Maria Paz Ortega (MID '11)
As a Spanish citizen, Maria Paz Ortega completed an internship with the Embassy of Spain in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) in the Summer of 2010. During her time at the Spanish Embassy in Kinshasa, Spain assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union. As the first country to hold the presidency under the Lisbon Treaty, Spain had an opportunity to set precedence in foreign affairs for the European Union (EU). This responsibility was a great challenge for the small-size Spanish Embassy in Kinshasa and due to a confluence of factors, Ortega did much more than she ever expected to do during a summer internship experience. From the very beginning she was expected to help with the organization of activities and meetings and with the creation of reports, briefings, and even official telegrams for Madrid. Ortega explains, "Congo is an extremely complex but interesting environment per se, but the time I spent in the country coincided with a rough period: the murder of the human rights defender Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, the Congo's celebration of 50 years of independence, the change of mandate of United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo MONUC, the proximity of elections (2011), and more." Throughout her internship, Ortega attended and reported on many high-level meetings, such as the meeting of UN 'Security Council Plus', the European Union Security Mission in Congo (EUSEC), or meetings with the EU Chiefs of Mission. Her work at the Spanish Embassy was particularly focused on Human Rights, cooperation and humanitarian affairs, and democratization support activities. When asked what she has gained from her internship experience Ortega explains, "my work has been extremely rewarding and in close connection with the material from many GSPIA' courses (human security, human rights, peacemaking and peacekeeping, etc), and it has allowed me to see on the ground, the main problems discussed in class. Apart from improving my professional skills, I have learned a lot about the country, the population and about myself. Living conditions are more hostile than friendly, but despite the difficulties it was worth it and I have had an incredible learning experience." Ortega will graduate in spring 2011 with a Masters of Public and International Affairs, majoring in Human Security.