Emotional internship the highlight for graduate

An internship with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was a highlight during Muhammad Taufiq Suraidi's time at ANU. Image: Stuart Hay, ANU.

The website of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) explains that only post-graduate students are eligible for their highly sought after internships, but for ANU student Muhammad Taufiq Suraidi, they made an exception.

"As I was finishing my second year I wrote them a fairly long email and somehow they made leeway for me. The other interns were all Masters from places like Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge," he said.

Muhammad is one of more than 2,000 ANU students to graduate at the 2015 mid-year graduation ceremonies. He has been awarded a Bachelor of EconomicsĀ and Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours.

As part of his studies Muhammad spent three months working at the UNHCR Protection and Outreach Office of Kuala Lumpur in service of approximately 300,000 refuges and asylum seekers.

"Whenever they have issues with crime or authorities they come to the UNHCR to get advice, assistance or protection," he said.

"It was full on from day one. Often they have been victims of extortion, which is quite rampant in the area."

Muhammad said that due to a shortage of staff, it is often the interns who conduct interviews and recommend courses of action.

In a typical day he would conduct around 15 refugee or asylum seeker interviews, more than half of which were reports of relatives who had been arrested by the Immigration Department while attempting to come down from Thailand.

Whilst finding the work rewarding, Muhammad said there were also times where it could be emotionally testing.

"There was this one time a family came in, fresh out of a hospital. They were doing a security report because some gangsters tried to extort some money from them. The father handed over what little they had but was beaten to death anyway. The family were there to witness it and also beaten up," he said.

"They came in the next day, obviously traumatised, it was one of the hardest interviews I had to do."

During his time at ANU Muhammad also served a year as President of the International Students Department in 2013, the international student wing of the ANU Student Association, which represent about 2,500 students.

With his studies completed, he will now begin two months with the State Courts in his home country of Singapore.

"I'll be doing my best to be called up to the bar in Singapore and work as a lawyer," he said.

Muhammad Taufiq Suraidi

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team