Student experiences

Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Students are invited to pursue an internship based upon their individual connections, interests, and religious and political views. These learning experiences are challenging, yet highly valuable and transformative.

Explore below where students have gone in the past to learn more about their personal experiences. If you're considering an internship, this will give you an idea of where students have gone before and the range of placements that are possible!

North America | South & Central America | Europe | Africa | Middle East | Asia & Oceania

North America

Eve Astolfi - Waterloo Region, Ontario

Journal on belonging and meaning

I was lucky enough to find an internship placement during the pandemic that I could complete remotely from my hometown. My placement was unique in that I was given two different placement positions and allowed to work part-time over 6 months. One placement was at the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council (WRSPC), where I helped with content creation, such as #365Convos; and the other placement was at Lutherwood, where I was an assistant to the Equity Leader. Since these two organizations are connected, I was able to split my time between the two roles. What follows is my internship journal on belonging and meaning, written as part of my learning journey through PACS (Peace and Conflict Studies) 390: Internship Course. Please be made aware that topics such as trauma and suicide prevention will be discussed. 

Amanda Poste - Vancouver, British Columbia

Amanda Poste: PACS Major
Where: Downtown Eastside Vancouver, British Columbia
Internship: Project intern
Organization: Praxis

"Overall, my summer was a success! My experiences as the Praxis project intern have been quite stretching. It was interesting and wonderful to have the opportunity to serve and live in solidarity with the poor in a North American context… This held unique challenges and joys. Most of all, this summer was a lesson for me in faith. Faith that there is hope, even in the midst of despair, brokenness, and pain."

Stephanie Myers - Oakville, ON

Stephanie Myers: 4th year PACS and Legal Studies double major
Where: Oakville, Ontario
Internship: Working two times a week at the Women's Centre on various projects such as an environmental scan of the Halton region, marketing, and administrative tasks.
Organization: Halton Women's Centre

"I decided to pursue an internship because I wanted to explore possible career options; I was considering doing my masters in Social work and wanted some experience in the field before I applied to the program.  I have volunteered abroad previously and wanted more experience with social services here in Canada. Without this experience I would not have given my future career options much thought; it  provided me with a much-needed boost to consider what I really want to do and what interests me."

Katie Gingerich - New Hamburg, Ontario

Katie Gingerich: 3rd year PACS student
Where: New Hamburg, ON
Internship: 3 months as camp pastor; teaching peace curriculum to kids age 8-16
Organization: Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp

"I was excited to formally use skills I've learned in PACS classes, and learned how to connect peace concepts for kids of different age groups"

Catherine Duncan - Timmins, Ontario

Catherine Duncan
Where: Timmins, Ontario
Internship: Working with MCC to repair relationships between the broader Canadian society and Aboriginal peoples through inter-cultural dialogue, advocacy, and community-building support. 
Organization: MCC's Aboriginal Neighbours Program

"The stories of First Nations deserve and need to be heard and it was an honor to play a role in developing resources that will enable that to happen. International experiences have unquestionable value, but there is so much peace-building that needs to happen right here in Canada as well and I am grateful that my Internship experience allowed me to be a part of that."

Jonathon Schmidt - Timmins, Ontario

Jonathon Schmidt: Environment and PACS
Where: Timmins, Ontario
Internship: Worked on issues of natural resource development and conflict, environmental clean-up, and economic justice. OrganizationMCC and Mushkegowuk Council

"My internship in Timmins, Ontario with Mennonite Central Committee and Mushkegowuk Council showed me how little I know about life in northern Ontario, especially life in the First Nation communities in the North. My education in environmental studies and peace and conflict studies found a welcome home as I worked on issues surrounding natural resource development and conflict, environmental clean-up, and economic justice. I left my internship with an eagerness to learn more about northern Ontario. This semester I'm enrolled in a Canadian studies course entitled Current Issues in Native Communities in Canada; I'm looking forward to continuing my learning about Aboriginal issues in Canada."

Cole Atlin - London, Ontario

Cole Atlin: PACS / Environment and Resources Studies Joint Major
Where: London, Ontario
Internship: Four-month internship; Assisting to design a conflict resolution course and conducting research on the challenge of developing new governance arrangements with aboriginal peoples. 
Organization: Community Mediation Services at the University of Western Ontario's Faculty of Law

Adam De Sousa - St. John's, Newfoundland

Adam De Sousa: PACS Major
Where: St. John's, Newfoundland
Internship: Coordinating the Pedal for the Planet Event in Newfoundland and assisting on their Climate Chane and Women's Rights campaign. 
Organization: Oxfam

"I'm currently working on their new national campaign entitled Climate Change and Women's Rights. So far for the past three weeks I have been given the task of coordinating (with people of different regional environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs)) this nation-wide event called Pedal for the Planet. I'm basically coordinating the Newfoundland leg of the event, which seeks to gain support from Canadians all throughout the country in pushing the government to sign a new climate deal in Copenhagen in December. People will be cycling across Newfoundland and then meet up with the Nova Scotia leg, which will then meet up with Quebec, and then meet Ontario in Ottawa on September 20 for the re-opening of parliament. We're scheduled for a July 3rd kick-off date here in St. John's, the same date that Vancouver will be kicking off onas well. It's really good experience so far. Working in an NGO is interesting. I find that I am always learning new things, both good and, maybe, not so good!"

Denise Whaley - Waterloo, Ontario


Denise Whaley: PACS Major

Where: Waterloo, Ontario
Internship: Working with the Sunnydale Community Centre to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, Focus for Ethnic Women, the Healthy Lifestyles group, Job Connect and an at-risk youth group. 
Organization: House of Friendship

"[I want to] become more familiar on a more meaningful level with the socioeconomic, ethnic, immigration and other factors that contribute to community conflict, and the poverty cycle."

South & Central America

Karsten Cheng - Cabrera, Dominican Republic

Karsten Cheng - Cabrera, Dominican Republic

Karsten Cheng: PACS Major
Where: ​Cabrera, Dominican Republic
Internship: Four months, working at a school and helping to run a summer camp for the children there.
Organization: The Esperanza (Hope) Project with St. Jerome's Beyond Borders

"This organization was "born out of a perceived need to provide a much-needed supplementary education and extra-curricular program, giving individual students an opportunity to explore, create, and inspire, whilst empowering them to grow academically and socially, in a safe, supportive, hands-on learning environment" (Esperanza Project, n.d.)"

Rebekah DeJong - Perequin, El Salvador

Rebekah DeJong: 3rd year PACS student
Where: ​Perequin, El Salvador
Internship: 11 months as teacher's assistant; working at a day care creating lessons, activities, and crafts as well as maintaining cleanliness and order in the classroom for ages 3-6. 
Organization: SALT Program with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) 

"I pursued an Internship because I wanted to travel, have new experiences, meet new people, explore a new culture, and learn outside of a textbook. I can safely say without hesitation I have done every one of those things and I am only 2 months in! My Internship has been an awesome opportunity to use and share knowledge acquired in the classroom and has opened my eyes to learning in a whole new way."

Leah Reesor - Kingston, Jamaica

Leah Reesor - Kingston, Jamaica

Leah Reesor
Where: ​Kingston, Jamaica
Internship: 11 months working with the Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights (IJCHR) and participating in the local Mennonite church. 
Organization:  (SALT Program with Mennonite Central) 

"The last few days, I’ve been visiting the prison where the Haitian refugees are being held and doing interviews. Today my coworker and I interviewed 7 people between us, going from about 10:30-2 with no breaks. Today was especially intense for me because I did my own interpretation as I interviewed. I couldn’t always understand right away, but by asking a lot of questions and repeating back what I understood them to be saying, I got through the interviews. I was surprised that I could actually do it."

Diana Contreras - Chiclayo, Peru

Diana Contreras - Chiclayo, Peru

Diana Contreras: ​4th year Spanish and Latin American Studies, Specialization in Spanish-English Translation / PACS minor
Where: Chiclayo, Peru
Internship: ​Four-month internship, working with small-scale coffee producers and responsible for translating materials for PROASSA (Promoters for Sustainable Agriculture S.A.), a coffee exporting company and co-founder of the Café Femenino Initiative
Organization: Café Femenino (through Beyond Borders)

"I worked closely with an organization whose primary goal is to improve the livelihoods of small-scale coffee producers and their families. Café Femenino is a brand of coffee produced entirely by women, created to provide women with the opportunity to improve their economic rights and their social conditions within the northern rural areas of Peru. Through this experience, I learned about the challenges that organizations, such as PROASSA (Café Femenino), face and the possible solutions that may be implemented."

Emily Mininger - Urubamba, Peru

Emily Mininger - Urubamba, Peru

Emily teaching kids in Peru

Emily Mininger: 4th Year PACS student
Where: Urubamba, Peru
Internship: 4 months as a volunteer, teaching reproductive health at a local high school
Organization: Nexos Voluntarios

"I went to Peru to discover if I wanted to continue pursuing a career in working with an NGO overseas, and my field study definitely gave me insight into what that career path would look like. Through this program, I was able to learn more about issues facing NGOs working internationally, the specific issue of reproductive health and the challenges faced by Peruvian youth."

Megan Shore - Guatemala

Megan Shore - Guatemala

Megan Shore: PACS Major
Where: Guatemala, Central America

Internship: "One of my greatest experiences with the PACS program was my internship in Guatemala. It took the academic and theoretical training of the classroom and applied it to the practical experience of living in Guatemala at the height of the civil war. It laid the spark for my passion to study the role of religion in conflict and peace, as well as laid the groundwork for the topic of my Ph.D, and my first book, which focuses on the role of religion in the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa."

Her book is entitled: Religion and Conflict Resolution: The Role of Christianity in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Ashgate, 2009)


Kristina Bartold - Ternopil, Ukraine

Kristina Bartold: 4th year PACS/SPCOM student
Where: Ternopil, Ukraine
Internship: 4 months volunteer; worked with young women with physical and mental disabilities.
Organization: "Petryky Internat​" Orphanage (through Beyond Borders

"My work environment was a very positive and loving one, but one that was very challenging to be a part of day in and day out. I struggled with the fact that many of these women would never receive a proper education and be able to break out of their situation. However, I made some amazing and unexpected relationships on my Internship, just because I was open to my surroundings and ready to learn."


Katrina Janzen - Kigali, Rwanda

Katrina Janzen - Kigali, Rwanda

Copy of Katrina Janzen

Katrina Janzen: ​4th Year PACS Major; History Minor and French Minor
Where: Rwanda, East Africa
Internship: 11-month internship working as a Capacity Building and Peace Libraries Assistant at TLC’s Peace Library in Kigali.
Organization: Mennonite Central Committee’s partners in Rwanda - Transformational Leadership Center (TLC).

Reflection Journal: In this journal, I reflect on my experience working with the Mennonite Central Committee’s partners in Rwanda - Transformational Leadership Center (TLC) an organization that runs the Peace Library where I was placed as an intern in 2022. 

"... What surprised me most about both types of special treatment, is that they both have positive intentions. Although the admiration can become creepy after a while, it seemed there was no intent to harm me; rather it was a sense of fascination. This was surprising to me given the history of colonization experience in Rwanda. I would have expected to receive at least some negative emotions around seeing a White person arrive in their neighborhood. Like many other African countries, Rwanda’s history is impacted by colonialism and was colonized by both Germany and Belgium. In addition to the Eurocentric education and culture that was enforced during this time in history, this period of European rule is often linked to the escalation of conflict between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda. The tension between Hutu and Tutsi ultimately resulted in genocide in 1994. Given the strong connection between White colonialism and the start of genocide, I was convinced that I would experience some level of resentment or anger given my skin color.  

This interaction led me to research colonialism and its legacy in an African context, to learn of its larger impact on this time in Rwanda's history. I came across the term “internalized colonialism” which refers to attitudes, mindsets, or practices introduced during the colonial era that have been adopted into the culture and passed down to other generations. Internalized colonialism is often subconscious and becomes part of cultural norms. The internalization of colonization becomes harmful when the mentality of Western superiority becomes a common part of a culture. Tafari-Ama studies Jamaica as an example where skin bleaching and hair straightening have become a common practice that is encouraged (Tafari-Ama, 2016, p. 2). These actions demonstrate how Western and colonial lifestyles are perceived as superior to the culture of their ancestors. Although Jamaica is a different context from Rwanda and has its own unique relationship with North Americans due to the Atlantic slave trade, I found some of the learnings from this study to be transferrable to my context. ..."

Rachel Krueger - Lusaka, Zambia

Rachel in circle with group of kids

Rachel Krueger: 3rd year PACS student
Where: Lusaka, Zambia
Internship: 1 year as Peace Clubs Coordinator; developed and managed an after-school club about peace, violence, and conflict resolution
Organization: SALT Program with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

"Often in peace work, things rarely go according to plan, but it is in those times of question and vulnerability that surprising growth can happen. Through my Internship, I learned how to be more adaptable to the world around me. 

Being the only white person or “mazungu” in a densely populated city was hard. It sometimes felt like there was a spotlight shining on me that I couldn’t turn off for an entire year. You eventually develop some self-defense tactics to make yourself more resilient towards harassment, and learn how to joke around with people who are just genuinely curious about you. But it was definitely a learning curve for me!"

Jenna Bott - Mbuya, Kampala, Uganda

Jenna with kids

Jenna Bott
Where: Mbuya, Kampala, Uganda

Internship: Volunteer in the Operation Child Support Program where orphans and vulnerable children are supported through counseling, school fees, and clubs.
Organization: Reach Out Mbuya (through Beyond Borders)

"Education is so important. I was working with social workers and I found I needed more skills to do what I really wanted to do to help. At times it was frustrating, but helped me realize I wanted to pursue a Masters in Social Work."

Katrina Draper - Kigali/Kyboya, Rwanda

Katrina spinning with kids

Katrina Draper: 2nd year Peace and Conflict Studies and Political Science 
Where: Kigali/Kyboya, Rwanda
Internship: 9 weeks working with street children, in a refugee camp, and with local businesses to develop job creation
Organization: International Teams

"I went to Rwanda after years of researching the events that happened in 1994, so getting the chance to work in Rwanda was amazing. The country has done, and is doing, an effective job of rebuilding after the genocide. I learned how much effort the country has put into working through the tragedy of 1994 in order to bring about reconciliation, forgiveness and a strategy to make sure that this event is never repeated. 

Kathryn Deckert - Rwanda

Kathryn with a moto helmet on.

Kathryn Deckert
Internship: Develop political capacities of the poor, particularly women and hopes to develop a manual to assist future international volunteers
Organization: Friends Peace House

"I really need to stress that much of what I experience here in Kigali, and this country as a whole, is very positive. Most of the people I've met here are really generous, welcoming, and filled with hope for their country's future. People are proud to be Rwandan and so they should be, it is amazing to see how much this country has accomplished since the war. One of the biggest surprises I have experienced after arriving here is how safe I feel. Normal precautions aside, I sometimes feel safer than I do in some parts of Toronto."

Madeline Charnuski - Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Madeline with little girl

Madeline Charnuski
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Internship: 11 months living in a boarding house for disadvantaged children. In the mornings, she did administrative work for a Mennonite Central Committee partner organization, Project Gateway and her afternoons tutoring the children at the barding house.
Organization: SALT Program with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

Chaylene Grieve-Saunders - Cameroon

A group photo of Chaylene and friends in Cameroon.

Chaylene Grieve-Saunders
Where: Cameroon
Internship: Works with Ubuntu, an organization based out of North Bay, Ontario. Her internship involved doing administrative and planning work as well as leading a group to their community partner in Cameroon for two weeks.

"The term “Ubuntu” is an African concept that embodies the belief we share: a person is a person through people. As we see it, we are not offering charity but rather support so that others may achieve some fundamental human rights - clean water, health, education, a sustainable income.  

The main areas that Ubuntu works on are: health, education and sustainability. Currently we are focusing our efforts in the area of health, specifically, water quality, sanitation and hygiene. Lack of clean water, poor sanitation and hygiene, and diarrhea caused by these factors, are major contributors to the high morbidity and mortality rates in children under 5, and clearly, also affect the wellness of adults.

When planning our projects, we always strive to ensure that they are completely sustainable - the community must be able to get all the supplies locally, be able to build and maintain the equipment, etc. We also aim to engage in projects that have growth potential outside of our involvement so that the people we work with aren't forever dependant on our resources or financial support.

The education component involves sharing all the information with the villagers so that they understand the initiatives, are comfortable with them, and are able to sustain them. In many of the areas in which we work, the literacy rate is quite low; all of our 'how to' information has been put in pictorial form to ensure that all villagers are able to access the information and follow the steps to ensure the projects' success."

Nicole Heaney - Kosoa, Ghana

Nicole Heaney
Where: Kosoa, Ghana
Internship: Peace education and training of peace cell leaders in the Buduburam Refugee Settlement
Organization: Global Volunteer Network

"My first impressions were nothing like I expected. I think I was preparing myself for the worst, especially in terms of culture shock, but everything has been going quite smoothly. The Liberians in the camp are very friendly and have made me feel very welcome. I think the most challenging thing so far is dealing with the pace things move here. Everything moves very slowly in Africa which is very frustrating for Westerners since we are so used to busy schedules and knowing what's going on at all times! I also hope more volunteers sign up for Population Caring Organization through Gobal Volunteer Network. It really is a great program and I already feel like I have learnt so much."

Patrick MacInnis - Ugunja, Kenya

Patrick with his friend Rose, a PACS diploma grad

Patrick MacInnis
Ugunja, Kenya
Internship:Worked on a case studies project of sponsored high-school students to monitor their performance.
Organization: Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC)

"I have kept a number of ties with the Peace Sports Academy project, of late we have been clearing the field which they are to use for sports. It is currently not very suitable because of scrub and trees and an uneven field, so we have slashed the scrub, filled in holes, and removed trees, as well as leveled some small hills. I am very much hoping to start on a hand-washing project which I will still continue with even when I have come home. It is more of an awareness campaign than anything, and I will be teaching hand-washing to the staff of the UCRC as well as to that of the health centre which is partnered with the centre.

I spend my after work time either reading or with the family of Aggrey Omondi (the director of UCRC and my host), which is where I take my meals as well. I also sometimes go on trips to the city of Kisumu on weekends. It has definitely been a fantastic time here, and I am sad to say it is drawing to a close."

Devina Lookman - Uganda


Devina Lookman

Where: Uganda

Internship: Project Manager on the International Consultant team working on the Maternal Medical Kit.

Organization: Fullsoul

"Working for Fullsoul changed my life because this internship gave me a real glimpse of what peace-building on an International Development level looks like. Many times in this sphere of work, there is a glamorization about working abroad for a short-term. My day-to-day looked a lot like figuring out logistics for my team, and the bigger picture accomplishment included securing a huge global grant for Fullsoul. Working and living in an entirely new and remote place for 90 days really uncovered the not-so-good along with the really-good parts about being an international representative of a non-profit for a long-term. It taught me the weightiness, urgency and importance of sustainability in any kind of work like this."

Middle East

Cassie Mathies - Bethlehem, West Bank

Cassie smiling for the camera.

Cassie Mathies
Bethlehem, West Bank
Internship: 4 months with the Palestine Summer Encounter program, volunteering with a local NGO and living with a host family, while studying Arabic.
Organization: Holy Land Trust and the Middle East Fellowship

Marianne Popovacki - Jerusalem, Israel

Marianne Popovacki with an Israeli flag behind her.

Marianne Popovacki
Jerusalem, Israel
Internship: Communicating with victims of terror and supporting them in various areas and settings to help establish and promote peaceful relations.
Organization: One Family Fund - Helping Israel's Victim's of Terror

"My interest in the land of Israel and its people has been at the heart of my desire to do an internship there. Such an urgent need for unity in a place where the premise of conflict resides and ongoing strife prevails. Spending time at One Family in October and December 2007 had such a profound influence on me. Resonating within me were the voices of the victims expressing gratitude toward those people (workers and volunteers) who have been instrumental in their healing process. They felt indebted to One Family for being such an integral part in rebuilding their shattered lives. It is in these very moments that I knew I wanted to return to Israel to work within such an organization instilling peace, restoration and forgiveness. Also, I will be attending the Hebrew University for a course in Trauma and Resilience: Theory and Practice from an Israeli Experience, a field study component involving a visit to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzlia. As a part time student employed with the Canadian Cancer Society, I am grateful to my workplace for granting me a leave of absence to fulfil my educational pursuits abroad."

Tarama Lewis - Turkey

Tarama Lewis

Tarama Lewis
Internship: learning about the condition of human rights in Turkey and participating in the organization's daily activities, such as meetings, clientele visitations, and report filing.
Organization: Isan Haklari Dernegi (IHD) aka the Human Rights Association of Turkey

Asia & Oceania

Fatima Ahmed - Vanuatu

Fatima Ahmed and her friend posing for the camera.

Fatima Ahmed
Where: Vanuatu
Internship: Taught computer skills, set up a computer lab, and wrote proposals. She also worked with women leaders to help increase their representation in future elections. Read Fatima Ahmed's blog!
Organization: Vanuatu National Council of Women

"Truly, this entire experience has been nothing short of amazing... In fact, amazing is an understatement. Perfect is more like it. Even at times when it gets oh-so-lonely, it only means that I’m able to truly appreciate how long an hour is, or how long a day really is. To realize that; to realize that there are these small droplets that we readily waste away; to realize that these droplets can be used here and there to work on long-awaited self-improvement projects; to realize how much family truly means to us; to realize that our life goals and dream jobs aren’t exactly as “dreamy” as we had anticipated or imagined; to realize that no matter what you dream of, when that dream turns to reality, it is less glamorous, less perfect and more “real” with a lot of those minor details that we don’t, and possibly can’t, daydream about; lastly, to realize that all those realizations are only possible when you're not surrounded by those you love or you can freely interact with."

Rosabeth Koehn - Vietnam

Rosabeth with a group of friends.

Rosabeth Koehn
Internship: Editor for the Vietnamese National Committee for the Advancement of Women and the Gioi (World) Publishing House and writing intern for Mennonite Mission Network. Read Rosabeth Koehn's blog!
Organization: Mennonite Central Committee

"[M]y assignment with the National Committee for the Advancement of Women is especially invaluable to my interest in involvement with women-centred agencies in North America; culturally sensitive and international feminist perspectives are in ever increasing demand."

Sarah Jutzi - Nepal

Sarah posing for the camera.

Sarah Jutzi
Where: Nepal
Internship: as a member of the on-campus student organization called University of Waterloo International Health Development Association, Sarah worked on youth mobilization in conflict resolution with a team of two others.
Organization: Environment and Child Rights Protection Centre (ENPROC)

Jessica Reesor - Laos

Jessica dressed for church

Jessica Reesor
Internship: story and report writer for MCC, researching a land mine removal project and analyzing the role of interfaith and intercultural dialogue ; taught English at a local community centre. Read Jessica Reesor's blog!
Organization: Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

"In an unexpected addition to my job description, I am now becoming highly involved in MCC Laos' team of young peace educators. This is a brand new initiative and so progress is slow, both in terms of waiting for funding to come through and in terms of defining who we are as a team, and what it is we’re setting out to accomplish. “What is peace?” is a question we wrestled with at a recent meeting. Language barriers aside, peace is a very flexible word and it must be put into context if it is to have any meaning at all. And so I launched into an explanation of “negative peace” as the absence of war and direct violence, and “positive peace” as the presence of justice and over all well being."

Steven Rempel - Mymensingh District, Bangladesh

Steven Rempel

Steven Rempel
Where: Mymensingh District, Bangladesh

Internship: teacher and program developer in schools in the district, particularly for English and a Peace and Conflict Resolution program. Read Steven Rempel's blog!
Organization: Mennonite Central Committee

"It looks like challenges are going to be starting right off the bat, as much of Bangladesh is submerged by flooding at the moment and over 5 million people have been displaced. Who knows how that will affect my position but I'm sure with over crowdedness and homelessness, violence will be high and teaching conflict resolution may be necessary."