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Internship takes international student out of her comfort zone

6 June, 2019

Norwegian international student Rebekka Aarsand had no idea what to expect on the first day of her McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship at the Wungening Aboriginal Corporation.

“I really didn’t know much about Aboriginal people in Australia,” the University of WA Master of International Development student admitted.

“The Wungening Aboriginal Corporation has about a 70 per cent Aboriginal team, and I was surprised and thankful for how open and willing they were to share their often traumatic experiences.

“Through this internship, I have learned to be open to listening to people, to be more engaged in social issues, and to be more aware of my own privilege. This experience opened my eyes to being more inclusive and mindful of what indigenous people are facing.”

The Cottesloe resident (32) said her internship motivated her to continue working with organisations to improve the lives of the marginalised people in the world.

“We did a lot of work with local indigenous groups and reconciliation programs,” she said.

“To get that first-hand experience and see the impact they have was so insightful. I am definitely more aware of why the Aboriginal community faces so many challenges. It made me reflect on the responsibilities we all have as citizens to listen, learn and engage with marginalised people and community organisations to develop a deeper understanding of the cause and effect of these issues.”

Ms Aarsand said she was a strong supporter of the McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship program.

“I would tell any fellow student, ‘Do it, just do it’,’ she said.

“It’s a great opportunity for learning and getting firsthand experience in what is happening in society.

“I am really, really grateful for this opportunity to learn in an environment that was totally out of my comfort zone.”