Our program provides us with the opportunity to intern while in Madrid. Last semester, I worked with our program Professor Josep Lobera, as one of his research assistants. This semester, I wanted to try something different so I decided to serve as a Legal Aid Assistant at the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR).
There are four program students interning at CEAR this semester, and we all have different roles, so they can truly accommodate to every students´ interests. My role is to draft human rights reports about an assigned country, which lawyers who work for CEAR and represent refugees in Spanish court can utilize. This requires lots of research, data synthesizing, and writing. In addition, I am learning a lot about refugee and migration law, which is helpful as I aspire to attend law school one day.
In addition to our responsibilities, CEAR provides other opportunities for us to learn about their work. This week, we visited one of their refugee shelters located in the outskirts of Madrid. One of the many things the organization does is to provide shelter for refugees seeking asylum in Spain, so it was a great opportunity for us to see how they lived.
Visiting the shelter highlighted the importance of this kind of work and why it is urgent. It was eye opening to see how refugees live once they arrive in Spain, and it was interesting for me to draw parallels between Spain and the United States. Certainly, the system in Spain is not perfect but my experience visiting the shelter and interning at CEAR makes me realize the United States could do so much more for refugees.
Aside from the shelter visit, this week I am working with the European Commission in an event CEAR is co-hosting with them. This is an exciting opportunity to immerse myself in an international organization for a day and make connections. Overall, my experience at CEAR has taught me a lot about the structural issues and obstacles refugees face, and why it is important that we all do more to support them.