Buffett Institute and SIGP Fund Undergraduate Internships at UN Conference on Refugees

September 21, 2015

For two undergraduate interns, the opportunity to travel this summer to work at the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs in Geneva was made possible with funding from the Buffett Institute.

Introducing the Buffett International SIGP Award

Thanks to support from Bertie Buffett’s recent gift, the Buffett Institute is now partnering with the Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP) to expand opportunities for international internships for undergraduates that facilitate career exploration, experiential learning, and research, regardless of financial resources. The Buffett Institute International SIGP Awards provide up to $6,000 in funding for travel and living expenses for Northwestern undergraduates with international internships.

One of the three Buffett Institute International SIGP award winners for 2015 was Center for Forced Migration Studies (CFMS) intern Ary Hansen (WCAS ’16, pictured at right). Intern Areeba Tariq (WCAS ’16, pictured in the middle) was able to cover part of her trip to Geneva through the Buffett Institute's supplemental grant for participants of the CFMS Geneva Internship.

According to Ary, the internship was not only an impressive learning experience but also an event that allowed the Northwestern undergraduate interns to take a leading role: 

CFMS Interns in Geneva, Switzerland“Us three CFMS interns arrived at 9:00 a.m. at the Maison des Associations. Instead of being told to sit down quietly, though, we were welcomed like special guests. In the first ten minutes, I was introduced to a refugee studies professor in Korea, a world expert on the Rohingya of Myanmar, and Barbara Harrell-Bond, founder of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre.

We met with the International Council of Voluntary Agencies and UNHCR staff to formulate our social media plan. Knowing that not everyone involved in these discussions can make it to Geneva, we hoped to engage as many people as possible through Twitter. The Closing Plenary was bittersweet, with Zainab Jafri delivering the speech we'd helped draft the night before on behalf of the NGOs. The High Commissioner himself even mentioned our names in closing, for ‘changing the nature of these Consultations, making them more interactive and dynamic.’

The internship was the best opportunity imaginable to learn the landscape of refugee rights, both in what problems remain and how conference goers are finding solutions. The three of us interns arrived as curious strangers and left as friends, inspired to keep up the work we saw.”

Areeba was similarly grateful for the experience: 

"I have read many UN outcome documents, but it was incredible to witness firsthand sessions where the UNHCR panelists and NGO representatives deliberated the ideas and solutions I have only previously seen in writing. During the conference I became familiar with the myriad of issues, some often overlooked, afflicting displaced populations and met with NGOs that are constantly struggling to provide a voice to the voiceless. And as part of the UNHCR Annual Consultations social media team I am grateful to have had the opportunity to help in having those voices heard."

Apply for International Research & Internship Funding as an Undergraduate

Learn more about the Buffett International SIGP Award and other undergraduate opportunities on our Career Support for Undergraduates page. Check out the Geneva International Advocacy Internship page to learn more about the program, or read more about Ary and Areeba's trip with CFMS here.

Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Human Rights, Law, Middle East, Migration, Peace/Conflict, Undergraduate Students, US Foreign Policy