By Laura Tribe
As we mark the first day of August, we sadly must also mark the last day in the office for another one of our amazing summer interns. This week we are bidding farewell to CJFE Communications and Research Intern, Nouran Sedaghat.
After her three incredibly busy months in the office with us, we asked Nouran to reflect on the experience and share her final thoughts on her time at CJFE. Here's what she had to say.
What was your favourite part about working at CJFE?
My favourite part of working at CJFE was how it kept me on my toes and pushed me to become more regularly informed about both domestic and international issues. Working here involves keeping tabs on any possible threats to free expression and being ready to react to them by writing an alert, posting a blog entry or tweeting about an issue on the fly. Because of this, I always had to be aware of my surroundings — I found myself constantly looking for things we could write about, issues we could address, things that might be of relevance to our work. I loved this feeling of really being aware of the world, watching its events unfold — I had said at the start of my internship that I was really hoping to put a practical edge on all the theoretical knowledge I have gained through my education, and CJFE definitely delivered.
What have you learned about free expression from working at CJFE?
I have learned that the right to free expression is a very complex one that can be threatened in very subtle ways. I think that a lot of the time, when we think of infringements on the free expression, we think of extremes — getting arrested for publishing a dissident opinion or staging a protest. But through working at CJFE I learned that the right to free expression can be compromised through a variety of means. Things like denying Aboriginal communities adequate funding to maintain media outlets that speak in their own voice are very indirect and, unfortunately, highly effective ways of silencing people and suppressing their right to speak that I think sometimes fly under the radar. Free expression is not just a legal issue — there are all sorts of factors involved that serve to promote, protect or prevent it as a right.
What project that you worked on while you were here are you most proud of?
I would have to say organizing the Stand Still for Turkey protest. I’ve never been in charge of an event before, much less an iteration of a global solidarity movement. Although the Toronto action was just one chapter in support of the larger cause, it still required a lot of planning and organization. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone on many occasions, for example phoning up important people I didn’t know to ensure six other organizations would be able to collaborate on the event with us. And I think it’s safe to say the event went off practically without a hitch, with everyone showing up and the demonstration actually drawing the attention of passersby, so that’s something I can take a little bit of pride in too.
What are you up to next?
I am heading back to Montreal for my last year of school at McGill. I’ll be finishing up a joint honours degree in Political Science and Art History (an unorthodox combination, I know, but at least it’s never been boring).
Anything else you want to add?
I guess to follow in Spencer’s footsteps I would just like to say thanks to everyone for making this summer internship so enjoyable! The CJFE/IFEX family is a really fun one to be a part of and everyone was so welcoming and willing to share it, right from the start. I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that growing up means spending your summers working instead of sleeping ‘til noon every day, but it really doesn’t seem like that dramatic of a sacrifice when you get to come into a place like CJFE every day, which has given me hope for my future as a full-fledged working adult.