Switching from Teaching to Research

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My internship at World Peace and Reconciliation (WP&R) in Uganda has introduced me to two careers in the same field. For the first half of my day, I teach refugees from Sudan and South Sudan English so that they can search for jobs in Ugandan civil society. For the second half, I research the South Sudanese Civil War and the Third Sudanese Civil War in Darfur, the Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains. Most of the refugees have come to Uganda to escape these conflicts.

Working with WP&R has shown me that teaching English as a second or foreign language, though rewarding, can also be exhausting. I have found that I enjoy analyzing Sudan’s and South Sudan’s civil wars because it allows me to study politics in Arabic. At times, meanwhile, I’ve had difficulty engaging my students because of cultural and linguistic barriers.

The most important moment of my internship came when I saw how much the international community had neglected Sudan in general and Darfur in particular. Only humanitarian intervention—like what happened in Bosnia and Kosovo—could deliver Sudan and South Sudan from civil war as far as I could tell. Therefore, interning at WP&R helped me decide to focus my future on a career as an analyst or journalist rather than as a humanitarian or English teacher.

America offers many opportunities to intern or work in fields that interest me without having to travel to East Africa. My girlfriend is spending her summer as a researcher at the Institute for the Study of War. I may consider an internship there following my junior year.

Written by Austin Bodetti, BC Class of 2018

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Using Arabic in Uganda

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My internship at World Peace and Reconciliation (WP&R), an American nongovernment organization working with refugees in South Sudan and Uganda, has provided me the opportunity to improve my abilities practiced at Boston College, in particular speaking Arabic.

I have taken intensive Arabic classes for the past two years, allowing me to assist WP&R in two ways. First, I am teaching Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees English in their native language so that they can better engage with the communities of Uganda—whose official languages are English and Swahili—and increase their likelihood of acquiring jobs. Second, I am reading Arabic news media to document war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains, where many of the refugees lived before fleeing to Uganda.

A previous internship sponsored by BC has prepared me well for my work with WP&R. Last summer, I received the Mizna Fellowship, a grant from the Islamic Civilization and Societies Program that funds students performing community service in the Muslim world. I traveled to Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority country with a Muslim minority, to teach English with the Smile Education and Development Foundation. This travel gave me the necessary background to do related, targeted work in Uganda, where I could also use my familiarity with Arabic.

WP&R has impressed and inspired me so far. I look forward to experiencing more of Uganda with its creative, intelligent students from across Northeast Africa.

Written by  Austin Bodetti, BC Class of 2018