Externship Testimonials

Josephine Allan, Thailand extern, June-July 2017
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My externship with BABSEACLE in Chiangmai was an experience like no other. The
directors, Wendy and Bruce, and the Thai team, Ann, Tony, O and Pim made us feel very
welcome and part of the BABSEACLE movement. The wisdom, positivity, kindness and
passion of the team was inspiring and made every day enjoyable. We learnt and witnessed
how BABSEACLE works to strengthen access to justice within Asia, through, for example,
taking steps to improve collaboration between NGOs in the region. Early on during our
externship, we were fortunate enough to attend the third Access to Justice Roundtable, which
for me crystallised the importance and value of this goal of collaboration between local
NGOs.
I worked on several projects for BABSEACLE, from developing lesson plans for a training
workshop on migrant workers’ rights, to compiling a CLE mock trial kit on drug user rights,
to research connected to sessions in the upcoming sixth Asia Pro Bono Conference. The work
was varied and engaging and challenged me to develop new skills and to be both analytical
and creative in my approach.

One of the best parts of the BABSEACLE experience was the opportunity to form new
friendships with incredible people. While we began as strangers, the other interns from
Australia, Zambia, Singapore, and Malaysia became my great friends and it is special that
going forward we’ll all share the memory of our time together at BABSEACLE. We also had
numerous opportunities to experience the beauty of Chiangmai itself through team building
activities such as our hike up Doi Suthep mountain and our 10 K run to test out the course for
the 2018 Asia Justice Marathon. We also had a delicious team cooking night where we paired
up and cooked dishes from our home countries.

I could not recommend this experience enough! If you approach the opportunity with an open
mind and heart and work hard, you will not be disappointed. I am so grateful to have been
given the opportunity to be part of BABSEACLE’s work in furthering access to justice, and
to Wendy and Bruce, the Thai team and the other interns who made the experience so
memorable.

Rachel Van Der Veen, Thailand Extern, June-July 2017
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The BABSEACLE externship experience has been fantastic. I have been fortunate to gain experience
in both legal knowledge and also skills which are more applicable to the day-to- day work of a not-
for-profit. I have worked on numerous projects for BABSEACLE while here in Chiang Mai, some
taking weeks of reading, research and drafting and others which could be completed within a few
hours.
I came into the BABSEACLE externship program not knowing anyone, and now I have many new
friends from whom I have learnt a lot. Not only has my legal skill set been broadened, my people-
skills have also been strengthened as my BABSEACLE colleagues and I have negotiated the
differences which are guaranteed to appear when working with people from other cultures and
backgrounds. I have found the whole Chiang Mai team to be welcoming and inclusive, the directors
very approachable, and the work engaging. Interns were exposed to the broader not-for- profit
community, both legal and non-legal, and we met many interesting volunteer workers and lawyers
who are involved in pro bono work. Core activities were not limited to the office, however, and
together we tackled a mountain hike, a 10 kilometer run and an evening where all the interns
cooked dinner for each other.

Catherine Collins, Thailand Extern, June-July 2017
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Interning with BABSEACLE is an experience few could forget. Not only was my internship a challenging opportunity
for learning and personal development, but it offered a safe and encouraging environment which fostered both lasting
friendships, depth of learning, and the sharing of valuable insight, creativity, and ideas between the Thai Team and
other interns. As part of this opportunity I proofread and drafted a range of legal documents and reports; attended
organisation functions such as an access to justice roundtable with local pro bono services; and helped create training
materials for legal service providers across Asia, covering legal issues such as migrant worker rights.

Outside of the office, we joined the team in personal-development and recreational activities including an international
cooking night, hiking Doi Suthep, and completing a 10km run together. I am very grateful to the directors, Wendy and
Bruce, as well as the fabulous Thai Team, for promoting an inclusive work environment not only through activities
such as these, but by their kindness, approachability, and inspiring passion.

Aside from the incredible people I had the privilege of meeting at BABSEACLE, one of my most memorable
experiences was the opportunity to see access to justice development first hand in both the day-to- day work of
BABSEACLE, and their involvement with other legal service providers. Overall, this was an exceptionally rewarding
educational, cultural, and team working experience – particularly in understanding the advantages and limitations of
legal work in a foreign jurisdiction. I am very glad to have been a part of BABSEACLE’s rich history of pioneering
access to justice initiatives in the region, and highly recommend this experience to anyone with a genuine passion for
working to achieve tangible access to justice.

Wei Wei Shih , Thailand Extern, June-July 2017
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The BABSEACLE externship has been a valuable experience for me, in learning about legal education and some laws and practices of the Southeast Asia region. Since the Thai office is the headquarter of BABSEACLE, our work is more extensive than just dealing with Thai laws but attempting to help the entire network here from Chaing Mai. The staff members and directors are also incredibly supportive and welcoming, creating a lovely atmosphere to work and learn in.
 
During my 4 week externship I mainly worked on four task: 1) To read through a 100+ page information manual on migrant workers rights and obstacles in four jurisdictions in the region, and then to create engaging, informative and fun workshop sessions to deliver the content of this manual to legal service providers in an upcoming regional conference; 2) To design a mock trial session to help educating Burmese law students on drug users’ rights and trial conduct skills; 3) Legal research about mandatory pro bono practices, and 4) As a Chinese speaker, I was given some short tasks in English and Chinese translation. In general, the nature of the work is about raising awareness and facilitating collaboration between organisations. 

In addition to these ‘office tasks’, we also had the fantastic opportunity to partake in several great activities, including attending a meeting of local NGO’s, multicultural cooking night, a mountain hike and a 10 kilometer run (pictured) to test the course of the Asia Justice Marathon. 
 
I really appreciate that the directors respect all interns for their different learning styles, and I was not pressed to produce projects at the expense of my own learning. They are very warm and kind, going great lengths to ensure that our stay is pleasant and fulfilling. 
Louise Moulton, Myanmar Extern, 2017
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Arriving in Yangon mid-evening, the sights, sounds and smells rushed past me as my taxi delivered me into the city. This was my first experience of South East Asia and it was certainly an initial assault on the senses. Your heart and mind will be simultaneously challenged as you journey through a week of intense yet valuable teacher training, followed by a whirlwind two weeks of lesson preparation, lesson delivery and evaluation.

What does a law student get out of teaching social justice and professional ethics in English to Myanmar university students? The answer – a life-changing partnership with the future voices of Myanmar. Your small gift of time, intellect and English language skills will make a lasting impression on your students. You will deepen your passion and commitment to social justice and develop your skills in translating complicated legal jargon into plain English for the benefit of your client in need.

Conditions are trying yet developing in Myanmar. The professional programme coordination and support will ensure that you are prepared to face the daily challenges of heat and lack of resources. Your sense of pride and accomplishment will be at bursting point at the end of your teaching when you take a moment to reflect on the significant impact you have had on this fascinating community. Your gift of time is a gift of hope.

Georgia Moody, Thailand extern, late August – October 2016
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A wild experience, filled with education, reflection and fun! My two-month externship at the BABSEACLE Thai office has been a profound, life-changing and highly motivating experience. With regards to the life skills and work practices that I was exposed to learn, I am now a more conscious and grounded individual who is committed to Access to Justice and intends to spread the BABSEACLE mission throughout my tertiary education.

I was fortunate enough to begin my BABSEACLE experience as a volunteer at the Asia Pro Bono Conference. I highly recommend any interested interns to explore their options in attending such an enlightening conference. The week-long conference was an incredible experience. With such diversity and passion for the topic of access to justice and pro bono, the delegates and myself responded very positively to the conference agenda. My biggest take-away from the conference was how impactful and progressive dialogue can be. Simply having 320 delegates attend the conference proved how passionate and willing legal service providers are to do pro bono within the Asia region. If other students were to ask me why they should attend the Conference, I would stress the consequence of pro bono work within the legal community in promoting access to justice and solving Human Rights violations that are still globally prevalent. In addition, I now feel as though pro bono work is a moral ‘duty’ after being inspired by my fellow delegates who speak so passionately on the topic.  Similar to how to UWCSEA expects its alumni to give back to the world and use their education to the fullest, I have now made a connection between this service attitude and providing free legal services to the poor and marginalized. Finally above all, the drive to be apart of the Asia Pro Bono Movement was infectious and I envision there to be great progress made by the next conference in Malaysia 2017.

My internship at the Thai office began during the first week of September. Naturally, I felt nervous but excited to start and anticipated an extensive work-load. I went into my internship with the mindset that what I put into it, is what I will get out of it. BABSEACLE are great in the way that they give all employers a clear outline of your working role and expectations, whilst also respecting your initiative and freedom. Interns are also directly involved within the legal community, whether this is by attending workshop on NGO leadership orworking closely with the Wildflower Home. The Wildflower Home is a non-profit foundation that provides safe shelter to single mothers and their children coming from crisis situations such as domestic abuse and poverty.

Sittichai Mamoon (Day), Thailand, August – Mid November 2016
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BABSEACLE foundation is like a big family; everyone shares their knowledge, kindness and welcome warm arms to us all the time. Over the past three months, we have been interns at BABSEACLE, we learnt about Clinic Legal Education systems that help the needy people. We learnt how to plan workshops and conferences and all the important preparation that needs to take place to make the event successful. We developed our English communication skills, daily we had to speak and write English to communicate with other teams and partners. This increased our confidence and this allowed us to speak more easily in English during events such as the “Strategic Planning”. This weekend was a workshop where our whole BABSEACLE team from cross the region came together to plan for the future and also have fun and get to know each other more. We had the opportunities to develop ourselves and meet people from several counties and  we were happy to  work with everyone in the activities. Entering BABSEACLE as intern is a great opportunity where you can get a lot of experience from many people and have freely to give opinion with colleagues. All of this is the value time that everyone gives to us and you can find it at BABSEACLE.

Juthamart Auychai (Aom), Thailand, August – Mid November 2016
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BABSEACLE foundation is like a big family; everyone shares their knowledge, kindness and welcome warm arms to us all the time. Over the past three months, we have been interns at BABSEACLE, we learnt about Clinic Legal Education systems that help the needy people. We learnt how to plan workshops and conferences and all the important preparation that needs to take place to make the event successful. We developed our English communication skills, daily we had to speak and write English to communicate with other teams and partners. This increased our confidence and this allowed us to speak more easily in English during events such as the “Strategic Planning”. This weekend was a workshop where our whole BABSEACLE team from cross the region came together to plan for the future and also have fun and get to know each other more. We had the opportunities to develop ourselves and meet people from several counties and  we were happy to  work with everyone in the activities. Entering BABSEACLE as intern is a great opportunity where you can get a lot of experience from many people and have freely to give opinion with colleagues. All of this is the value time that everyone gives to us and you can find it at BABSEACLE.

Camilla Caron, From Italy, Interned in Chiang Mai from January – June, 2016
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I was a little bit worried at the beginning of this experience. BABSEACLE is an access to justice NGO that focuses its work on strengthening the rule of law and clinical legal education programs in the region. I haven’t studied law, my background is Social Science studies, and I thought this might be a limitation.

Now, 6 months later, I am more than happy to state that my concern was unfounded.

Overall, I think that being a BABSEACLE extern means being part of a social movement, which fights to strengthen social justice education and spread human rights awareness, topics that I am fully interested and passionate about. During these 6 months I had the chance to be involved in different projects: the kind of work that I did was really multitasking, and it helped me to improve my skillsets, while getting a general perspective of the human rights situation and problematics of the region and a hands-on experience on how an NGO works in the Asian context.

Another big benefit of this experience was the possibility to get in touch with lots of talented and passionate people, from a wide range of background. It’s surely true that BABSECLAE helps building bridges, it connects different actors and encourages them to collaborate and go hand in hand in the battle to strengthen access to justice in the region.

The familiar environment of the office and the beauty of Chiang Mai -a lovely city rich of natural gems, good vibes, with a wide choice of bars, restaurants and coffee shops- made my 6 months here something to definitively remember. To future interns, I strongly suggest you to always be open and dynamic; try to get the best out of this experience even if sometimes you will feel a bit disoriented, because if you try hard you can reach top-notch results!

Rebecca McDonough, From Australia, Interned in January 2016 in Myanmar
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In January of this year, I joined 9 other QUT students in Myanmar for a three-week program with BABSEACLE. After a week of training in Yangon, I spent the rest of the program at Mawlamyine University. The aim of this program is simple; interns are supposed to teach Clinical Legal English from a manual. In practice, teaching new and complex concepts, in a foreign language, with few resources is very difficult. My experience was challenging, exhausting, eye opening and oodles of fun.

My main piece of advice to future externs: be flexible, go all in and be humble. Remember that you have a unique opportunity to experience life in Myanmar, work with a non-profit organisation and develop really rare skills. You will have to write and re-design lesson plans on a tight deadline and be ready to present them to a class of 40 students. You will have to learn about your team members, play to their strengths and figure out how to divide a large workload. You will have to analyse and deconstruct legal concepts and communicate them through a game or a song.

It’s easy to get caught up in particulars when you are doing this, but try to remember the bigger picture and appreciate the opportunity as you’re living it.

Reg Dury, from Australia, Interned in Myanmar July, 2016
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Going overseas is always an amazing experience, but doing pro-bono work gave everything an intense reality and sense of purpose which turned my little adventure in Myanmar, into an incredible learning experience of a lifetime. I went there to teach social justice, but I learnt as much as they did, if not more. The sharing of ideas, of culture and of smiles gave all involved an opportunity to better our hearts and build bridges of friendships and mutual goals of justice, peace and yes, love.

I could not recommend this experience enough. If you go there with an open mind and work from the heart, it is difficult to go wrong, especially since the local people will return the gift tenfold. I fell in love with Myanmar and its people. Its culture and its history. The idea that I may have participated in the enormously important work of BABSEACLE, and perhaps made a tiny little bit of a positive contribution is infinitely rewarding.

Yes, there is little technology, little comfort and most unusual sights and experiences. That’s wonderful and beautiful.  Yes, the country has issues. That’s why we go there to give our pro-bono time.  But most of all, Myanmar is unapologetic. It is as wild and amazing as it should be. What it gave me in the end is hope. And I am very humbled by it.

Iain McGregor-Lowndes, From Australia, Interned in Myanmar From June- July, 2015
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I had an absolutely amazing time on the Myanmar Externship placement. I had concerns initially that the program would just be ‘voluntourism’ but after completing the externship I feel that BABSEACLE is doing very constructive work to further social justice in Asia. The program was a lot of fun but at times it was very hard work; there were a lot of late nights preparing lesson plans but we had ample time to see some of the amazing cultural sights that Myanmar has on offer. The communal suffering due to the heat, gastro, long days and even longer bumpy bus trips really bonded us together.

The best advice I can give to students undertaking the program in the future is to enjoy yourself and don’t stress too much about things going to plan, because a lot of the time they won’t. The power will go out, roads will be closed, your driver will take you to the wrong place, people will get lost, your phone will lose reception. There will be plenty of miscommunication due to the language barrier which can lead to all kinds of unexpected situations and dilemmas. That being said it is hard not to enjoy yourself when you are surrounded by Myanmar people – you’ll understand when you see them smile.

I had some of the most amazing conversations of my life with some of the University Staff and got a real candid insight into what Myanmar was actually like. It was definitely one of the highlights of my entire life, and without a doubt the best opportunity I was given while I was studying.

I have continued to work in various social justice roles once I returned and I plan to continue working in the field. It will give you a real taste of what working for an NGO abroad is all about.