Jillian Nichols, who is completing her third year at the University of Manitoba’s Robson Hall law school, has just returned from nearly two months in Malawi, a tiny country in the warm heart of Africa, on a service learning experience called Ntchito Yabwino (meaning “good work” in Chichewa)
The program is a joint effort between the University of Manitoba’s International Centre for Students and Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, a non-governmental organization. Together with two other U of M students, she embarked on a two-week study tour led by Tony Rogge, director of ICS, followed by a four-week placement with CPAR, where they facilitated a communications training program with staff in the northern and central offices.
While the placement wasn’t related to law in the strict sense, Nichols says she was able to understand the laws that facilitate and constrain international development through attending meetings with different members of government, law enforcement, and the judiciary.
She had the opportunity to see the role that law plays in development, from the implementation of projects to awareness and access among community members.
Nichols says, from a human rights perspective, “it was an interesting time to be in Malawi as a same-sex couple was sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour, and subsequently pardoned following international condemnation and a visit from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.”
Nichols strongly encourages other students interested in international law and development to visit ICS and consider a similar placement in the future. In her experience, “it was refreshing and enlightening to see the law from a different perspective.”
While in Malawi, the U of M students kept a blog to document their experiences. It can be found at: www.ontheroadinmalawi.wordpress.com
This article originally appeared on the Robson Hall Faculty of Law web site.