Rania Rampersad writes from California:
After interning in a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya last summer (an internship that was also funded by EJF), I realized how difficult it is to help refugees once they have experiences the violence and trauma of war and displacement. I decided I wanted to do something to prevent people from becoming refugees in the first place. Many experts believe that climate change could cause as many as 200 million refugees by the year 2050, so I decided that focusing on prevention of climate change would be a great way to make a long term difference for a lot of people.
Working at Earthjustice International in Oakland, CA has turned out to be a fantastic summer experience! This organization is well known for their groundbreaking work on human rights and climate change. For example, they helped bring a petition on behalf of the Inuit people to an international commission regarding human rights violations caused by climate change. It was wonderful to spend the summer working on such cutting-edge legal issues. It was also a great learning experience to be able to work on a large variety of writing tasks, including a brief for litigation with the EPA, a policy paper for a United Nations Committee, and a memo evaluating potential international environmental claims.
The best part was being able to utilize the insights I acquired last summer working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Because of this past experience, I was able to share my knowledge of the international refugee assistance process to inform our policy reports discussion of climate change refugees here at Earthjustice International. My supervisors willingness to solicit my opinions and include me in discussions was a welcome surprise and reminded me why I love working for non-profit organizations.
The Equal Justice Foundation has given me two invaluable experiences that will help me to start my career in public service with direction, commitment, and the knowledge that it is possible to make a difference, even before you graduate!