Goodbye, farewell, and come back soon!

Friday, August 1, 2014

As our Canadian summer is quickly disappearing, so are CJFE’s amazing interns! Today marks the last day in the office for Diane Shnier, our Outreach and Communications Assistant and last summer intern standing.

From the moment she stepped into the office, Diane has been an amazing addition to the CJFE team. Her hard work, attention to detail and general positivity have all been a huge asset for us this summer, and we are sad to see her leave. On behalf of the entire CJFE/IFEX team, we are so pleased to have had the chance to work with Diane, and wish her all the best in what’s to come.

αντίο και καλό ταξίδι! (Yes, we had help with that one).

What made you want to work with CJFE?

I think the work CJFE does is incredibly important; my background in political theory has cultivated a deep appreciation for the role of freedom of expression in a well-functioning democracy. I love what I study, but I’ve found political science in a university setting gets very abstract and theoretical very quickly. I wanted to work at CJFE to take the ideas I’ve been studying in school and apply them to what is actually happening in Canada and internationally. Working at CJFE has trained me to become more aware of what’s happening in the world and allowed me to actually advocate for the ideas I believe in, instead of just studying them. It’s been an amazing experience.

What have you learned about free expression from your time here?

I’ve learned to value the (relatively) strong right to free expression we enjoy here in Canada. Researching and writing about the arrests, threats and attacks journalists suffer daily in other countries has opened my eyes to the dire state of free expression internationally. In comparison to most other countries, Canada is pretty excellent, and I appreciate that now more than I did before.

That being said, Canada is less excellent than I thought. I’ve become more attuned to indirect attacks on free expression, such as poor access to information, and the looming question mark that is government surveillance. I’ve learned that there is important work to be done right here at home.

What is the project you worked on during your internship that you are the most proud of?

I really enjoyed writing my feature on Hungary. It was fantastic to really delve into one issue, and engage in a style of writing I’m less familiar with. I learned a lot doing it, and I’m proud of how it turned out.

Participating in CJFE’s #FreeAJStaff campaign has also been incredible. Even though I’ve only been on the periphery of this initiative, simply being part of the CJFE war room has been an enormous learning experience. I’m infuriated that Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed are still detained in Egypt, and it’s very rewarding to be fighting for such an important cause.

What are you going to miss the most?

The people! The CJFE/IFEX office has the most wonderful atmosphere. Everyone here is so passionate and enthusiastic about the work we do, and it’s contagious in the best way.

I also will really miss our weekly potluck salad day.

What are you up to next?

I’ll be travelling in Greece and Turkey for a month, and then beginning the final year of my political science BA at McGill University.

Anything else you want to add?

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Tom, Laura, Alex and Elena have been so generous and patient, always willing to answer questions and teach me new skills. Everyone in the office has been incredibly welcoming and kind, and working here has been a pleasure. CJFE is amazing, and I’m so sad to be leaving.