Boyd meets world
This article has been read 309 times.
Law students travel to India to enroll in practicum based on human rights studies
The Boyd School of Law and the National Law University, Delhi are bridging the ocean’s divide once again to offer UNLV law students an extraordinary opportunity.
For the second year, students will travel to India to take part in a practicum that offers lessons in law, life, diplomacy, human decency and goodwill. The program, designed by Boyd Professor Martin Geer and professor Krishna Rao of the National Law School in New Delhi, lets legal students experience to human rights issues first-hand.
Geer participated in a Fulbright program in 2005, funding students, teachers and professionals for graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. That experience was the inspiration behind the study abroad course he created at Boyd.
Longtime friends and work associates, Geer and Rao coordinated the program with the creation of a mutual understanding and bridging a divide in mind.
“In the U.S. a lot of study abroad programs for law students are a student going to another county, often Western Europe, and the class is all U.S. students,” Geer said. “And often times, the professors are from the U.S. and there is very little cultural connection the program is being offered in.”
To change this dynamic, Geer and Rao created an atmosphere where law students from both countries could interact with one another along with faculty from both cultures while learning about human rights issues from each other.
“The students are steeped in each other’s cultures,” Geer said. “They end up teaching each other a lot while spending time out in the field.”
The students work together in non-governmental agencies and in areas such as red-light districts where they can experience human rights issues up-close and personal. One of last year’s program participants, Sunny Jeong, relishes the knowledge she gained.
“I was placed with a grassroots organization called the Shakti Vahini Foundation where they rescue sex workers, child laborers and abused children. Then they educate and rehabilitate the victims,” she said. “This organization also had an HIV clinic located right in the red light district so that abused sex workers can find refuge, counseling and education about HIV/Aids, condom usage and so on.”
Jeong, always who has always been interested in human rights work, said that other than seeing the Taj Mahal, the office placement was the highlight of her experience.
“It really opened my eyes for effective problem-solving as far as human rights violations go,” she said. “I learned about unique educational methods and layered attack on problems were the most effective. Such a learning experience formed my next learning goals.”
The flagship program is a work in progress, according to Geer. He said it may be one of the hardest things he’s ever done, but there is value for the students in creating something new.
“It was a success last year, but it was very difficult to put together,” Geer said.
The pertinent issues of human trafficking in India are also applicable to the U.S. in a different capacity. Geer thinks students learn better by experience and that the program really hits home.
“We have human trafficking here. We see a lot of the human trafficking issues in the beginning stages in Asia and then we come to Las Vegas and you go into a massage parlor and you see the other end of it,” he said.
“So the students make that connection. So they are dealing with a similar subset of matter but contextually it can be very different.”
“As a law student, I could meet and speak to students from other countries to compare and contrast the laws of those countries,” said Jeong. “As a future lawyer, I realized once again what causes move me and refocused me on what I wanted to do with my law degree.”
This year the program is moving to a newer, more prestigious school in the city of Delhi. It offers more resources and a broader faculty to utilize as guest speakers. The 13-day program costs $3,500 and is open to legal students who have finished their first year, as well as students in related fields of study. It will run from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6 with holiday breaks.
“We’re still a work in progress,” said Geer. “To talk about human rights in a classroom is one thing, but this [is] a chance to interact.”
“There is an ancient Chinese saying; I hear and I forget, I read and I remember and I do and I know,” she said.
Contact Natalie Relf at firstname.lastname@example.org