Flowers at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Today is my last day at the Alzheimer’s Association. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and I feel that I’ve learned a lot, both about non-profits and about Alzheimer’s work. As a final reflection, here are a few of the biggest things I’ve learned:

  1. How to gain entry into and the trust of a population in outreach.

In order to gain access to and the trust of a population, there is often one key person acting as a “gatekeeper.” In this case, it was my boss. All of the contacts I made for interviews for my thesis were through her, as she is an established figure in the Hispanic/Latino community in Boston. She has made the effort to reach out and establish trusting relationships with different churches, organizations, and individuals throughout the community. What I learned from this is that outreach, education, and fundraising work best when individual, meaningful relationships are formed.

2. The impact of my thesis interviews was not just for me.

When I was out in the field, interviewing and talking to people, they always seemed very appreciative that a young person was interested in Alzheimer’s disease. When planning my thesis and designing my interviews., I had mainly thought about the impact the interviews would have on my project, but they also seemed to have a positive impact on my interviewees. They were happy to know that young people were invested in them, and they had a chance to tell their stories. It’s easy to forget that we shouldn’t just offer up information, but also let people respond and create a dialogue; the most effective care is usually a result of good communication between the care provider and patient.

Some more information about the Memory Café, one of the programs that I have worked with.

3. Seemingly insignificant tasks can have a big impact.

During my time here at the Alzheimer’s Association, I did a lot of “typical” intern jobs – copying, making packets, organizing drawers. One day, I spent a couple of hours organizing my boss’s file folders for her. Although it wasn’t too difficult and didn’t seem like a big job to me, she really appreciated it and it ended up streamlining her process when organizing for health fairs. I think it is easy for interns to get frustrated with this type of job, but it is important to remember that these little things that we do allow others to more easily complete bigger and more crucial tasks.

I am sad to leave the organization today, but luckily it is just a 10 minute drive from Brandeis, so I will hopefully be back to volunteer a couple of times during the semester!

Also, a quick reminder to sign up for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s! The link is to the Greater Boston walk. Brandeis SEAD will have a team for the Greater Boston Walk on September 25th, so look out for that on campus!

Sign up for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Leah Levine ’17

 

Tags: , , ,

I finished my summer internship at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center in San Antonio, Texas last Friday, August 19th. It was a (dare I say) fun and educational experience that taught me about San Antonio, myself, and social justice.

I met my learning goals in that I learned more about water justice and environmental issues in San Antonio. I especially learned how communities interact, shape, and benefit (or not) from the many aspects of “environment”—health, schools, safety, neighborhood cohesiveness, and gentrification, along with natural elements such as water and air quality. While I went in with a general context of my home city, I explored causes and effects of various environmental issues by working with people and policies.  This meant that I needed to do extra research, and push harder to keep informed about various topics like affordable housing rates, San Antonio’s history of ‘urban renewal’, impact fees, and more.

screenshot of the SA Tomorrow hearing

Screencap of my presentation, 8/11/16.Video

I’m most proud of my growth in public speaking. I have always dreaded public speaking and I managed to avoid it for part of the summer, despite the encouragement from Esperanza’s director from the get-go. I avoided saying anything at the first few community meetings, including the one that I helped plan. Eventually, I had to start phone banking and reaching out to community members for events. Then, I had to prepare to speak about affordable housing and the SA Tomorrow Plan. I was nervous speaking both times in front of the Housing Commission and even more nervous my first time in front of the San Antonio City Council.  I ended with a presentation on impervious cover, something I believed needed to stay in the already weakened SA Tomorrow Sustainability Plan. The director of the Esperanza told me that every time we speak to advocate for change, it is a gift to the community. I’d like to think that my voice along with those of other allies helped push for community and environmental justice in San Antonio.

interns with staff 3

Staff and interns at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, Summer 2016.

I think my summer internship at the Esperanza Peace & Justice center helped affirm my interest in community organizing and social justice work. I enjoyed working in a collaborative community with other interns and with other staff members. The work reflected communities we were trying to serve (and that people were from). On a personal note, I learned intersections of my identity such as class, being Mexican-American/Tejana, and queerness. I also learned that community members must be included in social justice work and must be empowered to make change in affected communities; otherwise, those trying to advocate for change follow the same pattern of patronismo—saying that they are doing things for people’s “own good” without actually consulting those affected—as the current forces in power. I learned that while I like working well in a collaborative setting, I should structure my own time a little better.

My advice for someone seeking to work at the Esperanza is that flexibility is key. Oftentimes, Esperanza and our team of interns had to work with various people. Sometimes people would side on progressive issues, who usually would not; other times we watched presumably liberal city council representatives vote for more conservative measures. Dealing with community members often required all sorts of flexibility, like speaking Spanish or talking about another event that wasn’t originally on the phone banking script or trying to explain the concept of privilege. Time-wise, we would often have to drop or focus less on certain projects if other events came up, such as votes on an affordable housing bond or even building maintenance. Everyone had their own schedule but we would share what they were working on, either at staff meetings or debriefs with the intern supervisor.

Also, the nature of the Esperanza Peace & Justice (and hopefully other community/social justice organizations) is to acknowledge and fight against oppression from all angles. This means it was difficult to focus on a single issue—I was involved in “Queer Corazones” outreach, a gentrification event called “Take Back Our City, affordable housing meetings, phone banking for different cultural performances, along with my “primary” focus on SA Tomorrow. I went in thinking that I would focus on one issue, but I ended up with a taste of different types of experiences.

Overall, my summer at the Esperanza was an amazing one. I learned different skills that I can take with me on campus and beyond and hopefully I will be able to return next summer and for years to come.

Anastasia Christelles, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Tags: , , , , ,

IMG_8172

Outside my building on my last day of work

Before I set out on my internship at Harvard my two main learning goals were to get more insight into the field of clinical psychology and to gain confidence in my work abilities. I think that I achieved my learning goals defined at the beginning of the summer and then some! While not as hands on as I anticipated, my internship was a wonderful learning experience and I really valued the time I spent in the lab. I definitely saw what working in a clinical psychology field entails and how it is different from any other working environment. There is a strict level of confidentiality, especially when dealing with child clinical psychology. I always had to remember to keep data with participant’s names separate from the data with numbers as well as to only upload information that was non-identifying.

I feel that I also achieved my second learning goal of gaining a sense of independence and higher responsibility. I tried to be as professional as possible in all of my interactions and attempted to figure things out on my own before asking for clarification. That being said, I had to learn that it is ok to ask questions and to do so in a confident manner without self-blame. My goal was to appear mature and to not be seen as merely “the intern.” The lab was an incredibly warm and welcoming place and I definitely got a chance to socialize with everyone outside of just a working relationship.

IMG_8130

Ice cream with my co-worker

My internship this summer definitely helped me clarify my interest in working in a clinical psych field. I feel like my interest was really sparked whenever I was reading through the psychological measures given to participants or attending weekly seminars. I listened to talks that were on various topics in the field such as pediatric clinical psychology in a hospital setting and new approaches to looking at the role of parental behavior in anxiety. There is a lot of new and exciting work being done and it is inspiring to see so many people work furiously to ensure that the lives of children are improved.

Due to the nature of the work of my lab, as a volunteer I did not have direct contact with families that had risk or abuse situations. However, in my work I read a lot of participant files that describe traumatic events and sometimes even on paper the accounts were difficult to process. Also, I was in the room where the research assistants made phone calls to families. There were some conversations that described children wanting to hurt themselves or past abuse by others, which again was very disconcerting to hear. For anyone looking to pursue an internship in youth mental health, you should remember that the work that is being done will hopefully make a difference in the lives of adolescents. It is important to practice self-care and to talk to coworkers about issues that are of concern to you. In terms of general internship advice, I recommend trying to take on more responsibility and going above and beyond what is asked of you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to be specific about what you would like to learn from the internship.  I am most proud of navigating my internship, becoming more professional, and even when work was difficult – maintaining a smile on my face.

Melissa Viezel ’17

Tags: , ,

After 8 months of tucking my shirt in, morning commutes on the T and free K-cups, I’ve finished my internship at The Improper Bostonian. Looking back, it is the third longest job I’ve held – behind my on-campus job at Student Financial and Academic Services and my over 8 years of working for my family’s irrigation company (P.S. that’s my dad – like 20 years ago at least – on the tractor on the home page.) It was a great experience and I will definitely remember it as the place where I really launched my career in writing. Being able to continue working over the summer through the WOW program exponentially increased my skills, since I was able to build off of my existing experience.

I met the learning goals I defined for myself at the start of the semester, for the most part. I pitched and wrote a few different articles throughout the summer (my favorite being one about some local t-shirt designers), but not as many as I originally hoped. Overall, I wrote four different pieces over the summer, which really isn’t that much when you consider most online publications look for writers to contribute at least three different stories per day. My lack of writing was due to a few different factors, such as trouble with scheduling interviews and a lack of ideas worthy to pitch but I am still proud of the work I completed and will use them as samples when applying for jobs later on. The portfolio of work I’ve put together from my time at The Improper is enough to get my ‘foot-in-the-door’ at other publications, especially when pitching and submitting articles as a freelance writer.

The portfolio of work is the most important thing, career-wise, I gained from continuing on at The Improper for the summer. I came to the conclusion that I want to be a free-lancer, at least right after I graduate, and not be tied to a specific publication. I would much rather write and submit that work to be published instead of applying to different editor positions and hoping to get one. The freedom associated with writing strictly for the sake of writing and hoping to get paid for it afterwards is exactly what I’m looking for after graduating. I don’t want to have to show up to an office everyday and have to work through some of the intra-office problems that occur every day; I would like to simply focus on what I’m passionate about and mainly work for myself. Most likely later on in life, I will look for a stable job with a regular paycheck but working piecemeal and trying to broaden myself across different publications is much more exciting right now. That’s really how the career ladder works for writers and editors. Before any publication hires a writer full-time, they want to make sure the candidate can be counted on in the freelance capacity. This is exactly how it worked for one of my supervisors when she was hired for The Improper. She had told me she had done some freelance work for the magazine previously, and when her job position opened up, she was a much stronger candidate since she had already worked for the magazine.

As for other students looking to work in this field, and this definitely applies to working at The Improper as well, I would tell them to not be timid. Don’t be shy about your ideas for articles and other pieces, and just keep thinking. Don’t be complacent with what you’ve done so far; there is always more you can submit or work on – both for actual article submissions and just working as an intern. That is definitely my strongest takeaway from my entire summer intern experience. Simply work hard. Of course there will be times when you have to relax a bit and take your mind off of your work, but any writer or journalist knows that the mental effort that goes into the job never really takes a break. Ideas for stories and articles pop up everywhere, and keeping an efficient working habit, you can make the most of them.

 

sally

NCL’s executive director Sally Greenberg, fellow intern Hannah and I visited the National Museum of American History to see NCL’s exhibit.

I would like to think that my hoped-for experiences have become a reality. I’ve gotten to work on some really awesome projects during my time at NCL. Particularly successful and personally proud moments  include researching Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy in favor of FDA approval, writing a letter to President Obama to request a food waste initiative executive order, researching renewal of PDUFA VI, prescription drug policies, and consumer attitudes towards the pharmaceutical drug industry. I think a disappointing experience was at the very beginning of my internship. I researched and worked on a blog post advocating for HPV vaccination but it never got posted. I assume it was because there was too much scientific jargon and not consumer friendly enough. Since then, I have gotten much better at changing up my tone to write more consumer friendly blogs to inform the public about the issues that consumers face every day. Some topics I blogged about were payday loans, Wall Street regulations, and the borrower defense to repayment rule. In terms of spreading consumer education, all the interns and staff members collectively reached our goal of creating enough questions for the annual LifeSmarts competition. I also had the fortunate opportunity to meet and network with influential people from health and consumer organizations.
This internship helped clarify my career interest in health policy. However, I realized that I really don’t enjoy sitting at a desk all day behind a computer so perhaps a job in research is not for me. While I am still interested in policy work, particularly in regards to addressing health disparities, I am now also considering a path towards becoming a health care provider, perhaps a nurse practitioner. I prefer the nursing model more than the medical model because it looks at health more holistically.
I would advise prospective interns to be patient when it comes to implementing public policy reform. Sometimes things don’t always go your way but you just have overlook those moments that haven’t been necessarily successful and still move forward in your work. Policy reform requires a lot of time and it can be years before we see any real changes going into effect, especially with what often seems like bureaucratic ineptitude. In addition, be proactive and step out of your comfort zone, whether that is taking on new projects outside your field or attending networking events. There is always a possibility that you may enjoy something outside your direct field of work.
NCL allowed me to explore both interests in a way that I didn’t think was possible, especially at a consumer advocacy organization rather than a health organization such as CDC or NIH. Lastly, the location itself in Washington D.C. presents so many wonderful opportunities to attend various panel discussions on public health issues such as women’s reproductive health, HPV, DMD, Zika virus, global health infrastructure and many other issues. These events great networking opportunities for interns looking to enter this field of public health and health policy work. My time at NCL has been a great learning experience and I am very grateful to all the staff members who made my experience such a rewarding one.

Elese Chen

NCL's exhibit at the Museum of American History

NCL’s exhibit at the Museum of American History

DSC_0282

Washington Monument

14101941_10206871654015154_378821522_n

Sunset view at Key Bridge by Georgetown

 

 

Well, our summer session is officially over and the time has come to hang up our shields and send my Girls’ LEAP shirts to the bottom of my t-shirt pile. This whirlwind and inspirational experience has left me with so much joy and so much yet to process. In all honesty, the summer was really challenging. The work was tough, the students were not always excited to be in our program and the stereotypical truths about females played out before my very own eyes. Some girls were especially timid and anxious while others could only discuss their physical attractiveness and viewed their outer beauty as their most important asset. I believe one of the most difficult parts was learning to practice what I preach. How do I take up space? How do I assert my boundaries and care and love myself better? These are very real questions that I have yet to process.

While this experience reinforced my preconceived notions that teaching is hard, it also showed me how rewarding an educator role can be. I know for a fact that my words and actions had a very real and positive impact on specific girls. One in particular mentioned how I “opened her mind and motivated her to step beyond her comfort zone.” Little statements like this made me feel like I really contributed to a positive and strong female culture. Also, I now feel more comfortable facilitating discussions about challenging topics, such as conflict resolution and sexual harassment. I recognize the value of being physically active, that children’s bodies were made to move and engage with the world. I believe the organization gave me a powerful cohort of women to learn with and from. I particularly enjoyed our weekly meetings that focused on professional and personal development. I was certainly frustrated by some aspects of the organization. I wish that it was more efficient and better organized and that despite working in the field, away from the office, I would have been more in the loop about Girls’ LEAP events. I recognize that this is a challenge in any organization that is struggling financially and the experience has actually inspired me to learn more about business and marketing/financial practices. I so strongly believe in the cause and I would love to see this organization expand and grow qualitatively and qualitatively (serve a larger population).

It is challenging to sum up my experiences in one word. But, as we end each of our sessions with a Girls’ LEAP is… “fill in the blank” I will complete this post with a Girls’ LEAP is… exhilarating.

Fourteen weeks and 264 hours later, I cannot believe that my time at the International Institute of New England (IINE) is over. My learning goals were to apply what I am learning in school to my work and to see if this furthered career interests. I definitely did apply what I am learning to my work. I am studying Politics and Economics and I used concepts from a variety of classes. I took The American Presidency, which helped me while teaching about currency and who is on which denomination. I took American Health Care, which helped me teach basics about health care and insurance in the US. This internship somewhat helped clarify career interests, but it also opened more interests for me. I am still interested in public policy and non-profits, but more in a management role. I am also becoming more interested in learning business skills, and I have signed up for classes accordingly.

IMG_3400-2

Relaxing on Free Fun Friday at the Arnold Arboretum

I definitely learned more about myself in the workplace. I learned to trust myself and to become a better decision maker. I often had to make quick decisions, whether it was in a class, on a field trip, or at a meeting. In the beginning of the summer, I doubted my skills and ability to help refugees find jobs. However, I gained the confidence that I needed when I realized that I did have the experience through having jobs in the US and through growing up here. IINE hired me to teach classes and work with clients, so I realized that if the organization and my clients believed I was qualified, then I was. I became better at trusting myself to make decisions, because everything does not always go as planned.

The advice I would give to a student interested in this organization and field would be to be patient and flexible. Working at a non-profit can be frustrating due to the lack of resources. For over half the summer, the staff squeezed into classrooms at a community center while construction on a new building was delayed. At times, it was frustrating when I could not provide T passes for clients who forgot theirs during a field trip or when clients are waiting to hear back from a job interview and they really want to work. I would give the advice to be patient and flexible, because sometimes situations do not turn out the way you expect or want. Resilience is an important skill and attribute to have. Despite the importance of these skills, working at the IINE was very rewarding. I would also recommend working in Workforce Development, where I interacted with clients more than the interns in the other department. I met many people on their first day of class in America, and taught them in Cultural Orientation and the Workforce Orientation Workshop. I helped them apply for jobs, practice for interviews, and conduct follow up. I became personally invested in their lives and futures, because I wanted the refugees to succeed in their jobs, and to create a life for themselves in the US. I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in non-profits, teaching, human rights, or management. IINE gives you a lot of responsibility, which is the best way to learn and gain new skills.

IMG_3737-1

After our field trip to the Harvard Museum of Natural History

This summer, I am most proud of the bonds I created with my clients. At the end of the summer, I am sad to leave because of the staff and my clients. I want to know when they get new jobs and how they are doing in their jobs. I am interested in seeing how they are doing a year from now– if they live in the same place, if they have the same job, or if they are going back to school. My clients talk about their hopes for the future with me, and I want to know how they are doing with their goals.

I loved working with the staff and other interns as well. On my last day, the office manager said I was always welcome back to work or volunteer. Being in Waltham makes the goodbye easier, since I was also told that if I am ever in Boston, I am always welcome to stop by the office to say hello. Thus, leaving was not really a goodbye and more of a “see you later,” whether it is emailing with staff, visiting the office, or volunteering in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the current refugee crisis and the refugee resettlement process, this link from the USCRI is very helpful. If you are interested in learning about the work IINE does besides employment (which I did), here is a link to other services.

Lastly, I am so thankful to Brandeis and the WOW Fellowship for enabling me to have this amazing opportunity.

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18

My three learning goals for the summer were: 1) combine the skills I have acquired from Brandeis classes to our research project, 2) gain a deeper understanding of the scientific research project from beginning to end, and 3) further explore the intersection between research, advocacy, and policy.

image2 (1)

Me, Carolina (my fellow intern and co-author), and our supervisor Professor Siegel on our last day of work! It was such a spectacular and stimulating summer and I will miss them and their enthusiasm for social justice and public health advocacy greatly!

HSSP, Anthropology, and Legal Studies classes at Brandeis gave me a fantastic background on many of the topics studied in our research, such as structural violence, public health disparities, and public policy advocacy. Because my psychology classes taught me to think critically about statistical concepts, statistical procedures, and research methods, I was able to heavily contribute to the research collection and analysis in our project. I was also exposed to all phases of the research process working with Professor Siegel, from the conceptualization of the research question to the writing of the final manuscript. This will put me at a major advantage when applying to both research positions and graduate school programs in the future. Further, since our research findings were very significant, in the final section of our paper we were able to make important suggestions for public health policy-makers in the future that will be necessary to reduce the amount of firearm-related intimate partner homicides each year. The major policy suggestion here includes making it illegal in all states for domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) subjects to purchase and possess firearms, which is a law that only a few states have passed. In our research, we used many of the Everytown for Gun Safety databases on domestic violence to code our research, which shows how weak state laws are concerning DVRO subjects.

This internship overall has been a spectacular learning opportunity in so many ways, but has really taught me, step-by-step, the value of research in social and political change. I have learned that I want to continue taking part in research in the future and got to graduate school; however, I definitely love the policy side of research, advocating for specific changes in public policy based on research findings, more than I am intrigued by the data collection, data organization, and data analysis phases of research. I have also learned that I love the conceptualization of the research and the planning/organization of the research. By getting involved in each stage of the research, I was able to get a good sense of the areas I am most interested in pursuing in the future. Pinpointing my research-related interests in this internship will be incredibly helpful down the line when I am searching for jobs/internships in the future.

In terms of advice to students, I would recommend an internship at the Boston University School of Public Health to anyone. The faculty there are wonderful, everyone is very welcoming, intelligent, diligent, and thoughtful, and the organization is doing exceptional work right now trying to develop research that will help combat different health injustices around the globe. A huge piece of advice is to show initiative from the beginning of your internship. Explain to your supervisor what you are most interested in about research, what your goals are for the internship, and potentially where your biggest weaknesses lie so that you can work with your supervisor to strengthen these areas. For any student with an internship at a research organization, I would highly recommend speaking to your supervisor about getting involved with the entire research process from beginning to end, especially if you imagine that you want to continue doing research-related work in the future. Having at least a good idea of what goes into each phase of the process will help you really develop an understanding of which aspects of the process you are most interested in.

 

image1

The final version of our research manuscript before it is sent off to leading public health journal JAMA Internal Medicine for publication

Overall this summer, though I am proud of every aspect of the research project that I took part in, I am particularly proud of co-writing the final research paper with Professor Siegel and my fellow research intern Carolina. Once the paper is published in the next few months, hopefully in our top-choice journal JAMA Internal Medicine, I will officially be a published author!

Rachel Kurland, ’18

Social Justice WOW fellow

My final week at Supportive Living Inc. felt like it wrapped up so quickly, and yet I cannot help but think it was just the right amount of time for me to move onto other things. There is no doubt that my time at Supportive Living Inc. was worthwhile and well spent. My learning goals were met because I got to delve into physical therapy, sociological research projects, and a multitude of activities with brain injured residents. Some residents may have impacted me more than others (there are a couple specific ones I wrote about in a newsletter for Supportive Living) and I know I will definitely visit them from time to time. 

This internship has definitely helped me clarify my career interests. Though enjoyable, physical or occupational therapy is not a field I wish to pursue. I have found research to be incredibly intriguing and more suited towards my personality and interests. I have also learned more things about myself. Not to “toot my own horn,” but I believe I am very good at connecting with certain kinds of people who otherwise are very shy and reserved. I have experienced some incredibly touching and memorable moments with some residents who usually never talk or open up. 

If any other student would like to pursue this internship, I would encourage them earnestly. Especially if one is interested in public health but does not know what aspect of it to work in (like me). There were many interns who I worked with who were interested in neuroscience as well as health sciences and psychology majors. Those who are interested in learning about the post traumatic effects of brain injury should definitely try this internship. However, if you are more interested in learning about the more scientific research of neuroscience, I would recommend a different kind of internship. SLI research is more about sociological research rather than lab work. 

The aspect of this summer internship I am most proud of is how I was able to make connections with people at Brandeis. I think it is very important that I take away some things from this internship that could directly and positively affect my future. I was able to meet another Brandeis student who introduced me to Brandeis Global Brigades (a program I might join in the spring), and I was also able to meet Dr. Laura Lorenz, a visiting scholar at the Heller School. With Dr. Lorenz, I was able to discuss a possible independent study with her when I come back to Brandeis in the spring. I am proud at how I was able to make some immediate plans with Brandeis staff and students concerning my academic future. 

The pictures below include my video project, a bike exercise with an intern and an immobile resident, and a bonsai activity. 

IMG_0889

IMG_1097

IMG_1051

On the last day of my internship at the Anti-Defamation League, I decided to read through my application for the WOW fellowship. Although nostalgia was hitting hard, I had a big smile on my face as I recalled the anticipation I had for this internship, and the reality that all of my goals were not only reached but surpassed.

Before I began my internship, I had a clear vision of what I hoped to gain, contribute, and learn from this experience. On an academic and career front, I hoped to further develop my writing abilities and become very comfortable in an office setting. Looking back on these past few months, it’s clear that I’ve done just that. I wrote a lot this summer and feel far more comfortable drafting professional letters, op-eds, and press releases. It was an honor and a blessing to further develop this critical skill while contributing in a meaningful way. Feeling comfortable in a boardroom setting is definitely not an issue after spending 200 hours in a non-profit work environment. Interning at the Anti-Defamation League gave me a clearer sense of what I want in my career and reaffirmed that I thrive on contribution and connection.

My personal goal was, by far, the most important one: to challenge myself and stretch far beyond my comfort zone. Before I began my internship, I thought I had a pretty good sense of what working in the field of social justice would be like. After all, I had taken several related classes, completed ADL’s A World of Difference Peer Training, and volunteered in their office throughout high school. From day one of my internship, it was clear that I’d only gotten a glimpse of the type of work I’d be doing. Being immersed in combatting the anti-Semitism, bigotry, and discrimination that still plagues our world is anything but comfortable, especially for a girl who doesn’t even like to watch the news! Each day, I conducted media searches for terms like bullying, anti-Semitism, and racism. Being on the lookout for acts of discrimination and prejudice was often uncomfortable and difficult for me. But as I moved further into my internship, I began to see tragic news stories as opportunities for organizations like the ADL to make the world a better place.

This summer has been a summer of growth. I walked in excited, anticipating the incredible lessons to be gained from this experience. I’m leaving truly inspired, and ready to take these lessons back to Brandeis. Reflecting on this summer, I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished and grateful that I was able to contribute so much. I think my greatest impact was in kickstarting various projects that had been pushed back. Toward the end, a significant part of my internship involved locating the contact information for each principal in the state of Florida. Standardized testing had been scheduled during a window of time that included the Jewish High Holidays. Several schools had scheduled testing during these holidays, which presented an issue for many families. Because we reached out to each district, schools are now better informed and fewer students will face this dilemma.

The advice I have for future ADL interns or social justice WOW fellows is simple: keep a clear vision of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Social justice work is critically important, but it’s also very difficult and emotionally trying. As Olympic athlete Mallory Weggemann says, “You see bad things happen, unfortunately, it is inevitable, but they don’t have to take our ability to believe in the beauty of tomorrow.” Reminding yourself each day of the purpose of your work — the people, the goal, the future —  will be your fuel. This will give you the ammunition to continue on, in high spirits. I’ve learned from the best: The ADL staff always seems to remain optimistic by creating a positive and hopeful work environment.

I will truly miss the incredible and inspiring staff at the Florida regional ADL office. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in such a life-changing experience with such wonderful people!

I first articulated my learning goals for this summer when applying for my World of Work scholarship. Upon reflection, I chose three goals: to gain experience in a fast-pace environment, to determine what field of law I would be interested in pursuing, and to become a more confident worker. At the time, these goals felt overly optimistic; since I was not sure what to expect, I did not know what I could reasonable hope to gain from my experience. However, now that I have reached the end of my internship, I can confidently say that all my goals have been met.

Working in a courthouse has certainly given me a better understanding of what it would be liked to have a job in a fast-paced field such as criminal justice. Unexpected evidence or witness non-compliance may arise suddenly and completely change the trajectory of a case. However, these situations must be dealt with quickly and efficiently to ensure that the defendant receives his right to a timely trial.

The district attorney's office logo

The district attorney’s office logo

Additionally, I have gained a much better understanding of how I would want to apply a degree in law. Rather than push me to want to be a prosecutor, this internship has made me realize that my true interest in law lies in examining the underlying structure and rules that guide the legal system. This internship has helped me better understand that I am interested in working in legal policy.

 

Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, I have gained extraordinary confidence throughout this summer. This internship has made me realize how important it is that I remember that I am not a nervous college freshman. Instead, I may be less than a year away from entering the workforce without the title of “intern” and have, in my past few years gained tremendous experience and have substantive skills to offer. I have never been a particularly shy or self-conscious person, but this summer I have realized how crucial it is that I take myself seriously not just as a person, but also as a professional.

I would definitely advise students considering attending law school to try and gain a similar experience that includes experience in the courtroom as my internship did. I previously avoided internships in law because I thought that without a law degree, I would only be assigned insignificant, menial work. While I was not asked to represent the Commonwealth in court at any point, by just being in the courthouse and getting first-hand exposure to legal proceedings, I gained valuable skills and a better understanding of my career goals. I would also recommend working at a big, busy office like Boston Municipal where there are constantly new things to see and experience.

All the files I shared my desk with!

All the files I shared my desk with!

Reflecting on this summer, I am extremely happy and proud of all that I have accomplished. Above all, I am proud of myself for taking so many moments to reflect on my experience and what I was learning. I think it was this reflection—in large part prompted by my WOW scholarship—that has made my internship such a valuable growing experience.

 

Dustin Fire, ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

In the final few weeks of my internship at Lawyers for Children, I spent more time accompanying the social worker I was shadowing on court appointments and client interviews. I also started to form closer bonds with particular clients I had met multiple times over the course of the summer. Two of the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the summer were to learn how to be a more effective advocate and to improve my communication and listening skills. By watching the way attorneys spoke to their clients before court and spoke up for their clients in court, as well as observing the way family court judges took into consideration a child’s wishes, I’ve seen first hand the way that advocates work to help those in need. I also learned a lot about how to listen effectively to children by observing the way the social worker conducted interviews and in speaking with the clients myself. One of the skills I observed and developed at LFC that I think will be particularly helpful in the future was how to talk to kids about trauma in their lives in a way that is empowering to them and does not require them to relive the experiences we needed to get on the record.

Although it was often disheartening to hear about trauma in children’s lives and not know for sure whether or not we could help or heal them, I felt sure at the end of each day that the work we’d done had a positive impact in our clients’ lives (whether we were acting only as a listening ear or fighting in court to get them removed from a dangerous home environment). Having a positive impact in our young clients’ lives made all the work I did this summer entirely worth it. I would definitely like to continue working to improve the lives of children in the foster care system in the future.

 

 

First Day of Work

First Day of Work

 

IMG_1878-2

Handing in my ID card on the last day of my internship

If I were to give advice to another student who wanted to work at Lawyers for Children, I’d tell them to prepare to work hard. Interns were with their supervisors all day which meant that they were living the life of an attorney or social worker during the whole internship. The advice I would give to an individual interested in an internship working with foster care children is to think hard about whether or not they have the patience to work with children and whether or not they really enjoy it before they sign up. Children can sense whether or not someone is invested in their lives and is listening fully to their narratives.

The thing I am most proud of after working at LFC for 10 weeks is the connections I made with two clients in particular. One child, a 14 year old trans girl, was in a situation where her case planner was transphobic and she wasn’t getting the support she needed at her placement. During a conference about the youth’s progress at the facility she was placed in, I got on the phone with the facilitator and explained what was going on. Our client heard me, and seemed to appreciate my standing up for her. Another client who I was helping get supplies for her unborn child was telling me about her life and stopped to say, “You know, I think you’d make a great social worker. It seems like you actually care about what I’m telling you.” It was then that I felt most sure that I want to continue working in this field in the future.

 

Rachel Geller, ’17

Social Work WOW Fellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 5.50.16 PM

On the ferry to Nantucket

It’s hard to believe that my internship at Living on Earth is now over. I miss the creative and supportive atmosphere, the interesting stories I helped produce, and of course, I miss working on such important mission.

My experiences during my last week reminded me how important that mission really is. To close the internship, I attended a “friendraising” event that the show hosted in Nantucket with the other interns in the office. I had the opportunity to tour the UMass Field Station on the island (where the event took place) and listen to a few fantastic speakers, like New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina. At the event, I met students and adults from all over who were passionate about protecting the ocean. And the speakers shared emerging science that may be able to help us connect with, and therefore

With the rest of the Living on Earth family in Nantucket

With the rest of the Living on Earth family in Nantucket

preserve, our environment. In fact, there is even emerging science being studied at the field station itself. 

One line of one of the speeches got to me in particular. Safina said,  “We now know, and by that I mean the few scientists that read the paper know that….” He then went on to say that most of what the scientific community knows about is not  known by the general public. That is, a huge portion of scientific knowledge is inaccessible to the very people that scientific issues affect.

This is why journalism is important. Journalism is a medium that can make scientific papers, complicated policies, and other jargon-filled issues accessible to the ordinary person. Journalism has the power to boost scientific literacy and expose important truths. I am so glad that I was able to learn about this field through my internship!

Recording my own piece

Recording my own piece

I’ve been able to meet inspiring individuals who we invited to the show who are trying to make a difference on our planet. I’ve been able to learn about the creative processes that go into making a radio piece. And I’ve been able to work on every step of that process. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.

I hope to continue exploring my interests in journalism and the environment. In fact, I’m taking both environmental and journalism courses this upcoming semester. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do after graduation. But I know that my internship prepared me to work well in a team, to think creatively and to be passionate about working hard in whatever field I choose.

My internship’s over, but I know that the connections I made this summer are not. I met mentors and friends that I hope to stay in touch with for a long time. To all of my friends who I have told to listen to the show: don’t quit just yet. There are still 5 or 6 pieces I’ve produced that have not yet aired. Keep your eyes peeled!

 

~Jay Feinstein

Social Justice WOW Recipient

Leaving any project is difficult, especially ones worked on exclusively for an entire summer.  It seems like the finished product is rarely what was initially planned. I believe this is because better ideas have organic growth during the maturation of a project. The summer and my internship finished before I knew exactly what was happening.  There were twists and turns, and here I am with a finished project and a head full of knowledge and experiences.

I learned how to use the javascript library D3 (https://d3js.org/) to build my visualization, a standard in the industry, and improved my programming skills in general.  During my internship, SACHI began a reading group to discuss important foundational papers in Human-Computer Interaction and to keep up with the current research being conducted in the field; we would read a paper every week and discuss its contributions to the field and its research methods.  These discussion groups provided me with insight I didn’t plan on receiving.  Analyzing the research methods of other people (especially groundbreaking research) provided me with a strong foundational understanding of the field and its methods.

Photo: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/tech-time-warp-engelbart/ From “The Mother of All Demos”

Photo: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/tech-time-warp-engelbart/ From “The Mother of All Demos”

This additional understanding, along with the work I completed this summer, has helped me cement my interest and future goals in Human-Computer Interaction and more specifically Information Visualization, as well as helping me plan potential future research of which I wish to be a part.

This summer also helped me through a great deal of self-reflection.  I had never traveled to a foreign country alone, and living in Scotland for three months was a sink or swim exploration into the daily reality of adult living.  While at work I learned the power of persistence (if I don’t fix this bug, nobody else will) and how to work a full day in the lab, I would go home and learn the amazing power of a grocery list before going shopping (I have a problem with impulse shopping when alone).  At the beginning of the summer I was terrified I was unqualified for my position and unqualified to be a functioning adult.  But I did it!  It was difficult, admitting sometimes that I didn’t know what I was doing and asking for help, but that’s universal.  Very few people are experts at everything, and most people are glad to help.

That’s been one of my huge takeaways and something I’d recommend everybody take advantage of no matter their field.  Talk to people! To anybody working in a computer science or any research lab like SACHI:  Ask people about their research.  People are all doing incredible things, but people rarely share their work without prompting.  Now, most people in the lab are working towards publishing for the biggest Human-Computer Interaction conference, CHI (https://chi2016.acm.org/wp/).  I’ve learned so many things just from casual conversation, and in turn, getting feedback from somebody else on my own work is useful when I’m stuck or frustrated.  Sometimes I forgot the big picture can be groundbreaking when I’m stuck on one piece of the puzzle, and that’s how to keep motivated.

To anybody working in research, design, or even just computer science as a field, I would highly suggest exploration in your work.  When there are multiple ways to accomplish a goal, don’t just choose the method that first comes to mind, spend an hour or two (or more), following other trains of thought.  When facing a problem from multiple directions, you get a more clear view of what the solution needs to include.

And so now I’m done.  That in itself feels like an accomplishment.   But even more than that, I’m proud that I get to continue.  The work could still be improved, and that’s the plan.  I hope that my visualization will reach a point that it’s publishable.  This summer was absolutely fantastic, and I’ll not only look back on the memories, but forward to what I can now achieve.

One of the SACHI weekly meetings

One of the SACHI weekly meetings

–Katherine Currier

My internship this summer with The Fortune Society is one that has really opened my eyes.  When people think of those involved in the criminal justice system, individuals with Master’s degrees or those fueled by intrinsic motivation typically don’t come to mind.  Why not? This is because unfortunately as a society we’re taught that these people are somehow less “human” than we are and that they don’t deserve the same place in our society. One of the many things that my internship with The Fortune Society has taught me that these people have often experienced trauma, are in need of support and resources and are good people who are still trying and still hoping.

 

Me and some of the other interns/volunteers at a rally we attended on behalf of The Fortune Society.

Fellow interns/volunteers and me at a rally we attended on behalf of The Fortune Society.

While this internship has not solidified exactly which social justice issue I want to fight for within the criminal justice system,  it has reassured me that this is the field in which I want to work.  As had been my goal, I also learned about the criminal justice system and how it affects and individuals and family systems. Having the chance to see the effects this type of work can have on people is truly a remarkable and humbling. One moment that immediately comes to mind was how thankful a group of veterans were after we held a focus group to help improve policies that create reentry barriers for them.  This moment was such a fulfilling one because I didn’t realize how much of a toll veterans can face coming out of the criminal justice system until I had a chance to sit and listen to folks and shaking their hands.

One thing I realized about myself this summer is how privileged I am, and how privilege operates.  The fact that I have a home,  access to food and the ability to pursue a higher education – and that I can afford basic luxuries such as having a phone and leasing a car – are now things that I have a renewed understanding of because I know that so many people do not and will never have these things.

The participants of Pro Bono Day, an event Fortune holds to educate attorneys on the programs they have and the advocacy work they do.

The participants of Pro Bono Day, an event Fortune holds to educate attorneys on the programs they have and the advocacy work they do.

If someone is getting an internship within the criminal justice system non-profit sector, I would advise keeping an open mind, because the stories you’ll hear about an individual will far surpass the rap sheet someone has to their name.  As the founder of The Fortune Society, David Rothenberg often says, “the crime is what people did, not who they are.”  If someone is fortunate enough (no pun intended) to secure an internship with The Fortune Society, I would recommend to voice your opinions and don’t just be a yes-man.  Your opinions will be appreciated!  If you want to learn more about my experience at Fortune or are interested in interning there, here is the link towards the Brandeis Internship Exchange, and this is my email.

One thing of which I am proud that I did this summer was helping to make a mere dent in reforming the criminal justice system.  Seeing and hearing first-hand how this unjust system can affect not only the individual but their family and even community, a whole other dimension of the justice system unveiled itself.  I think it’s a dimension that needs to be discovered through hearing someone’s story from their mouth, not reading it in a newspaper or even reading this blog.

Tags: , , , ,

First and foremost, I would like to emphasize my gratitude towards Verité and the people who I worked alongside this summer, as well as towards the World of Work scholarship from Brandeis, which allowed me to take this opportunity.

I completely met my career and personal learning goals during my internship. My career goal was to discover whether or not researching at an NGO would be something I would like to do as my future career, and my personal goal was to develop good professional workplace etiquette, since this was my first office job. Although I would not trade my experience for the world, I have discovered that I do not necessarily want to pursue a career in which I focus solely on computer research. I realize now that I want to be able to do field research and speak with more people. In terms of my personal goal, my internship allowed me to work on my organizational skills, something I have struggled with throughout my academic career. Especially because I worked on multiple projects at a time, I improved my time management skills.
The goal I defined as my academic goal certainly changed over the course of my internship. My goal previously focused specifically on providing context for my human rights independent disciplinary major. While I will use the information I obtained this summer to help guide the formation of my IIM, I began to focus on learning as much as possible while I had access to such an abundance of valuable resources, rather than on what I would do with that information later on. Besides completing my defined goals, I learned about my own style of research and research methods and was able to expand my approach to research.
If a student were to ask me about my experience at Verité, I would only give praise of my time there. However, if they were to apply for the same internship, I would warn them of the intensity of the research. Although the environment at Verité is cheerful, warm and welcoming, the subject matter is emotionally draining. Verité’s work revolves around researching human labor trafficking, forced child labor, and unsafe working conditions. We research unfair conditions around the world, and the information one finds can often be incredibly sad. However, the staff at Verité all research similar topics—they are always available as a sounding board, and to offer help, whether it is help with work questions or just someone to talk with.
To anyone leaning towards working in the field of human rights, I would strongly encourage that career choice. It is a career path that works for something that is bigger than oneself. Other than it being morally rewarding, one can truly implement changes if they put in the work, whether those changes are small scale or larger, such as policy shifts.

Check out Verité’s new “Knowledge Portal
This summer I am most proud of the pace at which I learned, which was in large part due to the amazing people who surrounded me at work. My main supervisor consistently checked in with me and guided my research, while other project supervisors each paid special attention to the interns assigned to their projects. Because people were always available when I needed help, I felt supported throughout my entire internship. Before I sign off, I encourage you guys to take a look at a report released by Verité in January 2016, “An Exploratory Study on the Role of Corruption in International Labor Migration”

Georgia Nichols ’18

During my time at ETE camp, I’ve really engaged with parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. To say I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone would be an understatement. In my time in Haiti, I’ve gained more insight into education but most importantly I’ve witnessed firsthand the necessity of communal transformation. There are many qualities that are accompanied with a good education, including qualified teachers, supportive parents and other adequate resources that’ll contribute to the success of the student. However, a very crucial but often overlooked portion of education is the help of the community. The community is what

Here is a picture of one of my students presenting their project.

Here is one of my students presenting their project.

held ETE camp together. The success of ETE camp wouldn’t be visible without communal interference. The community held all of us responsible for igniting the minds of their children and in return we received their grace and aid. We received their support in the little things such as neighbors accompanying us to the store or simply offering help whenever needed. This also included house maintenance issues we faced during our stay. This performance of community played a role when my supervisor was forced to leave the camp due to unforeseen circumstances. In this time, it was up to us and the Hinche community step up and run the camp efficiently in her absence. The community worked together to still facilitate graduation and final projects despite her absence. The community was able to run this program efficiently without direct oversight of the director. We were able to make all of their certificates, organize and clean the school, and operate breakfast and lunch on our own. One parent even volunteered to video record the entire graduation ceremony. I was so grateful to witness a community uplifting each other and maintaining a positive program made for their community.

Honestly, this internship has left me with more questions than answers as far as my career goals. However, there a few things I can see myself doing after graduation. Primarily, I can without a doubt see myself working with kids. At first, I was pretty certain working with younger kids would require too much emotional and physical labor. Though, by the end of the program, I couldn’t stay away from them. Working with them has given me patience and so much compassion. With that being said, I see myself working for Teach for America. Almost all of my co-workers have worked with Teach for America and described their experiences as nothing less than extraordinary.

For anyone who would like to work with educational nonprofits, I would tell them to always remain ready for improvisation. I tend to thrive in comfort and structure and working in Haiti has shown me that I am capable of bending and making it work. I didn’t believe I had this quality to improvise without leaving students behind. Another thing I would tell them is that, one should always conserve resources. There is rarely a surplus in school supplies and other resources. Save everything! You never know if the budget will be as big as the organization would like. The money needed for that fiscal year will not always meet the demands of the organization’s budget. Donations and sponsors are crucial to the maintenance of the program as these programs offer free services for their community.

The thing I am most proud of however is facilitating a poetry workshop for the students at ETE camp. They created their own acrostic poems in English and Haitian Creole. Their poems composed of adjectives and positive affirmations that described them. I felt that it was crucial for students to be able to express themselves both in English and their native tongue. This project benefits the organization because we are now able to use the student’s work as an incentive for donations. I was so happy to contribute and share the veiled brilliance of my students.

Here are some student highlights of the poetry project.

Here are some student highlights of the poetry project.

As my last performance here at Williamstown Theatre Festival came to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the amazing experiences that I had throughout this summer. I definitely feel that I met my defined learning goals academically, professionally, and personally as a Stage Management Intern at WTF. After this internship, I believe that I am a much better stage manager and I cannot wait to apply everything I learned to future endeavors.

Here I am at the opening night gala of And No More Shall We Part.

Here I am at the opening night gala of And No More Shall We Part.

Interning at WTF  helped clarify my career interests. Before coming to Williamstown, I thought that I wanted to work in higher level theaters in Washington D.C. and then eventually move to New York. After working alongside many New York theater professionals, I have discovered that I want to move to New York right out of college in order to eventually work on Broadway.

I would greatly recommend an internship at Williamstown Theatre Festival. However, it is important to go into the job knowing that you are going to work a lot of hours and be beaten down to be built back up better than you were when you started. Working at WTF is extremely intense, but you learn so much about yourself, your work, and how you fit into this industry. You are able to work alongside some of the top theater artists in the country and become part of an amazing community that will ensure that you will be successful in your career. Working at WTF is also so much fun (people often compare it to theater camp, since you are working and living with about 350 other people who work in the theater in some capacity). Here is a video that the WTF company created at the end of the summer.

These are 13 out of 15 Stage Management interns. We all became extremely close throughout the summer.

These are 13 out of 15 Stage Management interns. We all became extremely close throughout the summer.

All internships in the theater industry are extremely different depending on the level of the theater and the specific field in the theater that you are interning in. I have now experienced 2 Stage Management internships and they were incredibly different, but equally rewarding. It is important to understand the internship before you accept it-some theaters have developed internship programs, while some just hire interns. Although both have their own advantages, with a specific internship program, you often get to attend specialized workshops and work alongside other interns. Both summers I worked in a specific internship program, but last year I was one of three Stage Management interns and this year I was one of fifteen. The main difference in my two experiences is that Williamstown Theatre Festival is bigger in every way.

 

I am most proud of my ability to fit into and be successful in a rehearsal room alongside theater professionals. Working on And No More Shall We Part was an incredible experience where I felt respected in the room while working with Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek. This show was a beautiful piece of theater and it was amazing to develop such close relationships with actors who have had long successful careers and are much older than I am.

The Stage Management team, crew, and cast of And No More Shall We Part.

The Stage Management team, crew, and cast of And No More Shall We Part.

~Hannah Mitchell ’17, Theater WOW Recipient

My last week at the Nels Nelson North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History was last Friday! It’s sad to be leaving the museum, but I’m glad I got to work with great people and learn a huge amount about this particular lab as well as a great deal about the future and current state of archaeology in North America. I’m really glad I was able to do several different projects each day as well. I would say I had to tweak my expectations slightly as I wasn’t quite sure what the majority of the work I would be doing this summer would be, but that is hardly a bad thing! With several smaller projects, I was able to learn about many different aspects of the lab. This included working in photography, ArcGIS, consolidating, rehousing, cleaning artifacts, data entry. It seems like I was able to do a bit of everything, down to scanning field forms.

Lab tower

I would say I met my goals for the internship this summer, including being able to put the work we are doing in the lab into context with the people of St. Catherine’s Island through the generations of inhabitants and their technologies. I am certainly more comfortable working in the lab in the last week than the first week, and I have also learned a great deal from my fellow interns who are all at different stages in figuring out their futures in archaeology, whether that includes graduate school, contract archaeology, or museum work. And it has been a great experience living in New York this summer.

I’m not sure yet whether I am more clear about my career interests, but I am definitely more clear on the options in Archaeology and Anthropology that are available to me, and I am in the process of narrowing down the fields I am particularly interested in; including Human Osteology, Conservation. I certainly have a better sense of how to proceed to continue a career doing archaeology, and that includes a lot of new technologies in the field including GIS and various forms of 3D scanning, including photogrammetry. At the end of the internship we were able to discuss how to move forward and the different options available. If I had to give advice about internships in this field I would certainly recommend applying to the NAARCH Lab and definitely to ask questions not only about the work but about the field in general and talk to the people you are working with. Throughout this summer, I am most proud of just keeping a journal of everything I did each day, and taking notes during our discussions. Since I did so many different small projects, it makes it a lot easier to remember what I enjoyed the most and what I had more trouble with and need to work on, and that will definitely help me in the future. All in all it was a fantastic experience! I think it has had a great effect on my perceptions of the field and lab environments, and it’s a great jumping off point moving beyond Brandeis!

79th Street entrance to the museum

79th Street entrance to the museum

I can’t believe how fast my ten weeks at Rosie’s Place have flown by! I am so thankful for the opportunity I had interning there and for the amazing staff who helped and supported me through everything. All of my expectations about the internship have been exceeded and I am surprised how much I have personally grown because of the work I was doing.

All day at Rosie's Place with fellow interns

All day at Rosie’s Place with fellow interns.

At the start of my internship, my four internship goals were to gain a deeper understanding of poverty and oppression from the women who come to Rosie’s Place as well as the root cause of these conditions; to learn more about who are poor and homeless women in Boston and what circumstances brought them to Rosie’s Place; to develop a greater sense of responsibility and ability to work to bring about social chance and equality; and to better understand how a medium-sized non-profit operates. My two department goals were to learn how to communicate effectively with all the different people that I encounter and to learn to take more initiative as I get more comfortable with the front desk. I am happy to say I did meet my defined goals through my daily interactions with guests and attending direct service meetings, Social Justice Institute seminars, and weekly intern meetings.

This internship has really helped me understand and see what it is like working at a non-profit and in direct service. Before the internship, I did not know that advocacy was a potential career option, but I have also learned that direct service is not the only path in social justice work. The success of a non-profit like Rosie’s Place is how multiple different departments work together toward finding solutions to poverty and homelessness on a small and a large scale. This summer in the workplace, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is how to find my voice to be more assertive. I also learned more about my levels of comfort as an introvert working such an extroverted job and how to set boundaries for myself.

My advice to a student interested in an internship at Rosie’s Place is it is completely okay to feel overwhelmed at first but you will always be supported by a great staff. The front desk staff members were there whenever I had questions and always had my back. My advice for a student interested in this field is the importance of self-care, understanding that the work is difficult and may lead to burn out if you do not set boundaries or if you bring your work into your personal home life. Volunteering is a great way to start getting involved.

This summer I am most proud of the personal interactions and connections I was able to make with guests, staff, and interns at Rosie’s Place. I very much felt included in the community and was able to share my ideas and contribute to projects that will exist even after I have left. The act of being present every single day made a difference in helping and talking to the guests because we are not just providing services for poor and homeless, we really care about our guests and finding solutions to end poverty and homelessness.

Tags: , , , , ,

My internship at United for a Fair Economy (UFE) provided me with so much more than I expected. I went into this internship with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how a nonprofit organization operates since I have always had an interest in nonprofit work, but was unaware of if it was truly a field that I would be interested in pursuing. After interning at United for a Fair Economy, I certainly gained this understanding and learned a lot about the processes involved in successfully and efficiently running a nonprofit organization.

I was given the opportunity to work within many departments so as to gain a holistic understanding of a non-profit. I was given a large amount of responsibility when a staff member went away for a couple months and I took over all donation processing; I was given projects that incorporated data analysis or graphic design; I stepped in to help the Finance department prepare for audit by reconciling all online donations; I was given the chance to sit in on program meetings and phone calls.

Throughout this process, I met my goal  determining whether non-profit work is actually something I could see myself doing;  understanding the “behind-the-scenes” processes of a non-profit did not chase me away from the work, but rather made me more excited about possibly pursuing it. More specifically, I really enjoyed and felt that I excelled at working in the development/communications departments at UFE, and am now brainstorming ways in which I can continue doing this type of work in the future.

My workspace at UFE!

Beyond meeting the goal I set for myself this summer, my internship provided me with so many unexpected lessons. For example, I learned that there is a lot more to social justice work than one can learn about in a classroom or read about in a newspaper. The work these organizations do impacts real people, with real stories, making it complicated, frustrating, and also incredibly important.

One thing that I learned about myself during this internship is how much I enjoy work that I genuinely care about. I have always prided myself on my work ethic and when I am passionate about the topic, it doesn’t even feel like work. Something that UFE taught me is that it’s incredibly important to stay grounded while doing this type of work; it is really easy to distance yourself from it and see it as a chore, but it is so important to always remember what you are working for. Whenever there was a grounding moment–whether it was a tragic event in the news or a heartbreaking story told by someone in one of our workshops–I felt my energy, and the energy among the staff at UFE, increase drastically, which was a really interesting and beneficial environment to be in.

One of the biggest challenges I faced during my internship was not feeling like I had the authority to speak my opinions and ideas. Because I was new to the organization and also new to the nonprofit world in general, I felt inhibited telling someone who had been working at UFE for 20 years how they should implement a program or what the best process would be to solve a conflict within the organization.

Thankfully, in a small non-profit like UFE all opinions and ideas were valued. In fact, it was welcomed. As someone who was learning the processes for the first time, I was able to notice small details and bring a set of fresh eyes to the organization. Thus, a piece of advice I would have for someone pursuing an internship at UFE or in a similar small non-profit is that your ideas and opinions are just as valuable as those of someone who has been at the organization for a long time. In fact, one of the things I am most proud of is how my confidence rose as did my level of comfort by the end of my internship.

On one of the last days of my internship, I was given the opportunity to facilitate UFE’s biweekly staff meeting which meant creating an agenda, leading the actual meeting, and having the confidence to assert my authority and keep the staff on track or interject my opinions about how I believed they should handle certain situations. At the beginning of my internship, I would have never believed that I could successfully lead a meeting for staff members who I felt had so much authority over me, but with the guidance, acceptance, and trust that UFE provided me, I was able to do it and I am very proud of and grateful for the opportunity.

Leading a staff meeting on one of the last days of my internship! It was so fun to be given this challenge and use what UFE has taught me to successfully facilitate this meeting.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone at UFE for providing me with such an enriching and educational summer, especially my supervisor who always gave me projects that fit my needs and interests while also allowing me to be helpful to the organization. Please check out their Facebook page and blog (as well as the rest of their website) for more information!

Tags: , , ,

In my last post, I mentioned that I would be conducting a major experiment seeking to elucidate the effect of our experimental compound on the efficacy of the existing neuroblastoma immunotherapy. My entire summer built up to this experiment, and I am thrilled to report that the results were largely positive. We were concerned that our experimental compound might interfere with the effectiveness of the existing immunotherapy, an antibody that modulates antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (among other immune processes) against tumor cells. Therefore, we were ecstatic to discover that the experimental compound actually appears to increase the efficacy of this process – at least in our simplified, in vitro ADCC model. Of course, as I have mused, research is rarely a linear path. Although we repeated this experiment twice more with the same results, the findings provoked new questions about our assay that will require future experimentation to affirm the validity of our conclusion. And, most importantly, we still need to assess how our experimental compound works with the immunotherapy in vivo, as live animals are far more complex than any in vitro model. Still, I am quite satisfied with my work, our findings, and how the summer wrapped up.

IMG_20160815_093037562

Tumor cells that I maintained this summer in the incubator. As I’ve learned, in vitro models greatly simplify in vivo processes, which is both good and bad.

All in all, I do think I met my learning goals for the summer. I wanted to experience science in the “real world,” and this project, with its trials, challenges, and triumphs, definitely did just that. Participating in this project taught me how to transfer academic knowledge into a real-world context. I also wanted to learn more about biomedical research, as I am currently applying to veterinary school and am potentially interested in a career that combines clinical medicine and research. Participating in this internship opened my eyes to the world of research. I saw that even though research can be tedious and slow, it can also be incredibly exciting and fulfilling. This internship definitely piqued my interest in pursuing a career as a veterinary clinician-scientist.

IMG_20160812_121300985

There is something thrilling about producing data that both answers questions and sparks new ones.

To other students interested in pursuing a similar internship, I would stress the importance of patience. For most of the summer, the research seemed very slow-going. I took about six weeks to become comfortable with the techniques and protocols and feel competent in the lab. At the same time, for many weeks we were attempting to utilize an assay that was not sensitive enough for our purposes, and running failing experiments over and over again was disheartening. However, this is all part of research and the learning curve; perseverance is definitely a vital quality in any researcher, especially one who is new to the field. Additionally, I would stress the necessity of keeping an organized notebook, as carefully writing up all of my experiments definitely made it easier to keep details straight as we progressed throughout the summer.

All in all, I am most proud of how much I was able to learn this summer: about neuroblastoma, immunotherapy, research, and my own ambitions.

Michelle Oberman ’16

Tags: , ,

14044910_10205139717611132_1519002989_o

This is me holding my present from AJWS, a framed photo of AJWS grantees.

I have completed my internship at American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and I could not have asked for a better experience. My overall goal was to learn about the inner workings of an international human rights nonprofit organization, but I have gained more much than that. I was behind the scenes as AJWS navigated a transition in leadership, Robert Bank, the vice president, become the new president and CEO, and Ruth Messinger, the former president, became the Global Ambassador. I helped with a private AJWS event featuring Frank Bruni, the first openly gay New York Times op-ed columnist. I attended Fundraising Day in New York, the largest one-day conference in the world on philanthropic topics. I participated in AJWS’s global retreat, where I had the opportunity to meet almost all of AJWS’s in-country staff from 19 different countries, who first hand witness the challenging, but rewarding work on the ground.

I am so grateful to have had an incredible supervisor who was attentive and provided me with challenging and engaging work. Without her, this experience would not have been the same. She created a collaborative and supportive environment, but also trusted me to work independently. I worked hard and showed my deep level of commitment to each project I was given. One of the projects I worked on this summer was creating an event planning toolkit for AJWS’s website. Supporters will use the event planning toolkit to plan their own events and educate and engage their family, friends and community members about the work of AJWS. This will result in more recognition of the organization and will be used as a fundraising tool to garner more support.

I am proud of myself for grasping this opportunity and squeezing all I could out of it. I took the initiative to meet with staff members to discuss their professional life and aspects of AJWS that I thought were interesting. For instance, I was interested in the representation of oppression and poverty in published materials of nonprofits and whether guidelines for selecting images and written materials to share with supporters exist to ensure ethicality. I met with the creative director and the director of publications and editorial services, and I was happy to learn that AJWS does have some guidelines in place. I also met with staff members working in Development and Programs. These one-on-one meetings were informative and they opened my eyes to different career possibilities, but also were networking opportunities as I shared who I am and my future plans. I began realizing that my hard work and my passion for learning and improvement were noticed and appreciated when my supervisor and staff members pointed out how helpful I was being. They jokingly would ask me to quit school so they could hire me. Also, at the end of my internship, multiple people offered to be a reference for me anytime I needed. These comments are what every intern wants to hear and they made me feel like I made a valuable contribution.

My supervisor, Neely, and I.

My supervisor, Neely, and me.

One of the challenging moments of working at AJWS turned out to be a positive in the end. When the interns met with Robert Bank, I discussed with him the organization’s silence concerning the many brown and black lives lost due to police brutality. Later, when I spoke with Robert one-on-one, I was happy to hear that he appreciated my tough questions because he said they challenged him. In his opening speech at AJWS’s global retreat, Robert began by acknowledging some of the tragedies the world has seen recently and included Baton Rouge, where the brutal murder of Alton Sterling took place. This was a step in the right direction. I was so impressed by Robert Bank’s openness to hearing constructive criticism and quickly implementing change. This experience has taught me that it is okay to respectfully challenge those in leadership in order to push for improvement. I believe that analyzing and thinking critically rather than accepting how things are is a significant aspect of social justice work.

My advice for someone who wants to pursue an internship at AJWS or at another human rights nonprofit is to think about what aspect of the work you are most passionate about and find a position within that department. There are many different opportunities within one nonprofit organization. Also, be open to working on various types of projects and reach out to staff members in different departments to learn more about their work. This will not only allow you to learn more about the different roles within a large nonprofit, but it can also open your eyes to different career possibilities within the nonprofit world. Finally, do not be afraid to respectfully challenge existing practices or the lack of certain practices that you feel are important and make suggestions for improvements.  

Thank you to the World of Work Fellowship program for this incredible experience!

Marian Gardner ’18

Tags: , , , , ,

I can’t believe my internship with the EPA just wrapped up! My internship at the EPA Office of Water (OW) immersed me in water policy, and I now know so much more about water quality valuation, water scarcity, environmental justice, and public health. My office had a diversity of professionals, and I enjoyed learning about the overlap of water policy with economics, tribal affairs, climate change, and more. My internship offered me the opportunity to attend seminars throughout Washington D.C. and the EPA, learn more about the economics work at the EPA, and delve into meaningful research for the agency.

My office at the EPA was in the center of DC. I was sad to say goodbye, though I a may be back some day soon!

My office at the EPA was in the center of DC. I was sad to say goodbye to my co-workers, though maybe I will be back some day.

My 25-page report about water indicators to add to EJSCREEN, the agency’s environmental justice screening and mapping tool, was my largest contribution to the Office of Water. I proposed and researched ten water indicators related to environmental justice: water scarcity, flooding vulnerability, sea level rise, storm surge, safe drinking water, lead contaminated drinking water, nitrate contaminated drinking water, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFOs) waste discharge sites, access to water recreation, and water infrastructure quality. I assessed the public health ramifications of each indicator, disparities in the indicator’s burden on the population, and the data quality of existing datasets for these indicators. Each of these water indicators could provide important information for communities and lead to community and agency action to mitigate these risks.

At the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to present my ideas to the EJSCREEN Steering Committee. I spoke to a group of representatives from different EPA offices and regions and highlighted the importance of considering water scarcity, flood vulnerability, and sea level rise as indicators in EJSCREEN. The presentation offered an excellent opportunity to practice my public speaking skills, and I feel confident that the committee will focus efforts on the water indicators related to climate change. Maybe the next version of EJSCREEN will feature these indicators!

I also compiled a report comparing EJSCREEN with another agency community screening tool called C-FERST, and I passed this report along to both the EJSCREEN and C-FERST teams. I wrote two policy memos for the Water Policy Staff after I attended two different seminars in D.C., and I was able to help a co-worker with an Office of Water Tribal Sharepoint. A few of these assignments stemmed from conversations with co-workers in the office, and this emphasized the importance of speaking up, asking questions, and taking initiative.

Special OW intern seminars were one of the highlights of my summer. All six interns met professionals throughout the Office of Water and had the opportunity to learn about OW work ranging from climate ready water utilities to drinking water in Flint, Michigan. We met the Deputy Assistant Administrator in OW, heard the EPA’s Deputy Administrator speak, and learned about how to apply for federal jobs through USAJOBS. Just these seminars alone were an incredible learning experience!

EPA Internship Certificate

Interning with the Office of Water was also an eye-opening experience into the workings of the EPA. On a water policy level, I learned how society often undervalues water. The EPA has an important role to communicate the expensive and intricate process of protecting valuable watersheds and treating and distributing our drinking water. On an agency level, I saw how natural science and economics work together to help protect the environment, as science must be translated into meaningful policy. My experiences illuminated the interdisciplinary nature of the environmental field and the need for our nation to better address water management and disparities in environmental burdens related to water. Overall, my internship was a fantastic learning experience, and I am thankful for the WOW Fellowship and my supervisor at the EPA for their support.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

I have completed my twelve weeks at the Chicago Innocence Center and it has been a truly enlightening summer. Coming into my internship, I had three goals: to apply sociological theories I learned to real-world situations, to gain experience in both legal and social work strategies to determine a graduate course of study, and to develop a stronger personal confidence in and outside of professional settings.

In weekly seminar meetings, I was able to bring my sociological lens to our brainstorm sessions. When looking over case materials, I was able to analyze information using my sociology background. I learned a lot about applying the study of social institutions and how they intersect in the real world. For my second goal, I amended it to allow me to investigate legal and journalism careers to see if I want to pursue these paths in graduate school. While I did love learning about investigative journalism and I think my experience at CIC made me a better writer, I am not interested in pursuing an advanced degree in journalism at this time. I am still open to the idea of attending law school or pursuing a master’s degree in social work in the future. In terms of my larger career goals, at CIC I noticed like being in an organizational role. I work best when I am a leader on a team and able to organize a project and create structure for others. I can see this translating into a role in non-profit management in the future.

The Summer 2016 interns with exonerees Mark Clements, Stanley Wrice, and Timmy Donald.

The Summer 2016 interns with exonerees Mark Clements, Stanley Wrice, and Timmy Donald.

My third goal was to gain more personal confidence. Working with CIC made me a more confident person. My supervisor, Pam Cytrynbaum, was a role model to me. She was strong, fierce, and did not apologize for herself. As someone who has struggled with insecurities in the past, it was so empowering to see a strong woman successfully running an entire organization. Pam taught me to stop apologizing for myself and always stand up for my opinions, even if it meant contradicting the boss. I feel much more confident entering the new school year and I know I will continue to thrive professionally as a strong woman with valuable ideas.

Myself and my fellow interns outside court after we witnessed an exoneration. All smiles!

Myself and my fellow interns outside court after we witnessed an exoneration. All smiles!

If I had one piece of advice to a future intern at CIC, I would let them know to have patience. Every case we work on takes time. Sometimes, when you think you reach a breakthrough, it might fall through or not pan out. It’s really hard to keep yourself motivated, especially when you realize the cases you’re working on have real people’s lives at stake. However, it is crucial to keep going, because your work could mean the difference in whether an exoneree is freed. If I was advising someone working in the field of innocence relief I would urge them to respect each exoneree. I would tell them to try not to treat anyone differently just because they were in prison. Even though exonerees live through a lifetime of pain while incarcerated, they are still people and want to be treated as such. They deserve all your respect and love as a human being.

This summer, I am most proud of my growth in confidence. I went from being very insecure in the workplace to freely sharing my ideas. In building a new website with some fellow interns, we were able to make new suggestions to our supervisors that were our own ideas. Many of these ideas made it on to the final site. Because I grew enough confidence to present an idea to my superiors, I have now made permanent, positive change for CIC as my ideas come to fruition on our new website. I will value the incredible skills I learned at CIC.

 

 

Ruby Macsai-Goren ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

I’m currently writing from my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina after a long day of travel from the West Coast. Camp finished on Thursday and my co-director and I had the Friday to wrap up and clean up from a messy summer of fun. Now that I am back home and able to take a breath, I have time to reflect, digest and process all that has happened this summer.

IMG_5536

A great mural I happened upon in San Francisco

The past eight weeks have been challenging in a lot of ways. Many of my days have been physically, mentally or emotionally difficult. Some days have been all three. It was hard to be responsible for the well being of up to twenty-five children, all with different needs and abilities. It was hard to be on my feet all day, often skipping lunch to deal with a crisis or serve lunch to others. It was hard to always be patient and forgiving. There was a lot of tedious paperwork and exact protocol. There were a few days that did not feel fun.

However, I found that each day I had at least one moment in which I experienced true, unadulterated joy. One day, it could be seeing a camper totally engaged in a science activity. Another day, it could be one camper choosing to include another in a game without being asked. Sometimes it was just a funny comment full of personality from one of the campers. These moments reminded me why I chose this internship in the first place; I wanted to be part of creating a secure, encouraging environment for these kids to make and find joy that is so inherent in childhood.

I learned quite a few lessons from my internship. My supervisor was incredible and supportive in planning and dealing with crises. My co-director was better than I could have imagined. She and I worked well together and complemented each other. The program director was always there from us, offering feedback and asking us for ours. (Read more about the curriculum our program director developed here) From these staff people, I came to understand more about creating strong workplace relationships, putting in the hard work that is necessary for social services, and using my talents and knowledge in conjunction with others’ to leverage our impact. I learned a lot from the administrative staff and case workers about homelessness services, the specifics of homelessness in the Bay area and the psychology of trauma.

IMG_6985

Posing with my fellow children’s services interns at our site

Not surprisingly, though, the most poignant lesson I learned this summer, I learned from working with my campers. While it is easier to rely on authority and dole out discipline, it is always more effective to approach difficult interpersonal situations with empathy, compassion, and curiosity. For example, a child might be refusing to join in on a group activity. Instead of threatening to call her parents or our forcing her to stand and join the group, I could sit down on the grass with her and try to find out if anything was bothering her or if she’d like me to do the activity with her for extra security. It is harder to put in that extra effort, especially when it’s been a long day and more than one camper is having a difficult time, but it is almost always worth that effort. I believe I can use this lesson in other areas of my life, including my personal life and any other social services work I do in the future.

I am so grateful for my summer at LifeMoves and for everyone I met there. I’m sending lots of gratitude to my host family for the summer and everyone who showed me hospitality while I was in San Francisco. I hope all the other WoW Fellows have a great and meaningful end to their internships as well.

Mira McMahon ‘18

Having just passed the halfway point of my internship, my outlook of the Integrated Chemistry Management (ICM) Program has changed. Initially, I was outraged at the blatant waste of resources spent on chemicals. Some schools had so many chemicals that they didn’t need to purchase any for another ten years. Outrage became acceptance, then resignation. The current school system enables a lack of accountability, knowledge and guidance with respect to chemical management, safety, disposal and protocol.

One school that stood out was Billerica High School. There a chemistry teacher explained that when she first came to the school there were many unknown and spent chemicals, which would be stored in a separate storage area. When teachers don’t know what to do with a chemical, they keep it. This trend carries on due to lack of accountability and oversight leading to an accumulation of RCRA hazardous waste and nonhazardous waste. She further shared that a new facility is being built in three years and that funding was allocated to ensure that the new chemistry labs and storage spaces meet current standards. Timing wise, it was best that Billerica reorganize their chemistry labs before moving to the new facility to avoid transporting old, banned and spent chemicals there.

The school may be the oldest I’ve visited so far this summer. The chemistry laboratories were quite grimy and there was an excess of everything from chemicals to glassware to over the counter products, materials and apparatus. It had lots of RCRA hazardous waste and banned apparatus including 60 mercury thermometers. Consolidating compounds and separating waste from remaining chemicals allowed me to make a number of observations and think about the work I’ve been doing this summer. I noticed that some of the most dangerous chemicals are the prettiest. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) lists a number of transition and heavy metals (metalloids), concentrated acids and bases, and alcohols as hazardous. They fall under the categories of corrosive, ignitable, toxic and reactive. All nitrate salts are considered RCRA hazardous waste because they are oxidizing agents. Chromium nitrate is an oxidizer and toxic. Other hazardous but colorful chemicals include copper sulfate (blue), cobalt chloride (pink), iron oxide (orange), potassium dichromate (orange), potassium chromate (yellow) and so on.

Chromium nitrate

Chromium nitrate crystals

Cobalt Chloride crystals

Cobalt Chloride crystals

The responsibility of disposing RCRA hazardous waste lies with the manufacturer. However, some chemicals are so old that companies have merged or were bought over the years. For instance Welch Chemical Company became Seargent Welch, and eventually their packaging transitioned from glass to mainly plastic. In order for Billerica to dispose of their unwanted chemicals they will have to bring in a hazardous waste company. I hope our efforts will help chemistry teachers there to reduce or halt their spending on chemicals for a number of years, and increase safety within the classrooms.

To learn more about RCRA visit: https://www.epa.gov/rcra/resource-conservation-and-recovery-act-rcra-overview and the ICM program visit: http://www.umassk12.net/maillist/msg00362.html

August 10, 2016 by rheasjam | No comments

It’s hard to believe that I am more than halfway done with my internship. I started my role the day after I finished finals, and I have exactly one month left at the International Institute of Boston (IBB). When I arrived at IIB, I was somewhat overwhelmed with program acronyms and the names of services offered. Now, I’m at a point where new staff are shadowing me in my work. There is a new Employment Specialist, and she often comes to me with questions about clients and programs. I still love the work I do as well as my increasing responsibilities. Surprisingly, a big boost in confidence actually came when my supervisor left the organization. I was worried that I would be left with many questions and feeling somewhat directionless, however, I have just become more self-directed. I am confident in my ability to direct clients who need help looking for jobs, proactively reaching out to clients by phone, filing reports, and running the Cultural Orientation Program or the Workforce Orientation Workshop. When one client told me he got his Social Security number on Friday, after class on Monday, I scheduled an appointment with him to apply for jobs on Wednesday. I now have a better list in my mind of which companies our clients succeed at and which clients and companies make for a good fit.

My view from a table where I often meet with clients in our temporary space

My view from a table where I often meet with clients in our temporary space

The world of work is different from university and academic life, but I have applied university and academic life to my internship. I love my work because I am a hands-on learner. I learn best from experience, and I think I will learn more skills from having an internship than from sitting in a classroom. Some skills I have built relate to problem solving, communication, flexibility, patience, resilience, teaching, language, and even technology. I have worked at the front desk directing phone calls that I did not know how to answer. I have worked with another intern to create a status report of certain clients neither of us had ever worked with. I have had to figure out how to teach people who do not speak English or French. Resilience is a major skill I have built, and it has helped me problem solve and be patient. I have also learned the importance of communication. These skills are all transferable to my future – academically, professionally, and personally. I see academics as a way to learn information, have discussions, ask questions, and gain interests. I have used knowledge from my Politics and Economics classes, and I have applied experience as a Waltham Group coordinator and Teaching Assistant at Lemberg.

IMG_3332

Free Fun Friday at the Edward Kennedy Institute. Sylvia (other intern I teach with, pictured here) and I decided to tour the clients around ourselves, because we could more effectively explain US government and history than the official tour guides, as we catered to their English levels and related the material to their refugee status.

It has sometimes been hard to work in a temporary space so I look forward to moving into our brand new building in early August. I am also excited to take the refugees on more Free Fun Friday trips, and to go to many of the places I have been to while growing up near Boston. I am also enjoying the Olympics games which for the first time has a Refugee Olympic Team. This team is different from the Independent Olympic Athletes. The Olympic committee states that “Ten refugee athletes will act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis when they take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 this summer.” I think having a team of refugees is important because it shows how the international community can respond positively to the current European migrant crisis and the Syrian Civil War by allowing these athletes to compete in the biggest sports event in the world, despite the fact that they cannot be in their home country. I know I will be watching and thinking of what my clients have gone through and left behind before starting a new life in Boston. In my last month, I hope to use all the skills (and Spanish) I have learned, and to think more what kind of work I want to do in the future.

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18

Working five days a week is similar in a lot of ways to going to classes five days a week, but it is also very different. In both cases, there are times when there is not a lot of work, and I have time to work on long-term projects. But there are also frantic days before a big event, in the world of work, or a big paper, in school, where it suddenly seems like there is not nearly enough time.
This week, we had a graduation for the New York City corps members, an event that almost 100 people attended. It was really amazing to see all of the different people come who had been inspired or affected by AVODAH’s work, whether it was rabbis or alums of the program, many from many years ago who still stayed connected to AVODAH. It was also nice to see the event come together so well after all of us the office had been preparing for it.

IMG_3298

My name tag from the graduation

I appreciate working at AVODAH because of the work environment. Not only are all of my co-workers helpful, but everyone is also deeply engaged into their work. People discuss not only how to get their work done, but also why they are doing it and the larger implications of social justice work in general.
For example, we are currently reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, which talks about his work as an lawyer with disadvantaged clients on death row as well as children who had been sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed when they were sometimes as young as 13. Although AVODAH does not work directly on legal cases, one central concept in the book is proximity, which is a concept that is deeply embedded in AVODAH’s work. Stevenson argued for the need for proximity saying, “This is my challenge to you: We need to embrace need. We need to get closer to the problem. Human beings have the capacity – when we get close – of finding our way to justice.”* AVODAH corps members directly engage with the populations they are serving, so they can better understand what those populations want and need, instead of simply assuming what they need or the corps members deciding.

51VYZ+gf58L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_
I think proximity is really important, but I also think that there is the risk that it can be used to simply assuage someone’s guilt, rather than actually address the problem. For example, I went on a service trip in high school that had policies that forbade giving out any food or goods, both of which were not related to the service we were doing there. When the trip first started, I did not understand why. We were in a very poor neighborhood and I did not have to look hard to find something easy that I could do to help someone, like giving a child water or food. The program did not ban giving out food or goods to be stingy, but to try to ensure that relationships were not just a relationship where one person gave and another received, but rather a relationship between two equals. While I do not necessarily completely agree with the policies, by the end of the trip I understood why they were there. They forced me to look beyond simply giving a child a little food and then feeling good about myself to grappling with why the children needed food in the first place and what my role as an American was in the causes.
Proximity is an important tool in social justice work, but I think it can be also dangerous, which is why it is so important to have discussions and truly grapple with the issues, like what I think is happening at AVODAH.

*Quote is from: http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2014/11/bryan_stevenson_huntsville.html

Lydia Ruddick-Schulman ’17

 

Midpoint Reflections

 

yard

What summer looks like at Harvard!

Now that I am more than halfway done with my internship at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health it is time that I reflect upon my work here so far! I have definitely become more comfortable with the working environment at the lab and feel like I am a helpful part of the research team.

After the initial excitement of starting out my internship, the next couple of weeks were a bit trying. There was a big push for data to be entered into Excel so a good portion of my time was devoted to data entry. After figuring out how to correctly code the data, I found the work to become monotonous after typing for several hours straight. On top of that I developed tendonitis in both of my wrists from typing too fast and incorrectly so I was a little bit disheartened. However, I remembered from the WOW advice given to me at the start of my internship that I should “embrace the grunt work” and try to look at the bigger picture of the work being done. I really took that guidance and applied it to my internship setting. I recognized that while the day-to-day typing was not the most glamorous job, that the results that came out of the study could really help children with mental health concerns.

match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manual for MATCH therapy used in studies

Furthermore, I was trained in the meta analysis project which is more hands on and utilizes some of the knowledge I have gained from previous neuroscience and psychology classes. The meta analysis is a paper that the PI (principal investigator) puts out every couple of years that examines many previously published studies. It is a way to streamline all the data that exists in youth psychotherapy approaches. There are many different criteria a paper must meet to “pass” through the screening process so my job has been to read the paper and code for different research elements. It is extremely interesting to read about all the current work being done, and I feel like it has really enhanced my internship this summer.

Links to previous meta analyses

I think that while my classes at Brandeis have prepared me for this internship, working is pretty different from university/academic life. I’ve noticed that I am much more tired after working in the lab for a couple hours, versus taking classes and participating in extracurricular at Brandeis. Sitting in front of a computer requires energy in a very different way than I would have originally thought! However, as the weeks continued I noticed I became more adjusted to a working schedule and it didn’t feel as overwhelming. I have also noticed that working in a research lab is not as much about what you know but how well you work with others. Key skills are thinking on your feet, problem solving, and multitasking. Collaboration is essential to being able to accomplish anything in the lab.

Overall I feel that my weeks working at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health have given me a greater understanding in what research in a clinical psych lab looks like. While I am not sure if I would pursue a career solely in research, I can see myself being happy working as a research assistant after graduation and gaining more skills in the field. I am excited to finish out my internship and continue to develop professionally.

Melissa Viezel ’17

Tags: , , , , , ,

Hello everyone!

Over the course of the past few months, there has been much to reflect on and respond to as an organization that works to foster more just and peaceful U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Recently, the shibboleths of both major political parties in the U.S. have come under intense scrutiny and there have been efforts from both the left and right to reshape society as we know it. In the height of this political tension and discord, the summer has also been plagued by rampant gun violence and mass killings, the continuing hatred facing the LGBT+ community, police brutality in minority communities facing unemployment, poor schools and crumbling infrastructure, and today’s wars and nuclear weapons buildup, all symptoms of violence closely tied with racism.

Though all of us at Massachusetts Peace Action are working very hard to reverse these scornful trends, it often feels like our efforts are futile. But on one particularly crestfallen morning in the office, it was a conversation with one of our volunteers that changed my perspective of the movement entirely. “Responding to my qualms,” she said, “Whenever I feel doubtful about how much of a change we are actually making, I try to imagine a world without the peace movement and that keeps me going.” For the first time in my experience working with MAPA, I felt that I was being selfish. I realized that in the face of this collective struggle, progress is not measured by the actions of one person and we must maintain faith in the process in order to achieve social righteousness for all no matter how long it takes.

Keeping this concept in mind, in addition to my daily in-office responsibilities, much of the work that I have been engaged in has been community outreach. For example, I participated in tabling and petition gathering at the Cambridge River Festival, the Lowell Folk Festival, and at our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series, which has featured speakers like Michael Dukakis, Noam Chomsky, and Helen Caldicott.

Jonathan King (Professor of Biology at MIT) gathering signatures at the Cambridge River Festival.

Jonathan King (Professor of Biology at MIT) gathering signatures at the Cambridge River Festival.

Cole Harrison (Executive Director of Massachusetts Peace Action) petitioning at the Lowell Folk Festival.

Cole Harrison (Executive Director of Massachusetts Peace Action) petitioning at the Lowell Folk Festival.

The honorable Dr. Helen Caldicott speaking about nuclear disbarment at our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series.

The honorable Dr. Helen Caldicott speaking about nuclear disbarment at our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series.

In addition, I have been actively involved in planning our first annual folk/acoustic music series as well as one of our major summer events to commemorate the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place respectively on August 6th and 9th, 1945, and the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Brown. We are broadening the focus of our event this year to call attention to racialized police violence and gun violence in light of the tragic events that have transpired over the past few years (Ferguson, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Dallas, etc.) and I invite everyone who is around to attend! Lastly, I have been an active participant in our Legislative and Nuclear Disarmament working groups to structure our new economic and disarmament campaigns.

I look forward to the remaining weeks of my internship and hope that I can continue to spend my time advancing MAPA’s mission of inclusion and social justice.

Remington Pontes ’17

"Chocolate Thursday" Outing - Every Thursday all the interns go to a chocolate store around the corner. We go to this specific shop because its products are fair trade.

“Chocolate Thursday” Outing – Every Thursday all the interns go to a chocolate store around the corner. We go to this specific shop because its products are fair trade.

Lincoln Memorial

Bernice (a close friend and fellow Brandeis student) visited me one weekend. This is us in front of the Lincoln Memorial

It’s hard to believe that my time at NCL is halfway over. I’ve grown accustomed to my daily routine and it feels second nature to hop on the metro and arrive at the office to begin my day. Washington D.C. is flooded with a new population of interns and young professionals, especially during the summer. It is exciting to be experiencing the city during this time of the year. The other interns and I have become good friends and supportive colleagues. We help each other with projects and provide insightful feedback. My colleagues have impressive backgrounds and they are extremely helpful in that they are always willing to offer me advice or assistance in any way that they can. The other interns and staff members are older and more experienced than I am so it is insightful to be exposed to the different roles that they play within the organization and the manner in which they each complete their tasks.
My week at National Consumer’s League begins with a staff meeting every Monday. Everyone gathers in the conference room to discuss their agenda for the remaining week. We announce any new projects and assign people to work on them throughout the week. We also do a “current events” of recent consumer issues in the news. Then we say all the meetings we will be attending at Capitol Hill to determine which congressional members or senators we would be in contact with to advocate for a certain bill or law. I usually head over to my cubicle/workspace and begin on my assignment for the day. We have set deadlines for our projects so I try to gather all my research and data early in the process. I think the most stimulating aspects of my work are in the beginning of the week when I start a new research assignment or project. For example, this week, my assignments were to research consumers’ perceptions of drug prices and the pharmaceutical industry in general. I also really enjoy attending meetings on the Hill because I get to witness the legislative process and the more proactive efforts on NCL’s part. Other times, attending panel discussions are also really insightful and relevant to the work that I am doing. World of Work has differed from academic life in that there has been a lot more freedom and self-initiative involved in this experience. In a classroom setting, you are often given instructions and assignments. However, this internship experience is really what you make of it. Even if a project is not necessarily under my department, I will ask to be a part of it if it seems interesting. The head department supervisors are great about letting interns be a part of various projects and they really make the effort to cater to our interests.
Something that I’ve learned at my organization is how to write consumer friendly blog posts. I think this is an important skill that will help me in the future because it’s one thing when experts are knowledgeable but it is also really important that the general public is well-informed and educated in consumer issues. I am also constantly honing my research, analytic and writing skills. These are skills that are transferrable to many jobs, especially if I want to pursue a career in public policy. I am still practicing my networking skills. This past week, I attended an intern lunch at Google’s DC office. Google offers a public policy fellowship and one of the interns at NCL, Mike, is a Google Fellow. The whole event was very exciting and I had the fortunate opportunity to speak to people who work for public interest. Understanding the path they took to reach their current career positions was extremely helpful since I’m still not quite sure what my future plans are after graduation, specifically if I want to begin working immediately, attend graduate school or possibly attend law school.

Elese Chen

Since my first blog post, I’ve conducted twelve additional experiments, mainly working to optimize conditions for the big experiment that I will be conducting in about two weeks. I spent about six weeks attempting to optimize an LDH assay (which measures the amount of lactase dehydrogenase, a chemical produced in the endogenous metabolic pathways of all cells that is released when they lyse). My supervisor believed that this assay would be a good measure of immune system activity against tumor cells, as the immune cells would attack the tumor cells, causing the release of LDH. This assay also does not use any radioactive substances and so is safe and easy to handle. Unfortunately, we ultimately determined that the LDH assay was not sensitive enough for our purposes, and so we had to move back to the old, tried-and-true method that involves labeling cells with radioactive chromium. So far we’ve conducted a few different experiments using this method, and we were very happy to see that it has worked every time. As my supervisor remarked, sometimes the old way is the better way, even if it does mean working with radioactive isotopes. Now that we have a working assay, I will be conducting an experiment to see whether our experimental compound increases the immune cells’ ability to attack the neuroblastoma tumor cells. This experiment will be a big undertaking, involving about 15 hours of work, several different experimental groups, and numerous controls, so we are crossing our fingers that we will get the results we desire.

IMG_1302

Setting up an LDH assay in the sterile hood

I am gaining confidence in my technical abilities, which was a major goal of mine before the summer began. Despite the fact that many of the experiments we ran had systematic errors, I’ve been able to learn a variety of research techniques through running these different experiments. I’ve become quite competent at cell culture, which is a heavily-utilized technique across the biomedical sciences. I’ve learned how to isolate immune system cells from rat spleens and whole human blood, as well how to prepare blood serum for analysis. Overall I’ve become more independent in the lab, in terms of planning and running experiments and analyzing data. Additionally, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the scientific research process, as I’ve now seen that despite extensive planning, research is rarely linear; the twists and turns can nonetheless be valuable learning experiences.

wow blog

Another benefit of this internship: I’ve gotten good at Excel!

Since my internship is academic in nature, it has aligned nicely with my experiences at Brandeis. I’ve been able to apply some of the molecular biology and immunology knowledge that I’ve gained through my coursework at Brandeis. However, I’ve also seen that research, unlike school, is a collaborative effort so being able to work with a team is very important to the process. I’ve also seen that even when the theoretical concepts are clear, the logistics of planning and running experiments can be complex. This has shown me how the “real world” connects to the science that I learn in lecture; there is more to being a scientist than just having an academic understanding of science.

In conclusion, while the research itself has definitely felt slow-going at times, I am excited to test our experimental compound in a couple of weeks and am hopeful that the weeks of optimizing will pay off. Nonetheless, I have grown through this experience and have gained a good understanding of the research process, which has been informative to my career exploration of fields related to veterinary medicine.

Michelle Oberman, ’16

Tags: , ,

WOW (pun intended), a lot has happened since I last posted here! Members of the Roots team and volunteers built a new animal pen and bought a goat, built a temporary new kitchen which will hopefully one day become a guesthouse, and are in the process of building a bigger kitchen with an office space above it. We also held five interfaith break-fasts during Ramadan, a leadership training retreat for core activists, photography workshops for children, photography workshops for women, educational youth trips, history lectures, and many meetings and information sessions to spread the word about this exciting work and create communal paradigm shifts in how each side sees the other.

13781898_691813587635864_6893410495472952752_n

Our newest member of the Roots team!

For my part, firstly, I finally got the cameras out of customs! I also have delved into the world of PR, developing the Friends of Roots Facebook Page and taking over the website as well. I have helped advertise events and send follow up emails to attendees. I am also responsible for recording donation information and sending thank-you emails to donors. It may not sound like a lot, but it is certainly filling up my time! The work is not glamorous, but I am very happy and feel quite fortunate to be able to help out an organization and people that I admire with the things they don’t have time for, so that they can take care of the rest of what needs to get done. Additionally, I am feeling more and more like part of the team and feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and ideas with the leadership.

In addition to my work at Roots, I have taken advantage of my time here by participating in an Encounter trip to Bethlehem, an emotional movie screening with Combatants for Peace, a prayer service with Women of the Wall, and few classes at the Shalom Hartman Institute and the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and other events. I also hope to join part of the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s summer school next week.

13739630_1616673378624672_1843121503_n

Pictures from the gay pride parade in Jerusalem

As a result of this internship, I am learning a lot about the ins and outs of establishing a young organization. I am also learning how to use public relations methodologies, how to run a website, and how to use Salesforce. I am learning about the use of art in resolving conflicts and brainstorming ideas – through the Roots photography classes and sessions on the leadership retreat. Most of all, I am learning that creating change is a process – sometimes a slow process – that can be effectuated through one person at a time.

These skills that I am developing will certainly be transferable back to Brandeis and my eventual career. The patience I am learning in effectuating change is crucial in maintaining hope for the vision of this social justice internship and cause. I know that we cannot fix the world in one day, but the more individuals we reach, the stronger our message will be in order to influence our communities, our leaders, and society at large.

-Rivka (Rebecca) Cohen ’17

Tags: , , , ,

The beauty to be seen almost everywhere in Samoa

The beauty to be seen almost everywhere in Samoa

While Samoa and its culture are not new to me, working within the Apia UN office and within a government ministry is entirely new. I’m seeing a whole new dimension to social and political interaction. First of all, UNDP is a global IGO (intergovernmental organization) and it has a complex hierarchy with its own administrative and operational procedures —some of which I’m learning about. The Ministry of Women, Community, and Social Development (MWCSD) is a large government ministry with about 115 employees. There is a hierarchy here too and I find that Samoans are quite formal in the work place, placing an emphasis on respecting this hierarchy and observing protocols. As I’ve mentioned before, I am an intern at the UNDP but have been asked to work within the MWCSD, in order to assist them with various projects related to youth, especially youth employment. In my office there are about 11 people and everyone is extremely friendly with me. Most people work at a relaxed pace and take moments out for coffee or snacks, but as I have been assigned so many duties by the UN, I rarely feel able to chill. I try to be ultra productive while still taking the time for a bit of friendly conversation now and then. I have regular reports to write up, and various projects to work on, including research on employment opportunities.

Skype meetings together with my boss at the High Tech Youth Network and other HTYN centers across the Pacific

Skype meetings together with my boss at the High Tech Youth Network and other HTYN centers across the Pacific

Two days a week I’ve been assigned to assist a new government program called the High Tech Youth Network (HTYN). I really enjoy being out of the office for this work, going into communities to research and speak to youth about technology and their possible involvement in I.T. training programs. It is also interesting to learn about how Samoan youth understand the word ‘technology’ and their views on media.

My World of Work experience in Samoa is proving to be a fantastic learning opportunity- different from university training, particularly because it carries both responsibility and accountability. The UN and Samoan government are relying on a few of us to conduct research and assist with these initiatives designed to improve the prospects of Samoa’s youth, helping to create a framework for the new High Tech Youth Network, a multimillion-dollar initiative. I feel that I’m learning and building important skills that will endure well beyond this experience. These include: gathering information (often from primary sources), meeting deadlines, liaising with different offices and agencies, speaking to people who are in top leadership positions, speaking with young school leavers and trying to be a role model for them. I am confident that my work this summer will help provide a foundation for a future career in Samoa in my areas of interest: development, social justice and environmental management. I am meeting many key players in the government and the UNDP office and I’m truly enjoying making these connections and being in situations where I am continually learning through experience.

I was invited by the US embassy in Samoa to participate in a workshop titled “Our Changing Oceans - The Challenges Ahead”, hosted by Dr. Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

I was invited by the US embassy in Samoa to participate in a workshop titled “Our Changing Oceans – The Challenges Ahead”, hosted by Dr. Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Outreach materials in Spanish

Outreach materials in Spanish

I have been working at the Alzheimer’s Association for a couple of months now, and I have learned that work comes in waves. Some days, I am stuffing packets and calling churches from the second I get there to the second I leave, and other days, there is a lull in the office. As I mentioned in my first post, I am working at the Watertown office, which is the headquarters for all operations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. This means that although the office is huge, it can feel really empty when people are out and about all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

A huge part of what I am doing this summer is outreach. During the past couple of months, I have really gotten a feel for what that word really means. In my case, working with the Hispanic/Latino population in the Boston area, it means calling churches to send informational packets and set up education programs, training volunteers in the community to educate their congregations about Alzheimer’s disease, and generally getting the word out about all of the resources offered by the Association.

I think the most valuable thing I have learned so far about outreach though, is that information alone is not enough; it really has to be put in cultural context. Most of the people I’ve been working with are either immigrants to the United States, or children of immigrants from Latin American countries. The way that they experience and understand disease can be different from my own. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, many Latin American countries have considered the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s (such as memory loss and confusion) to be a normal part of aging, and the medicalization of Alzheimer’s is just beginning to reach some parts of the world.

So we can’t just go into communities and say “hey, there’s something wrong with you!” which could incite fear and mistrust. There is already a pretty widespread aversion among the Latino/Hispanic community to drugs and other resources related to Alzheimer’s disease; which is understandable considering some people don’t even believe that AD is real. This is why cultural competency is so important in medicine. There are small steps that can be taken in terms of outreach to mediate this transition and make the process of diagnosis and treatment of symptoms much less stressful for everyone. These steps include things such as involving family members in decision-making, having professional translators trained in more than one dialect, and focusing outreach efforts on researching different customs and practices. Most importantly, we can find out what people want by actually asking them.

At this mid-way point in my internship, I think the most important lesson I have learned is this: outreach means more than just sitting at a table handing out packets – it means tailoring discussions to the communities you’re working with and learning from within the community; after all, they know their needs. I’m looking forward to continuing with this work and also continuing research for my upcoming thesis.

Leah Levine ’17

Tags: , , , ,

Hello everyone!

I’m happy to share my adventures with everyone again! It has been adventurous. I’ve had the opportunity to write, research, and voice my own radio piece. I’ve talked to extraordinary innovators, like a woman who is starting a zero waste store and another who wrote a book inspiring young girls to pursue science. I’ve even had an opportunity to Skype with the government of Paris, which just passed a green transportation law banning cars built before 1997.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 7.33.19 PM

My voice was on the radio!

Now that I’ve had a significant amount of time in my internship, I figured I would share the creative process we go through at Living on Earth when we take an idea and turn it into a radio piece.

Of course, first, we need to find an idea. It can be anything, well anything related to the environment. There are a few hubs for that. I like Eurekalert.org, which provides a feed of all sorts of new scientific studies. Many of them are related to environmental health. I found the study associated with my bee piece on this website.

Other good resources include Google News, Environmental Health News, and Daily Climate. It’s also always great to find an environmental perspective for a mainstream news event, like the election. Sometimes good stories just appear, right at our feet. Literally. As I mentioned in my last post, we often receive advanced copies of books in the mail. Some of these books are really interesting, so we invite quite a few authors to the program.

Once we have a good story, we need to figure out how to approach it: What angle will we take? Who could we interview? For the Paris piece that I mentioned above (it is yet to be aired), I spoke to over 10 people in order to research the topic and figure out what would make the best story. For this specific story, language was a main barrier. There were a few fantastic, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic potential guests that were not ideal for our English speaking audience, but I found one that was just right.

Next, we need to finalize a list of questions for the guest. I usually write most of them before I even speak to potential guests. I then revise after I talk to the guests and figure out what they can speak about the best. We often call the pre-interview conversations, “test interviews.” These allow for the guests to become familiar with our questions, for us to become more familiar with the topic, and for us to make sure all of the technology works.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 7.38.44 PM

There are usually quite a few tracks of audio in Pro Tools!

Next, it’s interview time! We usually record on an iPhone App called “Report It” while we speak to a guest on video chat. Interviews last between a half hour and an hour. It’s always great to finally see what our guests look like because prior to that we usually just talk to them on the phone.

After that, we edit the interview. We use a program called Pro Tools to edit the audio, which includes editing out awkward silences, filler words, and parts of the interview that don’t fit. Sometimes we have to edit hour long interviews down to just 15 minutes, and that can be tough. For one of the pieces I did, I also was able to play with putting music into the piece.

Then, once we write the introduction, the DACS (a blurb that goes with each story), and choose pictures, we’re done!

It always feels great after we finish a story. And then… its time to work on another one!

I like working on the show a lot. It feels great to see a finished product every time a piece I worked on goes on the air. And it’s great to feel like such an important part of the team. I know that I would love a career where I could feel the same way. I’ve been able to work on my writing skill, my creative skills, and my people skills all while learning about all sorts of new technologies. Lastly, I love that this is social justice work. There are so many important issues that we cover on the show, and it’s great to be able to share these issues with the world.

I know that all of these skills will be very useful after Brandeis. I am very happy about this internship placement.

 

Jay Feinstein, ’17

I love this vibrant city. Everyone is on a mission to accomplish something big. I have enjoyed being among people who thrive in this fast-paced environment. Traveling through the subway in the early morning among men and women in suits makes me feel important. I am seeing a glimpse of what my professional life after college could be like, which is both scary and exciting. The city is also very expensive, which is a constant reminder for me of how privileged I am to have parents who are able to supplement my WOW stipend. There are many students whose financial standing would not allow them to do a summer internship, which is why the existence of the WOW fellowship program is so critical.

13702428_10204969162387358_76123947_o

Ruth Messinger, former president and now Global Ambassador of AJWS

In my work environment, there are a lot more opportunities at work to collaborate with different groups of people. AJWS has many different departments, but they are interdependent. For instance, the Program Division selects which grassroots organizations AJWS funds, but the grants that are given to these organization would not be possible without the work of the Development Division which is responsible for fundraising. The Communications Department creates the materials that describe our work that are essential to Development Division which utilizes them to engage donors. I have been learning about the importance, but also the challenges of collaborative work. It requires a lot of open discussions and compromises, which I see happening here everyday. These are important lessons that will be useful for any of my future career plans. I have been meeting with individuals in different departments to learn more about their professional experiences and their work at AJWS. These meetings have been very insightful for me. Before this internship, I did not know so many different career options existed within the nonprofit world. I can see myself working in the Programs Division because I am so passionate about grassroots movements, and I can also see myself working as a fundraiser in the Development Division. As for skills, I have been working a lot more with Raiser’s Edge database which is a great skill to have as I continue in the nonprofit sector.

The staff has been extremely welcoming and friendly. However, coming into work this past week has been difficult. The media coverage of all the black lives lost due to police brutality has been tough to digest. As a person of color, I find the constant dehumanization of black and brown bodies in this country to be extremely infuriating and I wish all of America felt the same way. I felt isolated, but I remember feeling grateful that I work at a human rights organization. I thought my work environment would provide me with a space to engage in dialogue and be among colleagues who would be equally outraged. However, I came into work and I was disappointed to see that there was silence. Everyone was proceeding as if it was a normal day at work. I attempted to start a conversation with some people, but the responses ranged from blank faces to statements like “I know it is so sad.”

Our new president, Robert Bank, sent a heartfelt email to the staff during the Orlando shooting in which he offered support and acknowledged the different ways each staff was mourning. The organization as whole released a statement standing in solidarity with the families of the victims and calling for justice. Therefore, I repeatedly refreshed my email imbox hoping to see a similar email and statement about standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and an acknowledgement of all the lives lost, but no such email was sent and no statement was released.

13681784_10204969162347357_326632026_o

Robert Bank, new president of AJWS

When the interns this week met with the Robert, I had an opportunity to ask him about this silence. My question opened up a dialogue about how difficult it is for AJWS to decide which domestic human rights issues it should respond to. Robert discussed how AJWS, as a non political organization, wants to maintain focus on the social movements they we support in the 19 developing countries in which we work. Additionally, when international organizations begin taking a stance regarding many different domestic issues their mission becomes confusing to their supporters. AJWS responded to the Orlando shooting because we fund many organizations abroad that are working for LGBT rights. However, AJWS also funds organizations that are working to protect the lives of blacks and people of color. For instance, AJWS has spoken out against and funds social movement organizations in the Dominican Republic that use the courts and media advocacy to defend equal rights for Dominicans of Haitian descent. The horrid discrimination of Dominicans of Haitian descent is entirely an issue of racism. In other words, while I understand that different factors complicate the decision of whether to take a stance or not,  the brutalization of black and brown bodies is a global human rights issue and no one should remain silent. While I praise and admire the work of AJWS, I will continue to ask these challenging questions and start a dialogue because there is always room for growth and improvement, and I feel lucky to be at an organization that is open to hearing constructive criticism and constantly looks to improve.

Marian Gardner ’18

Tags: , ,

Hi Everyone!

Last time I wrote here, the Red Cross was responding to the Orlando shooting back in June. After a couple of weeks, the office slowed down and went back to the original environment, busy but not stressful! We had a lot of home fire prevention campaigns and even more pillowcase talks. In case you have forgotten, the fire prevention campaigns seek to prevent home fires by going into communities, usually low-income communities, and installing smoke alarms. We team up in groups of two or three people and go house to house saying that we are from the Red Cross and that as part of our home fire prevention campaigns we are installing smoke alarms. While a volunteer gathers the information of the person we are helping, another installs the smoke alarm. These campaigns are extremely helpful and important because it allows the Red Cross to do the outreach and help people that may not be able to leave their communities and seek the Red Cross. By going into people’s home, we make sure that our services are being offered and utilized by the community. While the pillowcase talks are about disaster prevention geared towards young kids from second to sixth grade. The talks are called this because we give the kids a pillowcase where they can put important things such as water, food, emergency contacts etc in case of an emergency. Being part of presenting the talks has been one of my favorite parts of my internship because I really enjoy interacting with young kids.

Very tired after a home fire prevention campaign in Salinas, Puerto Rico!

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.42.24 PM

One of the homes I went to in the fire prevention campaign had tons of chickens!

Here are just some.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.47.52 PM

These events happened in towns outside of the capital, which is really good because it shows that the Red Cross is helping people throughout the island and not just in the capital. It also shows that volunteering is very important because these programs cannot be done without the work of volunteers. With their help, the Red Cross has the capacity to offer its services all around.

Last week, we had a lot of rain that caused floods. Although this type of disaster is more common from August-November because of hurricane season, it was a great privilege to be part of the response team of the Red Cross. I am sad that I wont be in Puerto Rico during hurricane season to see more of the disaster response. How would you participate in it?

One thing I’ve noticed about the people that work in the Red Cross Puerto Rico chapter is that they know how to manage stress and emergencies. While I understand that this is part of their job, it’s a quality that I really admire and have tried to gain. I’ve never seen anyone yell, or shut someone out because they are too busy.  The Red Cross staff is always looking for volunteers and extra help and will take the time to explain things. It’s also been really good to be part of this department because I’m learning how to apply this to my own life. If something happens, you have to respond and not spend time over thinking or getting stressed out. It’s also been very interesting to be in this environment because most of the people who work here are women (there are only two men). Generally, women tend to get more stressed out but it’s been very refreshing and eye opening to see women handling disaster situations. I feel very empowered to have such great role models.

I’m grateful for this opportunity and hope that the good work continues!

 

Claudia Roldan ’18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

I love the environment at One Mission, it is one of the major reasons that I wanted to return for a second summer. The office has a very relaxed feel to it. On the average summer day there are only about 4 people in the office, keeping it quiet and quaint. Due to the size, or lack thereof, I have gotten to know and work with everyone and that is something I greatly appreciate. Over the course of the summer I have been able to help everyone with at least one project and get their feedback on my work. I have also been able to get a deeper insight into each person’s role in the organization.

Chemo Duck

One of my favorite One Mission programs is the Chemo Duck program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Chemo Ducks are cute, cuddly companions for kids battling cancer. They were developed with the help of child life specialists and medical professionals, the Chemo Duck Program helps introduce children and families to their new life and encourages healing through the power of play therapy.

The World of Work has differed from university/academic life in multiple ways. First, work stays at work, at least for me. The minute I walk out the door, all of my One Mission tasks are over for the day, unlike at school when I always have more studying and work to do for classes. Working is also more collaborative than school. At school I have to be self driven to my own success, but at work, if I am slacking then that affects the jobs of all of the other employees and the reach of the organization. Another big difference is commute. During the school year, I live on campus, but during the summer I am commuting to my internship. I spend 40 minutes to an hour every day driving to work and another 40 mins – 1 hour driving home, compared to my less than 10 minute walk across campus to class.

A big skill that I am building as a result of my internship at One Mission is how to write professional letters to companies proposing partnerships and/or asking for donations. I have been working on a formal proposal for a partnership with an organization for the past few weeks and have also written a few shorter letters to companies. Regardless of what career path I pursue after graduation, the skill of writing a formal letter and creating a thorough professional proposal is a great asset.

The reason that I applied to intern at One Mission initially last summer is because that I want to work in this specific field. My goal is to work for a pediatric cancer based non-profit, preferably one that focuses on programs more than research, and that is what I found in OM. (To learn about OM programs check out their website http://onemission.org/how-we-help/). The skills I am learning in branding, outreach, social media marketing, and many other things, is invaluable in my future career path. Interning in the type of organization that I want to work in helps me build applicable skills daily and is giving me a realistic insight into what I may be doing in the future.

OM Insta

I have posted all that you see here and much more, make sure to check it out to find out what One Mission does!

If you’re interested in following us on Twitter you can at https://twitter.com/buzzforkids and Instagram at @buzzforkids. I currently control our Instagram account and will continue to until the end of my internship, so like all you want

Jen Rossman

In the past couple of weeks at Lawyers For Children, I have gotten to meet and work with many different clients that were assigned to the social worker I’m shadowing this summer. I find meeting with clients at the Manhattan Family Court before their court appointments to be particularly rewarding. LFC makes sure to leave time before court to speak to the children they’ll be representing to make sure all parties are on the same page about the child’s most recent circumstances. It is during these meetings that I see clearly the way Lawyers For Children’s work touches their clients. Instead of going into the court room, telling the judge what the child wants, and leaving, LFC takes the time to get to know their clients and why they want what they do. These pre-court meetings have shown me the difference between blind representation and informed advocacy.

IMG_1177

“Creating a Community of Care: Fostering Emotional Wellness for LGBTQ Youth” Hetrick Martin Institute

In honor of LGBTQ Pride Month in New York City, I had the privilege of attending a summit hosted by Hetrick Martin Institute and a panel of youth advocates from an organization called “You Gotta Believe”. The summit brought together hundreds of advocates for youth in New York City to discuss ways to create safe spaces for LGBTQ youth (an especially vital conversation after the tragedy in Orlando, FL earlier this summer.) Attending the meeting with foster care children in mind, the Youth Advocate I’m working with and I discussed with other advocates from different organizations the difficulty foster care youth have in finding stability in general, and how this struggle is intensified for those who are LGBTQ identifying. Often times, these kids face rejection from foster homes and from other foster children in their placements because of their sexuality or gender identity, making it more difficult for them to settle into new places.

The work environment of my internship is different from university life in that, at LFC, everyone I’m surrounded by has similar goals in mind to make things better for the children LFC represents. At school, a lot of what we learn about is broad and large-scale, but at LFC I’m exposed to a tiny fragment of a small city and get to see the full effort employees put in every day, and the small levels in which change is needed. At LFC I’m developing skills in talking to and listening effectively to people of all ages and backgrounds, and learning to appreciate the importance of personal narratives. For many children in care who are moved from place to place, one of the most central, stable things they possess is their story.

At the You Gotta Believe discussion, called “Nobody Ages Out,” adolescents who have recently aged out of the foster care system shared some stories about their experiences in care. In NY, youth can legally sign themselves out of care at 18, but officially transition out at 21. The youth present at this month’s meeting were LGBTQ identifying youth who shared their experiences tied to coming out to foster parents and other children in their placements. It was very clear to me after this conversation that there is a lot that needs to be changed in the NY foster care system.

The youth on the panel disclosed that foster care children are often left in the dark with regards to their placements and a large percentage of them have no warning or time for preparation when they find out they’re switching placements or need to move. LFC has a specialized policy and litigation task force that works on getting laws, such as the ones that allow for kids to be moved with no warning, changed and updated for foster care youth. I had the opportunity to accompany one of the attorneys on the litigation task force to a New York City counsel meeting that was being held to discuss some proposed bills on foster care reform. The proposed bills aimed to address some of the issues in ACS policy that make it difficult to keep track of the housing and education choices of youth who’ve aged out of care.It was interesting to hear the counsel members question the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) about some of the areas in which they are falling short. The counsel will be holding a vote on bills that will make it necessary for ACS to follow youth in care, send out surveys to gather accurate statistics about foster care youth high school graduation rate, and follow up on the whereabouts of youth who’ve aged out of care.

IMG_1164-2

New York City counsel building decorated for pride month and hosting a press conference with the foster care youth who spoke at the meeting.

 

Rachel Geller, ’18

Social Work WOW Fellow

As I reach the halfway point in my internship, things are beginning to pick up at Verité.  Deadlines are rapidly approaching for some projects, while other projects are just being started.  My fellow interns and I have finally become fully comfortable with our roles and responsibilities at Verité, and have learned how to manage our time surrounding those responsibilities.

13814408_1367076139974770_676642932_n

Entrance of Verité

I have lived in Amherst, MA, for the majority of my life, so I did not expect to experience it differently throughout the course of my internship.  However, the research I have done this summer has altered how I view the world, including how I see my small hometown. After being at Verité, I have become more inclined to take into account the nature and extent of each individual’s rights, specifically labor rights, whether I am buying produce from a local family farm or am buying food at a mega supermarket chain.

My emotions at the office are more dichotomous.  On the one hand, I spend my time at work researching abhorrent topics such as child labor and human trafficking in an attempt to eventually contribute to the eradication of those human rights abuses. Read the 2016 Trafficking Report here

On the other hand, the people who surround me at Verité are not simply co-workers; rather, they are a community of people who provide one another with support—whether it is career-based or emotional.  I am incredibly thankful to be surrounded by such genuinely good and caring people, who not only push me to learn new skills and information, but who also take the time to sit down with me and hash out any questions I may have.

13823293_1367076213308096_2096715644_n

The Main Conference Room

I have found both similarities and differences in the world of work in comparison to university and academic life. The main similarity is that research plays a major part in both settings. However, in a university setting, the research goes into some kind of project or paper, which is demonstrative of my academic capabilities and displays what I have learned. In the world of work, my research is for other people. Rather than hoping to get a good grade, I am instead striving to help others. The effects of this research are more immediately impactful. When at school, if I lose focus or procrastinate, it is generally only myself who is affected by it. If I poorly managed my time at my internship, I would be guilty of negatively affecting many. At Verité, each individual comes together to form a community. We work together on projects and ideas, so losing focus is not an option if one wants to keep up. (Check out Verité’s monthly newsletter!)

My time at Verité has allowed me to expand my skillset. This internship has been my first office job, so spending all my time at a computer has been an adjustment. Prior to Verité, I often had trouble managing multiple projects and tasks, and would become overwhelmed. However working in an office has taught me effective ways to organize myself and manage my time. While working in an office is not necessarily what I want to do in the future, it has been an important and valuable experience.

Georgia Nichols, ’18

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been four weeks since my internship has started and I have learned a lot about the organization I am working with, Cornerstone Church of Boston, and myself. Living in Boston to pursue this internship has opened my eyes about this city. Compared to living at Brandeis, the shift from a suburb to urban environment showed me a different side to the city. Now, I am more comfortable saying that Boston is my home, because after all, I have spent 11 months out of the past year.

One aspect of future pastoring and this internship is meeting with people. This job is less about logistics and office work, but more about building relationships in order for the community to grow stronger. Because I live in the middle of the city now, the accessibility to public transportation makes it so much easier to meet up with people and to talk with them. I realized that if I want to go down this potential career path, then I would have to get a car, either in Boston or in Chicago. With me being an intern at the moment, it is a lot easier for people to come meet me where I live. But if my living conditions were not as favorable as right now, it would be a lot more difficult to meet up with people. A good portion of these meetings are with pastors and other leaders within the community. This is to ensure that there is communication within leadership and everyone knows where we are in our lives, socially, academically, and most importantly spiritually. To have the opportunity to share my life with others and them to share their lives really gives me a good grasp on being a pastor in the future and makes me even more excited to go down this career path.

If i were to describe how this internship is different from academic life at Brandeis, I would say that the only difference is location and people I am involved with. In a way, the same things I am doing in the internship should carry on to my life when I am even at Brandeis. Since my internship entails a job past 9-5 everyday, and is “fieldwork” in a sense, there should be no difference in the way I live during the internship compared to at college. However, Brandeis does not offer theology courses for Christianity and other courses for my career, so I would have to study these things independently, which I am fine doing.

Since I have been given leadership roles within certain ministries, I have scheduled events for the College students, and have led Sunday Service band few times as well. One event that I scheduled this summer was a Bowling Outing with the college students! I planned all the logistics for it. In a way, it was my first major leadership responsibility as a College ministry leader. It went really well and achieved goal of connecting with students and having fun!

13517546_1228333380523711_8366798429938535960_o

As someone who has leadership positions on campus during the school year, my skills have been able to carry on into the internship. However, I believe that this internship is helping me be able to become a better leader and organizer in the next school year. I am excited to close out the internship and put forth as much effort as possible for the next few weeks!

Daniel Choi

It’s hard to believe how quickly my time at the ADL is flying by, and that it’s already time to write my mid-point blog post. Having now completed more than 115 hours at the Anti-Defamation League, I feel far more comfortable, knowledgeable, and inspired than when I first began my internship. I’ve grown to really love working at the ADL and already feel nostalgic about having passed the mid-point mark. In this post, I’ll share some of the highlights, challenges, and events that have made this experience so transformative.

 
Last time I checked in, I had just started my internship. Since then, I have participated in civil rights committee meetings, helped draft an op-ed to a Florida newspaper, and assisted with projects relating to the transgender bathroom law. I attended ADL’s annual board meeting, where I learned about “No Place for Hate,” a program dedicated to combating bullying in schools. I’ve continued to speak with witnesses and victims of discrimination who wish to file reports with the ADL. I’ve conducted media searches, helped in the education and outreach department, and interviewed participants of ADL’s trip to Israel.

13220922_10154171574724648_8685239813834479018_n
I have infinite respect and admiration for the ADL staff. They remain committed and steadfast in their fight for social justice, actively working to combat discrimination. Initially, I found it difficult to be immersed in the discrimination, anti-Semitism, and racism that still plagues our world; but as I spent more and more hours at the ADL, something else occurred to me: that meaningful efforts are being made to combat the hate, and that there is still so much love in the world.

 
The skills I’ve developed throughout this internship have already proven to be critically important in my academic, career, and life endeavors. By participating in civil rights committee meetings and engaging with highly intelligent people, I have grown more competent and capable. By speaking with victims and witnesses of discrimination, I have practiced compassion and empathy. By drafting letters and op-eds, I am enhancing my writing abilities. Most important, it has reaffirmed for me that I thrive on growth and contribution.

13483029_1377706152256313_6682062697557698560_o
I’ve taken many courses at Brandeis that delve deeply into the inequities that exist in healthcare, government, and media. This internship has made everything I’ve learned at school come alive. The biggest difference between academic and work life is the incredible sense of contribution I feel each day at my internship. I love knowing that my work is helping to make the world a better place. Like anything else, the world of work and the world of academics are what we make of them: in both universes, we have the ability to extract every lesson or orbit passively, choosing not to see the opportunities right there in front of us.

 
I am eternally grateful to Brandeis University, to the generous donors, and to the Anti-Defamation League for this extraordinary opportunity.

Just in my time with The Fortune Society thus far, my experiences have already far surpassed any and all expectations I held for my internship before it began. The people I work for and with are some of the most genuine and driven individuals I’ve ever encountered; their unremitting desire to help others, despite the constant uphill battle, is a truly remarkable trait that makes this organization one-of-a-kind. In my contact with clients and staff thus far, one thing has become abundantly clear: a lot of people take a lot of things for granted. The fact that people can drive, gain employment with no clear discrimination, or even obtain individual housing or food, is now something I consider to be privileges rather than rights. To contextualize this idea, about a month ago I took a client to the Human Resources Administration to receive his food stamps benefits but was told he did not qualify due to his citizenship status (despite being in the country legally and even showing the staff proof of his legal status).

Another humbling event, or rather sequence of events, was a New York State Assembly hearing I attended in which the president of Fortune, JoAnne Page, testified along with others concerning housing barriers encountered by those with criminal justice system involvement. Within a couple weeks of the hearing, I attended a rally outside New York Governor Cuomo’s office to protest his reneging on a promise to construct 20,000 new supportive housing units over the next fifteen years with 6,000 of those coming in the next five. This was an issue that was explicitly mentioned by every individual who testified in front of the Assembly members.More information on his original promise is available here.

Rally outside Gov. Cuomo's office in New York City surrounding suppotive housing issues.

Rally outside Gov. Cuomo’s office in New York City surrounding supportive housing issues.

This summer, disregarding the obvious differences from my academic work, has contrasted from my experience at Brandeis because I’m able to observe concepts I’ve learned as theoretical, abstract ideas as real issues that impact real people. One particular course I took this past semester has really affected the way I perceive my experience with Fortune so far. As a seminar-styled course, we explored the ideas of justice and punishment in various fashions, including through historical context, literature, and even from a philosophical point-of-view. I find that I’m able to apply the concepts I’ve learned from this course to further delve into the intricate issues regarding the criminal justice system.

This is from an initiative Fortune held to inform their clients of their voting rights.

This is from an initiative Fortune held to inform their clients of their voting rights.

I’ve gained many things from my internship so far, but one of the most applicable to my future, whatever it may hold, is learning how to advocate for those who can’t do so for themselves.  In attending numerous events that included a call for action, the speakers have often taken personal experiences and applied them to others’ issues and subsequently systemic issues.  I find this to be a particularly effective because it takes an issue and makes it real, and one you can’t ignore.  I’ve also learned how to organize events to conduct studies.  Currently, along with others in the policy department, I’m coordinating a focus group to explore the unique needs of veterans with criminal justice involvement.  You can find out more about this project here.

My experience with The Fortune Society, even though I still have a bit to go, is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience that I will be able to apply to my life in the years to come.  I’m excited to see what’s in store for me for the rest of the summer!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I can’t believe how quickly time has passed that I’ve now reached past the midpoint of my internship! I think a true mark of my time at Rosie’s Place so far is that it has felt like I’ve been working there for much longer than just five weeks. By now I am familiar with many of the names and faces of the guests and a number of them know my name too. I can walk through the doors at 9 AM already expecting what tasks I will need to do but never fully knowing what the day will bring.

Daily calendar of events

One impression about my new environment in the workplace is that no two days are ever the same. It is always busy, but some days the sign up list for the computers may be very long and other days the computers may not be as high in demand. There are also days when I get to step away from the front desk. For example, I have attended two trainings for the Social Justice Institute, a summer volunteer program for high school students. Generally it can be stressful and tiring working in such a fast-paced environment because I am trying my best to help as many people as possible. It can also be emotionally taxing when I encounter situations I can not help, and so I need to take care and not bring such feelings home with me.

The World of Work has shown me how much time I have in my university life in comparison to working 35 hours a week. While I still juggle classes, work-study, and clubs, I often have small breaks between everything to help me recharge. I have also noticed what it is like working in just one building rather than walking up and down campus to get to class, and how really important it is that I get the chance to outside for lunch and fresh air. The World of Work has made me aware of my age as well. I am so used to interacting with others around my age that I forget I am a still budding young professional who may not be as taken as seriously.

Home at the front desk

I am, however, building many skills as a result of my internship. I am learning how to better communicate with all people from different backgrounds, especially when answering the phone. I no longer hesitate as I used to when I had to answer the phone because I understand that it is okay to put someone on hold if I do not have all the answers right away. In anything I encounter whether is be academics or on/off campus involvement, I will know there is nothing wrong with asking questions. Certainly in my future career plans, I need not to put pressure on myself and stress myself out about getting everything right, no matter how good of a first impression I want to make when I start, It is only with time that I will learn and become more comfortable in my position.

Tina Nguyen ’17

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 

I am now in the thick of the Girls’ LEAP experience. In the past week, I have met more than 70 new girls! Each session contains a range of 15-20 girls and they all have their own vibe. Three of the groups are made up of girls aged 12-14 and the fourth group is composed of mid-teens. It is said that once girls reach about 7th grade, their self-esteem begins to drop. While I do not have before and after snapshots of the same girls, it is remarkably clear that the younger girls feel more comfortable volunteering and speaking in large groups. Before working with this older group, I was thinking that our program would run more smoothly with older students. The older girls/young women are more receptive to the class and understand more clearly why learning emotional and physical self-defense is worthwhile. But, as my supervisors have mentioned, potentially at that point it is too late to prevent an incident and their self esteem is already suffering, thus I am glad we work with a younger population too.

Most recently, I have been challenged by navigating my role within our team. There is an on-site lead teacher, other college Teaching Women and Teen Mentors. I am working on how to provide both positive and constructive feedback to my colleagues while maintaining respect for their positions. I believe these skills will be transferable to other work places as well as academic settings. I am also challenged by the content of our material, often needing time to reflect upon my own self-esteem and feelings. Also, I believe the charts we do with how to manage anger and conflict will positively contribute to the way I interact with all people. Looking forward to another awesome month!

Orpheus in the Berkshires closed on Sunday and I started rehearsals for And No More Shall We Part on Tuesday. With this transition from one show to another, came many changes. I went from a show with an 80 person cast to a show with a 2 person cast; from a show with community members who were acting for the first time to a show in which both actors have been in numerous plays, movies, and TV shows; and from a fun musical to an extremely serious play. Needless to say, my experience is going to be different in so many ways. Despite all of the changes, my responsibilities as an Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) will be similar.

When working on Orpheus in the Berkshires, I thought a lot about the importance of theater. Because work in the theater is often high stress, it is easy to forget why we do what we do. Seeing how much this experience meant to the members of the Berkshire community, made all of the hard times and late nights worth it. Additionally, this article talks about an actor who is a member Soldier On, an organization that helps homeless veterans, and how life-changing this experience was for her. Skills that I developed while working on Orpheus include anticipating problems before they arise, adapting depending on who you are talking to, and being extremely aware of everyone around you. These are skills that are important in stage management, but become even more necessary when you are working with a cast of 80 people. 

This picture captures some of the incredibly talented people that contributed to Orpheus in the Berkshires.

This picture captures some of the incredibly talented people that contributed to Orpheus in the Berkshires.

At Brandeis, the work is less focused on product than in the professional world, but a little less focused on process than the community engagement project was. Experiencing both sides of the spectrum, has allowed me to appreciate more why we do theater. Working at Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) is more intense than my work in the Brandeis Department of Theater Arts. Yes, WTF is also an educational experience, but here you are expected to work alongside the professionals without a noticeable difference. The stakes are higher and as a result, mistakes have more of a significant impact.

One of the community actors painted a large version of our show poster.

One of the community actors painted a large version of our show poster.

 

I came to WTF to make sure that I wanted to pursue working at higher level theaters. This internship so far has confirmed this. Working alongside New York and even Broadway Stage Managers has proven to me that I want to strive to get to Broadway. I am learning a lot about what it means to be a successful ASM. At Brandeis, I have Stage Managed more than I have ASMed, so it is helpful to be able to work on the skills necessary for an ASM since that is what I will start out doing professionally. Next year at Brandeis as a Stage Manager, I will be able to better guide my assistants because of my work as an ASM and my observations of professional Stage Managers.

The Stage Management Team of Orpheus in the Berkshires.

The Stage Management Team of Orpheus in the Berkshires.

I am excited to see what the last month of my internship has in store for me. So far, I am loving every second at WTF and I look forward to continuing to work on And No More Shall We Part.

Hannah Mitchell ’17

Theater WOW Recipient

For the last month, every conversation that goes on long enough will eventually reach the topic of politics, except rather than American politics, which I’m confident speaking about, these conversations tend to involve British politics. This is in the wake of the recent referendum in which, with a margin of two percent, the UK voted to leave the European Union (I used this to help understand what happened:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887).  The aftermath has been chaotic, and despite my opinions on the topic, the experience has been a crash course for British politics.

These conversations mostly happen over lunch or coffee breaks, during which one person will stand up and ask everybody else in the office if they would like to join for tea or coffee.  The huge group that would then migrate to the kitchen includes people of all different levels in the “hierarchy” from the undergraduate researcher to the post-doc or lecturer.  It was difficult getting used to talking so casually to supervisors, but getting to know everybody has made me more comfortable with my position in the group and I’m not as nervous speaking with the supervisors.

The coffee machine

The coffee machine in its natural habitat

And of course, I work and have my weekly meeting with my supervisor.  Our meetings have progressed since I first started working. What began as brainstorming sessions, taking influence from similar projects like http://mariandoerk.de/edgemaps/demo/, have become more status update sessions and refocusing my direction as I take some form of ownership over the project.  Though, obviously, she has the final say, I’m not worried about bouncing different ideas by her or disagreeing with her.  

Because I work on the project every day, there are occasionally unforeseen issues that come up.  And if these issues are small, I manage them myself according to my own judgement, which is unfortunately occasionally flawed.  I enjoy the weekly meetings for the feedback.  While most of the time the feedback involves smaller tweaks to the work, sometimes we come to the conclusion that I’m going in the wrong direction (such as when I wanted to incorporate a timeline into the visualization).  That was difficult at first, taking a chance and being wrong, but I’ve stopped seeing these ventures as wasted time.

Very rarely are ideas entirely wrong, they’re mostly just inappropriate for the problem I’m solving or the current situation.  I’ve begun to write down most of my ideas for later use or to use for a different project. I’ve come back to some of the first ideas after I hit a wall. Even if I don’t use the exact idea, it puts me back in the mindset I had when I was first coming up with the concept, which is nice when I forget the idea and focus on some tangential part.

Here’s one of the earlier sketch ideas that were scrapped, but later used for parts of other parts of the project.

Sketches

I’ve started to use this “write down” thought process for things outside of work.  Here’s the page for this blog post:

Blog

Very few of these notes made it into this post

 

–Katherine Currier

Now that it’s more than halfway through the summer, here’s an update on what I’ve been doing at The Improper Bostonian. First off, I’ve done a lot more writing, researching, etc. for stories to appear mainly on the website but also in the printed edition if it’s needed.

For example, I interviewed the Director of a new circus show at the Cutler Majestic Theatre by Les 7 Doigts de la Main, a Montreal-based offshoot of Cirque du Soleil, for a Q&A piece. Originally, this was just going to be published on the website but when the original Q&A piece that was set to run in the print edition fell through (the subject was unavailable I’m assuming, though I never heard a definitive answer to that), my piece filled that space. It was great to contribute and feel that I was helping more with the print edition than just fact-checking articles. Of course fact-checking is very important for every publication but there’s physical representation of that work. With the Q&A piece that ran in the front-of-the-book (which is basically the first half of the print edition, which has all the big feature stories), you could actually see my exact contribution. These clips are extra important because every publication, whether its an online blog/digital publication or a printed daily/weekly, wants to see clips from applicants. Building a personal portfolio of clips is vital to breaking into the editorial industry.

 

IMG_0333

 

While it might not seem like there would be any drawbacks to having your byline in the front half of the magazine, one annoyance did come out of this. This start-up energy/nutrition bar company has emailed me twice and also started following me on Twitter (PS: follow Hiatt on Twitter when I take the account over on August 9 and share about my day interning. I’ll try to refrain from tweeting about mid-90’s Disney films) to try and get me to write about their new product. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of pull with the magazine to get something about this energy bar in the magazine. Even if I did, I know nothing about their product to warrant covering it.

That’s a minor complaint and of course I can handle bizarre spam emails if my work gets published in the magazine. This wasn’t just any run-of-the-mill issue of The Improper my Q&A was featured in, it was the Boston’s Best Issue. I mentioned in my first post from my summer internship experience that I had started already fact-checking the blurbs about each winner. The most worthwhile aspect of working on this issue, in terms of community impact, is that I see how much pride these restaurants, shops, artists, etc. take in winning. Its great publicity for these firms first off, but I really got the impression when I reached out via phone or email to the winners—before they knew they won—to fact check their blurbs. I could only tell them that they were nominated for an award and they would have to check the issue to see if they won but they were excited at the possibility. I think the recognition of their hard work is what they appreciate the most, not the publicity or boost in clients.

It’s odd to know that I’m almost at the end of my time with The Improper. I’ve interned here since January and I’ve probably logged over 400 hours of work up to today. I have a month left and I want to make sure I get the most out of it. My main goal for the last few weeks I have is to solidify the relationships I’ve built with my supervisors and co-workers. The clips I’ve produced and the general experience I’ve had are great, but what makes any experience worthwhile is the relationships you take out of them. Specifically speaking, networking is a skill that can always be honed. Whether it’s while waiting for the Keurig machine in the office kitchen to finish my coffee or at an actual networking event, I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable in that scenario during this internship experience.

 


 

Comparing my working/interning experience with my academic life is difficult because I’ve never valued my academics in the way I value my work. Of course I work hard in classes and am attentive but I’ve always been more receptive to a work environment than the classroom because the fruits of my labor are much more tangible and immediate. Over the past year, I have been more focused on my future career and work than my coursework. The world of work comes pretty natural to me, though I never rule out that I could be missing something completely and don’t get it, as if I’m Richard Hendrix sitting on Bighead’s boat holding a prototype Hooli phone. Either way, I feel perfectly competent and capable to jump into the professional world once I’m finished with school.

World of Work has differed from my university academic life because I become a more independent person. Leaving my home everyday to travel by car or public transportation to work forces me to rely on my own self for transportation. I have become a much more self motivated person by discussing with colleagues about what kinds of work I hope to pursue in the future because of my experience here.

An official picture of me and the other interns for Summer 2016 internship.

13658953_1013805358668696_7313882287927877651_n

Due to this internship, I have been able to participate in two research opportunities during my time at Supportive Living. My first research project involved evaluating the nutritional diets of residents at each of the houses. I have and will be conducting interviews with the staff and residents on what kinds of menus they have and the overall kitchen/dining experience by looking in the pantries and observing the meal times. My second research opportunity involves designing an ideal brain injury fitness center for a future house. I have to participate in more individualized research by looking into other successful wellness centers and looking into financial aspects. These opportunities for research have helped me develop my skills in communication. I have been able to go out of my comfort zone to actively network with other staff members to learn about their new positions at the organization and how they got to be there. In addition, I got to meet a fellow Brandeis alumni through my work. Her name is Laura Lorenz and she is a current visiting scholar at Brandeis working on research with some Brandeis graduate students at Heller. She came to talk to us about a photo voice project she worked on with some of the brain injury residents at the Douglas House. Her project involved giving cameras to the residents to take pictures of struggles in their lives that otherwise would not have been noticed by “normal” people. For example, there is one picture that is angled on the ground that shows a sharp ridge hill. From this perspective, the picture shows how difficult it is for wheelchair bound residents to navigate. I have also talked to Ms. Lorenz about possibly participating in some research with her, dedicated at understanding the financial opportunities for different programs and the effect finances have on the resident experience. Unfortunately, I would not be able to do anything until I came back from studying abroad this fall, but she said she was very interested in working with me in the future. She has allowed me the freedom to pursue any kind of independent study I am interested in, with hopes that I can find something I am personally passionate about and am motivated to work for everyday while I am with her.

A picture of fellow Brandeis alumni Dr. Laura Lorenz who has allowed me to work with her on an independent study this upcoming spring.

13403861_1098434660195489_4051987284550535993_o

As an HSSP major working at Supportive Living, I have been able to utilize my skills from interviewing friends and family members for papers in class to interacting with people from all kinds of organizations at work for research. Therefore, my work at Supportive Living has helped me immensely improve upon my communication skills. As a previously reserved and quiet student, course interviews on the experience of illness with family members have prepared me for interviews with work colleagues and even complete strangers. Also the fact that I already have experience talking with people of a specific disability/illness background (my interview with my father who deals with diabetes) has definitely helped me in interacting with the brain injury population. As I talk to people from various organizations, my skills in communication have helped me inquire about their backgrounds and current projects/missions. Thanks to these skills, I was able to further discuss with Dr. Laura Lorenz about her upcoming research project which I can hopefully be a part of one day. These communication skills are necessary in being able to learn about different career paths I can possibly take in the future and also learn from other more experienced veterans in other fields.

A picture of me with one of my residents for physical fitness

13731880_1117907621581526_2691518174693635441_o

Greetings from sunny California! While I do miss my East coast summer rain, I can’t say I miss having to make rainy day plans, especially with 20 (or more) energetic campers to entertain.

I’m writing this at the end of the fourth of seven weeks of camp and I can’t believe we’re so quickly approaching the end! I’m content with all that we’ve done so far and the relationships that we (my co-director, the counselors, and I) have formed with the campers living at the shelter. This past week was “Going Green” week at camp. We went on a hike, made leaf rubbings and stamps, and led the campers on a street cleanup around the shelter. All the kids were engaged and excited about the activities, which was encouraging to see. Over these past few weeks, I have come to get to know the kids and what is special and notable about each of them. They continue to surprise me with what they are interested in, what they’re not so interested in, and how they interact with each other and me.

IMG_5507 (1)

A sweet note from a camper

One of my favorite things about my internship is getting to be part of the community at Haven, even outside of my work with the campers. I speak to the parents about their kids, their housing searches, or their hometowns or home countries. I also have the opportunity to chat with the parents whose kids are too young for camp and spend time with direct services staff members who are dedicated, supportive, and knowledgeable. Every once in a while I pop into the main building for LifeMoves to meet with the administrative staff who are focused on the big picture and are able to give me some more insight into the organization as a whole and my small part of it.

At Brandeis I am a coordinator of the Waltham Group program, Hunger and Homelessness, a group that works with local organizations attempting to address the causes and effects of housing and food insecurity. We talk with our volunteers and community partners about how homelessness carries a stigma. As a society, we have learned to make assumptions about who is homeless, why they are in their situation, what they look like, how they act. The list goes on. It can be incredibly damaging to those individuals and families who are living without stable homes.

Through working with and alongside those who are experiencing homelessness, I am continually finding that there is no one way to be homeless and there is no one path to healing. In my orientation, the psychologist who is serving as the Vice President of Program and Services at LifeMoves spoke to us about how the organization must always “meet people where they’re at.” He explained that he often fields calls from frustrated clients upset that they were not being treated fairly, that their neighbor had it “better” than they. He recounted that he responds to these kinds of calls by letting the caller know that, congratulations, they had figured it out—the program is not fair! In other words, no two program participants follow the same path because each person needs something suited to the particulars of their situation. The National Coalition for the Homeless does a good job of explaining some of the causes of homelessness in this fact sheet. For some families and individuals, they can point to one of these headings as the root cause of their homelessness. For some, it is a more complex mix of many factors.

2100_our-unique-model

The LifeMoves Model

I’ve found that this principle of different paths can extend to my work with the campers. Of course, each camper gets the same number of graham crackers or time on the bikes. However, some campers need extra attention to get the same results. For example, one camper might need a sticker chart that rewards her for saying goodbye to his mom without crying, while another camper might need to be assigned her own project to be in charge of in order to feel like she is being challenged. Some might want to sit and talk while some learn best by getting their hands and knees dirty on the soccer field. It’s been one of our largest tasks to adjust to these diverse needs, but it ultimately is leading to far better results.

I’m looking forward to what these next three weeks will bring and letting you know what I learn!

Mira McMahon ‘18

I am at the midpoint of my time at United for a Fair Economy and it feels like time is going by so quickly! The more I have adapted to the environment at UFE and the more I have become acquainted with the type of work I am doing there, the more I feel like a part of their community and it is hard to believe that I am halfway done with my internship. It feels like there is so much left to learn! Recently, I have been learning a lot about the finance side of non profit organizations. At first, I thought this would be more tedious and monotonous than the rest of the work I have been doing, but I have actually enjoyed it a lot because I feel like an integral part of the organization; the tasks I have been given are ones that if they were not completed, the organization would fail to run smoothly. For example, I have been in charge of all donation processing and deposits, as well as reconciling information regarding online donations in preparation for their upcoming audit. While I have been doing this, I have also been given projects that fit my interests such as creating an informational postcard to send out with some of their mailings regarding bequests. I feel very fortunate and grateful that I am being given projects and tasks that both fit my interests, teach me a lot, and also help UFE a lot. Feeling valued by the people who work at UFE has allowed me to become more passionate about the work I am doing as well as take notice to more real life issues that are relevant to UFE’s work. I have felt myself become more aware of economic injustices and feel a stronger need to fight for economic equality. Staff members periodically send articles or events related to economic justice through email as a way to keep us grounded in our work. For example, I was sent an article about internships and the fact that they are only provided to people with privilege (link to article here). Reading this article made me realize how grateful I am for the opportunities I have, and how unfair it is that not everyone is provided these opportunities, making UFE’s work so important. Similarly, I was sent an article about a protest led by immigrants against deportations (link to article here). Before working at UFE, I would have probably skimmed through this article and not given it a second thought, but after meeting people through UFE with heartbreaking stories of deportation and unequal rights as immigrants, this article sparked an anger in me that made me want to do my very best work while at UFE and spread the word about these injustices.

One of the many charts found on UFE’s website illustrating economic phenomenons that are causing inequality.

In this way, working at UFE is very different than academic life because the work is so real. In academics, a lot of what I learn comes from textbooks or lectures, and sometimes it is hard to remember that the things I am learning are reality when they are coming from words on a page or someone else’s voice. At my internship, however, I am constantly reminded that what I am doing matters because what I am doing is linked to real life people and situations. Rather than just reading about people who are experiencing economic justice, I am meeting them in person and hearing their personal stories. Rather than just having a professor tell me how to compile and analyze data in a spreadsheet, I am determining the best ways to do so for the present needs of the organization and creating reports that will be used to persuade real people to help others in need.

Another graphic produced by UFE in response to a policy in North Carolina, one of the states that they are expanding to.

Similarly, doing work that involves real people and real issues makes the work I am doing more prone to sudden changes or problems. Thus, this internship is teaching me how to creatively problem solve quickly and effectively in a way that I have never had to do before. In school, solving problems quickly and effectively is important, but only for my own success; at UFE, solving problems quickly and effectively could be the difference between getting a program funded that will help a lot of people in need, or having to cancel that program. This is a skill that I think will be useful in everything I do, whether that’s academics, work, or even interpersonal relationships and social situations. In addition, I am learning how to assert myself and ask for projects that I really want to do. This was scary at first, but my boss really appreciates it because it allows me to do work that I care about and thus will do a better job on. I look forward to the lessons I learn in the second half of my internship! 

Ilana Cedarbaum

 

I am halfway through my summer internship at ExpandED Schools and have begun to hit a real stride with my role, team and workflow. I have developed a steady routine and my desk has accumulated lots of papers and clutter. I know what time I need wake up and leave for the bus, what I do for lunch, and how to budget my time after work. I take the bus and the commute usually takes about 45 minutes each way. On the ride I get to listen to my music and the Port Authority Bus Terminal is only a 2 block walk from my office which is perfect. I hit the ground running when I arrive to the office, work on projects until lunch with occasional meetings, and usually walk down the street to Bryant Park to parkenjoy a little bit of fresh air. After lunch I continue working on my projects and then check in with my boss to update her on my progress, ask questions, and receive any new assignments.

I also try and see friends after work about twice a week. In fact, one thing I find particularly nice about work life as opposed to academic life is that once my day is done I don’t have more work to do. There is no homework to complete, essays to write, or studying for tests. When I leave the office I just get to appreciate my time with the knowledge I put in a good days work.

As I have become more comfortable in my role I have had the chance to learn new things and expand my understanding of how my projects impact our mission. After the first few weeks I started sitting in on more meetings, including discussions about topics outside my specific role. I also went on my first site visit last week to one of the summer programs ExpandED Schools runs. It was really interesting to see firsthand how the work we do materializes into these programs. It was also really nice to interact with the students and hear how excited they were about the things they were learning.

site visitOne set of skills I have improved is my research abilities. I spend most of my day doing research and there have been some very difficult pieces of information to find. I have learned research requires immense patience, knowledge and creativity to use alternative paths to find the information I seek.

I have also improved my communication skills by conducting phone interviews to gather information which is the other substantial part of my job. I has taught me to be thoughtful, organized, and clear in my conversations with people.

This internship has been a wonderful learning process. I had a bit of a slow start with some of my projects this summer and learned how to ask my supervisor for additional opportunities in an open and respectful manner. I am also gaining a range of skills and experience. I am sure that my research skills will have a greater effect on my academic life, and that both my research and communication skills will be incredibly valuable and necessary in helping me reach my future career goals.

This summer I’m living in an apartment with some friends in Brookline, Boston. Every day I walk the two miles to my internship at Modulus Studios, where I am furthering my education while pursuing a film degree at Brandeis. Modulus Studios provides high quality post production finishing services for broadcast, advertising and independent cinema. This includes color correction, sound design and authoring DVD’s for theatrical release. Modulus has clients all over the country, and works on a number of projects such as documentaries “Foreign Parts” and “Leviathan.” It is a small company, with less than a dozen employees, but their expertise in film post and audio post is difficult to match.

I have been reporting to a supervisor daily for a briefing on what is expected for my shift each day. Most of my time has been spent observing video and sound mixing sessions, learning through lynda.com and asking questions. I am becoming familiar with the work stations and the different types of software. I will restore stills or audio or video clips, set-up mix projects from OMFs and MOVs, output mixes and splits and QC final deliverables for projects and author and proof DVD’s. On top of the technical work, I will organize daily logs of work and other job info, help keep the studio tidy, clean and ready for client visits. This first week I have worked on some titles for a client’s project with my supervisor in an application called After Effects. After Effects is a motion graphics/special effects software used to animate titles and graphics often in 3D space. 

Through my internship with Modulus Studios, I hope to become proficient in multiple forms of editing software. I have experience working with some programs in the Adobe Creative Suite, but I am less familiar with other programs like Avid, Final Cut, Sony Vegas, etc. My supervisor informed me that Modulus deals with a range of clients who use many different editing applications, so employees need to be versed in many different software. If I am not limited to one program, that will make me a much more appealing candidate when applying to jobs next year. I’d also like to write more for the screen this summer, and focus on cinematography as well as directing. To direct, I need a keen eye for minute details in a film. Modulus doesn’t edit down films from raw footage; they receive nearly complete projects that they then perfect. At this point in time, I don’t need to learn how to edit down raw footage. I need Modulus to teach me the difference between quality audio and audio that needs work, or where color in a frame should be corrected. The films I have made in the past lack professional quality, but this summer I will use keen observational skills that I learn at Modulus to make my films look and sound more polished. The higher the quality of my film portfolio, the more I stand out as a job applicant throughout my career.

I am excited and looking forward to what is next with Modulus!

 

Modulus Audio room

At the Esperanza, I enjoy not just working but living as a part of a community. Everything done here reflects the values of inclusion and community. One of the aspects of working at the Esperanza includes self-reliance. Since our community is predominantly working-class, many folks don’t have the privilege of paying someone for building maintenance. The interns spent a couple of weeks repainting walls after taking down an art exhibit. Everyone takes turn cleaning bathrooms or mopping before a performance, and we invite community members to help fold La Voz before mailing out the magazine.

DSC_0095 - Copy

Photo courtesy of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center. I’m on the scaffold.

As far as outside of the workplace, I already knew that San Antonio is extremely economically segregated, but my time at the Esperanza reminded me how true that is. Early on, the director and other staff members took us to different parts of town—Eastside near the Hayes Street Bride and the near Westside—to learn the history and conditions of people living them. Developers have started targeting the Westside, a predominantly Mexican/Mexican-American working-class side of town. Many cities have been hit with gentrification and displacement and San Antonio is no different.

Working in the real world back at home feels like more of a relief than working in college. Although I have to drive nearly everywhere I go (welcome to Texas), I know where I am and can often navigate without the assistance of GPS. My internship feels like a full time job, considering I spend more than forty hours a week at the Esperanza. More importantly, I feel like the work I do affects people other than those that live in a campus bubble.

One significant change is my outlook on meetings. This summer, I’ve observed city council, comprehensive planning, and housing bond committees.

Photo from The Rivard Report. That's me in the hat.

Photo from The Rivard Report. That’s me in the hat.

Many meetings I’ve attended in college revolve around planning events or discussing long-term organizing strategies. The meetings I’ve sat at (or spoken at in some cases) affect the lives of the over one million people living in San Antonio. It amazes me that policy can be decided in a simple conference room. For example, I recently attended two meetings surrounding San Antonio’s affordable housing bond. This bond had the potential to provide affordable housing and emergency repairs to families. At the meeting—in which the committee had to make draft recommendations for affordable housing—members were surprised to learn that they could not pass most of the policies for legal reasons.

Much of the work for SA Tomorrow involved reading, research, and coming up with creative solutions. One of the other interns majored in urban planning and environmental policy, so while she already had background education around sustainability, I have to read extra to understand some proposals in the works. Hopefully this extra work will pay off when studying for my environmental studies minor.  I’m also learning to take the initiative on certain projects. One of the interns and I are spearheading a social media campaign talking about water in San Antonio. This will build my social media skills, which I can transfer to campus organizing.

Anastasia Christilles, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Tags: , ,

To me, the phrase the “criminal justice system” has always evoked the image of a well-oiled machine. A case comes into the courthouse and—after a little under the hood mechanics—is transformed into a verdict. My mechanical vision of criminal justice led me to believe that a career in law would necessarily be mundane and repetitive. Halfway through my internship, I have come to realize I was entirely wrong.

IMG_7195

My corner of the office!

Cases certainly enter Boston Municipal, but sentences depend on countless factors. Last week, the office also hosted a “Brown Bag Lunch” where they invited interns to hear a speaker: the head of the Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau, David Deakin. Deakin discussed a rape and robbery he was prosecuting in which the defendant was an identical twin. While his DNA had been found on the victim, his brother’s DNA matched the sample as well. In 2014—ten years after the assault—a German company became the first to pioneer a DNA test that could differentiate between identical twins. Deakin now prepares to be the first prosecutor to ever introduce ultra-deep next-generation sequencing in court, setting a legal precedent for years to come. His job certainly did not sound systematic or dull.

IMG_7198

Some of the many disposed case files being stored in the office

 

 

Even my “boring” tasks as an intern have proved to be exciting, thought provoking and incredibly gratifying. Answering phone calls is exceptionally rewarding, when there is a victim on the other end expressing how thankful they are to have someone they can contact directly to update them on the status of their case. Shadowing the daily routine of my supervisors is so impactful, when I get to watch them help transform timid, vulnerable victims into confident, self-advocates willing to testify against their assailant. And filling out paperwork is extremely satisfying when I know I am creating an important document that a prosecutor will use in an upcoming trial. My work has taught me important skills such as how to work in a high-paced environment where assignments often need immediate attention and how to stay calm when presented with unfamiliar situations and tasks. I truly feel like I am developing skills that will better equip me to enter the work force, teaching me how to adapt, take direction and be a leader.

As a student preparing to apply to law school, I hoped my internship would provide me clarity as to my future career goals and I have not been disappointed. This internship has allowed me to see the legal system from a closer perspective and through a far different lens then any academic or on-campus experiences have permitted. My experience at Boston Municipal has proved to be exceptionally different than learning about legal issues in a classroom. Rather than reading about the criminal justice process or learning about an individual’s legal rights from an analytic perspective, I am able to see these issues unfold. The work is fast-paced, exciting, and extremely rewarding. Seeing the application of law makes me realize the integral role the legal system plays in maintaining order within our society.

Overall, this experience is making me confident that pursuing a career in law is, undoubtedly, the right decision for me.

Dustin Fire, ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

I am currently at the midway point in my internship at The Chicago Innocence Center and I could not be more thrilled to be part of such an incredible organization. I have loved working with CIC over the past seven weeks. I am mostly working with twelve other interns, our Director, Pamela, our President, David, our Program Associate, Diana, and our Outreach Coordinator, Stanley, who was wrongfully convicted and served 31 years in prison. I have learned so much working with this group. Our interns come from ten different colleges and represent a range of majors, extra-curricular activities, hometowns, backgrounds, and interests. As interns, we work together on many tasks. Because of our diverse backgrounds, we are able to build off each other’s previous knowledge. One intern who is pre-law could help explain a court proceeding while an intern majoring in journalism could write an op-ed about that proceeding that another intern interested in human rights could turn into a policy brief.

The CIC interns with Stanley Wrice at a legal luncheon

The CIC interns with Stanley Wrice at a legal luncheon

It is really powerful to work with so many engaged individuals who are all at the same points in their life as I am. I feel that I have not just fostered positive workplace relationships but that I have also made lifelong friends. I appreciate the collaborative, open atmosphere at CIC because the subject matter we deal with is very serious. Sometimes, concepts are hard to process because they are so evident of systematic issues such as racism, poverty, or misconduct in the criminal justice system. Luckily, our group can dialogue about these issues, discussing why they are so shocking (or not very shocking, in many unfortunate cases) and what we can do to change them. Overall, I feel excited to be a part of this work.

Working at CIC differs from academic life in two main ways. First, I feel that I am treated as an equal in meetings rather than a student in the classroom. Many of my professors at Brandeis create positive learning environments where I feel comfortable, however I still feel they are my teachers and it is their job to lecture and mine to listen and engage. In contrast, Pam and David cultivate an environment of collaborative learning.  There are no lectures; every meeting is a conversation. While Pam and David are our mentors, they value our contributions and encourage us to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Pam and David treat me as their colleague and welcome all ideas, no matter if they are useful or not. I feel respected and I know my opinion is always encouraged.

Second, my internship is much more experiential than my academic experience. Every day, I do something new. My week can be five days in five different locations. One day I am in the office, the next day I am at the book launch of Exoneree Diaries, an incredible book by Alison Flowers, the next day I attend a legal luncheon, the next day I am out in the field, and the next I am attending an evidentiary hearing for one of our investigative cases. Through these unique opportunities in my internship, I am gaining tangible skills to bring back to school or to future job opportunities. My writing has absolutely improved through our investigative journalism workshops, which challenge me to ask succinct questions and not to bury the lead. I have learned how to build a website, which is useful for any job in the future that may need technical support. Finally, I think I have become a more empathetic listener. I am able to silence my thoughts in order to yield the floor to someone else. As they speak, I have learned to truly listen. These skills will translate to my academic life and career for years to come, all thanks to CIC.

 

Some of the interns grab coffee before work!

Some of the interns grab coffee before work!

Ruby Macsai-Goren, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Walking into the Boston University School of Public Health offices each day, I know there will be contagious energy and enthusiasm from the moment I step off the elevator.  Most of the work spaces in the office are designated for faculty who work on original research during the summer, so everyone (faculty and interns alike) is always deeply immersed in a new and exciting project. The other research intern on Dr. Siegel’s project for the summer, Carolina, is someone who I am incredibly lucky to work with directly every day. She is one of the most passionate people I have ever met about intimate partner gun violence, which is the primary focus of our research.

A photo of me and my inspiring fellow research intern, Carolina, with our Boston University research badges!

My inspiring fellow research intern, Carolina, and I finally received our Boston University research badges!

What has surprised me most working on this project is how close to this topic not only Carolina but also the other members of our team feel. The amount of emotion and passion that people on the team have expressed about our research topic can even be somewhat overwhelming at times. However, tragedy and injustice lie at the core of both domestic violence and gun violence. Especially after the multitude of recent, devastating shootings that have occurred in the last few weeks, we hope that the results of our research will be profound enough to convince politicians and the public that stronger gun laws are the only way to prevent further loss of life. In a wonderfully powerful article that my supervisor Dr. Siegel wrote, he states that it is no longer enough to ‘pray’ for the victims of gun violence and their families; the country as a whole must actually commit to making a change in order to make any headway.  One way to start a movement like this is through the publication of more research on gun violence, yet the CDC at the moment is allocating zero funding to research this enormous public health and human rights issue.

 

A beautifully candid Carolina in the midst of researching Massachusetts' own laws about gun control

A beautifully candid Carolina in the midst of researching Massachusetts’ own laws about gun control.

One spectacular thing I have noticed about the World of Work is how passionate everyone is about the work they are doing. After years of dreading group projects throughout school I never thought that I would enjoy working on a team, but after only a few weeks on this research team I have found that teamwork can be infinitely more rewarding, productive, and energizing than working alone. My experiences with group projects in high school mostly consisted of members attempting to do the least amount of work possible; nonetheless, everyone on this research team actually fights to do the most amount of work! In addition, I have found that each member thoughtfully assesses their own strengths and weaknesses before they decide how they can most effectively contribute to the group’s goal, which really impressed me.

On this note, I would say that understanding how to find self-motivation and passion in the work that I do is one of the most valuable things that I have learned so far from my team members this summer. Additionally, the mathematical, statistical, and computer skills that I am gaining through the research process will be beneficial for any job that I have in the future. Some of these skills include learning to construct and organize a comprehensive research database, collect and code data, and perform complex statistical analyses in different programs. I am also, through this process, learning how to plan and orchestrate an entire research project from start to finish. In the future I hope to utilize this knowledge to conduct original research of my own in graduate school and beyond.

Rachel Kurland, ’18

Upon arriving to Haiti, I was greeted by customs and eager taxi drivers to drive me to my desired location. Yet, the only person I was excited to see was my supervisor. She greeted me with her warm embrace and reassurance of a transformative time in Haiti. So far, she has lived up to her promise.

Once I arrived in Hinche, our staff was immediately put to work and started organizing the materials for open house the following day. During this time, I was able to bond with my new staff members. Most of the staff members are Boston Public School teachers who have experience teaching Haitian-American students at their local school. I am really grateful to receive insight about the education field through their experiences. In our time of exchanging stories, I found out that three of the staff members are first generation Haitian-Americans. Witnessing the intrinsic motivation to give back to their community was comforting. I knew right then that my staff would instill passion and dedication in their work during their time in Haiti.

The busy and vibrant city of Hinche is encased in voluminous green mountains. Everyone around you is working or going somewhere. To add on to the excitement, the director is pretty much a local celebrity in the community. With that being said, it is a thrilling feeling to migrate through the street and witness the smiling faces of the citizens. In that time, I noticed that

Me and a few of my students

Me and a few of my students

the local citizens really value their Christian faith. Most communal spaces are reserved for religious ceremonies and the citizens outwardly and unapologetically express their faith. It is beautiful to see so many people rejoicing and in celebration together.

On my first day of work, about sixty students were eager to start camp and immediately greeted me. You can see the gratitude plastered on their face as they successfully entered the camp. Gaining a spot in this camp is extremely valuable to the students because they are receiving enrichment and are guaranteed two meals a day for free. Services such as these are usually not free and thus helpful to both the student and their parents. Their desire to be here is beyond admirable. I know students who walk twenty minutes to get to the camp. The students come prepared and are attentive and very respectful. It is safe to say we have a symbiotic relationship too. Since I am teaching them English, the students have agreed to teach me Haitian Creole.

The World of Work in regards to this specific organization is not too different from university life in my opinion. I live in a shared space with different people, we eat together and we work together. Like Brandeis, we are all working to achieve the same goal even if it is through different paths. Socially, my life here in Haiti is not too different from university life as my staff members all have different values and experiences. The varying experiences and unique perspectives existing in the workspace enhance productivity and the overall richness of the program.

Outside of organizational and team building skills, I believe I’ve gained great experience in project management. I am currently conducting a poetry project at the camp. To complete this project, I had to work closely with my co-teachers to successfully execute the project and be in consistent communication with my director with any updates on the project’s progress. Engaging in this kind of work directly applies to my life at Brandeis. This is especially true in my role as a Community Advisor at Brandeis where planning is essential to maintaining a healthy environment for my residents.

Overall, I am so grateful to have an opportunity to work with such remarkable people to achieve such a meaningful mission.

LaShawn Simmons, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Ms.LaShawn's English Class

Ms.LaShawn’s English Class

I’ve been working with the North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History for 5 weeks already. The summer is flying by! I’ve really enjoyed my time working here so far; each week offers something new to do and to learn about St. Catherine’s Island and about the more general field of North American archaeology. Since my last post, we have been having reading discussion groups one morning a week to talk about articles pertaining to the site or the types of materials we have been working with. This has been a great opportunity to get some background into what we are handling, and the craft and culture behind it, as well as how it sometimes related the archaeology of St. Catherine’s to people inland and along the East Coast. These articles often bring up unanswered questions and theories surrounding the island and the Gaule people as well as their relationship to the mission.

(photo from: http://www.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/research/north-american-archaeology/projects/st.-catherines-island-ga )

(photo from: http://www.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/research/north-american-archaeology/projects/st.-catherines-island-ga )

http://www.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/research/north-american-archaeology/publications

In terms of work in the lab, every day I’m doing something different ranging anywhere from cataloguing, to searching for artifacts, to transcription. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into the internship since my brief experience in the archaeology lab at Brandeis has been cleaning and recording artifacts. In the past few weeks we have done some cleaning, but the range of tasks that needs to be done over the summer is much larger than that, which I think is part of what makes the internship so interesting every day; there are a lot of smaller projects within a larger plan for the summer. It’s certainly different from my academic life at Brandeis where most of my contact with archaeology is through articles and papers on subjects that usually cover several various sites rather than a single period or culture. While these skills are very useful, working in the North American Archaeology Lab is teaching me more hands-on skills for the organization and categorization of artifacts and of the excavation itself that go hand in hand with articles written about the site. I think this is applicable well beyond the lab in terms of learning new methods of organization and working with your peers. I think one more skill that I think will be applicable beyond the lab is being able to be flexible in whatever you are doing, and being able to move between projects and learning to point out potential issues. I’ve learned to move slower and double-check everything, since one wrong number on an artifact could cause larger problems down the line for the next intern or researcher trying to find the mislabeled or miscatalogued piece. Looking to the future, I have learned a great deal, simply from my supervisor’s and my fellow intern’s varying experiences in archaeology both in North America and abroad, and about the options for working in contract archaeology and continuing to study within a more specified field of archaeology.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 11.25.40 PM

Every day at the EPA brings a new and exciting learning opportunity. My supervisor has encouraged me to attend seminars throughout the EPA and Washington, D.C. and to write memos for the Office of Water. In the end of June, I attended a seminar about federal coal leasing at Resources for the Future, an environmental economics think tank, and heard Jason Furman, the Chief Economic Advisor for President Obama, give recommendations about reforming the federal coal leasing program.

As a student studying environmental economics, the discussion was intellectually stimulating and offered a new perspective on energy policy. In the following week, I attended a town hall meeting led by EPA Deputy Administrator Gina McCarthy, and I learned about EPA’s amazing accomplishments in the past few weeks—the Toxic Substance Control Act reform and the Volkswagen settlement. The talk was energizing, and I felt proud to be part of such an impactful agency.

Panelists at the DC-Israel Water Summit discuss transboundary and off-grid water

Panelists at the DC-Israel Water Summit discuss transboundary and off-grid water management.

The DC-Israel Water Summit, a conference about Israeli solutions to its water scarcity crisis and its applicability to U.S. water policy, was the highlight of my summer so far. This summit was absolutely amazing, as it brought together both my love for Israel and my passion for the environment. The summit was also relatively small, so I had a chance to meet water professionals from around DC and meet the author of Let There Be Water, a book about Israel’s approach to its water crisis. I heard from panelists who were from USAID, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Israeli research institutions, Coca-Cola, the Israeli embassy, the Brookings Institution, and more.

 

Seth Siegel's book about Israeli water innovation

Seth Siegel’s book about Israeli water innovation

The summit was both personally and professionally fulfilling. The Israeli response to its water crisis was incredibly inspiring and gives me hope for other countries to overcome their own resource scarcities: Israel recycles 85% of their wastewater, decoupled water usage from economic and population growth, and now has a water surplus and exports water to Jordan and the Palestinian authority. We have a lot to learn from Israel! After learning all of this from the summit, I had the chance to write a memo for the Water Policy staff to share these findings and offer recommendations. For myself, I may consider a career in the water field— water management will be a growing focus in the U.S. and has potential for great reform and modernization.

I also started working on two reports for the Water Policy Staff. First, I am comparing two similar environmental screening tools—an environmental justice tool called EJSCREEN and the Community Focused Exposure and Risk Screening tool (C-FERST). Two different committees worked on these tools, and I am tasked with comparing any overlap between the two tools and providing my thoughts and recommendation to both the C-FERST and EJSCREEN committee.

Additionally, I am in the midst of writing a recommendation of water indicators to add to EJSCREEN. This requires doing a literature review of different environmental justice topics related to water and climate change, assessing available data sets to find high-resolution data, and making an argument for adding these new indicators. So far, I feel most passionate about my water scarcity indicator, especially after attending the DC-Israel Water Summit. I know the EJSCREEN committee is most open to adding climate change related indicators, so perhaps they will add this indicator. At the end of the July, I will pitch my ideas to the EJSCREEN Steering committee. I have my fingers crossed!

Tags: , , , , ,

 

I am thoroughly enjoying my internship with Girls’ LEAP (Lifetime Empowerment and Awareness Program). The beginning has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I’ve entered pre-survey and post-survey data as well as attendances for programs that took place this past winter. While this work has been rather dry, I have enjoyed gaining a clearer understanding of the administrative work. There is a tremendous amount of infrastructure in place that allows our programs to run as seamlessly as they do. The office is a friendly and relaxed environment where colleagues stop for a moment to discuss Black Lives Matter and other social-justice issues in the news. I look forward to gaining so much for such kind and passionate colleagues.

After my initial week in the office, I spent a weekend chalk-full of training with the other college interns. The other interns are kind, passionate, and inspirational women and I feel tremendously lucky to be working closely with them this summer. We completed our first 2-week intensive where we worked with a Lead Teacher and group of about ten girls. I was concerned that the hardest part would be how well I could do a bully-role but it turns out engaging the students and avoiding discipline issues is quite a bit harder. I really enjoyed the opportunity to build positive relationships with the girls and know a bit about them rather than calling them to gather so we could learn the next move. I imagine my skills will develop and improve throughout the summer and this will certainly transfer to working in any type of direct-service job.

I also believe that the skills we teach really benefit ourselves in the process. I feel like a more confident and “worthy” person after the many conversations we have shared and I believe the conflict-resolution tools will continue to benefit me in any personal or professional setting I encounter.

aef6da9f-1515-4704-adb2-4ad4198d2455

This summer, I’m working at the PanLex project, which is a non-profit group under the Long Now Foundation. The goal of our organization is to preserve linguistic diversity and to increase linguistic knowledge, especially in diminishing and non-studied languages. While there are around 7,000 human languages, globalization has caused our world to focus on only the leading languages within industry and academics. This drives people to intensely focus on these top 10 languages, which they believe will open up a better future for them, and increasingly skews the ratios of how many people speak each language, leading to language extinction because there is not enough benefit to using their heritage language. In order to counteract this issue, PanLex is building a database of symmetrical dictionaries between languages. These parallel dictionaries serve to preserve languages that are dying or extinct so that reconstruction of the language could be possible, and to increase the information available so that translational programs and devices could allow conversation between people with different languages without having to prioritize one language or the other.

20160705_170448_HDR

Because of our project director’s connection with the University of California, Berkeley, we are currently housed in the Berkeley language labs at Dwinelle Hall on campus. The interns here sit around a large table with televisions connected to them in order to facilitate discussion and collaboration with each other rather than the typical office cubical. Here, we hook up our computers to show our work and ideas on the televisions for troubleshooting periods and meetings; write code to extract and standardize linguistic data; and debate over classifications and properties.

20160627_170911_HDR

The first week was filled with an overview of the different tracks that we could focus on during our time here. I chose to be a part of the assimilation team, which discovers, corrects, interprets, assembles, and standardizes lexical translations in attested sources. In our database, we have thousands of sources available to us that have first been vetted by our acquisition team. From there, we are allowed to choose any source to work on, which allows for the personal freedom to pursue languages that we are interested in. Currently I’m working on sources in Carib, which is a language spoken by the Kalina people of South America, more specifically a version spoken in Suriname; and Wemba Wemba, which is an language spoken by an indigenous group within the Victoria state of Australia. Carib is a threatened language, and Wemba Wemba is an extinct language, which means that it no longer has any L1 speakers, or native speaker of the language. Because these languages are dying or dead, it’s important that PanLex have a record of the language within its database for preservation before there is no data left.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 12.35.51 AM

Throughout this summer, I hope to gain a greater skill in creating code that will be able to parse panlexical data in a way that standardizes information effectively; however, I think that the thing that I’m looking forward to the most is learning more about the languages that I work with as I research to better understand how to classify the words and morphological makeup.

Sooyoung Jeong ’18

The alarm clock wakes me up around 7:30 a.m. The sun is already trying to sneak into my room. I do not think that El Paso has a much time living in the darkness. The scintillating sun does not leave until 9 p.m. and comes back sooner than it is expected.

After a shower, I put on some sunscreen, have a little snack, and grab my belongings, ready to go to work. I can walk daily from where I am staying to Cinco Puntos Press (CPP). Obviously, a routine has formed, however, it is a routine I very much enjoy. My supervisors, they described themselves as “hippies”—although, according to them, they were not the sort of hippies who would do drugs or used to go insane when they were young, back in the 60s. They usually order me that the first thing that I must do when I get to work is to grab a cup of coffee, so that I am wide awake, and I am happy to follow their orders.

IMG_6136__1466306140_23230

A regular day working at Cinco Puntos Press (CPP).

They have all appreciated my work and I have come to appreciate their hospitality and selfless guidance. As the days go by swiftly. I have done a little bit of everything. I have had the opportunity to proofread a Spanish translation of a successful sequel to a series of books that CPP has published for quite some time already, known as Maximilian. The third installment is titled, Maximilian and the Lucha Libre Club: A Bilingual Lucha Libre by Xavier Garza. It is a gleeful story about a young boy who happens to have an interesting, comic, yet dangerous family. They are all involved in the business of lucha libre (a term used in Mexico for a form of professional wrestling). The boy begins to train to become the next big thing, just like his uncle the Ángel Guardian (Guardian Angel). Although Max has still a long way to go, after all he is just a boy. However, he has two professional, expert trainers along him: his uncles. They are on the verge of retiring and Max’s family has commenced to seek and train the next big successor. It seems that lucha libre is intrinsically pumping through Max’s blood because he seems to be their man.

Furthermore, the truth is that I have enjoyed every book that I have read from CPP. I have given the privilege to attend the pitch meetings, in which the three editors (Mrs. Lee, Mr. John, and Mr. Bobby Byrd) choose the books they will like to publish the upcoming spring of 2017. They select a few options from the hundreds of submissions that CPP receives for consideration.

In fact, I had the chance of reading two stories that would, eventually, if chosen, become picture books. One I liked ; the other one I did not. I had to write a report, about 350 to 400 words on what I thought it works and what does not for each of the submissions that I read. Both stories were, of course, centered around diverse characters. An excerpt of my report from the submission I liked, “Lois Dreamed” by Kara Stewart:

[…] I think the metaphor of Lois’s yearning to become an acrobat has an element of universality. Any child that reads this story may replace Lois’s personal longings of becoming an acrobat with his/er own goals (i.e. becoming a doctor, astronaut, president, etc.). They will for sure understand that the color of their skin or gender or any other intersectionality, will not dictate what they ought to become. […] [D]espite the story being about an Indian, it undoubtedly has universal elements that would make of this book: a book for everyone.

Not only does CPP need my opinion on the book they publish, but I have also been collaborating on getting their books out there. One of such books, it is a book, titled, Photographs of My Father by Paul Spike. It is a great book, which I happen to have read as well—one of the perks of this job is that I get to read as many books as I want for free. The story about Rev. Robert Spike, who later became a civil rights activist and was mysteriously killed after finding out that the funding that was supposed to go to a federal Mississippi education program was in lieu going somewhere else–to fund the Vietnam War.

This book was published in 1973 and when it came out, it was reviewed by a lot of newspapers and publications, including The New York Times. Nevertheless, the book stopped printing, and what CPP decided was to re-print it again. The bad news is that not everyone is interested in reviewing a book that has already come out and reviewed. Therefore, my job has been reaching out to different outlets that could potentially be interested in selling, endorsing, or reviewing the book, and I have been successful at it. This task has allowed me to develop my marketing skills, which I did not really think I had.

IMG_6158__1466306267_94065

Working on the e-books.

I have also come to realize that close-reading skills are indeed transferable. In the current week, I have been compiling a spreadsheet list of all the contracts of rights that CCP has signed with different publishing and film companies over the world. Some contracts are one-time deal, while others are renewable, others have expired, and others are about to. I need to follow up on each and every single one of them. I need to make sure that CPP has received the payments from the companies on which the agreement has been settled. Also, I need to add the contracts’ expiration dates on Google calendar. In addition, I ought to reach out to the companies whose contract with CPP has expired, inquiring whether they would like to renew their contract or not.

Mr. John Byrd has also been introducing me to how to convert books into e-books, using InDesign. InDesign skills were skills that I used to possess, but throughout time, I have forgotten half of it. But, thankfully it is coming back, thanks to Mr. Byrd’s guidance. This is still a work in progress, notwithstanding, I look forward to telling you more about it as I keep trying.

My time at Cinco Puntos has allowed me to think about my future. I can definitely see myself doing this.

Best,

Santiago Montoya, ’19

Tags: , , ,

 

Every morning for the past week I have shown up to my office at 8 am (or a few minutes before since I’m a little eager), met with my coworkers, and started in on my paperwork before a busy day. However, it looks a little different than one might imagine for an intern at a large nonprofit. My “office” is actually a shared craft room filled with glitter and stickers, my coworkers are high school aged volunteers, and my paperwork is usually something like printing BINGO cards. All in a morning’s work for a Summer Camp Director intern at LifeMoves.

Haven Family House: My internship site

Haven Family House: My internship site

LifeMoves is a nonprofit organization that serves individuals and families experiencing homelessness in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties in California. The organization is the result of a merger in 2012 between two well-established organizations doing similar work, InnVision the Way Home and Shelter Network, and was formerly named InnVision Shelter Network. Fun fact: During my application process for this internship, the organization went through its 2016 rebranding, which means I applied to InnVision, but my internship is officially with LifeMoves. A little confusing, I know!

LifeMoves operates at 17 sites throughout the two counties, housing over 1,000 individuals (including those staying with families) each night. The goal for those individuals is to achieve permanent housing and self-sufficiency after graduating from LifeMoves’ rigorous, comprehensive program. Those living in the shelters must commit to working with their case manager to take charge of financial planning and saving, housing and job searches, and receiving counseling when necessary. Additionally, LifeMoves provides meals and a safe, spacious, private housing unit while the family or individual is in shelter. While each of the sites operates differently and caters to different populations (some are geared more towards families, one is specifically for those living with mental illness, one is just for women, etc.), the organization as a whole has had success—they report that 97% of families and 82% of individuals who graduate their programs return to stable housing and self sufficiency (Source).

This summer I am interning with LifeMoves as the director of the Summer Adventure Camp for the children living at Haven Family House, the largest site for families living in shelter. Along with my co-director, my duties include planning the curriculum for each week of camp, managing the USDA summer food program, supervising the high school aged volunteers, communicating with parents, and completing official internal paperwork for reporting incidents, attendance, injury, etc. And, because it’s summer camp after all, it would not be out of the ordinary to catch me playing a game of four-square or tossing the occasional water balloon.

My first week at LifeMoves was devoted to attending an all-intern orientation at the administrative offices. There, I got to learn from those who have been working in social services for years and could share their insights into the type of program that LifeMoves runs. During this week, I learned that the counties we are serving have among some of the highest rents in the U.S., making it literally impossible for minimum-wage workers to afford any type of permanent housing. In 2015, there were approximately 8,338 individuals living without a permanent residence in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and LifeMoves claims that this is even an underestimation due to the fact that the figure does not include the “vehicularly housed,” (those living in their car) (Source 1, 2.)

Me with the other LifeMoves interns at out beach retreat

Me with the other LifeMoves interns at our beach retreat

If you’re still with me, I commend you; all of these figures and details can be a little numbing and impersonal. This is part of what makes my internship so appealing to me. I have the chance for 8 hours every weekday to simply spend time with the clients who are living the reality of what these numbers point to. And it looks different for everyone. Each of the campers and their family is coming from a different background and are at different points in their process of returning to stability. It is a privilege to get to be part of that process for someone. While I don’t know every child’s story (nor do I need to), I hope that offering this summer camp will enhance the individual’s experience. Maybe having the kids out of the house will give the parents time to complete that housing application that finally gets approved or maybe one of our STEM activities will really stick with one of the campers and make them more interested in science. Or maybe it will just give the kids a couple hours of fun building structures out of marshmallows and competing in relay races. I may not ever know, but I’m excited to be in this environment and to learn from whatever happens.

If you can’t get enough of LifeMoves at this blog, feel free to follow along with our adventures at the camp blog at https://lifemovessummercamp.wordpress.com.

Until next time!

Mira McMahon ‘18

This summer I am working with the Integrated Chemistry Management (ICM) Schools Program, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. The program entails visiting various middle and high schools across Massachusetts and Rhode Island to organize their chemical storage spaces and laboratories in such a manner that those chemicals do not pose a hazard to students, teachers and the surrounding communities. The program further educates staff about waste management, safety practices and the use of a real time inventory.

My first week went something like this:

Monday: Visited Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett. The team was greeted by a zealous STEM coordinator who escorted us to the chemistry lab and checked in periodically throughout the day. The school is rather small with limited funding, which was reflected by the number of chemicals in their storage facilities. The coordinator was very eager to continue the next step of the program, which is to have the teachers trained in chemical safety in August.

IMG_1395-3

The completed chemical storage cupboard for the Pioneer School. The chemicals are arranged according to the type of chemical, then alphabetical order and size. Solids and liquids are placed on separate shelves.

Tuesday & Wednesday: We visited Dracut High School. The number of chemicals in their lab was ridiculous – ten 500 mL of sodium acetate solution, 17 500 mL sodium phosphate solution, 62 hydroxide solutions, 34 carbonates, 88 chlorides and 27 hydrochloric acid solutions of varying concentrations. I won’t go on. This occurred mainly because many of the chemicals were purchased as kits and so many were unopened and covered with dust. It must have been difficult to know what chemicals are available when they are stacked and as a result more of the same chemicals were ordered before using the ones present.

Thursday: We visited Swampscott High School. The building was very new but the chemicals stored in it were very old – some older than me. Here we encountered more hazardous chemicals such as a few mercury compounds, several yellowed labels making it difficult to identify the chemicals and a few fluoride chemicals to name a few. What made this school interesting is that the chemicals were mainly arranged in alphabetical order, which meant that a number of incompatible chemicals were stored together.

 

IMG_1441

A storage cabinet containing all chemicals including hazardous waste that will be disposed by a contractor within the upcoming school year. Many of the chemicals are very old or are oxidizers.

 

Several chemicals such as bisulfate, phthalate and thiosulfate salts and numerous organic acids seemed more suitable for chemistry research labs than in a high school teaching setting. Some chemicals I encountered had amusing names such as Onion’s Fusible Alloy and super duper polymer gel. On the other hand I was horrified when I ran into Thorium Nitrate, which is radioactive and mercury thermometers. I hope that the ICM program will help teachers make informed decisions about the types and quantities of chemicals that they order and store in the future.

To learn more about this program and their progress over the years you can visit:

http://www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/conference/2013_conference/24_icm_detailed_general_2013.pdf and http://www.umassk12.net/maillist/msg00362.html for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

20160628_090953

NCL’s Office (1701 K St.)

My first week interning at the National Consumer’s League in Washington, D.C. has been rather eventful. NCL is America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization and has been representing consumers and workers since 1899. Some of the issues that NCL addresses include child labor, food safety, medication adherence and internet fraud. There are multiple departments within the organization that run their own programs such as Fraud.org, LifeSmarts, Child Labor Coalition, and Script Your Future.

Recently, I wrote a blog post for NCL’s website. I wrote about the HPV vaccine and its potential to reduce the growing number of cases of cervical cancer. I am also reviewing NCL’s website and applicants for the Script Your Future medication adherence competition.

17 & K Street (Washington D.C.)

17 & K Street (Washington D.C.)

Every intern is responsible for drafting content for the NCL’s annual LifeSmarts competition. LifeSmarts is a program that spreads consumer education especially for teenagers and young adults. The topics that the questions cover are expansive and range from health and safety to personal finances.

In addition, I am doing research on multiple projects. The projects I have been working on have been really interesting and informative. The National Center for Health Research reached out to NCL and requested that we sign on to their letter to FDA’s Commissioner Califf and Dr. Woodcock that stated their stance against FDA approval of Sarepta’s new drug, eteplirsen. It is designed to treat Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, a rare disease but debilitating disease. I researched this topic so that NCL could make an informed decision as to whether or not we would sign in support of the letter. However, after extensive research, Sally Greenberg, NCL’s executive director and my supervisor, decided to not sign the letter. While the drug has yet to be perfected, NCL believes that the drug provides patients and their families some hope in treating this fatal disease.

I am also researching the differences in the ways male and female students approach competition. This is to improve the LifeSmarts competition for there are changes we could make to help girls be more successful in this competitive environment.

Lastly, another project I have been working on is a food waste initiative. NCL would like to write a letter to President Obama asking for his consideration of an Executive Order to address the issue of food waste. This would make it mandatory for all federal agencies to have a food waste plan.

I am also grateful that I received the opportunity to attend multiple events. I went to the library of congress with my supervisor, and attended a panel and lunch called “Digital & Data Privacy: Civil Rights Solutions for Good.” The panelists discussed ways in which the civil rights community can protect consumer privacy but still allow digital inclusion online. I also attended The Hill’s briefing, “Pathways to Prevention: A Policy Discussion on Research & Treatments for Alzheimer’s”. The panel held a great discussion on the policies that can help combat Alzheimer’s with the goal of curing it by 2025. Featured speakers included Senator Shelley Capito and Senator Ed Markey. Tomorrow, I will be attending a breakfast briefing: “Challenges in the Global Health Arena” with Senator Bob Corker as the speaker.

This past week has been both exciting and rewarding. I look forward to continuing these projects and hope to make some real impact on policies surrounding NCL’s issues and expand my own consumer knowledge over the course of this summer.

Elese Chen

United for a Fair Economy (UFE) is a non-profit in downtown Boston that focuses on economic justice and supporting social justice movements that are fighting for a fair economy. The organization believes that the unequal distribution of wealth (and thus power) in our country leads to a corrupt society, and that this inequality is strongly linked to deepening racial divides. UFE works towards achieving their goals through a number of ways, including trainings for workers and movement leaders that provide accessible explanations of the economy using popular education, a methodology that elicits participants’ personal experiences to identify injustices. UFE also focuses on state-based policy change and a project called Responsible Wealth, which encourages people in the top 5% to become allies and advocate for progressive policies. Further, UFE is currently expanding their programs to places like North Carolina and Minnesota.

At the Training of Trainers Institute, reflecting on the weekend (I am second from the right, in the white shirt!)

This summer I will be acting as the Development Intern, working with the Development Director who oversees the fundraising and communication with donors. My tasks include assisting with mailings such as thank you letters and appeals; updating the donor database; assisting with donation processing; and generating lists and reports based on the information in the database that relate to our mailings. I also hope to be given projects throughout my internship that will enable me to create informational materials and content for UFE’s electronic publications.

This week, I was given tasks that would allow me to get acclimated with the organization’s database in conjunction with my orientation and training. I was included in staff meetings and retreats, phone conferences, and organizational meetings between department directors which really allowed me to experience first-hand the processes of non-profit management. All of the staff members are incredibly welcoming and eager to answer my questions, and they make my own opinions and suggestions feel valuable and legitimate as well. In addition, this past weekend I attended one of their Training of Trainers Institutes, a three day training that provides movement leaders tools on how to use popular education in their own workshops. The weekend was incredibly informative, transformative, and and participants ranged from non-profit leaders to students to immigrants and refugees, each with their own stories and struggles and talents.

There were many moments of reflection on current tragic events, of spirituality in the form of circle work, and of sharing experiences that sparked a community bond and awareness of the need for social justice movements. Moreover, I was given a great introduction to popular education and how to effectively prepare and facilitate a popular education workshop, specifically regarding economic justice. Another interesting and inspiring aspect of the training was that it was completely bilingual using simultaneous interpretation. The facilitators spoke both English and Spanish while interpreters translated into headsets that all participants wore so that people who did not speak English could participate.

 

The “State of the Dream,” an infographic put out by UFE every year that discusses ways that racial divides are linked to economic injustice. (http://www.faireconomy.org/infographics)

 

 

 

 

 

During this internship, I hope to gain a better understanding of non-profit management. As I begin to think about what I want to do after I graduate, non-profit work remains at the top of my list and I hope to use this internship as a way to gain the experience necessary to effectively be a part of how a non-profit operates. Further, I hope that I can contribute to UFE in a useful and effective way. I have only been here for a week, but I already feel like an integral part of the organization and I have already become incredibly passionate towards their cause and their commitment to social justice and equality, both in their work and in the way they manage their organization by ensuring equal representation and never losing sight of their values. I hope to harness this passion and use the values and tools that I develop by being included in the managerial processes not only during this summer, but beyond.

 

For the past few weeks I have been interning at the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), which is presented by Asian Cinevision and in its 39th year. The festival takes place across New York City and is running from July 21-30. The festival is the longest running film festival in the country dedicated to showcasing films by, for, and about Asians and Asian Americans. In an industry where Asian faces are underrepresented, or portrayed solely through stereotypes, the festival is meaningful in giving recognition to actors, directors, and filmmakers who might otherwise be overlooked.

Our first team meeting, in the Made in NY Film Center in Brooklyn, NY. (from the @asiancinevision Instagram)

Our first team meeting, in the Made in NY Media Center in Brooklyn, NY. (from the @asiancinevision Instagram)

All staff members and interns of the film festival participate in deciding the final programming that will be shown. In my first week, I watched the entire roster of selected short films. The shorts were categorized by themes, from international Asian stories, to films made in New York, to films about parents and family, to narratives and documentaries about the LGBTQ community. As a group we also discussed where and when to show our feature-length films. Because everyone on the AAIFF team is Asian or Asian-American, these discussions have always come with personally invested praise or criticism. Everyone is dedicated to making sure the best films with the most meaningful stories or characters will be shown. On Opening and Closing Night, the largest nights of the festival, we decided to show two films with LGBTQ themes, in continuance of our mission of recognizing marginalized communities in film.

However, the main part of my work thus far has involved coordinating the logistics of the film festival itself. I am responsible for special events and development, where I will see most of my work culminate during the 10 days of the festival. In coordinating special events, I maintain contact with our theater venues and contributing sponsors. Many sponsors provide catering for our biggest nights, so I must reach out to restaurants to partner with the festival. I am also responsible for building partnerships with new and old sponsors who can offer us monetary or in-kind donations. The fundraising that comes from our partners is often in the form of a product donation that we can distribute during the festival, or monteary contributions that help cover expenses such as venues, program booklets, or filmmaker travel expenses. My work is heavily rooted in preparation and assuring that things will run smoothly when the festival comes. The fruits of my labor are not instantly recognizable, but come July 21 with everything in action, I know I will be able to take pride in what I have contributed.

A promotional postcard for this year's festival. A still from our Opening Night film, SPA NIGHT is in the background.

A promotional postcard for this year’s festival. A still from our Opening Night film, SPA NIGHT, is in the background.

Looking ahead, I am confident that my goals of building stronger relationships and partnerships with people I work with can be accomplished. The event and development planning I am working on now has already enabled to begin achieving this goal, and during the festival I will have a chance to collaborate heavily with my peers and other volunteers to ensure events run smoothly. I hope in the coming weeks I will be able to prepare my team as best as I can.

« Older entries

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)