Tell us a little about yourself.
I am originally from the Republic of Congo, but I am a United States citizen from Arizona. I attended Glendale Community College where I obtained an associate in arts degree. Then, I transferred to Arizona State University where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. I enrolled in law school in the hope of practicing criminal law. My ultimate goal is to work as a prosecutor in the area of international criminal law. However, I hope to start as a local prosecutor in Arizona or in some other states where I will get the job.
Where are you this summer and what are you doing there? What are your tasks and activities?
Currently, I am interning in the office of the prosecutor of the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia located in the Hague, Nederlands. Because I began my internship at the start of the prosecution’s case, I have been mostly helping with the preparation of witnesses. It requires me to familiarize myself with the witness’s evidence. It is heartbreaking at times, but I believe that it has helped me understand even more the importance of the work.
Why did you decide to do this internship?
This internship is a reflection of what I hope I would be doing in the future.
How did you get this internship?
Actually, I became interested in international law after my experience with a study abroad in Geneva last summer where I took courses in different areas of international law. After school started, I had the opportunity to talk with a professor who helped me in this process. I applied to several places. Ultimately, I chose this internship since it fits perfectly with my career goals.
What has been the most exciting part of your internship and living abroad?
The best part of the internship is being able to give my suggestions to the attorneys in relation to the work I have been doing. It made me aware of the importance of the decisions we have to make and those that I may be making in my future.
The best part of living abroad has been meeting with my family in France. I met one of my uncles whom I have never met before. I had the opportunity to meet people with different backgrounds and from different countries who share some of my aspirations.
What has been the most difficult?
The most difficult for me is knowing that I have to get back. This is the first time I have the opportunity to do work that I am interested in. I just hope that I will be able to find a way to do similar work in the future. I do not want this to be the only time I am able to do something that I am interested in.
What have you learned from your stay and your internship? What is your impression of the country and the people so far?
The work that I have been doing with regard to the preparation of witnesses taught me a lot about ways to look at a witness’s statement to decide what is relevant to prove the prosecution’s case. That is something I did not know. I used to look at witness’s statements to decide the relevant facts of a case without paying attention to the elements of a count that needed to be proven before I had this internship.
The country is not bad. The biggest issue I had with the Nederlands is the weather. It was mostly cold which was quite a disappointment since it was supposed to be summer. I heard that this summer’s weather was unusual. With regard to people, I met very friendly locals and not so friendly ones. It is a matter of chance. Other than that, people tend to be relaxed on the streets. Most of them have animals. You cannot go an entire day without seeing someone walking a dog, sometimes two dogs. Most people use bicycles to move around the city. Public transportation is the best I have seen in my life.
Talk about one thing that has stuck with you the most on your stay abroad so far.
Seeing lots of people walking and cycling up and down the streets; it is not something we get a lot in Oklahoma , even Arizona. It is nice to see that rather than be the only person walking down a street.
What do you do for fun? What has been your favorite place to visit?
I went to France and traveled to several cities in the Nederlands. I made sure I saw a lot of the Hague. My favorite place was the peace palace in the Hague. I did a guided tour of the peace palace. What made the peace palace my favorite place to see was not the beautiful sculptures or designs in the palace. It was the difference that is made in that building. I learned a little bit about the international court of justice and the permanent court of arbitration, but I never really understood the significance of those institutions until I heard specific examples of the difference that their decisions made especially in resolving disagreements that used to lead to armed conflicts in the past.
Would you go back? Recommend it to others? Why?
If I am offered a job in my area of interest, I will not hesitate to come back in the country. I do not think that I will come back otherwise. The Nederlands is worthy to visit at least once though.
Additional commentary you’d like to make about your stay.
The office of the prosecutor organizes lectures. I have learned a lot more about international criminal law and the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia than I knew before the internship. Another remarkable moment is regarding the time at which I went into the courtroom. It felt good to be in the courtroom.