This summer, Laura Martin ’10 is fulfilling her passion through an internship experience with Africa Action in Washington, D.C. Through the national organization that works for political, economic, and social justice in Africa, she has been given the opportunity to help people of a place for which she has great fervor.
Working on a double major in International Relations and Africana Studies, Martin spent two semesters abroad. In Spring 2008 she spent the semester in Saint-Louis, Senegal and in the Fall she studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.While abroad, her interest in Africa-U.S. relations grew. Since then, she worked closely with the staff at the HWS Office of Career Services to find this summer internship based on her career goals and interests.
Her interests in Africa and U.S. policies were also sparked by several classes that she has taken including Africa: Myths and Realities with Economics Professor Alan Frishman, and Africa – U.S. Relations with Assistant Professor of History Abou Bamba. Martin says that Frishman encouraged her a great deal in terms of continuing to take courses in African Studies. Martin is also using her internship this summer as the basis for an independent study with Bamba.
“Along with Professors Frishman and Bamba there are numerous other professors who have inspired me to continue studying in fields that I never really saw myself participating in,” she says. “At Hobart and William Smith, there is always an opportunity to grow in any area of interest with a faculty member there to support you.”
Founded in 1953, Africa Action has worked to change U.S. foreign policy and the policies of international institutions in order to support African struggles for peace and development. In her internship, Martin works for Gerald LeMelle, the executive director of Africa Action. On a typical day she is given a span of a few hours to research talking points for LeMelle’s interviews in addition to conducting research for various papers and reports. During her first week, she attended a Congressional hearing on funds for HIV/AIDS where she learned firsthand about U.S. foreign policy.
Martin is looking forward to all of the unique experiences that she will have at her internship this summer. In June, she will attend a panel on South African governmental relations where she will meet leading experts in African studies. She hopes that this internship will be another step toward achieving her goal of continuing in this field after graduation.
“Africa is a passion that began in high school and has perpetually strengthened both through experiences at HWS and by studying abroad,” she said. “I am aching to go back, but for now, this internship is a fantastic opportunity to continue researching and studying a place that I have grown to unconditionally love.”
The photo above was taken of Martin while she was hiking through Dogon County in Southern Mali.