Moving to America to work as an intern on death row cases is a big leap for anyone to take, but I had to make the move even harder for myself. I went straight to into work in Baltimore, Maryland at the non-profit Advancing Real Change from China, where I had been working as an English teacher for the past year. Going from Eastern Asia to the US proved a mission in many ways. To begin with it took me 55 hours: my first plane had engine failure and was sent back to China, my second was delayed and I missed my connecting flight, my third was also delayed and I ended up arriving at 3am Friday morning instead of Wednesday afternoon as planned. Secondly came the horror that is reverse culture shock. Most notably after almost a year without chocolate ice-cream (potentially the worse thing about living in China), I was overwhelmed to the point of staring at a freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s in a supermarket for 5 minutes straight.
Despite shaky starts and extreme jetlag it didn’t take me long to get really settled in to work at ARC. I took on two roles: research for a report on mental health in Texan capital cases and working on current death penalty cases. The research work I did was carrying on from former Amicus intern Christine where I read case transcripts and juror interviews on particular cases, finding themes and ideas that link them together. I enjoyed this so much that even after returning to the UK I’m carrying on the work! Hopefully a report that Christine, ARC and I write up will end up being published. I also helped the office on current death penalty cases by doing record collection, involving finding key documents at courthouses around the state and document processing where I analyse documents to find any mitigating evidence from a client’s past.
As well as work I found there was so much to do in my spare time. I managed to travel to New York and Washington DC, visit an arts festival and take part in free yoga classes in a park every Wednesday. Work was made more fun by working with another Amicus intern who started the week before me, so on arrival I already had someone to explore/eat far too much food with.
Overall I greatly enjoyed my month-long internship in Baltimore, and I would definitely consider doing one of the long-term internships with Amicus.