Interns and volunteers

What our interns and volunteers say about their experiences?

Kiera Oluwunmi, Northern Ireland

What did you enjoy the most during your internship?

I most enjoyed being able to meet clients and see how much of an impact the organisation has for the people it helps. I was able to meet people from many different backgrounds as well as other volunteers who work with refugees and asylum-seekers, and was encouraged by their dedication and passion. I attended an information session in Butsmansti Detention Center, a Human Library event, a Solidarity Festival, and different exhibitions and talks on migration issues, which provided a helpful context to the work the CLA does. Meeting these people and hearing their experiences gave me a better understanding of the experiences of migrants and made my time in Bulgaria especially memorable.

What was the most important thing that you've learnt?

During my 6 weeks at CLA, I got the opportunity to work on a variety of different issues and gain experience in areas I hadn't anticipated when I began my internship. From creating a brochure on the rights of those in detention centres to gathering signatures for a European Citizen's Initiative, my time at CLA has been interesting, challenging and different every day. I've learned how multi-faceted an NGO like CLA has to be, and the importance of being flexible and open to tackling new issues.

What were your main challenges? 

During the course of my internship, my colleagues were very helpful in explaining new concepts, giving feedback, and always being approachable for advice. However, one of the main challenges for me was adjusting to the language barrier day to day. It took time to adjust to life in Sofia, and although my Bulgarian is far from fluent, being immersed in a totally different culture has been invaluable in helping me to empathise with people displaced in foreign countries all over the world. Being on the receiving end of a warm welcome, patience and understanding from local people has made one of the biggest challenges here a learning experience.

 

Andreas Aravossitas, Canada

What did you enjoy the most during your internship?

I enjoyed everything during my internship, but I definitely enjoyed some things more than others. Firstly, I absolutely loved how involved I got to be with the CLA and its mission to help refugees and migrants in detention. Secondly, I felt that I was never working on any one project for too long, but more importantly, that each and every one of these projects were to some degree important to the betterment of the CLA. Lastly, but not least, I will forever feel fortunate to have worked alongside so many amazing people, both within the organization itself and with others like CVS-Bulgaria who often cooperate with the CLA.

What was the most important thing that you've learnt?

The most important thing I learned is that being in this sector is not something fun and easy. These are real issues with real people, and there are significant obstacles that keep you from wanting to help everyone, even if you want to. However, I also learned that giving up is no longer a choice for me. I will carry the dedication the wonderful people at the CLA exhibited forever in my personal journey to better the lives of others less fortunate than myself.

What were your main challenges? 

I had two main challenges. Firstly, it was difficult for me not to feel sad or emotional over certain cases or issues that I was tasked with helping in, as the subject matter and stories of certain people was very real and sensitive. Secondly, I found it hard to apply certain laws and convention articles on cases I was working on when these articles involved more advanced understanding of governmental or court procedure. Nevertheless, I am extremely happy I was engaged with these challenges, and was very motivated to overcome them.