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Making it Work’ internship takes student to the U.N.

November 20, 2010
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This summer, Nicar Bocalan, a second-year graduate student in the International Development Program, traveled with the organization Handicap International to the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City.  The purpose of the trip was to attend the 3rd Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, held September 1 to 3.

In honor of Gallaudet’s observance of International Education Week, we bring you his internship story.

The conference at the U.N. was the culmination of Bocalan’s summer-long internship with Handicap International, during which he focused on the “Making It Work” initiative (MIW). 

MIW is part of a movement to reduce poverty, social exclusion, and discrimination among people with disabilities.  The aim of the initiative is to provide a uniform methodology to share and exchange examples of good practices to reach those goals. The added value of MIW is to act as a clearinghouse for information on what works and how this knowledge can be used to advocate for policy change at all levels.

As program assistant, Bocalan assisted with the work of MIW by performing a variety of tasks, including researching foundations, reviewing proposals and concept notes, website maintenance, restructuring MIW documents, and coordinating logistics for the side event at the United Nations’ COSP.  He also co-wrote an article for the Rehabilitation International Journal, which was published in the October 2010 issue.

The side event at the COSP was a panel discussion that showcased MIW projects and the great progress made since the launch in 2009.  The panelists represented MIW projects in West Africa, the Middle East, Colombia, and Guatemala.  Bocalan was responsible for coordinating and communicating with panelists and navigating through the U.N. system to work out details for the event.  Despite a competitive list of several side events, Bocalan said, there was not an empty seat in MIW’s conference room.  The audience was engaged and interactive.

With the Handicap International team, Bocalan also attended the International Disability Alliance (IDA) forum that took place in New York City on August 30.  The IDA forum consisted of IDA members as well as organizations from the International Disability and Development Consortium.  Organizations of and for people with disabilities took turns presenting and garnering support for their projects.  The World Federation of the Deaf was one of the organizations in attendance.      

Bocalan’s internship with Handicap International was an opportunity for networking with the international disability rights community, as well as learning valuable non-profit management and administration skills.  “This whole experience at the UN was just amazing; I met lots of people from all over the world, both from organizations and delegations from different countries,” Bocalan said. “I have gotten a thorough grasp on the kind of uphill battle we face with disability rights internationally.”

Many thanks to Nicar Bocalan for his work on this story.

20 November 2010

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