Three Months in the Life of an IFLAC InternPosted: 2014/06/05
Text: Solveig Hansen
During her semester at Haifa University, American student Rachel Unger worked with IFLAC. One of the projects she was involved in was the 2014 IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival, which she helped organize and promote. As a final task, she interviewed IFLAC’s Ada Aharoni on her work and the prospect of peace in the Middle East. See the video at the bottom of this post.
In her essay below, Rachel tells about her experience as in intern. We loved having you, Rachel, and we wish you all the best!
My Experience as an Intern at IFLAC
May 24, 2014
This semester, I left my American university to study abroad as an exchange student at the University of Haifa in Israel. During this time, I had the opportunity to complete an internship at The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC), a non-profit organization based in Haifa, Israel. IFLAC was founded in 1999 by Professor Ada Aharoni, Egyptian-born Israeli writer, peace activist, and sociologist, with the goal of spreading peace throughout the world through literature and bridges of understanding between people.
I was interested in interning at IFLAC because I wanted to learn more about the organization’s unique approach to conflict resolution. I love reading and learning about other cultures, so I wanted to find out how these things could help bring peace to the Middle East and to the world. During my internship, I found out that IFLAC uses literature as a tool to spread peace by supporting peace researchers, poets, and authors, educating children about peace by encouraging them to write and draw about peace, managing a radio station with interviews and readings about peace, hosting international congresses and meetings about peace and conflict resolution, and more. I had the unique opportunity of working directly with Professor Ada Aharoni, IFLAC’s Founding President, which is an experience most internships don’t offer. I learned so much from her fascinating life story and personal experiences, which made working for IFLAC a pleasure.
As an intern, I had a wide range of responsibilities working on different projects and aspects of non-profit management. I corresponded with IFLAC Peace Ambassadors in many countries around the world, from Argentina to South Korea. I helped organize and promote the 2014 IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival, an online “festival” in which we invite children and parents to submit a poem or drawing on “peace in my own life,” with a chance to earn publication in a children’s peace poetry anthology. I participated in and conducted interviews about IFLAC. I wrote book reviews and articles about IFLAC. I managed IFLAC’s Facebook page. I also helped with many technical aspects of managing IFLAC, such as uploading videos, researching non-profit fundraising, setting up an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit about IFLAC, helping set up ways to donate to IFLAC, and responding to emails from people interested in IFLAC. All of these tasks helped me learn skills that will be helpful in my future in the professional world.
Because IFLAC focuses on peace through literature, I had the opportunity to read many works by IFLAC members, including Ada Aharoni. This was one of my favorite parts of my internship. Not only did I learn professional skills, I also learned about social and historical issues through what I read. I especially enjoyed reading “From the Nile to the Jordan” (1994), by Ada Aharoni, which tells the story of the Jewish community in Egypt and its exile after 1948. I learned a great deal about the history of the Jews from Arab countries while working at IFLAC. It was interesting to gain an understanding of an approach to peace that is very different from what some other activists in Israel-Palestine are doing. I feel that after working with IFLAC, I better understand the various approaches to peace in the Middle East, and the obstacles we still face. I am very glad that IFLAC provided me both with an opportunity to be resourceful and learn new professional skills as well as to open my mind about the meaning of peace and how to resolve conflicts. I am very grateful to Ada Aharoni and the other wonderful volunteers who commit their time to IFLAC, and I wish IFLAC the best success in its future endeavors.
Rachel’s interview with Prof. Aharoni: