Looking Back; Looking Forward

After five months working as an intern with the Innovation Initiative at Civil Rights Defenders, it is sadly time for me to sign off.

I grew up in the southern United States with American and Swedish cultural heritage. Shortly after graduating high school, I moved to Sweden to learn more about my background. At that point, I couldn’t speak the language and had only a vague idea of what Swedish culture entailed. Over the next several years, I would come to learn Swedish and earn two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree from Swedish universities. After completing my second master’s degree in Costa Rica, I would return to Sweden, eager to apply what I had learned.

I had noticed Civil Rights Defenders earlier in my studies and even contacted them with an inquiry about career opportunities. But it was only after I had returned from studies abroad that I became aware that they were looking for an intern with the Innovation Initiative. Before working here, I had not known that innovation could be a career path. My extracurricular interests had always led me to “push the envelope”, look for new ways to develop ideas, and streamline systems. With this drive and my education, I hoped I could be an asset for the team at the Innovation Initiative. So, without a second thought, I applied.

Mathias Antonsson & Anders Reagan

A week later, I would be sitting in the office of Civil Rights Defenders learning the names of my new colleagues. These past five months have been an extraordinary experience and certainly one that I will never forget. I’ve had the privilege to get involved in a number of fascinating projects, attend conferences, and witness presentations by internationally renowned civil rights activists. During my time at the Innovation Initiative, we have taken great strides in launching a digital tool for developing advocacy plans, developing a project focusing on the psychosocial well-being of human rights defenders, and initiating a human rights accelerator in cooperation with Linköping University that will superpower our innovation work at Civil Rights Defenders. Here, more than anywhere, I’ve learned much more about what it feels like to get involved and make a difference. This is something that I want to do a lot more in the future.

The environment at Civil Rights Defenders has been electric and I have met every day with a feeling of purpose and focus. The greatest honour of these past months has been to work beside such skilled and dedicated colleagues. With their help, I have grown professionally and will continue to seek out opportunities for the betterment of human rights.

Finally, I would like to thank Mathias Antonsson for his guidance and support. I could not have asked for a better supervisor.

It is my sincere hope that we will all stay in contact.

Until next time, Anders Reagan