The Internship Program is the Ateneo Human Rights Center’s (AHRC) flagship and pioneer program. As a “formation program,” it is concerned with the personal growth of the interns as well as their development as human rights advocates. It involves the proper formation of law students to instill in them the tenets of a Jesuit education and to acquaint them in the field of alternative law practice. It is designed to expose law students to the plight of vulnerable sectors of society and to provide training on human rights advocacy and alternative lawyering with the goal of strengthening access to justice of marginalized and vulnerable groups.
Initially, the Program only had a Summer Internship where law students from the Ateneo de Manila School of Law were exposed to grassroots communities and then assigned to work with partner agencies catering to marginalized groups. Through the years, the program has evolved due, mainly, to the initiative of AHRC interns. At present, the program implements two main activities, namely, the Semestral Break Internship Program (two weeks), and the Summer Internship Program (two months). The program also continuously implements support activities that provide the interns with opportunities to continue their human rights advocacy after being exposed to communities.
Since the program started in 1987, it has produced close to 900 interns. Drawing inspiration from their experiences in the Internship Program, a good number of these interns are now lawyers who are engaged in alternative law practice and work with marginalized and vulnerable sectors of Philippine society. The program has also been replicated in other law schools in the country.
Summer Internship And Replication Program
The Summer Internship Program (SIP) is implemented for two months, during the summer break of the law school. It has four components: Basic Orientation Seminar, Immersion, Internship Proper, and Evaluation and Planning.
The SIP is implemented together with the Replication Internship Program, where law students from other law schools around the country are invited to participate in the SIP. This replication program is designed to encourage other law schools to establish a human rights center or legal aid offices and implement their own internship program.
Since the inception of the Replication Program, AHRC has been able to help set up four replication centers: the Xavier University Center for Legal Assistance (XUCLA), Ateneo de Davao Legal Advocacy Works (AdDLAW), the University of San Carlos for Legal Aid Work (CLAW) and the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) – Centro Advocacia Legal (CADLE).
Semestral Break Internship Program
The Semestral Break Internship Program (SBIP) is a two-week program where law students are assigned to live for a week with marginalized groups to expose them to different grassroots issues. In preparation for the immersion, they undergo a four-day Basic Orientation Seminar. After the immersion, the students reflect on their experiences during the evaluation phase.
Internship Program Components
Basic Orientation Seminar (BOS)
During the BOS, interns are trained on human rights issues and laws and equipped with skills needed in human rights advocacy, such as conducting paralegal trainings and handling legal aid cases for indigent clients.
The Immersion phase is a weeklong live-in arrangement with a host family from an identified vulnerable sector. It provides the interns with a concrete experience of living with a marginalized group. Through this, interns learn about the issues affecting vulnerable groups.
During the Internship Proper, interns are assigned to human rights groups/ non-government organizations that cater to or deal with issues of workers, peasants, fisherfolk, urban poor, women, children, the environment, indigenous cultural communities, detention prisoners, and migrant workers. Through this, interns are able to learn and apply the law, and in the process, serve those who are in need of access to justice.
Evaluation, Planning, Rest, and Recreation
The final phase is a culminating activity where the participants reflect on their recent human rights experience and unwind after a long summer. The evaluation is followed by planning sessions, where the new interns are given the opportunity to participate in planning activities that would give them avenues to continue doing human rights work with the Center.