns for the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. One of her key tasks has been to track news coming out of three assigned countries — Honduras, Sudan and Haiti. Nimmo monitored all media stories, documented significant events and presented her findings to IPJ staff and in the Peace & Justice Update newsletter.
“There was such a huge international response,” said Nimmo about the Haiti earthquake and its aftermath. “I read a lot of news stories and academic reports. There was just so much.”
Haiti required ample attention, but Nimmo didn’t neglect the other countries. There was also a constant flow of news in Sudan, a country she’s connected to through her volunteer work at San Diego’s Southern Sudanese Community Center.
Last Thursday, the interns (pictured, from left to right) — Nallely Manriques, Nimmo, Jessica Langston, Jill Covert and Clint Morrison — each gave a 15-minute presentation on one of three countries they’d each been assigned in January.
Manriques, also graduating this week as a double major in Spanish and Anthropology (Biological Anthropology concentration), spoke about Cuba. She discussed the impact of the “Damas de Blanco” (“Ladies in White”), the history of Cuba’s leadership and the ongoing battle for justice and human rights. She was also responsible for tracking news in Pakistan and the Philippines.
Langston, a junior International Relations major and minors in Economics and Spanish, gave a report on Colombia’s Paramilitary groups, touched on United States involvement in Colombia — the U.S. has given $6 billion in military aid to combat the groups — and talked about the importance of the May 30 election where a new leader, Juan Manuel Santos or the first Green Party candidate, Antanas Mockus, are vying for the position. She also monitored events in Uganda and Sri Lanka.
Morrison, a 2009 Georgetown University graduate and the only non-USD student intern, focused on the West African drug trade industry and its effects economically, politically and socially. He discussed how ongoing drug trafficking problems could be likened to the drug-related issues in Mexico. Morrison focused on Liberia, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.
Covert, unlike the other interns, served as an IPJ graduate intern for the entire 2009-10 year. A 2009 graduate of the Master’s Peace and Justice Studies Program in the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Covert was assigned to monitor Nepal, Guatemala and Colombia. Her presentation centered on Nepal, delving into topics such as the recent Maoist strike and the Nepali Constitutional Assembly and its May 28 deadline for a signed agreement.
— Ryan T. Blystone
The IPJ offers college student internships in the fall, spring and summer. Summer 2010 interns have already been selected, said Elena McCollim, IPJ program officer and internship program manager. To learn more about future internship opportunities, click here.