I am Vera Kaldenberg, and am now in the fourth year of my bachelor's degree in European Studies at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. I chose the public specialisation that focuses on European policy and international relations. Because of my fascination with the African continent and my intrinsic motivation to work for a fair world for all, I joined the FMS as an addition to the Africa Day team. Would you also like to do an internship at the FMS? Then check all vacancies here!
What does a typical day at the FMS look like for you?
This has taken quite a turn with the cancellation of Africa Day due to COVID-19. In the first two months, I was fully engaged in organising the Africa Day. The day often started with recruiting volunteers and contacting organisations and partners to fill the Africa Day programme. Regularly, I went to Amsterdam for appointments with the caterer, KIT (the venue of the event), and, for example, for the Interviewing Kibret Mekonnen, one of our Africa Day partners.
From the moment the coronavirus also made its appearance everywhere in the Netherlands, my working day looks completely different. However, it has by no means become less interesting. A few weeks ago, for instance, I had the FMS liveblog: 'Corona in Africa' set up, where we shared daily important news and wrote articles on the situation around COVID-19 in African countries. Here, we focused mainly on local corona measures and their impact on democracy. I also interviewed Member of Parliament Kirsten van den Hul, to shed more light on the international approach to coronas and our role as the Netherlands in it.
Furthermore, I am currently working on the research project 'Climate Justice'. A topic that interests me a lot and where there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to European policy towards developing countries. Because climate research is still in the start-up phase, we are now looking for inconsistencies in climate and foreign policy, and delineating and formulating research questions.
I will also be working on a new video series in the coming weeks: 'Diaspora in Focus'. This will be a series of portrait interviews of diaspora contacts with whom FMS works closely.
What did you learn that you will take away for your future job?
What I definitely take away with me is a renewed perspective on major international issues such as migration and climate. Although during my studies the focus was by no means solely on Europe, I find that I was, often unconsciously, looking at international issues through a European lens. Through the activities the FMS undertakes and the people I have met, I have come to realise even more that it is incredibly important that everyone has a place at the table. That different perspectives are included in policy-making. That we should not talk about each other, but with each other. Countries that could really use our help often know best what they need, so why shouldn't we listen to them?
What did you remember most from your internship at FMS?
How I was considered a full employee from day one instead of a cosy intern just doing small jobs. From the first moment, my opinion was asked for, I contributed in making decisions and I was given a lot of responsibility. There is also room for your own initiative at FMS and you are encouraged to develop yourself. Would you like to attend an event on the implementation of SDGs in Brussels? "Go for sure and learn from it!", is the answer.
In short, it was (and still is) a very versatile and instructive internship that I will definitely look back on with pleasure in a few years' time. Do you want this too? Then check all vacancies here and send your cover letter and CV by 7 June.