I’m Abby! I go to college right outside of Philadelphia and I am spending my summer interning with an organization called Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I’ll be writing about the internship experience and my other (hopefully numerous) adventures in beautiful Northern Ireland.
As far as the internship goes, I will spend three or four days with CRJI each week. This time will be spent in CRJI offices or with various practitioners at meetings or in the community. The remaining day or two each week I will use for independent study and research in the library at Queens University or doing written work formally or informally for CRJI. I am expanding and contextualizing my knowledge of North Irish history, society and the Troubles. I am also gaining a better grasp on the various approaches to justice, crime reduction, and community development in practice here currently.
My internship was designed around this central question:
How does an organization bridge the divide between effective, grassroots, community-based social justice work and the often discordant policies and practices of statutory agencies? I see it as a two-pronged question. What insight can community-based organizations contribute in terms of rational, practical, modest but widespread policy changes? And how can community-based organizations work most effectively with and within existing policies and institutions for the benefit of communities and government agencies.