Nanaka Suzuki ’20 is spending her semester in Hamilton’s Washington, D.C., Program interning for Search For Common Ground’s production team. Search For Common Ground is a non-profit that works to resolve foreign conflicts through peaceful dialogue and discussion. Although peacemaking might not get as much public attention as more visible approaches such as protesting, it has contributed to many examples of slow yet sustainable social change in conflict-ridden countries.
The Search For Common Ground production team’s role in the organization is to approach social issues in communities through, TV shows, radio shows, or social media. As an intern for the production team, Suzuki is given a broad range of tasks ranging from planning media campaigns, pitching campaign proposals, and creating content for the organization’s social media. She has been trained in the ‘art of storytelling,’ which is relevant to her ‘Humans of New York’ style Instagram media campaign for Women’s History Month. For this project, Suzuki contacted powerful female figures across the world who have worked with Search For Common Ground and made strides toward gender equality. She then interviews them to feature on the media campaign.
When communities are empowered, that’s how real change happens.
One of Search For Common Ground’s past successes in influencing gender equality contributed to the recent election of Nepal’s first female president. After making a Nepalese TV show depicting women in leadership roles, there was a rise in the population’s approval of having a female president. The production team creates this type of content to change the social norms in countries of focus.
Suzuki has been discussing ideas for future projects with the vice president of communications. “We have a room called ‘the creativity room’ where we just spew out ideas,” she said. As a Government and Art double major, her role at Search For Common Ground gives her a creative outlet that also utilizes her knowledge of political science.
Suzuki is interested in marketing and communications because she feels that they “give a little more space for creativity and art.” She’d like to work in non-profit public relations instead of more conventional private sector marketing. “Something that concerns me is that marketing as a whole can be a really destructive entity. A lot of times, it’s about the need for things to go viral, and not about how their messages can affect other people,” said Suzuki. “I really enjoy working at Search because everything I’m marketing and communicating is to help other people instead of giving a company a profit.”
Another unique aspect of Search For Common Ground is its approach to peacemaking. Instead of having foreigners lead initiatives within countries of focus, Search For Common Ground recruits people from within the communities to staff their offices in conflict-ridden places. “We call it giving people the tools to make a change instead of going in and imposing our ideas on cultures that we are not even a part of,” said Suzuki. “When communities are empowered, that’s how real change happens.”