In my fifth semester of International Relations, in 2014, I started working at CONARE-National Committee for Refugees. Initially, I have to admit that I was amazed that I was going to look at the cases, like books with thrilling contents. When I started to work with the cases and seeing the refugees, the thrilling stopped, and they stopped being stories in papers to become real people with real problems. Back at CONARE, my duties were to do simultaneous translation, during the solicitants interviews, research information about the country of origin, and deal with family meeting when refugees wanted to bring their families to Brazil.
When you hear about things happening in Africa or in any other conflict zone, you only listen what the news want you to know. Working at CONARE and interviewing refugees made me realize that there is so much more to conflicts than we know about, we never really know the repercussions of the problems and its impacts in people’s lives.
One day I was assigned to translate an interview. The interview is the most important part of the refugee procedure, it is important that the solicitant speaks only the truth, because it is based on the information he gives that the Committee will decide rather he fits into the five categories of refuge or not. After the interview the official will assign the case to an intern, so that he can research the situation in the country of origin to make sure it matches the story told by the solicitant. The solicitant was a former nun from Congo. Congo has been living a situation of conflict for a long time, which ended up causing political instability, religious intolerance, and extreme violence towards not only men, but also women and kids. Her case was that the government in power was not in favor of her religious beliefs, so one day they sent officials to her house to abuse her. The result of that was that she no longer wanted to be a nun, and she did not feel safe in her own house, or country.
I can say for sure, that from all the interviews that I participated on this was the one that touched me the most. It is one thing when you do the research and learn about the atrocities that the government and their officials are doing, but until that moment, they are just stories and they are only on one side of the computer. When you actually get a chance to have someone report to you everything that has been done to them, the effects in their lives and how they manage to overcome it, you can start to understand what a conflict zone actually is and its ramifications. I believe the greatest reward in this area is to know that your work has a major impact in someone’s life, that because of you this person will be able to live in a country where she is not afraid of living in her own house or speaking about what she believes in.
The points exposed above were what ended up leading me to my final research paper’s theme. I chose to write about the Rwandan Genocide and the Inaction of the International society. It seemed very weird to me that an event this size was uncountable for in the international media. How could that many people die and nobody do anything to prevent or stop it? After a year of research, I was able to realize, that just like in other countries, things are not always black and white, and there are many factors, and politics to be dealt with.
One of the biggest critiques on the Course of International Relations is the fact that it is too broad, at the same time that you learn several subjects; you do not deepen yourself in them. I love the course that I chose, and I would not have chosen it differently, but unfortunately, the critique makes sense. During the years of graduation, we have the opportunity to learn a little bit of different areas of knowledge. This course gives us the chance to deal with different situations and areas. After graduating, comes the time to choose the field that we want to work, I had the luck to know which area I want to be working on way before graduation, which gave me the opportunity to go after my goals. I believe that after coming from such a broad course, now is the time to actually get technical and grow, academically speaking. I believe that with the SPP I will be able to contribute in a much more specialized way to the peacebuilding field, not only to the problems that Brazil faces, but also many other countries facing similar situations. And also grow in a personal way.