GRIP, Research Abroad An Open and Fair Society

December 12, 2019
By Mariana Velasco, Huntsman '22

University of Minho Law School - Braga, Portugal

As an intern at the Law School at the University of Minho I have been able to work in multiple projects, but I would like to focus on my favorite one so far. The first couple of weeks I had the incredible opportunity to work with eight students completing the first year of their Master in European and Transglobal Business Law. Coming from different countries and equally diverse career paths, I found myself suddenly learning about Fiduciary Duties, International Arbitration, and Taxation Law from them. As I read through their thesis proposals and suggested corrections regarding the usage of English, I realized how unconventional this experience was.

I had no Law degree, nor had I ever written a thesis – I was not even a native  English speaker and yet here I was offering advice. Somehow, I found myself learning new grammar rules along the way, suggesting ways to rephrase their thesis proposal, and listening in awe to their passionate presentations on social injustice regarding Human Rights violations by big corporations and international data protection. To my big surprise, by the end of the week, I had accessed a whole new world of knowledge in the realm of International Law. Moreover, they had incorporated the suggestions in their subsequent drafts.

Hearing from them how the writing tutorials and presentation rehearsals had helped them restructure their thesis proposals naturally brought a wide smile to my face. In the most atypical way and in spite of my lack of experience, I felt like my work had nevertheless made a small impact. Ultimately, in just a few weeks we had learned from each other – and we certainly enjoyed every step of the process. Through this internship experience, I made new friends from Brazil, Italy, and Portugal that all shared a genuine love for knowledge, open debate, and languages.

We often found ourselves comparing words in all three languages and laughing at the vast amount of similarities, which were not only limited to linguistics. I quickly realized that –despite our different ages, nationalities, and backgrounds– we could agree in a shockingly large number of topics ranging from the beautiful use of commas in Romance languages (have you ever noticed how Spanish and Portuguese normally have longer sentences than English?) to social justice and immigration. It seemed to me that at the end of the day we all wanted the same open and fair society; and as such, it gave me a new sense of hope regarding our international and inherently challenging world.

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The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce. Placements and funding awards are available.