This summer, the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) was lucky to host three Harvard Law School interns. Marie Sintim, IHRC Program Assistant, spoke with Sondra Anton JD’22 recently about her experience interning remotely in the Clinic. Sondra was also a Summer Fellow with the Human Rights Program, an opportunity that awards funding to students to intern at human rights organizations around the world.
Marie Sintim: What did you work on this summer?
Sondra Anton: I worked on several projects this summer. First, under the supervision of Yee Htun, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law, I helped finalize a report on hate speech in Myanmar and worked on a white paper on the impact of internet shutdowns in Southeast Asia. I also worked closely with Susan Farbstein, International Human Rights Clinic Co-Director, with whom I will be continuing to work this upcoming semester as an RA, on an article examining the role of transitional justice and civil litigation on memory-building in victimized communities in Bolivia.
MS: What was challenging about interning remotely? How did you work with your supervisors to overcome those challenges?
SA: Given that I was based in the UK this summer, there were many challenges associated with time zone differences. I was five hours ahead of Susan, who was in Boston, and eight hours ahead of Yee, who was in Vancouver. In addition to this, setting up important meetings with local partners and various collaborators meant that at times, we had to take into consideration up to five different time zones in scheduling a single call. To account for this, my supervisors and I made a concerted effort to speak more regularly (even if for shorter periods of time, or simply a brief daily check-in on Teams Chat). We also organized meetings involving additional collaborators farther in advance to ensure that there was sufficient flexibility in scheduling.
MS: What work are you most proud of this summer?
SA: While there were many rewarding moments from my work at IHRC this summer, one of them was being able to be on the ground floor with Susan in deciding the direction of her paper on the impact of the Mamani trial, which is a lawsuit against the former president and defense minister of Bolivia for atrocities committed in 2003 against unarmed civilians. Susan came to me with a fascinating project goal that was impactful and motivating, and a topic theme that was particularly relevant to my interests, while also giving me the flexibility to follow my own judgment in the initial research and literature review. I’m really excited to continue our work in the upcoming months as her research assistant!
MS: How do you think this internship will influence your law school career and beyond?
SA: Working as an IHRC intern reassured me that the shift to a remote format does not fatally impede the ability to get involved in a meaningful way with the Clinic’s work, nor does it prevent me from forming really close relationships with my supervisors. After this summer, I truly consider Yee and Susan to be incredible mentors that I will continue to rely on for guidance during my time at HLS and beyond. I am also really excited to get to continue my work with the Clinic this upcoming year as a 2L!
MS: Outside of your internship, how did you spend your time?
SA: Outside of the IHRC internship, I worked part-time with the International Crisis Group on research initiatives relating to justice and accountability in Sri-Lanka, and later completed a short internship with the International Justice Team at Amnesty International. I have also spent a lot of time this summer working on establishing a new social justice-focused wing of Advocates, for which I will be serving as Activism Director this upcoming year. Most importantly, however, I rediscovered my love of tie-dying, and managed to tie-dye a total of 32 pairs of socks (sorry to my flatmates who no longer have any white articles of clothing).