Chayes Fellow Mira Chernick on working with Dejusticia in Colombia

Mira Chernick at the Dejusticia offices and Iguaque National Park in Villa de Leyva.

Mira Chernick at the Dejusticia offices and Iguaque National Park in Villa de Leyva. Photos courtesy of Mira Chernick.

“I’m really enjoying the internship! All my assignments have been substantive. I started by translating a paper written by my supervisor about land restitution from Spanish into English, which helped me develop my Spanish skills and also expanded my background knowledge of the issue I’m working on. I then moved on to researching the different institutions and actors involved in developing and implementing policies for land restitution and other services for people displaced by the armed conflict. I’m spending the rest of my time here using that research to create a policy paper describing the current situation on land restitution, the problems with current policies for victims, and proposals for improving those policies and their implementation.

Because Dejusticia has many researchers working on a wide range of human rights issues both domestically and internationally, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about much more than land restitution. I’ve had conversations (in Spanish!) with my colleagues about the challenges of designing affirmative action policies in countries like Colombia where systems of racial classification and self-identification are more complex than in the United States, alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug crimes, and global climate change as a human rights issue. I also had the good luck to be here during both the presidential run-off elections, which determined the future of the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the FARC, and the World Cup, in which Colombia played (beautifully!) for the first time in 16 years. Through these experiences, I have learned a great deal about Colombian public policy, politics, and culture, while doing work that is substantive and meaningful.”

Mira is one of 22 HLS students working this summer in 14 countries under the auspices of the Chayes International Public Service Fellowship. Please visit our Chayes Fellowship page to learn more!

Updates from the 2014 Chayes Fellows

The 2014 Chayes International Public Service Fellows are beginning to arrive and settle in to their summer placements.

Rebecca Donaldson arrived in Washington, DC, and started her work at Namati, which includes researching national legal aid frameworks to develop a toolkit for communities advocating for quality legal aid at scale. Rebecca is also working with Abigail Moy, ’09, a former Chayes Fellow who is now Namati’s program director of global operations.

Over in the Phillippines, Saptarishi Bandopadhyay, who is working for the Institute of Environmental Science for Social Change, reports: “…on the day after I got here I was packed off to the southern island of Mindanao and the rural villages of Bendum and Selahi, where I spent most of the week doing field visits with farmers who are enduring landslides, climatic changes, crop failure, debt, and loss of land and livelihood. The weekend was spent at a conference on land and water governance drawing physical and social scientists, community organizers, and theologians from across Europe and SE Asia, and where I assisted with documentation and, at the end, presented a synthesis of all the talks given under one stream of conversations (on sustainability). This is now the end of my second week, and have moved on to reviewing the progress of  post-disaster housing projects; leave for field-visits tomorrow…”

Stay tuned for more reports from the 2014 Chayes Fellows.

Exchange Student Reunions in Paris and Geneva

A semester at HLS tends to bring people together, as evidenced by the recent reunions of fall 2013 HLS exchange students. In February, Geneva-based students Ursina Menn (University of Geneva) joined Duy-Lam Nguyen (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies) in visiting Sciences Po students Roxane Best, Florentin Juillet, Babaka Tracy Mputu, and Malik Touanssa in Paris: “It was not only the ideal moment to help all of us to overcome our HLS post-depression, but also to learn more about our friends’ academic curricula and their day-to-day life in Paris. They showed us their home university and told us about their current internships at law firms or courts. It was lovely to be guided through Paris by our friends and to discover many new things (such as delicious food), places, and museums!”

Roxanne, Ursina, and Lam in Paris. Photo courtesy of Ursina Menn.

Roxane Best, Ursina Menn, and Lam Nguyen in Paris. Photo courtesy of Ursina Menn.

March brought visits to Geneva by both Roxane and Malik. As Malik’s visit coincided with more temperate weather, Marlena Wisniak, Ursina, and Lam added a hike to the Creux du Van to their Geneva tour.

Hiking the Cruex du Vent. Photo courtesy of Ursina Menn.

Hiking the Creux du Van. Photo courtesy of Duy-Lam Nguyen.

And it looks like more reunions are in the works, according to Ursina: “The experience of spending an extraordinary semester at HLS as exchange students, where we always could count on each other for support, is an experience that truly bonded us together. We will hold on carefully to and treasure these new friendships and do our utmost to stay in contact. I’ve heard a trip to Brazil is already being planned! Thank you, HLS!”

Meet the 2014 Chayes Fellows

Twenty-two Harvard Law School students have been awarded the 2014 Chayes International Public Service Fellowship this summer. They are working abroad in Cambodia, Colombia, France, India, Israel, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, and Uganda, as well as in Washington, DC. Please click here to read brief biographies and descriptions of their summer placements.

University of Geneva Launches Internet Law Summer School

The University of Geneva is offering a new summer program, Internet L@w Summer School, June 16-24. Located in the city where the World Wide Web was born, the program includes discussions of privacy and surveillance, intellectual property, freedom of expression, and Internet governance. Discussion leaders include HLS Cyberlaw Clinic Managing Director Chris Bavitz and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society’s Faculty Director Terry Fisher, who will join experts from such institutions as the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the World Economic Forum.

Download the full program here.