My experience at IRIV (Institute for Research and Information on Volunteering) in Paris was very enlightening. It opened my eyes to the injustices immigrants and migrants face in France and in Europe as social minorities. I gained some insight on the associations that exist in the Ile-de-France, which give social aid to immigrant families and women within the professional and educational sector. I realized from my time in Paris that Arab/Muslim/North African families have it the hardest in France and are racially or at least culturally discriminated against. Because of this they are the ones that are usually in need of social aid in terms of succeeding in the work and education field.
Bénédicte works within consortiums of universities and associations from different countries to develop and create bids for projects to be accepted and funded by organizations such as Leonardo da Vinci, Erasmus, and European Education and Culture. The majority of the projects focus on equal opportunity in education and jobs for migrants/immigrants, especially women, in European countries.
It was a pleasure working with Dr. Bénédicte Halba in her office in the 14th arrondissement. Her office is a peaceful environment. There I helped Bénédicte translate European and national project proposals such as SAS (Success at School: combats early age school drop out), MigraStudyNet (would allow immigrant/migrant university students to gain access to work experience abroad), and Vasco (Valuing and Assessing Sustainable Competences: help special need/immigrant/migrant learners to develop skills for professional field). I edited proposals already written in English by Bénédicte and did translation from English to French on others.
I specifically focused on an already accepted Erasmus project called AllinHE (Access to Lifelong Learning in Higher Education) that develops a method to help immigrant/migrant/and specialized learners of all ages and backgrounds to enter or re-enter university level institutions to enhance their competences for ‘lifelong skills’ to employ in the post-HE world. For this project I developed a blog and graphics in English and French to inform the public and partners of the project of the idea and goals of AllinHE. I also did the same with a leaflet and designed logo options for the leaflets and other AllinHE publications.
I also attended “réunions” or meetings with Bénédicte and two other directors of not-for-profit associations in Paris to work on developing projects called MigrActrices (helping migrant women develop their competences in order to enter professional field) and Migraction (helping all aged and gendered migrants help develop their competences). The other two associations were ASSFAM (Association for the Socialization of Migrant Families) and ADEL (more specifically for women). I also had the opportunity to go to the Minister’s office with Bénédicte and the two other representatives to ask for funding for the projects. It went well and it was amazing to sit in on this meeting.
I am so happy that I did this internship in Paris and had the opportunity to return in France to continue improving my language proficiency. Although I fully support the cause and mission of IRIV, I feel that I need a more hands-on work environment in the future. I also need to be in a work environment where there are many colleagues. It was only Bénédicte and I in the office since she normally works by herself. I loved the creative and design aspect of my internship, and hope to be involved in more design/creative based projects as I enter the professional world.
CCSRE, thank you so much for helping this opportunity become a reality.