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Intern Update: My First Day (Kevin Hoffman)

Kevin Hoffman, 2L

International Justice
Mission – Rwanda

Human Trafficking/Rule of Law Development

Today was my first day of work as a Legal Intern with International Justice Mission (IJM)! I have been looking forward to and nervous for this day for several months now, and as I left my apartment to walk the ten minutes to work this morning I could hardly believe that it was actually today.
It turns out that there was good reason why the daily dress code at the office doesn’t include a jacket. I was over zealous. I wore a blazer today. I will not be wearing one tomorrow. By the time I had completed the wonderful fifteen-minute walk to the office I was really regretting wearing that blazer. It’s not that it is super-hot here right now, in fact the Rwandans tell me that this is the coolest time of year. It’s the hills… and the humidity… and the elevation… and the hills. Even though it is only a relatively short walk, I have to go around a valley of sorts that makes it tougher than it seems it should be. Tomorrow, I shall venture into the valley in an attempt to shave a few minutes, and a particularly large hill, off the trip. The success of this endeavor is yet to be determined.

Once I arrived at the office I could not have felt more welcome. The entire staff greeted me with open arms and a small social time that really set the welcoming mood. In addition, we will be starting off every day with some singing and a devotional time. We sang a song today in Kinyarwanda (the local language) and it was wonderful. It’s an incredibly difficult language to follow along with, but I’m on my way to having a few simple words and phrases down.

The rest of the workday was a bit of a whirlwind, but in general it was my legal and cultural introduction to Rwanda. The legal system here is so different and presents so many unique challenges for a visiting American law student such as myself. I barely started to scratch the surface of the applicable statutes and procedural laws that I will be dealing with, but I am at least starting to get a grasp on the breadth of what needs to be known. I was also given a list of potential projects for this summer, and I am very excited about some of the possibilities!

One prayer request in which I would definitely appreciate spiritual support deals with the subject matter that I will be working on all summer. IJM’s mandate in Rwanda is specifically targeted at cases involving child sexual abuse. Needless to say this is not an easy thing to work with consistently. I am already amazed at the grace with which my supervising attorneys deal with conversations and topics that should be so difficult and manage to make them professional while still retaining the personal decency necessary to truly respect the humanity of all those involved, including ourselves. I am praying that God will grant me the ability to learn that skill quickly, and to be able to interact with clients, coworkers, and my own thoughts in such a way that honors him and serves the people of Rwanda. This will certainly not be easy, but God does not ever give us more than he equips us to handle.

In sum, today was awesome! I honestly could not be more impressed with how IJM operates. Rwanda is a fascinating country that I am truly enjoying learning more about each day. I am starting to know my way around this section of the city and feel comfortable walking around pretty freely. Basically, so far, so good! And God is good!

          – Kevin Hoffman, 5/7/12