Maki Nesterov – intern

My time at RIJ as an intern began in January 2015 and it was one of the most valuable and life-changing experiences. I Makiowe a great number of thanks to RIJ as it taught me some things that university books cannot teach me and also had a profound effect on my career options. As a student majoring in International Affairs, I had certainly been aware that wars and conflicts result in a great number of casualties and often in economic crisis, which in turn might lead to further unrest. Discussions on on-going conflicts, their causes, impacts and many other issues associated with them are central in political science classes and when writing academic papers we usually base our arguments and reasoning on academic sources. Being able to critically examine and analyse current issues using academic articles and journals is undoubtedly crucial for a student but before my experience at RIJ I was not truly aware of the seriousness and grimness of the issues because such problems never affected me. Japan is a relatively much safe and stable place to live and lead a ‘normal’ life – having access to almost everything and being far away from war-affected zones makes it difficult to feel the impact of turmoil and, therefore, to truly understand the scale of the issue. Academic articles contain many valuable views from well-known scholars and yet I believe that my experience at RIJ has been more priceless and irreplaceable than any books as it provided me with an insight of true hardships and the obstacles refugees face. It had a profound impact on how I view the refugee issue. When people hear the word “refugee” they usually associate that with people who flee their countries and live in miserable conditions; people show sympathy and feel sorry for them. One would generally expect refugees to give up many of their hope as they constantly fight for survival. Certainly refugees are in a much more disadvantageous situation that most of us but one of the many things that RIJ taught me is that they are not so different from us; in fact, they are just like us. I came to realise that many of them, even after having lost almost everything and being in much more disadvantageous conditions than most of us, do not want to be felt sorry for and instead want to be viewed as equals. This experience has also inspired me to broaden my career options. Prior to the internship my future career goal was to become a diplomat in Japanese embassy in Moscow or somewhere else but now I am thinking of pursuing a job in civic services where I can support people who are in need. Although I have yet a lot to think about my future career, I would like to work somewhere I could use my knowledge of three languages to the full advantage and satisfy my interest in civil service reaching out to as many people as possible.

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