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2019 Summer Interns

The Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill was established by Garvin Brown (BA'91) in honour of his mother, Susan Casey Brown.Administered through the Dean’s Office in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts Internship Office, this award is meant to provide partial funding to assist students with travel and other expenses related to their international internship. The Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill is part of the McGill International Experience Awards. For more information, click here.

The Internship Offices Network is pleased to announce the selected McGill students for the 2019 summer internship at the United Nations World Food Programme in Panama, and the recipients of the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill.

Arielle Rosenthal, BA International Development Studies, Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Arielle is a second-year McGill undergraduate student double majoring in international development and Latin American and Caribbean studies. She is passionate about helping others and broadening her scope of development. She will be interning at the United Nations World Food Programme in Panama in the Communications and Knowledge Management Unit. Arielle is excited to apply her studies first hand and further her understanding of food security and sustainability. She is eager to learn about the daily operations and projects of the WFP and is positive that this experience will provide invaluable insight into a career in the humanitarian field.

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This past summer I had the great pleasure of being a Communications and Knowledge Unit intern at the World Food Programme at the Regional Bureau in Panamá. With my double major in International Development and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, I found that this opportunity was perfect for me to discover more about working as a humanitarian as well as improve my Spanish ability. I am so thankful for the Susan Casey Brown Fund and the McGill International Experience Awards that allowed me to pursue my dream internship this past summer and achieve my goals.

Coming into this experience I was nervous and excited as I was not experienced in communications nor fluent in Spanish, however throughout the summer I was able to expand my knowledge on both. I developed a better understanding of how the World Food Programme is working towards the UN’S Sustainable Goal #2 – Zero Hunger. Every aspect of my work included a part of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030. Some of the projects I was able to gain knowledge on were the technical assistance that WFP provided on the droughts that are occurring in the Dry Corridor in Central America, the distributions and support for the Migrants in Colombia and Ecuador, and their partnership with Cocina con Causa to promote foods that can help decrease anaemia. I was particularly interested in migration and was able to write articles and hear first-hand about the World Food Programme’s support of migrants in Latin America.

Many of my daily tasks consisted of revising documents, translating press releases or articles from Spanish to English and vice versa, analysing the social media of the World Food Programme and creating reports and presentation. I was also tasked with monitoring the daily news to analyse how the World Food Programme was appearing in the Spanish media and then reporting these articles to their headquarters. A highlight from the summer was an Environmental Day at the Regional Office in which we created poster boards, a game and held talks in order to raise awareness of Climate Change and the enviroment and the initiatives for greening the office.

Throughout my time I was constantly encouraged to pursue my own interests in and am quite grateful for the opportunities that my colleagues provided me as I was encouraged to pursue my interests and use my Spanish. I developed many skills and learned a lot about working at the UN and advanced my Spanish tremendously. I became more comfortable with public speaking and interacting in an enviroment that was unknown to me. I matured a lot this summer in both the professional and personal field and have learned to always take advantage of every opportunity. After this summer I know that I want to continue working in the development sector and will use this invaluable experience to build on my career. I am very proud of what I have accomplished this summer and am grateful for all of the friends and connections that I was able to make during my internship this summer.

Arielle Rosenthal and Virginie Laplante showing the Regional Director of the World Food Programme, Miguel Barreto, how to play a game that teaches about recycling in Panama.


Virginie Laplante, BA Environment

Virginie is pursuing a major in environmental development and a minor in organismal biology at McGill University. This summer, she will be interning with the United Nation’s World Food Programme in Panama City, Panama. She will assist the team with communications, monitoring, and research. Virginie hopes that this experience will give her more insight into the day-to-day functions of working with intergovernmental bodies and fighting emerging issues.

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I want to start by expressing my gratitude for the Susan Casey Brown fund and the McGill International Experience Awards, as I wouldn’t have been able to participate in this internship without it. It was an enriching experience and will definitely help me achieve my future goals; hence I am grateful for the opportunity.
I have one semester left before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts at McGill, with a major in Environment and Development and a minor in Biology. Getting closer to the date that I will obtain my diploma is quite exciting, but also terrifying when I come to think about it. With my background in communications and my five years passed travelling the globe, my current studies in the field of environment and development, mixed with my passion for biology and living organisms, culture, nutrition, gender, peace and so much more, I find it quite difficult to settle on one career choice. The only thing that I know is that I want to help the world be a better place, I want to be able to apply my knowledge to different fields of work, and working for non-profits has always seemed like the right choice for me. That’s what led me to apply for the internship with the World Food Programme (WFP). Mainly, my objectives with this internship were to gain knowledge regarding the functioning of an intergovernmental organization and see how I can apply my different skills to work on emerging issues.
As the leading humanitarian organization operating in 83 countries, WFP delivers food assistance in emergency situations in addition to working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Throughout different programs and activities, the main objective of WFP is to reach the Sustainable Development Goal #2 of a world with Zero Hunger. As nutrition and the environment are intricately linked, a lot of the programs focus on mitigating climate change, building resilience and improving overall environmental stewardship. This internship gave me the opportunity to study the connections between food and the environment, but also to understand how they connect to other emerging issues.
As part of the Communications and Knowledge Management unit, my daily tasks included doing media monitoring and research, proofreading, translating press releases and other documents, in addition to managing and creating content for social media. At times, the workload was very small and I had to take on some initiatives and brainstorm new projects, which was very challenging for me personally as I had to work on my patience and adapt to lower pace work environments. I came up with different projects including a series of interviews for the website and some short biographies of staff for the LinkedIn page. Personally, this was a very enriching experience as I got to meet people from different country offices and different departments, learn about the different positions and programs within the organization, in addition to learning about colleague’s career paths before and with WFP. This allowed me to gain a good understanding of the functioning of WFP and other non-profits in addition to answering a lot of questions and that I had.
Since I am majoring in Environment and Development, I tried to focus my research on the different programs within WFP that focus on climate change and resilience. This internship led me to understand how I can apply my knowledge regarding environmental sustainability to different programs, as the environment is a broad theme that is interlinked with many other issues. Another initiative I came up with when the workload was low was to work on an environmental awareness campaign for the staff. With informative boards, games and talks, the other intern and I created a successful environmental awareness day, which was well received by all staff.
Finally, I want to express once again my gratitude for the financial aid received, as I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to participate in this internship and gain such enriching experiences without it. It is what allowed me to fully dedicate myself to this internship, as I wouldn’t otherwise have had the money to sustain myself during the three-month internship period!

During a visit to the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD), Virginie Lapante and Arielle Rosenthal got to visit the facilities and see where all the material of different United Nations agencies is kept and how it is deployed to different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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