2013 - Felicia Graham

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I've worked with disadvantaged groups in the past, but never had an opportunity to work with kids in another country. My Global Studies internship experience has been meaningful to me because I got to speak and work with communities directly impacted by extractive industries, especially women, children, and minority communities. 

So my time working in Colombia not only not only confirmed my desire to continue working in this capacity, but more importantly it showed me the need for more to be done in Colombia. The country is on the fast track to develop its extractive industries (both oil, coal, and even hydro power), but are not effectively safeguarding those communities bearing the brunt of the associated negative impacts. 

During my time there, I got to hear the stories of indigenous communities, who shared with me stories of brutality on the part of the oil companies when they first arrived and mistreated indigenous men and women. I also heard the stories of single mothers or head of household mothers who brought their entire family to the 'oil city' in hopes of finding employment, only to be met with poverty, companies that mistreat them, joblessness, and an unresponsive government. And because many women cannot find steady employment with the oil companies, many turn to prostitution instead. 

In short, with the support of the Kendra Payne award, I was able to view first-hand the dark side of industrial development - a story that is not necessarily new, but one that is still waiting to be exposed in Colombia. And, it is because of this experience that I am now more certain than ever of the need for more work to be done in Colombia, in particular looking at the social impacts of extraction, and that this is what I will continue to work towards in my career.

© Richard Payne 2018