My name is Miriam Graute and I am one of ENIL’s two new EVS volunteers in the Brussels office. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, in German, English, French (en een beetje nederlands…). I recently graduated with a BSc(Hons) in Medical Sciences from the University of Edinburgh and then spent the last couple of months in Berlin with my family. This was the first time after 9 years that I lived in Germany again, as we all moved to New York in 2008 when I was 14 years old.
I could have started to study for my chosen master’s degree in September 2017. However, I decided to take a year to do something completely different to working in a research laboratory. So while browsing the projects available on the EVS portal and stretching my chronically painful limbs, I came across ENIL’s project. As an office based role, it is much more accommodating to my joints than many of the other EVS roles advertised. Not only do I find ENIL’s work personally relevant, but it reminds me of the times in high school when I co-organised student conferences with the United Nations at their headquarters in New York. This included the UN Student Conference on Human Rights (UNSCHR) 2011 on the topic of “Discrimination and Human Rights Defenders” – and yes, discrimination against people with disabilities was part of that.
I am completely new to the Independent Living movement. While at university, I became an expert at navigating the disability support and/or lack thereof for my chronic health conditions. Now I am excited to get involved with the big picture. So while I do not yet know the ins and outs of it all, I intend to absorb as much as I can in seven months. I am sure I will learn something new from each and every member I will come in contact with.
As for my tasks while with ENIL – you may have already had an e-mail from me with a questionnaire regarding ENIL’s contribution to the 9th Session of the Open-ended Working Group on Aging. Do send in your replies to that! Along with further work on disability and aging, I will support the Alliance Against Disability Cuts (AADC) and work on the ENIL website. I’m sure other things will pop up along the way and I doubt I will ever be bored.
In my spare time, I like to crochet, sing and ride my bicycle. While I am in Brussels, I also want to learn Dutch and see as much as I can of the city and Belgium as a whole.