My name is Sister Mary John Bosco Ebere Amakwe and I am a graduate student at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations. I interned at The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in Nigeria – at the Directorate of Internal Conflict Prevention and Resolution as a research assistant. This Institute was founded in 2000 under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs primarily as a research center, think-tank, and agency to strengthen Nigeria’s capacity for the promotion of peace and conflict prevention.
I chose to intern at this Institute because I was born and raised in Nigeria, a complex country where conflict is part of everyday life. I believe something has to be done because there is an urgent need for reconciliation and reconstruction of this great nation known as the “Giant of Africa.” and I want to be part of rebuilding efforts. Ultimately, I want to become a conflict mediator and my internship experience has absolutely solidified that passion to become one.
One of my very first assignments at the institute was to accompany a delegation which included the Director General of the Institute to the Embassy of Hungary that houses the United Nations High Commission for Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Nigeria. The reason for the visit was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Institute and UNHCR. This signing is very important according to the UN Higher Commissioner for Nigeria and the Director General of IPCR because it is a way to formalize the partnership between the two bodies in their effort to further peace building efforts in Nigeria. UNHCR and IPCR also work together with different stakeholders in the country in revamping peace and taking preventive measures to stop conflict so that there will not be refugees and internally displaced people in the country. This is done by creating policy frameworks like personnel building, networking, and the implementation of all initiatives that will bring about conflict prevention and will lead to lasting peace in Nigeria. On July 11, 2016 there was another signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between IPCR and Treasure Hunts – an NGO for peace and development in Nigeria which uses artwork, drama, plays, etc. for peace building. This experience fascinated me because it validated what I learned in the classroom and connected my course work as strategies for peacebuilding.
Finally, my internship offered me opportunities for networking. For instance, I had several conversations with Mrs. Paulette Dadey, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Nigeria; Mrs. Elizbeth Ekaete, the CEO of Emmanuel Royal Foundation for peacebuilding in families; Dr. Aliyu Ahmed-Hameed, principal consultant for Cardston Consulting Agency on peace research, policy and strategy; Dr. Marane Ngoulla, CEO of TOGUNA (the place of dialogue for peace) Foundation for peace and development. My last visit was with the Coordinator for the African First Ladies Peace Mission; and a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives. We discussed her role as a woman legislator representing her constituency in the House.