Liora and Nathaniel recently completed their work experience weeks with us. Have a read of what they got up to.
Liora Lederman, ‘I hope to encourage other people my age to […] advocate for the rights of others.’
Before I started my work experience at Rene Cassin I didn’t know what to expect. Little did I know that I would come away from the week having enjoyed a hugely fulfilling and active role in the only human rights charity that advocates for change on behalf of the UK Jewish community.
My week began with me being given an outline of my tasks for the week ahead. What initially looked intimidating proved to be a great way to utilise my skills of project management, written communication and data analysis in order to plan and organise campaigns, as well as improve the day- to day running of the charity.
The first task of the week was to draft Rene Cassin’s alumni newsletter, aimed at people who had been involved in some way with the charity in the past, whether it be through internships or previous volunteering stints. I structured the newsletter using the software Mailchimp as well as selecting which content would be interesting to include for the particular audience, whilst trying to maintain an informal writing style. This really improved my journalistic skills and gave me a taste of the type of writing involved in a workplace setting.
One of René Cassin’s main projects at the moment is campaigning against modern slavery and trafficking. One of the ways they want to do this is to raise awareness of modern slavery within the Jewish community, as it is an issue which particularly resonates with Jewish people. I was shown a calendar put together by the charity Unseen, which gives support to survivors of slavery. The calendar suggested possible events that could be held throughout the year to fundraise for the charity. My task was to adapt this calendar of events and create new events which would suit the Jewish community. The purpose of the calendar would be to provide communities a rolling programme of events to be held throughout the year which would be based on the issue of modern slavery. Using the theme of different Jewish festivals and weekly Torah portions, I planned educational and fundraising events which synagogues could organise each month in order to be part of René Cassin’s campaign against modern slavery. I enjoyed this activity as it gave me a great opportunity to think laterally and creatively, whilst being part of a campaign to change other people’s lives for the better, as well as increase awareness of an important issue which is often overlooked.
Another way René Cassin engages with the Jewish community is by bringing their campaigns to Jewish schools and youth movements. I had to research, design and plan a session on modern slavery that I would lead at my school, JFS. The session would inform students about modern slavery and trafficking, and capture the interest of all age groups from 11-18 via the medium of an interactive presentation and discussion session. As the issue of slavery is covered in both the Jewish studies and history curriculum, it is extremely important to draw upon comparisons of both ancient and modern slavery, and link this to what Jewish texts say about the issue, as well as Jewish values in order to make the issue resonate with Jewish people. I am really looking forward to leading the session at JFS at some time in the near future. Planning the session helped me develop vital skills of project management and organisation and was an invaluable opportunity to become involved in René Cassin’s campaigns. By leading the session, I hope to encourage other people my age to participate in similar campaigns and advocate for the rights of others.
I harnessed my skills of data analysis while producing a written analysis of René Cassin’s social media pages, including Twitter and Facebook, explaining which posts were the most successful and why. I also conducted an audit of the René Cassin website, suggesting possible pointers for improvement in terms of design and ease of access for visitors to the site. These two tasks made me recognise the importance of technology and social media in campaigning and increasing awareness of human rights issues. They also allowed me to utilise my IT and communication skills to improve the day- to- day functioning of the charity. Overall, I found the task really useful and gave me a true insight into the varied work of René Cassin.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at René Cassin and accessed a broad range of new skills, opportunities and roles which I would have never discovered had I not done work experience at the charity. My week has given me a great insight into the type of work René Cassin is involved in, and has also personally inspired me to become involved with the charity’s work through leading school sessions. I would really like to thank Mia Hasenson – Gross, Sam Grant and Sam Watson, for all their help and providing me with a packed week of experience as well as giving me the chance to become actively involved in the workings of a human rights charity.
Nathaniel Papadopoulous ‘Jews have a responsibility to campaign for the rights of Roma and stand together with them in solidarity.’
I applied to carry out work experience at René Cassin because I was interested in working at an organisation with a varied focus which would provide me with an opportunity to participate in a meaningful way and carry out some intellectually stimulating work whilst there. After studying AS Politics I had a basic knowledge of the issues surrounding human rights and the legislation concerning human rights in the UK, however, the work that I did whilst at René Cassin enabled me to go significantly deeper into these issues and gave me an excellent opportunity to look at these issues and debates away from the textbooks and in their ‘real world’ applications.
Over the course of the week, I was given a set of challenging yet rewarding tasks which meant that I was forced to stretch my creative ability and learn about some of the current crises affecting peoples’ human rights globally. On my first day I was asked to compile a summary of the latest news reports which concerned René Cassin’s different campaign areas. It showed me the extent to which different media outlets present the same issues in completely different lights, and how events can be twisted according to a specific publication’s agenda.
I also gained knowledge of the struggles of various groups across the world such as the Gypsy/Roma/Traveller communities who still face serious discrimination and persecution. I was invited to attend an event at the Amnesty International headquarters where I viewed a documentary film which detailed the hardships affecting Roma people today, such as an inability to properly gain recognition of the Roma genocide, and how Roma continue to not have the same quality of life as others in society. After the film, the producer delivered a heartfelt speech, followed by a Q&A session which exposed me to just how severe the circumstances that many Roma people face in the present day really are. It enabled me to draw both comparisons and contrasts between the Roma and Jewish people, and showed me that as fellow victims of the Nazis, and as a group of people who have also felt the pain of being segregated and discriminated by the societies and countries in which we have resided, Jews have a responsibility to campaign for the rights of Roma and stand together with them in solidarity.
I also looked at how I could spread awareness of issues affecting human rights within my own spheres, for example, by investigating and planning possible projects at my school. Through doing this, I expanded my knowledge of areas such as modern slavery, the magnitude of which both shocked me and inspired me to try to help in the future. I also attended a meeting of a fellowship programme which provided me with some interesting insight as to how to be an effective leader, and what qualities are needed in order to build relationships and gain people’s support.
Overall, my week at René Cassin was a deeply enriching experience, which provided me with both a broad understanding of their campaign areas and modern human rights issues in general, as well as some practical skills to take away and use in a multitude of areas. I was initially a bit shocked at the responsibility which I was given as I had envisaged a week of doing very little apart from making coffees and twiddling my thumbs, yet the profound nature of René Cassin’s work and the complexity of it, meant that I was never bored and was constantly learning more and more.
If you are interested in doing work experience with René Cassin, email [email protected]