Internship experience in Nicosia

Aira Paliukėnaitė

Traineeship at KISA was my third Erasmus+ experience and while the first two allowed me to study abroad, this opportunity enriched me with an invaluable professional experience in the field of migration and human rights. During my 2 months Erasmus+ traineeship I drafted versatile documents, and I also assisted in various conferences and seminars that KISA participated in October and November 2018. Furthermore, I coordinated “KISA’s 20th anniversary celebration of diversity” for which I reached out to over 20 diasporas living in Cyprus. Although the island is very international, the society is indeed pretty conservative and divided. One of the most noticeable clashes that I got to observe during my stay in Nicosia was a division between local Cypriots and third country nationals residing in Cyprus as refugees, asylum seekers, or domestic workers. Therefore, the purpose of this event was to gather people with different backgrounds and facilitate the communication between them. In other words, the main idea of the event was to celebrate diversity by providing a platform for communities to speak up and share their stories with locals coming from various sectors and representing different layers of the society.
In line with KISA’s anniversary festivities I assisted in organizing a biannual meeting of EuroMed Rights Migration and Asylum Working Group that this time took place in Nicosia. For this task I was mainly responsible for mediating and facilitating the communication between EuroMed Rights officers operating from Brussels and Paris, and the local stakeholders. Moreover, I gained some experience working as a service officer who provides information, advice, support and mediation services to migrants and refugees, including victims of racism and human trafficking.
Working as a trainee at KISA allowed me to successfully deploy my working under pressure skills and improve my ability to beat the deadlines. Additionally, the traineeship also enhanced organizational and managerial that I possess. Furthermore, I got a chance to work in a very multicultural environment as only two out of ten staff members were Greek Cypriots, while the rest came from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Italy, United States of America, Germany, to name a few.
Besides professional experience, living in Nicosia gave me an opportunity to know more about the so-called Cyprus conflict and see the differences of two sides of the island. More interestingly, I delved into different perspectives and narratives that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots possess and the way they address this issue. Consequently, I should confess that the traineeship at KISA not only gave me a better understanding of human rights issues in the field of migration in the Mediterranean basin from professional perspective, but also introduced me to locals’ life, culture and even the challenges of this small country that I was not so informed before, and I cannot be more grateful for this opportunity.

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