RIJ: Broadening minds and horizons (or how I entered the world of humanitarianism and diplomacy)

Posted by Will Mawhinney

In 2013, I had the distinct honour of becoming an intern for RIJ. My reasons for joining were two-fold; to find new experiences in helping others, and to see where working in such a humanitarian organisation would lead me.

Will on Mt Fuji

The path I found is something I wouldn’t have thought possible.

Before coming to RIJ, I was a graduate fresh out of a university in New Zealand looking to explore Japanese culture in Tokyo, and to find out what to do with myself in the big bad world beyond my books and bachelor degrees.

Upon joining RIJ, I quickly came to learn about the struggle of refugees and the displaced who have lost their homes and lives to conflict. The enthusiasm and passion of my CEO, Jane, inspired me (and many others) to raise awareness of refugee issues and do something about them. Be it by writing blogs or helping to run fundraisers, I was able to genuinely contribute to valuable projects in parts of the world I have never even been to. I would have been happy to stay with RIJ forever.

Alas, after a wonderful year of learning and working with RIJ, the time had come for me to return to New Zealand. However, it was here that the path RIJ had started me on started to reveal itself. Having worked with RIJ, I got into an academic masters program which let me rub shoulders with non-profit veterans as well as diplomats. My experience in RIJ events allowed me to organise and manage one of my very own events for another NPO in New Zealand.

As of writing I’m now in the midst of an internship at the New Zealand British High Commission. All this while still studying and volunteering for a refugee resettlement program here in NZ makes for a busy time!

RIJ has put me on a path that I never could have hoped for otherwise. While I am certainly glad of the path I’ve been put on, I’m even happier that I learned so much with RIJ where I once knew so little. RIJ’s cause to give hope to refugees and the displaced is one that I will carry with me regardless of where I find myself in the future.

To all those who are considering working with RIJ, I could not recommend it more highly. It is an opportunity to broaden your mind and your horizons. Most importantly though, RIJ provides you with a chance to give hope to those who need it most.


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