A Far Away Place


Popowski, Delgado, and Clinical Instructor James Cavallaro at the counsel table at the court.
Children in the village of Petifu Moyamba, Sierra Leone, with workers from Timap for Justice, where Samantha Bent and Abby Moy interned.

While the summers of many HLS students involved ties, taxis, and the cultural highlights of New York or D.C., the summers of others ran more to elephant rides and ancient temples. While summer associates sampled the finest restaurants in America’s biggest cities, another group of students were presented with coolers of coconuts and plates of fried tarantulas. More than 50 rising 2Ls and 3Ls spent their summers working for international courts and non-governmental organizations, learning language, culture, and law outside the lines of American society.Most students working abroad were assisted by Harvard’s two programs to fund international work, the Human Rights Fellowships and the Chayes International Fellowships. The former program, administered by the Human Rights Program, sponsored 22 students to work in 16 different countries, including Sierra Leone, the Phillipines, Slovenia, and Mexico.

Two Human Rights Fellows, Deborah Popowski and Fernando Delgado, returned to a country for which they had already done important work. Popowski and Delgado were part of a student team that, with Clinical Professor James Cavallaro, litigated a Brazilian human rights case in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in November 2005. The students, a mere three months into their law school careers, traveled to Costa Rica and worked tirelessly in an effort to hold the Brazilian government responsible for the death of Damiao Ximenes Lopes, a man with mental health disabilities who was beaten and later found dead in a state hospital. On August 17th, the court issued its complete decision, assigning responsibility to the government and giving the Ximenes Lopes family and the Harvard team victory on all counts. Popowski and Delgado worked this summer for Justica Global in Brazil.

The Chayes Fellowships, administered by the Office of Public Interest Advising and named for former international law professor Abram Chayes, funded 29 students to do international human rights work in 19 countries. The placements included Bolivia, Switzerland, and Malaysia, and covered issues from economic development to international criminal law.

More HLS students worked overseas than were covered by the HRP and Chayes programs, including students working for NGOs without Harvard international funding and students in international offices of private law firms.

The Record asked students with international summer placements to share a few photo perspectives on the countries in which they worked.

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