Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Several Human Rights Certificate students visited Washington D.C. in early April as part of a supervised internship with Scholars at Risk. The trip was the culmination of team research, fundraising, advocacy, and outreach on behalf of Uyghur academics and students imprisoned in China because of their scholarship, leadership status, and/or expression.

The interns participated in meetings with policy makers, presented their work to Scholars at Risk’s National Advocacy Director, engaged with members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Human Rights Program, visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and with staff of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, and convened with students from around the country engaged in human rights work. They also had the opportunity to hear from human rights defender Jewher Ilham, the daughter of Ilham Tohti, the detained scholar who became the focus of their work.

Students in Washington DC

The students’ internships were undertaken as part of the Seminar in Human Rights Praxis, one of two courses that satisfies the Human Rights in Practice requirement for UI’s undergraduate Certificate in Human Rights, awarded by the College of Law through its Center for Human Rights.  The course is taught by Amy Weismann, Lecturer in Human Rights and Assistant Director of the Center for Human Rights.

“The ability to travel to Washington D.C. and use skills obtained through the Human Rights Certificate program was an amazing way to end my time in the Certificate program,” said Lauren Fuller, a University of Iowa senior. “I feel more prepared than ever to continue engaging in human rights initiatives to make the world a better place for all.” 

Another intern, Grace Wenstrom, shared that through the trip she learned that “advocacy requires conciseness, a clear method to operationalize requests, a consideration of interest convergence, and--perhaps above all--confidence in cause and self.” Wenstrom will also graduate in May and plans to pursue law school.