Chayes Fellow Amy Volz ’18 on working at the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland

Old town, Warsaw. Photo courtesy of Amy Volz.

Old town, Warsaw. All photos courtesy of Amy Volz.

I have just two weeks left at the Helsinki Foundation — it’s hard to believe how time has flown!

I’ve been busy with plenty of interesting research for the Strategic Litigation department’s cases which are currently pending before the Polish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. So farĀ I have researched issues related to procedural rights, conditions of detention, and freedom of expression in the U.S. and other European countries.

I’m especially enjoying it because my first degree was in modern languages and I very rarely get to put my language skills to use in an actual workplace context. The research topics are also just generally interesting and allow me to get a sense of how differently certain issues are adjudicated in the U.S. and Europe. I’m especially enjoying research related to the European Court of Human Rights.

Supreme Court of Poland, Polish Constitutional Grand Chamber, Helskinki Foundation offices

Supreme Court of Poland, Polish Constitutional Grand Chamber, Helskinki Foundation offices

Aside from my research tasks, the Foundation has been great about letting me go on various outings around Warsaw — I observed a sentence at the Constitutional Court and a full hearing at the Supreme Court, and most recently I spent a morning touring a jail in the south of Warsaw with the Polish summer interns. Those trips were really interesting, especially the hearing at the Supreme Court.

Warsaw "off the beaten path" tour

Warsaw “off the beaten path” tour

Outside of work, my time in Warsaw has been wonderful. I take Polish lessons twice a week in the mornings in an attempt to understand Polish legal language — it’s going a bit slowly but my teacher is excellent! And I’ve tried to make the most of the weekends by exploring different neighborhoods of Warsaw and taking advantage of the quick and easy flights to nearby countries. I visited Lara Townzen in Kiev in early June and she came to Warsaw for a weekend as well. I also spent a weekend in Budapest with the other intern from my office, who just finished 1L at the University of Chicago. Overall Warsaw is an amazing place and I will definitely miss living here! However, I’m also excited to get back to campus and hear what everyone has been up to this summer.

In Kiev with Chayes fellow Lara Townzen '18

In Kiev with Chayes Fellow Lara Townzen ’18