Nathan Mendenhal, a Southeast Missouri State University graduate student and Fort Smith, Ark. native, has been selected as an intern with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Mendenhall, who is pursuing a master of science degree in criminal justice, will begin the internship Jan. 9 with the Tribunal’s Witnesses and Victims Support Section. He will join about 50 other interns from around the world.
Mendenhall says the Tribunal is an organ of the United Nations charged with trying to find and prosecute those involved with human rights atrocities and ethnic warfare during the 1990s.
The Witnesses and Victims Support Section provides protection for witnesses and victims coming to trial. The section also assists witnesses and victims needing to relocate, and with counseling and therapy services.
“I was looking for something that wasn’t typical,” Mendenhall says. “I was looking for places that don’t have the criminal justice system of the United States.”
Mendenhall says he applied for this competitive internship opportunity along with other possible internships with the American Red Cross and the United Nations.
“I’m definitely thrilled and anxious,” he said, adding he is currently reading up on Tanzania and brushing up on his Swahili in anticipation of his assignment in the new year. “I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it weren’t for my family, Southeast Missouri State University and the Department of Criminal Justice.”
Mendenhall, who credits Southeast’s criminal justice program for teaching him how to conduct research, says he will be based in Arusha, Tanzania, which has a predominately Muslim population of about 250,000.
Mendenhall is a graduate of Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. He will be in Tanzania until early July, returning to the United States in time to begin law school in August. Although he is unsure where he will attend law school, he would like to pursue a juris doctorate in international law from City University of New York (CUNY).
“I would like to service the international community,” he said. “I think it gives me a sense of fulfillment.”