Unexpected Surprises

Well, it's about one month since my last post, and I have to admit I am already back in Williamsburg. A week of that month was spent in a writing competition, and another week was spent with my wife, who finally arrived in Europe to see some sights with me before we had to come home.

Now that I am home again, I have had a little opportunity to look back through my sparse entries and realize what has been left out of my blog so far. One thing I never really touched on in too much detail was the substance of my internship.

Like any internship (particularly at an NGO), mine was a pretty diverse experience. I anticipated doing mostly legal research, and I did do a lot of amount of that. I also had a lot of other opportunities, however. For instance, Human Rights Without Frontiers and some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) organized a conference on China last December with legal experts, academics, and representatives from the non-profit world. The event was intended to be an update of the human rights situation in China post-Olympics--in other words, to assess whether all of the hype was correct about China's hosting the Olympics leading to an improved human rights situation.

Of course, I didn't arrive in Brussels until long after the conference. The speeches given at the conference, however, were gathered together, and my project was to edit them, proofread them (English was only the native language for probably 1/3 of the speakers), and publish them on Amazon.com. Since no one at HRWF had ever self-published a print-on-demand book before, it fell to me to figure it out on my own. I discovered it entailed formatting the pages precisely as they would be printed (even down to the length and width of the pdf we submitted); ensuring that page numbers, etc. were standardized (not a simple thing when each chapter had to be in a separate document to keep endnote formatting correct); and even designing the cover of the book. (Fortunately, someone with a little more graphic arts experience handled that one aspect.) Of course, since I was at a non-profit organization, I also did it all with the free tools and software I already had on my computer. (A program like Adobe Photoshop would have made it much easier!)

All in all, I thought it turned out ok. You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Human-Rights-China-After-Olympics/dp/1448610567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247435571&sr=8-1. You can also find a book review by the Epoch Times here: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/19501/. This was a pretty unique experience for me, as I never expected I would be editing, proofreading, or publishing books. Since the project worked out so well, Willy Fautré, HRWF's director, plans to publish another this fall on "advocating for human rights on the European stage." I'm looking forward to it...