CISR Internship

Fenix Project Assistant, Max Grace spent several weeks during August gaining invaluable experience and insight at the Centre for International Stabilisation and Recovery (CISR) at James Madison University (JMU), Virginia. CISR are a humanitarian mine-action organisation who work directly with mine affected countries along with the US State Department to aid with their ordnance decontamination and recovery. This is his account of his time there:

My time at the Centre was predominantly spent learning about the vast CWD Repository. This initiative, hosted by JMU, allows for organisations to search for humanitarian and technical documentation on one database; rather than searching through multiple online sources and hard copies. This greatly aided my understanding and growing interest into the world of humanitarian mine action and demilitarisation, along with the centres and institutions that surround the industry.

During my stay, I was privileged to hear informative and enthusing presentations by the team at CISR on topics including the ‘Journal’ publication produced by the centre, and the Senior Management Course hosted by the team in Tajikistan earlier this summer. I also met Dr Ken Rutherford, a leading advocate in the Ban on Landmines, who gave a very insightful presentation about the years leading to the Ottawa Treaty and the personal challenges he has been though while working towards the goal of a ban on landmines and vision of a mine-free world.

Away from the office, I had a great time exploring Harrisonburg and the surrounding country. From visiting the much-acclaimed country fair, to hiking up Mary’s Rock in the Shenandoah National Park to give a breath-taking view of the valley below. I am also an avid marathon runner, so enjoyed spending time running around the JMU campus.

The team at CISR were remarkable and totally inclusive. I particularly enjoyed spending time away from the office with them at various trips out in the evenings and weekends. My personal favourite excursions were a visit to Monticello, in Charlottesville, and a trip into the immense caverns near the Shenandoah River’s south fork.

I have returned to Fenix with a much greater perspective and understanding into the workings of humanitarian mine action and the organisations working towards a safe, mine-free world.