Queen’s University student grateful for ‘diverse’ internship experience at WACC
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Queen’s University student grateful for ‘diverse’ internship experience at WACC

Gabrielle Sweeny-Tobin, a Queen’s University student with a keen interest in the intersection of development, communications, and human rights, is wrapping up her internship at WACC and is leaving, she said,  with a newfound understanding of communication rights. She also credits her three-month internship with improving her research and writing skills.

Sweeny-Tobin – who is finishing a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Global Development Studies – began her internship mid-April; she will leave WACC in mid-July.

WACC’s focus of promoting communication rights as a basic human right, essential to people’s dignity and community, and its advocacy method were major factors in her decision to apply for internship, she said.

“During my studies we are taught that systematic and sustainable change is only feasible if the structures which cause the inequalities are challenged, and that is what WACC aims to do,” she said. “By advocating for policy changes and supporting those silenced to self-advocate, communities that face oppression can challenge their struggles, instead of just assimilating into their current society.” WACC-supported projects and initiatives support “change that will remove the inequalities instead of ‘masking” them,’” she said.

The organization’s global research on the representation of women and men in the world’s news media, is “crucial for sustainable equality in the Global South and North,” she said.

WACC General Secretary Philip Lee said  “WACC is delighted to be able to work alongside young students who bring a fresh perspective to our work and who also benefit from learning about our wide-ranging activities and partnerships.”

Sweeny-Tobin is hoping that the internship will “further my knowledge on the communication sector and the media’s structural power…I have not yet had the opportunity to apply my studies critically, so I am excited to do so.”

She hit the ground running on her first day at work. Under the supervision of Sarah Macharia, coordinator of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), she was assigned tasks in preparation for the sixth GMMP, scheduled for 2020. These include assisting in research to revise the media monitoring methodology and tools, writing updates for the GMMP website, its social media platforms and volunteer network, updating online tutorials for training and self-directed learning of the media monitoring methodology, and helping animate the global network in English, Spanish and French.

Some of the tasks assigned to her are right up her alley, she said.  Her familiarity with issues around gender, policy writing and advocacy, has “helped me critically think about the topics I’m encountering, allowing me to provide insight and critically reflect on discussion from a development perspective.” With these skills she has been able to help develop the literature review for the upcoming GMMP.  She is hoping that her skills in research and project, program and policy planning, will allow her to “provide insight to WACCs initiatives from a critical and outside perspective.”

Sweeny-Tobin said she has been able to apply her previous experience in marketing and digital media to help create the GMMP 2020 tutorials.

(L to R) Gabrielle Sweeny-Tobin, new intern Olivia Michael, and  WACC research coordination consultant Khodeza Hossain. Photo: Marites Sison

She described her internship experience as diverse. “I have learned a lot about communication rights and how it interplays with freedom of speech and privacy concerns,” she said. Aside from learning more about gender and the media, she has also been able to improve her writing skills, she added.

The welcoming atmosphere in the WACC office has made learning possible, said Sweeny-Tobin. “Everyone is willing to explain and discuss topics I was unfamiliar with,” she said. “The staff’s diverse and friendly nature creates a safe and supportive space for open dialogue while encouraging new ideas. This environment has allowed me to ask questions, voice my opinion and feel like an integral part of the team. I’m very grateful for the experience.”


Photo above: Gabrielle Sweeny-Tobin is finishing a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Global Development Studies at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ont. By Marites Sison




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