Virtual Internship Stories: Nisma Hamid

"I am extremely appreciative of this valuable opportunity to combine my academic interests and affinity for the arts."

May 14, 2023

School: Graduate School of Arts & Sciences ‘23
Major: MA in Global Thought
Center: Amman
Internship: Developing programs on arts and cultural expression in the MENA region

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Nisma Hamid, but my friends call me Nis. I am a Sudanese national raised in the United Arab Emirates. After receiving a dual BA in Political Science and Global Studies at UCLA, I went on to work for the UAE National Commission for UNESCO and Environment Agency—Abu Dhabi. During my graduate studies at Columbia University, I pursued my research interests in Afro-Arab identity formations in artistic production and youth political citizenship in the MENA region. My MA thesis is heavily informed by the centrality of artistic expression and women and youth mobilization in the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Beyond my professional and academic career, I am a visual artist myself. I am passionate about makeup artistry, crocheting, and garment up-cycling. 

Tell us a bit about your internship. What Center are you working with and what are your responsibilities?

My internship with Columbia Global Centers | Amman entails conducting independent research to facilitate trend forecasting and develop programming related to arts and cultural expression in the MENA region. In my case, I proposed a virtual webinar on the sociopolitical prevalence of Arabic street art, and am looking to pitch more programming ideas.

How has your experience been so far?

Having been discouraged from exploring my artistic passions in the past, I am extremely appreciative of this valuable opportunity to combine my academic interests and affinity for the arts. Thus far, I have expanded my knowledge on current and future art trends in the MENA region and been exposed to several inspiring artists that continue to inform my own work.

What have you taken away from this internship?

My greatest takeaway from this experience is that the power of artistic and cultural expression often supersedes traditional forms of political engagement by undermining restrictions on civic freedoms and inspire progressive mobilization against oppressive regimes. Moreover, the arts scene in the MENA region is expanding and inclusive, as careers in the arts are increasingly regarded as respectable and, in some cases, profitable.

How has this experience been different from other, more traditional internships/work experiences?

The flexibility of remote work has allowed me to delve deeper into my research, while the broad scope of the internship has afforded me the freedom to explore alternative themes, inspiring several personal and academic projects.