11210409_1441492066163063_7717508155396816506_n

At the midpoint of my internship at the Social Innovation Forum, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for five weeks. There has never been a slow moment at the Social Innovation Forum. Though I do not have much experience at other offices, my impression is that my office environment is exceptionally friendly, kind, and passionate. Since it is a nonprofit, it attracts people who care deeply about making a positive change in the world. I’ve heard from friends who have worked at direct service nonprofits that the work is extremely rewarding, but it can be emotionally draining because you interact with individuals in great need of help on a daily basis. This feedback has always made me hesitant to seek out nonprofit internships, but since the Social Innovation Forum is not a direct service nonprofit, I get to learn about the incredible innovative work happening in the nonprofit field from a happy office environment where people don’t seem to mind going the extra mile.

The SIF Social Innovator Showcase attracts 300 Boston area business leaders, funders, and individual philanthropists

The SIF Social Innovator Showcase attracts 300 Boston area business leaders, funders, and individual philanthropists

I am constantly learning new skills that I have no doubt can be transferred to different jobs and projects in the future. For instance, two of my biggest projects are market scans and outreach, which involve research and phone skills, respectively. My classes, as well as many jobs, require some level of research skills, so I have no doubt that the hours I spend researching at this internship will help me build the skills for future success. Additionally, I have become extremely comfortable on the phone. Like many Millennials, I make much fewer phone calls than previous generations, but this internship has made me well versed in phone etiquette, a skill that will make me a competitive candidate for future jobs that may require phoning skills.
Working a nine-to-five job is very different from student life. I think I will return to school with a greater appreciation of my free time. During the school year it always feels like there is more to be done, and when I spend a Saturday hanging out without being productive, I feel like I’ve wasted the day. However, now that I’m working at an internship, I can go home on Friday and not have any responsibilities until Monday morning. At the same time, I spend a much longer time working than I do on my schoolwork on the typical day, and by the time my commute is over there’s very little time left for myself at the end of the day. Balancing work with other responsibilities is certainly teaching me how precious my free time is. Working life certainly has its pros and cons, but I’m glad that this internship is giving me a good idea of what full-time employment is like as I prepare to graduate from Brandeis. I am looking forward to more good things to come in the second half of my internship.

Emma Farber, ’16

Since joining the Kids4Peace family, I have grown in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Kids4Peace is an interfaith youth movement for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Israeli and Palestinian youth. Last summer, I worked at Project Harmony Israel, an integrated Arab-Jewish day camp hosted at the Hand in Hand Bilingual School in Jerusalem. Since working there to provide a space for Arab and Jewish youth to play and just be kids in the midst of the Gaza War, I knew I had to come back and continue doing the work I had begun. In leaving Jerusalem last summer, I felt guilty that I had the privilege to leave this conflict whereas my Arab and Jewish campers could in no way escape it. I am glad I made the choice to continue this effort through an internship position with Kids4Peace based in East Jerusalem.

My favorite part about my work here is that my colleagues are both Israeli and Palestinian whereas last year, I worked only with other Americans. It is exciting and interesting for me to learn about what life is like for my Israeli and Palestinian coworkers who are living within this conflict and also doing work in it. I think am learning the most from them.  Before coming here and after my summer here last year, I thought I had a good idea for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but since speaking with my colleagues, I have learned about the complexities of approaching a peaceful end to this war. Through their experiences, I am gaining a perspective on the situation in Israel/Palestine that I would not have understood otherwise without this dialogue.

horizontal-logo-transparent1-300x71Other than learning about the big picture of the work I am doing through my colleagues, I am gaining an incredible understanding of how an NGO is run. Since the staff is so small, I have been given many great opportunities to do real purposeful and meaningful work. For example, I am working with the director of Kids4Peace on creating a platform for Israeli and Palestinian youth to search for integration, coexistence, or interfaith programs that fit their interests. In addition, I have designed a budget for one of the overnight camps that Kids4Peace runs, allocating grants from USAID, the US Consulate, and the European Union. Most excitingly, I got to write a letter to Natalie Portman, who is one of Kids4Peace’s biggest donors!

As an intern at Kids4Peace, I have learned to stay on top of all of my responsibilities because I know that my boss is not constantly checking up on me. Rather, she expects me to do the work I am assigned without holding my hand. I know this will help me in the future when I become a professional. I am also learning about how to work in a diverse environment. It is an interesting experience to fulfill my duties as an intern alongside half my colleagues who are observing Ramadan. I have become much more sensitive to people’s backgrounds and the way that their personal lives play a role in their job performance. In the future, I would like to go into education policy and my motive is to desegregate the American public school system and narrow the achievement gap. Lofty goal, yes. However, if I want to do this type of work in the future, it will be an important skill for me to understand how to work with people who come from different backgrounds from mine.

10985230_690290234410375_8329010132681356192_n

 

-Leah Susman, ’18

Tags:

My first month in Bangalore has brought a host of opportunities for personal and professional growth. As I mentioned in my first blog post, my primary responsibility is to visit government schools that receive the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal in order to collect testimony about the impact that the mid-day meal has on students, teachers, and school administrators.

I collect this information via one-to-one interviews, often translated from English to Kannada, and then Kannada back to English. With support from the Foundation, I have been able to collect a reasonably representative sample of testimony of school children from several communities in Bangalore.

Collecting testimony has been a practical application of the fieldwork necessary for much of the work produced in social science research. I’m lucky to be able to practice a modified version of fieldwork, with a lot of support from the people around me. After finishing my time at Brandeis, I would like to pursue graduate study in anthropology. I have India in mind as a place I would like to explore further, so the exposure I’m getting this summer will be helpful to me during future trips.

Being an intern at such a large transnational NGO, like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, has helped me understand some of the challenges of operating an NGO in conjunction with a government mandated program. I am also learning about the opportunities, and difficulties, that fundraising across continents may pose.

During my time at Brandeis, I have been introduced to the ethics of international (and domestic) development. I have been fortunate to receive a strong academic background in some of the ethical considerations that circulate in academic circles. My internship is supplementing theoretical arguments that I have been exposed to—most of which are very critical of the development industry—with exposure to the challenges of running a social welfare program, initiated by the government, on a scale necessary to accommodate India’s large population.

In the last month, I have been reading Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?written by Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m finding that much of Dr. King’s commentary is directly relevant to my time as an intern at Akshaya Patra. Dr. King rhetorically asks, “How responsible am I for the well-being of my fellows?” (1968:86). He then responds, “To ignore evil is to become an accomplice in it” (1968:86).

The effect, however small, that the actions in my adult life will have in swaying our collective consciousness towards justice—or towards further harm—remains to be seen. For now, I have been very lucky to sit with, and bear witness to, the stories of people in India who we do not regularly hear from. I hope that, in my working life, I’ll be able to remember and honor the stories I have been exposed to this summer. My internship is renewing my commitment to following Dr. King’s leadership, and his assertion that it is in our best interest to actively engage in creating humane, fair, and just living conditions for all members of our societies.

-Shane Weitzman ’16

 

Government Urdu High School, DJ Halli

Government Urdu High School, DJ Halli

(A school I visited to collect testimony.)

 

school 1

Government Lower Primary School, Kattugollahalli

(A school I visited to collect testimony.)

 

To learn more about the mid-day meal scheme in India, please see:

  1. http://mdm.nic.in/

(Government of India website for mid-day meal scheme)

  1. http://www.archive.india.gov.in/sectors/education/index.php?id=7

(Explanation of mid-day meal scheme by Government of India)

 

One week into my internship at Project Harmony Israel I have been engaging with a lot of introductory and new logistical components of the more content-rich work I will be doing in a week or so. Project Harmony Israel is focused on the individual:

“All curricula are tailored to meet individual developmental, behavioral and linguistic needs, and couched in the principles of universal youth development. We believe that by creating a safe integrated space for children to share experiences, our campers are able to build organic, lasting relationships–on their own terms.

In order to achieve these programmatic goals we offer a wide variety of daily activities, including fine arts, music, athletics, team building, community gardening, American Sign Language, and English games. We go on weekly field trips and also host guest teachers to lead week-long workshops. Every summer we also host a community event in which we invite families, friends and community members to join us in celebrating our campers’ remarkable achievements.”

I’m still getting used to the commute and the work environment in Israel; it is all very casual. A number of times I have been sure that I have strict deadlines and then things end up being very flexible; the timeline here is entirely different here and the friendliness and collaborative work environment only adds to that feeling of accommodation and appropriate informality.

Most of my time has been spent developing a lesson plan. As an arts specialist I have been trying to think of the best ways to combine the efforts of normalization in a way that brings meaning to the fact that there are people engaged in this project and camp who come from such varying narratives. I’ve primarily been developing a portrait unit directed towards the goal of seeing and experiencing one another as full people. In my lesson plan I have considered comparing fast-paced portraiture as well as longer sessions wherein which two people take turns doing portraits of each other. The goal of this is to really get to know the faces and the (visual) experience of another person in a very personal way. As a supplemental component of the unit I hope for campers to conduct short interviews with the person they are drawing and to then use one phrase or quote from that interview as the title for the portrait or as an accompanying linguistic element to the visual experience of the portraits. I feel like there is something very inspiring about taking the time with another to notice the details of their being.

I have yet to work directly with other staff members, as they arrive on Sunday and we enter formal training for one week together prior to the camp’s start. I can’t wait to get to know those other staff members and experience this with them. So much more is in store! Meanwhile, here’s some photos of the space I’m working in at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem.

IMG_7522IMG_7525

First photo: The Max Rayne Hand in Hand School

Second photo: A communal staff brainstorm on the process of how to have the greatest impacts on campers

It’s hard to believe the summer is half over. I have learned so many valuable things so far at United for a Fair Economy (UFE). One of my goals this summer was to learn more about the behind-the-scenes at a small non-profit organization. Even in such a short time, I have gained an understanding of how UFE operates. I’ve learned what goes into a budget, how to frame a development plan, and what different types of communications are used.  I also attended a website building meeting to determine who visits our website, what they are looking for, and what content is essential for us.

IMG_5066

My beautiful walk to work in downtown Boston

One particular skill I am building is my writing. UFE talks about being “donor centric,” which means writing from the viewpoint of the donor. In broader terms, I am working to understand other perspectives. I have been able to apply the writing skills I learned in school in a new and creative way. I have to think carefully about the wording of everything I write, improving my writing for both academic work and future jobs.

The work I am most proud of at this point is a three-email appeal I helped write that was sent to donors. They were designed to get donors excited about the direction UFE is headed, and to let them know what their money does and why it is important that they support our work.

More abstractly, I’ve learned that non-profit work is complicated. From the development perspective, the organization never really knows how much money will be given, or how successful what we are doing is. For example, UFE sends multiple appeals each year. Sometimes, more money is donated than others. It is hard to know what about the appeal worked- the writing, content, design, timing, or something else. However, this money is necessary to fund the many worthwhile projects UFE hopes to take on, so I’ve learned that you just keep going and do the best you can.

In addition, working in the real world has been different from academic life because it isn’t planned. In my classes, the professor has a plan of what he or she will teach and provides a syllabus. As a student, I know what I am going to learn and when I will be tested. On the other hand, in my internship, I find out what I am doing each day based on what is happening. The future is unknown to everyone; there are plans and objectives, but any number of things could change them. Furthermore, at school, I am only accountable to myself and my own success. I do as well as I can in classes for myself. At a non-profit, I am doing all this work for and with others as well. I am accountable to the organization and the people the organization is helping.

This internship is helping me build skills for school and the future. I’m learning to ask questions, help with as much as I can, stay organized and motivated, and develop relationships. I look forward to the second half of the summer.

Tags: , ,

Here at the American Jewish World Service New York Office, everybody has an exceedingly impressive positive attitude. I say “exceedingly impressive” because every day the staff members here are grappling with social justice issues around the globe that make life extremely difficult for some people. In addition, because of the nonprofit nature of the organization, the only way they are able to help these issues is with the help of donors, and so the work here is constantly appealing to peoples’ sense of morality. I would think that with all of these difficult realizations, to persevere for these causes and for peoples’ lack of immediate willingness to help sometimes, the work would get discouraging. The attitude of the staff at AJWS, however, truly reflects the opposite. The work environment is very energetic and very friendly. Everyone is inspired and hardworking, intelligent with a good story to tell of how they decided to work for this organization.

Even out of the workplace, I have noticed an effort to reach out with us as interns to get to know us as individuals and people. There are many opportunities to do activities around New York as suggested by the staff- some relevant to AJWS and some not.

The World of Work really does differ from university/academic life drastically- although this may partially be due to the fact that I grew up in a smaller suburban type of area, then went to Brandeis which is on a campus, and then was placed in the large city of New York to live on my own for the first time.

In the World of Work, as I work in an office in New York, the hours are 9am to 5pm with an hour lunch break. This is very different from university life, as my schedules of classes since I have been at Brandeis have really had many breaks throughout the day that sometimes even amounted to three hours at a time.

Also, in the office, we (my co-intern and I) have our own space to work all day, so while we are usually scheduled in meetings, we always return to our spot afterwards to complete our work, which is very different from university life, as people complete their work in all different areas. Because you are working in the same office space on a common mission with others every day, your working relationships are closer than I would say of people who simply have the same class as you.

I stand between two of the five total interns in the AJWS New York office.

I stand between two of the five total interns in the AJWS New York office.

Although, as an intern, I am not in a really high position with a heavy amount of very crucial work for the organizations with hard deadlines, I can imagine that the work in a nonprofit organization is far different from the work we experience as students. There are decisions that matter more, so meetings and planning are more important. Trying to get others involved in what you are doing is a huge component of the work world, similar to how clubs want students to get involved, but at much higher stakes so the process in trying is far more thoughtful.

I am building many skills as a result of this internship from as little as learning what is appropriate behavior and dress in a work environment to as big as learning how to conduct research in a professional setting. I have met and had the privilege and opportunity to get to know many upper-staff and learned about the way that their paths have all led them to their jobs now, and what they see as their trajectory for the future. It has helped me realize how my path in finding a career may be more of lattice than ladder route. Many of the conversations I have had with upper-staff have been about struggles I have experienced in my extracurricular leadership roles and how to proceed, and I received a lot of good advice that I intend on taking back to campus. In addition, I have been exposed to many more nonprofit organizations, programs, and issues around the globe and nation so I can take my knowledge and put it to good use in my academic career and in my life in general.

My co-intern and I used this AJWS image in our presentation to the group of high school students to educate them on Early Child Marriage.

My co-intern and I used this AJWS image in our presentation to the group of high school students to educate them on Early Child Marriage.

Recently, I was able, with my co-intern and supervisor, to present about AJWS to a group of high school students. I learned how to inform people of ways to get involved through the presentation- to be interactive, and provide some good programming in this informational type of presentation. We showed them exactly how to get involved on the AJWS website, and included AJWS made graphics. It was an incredible experience, with the ability to answer questions and learn from how my supervisor, Joshua, and Executive Vice President, Robert Bank, answers [sometimes very difficult] questions posed by the high school students.

 

-Gabi Hersch ’17

I can’t believe it’s already been one month working at the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital! One of the best parts about this internship is how comprehensive it is in terms of the tasks I get to work on at the Institute and the hospital. At Benson-Henry, we work on tons of different projects and studies all at the same time. Most of our studies center around the body’s reception of the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Right now, we’re working on a study that examines various manifestations of the relaxation response (i.e. meditation or yoga) in healthy individuals who are chronically stressed, a study that tracks the same response in individuals who have a certain susceptibility gene for multiple myeloma, and a study that explores how the relaxation response can affect resident students in medical school. And those are just a few of the projects I am working on! In comparison to some of the research I do at Brandeis and in the classroom, at the BHI I really get to follow experiments all the way through and see all of their different parts come together. Because we’re working on so many projects at once, each project is usually in a different place than the one next to it. That is to say, some studies are in their beginning phases in terms of recruitment, some are in full swing in terms of data collection, others are pushing through data entry, and still others are being analyzed.

One of the best parts about this internship is that I get to combine and manipulate much of what I have learned in my psychology classes at Brandeis in science. For instance, for the chronic stress study, one of the biomedical measures we are collecting is cortisol, a steroid hormone involved in stress in the body, a hormone I have learned about in multiple classes. It’s really interesting to combine what I learned about cortisol in my Biological Basis of Motivation neuroscience class with what I learned about cortisol in my Adolescent psychology class to really see cortisol in action. Similarly, I just started a literature review for the Institute on a new research topic we are starting that will focus on stress and eating disorders. After taking Research Methods and reading multiple research articles, I am thrilled that I can incorporate those classroom lessons in practical psychology in the real world. I am especially enjoying working with the research coordinators at the BHI because they all have such different and unique research interests and have already proven to be great resources for me as I delve into the world of research and clinical psychology.

Below is a video of Dr. Herbert Benson explaining the benefits of the Mind Body Medicine.

The BHI also holds many classes for multiple populations with various focuses. Below is a video compiled by Mass General about stress, teenagers, and the relaxation response.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=w12H_U7IXvw

 

url-1

Back to the books!

Ellie Rosenthal ’16

Tags: , , , , , , ,

By now I’ve grown comfortable in my adopted corner office with the four pet plants and the picturesque views. After interning at Eastern Research Group for more than a month, I feel more integrated with the work and the people. Since the previous blog post, I’ve helped conduct social science research, built spreadsheets and continued to shadow environmental consulting work. I’ve become more adjusted to the work schedule and grown better about inter-office communication.

I think that, after being in school for so long, it’s easy to forget about the non-stop nature of the world outside the “bubble”. That’s why I believe doing internships is so important; not only is it about gaining insight into the world of work, but it’s about recognizing and preparing for other aspects of the world as well.

IMAG3736

Monthly meeting in Boston – a presentation on renewable energy options

Recently, while at ERG, it occurred to me just how “abnormal” and condensed the academic year is. Since I’ve lived by the academic year for the past 15 years, it’s not easy to imagine what a full calendar year of work really entails mentally and physically, but it’s something I will learn to adjust to when the time comes.

Another comparison I would make is: academic work is more structured and comes in cyclical waves, but being at ERG has shown me that, often times, work can happen on a less predictable and rigid schedule. I’ve seen how work doesn’t necessarily stop after completing a project or leaving the office for the day.

IMAG3738

Notes and visitor cards from the monthly meeting

 

At ERG, I’m learning to become a better communicator. I’m learning to think deeper about the purpose behind my tasks and to not be shy about asking questions and contributing ideas. As a student, I’m admittedly more accustomed to independent projects and assignments, but at ERG I am adjusting my mindset to be more teamwork-oriented.  It feels good to know that my work here ultimately contributes to larger projects and therefore impacts my colleagues and the company. While the pressure is greater, I enjoy not having to worry about achieving a certain letter grade, but rather something that feels more significant and meaningful.

I am also realizing both the limitations of academic applications in the world of work as well as the intersections of skills and knowledge between the world of work and school. For example, it felt rewarding to use my research paper reading experiences from Political Psychology class to conduct social science research for ERG, just as it did when I could understand some of the data I’m working with thanks to a foundation of knowledge built in my Conservation Biology class.

Interning here confirms there are many aspects to the world of work missing from the familiar grind of academic life, and that there are many aspects to environmental consulting that one can only learn or learn best from the job itself. My observations and experiences at ERG have reinforced to me why interning is so critical, and why the WOW program is so valuable to us. As I begin my senior year next month (eep!), I am confident that what I’ve learned here will inform and ease my transition from my work-hard-play-hard student life to my independent, professional life.

Dora Chi, ’16

Tags: , , , ,

Sa kap fet!  At this point of my internship I have reached the Island of Hispaniola, and made my travels throughout Haiti from Port-au-Prince, where I landed, to Hinche where ETE Camp is held. We, five other teachers and I, have been holding sessions of ETE Camp for a week now and all I can say is that I am loving this experience. My new environment is only new to me in technical ways while the ambiance of my surrounding is all too familiar. I have been to the Caribbean many times and have spent weeks in my family’s countries of Guyana and Grenada. The familiarity of the food, culture, and day-to-day life of Hinche, Haiti is one that makes me feel close to home. It is not that hard to adjust although there are many inconveniences. The power is consistently inconsistent and makes it slightly harder to be comfortable in the sweltering summer heat and to get important things done by email. My work in ETE Camp, as a leader in the English class, and outside of it, as a Hinche community member, both involve the same levels of enthusiasm, attention, and participation from me, which I appreciate a lot. I feel fully immersed in this experience.

Port-au-Prince: The Have's and the Have not's

Port-au-Prince: The Have’s and the Have not’s

The world of work differs so much from academic/university life. Firstly, no one here cares about my grades, clubs, or the authors that I could name drop. People, to simply put it, care that I can do the tasks in front of me. Shaina Gilbert, the director of the camp, cares that I can bring to fruition all of the public health workshops that we discussed. Ms. Jessica, my teaching partner cares that I can effectively co-lead lessons in english with her. The students of ETE Camp care that I know what I am talking about and that I am there to help them be better leaders. The list goes on and on. I am not saying however that my academic transcript is insignificant or my resumé and mental stock of literary scholars is useless, because it is important. I am just noting how refreshing it is to take the skill I’ve learned from my academics like quantitative reasoning, flexibility, and quick-thinking and use them in an everyday setting of a classroom. The spontaneity of the students, ages 10-17, makes everyday, although planned through the curriculum, very much a series of surprises.

Education programs in Haiti article

 I’ve had recent discussions in my education group’s forum about this article and the complications of it being written by a white man and the tone that presents education as a luxury instead of as a right. That being said I am still including the article to continue the conversation of education’s meaning and how, as a community, we can do better to educate one another.

I am gaining a lot from working for ETE Camp. I am developing my teaching skills that include the ability to be charismatic and command the attention of others, improving my diction, and expanding my confidence in what I know, amongst other things. My ability to asses forms of nonverbal communication and look for context clues has sky-rocketed because I do not speak any Kreyol. The thing I enjoy about being an English teacher is that while the kids are learning English I am learning Kreyol and somehow we are able to meet in the middle and have this bond.

Some of the unbelievable students of the GREEN GROUP!

Some of the unbelievable students of the GREEN GROUP!

At this point in the camp the 60 day time students and the approximately 60 alumni kids make their way throughout the school between the hours of 7:30am and 6:00pm. The fact that we are seeing, most-likely, over 120 students a day is mind-blowing to me because I’ve gotten to know them personally in such a short amount of time. They all laugh at my Kreyol and I take their photos and teach them English. My public health projects just started and have been a hit so far, as we tackle positive self-esteem. I think I am getting a feel for what I want to do career-wise, which I appreciate a lot. In all honesty I can talk about ETE camp and Hinche all day but I think this will do for now. Bon soir!

ETE Camp blog

Zari Havercome, ’16

Tags: , , , ,

It is weird for me to think that I am halfway through my internship, and yet by the same token that I still have so much time left. When I first entered AVODAH five weeks ago I was excited by all that I would learn and the opportunities I would have, and I certainly have gained a lot from this experience. I had the opportunity to work at a fundraiser that was attended by more than 200 people, and learned how to mingle with extremely influential members of the Jewish Service community.   11407160_10204301021381322_3430737214322635737_n

 

I have also been able to learn about software tools such as Salesforce, which holds current, alumni, and staff contact information, as well as records of phone calls and donations made by these members. The skills that I have gained this summer are extremely valuable. However, I mentioned in my last post that this summer was going to be a trial for me on whether my passions sided more with community service or with theater, and I believe I have discovered my answer (although it may change 100 more times between now and when I graduate).  AVODAH is a wonderful organization, and I want to make that clear before I continue, but I have come to realize that my interest and passions lie more with theater. However, I am really thankful to have given this opportunity to discover this passion, and also to spend a summer in such a wonderful city. Internships are an opportunity to explore career prospects and this experience has better aligned me with my preferred path.  In the future, I foresee myself supporting a non-profit in more of a volunteer capacity.
sign_petition

Again, this should not dissuade anyone from applying here because I think AVODAH is wonderful, and I have loved and been inspired by everyone I’ve met. In fact, it is a testament to AVODAH that I enjoy coming into work every day.  There is no denying that it is a noble endeavor to work in a social justice field, and the feeling you get from helping others is unmatched. However, if there is something that you really love doing and you can find a profession in it, then you have to follow your heart. At the end of the day, I want to go into the theater after I graduate because it excites me in a way that no other field does. I am glad that I took this summer to test out working in a non-profit, because it taught me to go for what I really love moving forward, but also to make sure that I do not forget my love of service.

– Jessica Star ’17

 

 

This summer, I am a Political Organizing Intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts (NARAL PCM). NARAL PCM is a nonprofit, pro-choice organization and affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America. The organization’s mission is to develop and sustain a grassroots constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices. NARAL is committed to expanding abortion access and ensuring that all women can exercise their right to comprehensive and unbiased reproductive healthcare information. In addition, NARAL advocates for comprehensive sex education and for a woman’s right to a safe and health pregnancy if she decides to carry her pregnancy to term.

As a Political Organizing Intern, I am assisting with NARAL PCM’s legislative and organizing efforts. NARAL PCM has endorsed five bills being put to vote in the current legislative session in the state. The majority of my duties have to do with constituent outreach in regards to these bills. My intern cohort and I must find creative ways to show the legislature that these bills are important to a large percentage of their constituents. One strategy that we frequently use to do so is by collecting signatures. Another effective strategy we use to generate support around these bills is through testimony. It is crucial to present these testimonies, both written and oral, at legislative hearings. NARAL PCM has found that stories play an extremely important role in the legislative process because they provide a personal aspect to the proposed legislation, which enables politicians to see how their decisions on our bills will directly affect the lives of their constituents.

Finding stories can often be difficult, which is why our Political Organizing team must be strategic and creative. We must be sure to always mention that we are looking for stories at any event, petition signing, etc. We also make sure to utilize our social media presence to ask for stories. This also means posting on our personal accounts so that we can tap into the largest network possible. However, these strategies are not as extensive as we would like them to be. When dealing with reproductive health, people often tend to hold back on disclosing personal information and are reluctant to share their stories, which is something we respect but also struggle with at NARAL. Some bills are harder to collect stories for than others, while some may apply more to a specific community than it does to others.

My overarching goal for this summer is to improve my communication skills. This position requires me to be in close contact with politicians and constituents and will help me in becoming more proficient in communicating with others. I hope to become more confident in making asks of politicians and constituents for their support of NARAL’s efforts. I also hope to become more skilled at making cases for support of NARAL’s mission to those who are unfamiliar with the organization and the pro-choice movement. I care deeply about NARAL’s mission, and I hope that I can connect to others and have them feel the same way too.

Here is our Pro-Choice legislation for this session:

Here is the Anti-Choice Legislation that we are opposing:

NARAL Interns at the Boston Pride Parade

Menstrual Health Conference

*this post was originally published on June 14, 2015.

– Ari Keigan ’18

Interning for a non-profit organization whose mission I am very passionate about has made me really think about what kind of work I want to do in the future. I know that I want to do something international and service-oriented, but have not yet figured out what it is that I want to do. Because work is a large part of most peoples’ lives and takes much of our time, I want my work to be meaningful both to myself and to others. What can I do that will add meaning to my life? And, what will I find self-fulfilling?

The organization that I am interning at is located in downtown Seattle. The organization so far is small (and young). There are three permanent staff members, three part-time staff members, and 6 – 8 interns. As we all share one office space and work in close proximity to each other, it can be slightly chaotic at times. However, the space makes it possible for us to easily talk to one another and keep track of what everyone else is doing.

IMG_7685

IMG_7689

It feels good being in an international and service-oriented environment and to be able to have contact with some of the students whose lives we are impacting. The organization has just finished hosting a three-week summer language and leadership camp, and has sent two groups of students to China. I am currently compiling a Study Abroad Booklet for the students who will be traveling to Morocco in August.

How Speaking Multiple Languages Benefits the Brain

IMG_7497

Working at a non-profit organization has made me realize how our academic lives at Brandeis tend to be self-oriented. When we are in school, the focus is entirely on us; the person who benefits most from every book we read is oneself; the person who benefits most from every essay we write is oneself. In sum, we do not work for others, but for ourselves.

At OneWorld Now!, the attention is entirely on the success of the organization and the success of the students whom we serve. Thus, each task we are given is not necessarily aimed at enhancing our knowledge in one discipline or another or improving our critical language skills. Though I enjoy working at OneWorld Now!, some of the tasks I am asked to do are not as exciting as others. This has allowed me, however, to develop skills that will help me no matter the job market. Interning at OneWorld Now! has taught me how to conduct myself in a professional manner, strengthened my problem-solving skills, and my ability to think on my feet. It has also taught me when to ask for help and how to pick up work from where someone else has left off.

IMG_7604

In conclusion, I really appreciate being in a culturally sensitive environment that is not too stressful and living in a city that is so diverse. I am very grateful that I am honestly able to say that I find my work at OneWorld Now! to be both enjoyable and meaningful.

– Honore Cole ’17

Despite getting settled in a little more at VocaliD, my excitement about being here this summer hasn’t changed. It continues to be an interdisciplinary, dynamic environment, and though my central roles haven’t changed much, the details and everyday tasks vary from day to day, making it an always-interesting place to be. For a few weeks now, I have also been joined by another summer intern. The two of us work closely on some tasks and separately on others.

Our crowdfunding campaign ended its initial phase this week, marking a critical point for both the company and my summer. The campaign was largely a success, raising nearly twice as much as the initial goal, bringing in troves of new customers, and solidifying the coming timeline for VocaliD.

The current campaign status, showing our funding percentage.

For most of July, I’ll be doing more or less the same work as before, but applied towards the fulfillment of “perks” bought by customers on Indiegogo.

This week and next, we have a special visitor. Samantha Grimaldo was among the earliest recipients of a VocaliD voice, and an important pioneer in bringing the technology to market. We’re working with her to become more comfortable using her device to speak in public spaces, and documenting the process for a short video piece. Sam, who has much to say, made a few contributions to a new Tumblr page we’ve put up. In the future, the page will become an important place for people like Sam, who can feel very alone, to connect with other users of augmentative communication and share information about having and using a voice from VocaliD. In fact, most of the recipients of pre-orders during our campaign have been children or teenagers. The opportunity for somebody still young to be able to speak with their own voice is a wonderful thing to witness, and part of VocaliD’s service is that as your voice changes with age, the custom voice is updated to match these changes and always sound like you. Most of our past and current customers are young children, and that seems to be the demographic VocaliD most immediately affects. Hopefully the Tumblr page will allow for the sort of connecting between these young people that we hope.

In working on marketing-related things, such as drafting and sending email campaigns, I’ve become privy to just how many businesses today use email marketing as their main method of customer relations. We’ve been using Mailchimp, for example, and now I look at all of my email subscriptions and notice just how many companies use Mailchimp.

Mailchimp's ubiquitous email footer, common in emails we probably all subscribe to.

Email marketing is a staple today, especially for small businesses, and a great thing to have experience with, no matter what sort of business I may find myself in.

As someone who has worked a variety of jobs since early high school, I tend to think not of how work differs from university life, but more the other way around. In studying Linguistics and being exposed to academic publishing and field research, that always seems the more magical, less accessible, somewhat intimidating world that undergrads seem to mean when they talk about the “real world.” Even more daunting is the prospect of leading a life as a composer, which inherently involves connection with the academic world (and a good amount of financial struggle), and can be called “work” only in the loosest sense of the word.

Then again, that sort of thinking only reminds me that there aren’t really any such boundaries. My “world of work” this summer has been at a tech startup with a social mission, driven by donations from interested, generous people, and founded by a professor who underwent something of a STEM learning epiphany after some uplifting research findings. It blurs the lines between business and academia, something I often wish would happen to more of my university peers, and something I predict more of in the future business world.

-David Stiefel ’16

Tags: , , ,

At my midpoint working at the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center, I feel confident that the organization is getting more focused and stable to do the work they do more effectively. After a board training from Interfaith Worker Justice (the national organization through which I was placed at my internship site) we know what IWJC is, what it could/should be in the near future, and how to get there. Because of that, the board is able to actively take those steps and we now officially have our first members. I am enjoying being in a new city and a different part of the United States and being able to experience the differences in the culture of the Midwest. Beyond the work at the Worker Justice Center, many board members are involved in other social justice and labor groups, and therefore, I have had the opportunity to attend meetings from groups such as Indiana Moral Mondays, Indiana Central Labor Council, and Jobs with Justice.

 

The first IWJC members taking their membership pledge.

The first IWJC members taking their membership pledge.

The World of Work is very different than my academic life, mostly because I am working more independently than I do at school, since IWCJ is currently not a staffed organization. However, the interactions that I have are with people with more varying life experiences. At Brandeis most of my interactions are with people of a similar age in a similar stage of their lives. Here I am working with people from many different ways of life and I am able to learn from them. I am learning about social issues similar to the way I am learning about them at Brandeis. Here I get to meet groups of people affected by the same issues and see how they work together to fight it. In addition to learning about what is going wrong, I also see people take action to improve their situation and I can take part in the actions as well.

4th of July party preperations

4th of July party preparations

 

As a result of this internship I am learning how to work independently and keep myself motivated, even when I am by myself. I am also learning how to be more open and talk to people I don’t know and how to listen to people with very different stories. Being able to work more independently and motivated without constant supervision is very important for me both in an academic setting and in the future. So is the ability to be more open and talk to people. I am usually shy and having to go out and talk to people helps me get over that. This will hopefully help me to be more comfortable talking to people I don’t know in the future, which is helpful in any situation.

– Tamar Lyssy ’16

It is hard to believe that I’m already past the half-way point of my summer here at the Harvard Semitic Museum. Since my last post, I’ve spent many mornings walking through Cambridge and admiring its tidy gardens and historic homes, and then settling in the museum’s basement, where the collection is housed. Over the past months, I have handled and archived ancient materials- mostly from the sites of Nuzi and Tel el-Keleifeh, and am now working to complete another project- organizing, inventorying, and archiving the museum’s collection of work produced by Theresa Goell, a female archaeologist who worked in the late 1940s through the early 1970s.

Goell was a truly groundbreaking archaeologist, as it was not common for women to lead digs in the 20th century, especially in the Middle East (she dug several sites in Turkey). She commanded so much respect that there are stories of her mediating disputes between government officials and local tribal leaders, in order to acquire the proper permits to excavate. I recently completed work on materials produced at a dig she led at the city of Samsat, a site just off of the Euphrates River. Shortly after the dig, the site was permanently flooded as a result of the building of the Atatürk Dam, leaving Goell’s records even more relevant.

Photo Credit: “Atatürk Dam” by Bernard Gagnon. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

My experience going through artifacts has been satisfying on an emotional and intellectual level. It is truly moving to hold an artifact produced and used by humans living thousands of years ago. One particularly moving moment for me was when I picked up a ceramic figurine of a woman, from a site near modern Eilat in Israel. The figurine was likely a representation of a goddess, or a young girl’s doll. Either way, this figurine was of immense importance to its owner, and I felt a connection to that individual through our shared experience of holding the figurine. Working with these ancient artifacts, I was constantly reminded of the daily lives of ancient Near Eastern people, and to the unique experience of each person and each culture.

A similar clay figurine, but this one is from the collection of the Jewish Museum.           Photo Credit: The Jewish Museum New York, via Wikimedia Commons

It has also been enlightening to steadily work through the Goell materials. I have developed an intimate familiarity with her and her team’s archaeological records, and have gained a great understanding of the process of how excavations are conducted, and the centrality of record keeping to an excavation’s success. As my supervisor put it, being an archaeologist is 90% archival work.

My work at the museum has given me greater perspective on life in the Ancient Near East, and also the many ways in which to study it. I’ve worked with ancient artifacts, modern excavation materials, and I recently met with a museum team that is creating a 3D model of Giza based off of archaeological records (a neat video demonstration is here). I will come back to Brandeis with a broader perspective of the field, but also with more technical archaeological and historical knowledge.

It is difficult to imagine that I have already reached the halfway point for my internship at Legal Outreach, Inc., time has gone by so quickly. Since the Summer Law Institute (SLI) began during the end of June, my two co-coordinators, our 28 students, and I have embarked on a valuable and exciting educational journey.  Check out this great video about our program!

When the Institute began, the significance of all of the work that my colleagues and I had been doing suddenly became realized since it was being put into action. We were all a bit nervous on the first day, especially since it was our first time actually teaching and handling a classroom full of teenagers. However, after seeing how enthusiastic and bright our students were, we realized that we were not alone on this endeavor. Since the first day, our mission to educate and encourage our students has continuously inspired our efforts.

I give an academic skills lesson every Tuesday, and my first one was on study skills. I had rehearsed this one previously with my supervisors and colleagues, but I was unsure about how our students would react, especially since this was only the second day of SLI. Fortunately, the lesson went well and the students seemed interested in learning about new ways to study and its importance.

Teaching these students, listening to lessons, and above all, becoming responsible for twenty-eight young adults has taught me a tremendous amount about the value of education. Being in the shoes of a teacher has allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for the work of teachers, as I now understand much better how much time and dedication is required both inside and outside of school hours.

Lesson at SLI

Lesson at SLI

Through my responsibilities, I have also been able to develop many of the skills I wanted to prior to beginning this internship. For example, I have further developed my organizational skills to complete the variety of tasks and duties with efficiency. I have also been able to strengthen my communication and public speaking skills, since that is essential to be a good teacher and lead a classroom. Most importantly, I believe that so far, through my experiences in this internship and by being surrounded in a legally-charged atmosphere, I have become more interested in pursuing law in the future. Interacting with and learning from inspiring attorneys and legal professionals has given me the opportunity to learn more about the profession and to explore my own passions and interests.

Moreover, one of the most rewarding aspects of this internship so far has been the opportunity to mentor students and learn from them at the same time. Many of them are so intelligent and inquisitive, and their questions often lead us to wonder and think in ways we did not previously. This is notable not only in the classroom, but also on our exciting field trips, such as our first one to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) last week. This experience has certainly taught me that in any working process, including teaching, there is both giving and receiving.

SLI Students at Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Field Trip

– Aditi Shah ’17

Working at the Rose Art Museum over the summer has been a considerably different experience than being here during the school year, which is when I learn about the logistics of keeping a museum’s doors open. Recently I got to see what the process of de-installing an exhibition looks like. Currently I am getting a glimpse into what planning one entails, as my work is being done in relation to the museum planning a reimagining of a historical exhibition of Louise Nevelson’s work.

IMG_5335

Detail of the empty Fineberg Gallery, which will soon be full of artwork again.

A fair bit of my time at the beginning of this internship went into researching the immersive installation created by Nevelson at the Rose in ‘67, which I am recreating virtually. I also spent quite a bit of time on measuring the space so I can faithfully reconstruct what it looked like. Later I began modeling some of the sculptures and thinking about 3D printing them at the Maker Lab, which is located in the library. There I talked to other enthusiastic students/makers who loved the idea of making art museums more accessible via new technology. A current worker at the Maker Lab became really interested in this project and is joining me in continuing to work on this project over the next semester.

So far we have worked on putting together everything we have of the space and of the sculptures into a game engine called Unreal. From this engine one can export the virtual environment to an Oculus Rift, which allows the user to experience the environment as if they are physically in it.

IMG_5305 2

Maker Lab worker wearing the Oculus Rift and a computer screen showing what he is seeing.

Unreal Second ImageDetail of Lower Rose Gallery with two works by Louise Nevelson. On the left Totality Dark, 1962, courtesy of Pace Gallery, NY, and The Tropical Gardens on the right, 1967, courtesy of Grey Gallery, NY.

Talking to museum staff about recreating the exhibit has also been incredibly encouraging. Everyone has been passionate about museum accessibility and has been helpful when it came time to do more art historical research and to think about questions of copyright of images.

Aside from the major difference of not having homework and classes to go to, this summer has so far been a really optimistic glimpse into the World of Work. Being surrounded by interesting people who are enthusiastic about museum accessibility and new technology has been great. Furthermore, getting a chance to delve into an area of work and focus on something I am really interested in has been phenomenal and I feel like I am learning a lot.

In that line of thought, I am indeed exploring more deeply ideas and technology that I studied in 3D Animation class. I’m spending quite a bit of time learning new things and problem solving sometimes on my own and sometimes with colleagues. These skills feel like they are going to be essential to my professional development because no matter how much any of us learns in college we will need to think on our feet and learn new things as we go along.

– Daniela Dimitrova ’16

 

 

 

 

 

I just finished up my sixth week interning at Lawyers For Children in NYC! Where has the time gone? I knew this internship would be incredibly eye opening and enriching, but I never expected it to be this much so this quickly. I have learned so much in so little time that I am left eager to acquire even more knowledge in the time I have left in New York City.

Here is a recent article from the Wall Street Journal touching on few of the many issues with New York’s Foster Care system today:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-citys-foster-care-system-is-mismanaged-lawsuit-alleges-1436373462

First off, living in New York City is an adventure in itself. There’s always so much going on and so much to see. Traveling by subway is an adventure in itself; I never get bored of the slam poetry performances, magic tricks and soul singers! My workplace is situated in the heart of Chinatown and I am also just a short walk from Broadway (which is full of shops and restaurants) and Little Italy! I am living in midtown Manhattan right near Penn Station, which is also a very bustling area. My apartment is very close to the Hudson River Parkway, which is where I complete most of my morning runs! I’ve been able to explore Central Park and West Manhattan while on longer runs over the weekend, which has been a nice break after the long workweek!central park photo

(a picture I took in central park during an evening run)

   I’ve been incredibly busy at Lawyers For Children. Working everyday from 9:30-5 is quite an adjustment from the college where there are often long breaks throughout the day in between classes. Everyday is different as a forensic social work intern at LFC, which keeps things exciting. I have traveled to all five boroughs in New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island) visiting clients and participating in meetings. I’m so fortunate to have an internship that allows me to get to know the city I’m living in while at work!

As I mentioned, I’ve learned so much at Lawyers For Children already despite only having been there six weeks. Before beginning this internship, I knew that the foster care system does not always provide children with the love, support, and resources that they need and that as a result many children in foster care endure many more hardships than those living in loving families, but I never imagined the extent of those hardships could be as profound as what I’ve seen thus far. Through my work at Lawyers For Children, I’ve learned to view every situation with a fresh set of eyes because the context of these children’s histories can impact their lives in so many ways. It’s important not to make assumptions about a child based on their behavior or by who they are ‘on paper,’ (as they say) because there is always a reason they act and feel the way they do. Before assuming anything at all, it is important to listen.

This is also true in the classroom. When engaging in social, political, economic or any sort of debate, it is important to understand why the person feels a certain way instead of judging them for feeling differently on an issue than you. Sometimes understanding why can even change your point of view!

LFC logoAbove is LFC’s logo/slogan. Taken from lawyersforchildren.org

Here is a link to a few videos of LFC clients describing some of their experiences in foster care and how LFC has helped them.

http://www.lawyersforchildren.org/lfc-difference

This is also a very important skill to possess as a social worker or attorney. To develop a relationship with your client, you must understand where they are coming from and why they have certain goals instead of trying to impose your own ideas on them; otherwise it is nearly impossible to develop a constructive, successful relationship from which both parties can benefit! I’m hopeful that I will obtain many more skills as this internship progresses and I am eager to share those with you all at the end of the summer!

-Lydia

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sin título 7 copia

“Floralis Genérica” is only a couple of blocks away from Tip. It opens when the sun comes out, and closes when it sets

It has now been a little over a month since I started working at Tip Comunicación, a small PR agency in Buenos Aires. I have had such a good time so far, and I am excited to share a little about my experience with you. This past month has been an amazing learning experience.

First, I assisted at a fashion show for Sweet Victorian, Argentina’s leading swimwear and underwear brand, for the launch of their swimsuit collection. It was so fun! I got to greet some amazing journalists at the door and guide them towards where the other press representatives where gathered, help my boss and coworkers throughout the event, and also watch the show alongside a few Argentinian celebrities.

I also have had the opportunity to ghost-write a few articles to promote our brands and write more press releases. My writing skills have gotten a lot better this past month! I know this will help me so much after college, when I hope to be working full time either in PR or advertising. Another thing I’ve been doing a lot of this past month has been preparing product kits to send out to journalists. We have a new client at Tip called Successo. They produce alfajores: traditional Argentinian candy that consists of two cookies put together by dulce de leche (milk caramel) and usually covered in chocolate. Successo also makes cookies and other types of candy, but alfajores are their specialty. I had to make 93 packages, so by the time I was done I had seen more alfajores than I ever need to, but it was actually quite a relaxing experience. I have been working on my organization skills through this task, which I know will be very useful after my work at Tip is over. Whether I end up in advertising or PR, I will most certainly need to be organized.

Writing for brands has also helped me get out of my “writing comfort zone” and speak in a way that represents the brand I’m trying to promote rather than myself. I know that if I’m writing for an educational institution I must use a somewhat friendly yet mostly serious tone, while if I’m writing for a teen swimwear company I have to take on a younger, bubblier personality. Different vocabulary is also used for the different brands and it is very important to always keep that in mind. Writing a press release or an article in the name of a certain brand is very different from writing my own blog, or posting something on my social media accounts. This internship has provided me with the tools to identify each brand’s personality, target, and “dialect.” My boss is very strict about this and it has made me very aware of the use of each word.

Sin título 9 copia

Just a few of the many, many Successo packages I put together

Being at work is so different from being at school for many reasons. First, there are no grades involved, which means my goals are only to learn as much as possible and to meet my boss’ expectations. Second, there’s a lot more “figuring out” to do on my own. I am told what needs to get done and a few tips on how to do it. I’m always allowed –and expected– to ask questions and get help when necessary, but I am also expected to get things done as well and fast as possible, which sometimes means I have to make my own decisions. I am so lucky to have an amazing boss that gives me the space and tools to work things out on my own and make some mistakes that will help me learn. Of course, she is always there to step in and save the day in case I actually do something wrong, but so far it’s been working out just fine!

Overall it’s been a really exciting month. I’m so glad I have this opportunity this summer and I’m excited for the rest of my internship.

Mijal Tenenbaum, ’16

Tags: , ,

The Fundacion Cultural Cofradia, is a non-profit organization that promotes and preserves the Afro-Dominican and Dominico-Haitiano traditions in the Dominican Republic. Cofradia is located in Santo Domingo, the capital, but their mission extends throughout different regions of the country. They work closely with the portadores de cultura, which are the people in the community in charge of keeping these traditions, in order to provide support in the areas most needed. This support comes in different forms, such as the creation of schools, workshops and festivals centered on these traditions.

People dancing perico ripiao in Yamasá

I contribute to their mission in two different ways, the office and field work. As part of the office work I file documents, communicate with el Ministerio de Cultura, (the government office in charge of approving the projects and providing the monetary support) and follow up in the updates of previous projects. During the fieldwork, the Cofradia team and I travel to diverse parts of the country and visit the communities that most need our support. Here, I interviewed the portadores de cultura on their traditions and how they function in the communities. I also document events by photography and videos which are later used as documentation to create new projects.
Last summer I traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit some family members. As part of my visit I wanted to learn more about the Afro-Dominican traditions. When I expressed this to my aunt she put me in contact with the Director of Cofradia, Roldán Marmol.  Director Mármol invited me to a fiesta de palo, a religious practice that mixes African and Taino religious beliefs with Catholicism. Later I expressed my interested in learning more about these traditions and religions. He told me about his organization and we discussed the possibility of an internship.

Gagá group

Gagá group

 

During my first week of work I met the entire team of my co-workers and learned about the projects they been working on.  I was provided with books and articles that talked about the diverse traditions of the Dominican Republic. That week we participated in the celebration of San Antonio sponsored by the Brothers Guillen in Yamasa. There I photographed the event and first experienced Gaga, a tradition born out of the sharing of cultures between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. For me, it was the first time, since I arrived to the island, that I have witnessed such a harmonious and unifying manifestation of the two countries traditions living as one.

The more I work with Cofradia the more I realize the importance of providing visibility to the Afro-Dominican and Dominico-Haitiano traditions. One cannot set apart these traditions with their communities, which means that if the traditions remain invisible and unappreciated the community suffers the same condition. These traditions are rich in knowledge, dance, music, art and history. I want to learn how to work with both the communities and the government to create projects that support the preservation and changes, that come naturally with time and new generations, of these traditions.

Me documenting the inauguration of La Escuela de Gagá in the Romana.

Me documenting the inauguration of La Escuela de Gagá in the Romana

Daniela Julivic Marquez, ’17

Tags: , , , , , ,

One of the most exciting parts of being an Artistic Director Assistant at The O’Neill is that I get to work on three different types of theater works. For the past month, I have been in rehearsals for the National Music Theater Conference (NMTC). Three new musicals have been read, re-written, and re-written again during that time: Slaughterhouse Five by Jed Feuer and Adele Ahronheim, We Live in Cairo by Daneil and Patrick Lazour, and ZM (Zombie Musical) by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis.

21988_10153580120124879_2762399042020474046_nThe pieces, although wildly different from one another, completely changed how I think about the structure of musicals. While I used to view many musical theater conventions as convenient, tired traditions, I have come to realize their importance. For example, something that came up throughout the conference was the use of musical buttons on the end of songs. A button is the musical phrase that marks a definitive ending to the song. This is the moment where the actors freeze and the audience claps. Before coming to The O’Neill, this moment felt self-indulgent to me, but I now realize just how important it is. It tells the audience that the moment is over, that the plot is advancing, and gives them a moment to digest everything they just heard and saw before moving on. If this momentary break doesn’t happen, the audience grows restless.

While working with artistic director Paulette Haupt, I have also learned about the administrative side of theater and the process of choosing, funding, and building new works. I had the opportunity to listen in on confidential mentor meetings where professionals gave writers their thoughts and advice on their musical. I began to understand how musicals get on their feet and where they go after The O’Neill. I learned about how artistic staffs work together to create new material. Although I have had many hands-on opportunities to act, write, direct, etc. at Brandeis, the development process was unfamiliar to me. Working with a team of professionals on a new play is a balancing act and a lot of hard work. Working on staged readings is a huge job opportunity for young theater artists, and this experience certainly gives me the preparation I need to work collaboratively in a professional environment.

Smile! A picture of me, Artistic Director Paulette Haupt, and my co-intern Maia Nelles-Sagar.

Smile! Artistic Director Paulette Haupt, my co-intern Maia Nelles-Sagar, and me after the final event of NMTC.

Over these four weeks I have met and worked with new and established artists alike. I have been able to speak with and observe some of the most accomplished music theater artists in the country. Luckily, I feel incredibly welcomed not only by The O’Neill, but the theater community at large. The environment here is giving me a good sense of how to network and thrive in “The Real World.” I’ve learned new tactics and techniques for making theater that I will carry with me through my final year at Brandeis and beyond. During my last month at The O’Neill, I will be reading stage directions for one of the National Playwrights Conference pieces, Nomad Motel by Carla Ching, and working with Artistic Director John McDaniel on the Cabaret Conference.

– Rachel Liff ’16

 

The best part of my commute every morning. Photo: Soul of America

The best part of my commute every morning.
Photo: Soul of America

While I’ve held steady employment since I was 14 years old, working at the New England Innocence Project this summer has been the first time in my life I have genuinely looked forward to work each and every day. As much as I love being on campus, I could certainly get used to commuting to Boston everyday, walking across the downtown area, and spending time in an office overlooking the Common. However, as much as I enjoy the scenery of downtown Boston, I enjoy NEIP not simply because of the location, but because it’s a place where I am proud of the work I do, and confident in my ability to contribute.

This week marked the arrival of the next intake intern, Freda, who will serve in my position throughout the fall and winter months after I have left NEIP. The task has been given to me to the train Freda and in doing so I now recognize how much there is to learn about the intake position. I’ll be responsible for familiarizing Freda with many of the nearly 4000 applicants that NEIP has been working with since its inception, spreading extensive knowledge about our past and present cases. In addition, I’ll need to show her how the organization functions, by instilling in her an understanding of the online databases, the system of physical files, and the interactions between directors, attorneys, volunteers, and interns. To be effective, I’ll have to transfer to her many of the skills that I have learned from NEIP over the last month, in becoming a better communicator, a more patient individual, and a more organized worker.

1489583_681547758562090_1852461709_o

One of my favorite co-workers, Bishop.

By speaking with attorneys on a daily basis, I have learned to communicate more effectively, sounding at times more like a seasoned attorney than an intake intern – to the point where I’ve been called “Attorney Jacobson” more than once. Through experience and repetition, I have become more confident and more helpful when speaking to inmates and applicants as I am better able to answer their questions, predict their responses, and provide guidance throughout our screening process. In becoming a better communicator, I expect it to pay dividends whether I am engaging in discussion in the classroom, or working behind the counter at Einsteins.

In learning the essence of patience, I have become more accommodating and more responsive in my exchanges with the family members of inmates. While I’ve often avoided conflict throughout my life, I no longer fear potentially argumentative interaction with applicants, and instead I look forward to trying to achieve conciliation through patient dialogue. While this newfound patience will undoubtedly benefit my personal life, it should also improve my ability to work with others in an academic setting.

By serving in a position that requires many hats, I have become more organized in my work. One minute, I might be performing drafting a Case Review Committee Memo for an applicant such as Clarence Spivey, the next I might be brainstorming ideas for how to improve our screening process, and the next I might be gathering statistics for a grant, such as the Bloodsworth. Without effective time management, and physical and mental organization, I would struggle to keep up. This should hopefully make me a better studier, and a more productive employee.

It saddens me to recognize that I’ll soon be done at NEIP, but I intend to make the most out of my last month here.

Daniel Jacobson, ’16

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Enter the dog days of summer. Enter the hours spent bobbing and weaving around the Massachusetts State House, enter meetings with organizational endorsers of a campaign to increase state-funding for an important welfare program, enter beautiful walks through Cambridge and Somerville. Enter Sandman (*que Mariano Rivera’s entrance into the ballgame*). The midway point of my internship at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless is here.

Night time view of the Massachusetts State House

Night time view of the Massachusetts State House

When I decided that I wanted to continue interning at Mass Coalition over the summer (I am fortunate enough to have been with the organization since this past January) I had a few goals in mind. I wanted to learn how to manage a successful policy campaign. Check. I wanted to learn what it takes to be a good community organizer. Check. I wanted to learn what life is like spending extended amounts of time at the State House. Check. Crossing these aspirations off my to-do list was incredibly rewarding. But there’s more.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the benefits I’ve reaped from living in Waltham over the summer. Specifically, interning so close to campus enabled quite a few valuable opportunities to present themselves. I won the opportunity to meet with Waltham’s State Representative Tom Stanley with the help of my mentor, Brandeis’ Director of Community Service Lucas Malo. Through this meeting I was introduced to a few consulting operatives who help manage local Massachusetts elections, and it was they who offered me an opportunity in the fall to do what I love and help create a database to identify the characteristics of the average voter that supports their clients. It is an exciting project and I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the opportunity to work on it had I not been interning in proximity to Brandeis. Other benefits to remaining on campus over the summer include: taking professors out to lunch, seeking out Waltham’s hidden gems, teasing out ideas for a senior thesis with advisors, receiving ample support from Hiatt for truly anything that I need their assistance with, and taking the time to walk all the way from Waltham to Cambridge along the Charles River Reservoir Trail – something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to explore during the semester. Seeking experiences in other parts of the world and the country are valuable and important, but, simply put, life ain’t too shabby in Waltham over the summer. I mean it.

Charles River at night, with the Cambridge bike path on the left side of roadway

Charles River at night, with the Cambridge bike path on the left side of roadway

Aside from the traveling across the State that I pursue in my spare time, I do quite a bit for my internship too. Presently I’m visiting organizations that have endorsed the Coalition’s campaign to increase funding for EAEDC, a Massachusetts program that supports elders, children, and those who are disabled and are unable to afford their living expenses. Most organizations that have endorsed our campaign include nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state. I visited two of these organizations a few weeks ago; Lynn Economic Opportunity (LEO) serves those who experience poverty in Lynn, and Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services provides stable living for the elderly. The purposes of these meetings are to educate organizations on exactly what the legislation would accomplish and how organizations can contribute to our campaign. Typically endorsers are willing to distribute postcards to be signed by colleagues and clients addressed to legislators, write a letter to the editor in support of the campaign, sign and distribute online convio-action letters, and in some cases, are willing to help the Coalition collect testimony to show legislators why what we are working on is so important.

Heading into these meetings, truth be told, I wasn’t confident about leading them. I wasn’t certain of what to talk about and when. I reached out to one of my supervisors and she agreed that I shadow her on one of these meetings prior to me leading a few on my own. The plan worked to perfection. As I watched my supervisor lead one meeting I figured out how to do the same; what stories to tell, what actions we want to focus on, and ironing out the details to follow up and ensure that progress be made. I walked away from this experience with an understanding of just how important it is to ask for help when needed. It certainly paid off.

The more time that I’ve spent at Mass Coalition the more I have discovered areas in which the organization could improve upon its resources available for the talented community organizers it employs. At the beginning of the summer I set a new goal for myself: create a new tool that will allow Mass Coalition staff to reach out to and solicit more participants for its policy campaigns. That tool came in the form of a database that I created which includes university-affiliated clubs in Massachusetts that address topics of homelessness, poverty, and justice. Not only will it allow the Coalition to garner more support for its campaigns and programs in the future, but it will hopefully inspire the leaders from these clubs to join forces and address homelessness together more cohesively. I look forward to speaking with my colleagues in the future about how they were able to use this tool to strengthen the policy campaigns that they work so hard on.

It’s been a rewarding summer so far. I’ve learned a lot about community organizing and how I see myself using the skills and experiences that I’ve gained throughout this internship in a professional setting. I love politics. Good politics requires good community organizing. I will, no doubt, use what I’ve learned to pursue a career in political consulting. Until that pursuit begins in full, however, feel free to reach out to me and ask me about my experience interning at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. Until next time. – Max Parish

PS. One of my supervisors from Mass Coalition, Lois Ferraresso, will definitely be reading this blog. How do I know? Because it is her job to read every subject matter on the internet that includes “Mass Coalition” in its content. With this knowledge in mind, I want to thank you, Lois, for being a helpful supervisor but even more so a wonderful friend. I am so grateful to have you in the office to make me laugh, talk college hoops, and keep me awake when the air conditioner is set too high and my fan isn’t enough. Looking forward to creating more memories with you.

Max Parish, ’16

Tags: , , ,

 

IMG_20150630_162945

My 19th-floor view of the Commonwealth I am serving, including the golden dome of the Massachusetts State House

At the beginning of my internship in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, I could not have imagined the extent to which I could be enriched within so little time. Despite the challenges that my novel experience of independence presents, such as budget management, humbling homesickness, and an increased sense of responsibility, these perceived difficulties are only augmenting the growth I am undergoing and I am thankful for this opportunity to learn how to overcome them. My initial apprehension has turned into a sense of pride as the weeks progress and as I am increasingly exposed to valuable information about workplace environments, networking, independence, justice, policy making, career development, the law, and myself.

The numerous projects which I have been assigned so far range from contributing to the office’s implementation game-plan concerning human trafficking policy (my favorite assignment so far) to scanning boxes of grand jury exhibits. I cannot truthfully say that they have all been as fabulous as those depicted in an episode of Law and Order; still, each of them is crucial to the process and fulfilling to complete. The kind and capable troopers, lawyers, paralegals, investigators, etc. who have assigned them to me make sure to explain how my work contributes to the bigger picture and to the eventual execution of justice, which gives me a greater appreciation for my role in the legal process. I do not shirk the seemingly menial jobs, because thorough completion of such tasks is important to the execution of law and also facilitates access to more fascinating projects such as checking bankruptcy dockets for patterns of criminal behavior or reading up on habeas corpus appeals in order to summarize them for the lawyers on the case.

My own little cubicle

My own little cubicle

 

In addition to the projects and cases in which I am involved, I am also exposed to unique opportunities for growth and enrichment due to the excellent programs set up for the office’s interns. Ranging from meet-and-greets to mock trials, these events allow the interns to network and to be exposed to the greater structure and goals of Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey’s office. With every event, I sense my networking skills expanding and my dedication to this line of work solidifying, and I know these social skills and passions will weave their way through my interactions with others and through career-defining decisions from this point forward. Already, I am making connections with interns and lawyers from both the criminal bureau and other bureaus in order to acquire some insight about their jobs and the steps they’ve taken to pursue their careers. I now have a better understanding of my options and preferences concerning things like law school (which, as of now, is a definite part of my future) and additional internship possibilities. The exposure I have had to some of AG Healey’s truly inspirational workforce has enlightened me about the configuration and function of the office I am serving as well as about what I would love to explore further, such as civil rights/anti-discrimination work, victim services, and executive work for Attorney Generals like Maura Healey.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/bureaus/executive/ – I was inspired by the bureau presentations set up for the interns and was especially enriched by the Executive Bureau’s presentation.

Thus, beyond my wildest expectations, I have come to know myself and the world of work I have entered better than I could have expected within just a few weeks. Although I am mostly proud of my work with the Human Trafficking Division, which encompasses my newly developed women’s and gender, civil rights and victim-aid interests the most, I am proud of even my smallest contributions, because serving this Attorney General, this bureau, and this Commonwealth gives me a sense of fulfillment I have never felt before. I eagerly look forward to my last few weeks here.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/hr/transgender-rights-policy.pdf – Maura Healey’s newly introduced transgender rights policy (one of the many testaments to her greatness as a civil rights leader)

 

Lilly Hecht, ’18

For the first time in my life, I have joined the traditional workforce. In the past, I have done remote work, put in much sweat and tears into working at an overnight camp, and have worked part time jobs, but never have been exposed to this type of consistency in an office environment. I am now amongst the throng of suburbanites who, every day, flood the Metra and commute into the city- I am a member of the 9-5 commuting community. I always assumed I wouldn’t enjoy this type of stationary work, but so far I feel quite comfortable and happy with my job and work environment.

Image taken by the Chicago Tribune

Commuters leaving the Metra during an early morning rush

The people who work at ICAAP, 13 staff in all, are quite open and friendly. Every morning at 8:59, after pushing open the warehouse door, I can expect several “hello’s”, or relaxed smiles from the early risers. My work experience has been largely different from my academic life. The largest adjustment for me cognitively was having to train my brain to focus for longer periods at a time. In school, I would have a smattering of classes throughout the day, and my schedule would necessitate multiple walking breaks as I navigated the campus. Additionally, the learning process here is much more informal than at school. My “teachers” have never been trained to teach, so they explain concepts to me through their passion and experiences. They tend to have more of an experiential approach to my learning, especially because their job is not to teach me, but to use me as an aid to their work.

This style of learning has been simultaneously exciting and frustrating for me. At the beginning of a new task, when I don’t quite understand the framework of the work I am supposed to be doing, I exist in a state of constant searching; one that both invigorates me and leaves me at the end of each day feeling unsure. However, when I break through into understanding, which I have been able to do thus far in each task, the feeling is beyond enticing, and beyond anything I have felt at school being ‘spoon fed’ my learning (if you will). This internship is teaching me tangible skills, such as grant writing, research, utilizing community tools, improved communication skills, how to exist and present myself in different work cultures, and how to best focus myself for the duration of a work day. However, beyond that, it is teaching me how to adapt, and self-teach in efficient and tangible ways in a workforce. I am constantly striving to find the balance between asking for help from my very busy supervisors, and using immersive experience (just plowing through my confusion in combination with very intimate google counseling), to get the work done.

Currently, I am in the middle of writing and researching a grant, and was just given responsibility of our social media accounts. (Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!) Curious as to how to use social media as a business? This has been my guide. This being the first grant I have worked on, I am still trying to put myself in the framework of how to write a grant, from the targeted language they use to the type of data that works best. I don’t think I could have honed these skills in a classroom, but they are skills that I will use the rest of my academic and career life, and hopefully will be able to utilize in my personal life as well.

Elizabeth Villano, ’16

 

My first official twitter posts!

My first official twitter posts!

Elizabeth Villano, ’16

Tags: , , , ,

bg_logo

As I am finishing up my sixth week interning for the Omaha Farmer’s Market, I wonder where the time has gone. Working with the market to conduct an economic impact study and improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has seemed to consume life lately. SNAP at the Omaha Farmers’ Markets is gaining more attention every week, in fact it made the front page of the money section of the Omaha World Herald last week. And this weekend I begin to get more hands-on with the impact study when I conduct a population count of the markets at Aksarben Village and the Old Market. Seeing the progress I have made toward achieving my goals in the workplace has been more of a rewarding experience than I expected.

IMAG0211_BURST004

Link to the the Original Article

The last few weeks have been markedly different than my life at Brandeis; working with people from a variety of age groups or having to commute to work seem like some obvious differences. A not so obvious aspect that I have noticed recently is the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. While being a student does involve working with peers and helping others,  the results are not often as visible and can sometimes be discouraging. With this internship however, I’ve found being part of an organization that seeks to improve the lives of others and doing work that affects more than just yourself to be a motivating factor in my day to day activities.

One aspect of my work that has been not that different from my academic life is the amount of research I have done so far. A lot of my time has been consumed by reading market evaluations and conversing with other markets about SNAP via email, which in turn has made me well-informed about SNAP and the methods other markets have used to make it successful. It has not been just research and emails, however. There have been obstacles that I have learned to overcome, most prominently with the Economic Impact Study portion of my internship. The study was initially going to be conducted by collecting revenue data from businesses local to the markets and compare them to similar businesses that did not have a Farmer’s Market. While it seemed like a good plan on paper, I quickly found out that businesses are not too keen on giving out that kind of information. This forced me to find an alternative way of measuring the economic impact of the markets, so I decided to get the data from the market customers rather than the businesses. This led me to marketumbrella.org, which provided me with the tools to accomplish the impact study using non-intrusive and efficient methods. While I did not anticipate this sort of dilemma in my internship, it has prepared me to deal with unforeseen consequences that I will face in my career after Brandeis.

– Luke Bredensteiner

 

After almost five weeks of living on my own and working in New York City, I can confidently say that accepting an internship position at Writopia Lab in Manhattan was the perfect choice for a summer job at the midpoint of my college career.

Writopialogo

Writopia is a non-profit organization that facilitates creative writing workshops for students ages 6-18. During the school year, workshops usually take place in the afternoons. In the summer, however, the Manhattan headquarters is much busier, hosting around 40 students each week for half-day morning/afternoon workshops or all-day summer camp. Each writer finishes the week with at least one polished piece of writing, which they are then encouraged to submit to Writopia’s online literary magazines.

Writopia ultimately provides writers with a positive, safe place to express themselves intellectually and creatively, regardless of their previous writing experience. It is a diverse community of young writers who are invited to write about whatever they want without fear of censorship or not being taken seriously. Writopia writers are encouraged to challenge and empower one another through their writing, and have a lot of fun doing so.

Editing a Writopia writer's story in a morning workshop

Editing a Writopia writer’s story in a morning workshop

Interns like myself mainly work with the all-day campers. I am assigned to a workshop group of around seven writers each week, and in the mornings assist the head instructor by giving feedback on campers’ writing pieces, helping to lead writing-based games and activities, and offering typing help to those who need it (each camper is provided a Google chromebook and their own personal Writopia e-mail address so they can easily share their writing with and offer comments to their peers). Then, we break for lunch in Central Park, where interns and instructors lead the kids in writing-themed outdoor games like “character kickball.” After lunch, campers select two electives for the last portion of the camp day, with options ranging from film making to songwriting to comedy writing.

I intern in the graphic noveling elective each afternoon. In this elective, campers begin character sketches in pencil, then map out a page-long comic or story about this character, eventually inking their final work on comic book-style panels that we provide. These ink drawings are then scanned, and the graphic noveling teacher and I help the campers digitally color their work with an online program. I am also a photography intern, in charge of getting at least one photo of every camper each week and uploading them all to Facebook by the end of the week. In weeks to come, I will also be interning at two of Writopia’s outreach programs—I will assist weekly public workshops at the New York Public Library in the afternoons, and will also help with weekly workshops for homeless and at-risk youth through the Homes for the Homeless organization. Through working with these programs and the many Writopia Manhattan students, I have been exposed to an incredibly diverse and inspiring group of young writers, and I am so impressed by their creativity and talent.

This summer, I hope to expand my knowledge of creative arts and writing education, and feel more confident in my abilities as a teacher. I came into this internship with a love of writing and an interest in mentoring and inspiring kids and teens, but had little formal teaching experience. I initially was nervous about how I would pick up the teaching skills and if it would be something I truly enjoyed and could see myself doing for a future career. I am excited to report that I already have learned so much from the 2-week training period and my first two weeks as an intern, and am eager to continue to polish my teaching techniques. Interning at Writopia has solidified my interest in someday working for an organization that empowers children and teens through creative practices like creative writing, visual art, dance, and theater, and working for them is simply a dream come true.

– Rachel Dillon ’17

As I approach the half way point of my internship at PFLAG National, I can’t believe how fast it has gone by. So much has happened since I began my internship in June: I’ve written 3 issues of our national policy newsletter Policy Mattersthree other amazing interns have joined me in the office with all of us working together to accomplish some serious LGBT advocacy; I’ve attended more events than I can count at places like the White House, various federal agencies, and a range of NGO’s; Pride Month ended; and oh yeah of course, MARRIAGE EQUALITY!!!

Hundreds of people gathered at the Supreme Court on June 26th waiting anxiously for the ultimately monumental decision handed down on marriage equality.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Supreme Court on June 26th waiting anxiously for the ultimately monumental decision handed down on marriage equality.

Having the opportunity to witness the historic SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges decision in action was incredible and to be honest, almost unbelievable. During the decision days, the entire office waited on the edge of our seats anxiously watching SCOTUSblog. When the decision came down on Friday June 26th at 10 in the morning, everyone in the office cheered and many of us interns went over to the Supreme Court to join hundreds of others in celebration. But although the marriage decision was a success, at PFLAG we also wanted to make clear that the fight for LGBT rights was in no way over.

“While we celebrate today’s victory, we are dedicated to continuing and redoubling our advocacy work to secure legislation that explicitly protects people who are LGBTQ from discrimination in the workplace, in their homes, in their schools and in their communities. Now is the time to expand federal law–law which already protects people from discrimination based on race, sex, age, ethnicity, disability, and religion–to include explicit protection from discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” – PFLAG Marriage Equality statement

Taking advantage of the White House while I was there for a Big Table discussion with Valerie Jarrett about the Obama Administration's LGBT priorities for the remainder of his term.

Taking advantage of the White House while there for a Big Table discussion with Valerie Jarrett about the Obama Administration’s LGBT priorities for the remainder of his term.

 

But in respect to things other than marriage equality, in this past month I have already surpassed all of my initial expectations and goals. By working on Policy Matters as well as various other policy-related PFLAG publications, I have not only learned so much about LGBT advocacy and policy, but also have become up to date on all LGBT current events. Similarly, by attending White House briefings, and working directly on LGBT federal legislation and advocacy, I have truly learned and received first-hand perspective on the political process and all of the research and preparatory work that goes into policy work behind-the-scenes. Finally, by attending countless events and having my supervisor Diego introduce me to more people than I can remember, I have had the opportunity to meet and form important connections with influential figures in the field of LGBTQ advocacy from across the country.

An exciting July 4th in our nation's capital while on our nation's Capitol.

An exciting July 4th in our nation’s capital while on our nation’s Capitol.

 

All of these skills, experiences, and connections will prove valuable in the future. I am doing all I can to take in and take advantage of every opportunity offered to me while here in DC and while working at PFLAG National. It has been such a beyond marvelous month so far, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for the month ahead.

– Aliya Bean ’16

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Washington, D.C. is an amazing place to be for the summer, despite the humid heat and the high density of 20-somethings. This summer has been a particularly exciting time to be in D.C.: I’ve shaken Bernie Sanders‘ hand at a press conference, celebrated at the Supreme Court on the day of the marriage equality decision, watched a live taping of my boss speaking at FOX News, and met the 2014 Noble Peace Prize winner on the National Mall. I also ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung, who you may recognize from the anti-tobacco campaign that comedian/TV host John Oliver introduced on his show, before heading to a briefing on health care. While not at work, I’ve been kayaking the Potomac, attending intern networking events, and performing or watching improv comedy at various theaters. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement and I am sad that I am already halfway done with my internship.

Lobby at the Fox News headquarters in DC, where my boss spoke about the benefits of the new "female viagra" drug

The lobby in the Fox News headquarters in DC, where my boss spoke about the benefits of the new “female viagra” drug

I ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung on the Metro while headed to a health care briefing

I ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung on the Metro while heading to a health care briefing last week

Working at the National Consumer’s League is similar to being at Brandeis. If you’re like me, what some might describe as the “typical Brandeis student”, you’re passionate about a variety of social justice issues and you’re always busy at some meeting or event. My colleagues and I at NCL are interested in fighting for every issue you can think of regarding consumers and workers, from product safety regulations to bans on child labor. We attend events and meetings every week dedicated to solving these issues and we talk with policymakers and industry leaders about what they can do. I now know much more about consumer and worker issues and feel passionately about making people aware of these issues and solving them. While Brandeisians aren’t exactly lobbying Congress on a weekly basis, they’re always doing something to make change, whether it will affect our campus or the greater good. I hope to bring the same energy I’ve gained from working on various projects at NCL back to the clubs I’m involved with at Brandeis and look for new clubs to join that align with my new-found passions and growing skill set.

At the Consumer Product Safety Commission hearing in Bethesda, MD, where I learned about regulations for laundry detergent pods, table saws and ionization smoke alarms

At the Consumer Product Safety Commission hearing in Bethesda, MD, where I learned about regulations for laundry detergent pods, table saws and ionization smoke alarms

I write blogs, articles, and press releases on behalf of NCL, and although they are much shorter than the papers I write at Brandeis, they often require a similar amount of in-depth research. Since my start at NCL, my writing and research skills have improved. My co-workers and supervisor have offered me advice on writing and given me additional work to help me practice these skills.

I have also been writing questions for NCL’s program LifeSmarts, which is a consumer education competition for middle and high school students to help them develop consumer and marketplace skills. While researching a variety of topics that relate to health, technology, the environment, worker rights, and personal finance, I have become a smarter and more responsible consumer. I now know more about my rights and responsibilities when I enter the workforce and how to manage my finances. NCL has another program called Script Your Future that has taught me about managing medicine and various health issues.

For my next four weeks in DC, I hope to learn even more that will help me navigate my future, including but not limited to surviving the heat here. I hope that the work I’m doing and the people I’m meeting in the capital and at National Consumers League will be a part of that future because it is hard to imagine leaving both behind in August.

– Rebecca Groner ’17

El Pancillo statue which stands in the historic center of Quito

Working in the hospital for the last four weeks has been an incredibly fulfilling and engaging experience. Additionally this experience has illuminated the underpinnings of a foreign health care system first hand. From 7am-12p.m I assist the nurses, doctors, and patients to  the best of my ability in order to help the day run easier and quicker. The medical culture in Quito is quite different than that of the States- there is a much more relaxed and calm aura, even in the emergency rooms, female doctors and nurses spend full days in heels, and there is often many patients in a consultation room. Beyond these small observations, however, the desire to improve and get up to speed with western medicine is evident and exciting to watch. All of the doctors and nurses I have assisted have been warm, inviting-and love explaining everything they do in a way that I can understand. Life in Quito has also been very interesting. Ecuadorian culture has been wonderful to be a part of and observe-as it is heavily tied to family, Catholicism, and salsa dancing which serve as channels to meet locals. The history of Quito and Ecuador as a whole is also fascinating and the more I learn, the more I have come to understand the evolution and reasonings of the health care system here.

imageI have also had the chance to connect with many volunteers in the hospital from around the world. It has been really interesting to hear about their countries’ healthcare system in contrast to that of Ecuador. Given the opportunity to converse with healthcare professionals and learn hands-on has been an experience completely different from studying at Brandeis. I have gained many medical skills such as taking blood, stitching, and taking vital signs which are skills that I would not attain until later in medical school. I have also learned that 80% of Ecuadorians use the universal healthcare system, which is supplied by the government. Unfortunately, there are not enough hospitals to support the demand. Consequently, often the hospital I work at and others in Ecuador tend to be in hysteria, with as many people jammed into the waiting rooms as possible. A great article that discusses these issues can be found here. As the United States moves toward universal healthcare, I think it will be important to recognize the weaknesses of other universal healthcare plans to know how to structure and improve it. If you are interested in a quick synopsis of the healthcare system in Ecuador, PubMed does a great job.

San Francisco Plaza- Historical Center

San Francisco Plaza- Historical Center

A skill that I have gained and am continuing to work on is my ability to communicate in Spanish to the patients, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. More than becoming well versed in Spanish medical terminology, I have been more confident in approaching doctors and nurses and asking them about their experience and what they do. Finding the confidence to follow my curiosity in a very different culture is something that I was afraid I would be unable to do. I look forward to continue pursuing my curiosity academically, as a future healthcare professional, and as a visitor in a foreign country.

– Paulina Kuzmin ’17

Tags: , , ,

Everything began to pick up at work as the summer progressed. For those who are familiar with the Supreme Court, you may know that many major decisions come down over the summer–specifically in mid to late June. June 29 was the last day the Supreme Court delivered decisions for this term. At Alliance for Justice, we focus on the Supreme Court and emphasize its importance and potential impact on our daily lives. Thus, we followed a few specific cases, including King v. Burwell (which determined the fate of the Affordable Care Act), Obergefell v. Hodges (which focused on same-sex marriage) and Glossip v. Gross (which was to determine whether or not a particular substance could be used in lethal injections used for the death penalty), just to name a few. We focused social media campaigns and press releases on the potential impact of these court cases, and the results once the decisions were released.

Friday, June 26 was one of the more exciting experiences in our work following the Court. On this day, Obergefell v. Hodges was released, and it was decided that same-sex marriage should, in fact, be legal in all 50 states. Not only was Alliance for Justice hoping that this would be the result, but we also took action and went down to the Court to wait for the decision to be released. This is an image of my view from that day:

10999768_10153390267247421_4342964203199281350_n

 

I was standing by the Court steps–along with activists from across the country–when the decision was released. This is just an image to try to convey how many people were at the Court awaiting the decision:

11143600_10153390267332421_4936379056105696563_n

It is so thrilling to see when our work pays off, and for so many to understand what we do here at Alliance for Justice. This decision has a profound impact on people’s lives, and AFJ wants to make sure people recognize that. We want people to understand that the #CourtsMatter, and that who is sitting on the bench can determine whether or not your rights are protected. That is why we launch campaigns regarding judicial appointees and upcoming cases.

In addition to our other campaigns, AFJ always launches a year-long campaign. We are in the process working on a new campaign, for which a video will be released. The current campaign, which started last year, focuses on forced arbitration. The campaign, called “Lost in the Fine print,” discusses how companies take advantage of consumers and employees by inserting forced arbitration clauses that are convoluted, hidden and not always understood.

Here is a pamphlet from the last campaign:

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 8.29.58 PM

I am excited to begin working on this new campaign.

– Marissa Ditkowsky ’16

 

RI Foundation 1

 

As I reflect on my midpoint at the Rhode Island Foundation, I am aware that I have experienced many positive emotions in and out of my workplace environment.  I enjoy going to work at the Foundation so much so, that I come in before the time I am supposed to arrive everyday.  I like to be in an environment filled with people who are passionate about the work they do.  It encourages me and gives me hope that I will one day find a job that I can be equally as passionate about.  My overall impression about the workplace is that the work can be challenging and tedious, but every detail counts.  Life moves fast and it takes energy, skill and passion to make the work go by smoothly.

Rhode Island Foundation 2

The world of work is different from university life in that you are not measured on your performance by grades, or how much you have memorized for a test.  Instead, you are measured on how well you can work with members on a team and alleviate some of the pressures and challenges team members face.  Academic work is oftentimes individualistic.  However, I have realized that in the real world, you have to know how to talk, interact and learn from one another across a company, or in my case, a foundation.  I know that this can be a challenge for many workplaces; however, at the Rhode Island Foundation, everyone tries to make time for one another so that communication stays open.  I feel very well supported in this type of environment and because of the great teamwork and cross-departmental collaboration, I have been fortunate to meet and work with a large network of people.

The skills that I am learning in my internship are extremely valuable for me.  I am learning how to analyze and read through large amounts of information, and then summarize it in order to present my findings to my supervisor.  I am also applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy and scanning broad search engines, such as Grants.gov, to do effective research for the Foundation.  The research I am doing is time consuming and I am required to search many key-word combinations to find grants for which the Foundation can apply.  It would be impractical to spend a lengthy amount of time on any one source so I have to find the information that I need quickly and then move on.  I am now confident in my ability to be able to continue to use my skills to help the Foundation, as I have been receiving positive feedback from my supervisor.

 

Best,

 

-Lauren Nadeau ‘2017

Week one of my internship at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has concluded, and so far, my experience has been stellar.

Before elaborating about my experience thus far, I will highlight MCAD’s mission and my role this summer.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is a government agency dedicated to eliminating and preventing discrimination, and educating citizens of the Commonwealth regarding their rights and duties under anti-discrimination statues (MCAD website). If individuals feel as if they have been wrongfully discriminated against, they can file a complaint through MCAD. Within MCAD, I am working as a SEED Outreach Intern; essentially, I contact organizations that serve individuals that are likely to experience discrimination and ask if MCAD can host a presentation at their organization. My colleague and I then conduct the presentation which runs from one to two hours and goes over the protections that people have against discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing.

My first four days kicked off with training for all the interns, aimed at teaching us the relevant aspects of Massachusetts law (151B).  The training was an illuminating experience.  I did not know the protections against discrimination were so expansive or that Massachusetts has become a leading state in the fight against discrimination – which I elaborate more on in my next blog post.

So far, my experience as an MCAD intern has exceeded my expectations. The work is very engaging, and my supervisor has done a great job of training us and preparing us for the work that we will be doing this summer. She also does a wonderful job of fostering a healthy work environment and building a strong sense of team among all the outreach interns. We have the opportunity to attend “brown bag lunches,” where staff members at  MCAD talk about certain topics over lunch. The first session discussed disability discrimination and was led by a subject matter expert who gave insights about the daily workings on an array of issues. In additions to structured trainings and talks, we are also given the opportunity to observe proceedings at MCAD. I have already had a chance to observed a conciliation hearing which gave me a chance to experience the law in a more practical setting.

The bulk of our outreach presentations are scheduled for July, so right now my biggest efforts are focused on outreach so I can schedule presentations with organizations.  In my next post, I look forward to providing more updates – including details on my experiences on the presentations.

All in all, I am very excited to be working here and I am off to a great start!

 

– Si Chan ’16

 

 

The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides a mid-day meal every school day to approximately 1.4 million Indian youths, is the largest provider of mid-day meals in the world. This summer, my main responsibility is to interview parents, teachers, headmasters, and, when appropriate, the general public, in order to gain insights into the ways in which a daily mid-day meal motivates families to send their children—and especially their daughters—to school for longer periods of time. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has two primary and interrelated goals. First, the Foundation seeks to supply children to with a mid-day meal to incentivize participation in government schools and, consequently, to help alleviate child labor and slavery. Often times, children attending government schools are forced to drop out of school to work menial and often dangerous jobs to provide supplementary income to their families. Since the children are fed during the school day, it often becomes possible for them to attend school, rather than working to pay for their own mid-day meal.

Every day, I will visit three government schools and interview children ranging in age from seven to sixteen years old. I will interview nine children per day. In addition, over the course of the summer, I will interview several former mid-day meal beneficiaries who have received scholarships towards the cost of their post-secondary education. I will use these interviews to write a series of “case studies” for the Foundation. These “case studies” may be circulated internally within Akshaya Patra, or may be displayed on the Foundation’s website with the hope of motivating potential donors to support the Foundation by qualitatively demonstrating the “impact” of the mid-day meal program.

Akshaya Patra is far from the only NGO to supply a mid-day meal to Indian youths. The Foundation receives half of its funding through the Indian government due to a federal mandate and national scheme that required that every child enrolled in an Indian government school is entitled to a mid-day meal. Since Akshaya Patra’s Bangalore headquarters raises approximately 40 percent of the necessary operating costs, funders that give in the United States account for only ten percent of the overall expenses. This differentiates Akshaya Patra from many other transnational NGOs. Because all of the food production—and the vast majority of the fundraising—come from Indian sources, the Foundation it is much more likely to remain sustainable in the communities that it serves.

Since the Foundation has asked me to write about “success” stories in order to demonstrate “impact,” I have proposed a senior thesis topic that explore the relationship between “success”—as defined by the informants—and caste/class status. More specifically, I have proposed to write about how notions of “success” are used by transnational NGOs, like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, as a means to motive foreign donors—primarily from the United States and western Europe—to support their work. I will engage with issued of “modernity” and “progress” as a way to interpret what “counts” as “success”—for the Indian students, for the transnational NGOs, and for the foreign philanthropic audience.  I’m hopeful that this work, which will be informed by the interviews I conduct this summer, will also be helpful to the Akshaya Patra Foundation. I’m looking forward to sending a copy of my findings.

I have the wonderful opporunity to stay at the ISKCON temple complex while I am in Bangalore. Akshaya Patra is affiliated with the ISKCON temple through A. C. Bhaktivdanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the ISKCON.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s website in India can be found here. In addition, the USA Akshaya Patra website can be found here.

ISKCON Bangalore’s website can be found here.

ISKCON

ISKCON Bangalore temple complex

(photo source: http://www.iskconbangalore.org/our-temple-0)

AP Kitchen

One of Akshaya Patra’s 24 kitchens across ten states in India

(photo source: https://theakshayapatrafoundation.wordpress.com)

 

-Shane Weitzman ’16

Tags: , , ,

It’s hard to believe that I am already at the half way mark of my internship experience with AIDS Action Committee (AAC). During these four weeks, I have had the opportunity to learn more about some of the barriers facing access to affordable housing. My position requires me to make calls to property managers and landlords to inquire about whether they have affordable housing units available for rent for people of low-income. After making the calls, I update AAC’s online database and hard-copy files so that our clients can have the most up to date information about the affordable housing options that are available when they start to fill out applications. Despite this seemingly simply routine, there are significant systematic barriers that block access to affordable housing for those who are poor.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 3.00.02 PM

AIDS Action Committee is affiliated with Fenway Health in Boston. Photo taken from fenwayfocus.org.

The wait list for many affordable housing units are often over 2 years long and it is very rare to find a complex that does not have a wait list. Despite how overwhelmingly difficult it is to find affordable housing, many property managers discriminate against poorer individuals seeking housing. Though many luxury apartment complexes have affordable units available, this type of housing is often times not listed on their websites or other advertisements due to stigma. Working at AAC has enlightened me on a wide range of social inequalities and health disparities and has made me want to become a better advocate for those who are sick and living in poverty.

FullSizeRender

First floor of AAC.

At AAC, they are currently holding a bi-weekly training workshop series called “Getting to Zero”, in which staff members are trained on different topics related to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment so that we can learn how to better advocate for our clients. After attending one of these meetings, I was able to gain knowledge on how to help people living with HIV/AIDS stick to their treatment plans and learn about some alternative treatment methods if people are not responding well to their medication or forgetting to take their medication. Though my main work at AAC is not in direct service to people living with HIV/AIDS, the training was extremely informative and allowed me to gain better insight on AAC’s mission. I am looking forward to attending more “Getting to Zero” meetings and I am especially excited to view the HIV/AIDS advocacy documentary “How To Survive A Plague” in one of our upcoming trainings.

This week, I had the opportunity to visit Youth on Fire, a program of AAC located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA that serves as a drop-in center for homeless and street-involved youth ages 14-24. Youth on Fire aims to respond to the basic and urgent needs of homeless young adults at the highest risk of communicable diseases and victimization. It was a rewarding experience to get to connect with the youth there and just hang out and get to know them better. At AAC I have gotten to interact with a demographic of people that is definitely different from what I would encounter in a typical college academic environment. I am hopeful that I will take the advocacy skills I learn at AAC with me back to campus and use them in the future as a public health provider.

-Ngobitak Ndiwane ’16

Tags: , , ,

blog post 1 ufe

This summer, I am the development intern at United for a Fair Economy (UFE). UFE is based in Boston, MA. Its mission is to challenge the concentration of wealth and power in the United States. UFE works to close the wage gap, advocating for jobs with living wages, progressive taxes, and a government that works for the common good. In addition, much of UFE’s work promotes equal opportunity for people who have been marginalized in our society for reasons including race, class, gender, and national origin. Projects include popular economics trainings, collaboration with other organizations to support grassroots campaigns for tax fairness, and materials to bring attention to important issues. UFE’s website is in both English and Spanish, as is all of the materials it produces and the events it hosts. UFE maintains that democracy must embody these components of equality.

blog post 1 ufe

As the development intern, I assist with fundraising and donor communications. My responsibilities include research, donor appeals, and informational material preparation. By helping to raise money, I will contribute to UFE’s important mission. I found out about this internship through Brandeis University’s community service department. UFE partners with the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis to hire one intern each summer as part of the social justice WOW program.

Overall, I enjoyed my first week at UFE. I learned a lot about what the organization and each branch does. I read previous intern’s projects and talked to the staff. I also began forming relationships with staff and board members. Everyone involved is very committed to their work and UFE’s mission as a whole. Their dedication is exciting and I look forward to working with and learning from all of them.  One of UFE’s most striking resources is, “11 Things the Wealthiest Americans Can Buy for the U.S.”.

mind-the-gap-blog-header

Also this week, I completed my first project, an information and statistics sheet to be handed out at UFE’s board meeting. In doing this, I learned how to use the database in which UFE stores all information about donors and communications. I used the information in this database and Excel spreadsheets to assemble statistics on UFE’s individual giving and online giving over the past few years. I then researched data on philanthropy in the United States, and created a summary for the board.

In my time at UFE, I hope to gain professional, non-profit experience. I would like to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at a non-profit organization, or small organization in general. This being my first internship, I would also like to gain experience with the skills required to be successful in the real world, like time management, organization, and communication skills. In addition, I hope to apply what I have learned in school, including an understanding of economics and writing skills. Also, I want to utilize other more abstract strengths I have honed in school, including hard work, dedication, and a desire to learn. Lastly, I hope to develop relationships with my coworkers at UFE. This internship is an opportunity to meet some amazing people and  I am excited to learn and grow this summer in this position.

– Rebecca Epstein ’18

Tags: , , ,

I have officially completed my first week of my summer internship at the Community Day Center of Waltham. As the only day center in the metrowest area, the Community Day Center of Waltham provides a safe, warm environment for people who are homeless or otherwise needing of the resources provided by the center. Approximately 700 people are serviced each year, facing complex challenges such as physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence, physical disabilities, mental illnesses, poverty, homelessness, joblessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and legal issues. The day center offers these people a concrete support system, offering them services such as the Internet, phones, advocacy, referrals, healthcare, legal counsel, housing referrals, and job search assistance. By offering these services, the Day Center enables these individuals to become more independent and productive. Having worked with the Day Center sophomore year, I have become more comfortable working with this population and am learning much about their experiences and stories, allowing me to better understand the complexity of societal barriers and societal standings. My growing familiarity with this population allows my perspective on the Waltham community and in general, homeless communities, to expand. The development of this perspective will give me the greater knowledge needed to accurately assess and refer the people that live in this community.

Me editing and uploading the Day Center's intake form

image2 Editing and uploading intake forms

At the Day Center, I have a range of responsibilities. I am a part of the Day Center team, meaning I help out with day-to-day tasks like help serving food for lunch, cleanup at the end of the day, and other tasks to ensure each day at the Day Center runs smoothly. Primarily I will be working on a health survey that over the past year, I wrote and implemented with the help of some Brandeis volunteers. I just completed our 100th survey and will soon begin the process of compiling and distributing that information. I will be writing a piece about the process of creating and implementing the survey. This summer, I will be collaborating with the Executive Director of the Community Day Center of Waltham to create a media strategy to share the results of the survey, identify stakeholders, reach out to community groups to give presentations, and coordinate these presentations. Aside from the health survey, I will be working on improving the Day Center’s efficiency and data collection by uploading intake forms, guest satisfaction surveys and other forms online. Additionally, I will continue to help with case management and support for the guests.

My goals for learning this summer include case management training and administration to assess individuals at the center,  implementation and publication of the health survey, and continued learning about the societal barriers and struggles of this population. To achieve these, I will fully engage myself in the work I do, commit time and focus to fully understand the necessary protocols in order to properly assess and refer individuals, and create professional yet personal relationships. To learn about the societal barriers and struggles of this population, I will create an open-minded and comfortable, yet professional environment for people to feel safe approaching me to talk about personal issues, or to seek help. So far, I have successfully been able to create this safe space for many individuals. I have learned a lot over the past few weeks and I look forward to the coming month.

Community Day Center of Waltham

Here is an article detailing some of what we do at the Day Center

– Diana Langberg ’17

 

Tags: , , , ,

meli trabajando

Meli from the production department working by my side

Tomorrow will be the first day of my second week as a Public Relations Intern at Tip Comunicación, a small PR consulting agency in my hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tip was originally focused on lifestyle brands, but has grown to be so much more. Among other things, we work with clothing stores, sports brands, and an international education company. I was very excited about this position, but I had no idea how fun, fast-paced, and hands-on it would actually be. It seems like this “summer” (it’s winter down here in the southern hemisphere) is going to be a really fun one!

My goal for this summer is to learn more about the world of public relations. I’m looking forward to working within the field after graduation, so it’s very important for me to know what I’ll be dealing with. Moreover, I find it really important to come home and work in my city this summer, as I’m getting closer to graduation in 2016 and I need to make the decision to either come back and live here or permanently move to the US after Brandeis.

IMG-20150605-WA0001

Picture I took on my way to work on Friday, about two blocks awa from the office. It was a foggy day!

The office is located in Recoleta, a beautiful neighborhood of our city that also happens to be really close to my house. I walk to work every day and it’s always gorgeous. Even though it’s late fall, the weather’s been amazing (around 20C/68F everyday). The city looks great this time of the year and it’s been great to be able to catch up with my friends and family while also working at such a cool office.

Everyone at the office is so nice and fun to be around, and the jobs we do are extremely interesting. Because it’s such a small company (only five other people work there), I’ve been already gotten the opportunity to write articles and press releases for a few accounts, and I’ve also been doing tons of media research to find journalists and media reps to promote our brands. I’m working as an assistant within the press department, so I get to do a lot of writing and networking with people in the media to help with the positioning of our accounts . While the office is very relaxed, the fact that it’s small means that I’m constantly being supervised, so I’m  working very hard and learning a lot. My boss is super nice but also very tough, which is great because it helps me to improve.

IMG-20150605-WA0005

Chloe, my furriest coworker

In a few weeks, I will be working at a fashion show/summer collection launch for one of the best known swimsuits/underwear brands in the country. There will be so many great journalists, celebrities, and (according to my boss) TONS of amazing food. I will be welcoming the press representatives right before the show, and talking to them later to promote the brand and network while we all enjoy the good food. It’s nice getting to do so many different things and to see what everyone else is doing, which would be a lot harder in a big agency. I’ve only been there a week, and I already feel like I’ve learned so much about the business. I can already tell this will be a really good, enriching experience that will help me in my future career.

Another cool thing about the office is Chloe! She’s a super cute (and super quiet) dog that belongs to one of the agency’s associate directors. It’s easy to forget she’s around sometimes — until you start eating and she starts following you around to get a bite.

Overall I’m extremely happy at Tip and I’m excited for a summer of hard work and a lot of learning.

Mijal Tenenbaum ’16

 

Tags: , ,

Goals for the Summer

This summer I intend on taking up all of the opportunities I am offered during my time at American Jewish World Services (AJWS) in terms of work, nonprofit organizations, and myself in order to accomplish my goals for my future career, academic journey, as well as my personal goals for the summer.

In terms of my career, this summer through the internship I hope to learn as much as I can about how a successful nonprofit organization functions. Through my experience at Brandeis in furthering good causes, I have encountered a lot of politics involved. I am looking forward to seeing how such a remarkable and successful organization such as AJWS deals with the politics of furthering good causes and how it organizes itself to be successful. I also hope to get to know the employees at AJWS to hear how they ended up getting involved and their stories, both for networking and for personal causes.

For my academic journey, I hope to learn more about specific human rights causes and which ones in particular I might hope to further pursue. I hope to learn more about “experiential education” and programming. I aim to apply what I have learned in my classes dealing with anthropology, conflict, dialogue, and Judaism to the work I do at AJWS.

My personal goals for this summer align with the others as I hope to make the most out of the opportunity to work for these incredible causes with inspiring people. I hope to explore my particular interests and the ways I prefer to work, and to get to know the fascinating people who are dedicated to the work that AJWS does.

 

My Work So Far

This first week interning at the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has been absolutely incredible! The mission of AJWS is: “Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. Rooted in our mission, AJWS was founded in 1985 by American Jews who wanted to join together as global citizens to help some of the poorest and most oppressed people around the globe. Today, AJWS is the only Jewish organization dedicated solely to ending poverty and promoting human rights in the developing world.” (ajws.org). I am working in the New York office in the Office of the President Intern position, where my supervisor is the executive assistant to the president of the organization.

There have been so many fascinating parts, and also many surprises.

Some interesting parts were sitting in on an executive board meeting where I learned all about the ways that AJWS forms their goals and how they plan to accomplish them. The main goal of AJWS is to help marginalized people in the developing world realize their human rights. There are different subject areas that AJWS works in within the developing world: civil and political rights, land and water rights, and sexual health rights. AJWS also deals with disaster relief. I have had a wonderful opportunity to sit in on many meetings with the organization, as well as converse with Ruth Messinger, the president of AJWS, about her work. Also, on June 10th, I attended something called an “All-Staff” which was a staff retreat for all of the workers for AJWS in the United States. We discussed how much of the “J” (Jewish) should be involved in the organization, as well as many other interesting topics.

My work has included a lot of administrative work such as writing out dictations, reading a lot of articles/Dvrei Torah to find topics/quotes of relevance/interest, and other tasks of organization that will help move the flow of AJWS along. I have loved the reading and learning as well as sitting in on meetings and getting to meet with executive board members.

I have been surprised a few times throughout this first experience. The first day, Ruth Messinger, the president of the organization, paid my fellow Office of the President intern and me an unexpected visit, surprising me. Also, the organization is going through some structural changes, so the staff are in an interesting emotional place. These experiences have taught me a lot about how to maintain oneself in a professional setting. I have also been experiencing living in a big city for the first time as well as living by myself for the first time.

The start of my internship has been inspiring and I have learned so much so far. I look forward to the rest of the summer!

At the "All-Staff" retreat, each table was tasked with using random art materials to demonstrate what the "Jewish" aspect of the organization is.

At the “All-Staff” retreat, each table was tasked with using random art materials to demonstrate what the “Jewish” aspect of the organization is.

This is my office area where I work every day.

This is my office area where I work every day.

 

-Gabi Hersch ’17

My First Week in Indianapolis has already come to an end. Last Friday, after a three day organizing training with Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) in Chicago I arrived at my work site in Indianapolis. Here I am working with one of IWJ’s affiliate organizations, the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center (IWJC). This week was an exciting one, not just for me, but also for IWJC as an organization. IWJC was established about a year ago, and this week they were officially approved for a 501c3, as an affiliate for IWJ.  They also learned that they received their first grant this week as well. As a new member of the team, I could really feel the excitement that brought.

The IWJC is a non-profit organization working to help low-wage workers come together to organize as well as provide them with resources and trainings such as “Know Your Rights at Work.” They are working on campaigns with taxi drivers and 1099 misclassification, including work against wage theft and much more. So far IWJC has been running solely on volunteer work, they are therefore not able to hold regular walk-in hours for them to advise people but that is hopefully going to change soon.

My tasks include reaching out to the community to let more people know about the center. I will also be helping with the campaign to organize taxi drivers who are meeting at the IWJC. Further I am helping to advertise for our Fourth of July Justice Jam event. My work will impact the organization because it will hopefully help it grow. By letting more people and organizations know about the work that IWJC is doing and the services they are offering they will be able to assist more people. By reaching out to other community centers, we also want to create a local referral list for people who come to us with issues that do not fall into the areas of work that IWJC focuses on.

My goals for this summer are to develop organizing skills. I have already been able to learn more theory during the IWJ intern training and am now starting to put it into action. One of the most important things is to build relationships, which I will hopefully start doing soon. I also hope to gain a better understanding of specific workers rights’ issues and how to fight them. I have also already been able to learn more, for example about the problems taxi drivers face in Indianapolis.

Taxi Drivers meeting at IWJC

Taxi Drivers meeting at IWJC

As a sociology major, this internship directly relates to my studies of inequality, social movements in the United States. Being a part of an actual movement will help me understand the work that goes into these changes and it will let me understand how the theory is put into practice. My career and academic goals are very closely related to my personal goals because I wish to work towards a more just and equal society. I believe that this internship will help me see inequality fist hand and help me act against it.

– Tamar Lyssy ’16

Tags: ,

This summer I am interning at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) located in Portland, Maine. It’s a nonprofit and politically independent research, education, and community outreach organization. GMRI focuses on enhancing science education and literacy amongst the children of the state of Maine through interactive science programs, providing scientific data to inform policy makers on management of the fisheries Gulf of Maine as they experience environmental change, working with fishermen, chefs, and local retailers to encourage and support local, sustainable, and profitable seafood, and finally, strengthening fishing communities along the Gulf. For more information on GMRI’s main goals and programs I highly suggest checking out their website. Located right on the Atlantic Ocean, more specifically only a couple hundred yards from Casco Bay, GMRI is very connected with its main focus, the Gulf of Maine. As someone who loves the coast, going to work everyday and seeing the sea gulls flying by, the boats moving about, and smelling that salt air just makes the experience all the sweeter.

Rooftop View

Rooftop view from GMRI

View my floor in the facility

View my floor in the facility

I was born and raised in Maine, right on the ocean near Portland. The ocean has always been important to me. The first time I ever came to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, I was in 5th grade, a student visiting on a school field trip shortly after their current facility was built. When I came to Brandeis and became interested in economics, environmental economics in particular; I saw this choice as the perfect way to advocate for the proper stewardship of the places that are so near and dear to my heart. My academic work at Brandeis has definitely prepared me for this internship. Without my professors and the WOW grant program, none of this would be possible.

As one of a team of four economics interns this summer, my primarily responsibility will be analyzing and collecting data relating to the warming of the Gulf of Maine due to climate change. An article from the Boston Globe, published last summer, nicely articulates the struggles my home state, a place very dependent on its natural resources, is having to face. For most of my first week, I analyzed water temperature data gathered from the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems and trying to make sense of it all using various software programs. That actually brings me to an important side note. Though it’s just been one week I’ve learned that the biggest obstacle in economic research is finding good and reliable data that is both easily accessible and can be easily merged into larger data sets. That is no small task and often the lack of information makes life difficult. Thankfully, however, websites like NERACOOS and brilliant programmers like those at GMRI are working to make data more accessible to economists and scientists alike. Without good data, you can’t really do much and the positive change you wish to see will have a hard time coming to fruition without anything to back it up.

At any rate, I will be continuing to analyze things like water temperature at various depths form the NERACOOS buoys GMRIaround the Gulf in addition to other data to try and figure out how changing temperatures are not only affecting the health and size of the lobster population but the local and even global sectors of the economy that depend on these unique crustacean. My work will be combined with the work of the three other interns in my division. It’s our goal to have a full report on the economic state of the lobster fishery, domestic and international, keeping in mind the ever increasing effects of climate change by the end of the summer!

My desk for the summer

My desk for the summer

I must say that I am very excited this summer because, for the first time, I have the chance to participate in and impact original research that not only matters to me but to my beloved home state as well. This summer is my chance to apply all of the theories and skills that I’ve learned though all of my economic and environmental studies courses at Brandeis. I want to pursue a career in environmental economics after graduation and perhaps get more involved in research, maybe even go to graduate school. Everyone has been more than welcoming so far this week. GMRI does a great deal to help integrate the ten plus interns across the various departments into the organization and after one week I already feel at home. There are 8 weeks left of my summer internship but I can tell right now that it’ll go by too fast. One week certainly has.

– Rebecca Mitchell ’16

This past Friday marks the end of my first very busy, very exciting, and quite enthralling week of work at PFLAG National!

For those of you who don’t know, PFLAG is a national non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to both LGBTQ people as well as their parents, families, friends and allies. They have hundreds of thousands of members across the country and regional chapters in every state. PFLAG is the largest LGBTQ family and ally organization in the United States. Its mission is to support LGBTQ people, their friends and families, educate people on LGBTQ discrimination and the unique struggles LGBTQ people face, and finally, advocate on the local, state, and federal level to change attitudes and create laws that achieve equality for LGBTQ individuals.

Sounds pretty awesome right!

Well I have the immense pleasure to work under the Director of Policy, Diego Sanchez, as the Legislative and Policy Intern. Not only is Diego brilliant, motivated and passionate about LGBTQ issues, but he also has a long and intricate history of working in policy on both the state and federal level. Diego and the entire PFLAG office have been more than welcoming to me, and have immediately accepted me as one of their own.

(The Capitol building)

Doing things at The Capitol building!

Every day of work for me is different, so there is not really a “typical day.” However, my more regular responsibilities include writing up our biweekly policy newsletter Policy Matters, researching and organizing LGBTQ related legislative bills so that we can lobby them on Capitol Hill and among other LGBTQ organizations and constituencies, updating our national advocacy toolkit and policy guide One Voice, writing articles for our biannual newsletter PFLAGPole, and finally doing some social media and website updates.

Even though I have a range of really interesting and engaging in-office responsibilities, I also get to do a lot of work outside the PFLAG office. Almost every day Diego invites me to an event, a bill hearing, a planning meeting, or a conference with a legislator. Through all of these out-of-office experiences, I truly have the opportunity to not only observe but participate in the policy and legislative process. Just this past week I attended a White House Big Table meeting on the upcoming Supreme Court cases, a USDA Transgender Panel (where Diego spoke) and lunch in honor of Pride Month, a Voting Rights Act rally planning meeting with a coalition of other NGO’s, and finally, a conference with a Senator regarding an upcoming LGBTQ-related bill.

IMG_5634

Who knew I would get to go to the White House on my second day of work!

I couldn’t have asked for more out of an internship and it’s only been one week! There are a lot of exciting things ahead especially with DC Pride this weekend and the Supreme Court releasing their decision on marriage equality in late June. Both DC and PFLAG have immediately captured my interest, my enthusiasm, and my passion for change. And so I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer, my work, and this city will bring!

-Aliya Bean

 

 

 

Small Army Logobe-bold-be-bald-logo-no-date

Last week I started working for the advertising agency Small Army and it’s not-for-profit cancer foundation Small Army For A Cause, which runs the Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser each October. It is located in the historic Horticultural Hall on Massachusetts Avenue in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston and is right across the street from the famous Symphony Hall, home of the Boston Pops. It is in a beautiful area of Boston, and it is only a short walk away from the Prudential Center, Boylston St., and Newbury St.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 5.11.32 PM

(https://goo.gl/maps/0CLTW)

Small Army and Small Army For A Cause are some of the most creative businesses I have ever come into contact with. Small Army may be an ad agency, but they actually consider themselves to be “Storytellers for Confident Brands.”

“We consider ourselves professional storytellers but the industry we reside in is called advertising. We don’t believe advertising works anymore and that building campaigns off of key messages is outdated. We believe that when a person receives over 3,000 messages a day that odds are, they’re not paying attention to you.

 We believe that marketing is about sharing stories and creating relationships. It’s about creating a conversation and arming people with the story about you that resonates with them. As a result, they want to share it with their friends.” (http://smallarmy.net/who-we-are/)

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 12.37.25 PM(smallarmy.net)

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 12.37.44 PM(smallarmy.net)

Small Army For A Cause, which runs the national cancer fundraiser Be Bold, Be Bald! each October, is just as creative. Taking place wherever you are, “participants go bald by boldly wearing a bald cap (or very boldly shaving their head) to honor those who bravely fight cancer and raise money to help fight back.  Participants get sponsored for their bold move, and choose the charity they want their proceeds to benefit.” Since it’s creation in 2009, close to 11,000 people have raised approximately $1 million dollars towards cancer awareness and research.  (http://beboldbebald.org/cmspage/5/event-details)

Heading into my first day, I was very excited. I had previously worked with a few people in the office, CEO Jeff Freedman and Jen Giampaolo, last summer as a marketing consultant for Small Army For A Cause’s Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser as a part of the JBS Marketing program. With their help along with the help of many Brandeis students and faculty, we established a successful pilot program at the university and raised over $4,000 towards cancer awareness and research. However, this summer I will not only focus on Be Bold, Be Bald!, but I will also focus on many of the advertising agency’s accounts as part of my role as Account Services and Social Media Intern. Some of these accounts include Reebok One, Sage Bank, Blue Hills Bank, Long’s Jewelers, SolidWorks, Direct Tire, GymIt, General Electric, Salonweek, WGBH, Boston Medical Center, and Bugaboo Creek. (Small Army)

I had seen the office a few times before, so I knew how close-knit and friendly the workspace and my fellow coworkers would be. It’s funny though because growing up as a kid during a time when Mad Men was your only source of what ad agencies were like, you would expect a very structured, suit-and-tie workplace that is filled many individual offices and cubicles. You wouldn’t expect a wide-open, quirky workspace filled with a bunch of enthusiastic workers, and not to mention pictures of photo-shopped cat images, crazy memes, and artwork around every corner.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 3.55.28 PMIMG_3074Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 3.20.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-03 at 3.54.39 PM

Small Army – See the Space

Besides the cool office space and work environment, my assignments have been very engaging and interesting. I have worked a lot on the social media, infrastructure, and customer management for Be Bold, Be Bald!, worked with a team to do marketing research for Southern New Hampshire Immediate Care and for the urgent care industry as a whole, and worked with a group to develop a new, innovative website for Blue Hills Bank.   Not only have these assignments been interesting and engaging, but Small Army encourages interns to reach out to members on specific projects in which they might be interested in, join in on client calls, attend internal agency meetings, attend brainstorming sessions for clients, and many more.

I look forward to the rest of my time working at Small Army and hope to transform into one of the many “professional storytellers” at Small Army and Small Army For A Cause.

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

SUPLIVING

This summer I am thrilled to be working for Supportive Living Incorporated as a fitness trainer/research intern.  This internship has two parts. To start off, I’ve been helping run a three day a week fitness program for adults with brain injuries. Later this summer, I will be working off site on a research project that will hopefully help SLI improve their wellness program as well as advocate for state funding. As the research portion of my internship is not fully underway yet, I’ll spend this blog post talking about the fitness program and my experience so far working as a personal trainer.

About Supportive Living Incorporated and the Wellness Center:

Supportive Living Incorporated (SLI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that adults with brain injuries lead meaningful, fulfilling lives in their communities. To do this, SLI has created four residential programs that provide affordable and supportive housing for brain injury survivors. Brain injury can effect anyone at any time, and its impact is usually far reaching and life long. SLI recognizes this, and is a unique organization in the brain injury rehabilitation field because it offers comprehensive care that takes into account the many different needs of those living with brain injuries. First and foremost, SLI houses are not nursing homes.  The four residential centers operated by SLI were all developed to be the least restrictive environments possible and to focus on opportunities for independent living. As a public health student, I am fascinated by SLI’s all inclusive and life long approach to brain injury rehabilitation. SLI aims to not solve the individual challenges faced by those with brain injuries, but rather the entire puzzle. In addition to independent housing, SLI offers social programming, career services, family support, life skills training, case management support, money management, health care services, and more. SLI also conducts research in the brain injury rehabilitation field. You can read more about the history of SLI here.

My Experience so far as a Fitness Intern:

Working as a personal trainer for SLI’s wellness center has been a phenomenal experience so far. On my first day, my supervisor, Peter Noonan, sat down with me and the other fitness interns, and gave us a “crash course” he called “Brain Injury 101.” We learned the difference between traumatic vs acquired brain injuries as well as the common complications that occur after a brain injury. We then met with personal trainers from an organization called Access Sport America  who developed and run the fitness program for SLI. Finally, I met the individuals that I personally will be working with.

From 2:00-3:00 I will work with Terry, a middle aged garden enthusiast who suffered anoxic brain damage after having a heart attack about six years ago. Terry was confined to a wheelchair for about a year but is now able to walk completely on her own, though she still struggles with coordination as well as memory issues. Terry’s goals for exercising are to improve her coordination, core strength, and cardiovascular fitness so she can participate in one of her favorite activities- horseback riding.

From 3:00-4:00 I will be working with Lisa, who is quite a bit older than Terry but nevertheless full of life. She loves telling, and retelling, stories from her youth, including how she lead her high school basketball team to win the state championships and about how her two brothers “toughened her up.” Lisa usually uses a wheelchair but is adamant about using her walker for the fitness program. With Lisa I will work on walking and strength training to maintain her current level of fitness and keep her from being dependent on her chair full time.

Finally from 4:00-5:00 I work with Louise, who suffered her brain injury as an infant when she fell out of a window. Louise is also of advanced age, and is not afraid to speak her mind! I’ve found working with Louise to be particularly beneficial because she is always giving me tips and advice on how to safely and respectfully do things like help her stand up and walk. Louise suffers from seizures but other than that has very few cognitive impairments from her injury. With Louise the focus will be entirely on walking, as she does not get a chance to walk during the rest of the week, and needs to maintain the muscles and circulation in her legs.

I am loving that I can experience three totally different cases, each with different goals and needs for this program. An important thing I have learned about brain injury rehabilitation is how individual each person’s rehab journey is. Just like no two brains are the same, no two injuries are the same, and so SLI’s fitness program tries to offer one-on-one training as much as possible, so that a trainer can focus on one person’s individual needs at a time. This also creates a wonderful interpersonal relationship between the trainers and the individual they are working with. I can’t wait to bond with Terry, Lisa, and Louise at a personal level!

My Goals:

My career goal is to become a physical therapist. As a fitness trainer, I will be doing therapeutic exercises to rehabilitate people with disabilities. This work will prepare me for the work in physical intervention I hope to do as a physical therapist. I will also be making connections within the physical rehabilitation field, which will be invaluable as I begin to network relationships with physical therapists that can assist me in my prospective applications to graduate programs.

My academic goal is to apply and expand upon what I have learned as a Health, Science, Society, and Policy major.  In the fitness program, my responsibility of administering therapeutic exercises will utilize and expand upon my academic knowledge of physiology, biology, and exercise science. Working with the brain injury community will further my knowledge about the disability field, which I have studied academically. My duties as a research intern will utilize/expand upon my academic studies of epidemiology, statistics, research methods, as well as health policy.

My personal goal is to form intimate relationships with the adults in the exercise program. Interacting with this population every day, I hope to be a fitness trainer, and also a friend. As a physical therapist I want to be as supportive and understanding as possible towards people with disabilities and know how to best serve their unique needs. While teaching this population, I will also discover a great deal about disability on a personal level, something I believe you can only truly learn through hands on experience.

That’s all for now! To see what the space and fitness program looks like, check out this video:

– Julia Doucett ’16

Tags: , , ,

My workplace from the streets of Boston in Longwood Medical Center (http://www.tka-architects.com/st_all_chb_karp.html)

After laboring through a year of the infamous organic chemistry and surviving, summer has finally come. For this summer, in order to apply my school knowledge and to pursue my interests in medicine and research, I secured an internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, located in the heart of Longwood Medical Center, which houses a plethora of hospitals and research buildings in Boston. The area is bustling with activity from morning to late evening, with patients, scientists, physicians, and students rushing to their appropriate destinations, ambulances blaring through the roads, and helicopters hovering over hospital buildings.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the largest and top teaching hospitals in the nation, aims to transform the future of healthcare through science, education, and compassionate care on both a local and global level. Along with Harvard Medical School, these organizations offer each other the opportunity for educators and leaders in their respected fields to mentor and nurture aspiring physicians and scientists, fostering a diverse community committed to leadership in alleviating human suffering caused by disease.

Brigham and Women's Hospital

I specifically have the pleasure of working in Dr. Hoffmeister’s Lab in the Division of Hematology, formerly known as the Division of Translational Medicine. The Hoffmeister Lab’s focuses on the molecular mechanisms of platelets survival and hemapoetic stem cells (HSCs). HSCs have the fascinating ability to differentiate into all different types of blood cells and tissues, including platelets. Ultimately, the research done here will expand the overall knowledge on platelets and homeostasis, opening doors to treatment of various blood cancers across the globe.

A specific project I will be working on is titled b1,4 Galacosyltransferase T1 is a key regulator of hematopoiesis,” which investigates the role of the enzyme b4GalT1 in the formation of blood cells and platelets. My first week, however, mainly consisted of acquainting myself with the Principal Investigator (PI) and the other personnel in the lab. I shadowed and observed another post-doc, taking notes on how to perform various assays, such as immunoblotting and immunostaining of various mice blood cells, and learned how to use the FACs, a machine utilized in flow cytometry, a core technique used for cell counting, cell sorting, and even diagnosing diseases in labs and clinics. My supervisor gave me a shot at dissecting mice and mouse embryo to obtains cells from their bones, spleens, and livers as well. At the end of the week, I also attended my first lab meeting. While I didn’t contribute much, I observed how data is presented, how questions are posed, how presentations are prepared for conferences, and how future steps in this lab and future experiments are determined and designed.

Ultimately, during my time here, I hope to become more independent and willing to tackle challenging assays, to master more high-level biochemical techniques, and to contribute to future meetings. While the experiments I will be doing aren’t large themselves, such assays are still important for the development of the overall project. But more importantly, as I forge connections with both established and budding researchers and physicians in and outside of the lab, I hope to gain a good sense of this career path. And while I might not necessarily end up becoming a scientist, the people I meet and the skills I learn will still help me later on down the road as I think about and search for jobs. Overall, despite my jammed packed first week, I am excited and look forward to seeing how the rest of my internship develops!

Vivian Liu ’17

Tags: , , , ,

ETE Camp Logo

The countdown for the start of the Empowerment through Education (ETE) Camp in Hinche, Haiti has begun. ETE Camp is a not-for-profit summer camp that has been changing the lives of Haitian children for seven consecutive years. It was founded and facilitated by, Brandeis University alumna, Shaina Gilbert. The mission of the camp is to prepare youth in Hinche, Haiti “to become future community leaders for social change by strengthening their academic skills, increasing self-confidence, and building community and parental support.” In less than a month I will be in this brilliantly beautiful and resistant country, among the adolescents, teaching them and engaging with them in various topics including math, literacy, engineering, and leadership. In addition to those topics I will be piloting public health workshops to be included in the curriculum.

ETE Camp Website

As a counselor I am responsible for creating a public-health curriculum and proposing it to Boston Public School ESL teachers for review to strengthen the program. This is the first part of my internship that has already begun. It is extremely exciting and slightly nerve-wrecking feeling to know that not only am I working with this program but that I get to start something that I’ve spent the last 3 years at Brandeis studying: public health. As a rising senior I am in a high-pressure yet eye-opening time of my life. I am responsible for coming up with options for my post-Brandeis life and this opportunity to plan and take part in a field of interest is not only invaluable but unbelievable.

(Here I am doing research for the public health curriculum)

Here I am doing research for the public health curriculum

The current part of my internship, that is pre-departure, deals a lot with research and networking. I spend a lot of my time looking at statistics and comparing the efficacy of other public health programs to build ideas from for ETE Camp. There is a lot of communication between myself, my bosses, and peers to integrate what I would like to see happen and what they can see actually working. There is a language barrier, Haitian Creole, to take into consideration, so keeping things simple and effective is the main goal. My workshops are covering a range of topics including leadership, self-love/self-esteem, fitness, and of course health and prevention.

ETE Camp Mini-Documentary

My goal for this summer at the most basic level is to learn new skills and be completely immersed in this experience. I want to pay attention to how well theory does and doesn’t translate into practice so that I may develop necessary skills, as I prepare to leave my academic hub and enter the world, a place that is not as neat and organized as my textbooks. I will practice the problem-solving skills that I’ve learned to design my public-health curriculum and see what my skills produce. Giving this opportunity my full attention and dedication gives me the chance to not only show my gratitude for being a part of this experience but also gain insight into a future I am working towards. As I continue with the first, domestic, phase of my internship, I know that it is just as important as the second, contact-based, phase when I reach Hinche, Haiti. I am enjoying every part of my internship so far. The work that I have been given the responsibility to handle is showing me more and more everyday that I am capable of anything to which I set my mind.

– Zari Havercome ’16

Tags: , , , ,

For my summer internship, I am working at the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (also known as ICAAP) located in West Town, Chicago, IL. ICAAP is a coalition of 2300 pediatricians located throughout the state of Illinois who are jointly committed to improving health outcomes of children throughout the state.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.23.02 PMMy particular initiative is called PROTECT- Promoting Resiliency Of Trauma Exposed Communities Together. Before I get into what the program does, you should consider watching this fantastic Ted Talk by Nadine Burke Harris about the overwhelming scope of childhood trauma, and learn why childhood trauma is being considered one of the largest unaddressed public health concerns to date.

The Early Childhood Development team at ICAAP- a group of three incredible and passionate woman- was awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant for three years, the goal of which is to bring together different initiatives working to reduce the impacts of childhood trauma throughout the state of Illinois, educate important players (such as pediatricians, educators, and faith communities) about the impact of childhood trauma, create a virtual resource center to provide free resources to those who want to become trauma-informed, engage with communities and families who are exposed to trauma, and create policy recommendations and best practices consistent with being trauma informed. (Thats a mouthful- learn more about PROTECT here!)

One of my primary responsibilities will be to deliver speeches about childhood trauma to different audiences throughout Illinois who want to become trauma informed. This two hour presentation, my boss informed me and my fellow intern, will ‘become ours’, and we will ‘own it’. They told us that by the end of the summer, we will become experts in the field of childhood trauma. Here’s a few of the responsibilities that I can remember them bringing up: We will be writing grants, conducting research to aid communities who want to become trauma informed, acting as a coordinator and moderator of different interest groups, presenting about childhood trauma throughout the state, and attending educational Webinars on behalf of ICAAP. These responsibilities, some mundane and some large, will help the understaffed ECD team work more efficiently and collaboratively towards their goal of bringing a trauma-informed lens to the state of Illinois.

These responsibilities align perfectly with my learning goals, just as the staff at ICAAP are looking to do. An academic goal of mine is to learn more about childhood trauma, and understand the impact it has on healthcare and society. Already at the end of week one, I feel confident in my knowledge of childhood trauma. The more I understand about the scope of its impact, the more excited I am about my work. A career goal of mine is to experience first hand how a non-for-profit operates, and what it means to work to reduce healthcare disparities, a buzzword that is constantly thrown around but that I’ve never truly understood. My work is constantly exposing me to new non-for-profits. One of my first assignments was to invite businesses and non-for-profits to our upcoming Autism, Behavioral, and Complex Medical Needs Conference. Through doing so, I came to realize just how extensive a community exists in the subset of developmental delays, and how many different creative approaches there are for mediating disparities in healthcare.  A personal goal of mine is to get a better understanding of what drives change in the healthcare system. So far, I have seen glimpses of the dedication and passion it takes to influence policy makers, and I know that through my continuous work with such a noble organization I will continue to see what drives change.

20150617_100548

My workspace! Notice that the coffee isn’t too far from hand :)

Elizabeth Villano ’16

Tags: , ,

Greetings from Waterford, Connecticut! I just finished my second week interning for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center as an Artistic Director’s Assistant. The O’Neill welcomes more than five different artistic directors to the grounds each summer to help develop new works of theater. Although many regional theaters across the country are now investing in emerging artists and plays, the O’Neill was the first theater to revolutionize the development process 51 years ago. Since then, the O’Neill has cultivated five different summer conferences as well as academic programs. Many of the pieces developed at the O’Neill have gone on to be extremely successful, such as Avenue Q, Violet, [Title of Show], The Wild Party, Fences, Piano Lesson, Uncommon Women and Others, In the Heights, and more. This summer, I have the privilege of working on the National Puppetry Conference, National Music Theater Conference, and Cabaret and Performance Conference.

 

The grounds of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center featuring a beautiful view of the ocean.

The grounds of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center featuring a beautiful view of Long Island Sound.

 

I just wrapped up working on the National Puppetry Conference. During that time, I did administrative tasks, archival work, and was able to attend master classes taught by some of the most successful puppet professionals from around the world. For example, I participated in a three-day character creation class with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, the voice of Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street. During the day, I worked closely with the artistic director of the conference as well as the associate artistic director and other staff members. I came in knowing nothing about puppetry and learned more than I thought possible. These first two weeks have already transformed how I think about both the artistic and producing aspects of theater.

The O’Neill Logo

My primary career interest is directing, and the O’Neill provides the perfect environment for me to work with professional directors and artistic directors. The next conference I am working on is the National Music Theater Conference, which will give me the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals. One of my tasks is to observe meetings with professional artists and keep track of changes made to the productions. This will allow me to gain a deeper knowledge of the practical and experiential aspects of the artistic process. One of my jobs will be to record and transcribe meetings between the writers of the new musicals and established artists brought in to critique their work. This will give me insight as to how to balance business and art and how to edit work with a specific audience in mind.

 

At the O’Neill, I am learning how to navigate different challenges that arise when working in a fast paced and demanding career while receiving the mentorship of professional artists. Although I’ve only been at the O’Neill for two weeks, I feel as if I’ve lived here for much longer. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. It is so exciting to be in an environment where everyone is 100% dedicated to making good theater. I am beyond excited to kick off the Music Theater Conference this week with a reading on Slaughterhouse-Five the musical. If you’re in the area and interested in seeing any of the productions, check out the O’Neill website for more information.

Hello blogsophere!

This week marks my second week as a research assistant intern at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. The Benson-Henry Institute  is a clinical psychology institute running out of the psychiatry department at MGH where we focus on health care and research relating to mind body medicine. Specifically, the Benson-Henry Institute studies the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response in the body. The BH not only studies what types of exercises and techniques can elicit the relaxation response (i.e. yoga, meditation, etc), but also how the relaxation response affects our health. Studies published out of the BH have found that the relaxation response can help cancer patients, patients suffering from various mental disorders, and just about everybody else. Some of the published work by the Benson-Henry Institute can be found here.

 

If you Google on Google images, “relaxation response,” this is what comes up. At Benson-Henry, we emphasize the interaction of the mind and the body in health and health care.

There is always a lot going on at BH! We have multiple studies in constant motion, as well as patients interacting with doctors, and lab work through the hospital.

As a research intern, I am lucky enough to get to work with lots of different studies. This week, we are finishing up and organizing data for a 5-year longitudinal study on stress reduction. Next week, I’ll be starting data collection and entry on a study on myeloma and its interaction with the relaxation response.

One of the other great parts about this internship, aside from really getting my hands dirty in the research realm of clinical psychology, is getting to learn about everything else and everyone else who works at MGH. Benson-Henry has wonderful ties with various parts of the hospital, from the psychiatry department to the biomedical labs. For instance, every Thursday, the psychiatry department hosts grand rounds. Though most of the interns assumed this meant walking around the hospital following a doctor, grand rounds is actually one day a week to showcase some of the work and research that simultaneously occurs sometimes behind-the-scenes in the department. Today, we heard from an intern who is about to get his PhD and wrote his dissertation on adolescent depression. He talked about how gender, race, and therapy affect depression trends. As I was walking out of the lecture with another intern from Brandeis, we reflected on how incredible it was that we were able to understand so much of the talk because of the psychology courses we had taken. We knew how his study was formatted, and we were familiar with the tests he used to understand and measure depression, and we felt comfortable asking questions.

Finally, one of the coolest parts about grand rounds is that they all take place in the Ether Dome, the site of the first surgery at Mass General. Below is a picture of the Dome.

Eliana Rosenthal ’16’

Tags: , , ,

In 2014 there were approximately 20,000 people who, at one point or another, experienced homelessness in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There are two avenues someone can pursue to help people who endure this condition; one is to provide them with direct services. The other avenue is to seek lasting change on the public policy level. The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, my internship site, pursues both.

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, an organization that advocates for those who experience homelessness, carries a mission of eradicating homelessness from the Commonwealth. In pursuit of this goal, the Coalition operates both Public Policy and Community Organizing Departments. These departments conduct policy campaigns to promote legislation that enfranchises those who endure homelessness. Located in Lynn, MA, the Coalition also operates a furniture bank in the same facility to assist those who were previously experiencing homelessness in acquiring furniture for their new residences. My focus as an intern is with the Public Policy and Community Organizing Departments. As a Legislative Intern, I research policy proposals, recruit organizations to endorse the Coalition’s policy campaigns, and encourage communities to write to their legislators in support of these campaigns.

Sr. Linda Bessom, Senior Community Organizer at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless

Sr. Linda Bessom, Senior Community Organizer at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless

As a Coordinator of the Hunger and Homelessness Division of the Brandeis University Waltham Group, a student-led community service organization dedicated to connecting the student population with Waltham’s population of those who are homeless, I first learned of the Coalition’s work by researching local policy institutes with my peers as a part of an effort last year to incorporate advocacy into our club’s programming. Having begun the club’s official partnership with the Coalition this past fall, I familiarized myself with a few of the Advocacy Directors who are employed there. In January, as I thought about the importance of obtaining an internship for the second semester of my junior year, I knew exactly who to contact. Fast-forward 5 months and I continue to intern for an advocacy agency that has scored significant policy victories over the last several months, highlighted by the signing of House Bill 4517 into law, An Act promoting housing and support services to unaccompanied homeless youths. With your help, we can ensure that the legislation will be adequately funded for the fiscal year of 2016 (FY’2016).

Kelly Turley - my supervisor - Director of Legislative Advocacy, Mass Coalition for the Homeless speaking at the 10th annual Forum on Family Homelessness sponsored by Advocacy Network to End Family Homelessness & Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, at Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord, MA

Kelly Turley – my supervisor – Director of Legislative Advocacy, Mass Coalition for the Homeless speaking at the 10th annual Forum on Family Homelessness sponsored by Advocacy Network to End Family Homelessness & Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, at Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord, MA

The Coalition is staffed by a very talented group of women who possess and display a worthy amount of humor in the workplace. I am fortunate to look up to a few of them as role models. My first week as an intern in January I found myself trading and discussing good books with a co-worker. Although much of the initial work that I performed in the office was limited to collating extensive amounts of policy fact sheets, I have graduated to completing much of the same work that my colleagues in the Advocacy Department perform, which includes researching and communicating with other organizations in Massachusetts that share a mission similar to that of the Coalition’s.

As I navigate my way through a jam-packed summer full of trips to the Massachusetts State House and extensive rides on the commuter rail, I hope to continue to gain valuable experience contributing to the Coalition’s current policy campaigns, including one present campaign to increase FY’16 funding for an important welfare program, EAEDC, that benefits elderly, disabled, and unaccompanied youth populations who are unable to adequately support themselves. Although I have only been with the Coalition for several months, it is very clear to me that these campaigns are crucial to the transformation of policies from proposals to state law. For this reason, interning for the Coalition has proven to be a fulfilling experience. Cheers to the next 2-and-a-half months!

Max Parish ’16’

Tags: , , ,

I recently began my internship at Eastern Research Group (ERG), an environmental consulting company headquartered in a woodsy office park in Lexington, MA. Although ERG is headquartered in Lexington, it has seven offices nationwide and coast-to-coast. ERG is made up of approximately 400 employees with a variety of academic backgrounds, from engineering to law, frequently working with and offering expertise to federal agencies on environmental projects. These projects can entail conducting research, assisting with stakeholder outreach, providing technical support and more. Their website offers a summary of past projects!

IMAG3584

ERG in Lexington, MA

I will mainly work from the Lexington location, which means my morning drives begin with the humdrum of I-95 traffic, but end with a long stretch of gorgeous green parkland and the occasional turtle and turkey sighting.

My first project is about revamping ERG’s marketing materials for ecosystem restoration projects along the Gulf of Mexico, embattled with environmental challenges stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill and climate change. I will be writing summaries, compiling photos and playing around with formatting for marketing materials for my supervisor to use at a conference later in June. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about ERG’s work as well as environmental efforts in the Gulf coast.

IMAG3580

View from the office window (yes, that’s a volleyball net)

As an intern, I also get to shadow environmental consultants. During my first week, I shadowed a group call between an environmental economist and his team members, who were discussing ways to improve a project about coastal management resources. I also attended a staff meeting during which ERG’s CEO and Founder David Meyers gave a presentation on the company’s business model. It was a very cool way to be introduced to ERG and understand the company’s inner teamwork structure that allows for projects to run smoothly.

Later in the week, I learned about and inputted dummy data for a greenhouse gas emissions calculator tool, which I will be attending the presentation for during the following week in Boston. This nifty tool allows individuals and groups to estimate weekly greenhouse gas contributions during morning commutes. (Sadly, I learned my weekly drives to ERG pump ~80lbs of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.)

Between intern tasks and shadowing, I was routinely reviewing background materials provided by supervisors in addition to doing my own research to gain context for the projects and the industry. I’m working on familiarizing myself with new terminologies and adjusting to different writing styles and work dynamics. So far, I really appreciate how “hands on” the experience is. It blows my mind to be witnessing the development of environmental projects up close and to be around the minds behind them.

As a rising senior, I envision pursuing a career studying environmental problems and solutions and conveying them to the public in some way. Given how wide-ranging environmental issues are, I see myself working with a diverse group of minds, like scientists and lawyers. Therefore, I felt drawn towards the project-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative format of the consulting work at ERG. After my first week, I felt I had learned a lot about ERG and myself as a worker, and I look forward to even more learning in the coming weeks.

– Dora Chi ’16

This summer, I am interning at National Consumers League, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C. that advocates for the rights of workers and consumers. They promote social and economic justice in the U.S. and abroad by tackling a range of issues, from food safety to child labor. Their various public education campaigns and lobbying efforts fight for living wages, protect Americans from scams, and increase medication adherence among diabetic patients. I will be working with the executive director and focusing on projects within the realm of the food policy and health policy departments. Everyone who works at NCL is accomplished, inspiring, and very kind. One of my goals at NCL is to expand my professional network by connecting with co-workers and my co-interns at the NCL. One of my co-interns is working in child labor department and the other two are working with the Public Policy, Fraud and Telecommunications department. I planned an intern lunch to get to know them on my second day and one of my co-workers planned a staff lunch to get to know us. Throughout the week, I’ve enjoyed getting to know my co-workers and becoming friendly with them.

A representative from the National Cyber Security Alliance speaking at the Internet safety panel.

A representative from the National Cyber Security Alliance speaking at the Internet safety panel.

My first day, the head of the Public Policy, Fraud, and Telecommunications department showed me around the office and then we took a trip to Capitol Hill. On “the Hill”, we attended a panel on Internet safety, the first of the 5 panels/briefings I attended this week. As we headed to the event, my new co-worker told me one of the best parts of working at NCL is getting to meet so many people. NCL staff attends many events around DC, to speak at them, lobby congressmen, or receive free food and new knowledge. We checked out the display of drinks and desserts at the event and then my co-worker greeted and introduced me to almost everyone in the room. Although I won’t be working on Internet safety this summer, I was excited to learn more about this line of work and connect with people who work at different organizations and agencies in DC. Cyber security policy representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, Facebook, and Google spoke at the event so I had the opportunity to learn more about how private corporations interact with public agencies and NGOs. Learning about these public-private intersections is crucial to gaining a deeper understanding of how advocacy and policymaking work. Throughout the summer, I plan to explore the field of advocacy and find out if this is what I am interested in pursuing after graduation.

TPP press conference

Press conference on Trans-Pacific Partnership

I’m working on various projects that involve researching policies and current issues in the U.S., from “female viagra” to fraud among life insurance companies. I have also helped out with some behind-the-scenes work, including editing a speech delivered at a Trans-Pacific Partnership press conference that I attended the next day and greeting guests at the NCL’s congressional briefing on child labor in tobacco fields. While researching legislation and issues during my internship, I hope to hone the research skills that I’ve developed during my past two years at Brandeis. I hope to come back after the summer with an improved writing ability and a better sense of policy issues. Having more knowledge about the policy environment of U.S. health will be helpful for my work in many of my Health: Science, Society, & Policy and Social Justice & Social Policy courses and for my future career path.

– Rebecca Groner ’17

Tags:

 

It was a strange, but oddly fulfilling experience walking through the doors of a new University, because while I was still there to learn, I was there to do more than just better myself; I came to make a difference in my local community. Last Tuesday my Internship with the Omaha Farmers Market began with a meeting between two University of Nebraska-Omaha Professors and the President of the coordinating organization for the Farmers Markets, VGA (Vic Gutman & Assoc.). At this meeting the professors laid out a plan for the economic impact study I will be doing in the coming months, where I will be analyzing the impact the farmers market has on the local community. The immediate impression I was given was that it will involve a lot of data collecting through surveys and other means of communication. Beyond that we discussed the models that will be used to analyze the impact the farmers market has on the local community. It was an interesting experience discussing the various aspects of the market that I will be analyzing; while I have studied and researched many of these topics before, I have never actually had the opportunity to put them into practice. I am rather excited to receive a first-hand experience of market analysis, and while my responsibilities involve more data collection and entry than anything else, everyone needs to start somewhere.

11377391_10153403020184665_6178189680646732217_n

Omaha Farmers Market – Old Market (Source: OFM Facebook Page)

Omaha Farmers Market- Aksarben Village

Omaha Farmers Market- Aksarben Village (Source: OFM Facebook Page)

Another aspect of my internship that I am eager to begin is the improvement of SNAP at the Omaha Farmers Markets. SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is available at the Omaha Farmers Markets and the produce vendors on-site are required to participate in the program. My first meeting on improving SNAP at the Farmers Market is scheduled for tomorrow morning; I will be meeting with the President of VGA and the Project Coordinator for the markets to discuss what plans and ideas we have to improve the program.

Market Customers are able to use their SNAP benefits through of use Market Tokens.

Market customers are able to use their SNAP benefits through the use of tokens. (Source: Personal Photo)

I have spent a lot time so far doing research about surveys, head-counting, SNAP, impact studies, etc. and so far the tool that has proved invaluable to me is the resource library on the Farmers Market Coalition Website. This database of resources covers every topic that I have needed to learn about thus far such as: SNAP, effective head-counting methods, survey examples, etc., and while it has been my only reference site, it has provided the most useful information I have encountered. One study involving SBIP (SNAP-based Incentive Programs) utilizes research data from over a hundred different markets from across the country, analyzes the various aspects of SNAP at farmers markets and how it can be improved. This document will be rather helpful at my meeting tomorrow. 

As far as my ‘site’ goes, there is not one place that I spend a majority of my time for this internship. So far it has involved different meetings around Omaha, some research on my own time and data entry at VGA headquarters. Even though I am suppose to get an office this week, I still do not plan on spending a great deal of time there, because I will be out collecting data from local businesses, spending time on-site at the farmers market, visiting with local community centers to improve SNAP, or a variety of other things. While this may involve a little more work than I was planning on, I prefer it this way; considering my internship is designed to benefit the community it makes sense I would be spending my time working with that community rather than behind a desk.

 

– Luke Bredensteiner

Social Justice WOW Recipient

 

I believe that as human beings we oftentimes forget or do not realize where we are capable of going; we forget the number of stops we can make, the number of lines we can ride, and where it is we really want to go. For most people, the Beijing subway station is a beginning point, an ending point, or a meeting point. For me, it was a beginning point. I still do not know who I want to become; however I do know the kind of person I want to become. Whatever I do, I want to impact the world and others in a positive way.

Following my senior year of high school, a State Department scholarship allowed me to study Mandarin in Beijing for the 2012-2013 academic year. While I was in Beijing, I went to a local high school where I studied the language alongside other international students. During the week, I stayed in the dorms and every weekend went to my Chinese host family. Living in Beijing allowed me to make greater connections between my past and the present, the place I came from and the place I grew up in, and myself and others. Since coming back from China, I have become passionate about fostering students’ commitment to language learning and their interest in study abroad, as well as, wanting to see a wider range of students study overseas and acquire critical language skills.

 

 

This summer, I will be interning with an organization called, One World Now! (OWN). OWN is a non-profit organization, founded in 2002, that promotes global leadership through language learning. In our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, the organization is dedicated to making language learning and study abroad more accessible to a wider range of America’s youth. The organization targets high school students in the Seattle Public School District (particularly youth who come from low-income families) and offers them language and leadership classes after school. Students can choose between Mandarin Chinese and Arabic, two very critical languages.

 

 

At OWN, I will fulfill the duties and responsibilities of a Study Abroad Intern and an Administrative Intern. I will help manage the organization’s internal application processes for its Summer Language and Leadership Camp and study abroad programs. As an Administrative Intern, some of my duties will include tracking expenses, processing receipts, and reporting on spending. So far, I have assisted in managing OWN’s Summer Language and Leadership Camp application process (printing students’ applications, as well as, contacting them to get required documents) and processed receipts.

Through my experience at OWN, I hope to gain insights into non-profit management, marketing and fund development, program management, and international education. In addition, I hope to enhance my knowledge surrounding global issues, particularly in China and Morocco. As an International and Global Studies major, I believe that this knowledge will supplement the politics, anthropology, sociology, and East Asian Studies courses I have already taken towards my undergraduate degree.

As I continue interning at One World Now!, I am very eager to see my work benefit the organization and broader community.

 

th

Few are fortunate enough to be able to say that, during their very first semester of college, they were assigned to an “Introduction to Law” discussion session led by a lively, enthusiastic Assistant Attorney General. Even fewer can say that the following summer, with no prior employment experience whatsoever under their belt, they were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to intern in his office under his guidance as well as that of my supervisors and the rest of their equally kind colleagues in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) in Boston. I am thus humbled by this chance to serve the Commonwealth and t­­o explore this prospective career path, and these first two weeks in the office have not disappointed.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/bureaus/criminal/

I have always been inexplicably drawn to the practice of law. Though my interest in legal issues was already very developed in high school, it naturally became more acute during my two semesters at Brandeis. Thanks to Brandeis’ unique opportunities to pursue an interdisciplinary curriculum, I began to see legal dilemmas through the lens of gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, and all the societally-defined categories which shape how different citizens experience the law, and developed a thirst for developing this more socially aware perspective of common law. For this reason, I could not have been more fortunate for this opportunity to work under this particular Attorney General (AG).

 

Attorney General Maura Healey

I could not be more inspired by the principles upon which AG Maura Healey serves her state. She is invested in many new policies which I admire such as fighting drug addiction with increased treatment and reduced incarceration as well as increasing sex education and women’s rights, but I am most stirred to action by her work in her preceding position as the Chief of the Civil Rights Division of the AGO. Ms. Healey fronted the Commonwealth’s challenge to DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, successfully leading the arguments which came to be the first to strike down the law and ensure equal marriage rights for all. I hope to one day emulate Maura Healey’s levelheaded potency when confronting whatever poignant civil rights cases I am faced with as a lawyer.

http://www.maurahealey.com/about

However, for now, I must concentrate on the tasks at hand in my current position, and am thrilled to be doing so. My internship is unique in that I serve not one division of an AGO bureau but rather the entire Criminal Bureau, and I am thus able to collaborate with dozens of lawyers, financial investigators, paralegals, etc. This ensures that I will be able to dabble in many different kinds of projects and determine my passions, strengths and weaknesses both within the field of law and outside it. Everyone I have met has amicably invited me to pop into his or her office any time to ask questions or to just chat, and this opportunity for office-wide connection has exposed me to a wide range of projects. These assignments include researching suspects, unearthing the evidence behind still secret financial scandals, and, most importantly to me, contributing to the state’s human trafficking awareness and training expansion efforts.

In essence, I hope to gain real world, legal experience while working diligently in whatever task is assigned to me in order to serve the office and the Commonwealth to the best of my abilities this summer, and it seems as though, in this friendly, dedicated, hardworking office, that won’t be too hard!

 

One Ashburton Place – Home of the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts AGO

On April 13, 2003, having served over 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Dennis Maher walked out of Bridgewater Treatment Center a free man. A victim of eyewitness misidentification, Maher was convicted of several accounts of sexual assault for a series of attacks on young women in Massachusetts during the Fall of 1983. However, having maintained his innocence for nearly two decades, Maher eventually caught the attention of the New England Innocence Project, who utilized newly discovered DNA evidence found in 2001 to bring about his exoneration several years later.

 

Dennis & Family

Dennis with wife Melissa, and children Josh & Aliza Photograph by Erik Jacobs

In the decade since his exoneration, Maher has proven to be one of the most inspirational individuals out there. Maher has not only accomplished his goals of finding a job, a wife, having kids, and buying a house within a decade of his release, but has regularly donated his own time and resources to aiding other exonerees in their transition back into society.

Meeting Maher one of my first days at the New England Innocence Project (NEIP) inspired a passion in me that has only grown since. In the short five months I have worked there, NEIP has become as much a part of me as anything else important in my life. NEIP is a non-profit organization that provides pro-bono legal assistance to individuals who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime in one of the six New England States. Since its founding in 2000, NEIP has exonerated a total of 51 wrongfully convicted individuals and counting. At NEIP we work with applicants every day to find the next individual who might’ve slipped through the cracks of the criminal justice system.

This summer at NEIP, I serve as the intake intern. I receive all non-administrative correspondence that enters the organization. On a daily basis, I receive and respond to letters from inmates, emails from their families, and phone calls from attorneys in order to advance applicants through the case review process into the eventual stages of litigation. In addition, I organize meetings for the staff to determine viable applicants, and work with the legal interns to gather all essential case documents. In effect, I serve as the voice of NEIP to guide inmates throughout the screening process, providing a liaison between the staff and the applicants.

Me at my desk! Photo by Emma Clouse.

Me at my desk smiling before 9am!
Photograph by Emma Clouse.

Throughout my summer at NEIP, I have several goals which I would like to achieve. Firstly, I hope to gain hands on experience in the legal profession. With NEIP, I have the opportunity to not only learn from law students, staff, and paralegals, but through communication with attorneys, clients, and law enforcement. This is a unique opportunity to be immersed in the legal world at an young age. Secondly, through NEIP I hope to learn more about the criminal justice system through my interaction with the case review process. By reading trial transcripts, post-conviction opinions, and appellate briefs, I hope to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the criminal courts throughout New England. Lastly, through NEIP, I hope to improve the lives of those who have witnessed their lives torn apart by the pain of wrongful convictions. In my correspondence with inmates and their families, I want to leave the impression that whatever they have gone through, they are not alone in this process. All in all, I am honored to work with NEIP, and I look forward to getting more involved.

– Daniel Jacobson ’16

Tags: , , , , ,

On June 1st, 2015, I started my first week interning at AIDS Action Committee (AAC) in Boston, MA. AAC is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1983. AAC is New England’s largest AIDS service organization and aims to prevent new infections, support those infected with HIV/AIDS, and address the root causes of HIV/AIDS. AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts advocates at the city, state, and federal levels for fair AIDS policies and also hosts HIV prevention programs and health services for people living with HIV. Some of AAC’s programs include HIV counseling and testing, mental health counseling, a needle exchange program, a housing program, a health library, client advocacy and case management, and more. Learn more about AAC here.

The #ConnectedBoston Campaign is a collaboration between Fenway Health and AAC to reach out to black and brown gay, bisexual, and queer men in the Greater Boston area. The campaign emphasizes the benefits of connecting holistic health resources.

The #ConnectedBoston Campaign is a collaboration between Fenway Health and AAC to reach out to black and brown gay, bisexual, and queer men in the Greater Boston area. The campaign emphasizes the benefits of connecting holistic health resources.

At AAC, I am working as an intern in the Housing Search and Advocacy department as a Housing Search Associate. It is my responsibility to research affordable housing options available to AAC’s clients. I call housing managers to help update AAC’s affordable housing database for its clients. Later in my internship, I will start to provide direct service to clients by helping to lead housing search groups, and I will also work individually with clients who may have low literacy or speak English as a second language to help educate them on the housing options that they have available to them.

For my internship, I have different academic, career, and personal goals. An academic goal is to be able to use information that I have learned in my public health classes to further examine the health disparities that my clients at AAC face. I want to be able to think deeply and critically about possible policy recommendations that could be developed and implemented to help alleviate some of the issues that people with HIV/AIDS face when trying to access safe and affordable housing.

One career goal is to learn how to best educate and advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. In my future health career, I will work with patients who have illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, and I want to learn more about some of the biggest problems that these people face on a daily basis so that I can get a sense of how to best cater to their needs. Health care providers and educators often treat the patient’s disease, but forget that the individual is more than just their illness and that there are psychological, emotional, and social factors that contribute to one’s experience of illness. I hope that some of the testimonies that I hear over the summer will help shape me into becoming a more culturally competent future health care provider.

AIDSWalk

On June 7th, I participated in the annual AIDS Walk in Boston. The event is New England’s largest HIV/AIDS awareness fundraiser. The walk supports AAC and its work to prevent new infections, maximize the health outcomes of those infected, and end the epidemic in MA. To learn more about the walk, click here.

A personal goal is to learn more about real estate and the housing market. My internship entails being able to navigate the housing system by talking to and negotiating with property realtors and housing managers. Through this difficult task, I want to learn more about the housing market and how to get the best deals, as this would be a useful skill to have for the future when I want to buy or rent my own house or apartment. I look forward to the rest of my time here at AAC and I am very excited to learn more about HIV/AIDS advocacy.

VocaliD, Inc. holds a very modern place in the business world. There is some amount of trouble capturing the operation in a succinct way, because paramount to VocaliD’s service to the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) community is the data gathered from voice donors. The term “Socially-Oriented Company” has been getting thrown around more and more recently, and it is the most apt description of VocaliD’s nature, taking donated voices and using data from them to create ones for others in need.

The office is located on the third floor of the old firehouse in downtown Belmont, with a Pilates studio directly below and an Italian restaurant at street level. I love the location. There are plenty of places to grab good food for lunch, and the Fitchburg line station is a short walk away. On cooler mornings I bike in, which takes under a half hour.

I’ve been working alongside Rupal, the founder of the company, who is very easy to work with and a great supervisor. Most of my time this first week has been spent doing what I fully expected to be doing: examining, annotating, and editing speech data, in order to prepare it for the morphing algorithm VocaliD uses to create voices. However, we also launched a crowdfunding project on Indiegogo this week, and a lot of work went into designing and revising the campaign. I’ve also been writing portions of the various outreach emails that go out as part of the campaign and VocaliD’s business as usual. Going forward, tasks like these will continue to be part of my responsibilities this summer, so it looks like this internship will be getting me some interesting communications experience, from marketing to end users to forging relationships with other AAC companies.

If this week has been any indication of how the rest of the summer will be, then interning at VocaliD will be an incredible way of satisfying my WOW goals. I have the opportunity to work in a field that bridges signal processing and phonetics, two things I am familiar with from my two majors; I’m getting exposed to audio programming and code writing in a vocational setting, helping me to gain an understanding of programming and its place in computational linguistics; and VocaliD’s work presents a major, tangible service to those whose voices literally aren’t heard, and so I’m helping to eliminate inequalities faced daily by the AAC community.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about the logo and how well designed and appropriate it is, in addition to being tasteful and in line with current graphic design sensibilities.

the VocaliD company logo

The VocaliD company logo

At first glance, it’s a “V”, standing for all things vocal. Upon closer looking, the overall shape of the V is remarkably similar to that of human vocal folds. The graphic also consists visually of a small V inside a larger one, representing the way VocaliD blends just a few seconds of vocalization from a recipient along with several hours of donor speech to create the final product. The way in which these are overlaid, with alternating horizontal lines, is also very similar to the way waveforms of human vowels look, with secondary peaks and troughs layered inside.

waveform from a stereo recording of a young girl saying "thrown"

A waveform from a stereo recording of a young girl.

The logo has a whole lot of symbolism and information packed into it. It was partially designed by the founder herself, which is a great example of the interdisciplinary atmosphere of the whole team. This will, after all, be quite an interdisciplinary summer.

-David Stiefel ’16

Tags: , , , ,

Monday morning was almost as frantic (if not more) than my first day at Brandeis. I am not an experienced subway-rider, so figuring out which direction the train I was told to take actually goes in was a challenge; let’s just say it’s a good thing I left 45 minutes early! Luckily I arrived early to Lawyers For Children, where I will be spending the majority of my time throughout the next nine weeks. I’d always dreamed of living in New York City, but to be able to live in New York City and do work that I’m passionate about, I couldn’t have asked for more! Before coming to college I knew I was interested in psychology and wanted to pursue a career in which I am able to help people, but I had no idea which direction that goal would take me. A mixture of psychology, sociology, and legal studies courses I’ve taken at Brandeis lead me to aspire to go into law, but with a desire to advocate for those whose voices may not be as strongly heard.

canal

This is the corner of where my office is located. Photo belonging to kurokatta.org

 

Since I was little, I’ve loved solving mysteries; putting together the pieces of a puzzle. Law allows me to continue that passion. I have to gather my evidence, establish the rule, and present my case. Social work adds a both meaningful and challenging component to that hobby. I never envisioned myself in social work, until interning last summer at a nonprofit that helps low-income and impoverished adults obtain housing, jobs, resources for their family, whatever it may be based on a particular individual’s needs. Before that experience, I never realized how difficult of a challenge it was to navigate (internally) the various governmental institutions that are supposed to help those in need. Who knew it was actually extremely difficult to acquire the benefits that the government rightfully owes you? With this work came immense challenges, however the reward, when achieved, is immeasurable. That’s when I knew, law with an emphasis on public service was my true calling.

That discovery lead me to Lawyers For Children: a legal firm that provides free legal and social work services to children in foster care. Lawyers For Children is unique from other organizations in that an attorney as well as a social worker is assigned to every child, ensuring that each child get the best, most effective and integrative representation and advocacy possible. Attorneys and social workers are trained differently, and therefore have different insights and perspectives to offer on each case, and you know what they say, two heads are always better than one. LFC mostly handles cases of voluntary placement: instances where parents voluntarily place their children into the system, not where the child was removed from the home against their will. To get a better understanding of what that looks like, read this New York times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/01/nyregion/despondent-parents-see-foster-care-as-only-option.html

I am a social work intern at LFC and will shadow a social worker (as well as various LFC attorneys) to get a better understanding of how the two professions come together in the field of child advocacy. I will attend meetings between various agencies working with a specific child, make field visits to their respective placements, attend those children’s cases in court, assist in writing up the result of those meetings, field visits, and court cases, and assist with generating plans-of-action and connecting children with further resources to best help them achieve their goals. Lawyers For Children prides itself on its focus on really listening to the child, thereby providing them with a space where they feel safe and respected. LFC also aims to advocate and educate the public about the many difficulties several groups, such as LGBTQ youth in foster care face. This article by the Wall Street Journal highlights the added difficulties experienced by LGBTQ youth, specially in foster care: http://www.wsj.com/articles/counting-new-yorks-gay-and-transgender-youths-in-foster-care-1433550187

 

 

ny family court

New York County Family Court. Photo by Mark Fader

 

This summer, I hope to learn more about the interaction between law and social work and what sort of balance between the two produces the best results when working with underprivileged populations and to gain experience in a legal/social work setting that advocates for human rights and social justice. Finally, I hope to gain a better understanding of how the social issues that several minority groups face, like the foster-care population, effect youth in large cities like New York City.

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

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a not-for-profit think tank that was founded in 1938. Scholars at AEI serve leaders and the public through research and education on several important fronts, including economics, foreign affairs and domestic issues. AEI’s mission is to expand liberty, increase individual opportunity and strengthen free enterprise through debate, reasoned argument and research. AEI’s long history is only one of the many reasons why I was so nervous to walk through the doors on Monday morning.

I have never really been an intern before. I have always had multiple jobs, however, I find the word ‘internship’ particularly nerve-wracking. So, on my walk over, I made sure to take in the sights of D.C. in order to calm my nerves.  I had never been to D.C. before this week and, on that first day, the city felt huge and intimidating. AEI’s office is located at 17th and M Street, which means the walk from my apartment is about 15 minutes long. On my commute, I have found that it is equally fascinating to watch the people as it is to survey the architecture. It seems like every type of person in the world may find him or herself in Washington. There is so much to do here, and I am quite excited by the prospect of it all.

Hanging out at the Mall!

Hanging out at the Mall!

Now that a week has passed, and I have had the opportunity to reflect, the word ‘internship’ seems a little less scary, and the city itself seems a little less big. On that very first day I walked into a room of interns, strangers from across the globe, all filled with trepidation. Over the course of a week, a sense of camaraderie has formed, and the anxiety has faded away as we have settled into our roles.

I attribute a large part of my new-found comfort to the warmth of the digital strategy team. It has only been a week and I have already had training sessions in everything from Photoshop to Google Analytics. I feel as if I am learning real skills that will benefit me in the future. The team’s guidance has also allowed me to get started working on the various digital platforms at AEI. I am sure that the hands-on experience I am gaining will prove invaluable.

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

In addition to this training and the work itself that I am happily doing, AEI has already proven to be an amazing place to work. This week alone I was taken to lunch by the digital strategy team and all of AEI attended the Nationals vs. Cubs baseball game—in matching t-shirts, of course! So far, I am having a great time at my internship. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer will have in store.

National vs. Cubs game!

National vs. Cubs game!

 

Margot Grubert, ’17

 

Six months ago, if you had asked me what my plans were for the summer, I would’ve answered very simply, “To make some money.” But my focus shifted completely when I saw an internship posting for the Social Innovation Forum: this internship would be a chance to try out my dream job of working at a foundation. SIF acts as a bridge between nonprofits and funders. Through a two-year program, SIF works with a group of innovative nonprofits (“social innovators”) to help them establish connections, gain funding, develop their leadership, and maximize their social impact.

Ever since I took a course on Social Justice and Philanthropy (sponsored by the Sillerman Center), I have been fascinated by the idea of “effective giving.” The course taught me that identical amounts of money can have drastically different effects on social change when spent in different methods, and I became interested in the analysis that goes into an allocation decision. My internship with the Social Innovation Forum is an incredible opportunity to learn about the skills and tools used to measure social impact.

My first week at SIF has flown by. I arrived at an exciting time: SIF has just opened nominations for the next group of social innovators, officially launching the six-month selection process. At the same time, the “impact entrepreneurs” are wrapping up their twelve-week program. Impact entrepreneurs are for-profit businesses that have a positive social impact and their twelve-week program is a crash course on business development that allows them to get their feet off the ground. Just a few days into my internship, I got to witness the culmination of their work: an Impact Showcase where each business pitched their model to SIF’s investing community. The groups were inspiring, combining innovative ideas with a passion for improving the world. Whether or not my future career lies in the non-profit sector, it was exciting to see how private, for-profit companies can do their part for the betterment of society.

A Social Entrepreneur presents at the Impact Investing Showcase

A Social Entrepreneur presents at the Impact Investing Showcase

Since so much has been happening, I’ve had the chance to see a wide variety of my coming responsibilities, including database management, event preparation, and research. Everyone at SIF has been incredibly welcoming, showing me the ropes and making me feel comfortable within the office. I’m lucky to be working alongside an incredibly capable intern who has mastered all of the ins and outs of the job, and has been an amazing teacher. I hope that by the end of my time here, I can feel as comfortable with all of the procedures as she does. If nothing else, I expect to leave SIF with innumerable skills applicable to any office environment.

Throughout the summer, I will be sorting through innovator nominations, researching nonprofits that could be a good fit for SIF, and assisting in day-to-day office operations. I can’t wait to keep diving into this internship, and I have no doubts that it will be a great summer!

IMG_2980

 

Emma Farber, 16

Brandeis University

Social Justice WOW Fellow

My internship abroad has thankfully taken off smoothly and my first week at Hospital Pablo Arturo Suarez has been an incredible learning experience so far.

imagePablo Arturo Suarez is a public hospital located in the north end of Quito, Ecuador.  The significance of this hospital is the fact that it is indeed public and therefore many people from all over Quito and the surrounding areas come if they cannot afford private healthcare. Most of these public medical institutions are highly understaffed due to the shear amount of people that are constantly coming in and out. The mission of the hospital is to promote quality care by educating patients on the necessity of preventible care, recovery, and rehabilitation of all peoples regardless of status or ethnicity. This dedication to social justice in Latin America really inspires me to pursue learning about the injustices of the health care systems both internationally and at home-in America. If interested in knowing more about the hospital and all of the departments it offers, you can click here.

Looking down on Quito from Pichincha Volcano

Looking down on Quito from Pichincha Volcano

One of my goals this summer is to observe the Ecuadorian healthcare system, and to compare and contrast this system to the United States healthcare system. An important cultural aspect in Quito which is very unique, is the presence of an indigenous population(s). Many peoples seek healthcare from these public institutions; Pablo Arturo Suarez has made a point to label most signs in the native language. This brings up an issue that is often faced in America: cultural and language barriers and their effects on quality care. I hope to understand how doctors in Ecuador try to effectively communicate and explain certain treatments while ensuring the understanding of all patients. The indigenous population still very much treasures traditional and alternative medicine and it will be interesting to see how this coexists in a very modern city. If you are interested in Ecuadorian culture and the synthesis of peoples who live here I recommend visiting this site which gives some historical background.

Another goal for the summer is to become fluent in Spanish medical terminology and gain confidence in effectively communicating to Spanish speakers in regards to their health and treatment. As mentioned before, language barriers can cause detrimental effects on patients. In the United States, the second most spoken language is Spanish. I felt that as someone pursuing the medical field I should be bilingual-if not more- in order to be able to give the best care possible.

As far as my duties go at thIMG_5713e hospital, I generally assist in places that are understaffed and undertake projects of the day that need to be done. This includes taking patients vital signs, assisting doctors during procedures and surgeries, and organizing paperwork. I will hopefully get a well-rounded view of the way a public hospital runs in Ecuador and how a healthcare system works as whole.

– Paulina Kuzmin ’17

After arriving at Louis Armstrong New Orlean’s International Airport, a nice warm humid hug welcomed me into New Orleans. This warm embrace was the beginning of many as I met so many warm souls all over New Orleans and at my internship site, New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC). Located near the Mississippi River, NOVAC was started by a group of AmeriCorps VISTA fellows who wanted to see an organization in New Orleans that fostered the creation of socially conscious independent films. Although NOVAC’s mission has evolved over the years, NOVAC still provides New Orleans’ filmmakers with workshops and the resources necessary to create their own idiosyncratic pieces. Aside from aiding the independent filmmaking community, NOVAC connects New Orleans’ youth with people in the film industry and NOVAC also allow these teenagers to enhance their visual storytelling skills, whether through NOVAC’s digital storytelling camps or through their new exclusive HBO/Cinemax Quarry internship program that gives 15 local teenagers the opportunity to work on the set of Cinemax’s new series, Quarry, for three weeks!

NOVAC's teen members presenting their work at the Sundance Film Festival!

If my first week at NOVAC is any indication of the work that I will accomplish this summer, then I know I am going to return to Brandeis in the fall equipped with advanced editing and design skills and an appreciation for community-based film projects. As junior year approaches, I worry about potentially leaving Brandeis without the technical skills necessary to enter the film industry. In the past couple of days, I have been developing my design skills by creating promotional materials for NOVAC’s sponsored documentaries. Documentaries under NOVAC’s fiscal sponsorship program can use NOVAC’s non-profit status to apply to more grants and to appeal to individual donors. As an incentive, individual donors will receive a tax reduction if they donate to film projects under this program. Raising money for film projects can be a troublesome task for independent filmmakers, since they usually don’t receive support from entertainment conglomerates. This past week I created website banners for two documentaries and one film in NOVAC’s fiscal sponsorship program: Flotsam; Battlefield: Home; and Easy Does It. Since this was my first summer project for NOVAC, I was eager to display my creativity. However I was also scared of not meeting their expectations. My resourceful and encouraging supervisors were there to guide me through my first assignment and my anxiety soon went away. As I was creating these banners, I gained a more in-depth understanding of NOVAC’s sponsored projects and I was inspired by the way these filmmakers were using film to ask questions about their environment, society, or an issue that they feel is underrepresented in the media. For example, Flotsam is a documentary that looks past the common depictions of Mardi Gras as a glorious celebration to reveal the amount of debris left behind when everyone grabs their beads and leaves the party. Flotsam just unleashed my thirst for finding new content that questions the things that I look past.

The website banner I designed for one of NOVAC's sponsored documentaries, Flotsam.

Flotsam and NOVAC’s sponsored projects allow me to peek behind the curtain and discover the ways our local filmmakers are engaging with their community to raise awareness about their concerns. Soon, I will start converting videos in NOVAC’s archive to a digital format. After we digitize the videos, they will be available online for the public to access. NOVAC’s video archive managed to survive Hurricane Katrina but through NOVAC’s digital preservation efforts, NOVAC’s archive will be safe from New Orleans’ next natural catastrophe. Their archive encompasses over 40 years of original content produced by NOVAC and its affiliates. Recently, NOVAC digitized a video produced during one of their workshops in the late 80s that focused on the struggles battered women face. The video is called, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, and it displays the testimonies of women that were victims of domestic abuse. Although this video was created several decades ago, these stories are congruent to the stories told by women affected by domestic violence today.

Aside from cultivating my interest in visual storytelling, NOVAC allows me to meet with so many talented people in the film industry, like my supervisor, Biliana Grozdanova, who recently screened her film, The Last Kamikazes of Heavy Metal, at New Orleans Film Festival and just returned from Cannes Film Festival (as a volunteer). Hopefully, I will continue to meet more people like my supervisor through the many workshops NOVAC offers throughout the summer. By the end of the summer, I want to increase my editing and design skills and uncover more analog videos that are still prevalent today. I also want to produce my own material for NOVAC’s Virtuous Video program. Through this program, community organizations partner with local filmmakers to create videos that highlight their mission and their contributions to their community. Since this year is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, NOVAC partnered with the Greater New Orleans Foundation to involve New Orleans’ youth with the Virtuous Video Program. This fusion gave birth to Project 10: a digital storytelling undertaking that asks New Orleans community members and organizations about their thoughts on the city’s development after Hurricane Katrina. I am currently researching and watching Hurricane Katrina documentaries to prepare myself for the next component of my internship, but you will find out more about that in my next blog post!

-Karen Seymour ’17

Tags: , , , , ,

My first week as an intern at Legal Outreach, Inc., in Long Island City, New York has been been filled with exciting and important work and interaction with many incredible individuals. Legal Outreach, Inc., is a legal education non-profit organization that has been successfully teaching and preparing urban youth from underserved communities all over New York City since 1983. The organization does so through its various college preparatory programs, many of which emphasize the law and developing an understanding and appreciation of the legal system. The program that I will specifically be working with is the Summer Law Institute (SLI).

Legal Outreach, Inc. Website

 

The Legal Outreach Logo

The Legal Outreach Logo

 

Legal Outreach’s SLI is held in partnership with six different law schools in New York City from the end of June to the end of July. In each law school, there are about 22-30 rising ninth graders who were selected from a pool of applicants for this program. At each law school where the SLI is held, there are two co-coordinators who are current law school students and an intern. Together, these three are the instructors for each SLI and are responsible for teaching the students and managing their SLI.

Legal Outreach, Inc. Office (Source: Google Maps)

Legal Outreach, Inc. Office (Source: Google Maps)

At SLI, students are engaged in a criminal justice legal course and gain an understanding of the legal system and how laws are applied. Almost every day of the week, there is a guest attorney speaker and weekly field trips to law firms and other legal sites. At the end of the program is a mock trial competition which takes place in front of a real judge. The aim of SLI is to help these students grow academically and personally to give them the confidence and skills for success in high school, college, and beyond.

Legal Outreach Celebrating 30 Years (source: http://legaloutreach.org/?page_id=16)

My main responsibilities as the SLI intern at Columbia Law School include both administrative duties, to ensure that the program runs smoothly, and teaching lessons. The administrative duties include preparing handbooks and ID cards for the students, inviting the guest speakers, ensuring that parents and students complete necessary forms, and booking field trips. This is all to make sure that the technical and structural aspects of the program are intact, so that in the end of June when SLI commences, everything is ready.

My teaching responsibilities include developing four lesson plans that will be presented to the students during SLI. The first two will be on study skills and essay writing, which will be useful for the students in studying for their weekly exams and writing their assigned essays. Since part of the purpose of the program is to prepare these students for high school, these skills will be particularly important and assist them in achieving academic excellence.

Through my administrative and teaching responsibilities, I will play an important role in making sure that the SLI runs smoothly so that the students get the most out of the program. I will also, through my role, be able to accomplish the learning goals I had set coming into this internship. For example, through the training exercises and meetings we have been doing, as well as through actually teaching the lessons later on, I will be able to develop stronger communication and public speaking skills. At the same time, through my administrative duties, I will improve my research and writing skills as I communicate with potential guest speakers and develop lesson plans. Likewise, by working in a legal environment with colleagues who are in law school and supervisors who are attorneys, I have the unique opportunity to further explore my interest in having a career in the legal field. I look forward to the days to come and for the SLI to begin.

– Aditi Shah ’17

 

Today marks the end of my first full week as an intern at the Harvard Semitic Museum in Cambridge, MA (free admission!). The museum gets its name from its focus on the Ancient Near East, which was inhabited mostly by Semitic-speaking cultures. Semitic languages include languages spoken today, such as Hebrew and Arabic, but also include some ancient languages that are no longer spoken, such as Akkadian, which was the lingua franca for much of Ancient Near Eastern history.

"SemiticMuseumHarvard" by John Stephen Dwyer. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SemiticMuseumHarvard.jpg#/media/File:SemiticMuseumHarvard.jpg

The museum has been in its current location for over 100 years. Photo Credit- “SemiticMuseumHarvard” by John Stephen Dwyer. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The museum’s collection includes many cuneiform clay tablets, pottery, other archaeological finds, and a full scale model of a typical Ancient Israelite four-room-house. The Semitic Museum also has an impressive collection of plaster casts of Ancient Near Eastern monumental stone inscriptions and wall reliefs. Among the casts that the museum has on display are the Code of Hammurabi, an 18th century BCE Babylonian law code, and the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, which displays a king of Israel bowing to Shalmaneser.

Most of my work at the museum will be put towards two long-term projects. The first, which I am working on with another intern, is to systematically go through storage cabinets, and record the items and their locations. We are currently going through artifacts that were found during archaeological excavation at Nuzi, a site in North Eastern Iraq. Nuzi was a provincial capital under Hurrian rule during the 15th and 14th centuries BCE, and that is when these artifacts are from.

This is what happens when you search "Nuzi" in Google Maps

This is what happens when you search “Nuzi” in Google Maps

My other primary focus will be working to catalog and organize archival materials that belonged or where related to Theresa Goell, an archaeologist who did a lot of work in the 1950s. Goell excavated sites in modern Turkey, including the sites of Tarsus, Nemrud Dagh, and Samsat. The files need to be organized and documented, in order for them to be properly stored, and easily accessible. Currently, I am working through maps, plans, charts, and other materials related to Nemrud Dagh, which is a mountain site that was probably a royal tomb built for King Antiochus of Commagene.

"Mount Nemrut". Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Colossal statues of men, gods, and animals were found at the site. Photo Credit- “Mount Nemrut”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

My workspace in the museum’s seminar room.     Photo credit- Noam Cohen

 

My main goal for this internship is to learn through hands-on experience. This is not something that I can easily do at Brandeis when I am learning Ancient Near Eastern history through lectures and readings. Handling ancient objects, and even more modern works – such as Goell’s maps, plans, and diagrams – will expose me to more tangible aspects of archaeology, history, and the Ancient Near East. I hope to gain a new and intimate appreciation and understanding of what life was like for people living in the Ancient Near Eastern world–what sites did they see, how their pottery looked and felt in their hands…

Tags: , , , , ,

My internship thankfully started smoothly and without much trepidation because I will be spending my summer working at an institution that I am already familiar with – The Rose Art Museum.

 

rosebuilding266

Photograph by Mike Lovett.

 

The Rose is a university museum located on Brandeis’ campus that specializes in post-war contemporary art. A key part of its stated mission is to affirm and advance “the values of freedom of expression, academic excellence, global diversity, and social justice that are the hallmarks of Brandeis University.” This dedication to social justice and engagement with making the museum more accessible is the reason I was able to work with museum staff to craft an internship that would help do just that.

I hope to provide a way for people who are unable to visit the museum physically to explore the museum space virtually. I will do this by first modeling two galleries of the museum in 3D using a program called Blender. If you would like to take a peek at what this might eventually look like, here is a picture of a draft I created for a class called 3D Animation.

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 3.59.11 PM

 

Later I will be recreating sculptures that will be on view at the Rose in the future. The finished models of the sculptures will be 3D printed at the MakerLab, which is a space in the Brandeis library that encourages creation and the use of new technology and new ways of making. The printed replicas of the works of art will allow people who are sight impaired to touch them and experience the art in a different way. Some other institutions have also been engaging in a similar practice. For example, there is currently an exhibit in Madrid called “Touching the Prado”, which is made up of famous paintings recreated in relief so that they can be experienced through touch. To read more about the exhibit you can take a look at this New York Times article about it.

 

07prado-6-superJumbo-v2

A visitor experiencing in relief a copy of the “Mona Lisa” at the Prado. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

 

Finally, once I have both the galleries and the art works mapped in virtual space, I will then work on discovering productive ways to translate this project to an online format that would allow virtual visitors to walk around and explore. This portion of my work will continue into the school year in the form of an Independent Study in the Computer Science Department.

By working on this project I will be making the museum accessible both to people who previously were unable to touch any of the work and to people could not physically visit the museum. I hope that by the end of the summer I will have all of the modeling done and that I will be well on my way to learning new ways that the model might live online.

Through this internship and project I will also be combining two of my main passions – art history and computer science. This is a really unique and instrumental moment in my career development because so few other places provide opportunities to students to combine these two fields. I am really grateful that I have a chance to do this work!

IMG_2388

IMG_2386

The Rhode Island Foundation (http://www.rifoundation.org), founded in 1916, has a rich legacy. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations. The foundation serves multiple initiatives in Rhode Island, which range from learning in public schools to off-shore wind energy development, patient-centered medical home, high-tech workforce development…etc (http://www.rifoundation.org/InsidetheFoundation/OurBlog.aspx). It is Rhode Island’s only community foundation and the largest funder of Rhode Island’s nonprofit sector. In 2014, the Foundation made grants of more than $40 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs.

IMG_2385

As I walked into the Foundation on the first day of my internship, I could not shake feelings of nervousness and a sense that I had gotten myself into work that was over my head. However, when my supervisor, Alison, approached me with an outstretched hand and a warm smile, I immediately started to feel at ease. Alison showed me to an office she had set up for me to work. I had an email and Google calendar set up already and was told me to check it immediately, as I was scheduled to be in several meetings throughout my first week. During the meetings, I was greeted by the Foundation’s team and learned about the projects I would be assisting on this summer.

Throughout the summer, I will be researching possible grant opportunities for the Foundation. The Foundation is partnering with the State of Rhode Island for their centennial celebration and I am helping to formulate research for the celebration. In addition, I will be researching some of the Foundation’s signature initiatives such as educational success, economic security, healthy living and inspiring philanthropy. The development and data and operations teams I am working under are welcoming and supportive of my learning goals. I trust that I will be able to reach my goals of applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy, creating new professional networks and sharpening my analytical skills. I cannot wait to keep you posted!

 

Best,

Lauren Nadeau

Social Justice WOW Recipient

After changing my clothing the requisite ten times, trying to figure out whether I was supposed to be going uptown or downtown, and waiting in a clothing store because I realized I was forty five minutes early, my summer internship at AVODAH began.

 

 

(http://homedesigns.today/wp-content/uploads/Shoe-Organization-Creative-Closet-Ideas-47.jpg)

Most of my life I anticipated that I would be working in theater when I grew up, so it was surprising walking into a building that was not lit with spotlights, or barren in preparation for a dance rehearsal. It took me awhile to come to this place, where I realized that maybe my interests are not completely in a world hidden and protected from the outside world. Theater was always comforting for me in its acceptance of all types of people into this haven, but was it really what I wanted a profession in? The truth of it was that as much as I feel at home in the theater; I craved a challenge, and being in situations where I had to advocate my opinions not just be appreciated for them. Theater is certainly difficult within its own merit, but after almost 10 years of performing I knew I needed a change. This was part of the reason I chose to pursue technical theater in college to get a different exposure to the theater setting I know and love, but I soon realized that I needed to start including my other main interest: creating a safer and friendlier environment for everyone. As scary as it was walking into the AVODAH office building, I knew that this would be an opportunity for my passion for social justice to be tested, which made it all the more appealing.

 

(http://www.emporis.com/images/show/744084-Large.jpg)

I am no stranger to the community service and non-profit world, but from the context of a volunteer. Whether it be a soup kitchen, library, tutoring service I have worked for them all, but I never thought twice about it. I would come in, do my work, and then leave without thinking about my contributions, and also how much had to be completed behind the scenes for this program to exist. Walking into AVODAH, and being assigned to post job listings for other non-profits on their website right away was sort of a wake up call. AVODAH is an organization that is located in New York, Washington D.C., New Orleans, and Chicago that sends adults in their mid twenties to work in various non-profit organizations all across the world for a year. AVODAH helps support these adults through providing housing and a small stipend, so that they can achieve this beneficial work, while still supporting themselves. http://www.avodah.net They do a lot of fundraising, so that they can continue to provide this service consistently.

After every new assignment, I was shocked at how many emails have to be sent, how many phone calls need to be made, etc. to sponsor just one fundraising event. In two weeks, AVODAH will be holding three separate events for their Partners in Justice fundraiser. Which will help raise over $30,000 dollars from alumni of the organization, part of my job is making sure all of the logistical aspects behind receiving and soliciting these donations is completed correctly. This summer I will be working a lot with alumni of the AVODAH program to ensure their website is maintained, job listings are frequently posted, and that everyone is connected to the right list servs and people. It seems like mostly organization, which it is, but without so alumni would not know who to contact about prospective donations, where their next job would be, and making sure that the incoming members of AVODAH have sufficient funds, mentorship, and knowledge to complete their project to the fullest. My goal for this summer is to continue expanding my knowledge of the non-profit world, but from this background logistical model, and I have no doubt that I will achieve this. I spent almost all of my life performing and being in the spotlight, but college and hopefully this opportunity will let me discover what the backstage is like.

– Jessica Star

I began my internship at Alliance for Justice in Washington, D.C. this Monday. The office is located in the beautiful Dupont Circle. For those who are unfamiliar with DC, Dupont Circle is in the Northwest quadrant of D.C. It’s a location with a number of businesses, tourists, offices and not to mention culture and architecture. Here are some pictures of Dupont Circle, just so you can see my view every day:

Dupont Circle 1

Dupont Circle 2

My office shares a building with a number of other organizations, such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Public Leadership Education Network and the Equal Rights Center, to name a few. We share a floor and office space with organizations such as the Center for Popular Democracy. This is our office:

20150522_155642

My second day on the job, we hosted a talk with John Paul Stevens–yes, that is the retired Supreme Court Justice. Journalists Dahlia Lithwick and Jonathan Capehart kept the conversation going with questions for Justice Stevens. Although I spent a majority of the time working the event–setting up, greeting guests and passing out programs–I did get to watch a bulk of the event. It was an incredible opportunity to hear him speak about his experience as a Supreme Court justice.

My third day on the job I attended a gala an the Newseum. The gala was held by the Center for Popular Democracy, an organization that shares space with Alliance for Justice in its Dupont Circle location in D.C. Congressman Keith Ellison, President of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Program Officer of the Panta Rhea Foundation Janet Shenk and Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz were among the honorees. The gala was definitely a new experience for me. It was an opportunity to network that I had not really been exposed to before. 

As someone interested in education, disabilities and civil rights law, it was really amazing to hear these individuals speak so passionately about a vision for a better America. They spoke about voting rights, fair wages, ensuring everyone gets an education. I also had the opportunity to meet Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

Not to mention, the view from the Newseum balcony was amazing:

Newseum View

 

In the office, we have been working to plan a summer intern luncheon, to which we invite all of the D.C. interns. We are hoping to bring in a special guest speaker. A lot of the work over the past few days, however, has been related to the Justice Stevens event.

I am so grateful to be back in D.C., one of my favorite cities. Of course I am enjoying my internship, but no internship here would be complete without the full D.C. experience. I am living in an apartment, enjoying the history, taking walks and enjoying all of the activities here. Of course I have visited the White House, among other notable locatins. I also attended a Nationals baseball game against the Phillies on Friday night. I am so looking forward to the rest of my summer, and all of the opportunities and adventures that await.

– Marissa Ditkowsky

It’s great to be back at Brandeis and in school-mode (although I had forgotten how busy and exhausting the first few weeks of school are), but I’m sad to be done with my summer internship with Company One Theatre— even if the last few weeks consisted of a lot more office work than it had been earlier in the summer (although I’m actually really proud to have finished a massive headshot reorganization project in which I re-categorized about 20 giant binders of head shots and resumes we keep to have records of every actor that has auditioned for us. I wish I had taken a picture I was so proud of it). 

My second to last week I got to sit in on a staff meeting, which was a great experience. Every member of Company One gets together once a week to connect, discuss different projects, etc.. We talked about what was going on in each department, discussed a potential play for the upcoming season and the pros and cons of it, talked about other theaters and their seasons, the benefits of joining certain organizations, etc.. It was very cool getting to see how a small non-profit theater organizes and runs things, and it was especially awesome to see how invested each member of Company One is in engaging the community and adhering to the core values of the company (making theater more accessible and producing theater that is diverse). It was also one member’s last week, so we celebrated her time with the company with cake, etc.. 

Overall, I had a great time this summer at Company One and learned a lot. I learned a lot about contemporary playwrights that I didn’t know about before, I learned what dramaturgy is (I think), I learned the ins and outs of a professional fringe theater in Boston, I even learned about Boston and its’ history.

Flashback to the LMDA conference

Flashback to the LMDA conference

I gained a sense of the incredible amount of work that goes into creating and producing thought-provoking theater— and with that I also came away more frustrated than I usually am at the lack of funding that goes into arts. These people who create this wonderful form of art are under-appreciated and underfunded in our society. It’s really something to see people working so hard to create art, to change the world, and to also see how hard it is to get funded, to get paid, in the theater world. And meanwhile public school are still cutting funds for music, theater, the fine arts, and all these art forms that are near and dear to so many peoples’ hearts. 

But I also came away inspired to know that there are people out there working this hard to produce diverse, inclusive, and provocative theater that talks about topics we don’t generally talk about in our day-to-day lives. I cannot wait to continue to explore all the different types of theater the world has to offer, and all the different ways theater can be created. Many thanks to Company One and the Brandeis WOW fellowship grant for giving me this awesome opportunity (and go check out their upcoming season!). 

Astro Boy and the God of Comics

Astro Boy and the God of Comics

Alison Thvedt ’15

« Older entries

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)