2023 Summer Intern Program Recap
October 16, 2023

This summer, HRIC launched its new intern program. Beginning in May, HRIC hosted six interns from top schools across the United States. The internship and mentorship opportunities focus on growing the skills of young activists to engage in independent civil society activism, domestic and international human rights advocacy, and the design and implementation of communication and campaign strategies to advance human rights. 


Internship Highlights 

Internship Plan and Evaluation

Each intern had a summer plan, drafted with one or two supervisors who met with them regularly and provided a midterm and final performance evaluation. While the interns worked on their own projects separately, they also worked together throughout the summer to produce excellent materials for HRIC. Below are some of the highlights of the internship program. 


One of HRIC’s primary goals is to build capacity and teach our interns how to engage in effective advocacy within the particular challenges of the China space. In order to achieve this goal, interns participated in trainings throughout the summer, including a digital security training, an anti-sexual harassment training, and a UN training to prepare them to attend UN meetings. 

Lunch Talk and Seminars

Interns had the opportunity to meet with scholars, professors, lawyers and activists from China, the United States, and other countries, who gave presentations and discussed human rights related subjects with the students. The topics included LGBTQ rights, the MeToo movement, legal advocacy in China, , and more. 

Interviews and Publication

Interns had the unique opportunity to conduct one-on-one interviews with Chinese lawyers and activists both within China and the diaspora. HRIC facilitated introductions and meetings between the interns and the activists they aspired to engage with. Following these enriching interactions, interns penned comprehensive reports and contributed articles to local news outlets, as well as publications associated with Ivy League institutions.

Universal Periodic Review

Engagement with international organizations is a key part of HRIC’s advocacy. China’s human rights record is scheduled to come under UN review in early 2024, so our interns helped HRIC staff research and prepare submissions on China’s human rights violations in regard to LGBTQ+ issues and Hong Kong

June 4th Memorials

As part of HRIC’s efforts to remember and honor the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre and support the Tiananmen Mothers, the interns helped to publish the Mothers’ statement: “We Persist in Our Three Demands as Always: Truth, Compensation, and Accountability—On the 34th Anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre.” As a companion project, the students also created a short film that tells the story of some of the Tiananmen victims and their families through pictures and other archival materials. 

709 Advocacy 

For the eighth anniversary of the 709 Crackdown, HRIC interns wrote an article honoring eight women who have demonstrated their courage and skill as human rights defenders, and who have all suffered repercussions at the hands of the Chinese government. Along with the article, the students prepared a video to highlight these women and their accomplishments, which has gained 56.8k views.

Liu Xiaobo Memorial Event

On July 13, HRIC and partner organizations held a memorial vigil for Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who died while imprisoned by the Chinese government. Interns helped bring and display the portrait of Liu Xiaobo on the Liu Xiaobo memorial bench in Central Park, mingled with pro-democracy activists, and took photos and videos of the event. 

Final Presentations

At the close of the internship program, the students each presented their work from the summer, including solo research projects and collaborative work. One student conducted a research project on U.S. political leanings of Chinese immigrants and activists. Another student presented on how Chinese human rights activists can support domestic activism even from overseas. Students were able to receive feedback and discuss their work with other interns and staff members. 

Intern Feedback 

Interns had positive feedback for their internship experience, emphasizing the many opportunities to work on projects with real-world impact, as well as to interact with mentors and professionals in the human rights space. 

“In school, I learned a lot of theoretical knowledge and skills, but during my internship, I really experienced how these skills were applied in the real world. Every challenge made me more proficient in applying my professional knowledge.” 

“Learning to work with colleagues who have different backgrounds and professional knowledge is the biggest thing I gained from this internship. I learned how to communicate, coordinate work, and solve problems effectively.” 

“By participating in seminars on LGBTQ issues and the UPR, as well as numerous offline activities, I have gained a deeper understanding of human rights issues. This not only enhanced my professional ability, but also expanded my international perspective.” 

“My mentors [at HRIC] not only gave me professional guidance, but also provided me with many valuable life suggestions and guidance towards my future path. I will always cherish this time and apply the knowledge and skills I learned here to my future work.” 

If the intern program has captured your interest, please feel free to reach out by sending your resume to jobs@hrichina.org.


Image credit: @badiucao on Twitter/X.