Mrinalini “Nali” Shah interned at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington, D.C. As a governmental affairs intern, Nali monitored congressional activity and supported UNHCR staff in their mission to assist refugees.
How did you find your internship?
As a child of immigrants, I am passionate about promoting social justice in immigrant communities, particularly among those who are most vulnerable. I have spent the past three years working with refugees, asylum seekers, and immigration detainees in Texas. During this time, I heard of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) often.
Describe the work you did in your internship.
As the governmental affairs intern at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington, D.C., every day was different. I worked under the congressional liaison, preparing materials for senior UNHCR meetings with Capitol Hill staff, NGOs, and other United Nations officials. In addition to this, I monitored congressional activities, such as recently filed bills or public hearings. My supervisors and I spent a lot of time out of the office, at think tanks, or on Capitol Hill.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
The best thing about my internship was the people I met. I felt so lucky to be surrounded by such a hardworking, driven, passionate group of people.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
This internship taught me a lot about my interests, strengths, and goals. Initially, I thought I’d immediately pursue a degree in law or international relations. However, at UNHCR, I met really interesting people who worked before going back to school or didn’t return at all. After hearing their experiences, after graduating, I plan to work in Washington, D.C. or abroad. Ultimately, I hope to put my scholarship and work experience towards promoting efforts that enable refugees and asylum seekers to lead lives of dignity.