Quincy Yangh (’21): Working for equal access to justice

Posted on February 10th, 2020 by

Quincy Yangh interned for the international non-profit iProbonono in New Delhi, India. (Photo courtesy Jessica Le.)

Geography major Tori Franciosi (’21) interviewed Quincy Yangh (’21) about his fall 2019 internship with iProbono, an NGO in New Delhi, India. The internship was part of a one-month Independent Study Period of the School for International Training (SIT)’s Nepal and India: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples study away program.

Please describe the internship you participated in while you were abroad.

During my time studying abroad, I had the privilege of interning for an international non-profit organization called iProbono. The mission of this organization is to protect the most vulnerable and to secure equal access to justice and opportunity by providing pro bono (free) legal support to marginalized and disenfranchised communities and by advocating for policy change. iProbono is established in several countries across the world; I interned for the one established in New Delhi, India. 

As a full-time intern (40+ hours a week), I was both a research and project assistant for different lawyers and project analyst across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. To elaborate, I would help overlook cases, collect relevant scholarly articles, write reports, provide feedback and ideas for projects, bills and initiatives, and participate in critical dialogue. By the end of my internship, I assisted in a plethora of projects and cases surrounding the themes of statelessness, citizenship, immigration, Bengali Muslims, and transgender equality, and fostered friendships with several lawyers and legal professionals. 

What did you enjoy the most about the experience? 

To have been a part of a team of lawyers, activists, and legal professionals who are dedicated to protecting the dignity of underserved and marginalized groups was both inspiring and empowering. I deeply enjoyed my interactions with my colleagues – they would always tell me jokes, pushed me to think more critically, and provide different perspectives all in a compassionate and respectful manner. Their resiliency moved me. 

How do you feel your internship related to things you’ve learned in class? 

The knowledge and perspectives I have acquired by taking a variety of geography courses played a crucial role in how I perceived and understood the cases and projects I was assigned to. For example, I assisted in cases where families lost their homes due to land erosion. This not only made their legal property ownership documents invalid but jeopardized their citizenship as well, which made them vulnerable to statelessness. In cases like this, you can see that geographic subjects like climate change, environmental disaster, and displacement all intersect. In addition, I worked on a project and report looking at the geopolitical history of Bangladesh and India. In this project, I had the task of looking at the relationship between immigration across the India/Bangladesh border, border surveillance, ethnic conflict, and citizenship in Northeast India. I was chosen for this part of the project because I am a Geography major. 

What was the hardest part of your internship? 

The biggest challenge I encountered was that I am not well-versed in legal and policy fields. There were sometimes terms, policies, and legal procedures that I was not familiar with which made it hard for me to understand a case or project holistically at times. Traditionally, one needs to be a law student, lawyer, or legal professional to work with iProbono; because I did not meet those criteria there were gaps I needed to fill. However, everyone I worked with was extremely supportive and helped fill in those gaps for me during the journey. 

What skills do you feel you gained from this experience? 

The experience definitely sharpened my communication, creative innovation, and leadership skills because it pushed me to think more critically and creatively, and everything we did were in teams. 

Is there anything else you would like us to know? 

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the Department of Geography at Gustavus!

 

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