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Interview with Jonathan Lopez

Jonathan Lopez is a U2 Joint Honours Political Science and International Development Studies student at McGill. During the summer of 2015, Jonathan worked at the Office of the United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees in Quito, Ecuador for 3 months.

Looking back, what was the most rewarding aspect of your internship?

The most rewarding aspect of my internship was the humanitarian aspect as you could see refugees and asylum seekers benefiting from, at some extent, your work. In many occasions, I had the opportunity to receive a "thank you" from them. I think it was the most rewarding.

What was the most memorable moment of your internship?

The most memorable moment of my internship was when at an entrepreneurship fair, some refugees recognized me as an UNHCR worker, invited me to see their small businesses, and thanked me for our work and support.

What resources did you draw upon to adjust to the new environment?

I had to rely on my Colombian culture to adjust to this new environment. However, I needed to observe and listen to Ecuadorians as they ended up being substantially different from what I knew from Colombia.

What was your favorite thing to do with your spare time in this new locale?

My favorite thing to do with my spare time was going for a walk and having lunch in La Carolina park which was just two minutes away from the UN building.

What would you recommend to any future AIO interns who might be considering interning at UNHCR Ecuador?

I would recommend to future AIO interns considering interning at UNHCR Ecuador to be open and strong about hearing the different hard stories told by refugees regarding their reasons for seeking asylum in Ecuador. Additionally, as our supervisor always reminded us about, we work for these people and that is our mission.