Law graduate Raphael Ejime participated on the Practicum in International Organisations as part of his master’s degree in MA International Relations. He spent his six months’ work placement with the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) in Geneva, Switzerland. This valuable work helped him secure a new placement as a research intern with Royal United Service Institute (RUSI), London, a British defence and security think tank. Following this, he also worked as a secondary school teacher in Politics and Government.
Here Raphael talks to us about the research work he carried out at BWI and what he learnt from the experience.
My placement was at BWI – a Global Union Federation (GUF) composed of 326 free and democratic unions with about 12 million members in 130 countries across the building, building materials, wood, forestry and allied sectors.
I worked on research projects which involved mapping migration patterns from North Africa to Europe which became pronounced in 2014 – around 219,000 migrants reached Greece and Italy in 2014 – as well as the asylum-seeking process in the EU member countries.
I wrote and edited news articles for the BWI website, contacted affiliates and conducted interviews on several projects. I also assisted in the facilitation of campaigns such as the ‘Red Card for FIFA: No World Cup Without Workers’ Rights’ for the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 Championships.
I was – along with others – involved in writing the BWI statement following the end of the Brazil 2014 World Cup. I attended and briefed members on meetings at the International Labour Organization (ILO).
It helped to put practice to theory in other modules. These modules dealt with international security, global economy and policy analysis while the practicum fused them all together with it being a ‘mother module’.
Policies are made; however, while some are sometimes unfavourable, GUFs and other international organisations alike help to balance the scale. As such, I was able to be part of that team – even for a short period – to balance the scales in society from clamouring for workers’ rights and good working conditions to the abolition of child labour or the need to render a helping hand to migrants at sea and also include a working process of migrant integration.
The module created a pathway for research on a wider scale, networking and understanding of the global system and trade unionism.
It helped on several levels. I was able to represent the BWI alongside others on different occasions, including meetings at the ILO, which boosted my confidence in carrying out my future role as a diplomat. It afforded me the opportunity to hone my skills in the areas of research, interviewing, editing and writing for the web among others. It also helped to know how to fare in certain unfavourable situations and meeting deadlines as an individual and as part of a team.
Yes, it was a wonderful experience and I am glad I got this opportunity through the University. I am very thankful to Practicum Coordinator Dr Phoebe Moore and Jin Sook Lee, who was my supervisor at BWI. I would recommend it to other students.
In addition to helping me obtain the research internship at RUSI, I used my acquired knowledge to teach Politics and Government in secondary school. I am now undertaking a PhD programme in International relations covering issues of international security.