Monday, 29 April 2013

Introducing … Zhasmina Kostadinova, intern working on statelessness awareness raising

Zhasmina joined the Statelessness Programme in February 2013,as an intern for a 6-month project to develop new outreach tools on statelessness. In the interview below, she introduces herself and talks about what she has been learning and what she hopes to achieve thorough the internship.
Please start by telling us a bit about yourself.
My name is Zhasmina Kostadinova, I am from Bulgaria. I am a first-year student of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Tilburg University.
What made you interested in an internship at the Statelessness Programme?
My studies are organized in such a way that at the end of the first year I have to choose a major, i.e. in which field I will continue my work. I was searching for an activity with which I will guide my mind and make this decision. At that moment, I saw the free intern positions at the Statelessness Programme. I started reading about the issue, and as I found it to be the perfect combination of Law and Social Sciences, I applied for the programme.
In this way, in February 2013 I joined the Statelessness Programme as an intern to help with raising awareness on Statelessness. My internship project is 6 months long and until now I feel extremely thankful, for the opportunity to contribute to the Programme and to realize my dreams and plans.  One of the greatest benefits of working with the Statelessness Programme is doing real tasks, while participating in a professional international team. I am having the enormous pleasure to learn constantly by interaction.
As you are starting to learn more about statelessness, what do you find most interesting and why?
With my first day in the Statelessness Programme I was surprised to realize in what great detail Nationality is needed for every person. While preparing for my first steps with the team I was searching for information about Statelessness and Nationality, on the internet, which will broaden my knowledge of this topic. Unfortunately, I could not find one single web-site that could combine the issues of Nationality and Statelessness at one place, together with examples and theory.

Very important for the development of my understanding and knowledge of the topic of statelessness, were a lecture about Statelessness by Jason Tucker and conversations with Laura van Waas. During the lecture, Mr. Tucker drawn a simple circle with the typical rights and duties that we have together with our nationality, and then he started to cross out all the things that a statelessness person doesn’t possess. This, so simple picture, touched me at that very moment. I had thought that the information on the Internet was enough and provides basic knowledge, but I could not find such a strong and at the same time simple explanation of how statelessness affects people.

Moreover, during my training by Mrs. Van Waas, I learned about the nationality laws of different countries and how the way in which states regulate nationality can lead to statelessness. In the beginning I was deeply indignant of the discrimination of some Muslim countries, where a woman married to a foreign man, cannot pass her nationality to her children.

Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on as your internship project?
As an intern at the Statelessness Programme, I am creating a “duo” website about Nationality and Statelessness. I am working with Web-expression 4 and HTML 5 for the creation of a simple, but interactive and creative website. The aim is to make the awareness of the statelessness issue more accessible to people of all ages and especially, to catch the attention to the young people. 
Young people, who are still studying in schools, are a very important target because children learn quickly and make the change they want to see in other people. We believe that with more people informed about the problems faced by stateless people, this can make a difference over time.
Awareness leads people not only to sympathize the Stateless people, but to realize how much we have taken for granted the nationality that we have. People do not think about their nationality or when they need it for something and it is difficult to realize how important it is, actually. With simple examples, videos and an interactive design the website will combine the issues of Statelessness and Nationality with the idea of a better society, through better awareness.

What are your impressions of the Statelessness Programme so far and what do you hope to learn during the rest of your internship?
Until now I think that this internship is the most interesting challenge I have ever faced. I feel really happy and thankful to the whole team, which is very supportive, has a broad knowledge of the topic and is very creative. I hope the website will arise more awareness on statelessness and will change the attitudes of more people, which may help for the improving of the laws and better addressing the statelessness issue.

Zhasmina Kostadinova, Statelessness Programme intern

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