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Caleb Benadum Shares How His Travels Impacted His Commitment to Human Rights and Justice

From high school in Cambodia to graduate school in South Africa, 3L Caleb Benadum has traveled the across the globe. Doing so, however, opened his eyes to the many possibilities a career in human rights could bring.  Here’s his story.

Caleb Benadum ’14 has had some unique experiences in his life that have led him to UC Law.  After spending his first 13 years in Columbus, Ohio, he moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia with his missionary parents.  Still working as missionaries today, they live outside of Phnom Penh working at a nonprofit mission clinic called Mercy Medical Center.  Benadum finished high school in Cambodia, and returned to Columbus for college at Capital University. There he majored in philosophy and minored in religion.

“During that time, I began to realize that my experiences overseas left me with a deep commitment to human rights and justice in the world,” said Benadum of his life around the time he graduated from Capital University.  After some deliberation, he chose to attend UC Law so that he could work with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, of which he is now an Arthur Russell Fellow.  Benadum is also on the editorial staff for the Human Rights Quarterly.

His first summer in law school was spent in The Hague, Holland working at the Registry of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).  “I worked on issues as diverse as the disciplinary panel at the ICTY, as well as evaluating registry regulations for the ICTY and even making some notes on regulations for other international criminal tribunals,” he shared, noting that the experience was enjoyable and memorable.  “You learn so much about yourself and others when you travel,” he said.  “If you want to understand how human rights is relevant, and to really see how cultural differences and similarities influence – and sometimes cause tension – within the human rights regulatory scheme, then you must travel.” 

Benadum has enjoyed that UC has given him the ability to play a part in structuring his education.  “Because UC is a small school, and because of the friendliness of the administration and staff, I’ve found it relatively easy to work on a variety of educational priorities,” he shared.  One example of this is that he was able to set up a semester abroad in South Africa this past fall.  There, he studied at the University of Pretoria, where his work involved comparing human rights law in Africa to law in Europe. He also gained an understanding of the South African post-Apartheid government and legal system.  Professor Bert Lockwood, director of the Urban Morgan Institute, worked with him to structure his semester abroad, and to tailor it to fit within UC’s and the ABA’s standards for law students.

“This is a great time to go abroad, and it’s possible to do so,” said Benadum of going abroad while in law school.  “The way you will get a job in the human rights or international humanitarian law field is to go and make the contacts. Many places, such as the UN or the ICRC, want interns for longer than 2 or 3 months.”  Learning to speak a second language also is an asset, not just for world-travelling lawyers according to Benadum, but for local attorneys too.  Thus, he plans to travel next to Guatemala at a Spanish immersion school after finishing the bar this summer.

Eric Munas ‘15