As I come to the end of my first month of interning at aditus, it is hard to put together a well-wrapped and ribbon-tied summary of my experience so far – and to answer the ultimate question, “what have you been up to in January? ”
Never try, never succeed, right?
As an Irish person who has lived her whole life on one small island – to move to another, even smaller island, similarities do present themselves. However, I’ll start with a few welcome differences.
Yes, Malta has stolen my heart with its pleasant-but-not-too-overwhelming (yet) heat, lack of North Face Nuptse puffer jackets, and appropriateness of wearing sunglasses on your morning walk to work. While taking in all of this change, I also find pieces of home every day.
The green growing in the north-west of Malta reminds me of the beautiful scenes of Donegal, the open air restaurants of Valletta are reminiscent of Galway’s Latin Quarter, and the nightlife in St. Julian’s reminds me of the fun times I’ve had in Belfast. These experiences I have brought with me and have shaped how I see Malta, relating it back to my upbringing. Perhaps for comfort. Or maybe just because there actually is a rural area of Donegal that has been placed in Malta?!
However, one thing that I also brought with me was inevitable unawareness. Writing about human rights issues from the comfort of my university library and being face-to-face with people who are facing the brunt of them are two strikingly different things.
Holding detention order documents in my own hands, writing country of information reports, and watching my colleagues argue the cases of our clients have highlighted the high-stakes nature of the profession. From the visiting rooms of Mount Carmel Hospital to the waiting lines for our Immigration Appeals Board hearings, proximity and exposure have proven to be the greatest facilitators of understanding and perspective building. These experiences have removed a sense of passivity I might have had when boarding the plane in Dublin Airport.
On the journey back to the office after a client meeting in Mount Carmel, and in the next week, on the way back from the IAB, in both instances the traffic was hectic and the streets were filled with people going about their business. Our ears were filled with engines running, faint chit-chat, and the muffled sounds of radios in the cars waiting at the red light next to us. On both occasions, my mind was occupied with thoughts of those staying indefinitely at Mount Carmel and equally about the people who were being driven back to detention that day after receiving a rejection for their appeal.
Of course, we are all aware that this is happening all over the world. However, in choosing this profession, these issues are streamlined from the faint music of the car radios beside you to the lyrics playing in your own personal headphones. This is a double-edged sword, as in some instances, it is hard to truly unplug. However, I can’t see myself listening exclusively to the radio again.
I am curious as to what next month’s reflection will be. What skills I will further develop on my way to becoming a lawyer, challenges that will come my way and what new things I can learn from the team. Maybe I’ll even discover another Irish county within Malta.
Until next time,