Meet our intern Sofia and read about her experience at ERA

Sofia Barakou is a law graduate from Thessaloniki, Greece. She was ERA's Advocacy Intern form 1 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. She stayed in Belgrade and worked with ERA the whole time, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the State of emergency being declared throughout March, April and May, with multiple curfews and a lot of challenges in our everday work. We wish to thank Sofia for all of her efforts and a great job in such challenging times! Read about her experience below.

My Internship at ERA

For many people the previous months during the pandemic were a waste of time; for others a self-searching process; for me an amazing internship in ERA.

After months of searching, I was accepted to interning in ERA - LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey for a four-month period through Erasmus program. As a law graduate human rights had, have and will be my core interests. My main purpose was to get involved and expand my knowledge in advocacy activities.

During my stay in ERA, I had the chance to shape a holistic knowledge of UN mechanisms, an aspect completely unknown for me but as it turned out totally dynamic. Also, I had the possibility to obtain further knowledge on the jurisprudence of European Court of Human Rights mainly through drafting articles for relevant cases. But more importantly, I got a taste of how an organisation works, cooperates and expands its working field. The crucial role of civil society especially in LGBTI topics is something that I will take back with me.

This experience was also challenging as it coincided with the covid-19 pandemic. The new reality made us experience alternative ways of communication and scheduling. Even if technology was not always our ally, the outcome was more than adequate. In fact, this unprecedented situation gave me the possibility to participate in dozens of webinars organised by different organisations in different topics. I had the chance to meet many of ERA’s member organisations, learn about infringements, developments and points of concern in nine different countries. The self-organisation and the flexible schedule let me work on my own and in the same way explore Belgrade even under these circumstances.

During my internship I never felt sidelined and I am truly thankful to the whole team for helping me adapt and involved in their activities; for transmitting knowledge and experiences; for helping me expand my horizons. The competencies I have gained will accompany me in my professional career but also in my personal life. Thank you all!