I have been working with Mines Action Canada since January and today is already my last day as an intern here. My study abroad year has come to an end and next week I leave Canada and from September I will be finishing my undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Leeds.
As an intern at Mines Action Canada I learned a lot about a field that previously I was not very familiar with. While the focus area of Mines Action Canada may not seem very uplifting with its focus on explosive weapons and landmines, I was happy to discover that while there is still a lot of work to be done, it is important to remember that so much progress has already been made.
Unfortunately it is human nature to focus more so on the negative than the positive, but having worked here I have realised that there is much to be celebrated in regard to disarmament and the use of explosive weaponry. For example, more and more countries are joining the landmine treaty, countries are co-operating in order to stop the future use of autonomous weapons or “killer robots” and an ever increasing number of countries are finally being deemed as “mine-free” after decades of conflict left them as extremely dangerous places to live.
Working here also taught me how rewarding it is to be involved in humanitarian work, even in the small way that I became involved. I think many people become disillusioned when they read about such huge issues as landmine contamination or the use of improvised explosive devices; however working with Mines Action Canada has shown me that there is a multitude of ways that anyone can become involved and try to make a difference.
I have not made firm plans as to what I would like to do post-graduation, but working at Mines Action Canada has definitely opened my eyes to the world of humanitarian work and so this field is definitely something that I would consider.
Claudia Pearson is an undergraduate student from the University of Leeds studying abroad at the University of Ottawa.