Fulfilling the International Experience Requirement During a Pandemic

Our students’ ability to travel to fulfill their international experience requirement is on hiatus until such time that it becomes safe for students to go abroad. The BGInS Program has pivoted to offer modified ways for students to fulfill the requirement virtually, and GINS 3300 in Summer 2020 was one way in which the international experience was delivered to our students. Below are students’ experiences of one of the sections of GINS 3300 that was offered.

Serena Marcelle

“Since entering the BGInS Honour’s program, with a specialization in Global Law and Social Justice, I have been more than satisfied by the outstanding lessons that I have received, including in global politics, international law, ethics, and many more. Due to COVID-19, I was unable to travel to my previously scheduled International Experience Requirement (IER) destination. Alternatively, I got the opportunity to enroll in GINS 3300, which focuses on Canadian assistance in Haiti. Under the exceptional instruction of Dr. Cochrane, my colleagues and I authored a country report on Haiti over 6 weeks. Our project concluded with a presentation of our work to Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Dr. Cochrane’s careful consideration of all course elements and guidance throughout the course exponentially contributed to my success. After 3 years in the BGInS program, I am most proud of the work I produced for the country report on Haiti. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to produce a chapter for review by GAC. This opportunity was very fulfilling as I was able to learn from and produce work for the official Country Evaluation Team at GAC. I took away from the course research skills, and knowledge of how to develop country reports. Working with GAC was an incredibly valuable experience as an undergraduate student. As a result of their feedback, I was able to improve my presentation and communication skills. The Canadian Assistance in Haiti course was a very beneficial experience. I would highly recommend this type of project for BGInS students in the future.” – Serena Marcelle

Vanessa Silva-Roy

“I always looked forward to completing my IER when I reached my 3rd year of BGInS. Despite travel restrictions, I was still able to gain a valuable IER experience. My greatest accomplishment from the GINS 3300 course was writing an intensive report on Haiti’s gender assessment, which I presented to Global Affairs Canada (GAC). My Professor, Dr. Logan Cochrane, helped me to gain the confidence to present my work to GAC by teaching me valuable skills. These skills include completing different certifications like monitoring and evaluation, gender-based analysis, and many more. I was able to challenge myself while putting the report together by creating data visualizations with statistical data from organizations, such as the United Nations. Presenting my work to GAC was not only rewarding, but I also gained the experience of speaking to those with knowledge and experience in the field of global development. My biggest take away from this experience was learning technical report writing and applying it to my presentation. I took part in virtual lectures with practitioners from across the globe, which taught me the deep history of Haiti. Similarly, I became aware of what other international organizations are doing in Haiti. I benefited from this project by working alongside both Dr. Cochrane and GAC. I am confident that by using this model, other students will also gain valuable insight into how research is done within the international field.” – Vanessa Silva-Roy

Alfredo Porco

“When COVID-19 made the local and global situation unpredictable for my International Experience Requirement (IER), I was worried that I would not get the same experience out of my degree. Initially, I had an opportunity prepared for an internship at the Canadian Embassy in Rome, Italy. Despite COVID-19 creating an unprecedented situation, I was able to obtain a unique experience from the BGInS IER substitute course with my Professor, Dr. Logan Cochrane. Even though I was unable to travel for my IER, I am confident that this course provided me with a similar practical experience that another government internship might have. Both my peers and I prepared a joint country report on Canada’s official development aid to Haiti, which was presented to Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Like other opportunities BGInS offers to their students, the IER course challenged us to think outside of our comfort zones, but also taught us how much we can positively impact others by providing the government with valuable research and information. In the end, we presented our report to senior officials at GAC and the Deputy Director for International Assistance Evaluation. Initially, I was concerned that our GINS 3300 course would be similar to other academic courses. Contrarily, I was pushed to become familiar with new government concepts, agencies, and so much more. This allowed me to refine my skills of responsibility, self-direction, and the practical application and presentation of research—all of which I expected to get from my IER.” – Alfredo Porco