Like many law students, I chose to attend law school in order to fulfill my dream of working in the broad field of international human rights. With this in mind, one of many reasons that I chose to attend Pepperdine University School of Law is because of its impressive Global Justice Program. To that end, over Spring Break 2017, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to travel with a handful of other students and practicing attorneys to New Delhi, India. While there, we filled our days with a tight schedule of both work and play.
Upon arriving, we had a couple days of exceptional sightseeing, where we visited the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal, both of which have been on my bucket list for years (dating back to my undergraduate course on Islamic Architecture). I was also able to fulfill my dream of celebrating Holi in India, since the timing of our trip overlapped with the date of this beautiful holiday.
More significantly, we participated in a conference on pre-trial resolutions at National Law University Delhi (NLU Delhi). This was eye-opening for me as I learned about not only India’s criminal justice system, but more about my own American criminal justice system. I went in with a limited understanding of India’s criminal justice system, and came out with a much deeper knowledge of it, what’s working and what isn’t, and what needs to be done in order to work toward fulfilling justice. I observed the delicate dance that is discussing difficult topics and new approaches to tackling these difficult topics. Patience is always a struggle for me, and this conference helped teach me more about patience when it comes to beginning tough conversations between parties and in developing new relationships.
We also had the opportunity to visit some courts, and observe the process there. We also visited organizations like International Justice Mission and Counsel to Secure Justice, where we learned about some of the various human rights issues facing India and what these admirable organizations are doing to combat such injustices. It’s easy to get frustrated with the overwhelming amount of work to be done in the field of human rights. It’s too easy to feel that what I as an individual can accomplish in a lifetime won’t make a difference in relation to the vast amount of needs in every corner of the earth. However, I can’t turn the tide of the world on my own. In fact, that’s an absurd and, quite frankly, pretentious expectation of myself. I simply need to offer what resources I have to give, and work with individuals, developing lasting relationships with people, and helping them achieve justice for themselves and their families. This is how I can make a difference in making a dent in the field of international human rights.
My trip to India was inspirational for me, and served as an important step in building relationships with brilliant and selfless people who are working tirelessly to, as cheesy as it may be, make the world a better place.
–By Michelle Curtis