The following blog post was written by Victoria Scalo, a second-year MA in Peace and Justice student at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego.This past summer was an enriching experience being an intern at Survivors of Torture International. Although my internship was virtual, I was able to gain valuable skills and insight into the work that Survivors does for trauma survivors. I had an amazing experience assisting Survivors Community Relations, Grants, and Governmental Affairs departments with their projects. My time with Survivors has helped me to realize and identify my future career as a Communications Assistant that I will pursue when I graduate from the Kroc School.
My professional goals have changed significantly due to my internship. Initially, there were a few careers that I had considered before settling on a Communications Associate career. I considered a career as a mediator, but while taking a mediation course I realized that I am not very comfortable being in high-stress/volatile situations. I also considered a career as a program designer and while I very much enjoyed the program design, monitoring, and evaluation course, I do not see myself designing programs for an organization as my career. Despite these career paths not being my true calling, the skills that I gained in these two courses will benefit me in my future career.
While working on projects for Survivors’ Community Relations Department, I found my passion in community relations work. It was refreshing and energizing to be able to work on non-academic writing for a change. It was a bit of a challenge shifting from academic writing to a more casual form. This shift gave me more room to be expressive and casual as I wrote Survivors’ August print newsletter. I also got to be creative in working on projects by using the Adobe Cloud Suite programs InDesign, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro. I put together the print newsletter template and its articles using InDesign, I edited and created a header image for the e-newsletter using Photoshop, and I edited a video with Premiere Pro which I then posted to Survivors’ YouTube account. I enjoyed working with Canva and the Emma email marketing platform to design e-newsletter templates, one of which got selected to be Survivors’ new e-newsletter. I also learned how to use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the first time!
Being an intern with Survivors of Torture International has opened my eyes to the struggles refugees and asylum seekers face in their home countries, during their migration journeys, and in detention in their host country. Performing research for Survivors’ Governmental Affairs Department made me realize just how complex and challenging it can be to advocate for policy changes that benefit torture survivors. Refugees and asylum seekers are at the mercy of political leaders, some of whom favor punitive immigration laws, and their decision on immigration law. Working on this project has shown me the dedication and tenacity that advocates have in their daily work to support refugees and asylum seekers.
Researching and writing a literature review for a real-life grant application was a new experience for me. The San Diego County grant dropped unexpectedly, much to the Grant Department’s surprise, I found myself having to switch from working on the print newsletter to researching for and writing the literature review for Survivors’ proposal application. Despite the time crunch, I was able to complete the literature review on time to be added to the rest of the grant application. Although I will not pursue a career as a grant writer or an immigration advocate, I have acquired new skills and learned a lot about the work that is done by these two areas.
This summer was an enriching experience where I gained new skills and learned more about the work that Survivors of Torture International does for torture survivors. My experience has sparked my interest in mental health and particularly trauma-informed therapy. Most importantly, I found my passion in communications/community relations and will be pursuing my future career as a Communications Assistant.
Interested in learning more about the Kroc School's MA in Peace and Justice program? Check us out here.