I’m Charlotte Cahill, IOFA’s new Resource Development and Policy intern. I’m very excited about this opportunity to learn more about the work IOFA is doing to fight trafficking and advocate for vulnerable adolescents. And, I hope, to make a contribution to that work!
I’m especially enthusiastic about being at IOFA because, while its mission really resonates with me, I took a rather roundabout route here. I recently completed a PhD in the history of American politics, public policy, and foreign relations at Northwestern University, and am still teaching classes there in history and international studies. In addition, I decided that I would like to work with an organization that was more directly involved in the rights-based work on which I so often lecture my students. In fact, my decision to study the history of foreign policy in graduate school came partly out of my longstanding interest in international child welfare. That interest began with my family’s experience of adopting internationally and was further encouraged by the time I spent volunteering at two shelters for street children in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. One of my roles was to teach English to the children and youth in the shelter program; many of them hoped to learn enough English to secure jobs in Vietnam’s tourism industry. It was an experience that left me deeply worried about the limited opportunities for youth and children around the world who lack family and community support. So I feel a personal connection to IOFA’s commitment to developing solutions to issues that affect vulnerable adolescents.
I’ve only been at IOFA for a few weeks, but I’ve already managed to get myself involved in several exciting research projects. I spent much of the last week researching laws and policies regulating NGO activities in locations in which IOFA is thinking about establishing its new Transitions Program for youth who are “aging out” of care. I’m also compiling a list of similar projects (which is very short so far!) and assessing what components of transition programs other organizations have identified as significant. My third project is a bit overwhelming: I’m researching the rather large topic of international and national human rights, welfare, and development policies that affect youth around the world. I hope to have this research done by the end of January so that we can include it in IOFA’s Report on the State of the World’s Vulnerable Youth. Please wish me luck!