Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How my internship supports my research at SAIS

Bouchra Ibn Chakroune is in her second year at SAIS Bologna. A UK citizen, she is a candidate for a Masters of Arts in International Affairs (MAIA), a degree awarded by SAIS Bologna that requires a thesis in the second year. Below she discusses her recent summer internship and how it related directly to her studies.

I’d never done an internship before last summer, so I didn’t really have a clear idea of what to expect.

I suppose I thought I would spend most of my time making cups of tea or trying to swim my way through masses of paperwork. So I was pleasantly surprised when I finally arrived in Beirut to start my internship with a small NGO called Right to Nonviolence.

Right to Nonviolence (RN) has quite a broad remit, focusing on non-violence, constitutional reform and judicial accountability. I joined the Middle East Constitutional Forum team, which focuses more narrowly on the Middle East revolutions.

Bouchra Ibn Chakroune
My surprise came when instead of receiving a list of duties on my first day, I was told I was free to conceive and design a project that was of mutual interest to myself and RN. The only other criterion was that I was to think out of the box! And so the Tunisia Constitutional e-Forum was born.

I am an MAIA student starting my second year in Bologna. I will be writing my thesis on the Tunisian Revolution, analyzing the transition taking place with a particular focus on the constitutional developments. As it turns out, my internship directly supports my academics -- a symbiotic relationship that is familiar to many SAIS students.

I started my research last year while working for the the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development. But working on the Tunisia Constitutional e-Forum gave me an opportunity to focus my research. It is in essence an information-sharing platform. I wanted to collate content on the Tunisian constitutional process and build a “one-stop shop” for information on the constitutional developments taking place in the North African country.

A number of Tunisian and International lawyers, academics and researchers agreed to submit articles, videos or audio podcasts to the e-Forum. They included Bsili Adel, Legal Advisor to the National Constituent Assembly, and Nathan Brown, Carnegie Scholar and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.

I have been struck by the generosity of the contributors who dedicated time and effort, without any compensation, to provide content for the e-Forum, which was launched on 2nd October and is now available online.

This research will underpin my thesis and help others follow the Tunisian Constitutional process.

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