My internship at the regional MENA office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty in Cairo gave me a firsthand insight into the workings of a political foundation. Over the past three months I have come to the realization that working in an international political foundation consist of not only spreading liberal values and principles via workshops and conferences but that in fact a great deal of work consists of the more mundane, but nonetheless important, work of auditing and administration.
Egypt is in an interesting phase of transition, and this also has an impact on the activities of the Foundation, I soon learned. I essentially assisted my colleagues when necessary. My work consisted of a wide array of activities ranging from administrative work to writing and editing reports and attending and supporting events organized by FNF, such as the booth at Cairo International Book Fair and the launch of the book entitled "Dilemma of Arab Liberalism/ The Egyptian Model" by Dr Hala Mustafa. I furthermore attended a conference organized by the European Union Delegation to Egypt on the third round of parliamentary elections which was very informative and gave an impression of the emerging political structures in Egypt. Through these and other experiences I have gained a better understanding of the workings of Egyptian civil society and the care with which an international organization has to operate in the constantly changing political landscape of Egypt. My time here has also served as an introduction to the organizational structure of FNF and has offered an insight into the daily work routine of the organization.
I would also like to mention that the atmosphere at the office is extremely pleasant and my colleagues have always been more than helpful. For example, I was invited to the weekly staff and follow-up meetings which made me feel part of the team.
I would like to stress that the most valuable insight I have gained during my three months at FNF's regional office in Cairo is the huge challenge liberalism faces in Islamic countries. The perception by many of a seeming clash between liberal and Islamic values impedes the work of the Foundation but simultaneously makes it all the more important. This is especially valid when taking into account the political turmoil and transformation Egypt is currently subject to.
All in all, I would like to say that my internship at the FNF has proven to be a valuable experience and it will help me pursue my professional aspirations in the future.