This summer I had the opportunity to go to Lebanon for an internship with the NGO Right to Play (RTP). In Lebanon, RTP use play (theatre, visual arts, music, sport, and games) as a way of working with Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as Lebanese communities to help them deal with the psychosocial traumas experienced during war and conflict. I had several reasons for wanting to come to Lebanon. The biggest pull factor was this NGO. This internship with RTP comes off the back of an internship I had with them last summer in Thailand working with Burmese-Karen refugees on the Thai border with Burma. I therefore knew how RTP operates and knew that it was an NGO I really want to learn from, as their methodology for working through play is very forward thinking in development, and especially in Lebanon, RTP as an organisation is working in ways that few other NGOs have been or can, primarily because of this methodology they utilise. Another reason is that I’ve never before been to the middle east, and was very interested in better understanding how this kind of work is carried out in a region that is quite politically turbulent and to see how implementation has to be adapted to this.
Probably the greatest worry was around feeling that I may not be able to contribute to the work being done because of my lack of knowledge or development related techniques. I know that internships are an opportunity to develop your own knowledge and skills and so it is expected that interns will require support and assistance, but I also wanted to make sure I was giving back as much as possible for having been given this opportunity. Arriving during Ramadan, when most sport related activities are not being conducted as getting young children to run around in 40 degree heat when they are fasting is not too responsible, this was therefore a really great for me to gradually learn about the work being done and read up a lot about the country and the programs being run. Having those 3 weeks of slower work, meant that the remainder of my time I was able to properly dig in with the work.
In the time I’ve been here there has been significant development, most significantly from a professional standpoint, I’ve been able to see and learn how to apply different development techniques that complement the more theoretical work I do at University. I’ve also learned a lot about Lebanese and Middle Eastern history, politics, and culture. Overall, I am hugely appreciative of the opportunity I’ve had and in many ways this has been thanks to the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund.