Internship at the Open Dialog Foundation in Brussels

As a recent postgraduate at Vilnius University – Institute of International Relations and Political Science; I really much appreciated the possibility to carry out a Post Lauream internship within the Erasmus+ program soon after the completion of my studies. It was indeed a unique opportunity to start exploring Brussels’ world of NGOs and EU institutions and test my academic knowledge directly on the field.

Holder of a Master’s degree in Russian and Eastern European studies, I have started my journey at the Open Dialog Foundation – a Polish-Ukrainian NGO dealing with human rights and democratisation in the post-Soviet region based in Brussels, Warsaw and Kyiv.

At ODF’s Brussels office, I immediately had the chance to work side by side with human rights defenders, members of the European Parliament, deputies from different national parliaments, lawyers and other institutions on sensitive topics (e.g. the European Neighbourhood Policy; the EU’s East StratCom Task Force; EU-Moldova and EU- Ukraine relations; freedom of expression and assembly in Kazakhstan and Russia…).

Mutual trust and shared experience within the Foundation helped me to understand and carry out the organizations’ daily activities, such as: following the works of the relevant committees (AFET, DROI, SEDE, LIBE etc.) and regional delegations (D-UA, D-RU, DCAS etc.) in the European Parliament; attending events on topics related to the organisation’s field of work; drafting position papers, statements, letters and other interventions; participating in the organisation of conferences and seminars; carrying out mailings with organisation’s updates, news and reports to a wide range of stakeholders, including key decision-makers in the EU, the EU member states, international organisations, CSOs and bodies that the ODF cooperates with (e.g. Council of Europe; UN and National Parliaments).

I could now successfully say that it was an enrichment period of professional growth which even helped me to better approach my country of origin – Italy and its political relations with Eastern Europe and Russia. Not only Erasmus+ gave me the possibility to test my academic preparation into the labour market but also to understand in detail the role and the work of the NGOs in dealing with politics, different international dynamics and actors; as well as how to properly carry out an advocacy campaign in the field of human rights.


Paola Gaffurini

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