SIHMA | Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa

Nell Fredericks

 To start, I’ll introduce myself – my name is Nell, I’m 21 years old, and I am from Boston, Massachusetts. I am currently a third-year student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, studying philosophy, politics, and law. I had the privilege of working with SIHMA as a virtual intern these past four months. 

Back in August, I faced a lot of uncertainty. As COVID-19 cases were rising in the United States, many questions arose: Should I move back to Los Angeles? Should I continue my studies, even though they were all virtual? Should I take time off and follow a passion? As with many people around the world, this uncertainty felt stressful. For perhaps the first time in my life so far, there didn’t feel like there was a clear or “right” path to take. 

The opportunity to work at SIHMA came at the perfect time. It took a few connections to make it happen. I first looked for opportunities with the global studies office at my university. They had just partnered with Connect-123, an organization that develops and administers international internships and volunteer abroad programs across the world. After a few weeks of talking with a Connect-123 member, they introduced me to Deborah Zen, the amazing Office Assistant and Communications Manager at SIHMA. Deborah was a major help throughout my entire internship; she was available whenever I had a question or needed some extra support on a project. Deborah quickly added me to the SIHMA group chat, and shortly after that I attended my first biweekly staff meeting. I was then able to meet the rest of the team: Executive Director Filippo Ferraro, Project Manager James Chapman, and my other fellow interns at the time, Nolwenn Marconnet and Jeremiah Masaya. My favorite part of the internship experience was working with these individuals. Everyone exhibited such kindness, humor, and dedication to not only their personal work, but also the collective mission of SIHMA of promoting the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees. 

One of the very best things about being an intern at SIHMA is the freedom to tailor your research to your own personal interests within the realm of migration policy and news. During my time at SIHMA, I co-authored two blogs posts: “Female Migrants in the Informal Sector (Ghana)” (1) and “A Comparison Between South African and United States’ Immigration Policy,” (2) both of which can be found on the Blog On The Move under Events & News (3). I also had the chance to help create content for SIHMA’s social media pages, and help spread the latest news about regional, national, and international migration. 

I had such a wonderful time working for SIHMA, and I really hope that I will be able to visit Cape Town one day and meet the team in person. I encourage anyone who is interested in public policy, anthropology and human development, or human rights to consider volunteering or interning with this special organization.