Back from Bangladesh: CAPI intern Kip Jorgensen

Social Sciences

- Tara Sharpe

The internship program offered by the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives (CAPI) at UVic focuses primarily on migrant rights issues across the Asia-Pacific. CAPI has long-standing partners in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Nepal and Bangladesh whose work focuses on migrant rights, refugee rights and trafficking issues.

Kip Jorgensen, who is in his fifth year of a BA in Political Science with a minor in environmental studies, has held a long-time interest in climate change-related migration and marginalized populations in Bangladesh.

Jorgensen learned about the CAPI internship program from a friend who had participated in a similar placement in the Philippines. He also had prior interest in the region, the impacts of climate change and grassroots organization.
In June 2014, Jorgensen flew to Bangladesh to work as a program assistant with the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit ( in Dhaka, for a six-month CAPI internship. His travel costs and other expenses were fully covered by the CAPI International Internship Program.

RMMRU in Bangladesh is a centre for migrant research, advocacy and training. It includes ongoing programs, media campaigns and research projects, and is based at the University of Dhaka. During his six-month stint, Jorgensen was responsible for a wide range of projects and assignments including: writing an article on migration in Bangladesh; designing questionnaire questions for focus group discussions on a climate-change migration project in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, in southeastern Bangladesh near the border of India; and training research assistants from Chittagong University.

Jorgensen recalled he “was able to adapt to living in Bangladesh, pushing my comfort level and getting out in social and cultural settings that were not typically frequented by foreigners in Bangladesh—even in terms of where I lived in the city.” His apartment, which he shared with two others, was 30 minutes away from his work, in the oldest part of the city.

“Every day I was seeing the impacts myself of climate change.”

He says it was one of the hottest years on record, with “massive blackouts and staggering infrastructures.” He recounts when the lights blinked out in his apartment and he had to “lie down on the tiles by the window” to cool down in the heat.

“In two months, I learned just as much there about migration, both within Bangladesh and abroad, and on issues of development and the impacts of climate change in developing nations, as I learned here in Victoria in my previous three years of study.”

He points out “practical experience means so much, post-graduation” and especially in his fields of study.  “It’s important for students to see countries and conditions, to realize the privileges that come with being from the ‘global north,’ and to understand our own implicitness in global structures and power.”

He says it also forced him to become “a lot more accountable to myself. There were no due dates for deadlines.”

A typical day started with a 30-minute walk to work. “I’d have to get up and get going by 8 a.m.” to beat the traffic—and that’s just on foot. “It can take two hours to travel six kilometres by car.”

He also visited the surrounding areas, especially on weekends—travelling with his Bangladeshi roommate to Syhlet, Chittagong and Kolkata, India.

Jorgensen is back in Bangladesh for another internship term, till December.

On a daily basis, 1,100 people migrate internally to Dhaka. This displacement is primarily due to the impacts of climate and environmental change.

Since 2003, CAPI has provided over 100 UVic students with internships in civil society organizations across the Asia-Pacific region. The internship placements are an exceptional opportunity in the global south for UVic students to further develop cross-cultural understandings and to be immersed in first-hand experiences of grassroots community engagement and activism in these regions.

Read more from CAPI interns

More on CAPI internships and scholarships

More funding for students (President's Beyond Borders Fund)


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Keywords: international, community, asia, political science, student life

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