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> Julianne Hughes-Jennett (99)
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> Gemma Amran (03)
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> Andre McClean (04)
16.09.06: Gemma Amran (2003)

WIPAN caught up with Gemma Amran from the Class of 2003 who has recently finished an internship at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague in The Netherlands.

Where are you from?

Where did you go and what did you study at university?
I went to Trinity College Dublin to study Business and French.

Where are you now?
Now I am back in London, doing a Law Conversion at City University.

Where do you work? / What is a typical day at work like? / How did you choose that career path?
I decided to convert my Degree into a Diploma in Law because I always had a niggling feeling that Law was right for me. I have always had an interest in Human Rights and the promotion of Civil Liberties. I am a big believer in the only way to promote and protect our rights is through the understanding and the application of the Law. I hope to complete my Law Conversion, become a barrister and perhaps go on to do a masters in International Law.

When did the light bulb go off and you decided, 'This is it!'? Or has the light bulb gone off yet?
The light bulb probably hasn't gone off yet, although it is slowly dimming! I guess deep down, this area of Law is something that has always fascinated me but it only really hit me in final year when I realised that a career in management consultancy really wasn't for me. Therefore, last summer was definitely a summer of indecision but also a time where I needed to start thinking hard about what I wanted from the rest of my life. So I decided to take a year out and apply for research based internships in the field of International or European affairs at European Commission, Council of Europe, European Parliament, UN Human Rights Commission - you name it, I've applied for it.

What have you been doing for the past six months?
From January to June, I worked as an intern for the Outreach program at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague in The Netherlands.

Outreach basically keeps the former Yugoslavia up-to-date of the events of the Tribunal, like the trials and visits. My tasks included writing case summaries of the completed trials, re-writing the Tribunal Visitors leaflet and acting as a support officer during visits from different interest groups from the former Yugoslavia (ranging from Judges to law students). My main job was working on the ICTY's new website, writing the content for different sections of the Tribunal and editing other content writers' work. Also, I got involved in the design of the site itself, getting to grips with certain design software like Illustrator. It was brilliant to use my creative side!

Being in The Hague allowed me to visit the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice as well as attend lectures on various aspects of International Law put on by nearby Universities and Research Institutes. I also attended the trials at the ICTY, I even saw Slobodan Milosevic in trial!

What motivates you?
Helping others in any way possible, being thankful for the life I have and therefore trying to make sure that I can help others to have a good life too.

What do you care about? And what do you do to demonstrate that?
I care about how people treat one another. Human beings have great potential for so much love in this world so why do some of us scupper this love for hate? Being at the Tribunal really opened my eyes to the darker side of mankind and it scares me to what lengths we are prepared to go for a little bit of land, or to protect our race or religion.

I am trying to get more involved in human rights issues. I am a member of the Human Rights Lawyers Association here in London. I also intend to volunteer on a local level. However, even the little things, like helping someone with their bags, or giving a complete stranger a smile, they go a long way and they make you feel good too!

When you were on WIP, what host family did you stay with and where?
I stayed with a really lovely couple, Brian and Debra O'Connor in Maryland. They are now living in Chicago but they were one of the sweetest and most generous couples I've ever met. I was very lucky to stay with them.

Any good stories from your summer that you'd like to share?
It was all good! I think though Brian and Debra really made the whole experience even better! There's nothing like living with an American family. They made Emma (my house mate) and I feel really welcome and loved right from when we got off the plane! They bent over backwards for us. One of my favourite memories is when Brian, Debra, Emma and I had an Indonesian takeaway and then we watched DVDs afterwards. It was great because it was like we were a family. I am still in touch with them now, and I will never forget their kindness. I hope I can do the same for someone else one day.

Please tell us a bit about your work placement.
I did my internship at the Vital Voices Global Partnership. It tries to promote womens' rights in developing countries. I must say it was a pretty useless internship because they didn't give me any work to do since I was the last intern of about 4 to start at VVGP and there wasn't much work (or computers) to work on. I was really disappointed because I really wanted to get stuck in, and I am really interested in the ways in which women can empower themselves. Still, I did learn some valuable lessons like speak up if you aren't happy in your placement!

Back in that summer, what was your ambition?
You feel like you've hit the jackpot when you are in Washington! Just being there gives you such encouragement to go for your dreams. I think though, my ambition was just to make the most of my time there and enjoy being with such talented young Irish people!

How has the WIP experience impacted on your life, personally and professionally?
Professionally, it paved the way to a future in Human Rights and away from the Business world. Personally, it gave me a bigger appreciation for Ireland. I do want to go back some day, and I want to invest in Ireland the way Ireland has invested in me. I don't think I would think this way if it was not for WIP.

What is your favourite memory about your WIP experience?
It had to be when we went to New York. I think we were there for a total of one and half days but boy did we cram in a lot of stuff! Statten Island ferry, UN, Gugenheim, Metropolitan, Irish famine memorial, ground zero, central park, Empire State building. I remember doing things with different members of the group, getting to know some members that I did not know so well before. It was brilliant!

What's the best thing about Ireland, North and South?
What I really admire about Ireland is the real awareness for social responsibility. When I was at University I was overwhelmed by the amount of charities, initiatives and causes in and around Dublin, helping the local community and internationally. Also that Irish people are willing to bend over backwards to help you out, that is really wonderful.

And the worst thing?
That there are still prejudices in Ireland and sometimes I get the impression that some people keep living in the past instead of moving on and looking to the future.

What are your hopes and ambitions for the future, personally, professionally and for WIP?
I hope to be able to make a difference, no matter how big or small, to the world we live in. I just have to figure out how to do it!

As for WIP, I hope it continues to give young people a chance to make a stand and build a brighter future for themselves and their neighbours. If it helps to produce outstanding people like the ones in my Class, I think Ireland, and maybe the world, has a much brighter future.

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