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.

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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.

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ISKCON Bangalore temple complex

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

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

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

 

-Shane Weitzman ’16

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.”.

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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

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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(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/)

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

Elizabeth Villano ’16

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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’

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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’

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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…

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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:

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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

My lovely work space

 

For my time at World Vision, I had hoped to gain experience in helping facilitate organizational communication. My learning in this case was achieved mostly through observing my supervisor who deals with day to day employee needs; from handling internal relationships to communication between the various offices in different Brazilian cities. Furthermore, because I am passionate about cross-cultural dialogue and interaction in this increasingly globalized world, which requires us to understand other cultures in order to operate successfully, during my time at World Vision I wanted to explore aspects of what I learned in regards to global understanding in Organizational Behavior(OB), which is an area of business that deeply intrigues me. This summer my goal was achieved because as an intern at World Vision Brazil, I was able to gain an understanding of a new country alongside learning very specific cultural norms which translate to the work place environment.

Having the opportunity to work in an organization that focuses on international development and the alleviation of poverty, especially the experience of going to an ADP (Area Development Program), where I had the opportunity to meet with the children that the organization supports afforded me great insight. I learned important lessons, such as, the fact that it is crucial and beneficial to have a clear understanding of an organization’s core mission when you work there. Though I was an intern for the human resources department, going to visit a community development project was a source of motivation. My work experience changed after being at the project because  I saw that what connects all the employees is a passion for people and changing lives for the better. And as I seek to become a more effective communicator within organizations, such insight will be of use in my future. Also, through the internship experience my Portuguese language skills were significantly improved.

In my WOW application I mentioned how at an early age I became passionate in advocating for a break down in communicative barriers among people of different backgrounds. I then attended a United World College which provided training in facilitating multicultural dialogue as a force for peace in the world. These experiences enable me to easily integrate into new environments and engage with people from varying backgrounds; being an intern allowed me to test and improve these skills at a different stage in my life where I am older. Additionally, instead of using my interpersonal skills in an academic setting, I got to practice them in a professional environment.

After this experience, I would like experience in the for-profit sector to get a sense of the environment in order to compare and contrast my experiences. I would also like to get experience in more of the field work in international development. In order to learn how to be strategic and create proposals for plans to alleviate poverty sustainably, it is important to understand the field work.

Students interested in an internship at World Vision should know that there are many opportunities for volunteers available, especially for individuals such as Brandeis University students who believe in social justice. Also, it is an organization with operations in 100 different countries, meaning there are opportunities in many areas of the world. Importantly, what I learned spending time in a non-profit organization is that passion for world change is at the core of all operations. To make an impact you have to deeply care about what it is the organization is trying to achieve. It is also an industry that needs forward thinking people to innovate and create new strategies

Just to reiterate what I have mentioned before. By seeing the systems in place with the sponsorship program that World Vision runs, I have been reminded that anyone can be a positive change maker in this world. My primary philosophy when it comes to development is that I believe in sustainable poverty alleviation. I feel that everyone has the right to reach their full potential on this earth and that the inequality that exists in this world is something which can and should be fixed. Working at World Vision has reinforced this conviction and allowed me to realize the many ways in which I can be an agent of change every day and in the larger scheme of things. Social justice boils down to one concept in my opinion: “Love” as a verb, love for yourself which you can then translate into the world; when we love those we are helping we do not act out of selfish ambition but rather by the passion for what we know the world can be, only then does true change take place even when things are not easy. Lastly, as an intern, I have been challenged to think outside of the box in the development field. I now understand that there is no ‘formula’ to changing a community, each place has its own specific needs, and so does each organization.

A cycling event held in Recife Brazil.

A cycling event campaigning against “Trabalho infantil” meaning Child Labour. held by World Vision in Recife Brazil, July 2014.

 

At the beginning of the summer, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my internship at Boston Children’s Hospital. I wasn’t 100% set on whether a career in the medical profession was what I wanted to pursue or whether this opportunity was going to teach me things beyond what Brandeis had already given me. Upon entering Children’s on my first day back in early June, all doubts I’d had vanished as I was immediately submerged into the hustle and bustle of a hospital work environment. There was never a dull moment over the summer, but rather a constant stream of interesting work to be done and knowledge to be gained.

From my work on the Female Athlete Triad screening survey to analyzing data in the retrospective chart review, working at Boston Children’s Hospital enabled me to fulfill all my anticipated goals. Although most of my work was centered primarily around research, I was still able to participate in patient care and even serve as a test dummy for a few clinical tasks that needed to be done. Being able to experience multiple facets of the medical career not only helped me visualize my future goals and dreams but provided me with a deepened view of how research can be conducted. Although my main supervisor was a doctor, I made connections with nurses, physician assistants and research coordinators, all of whom aided in my success over the summer. Working with all these different types of people allowed me to get many different prospectives on how the medical system works and how it requires a great deal of coordination and balance between each sector for things to run smoothly. All the tasks I had to complete this summer broadened the knowledge I’d gained from Brandeis as I finally got to put theory into practice.

I believe that my experiences at Boston Children’s Hospital will directly translate into furthering my Brandeis education. I now have a grasp on research in a clinical setting and can begin to explore my own ideas for research in the future. At the midpoint this summer I had begun working on my own project to get the Female Athlete Triad into the forefront of Brandeis Athletics and have since been in contact with the athletic director to get the gears in motion. Using Brandeis as a launch site, I hope to be able to expand awareness of the Triad into other colleges and athletic programs in the area.

My biggest advice to a future Boston Children’s intern is to never be afraid to ask questions and always have a notebook available to jot down notes. When I first began my internship, I was always nervous to ask questions but I slowly became more comfortable with my supervisors and the questions began to naturally flow. Having a notebook was also a large component to my success as I would typically review what I had learned that day every night just to make sure there wasn’t anything I needed to get clarified.

I absolutely loved every minute of working at Boston Children’s Hospital. The staff I worked with and the patients I got to meet made a huge impact on me and my future aspirations. I hope to continue with the connections I made and thank Brandeis and Hiatt for the amazing opportunity I was given.

-Ally Parziale

Having reached the halfway point of my internship at Boston Children’s Hospital, I have successfully completed the patient survey and have begun to work on implementing it into a clinical setting. Through the use of this survey, patients will be prescreened for Female Athlete Triad, enabling doctors to provide better care to their patients. Having completed the survey, I have progressed into seeking IRB approval for a retrospective chart review study on female dancers to see how Female Athlete Triad affects their health. In gaining approval, I have had to use a great deal of my Brandeis knowledge, as being able to write scientifically plays a vital role in the process. Although my scientific background has provided me a firm basis for a lot of the work I’ve done at Children’s, my internship has taught me so much to this point. I have become much more comfortable interacting with professional medical staff through asking lots of questions and by taking their feedback on the projects I work on. I also have learned a great deal about doctor-patient interaction and how to best serve individuals in a professional manner. Many of the experiences I have had at Children’s are unlike anything I would be able to have on my own, so each day is a learning opportunity. I’m proud of my ability to use the knowledge I’ve gained at Brandeis in a real-world hospital setting. Compared to the other interns who work with me, it’s clear that Brandeis has given me a step up in many aspects including the efficiency and quality of my work as well as my ability to work in a professional setting.

My internship at Boston Children’s Hospital has thus far solidified my interests in pursing a career in the medical field that encompasses both patient interaction and research. Through working with my supervisor I’ve begun to develop my own ideas on research that I could pursue on my own after my internship at Children’s is over. I’ve also started a discussion with my supervisor on trying to implement a Female Athlete Triad program within the Brandeis Athletic Program to educate athletes on the issue and hopefully aid in prevention.

Upon completing my time at AVODAH I began to think about what made me come to this organization in the first place, and beyond that, if I got out of this experience all that I had hoped for. AVODAH is an organization which upholds ideals which are important to me. My father worked in international human rights and refugee law, and my grandparents dedicated their lives to immigrant aid and preventing poverty amongst Jewish immigrants to Canada. Consequently, I grew up imbued with ideas of social justice, helping others, and understanding that my world is affected by all those in it. There was huge emphasis on the importance of ensuring social welfare and justice. That’s why I applied to work at AVODAH. I, as a product of my environment, felt a responsibility for others and valued my Jewish experience: AVODAH looked like the perfect blend of both.

I had two main goals coming into AVODAH: to experience social justice, and to learn about not for profit work. I’d be hard pressed to say that the day-to-day administrative work at a not for profit is exhilarating, but there were constantly valuable learning opportunities. All organisations have different departments that interact with one another, but at AVODAH most of these departments were staffed by one individual. Being present at staff wide meetings, and participating in conversations about strategy and how to proceed was fascinating. Every individual brought to the discussion not only their department’s goals, but their perspectives as unique individuals trying to accomplish those goals. It taught me that differently minded individuals create productive environments.

Aside from the work I did for AVODAH in the office, I was also able to experience firsthand some projects that the organisation undertook. One of my supervisors began to teach at a two week program called JUSTCity which was a project of List College (the joint program between the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and Columbia University). Through this program eighteen high school students came together to discuss issues of social justice and inequality in New York City through a Jewish lens. It was first quite empowering to learn about Jewish attitudes to communal service, and the responsibility to contribute to the pursuit of justice. A particularly amazing experience I had in this program was hearing the thoughts and questions asked by the young high school students who participated in this program. I have been conditioned to this larger conversation in my personal upbringing and my time at Brandeis. Hearing this conversation through a different lens was enlightening and refreshing.

As I return to Brandeis I bring with me these conversations, these questions, and most importantly the lack of answers. I think that something that most people hope to get out of a summer internship is a potential career path, or some enlightened view on your life’s goal. I don’t think that’s what I got out of my time at AVODAH, I’m actually unsure if Jewish not for profit work is really for me. I did however garner a profound respect for the work that has to be done. I hope that I can translate that respect into this coming year at Brandeis by observing the world through not a new lenses, but various lenses.

At Brandeis I often hear the question “What does Social Justice really even mean?” asked a lot. Many friends of mine are often frustrated with the answers given or even the lack of any answer at all. I’ve realised that answering this question is not necessary. What’s most important is that we keep asking the question. As long as it’s being asked, we will strive to answer it, and as long as we strive to answer it, we will pursue social justice.

I am a little over halfway through my internship at the Consortium on Gender, Security, and Human Rights and I am amazed at how much I am learning! I went into this internship hoping to primarily advance my research skills, and the Consortium has definitely provided an opportunity to do just that. I have been assigned to the Masculinities and Armed Conflict annotated bibliography . I have been locating recent articles on hegemonic and alternative masculinities, on peacekeeping operations and sexual exploitation, and the role of masculinity in military trainings. We also spent a day learning about research techniques, including Boolean Operations, and other ways of better utilizing resources such as JStor and Academic Search Premier. The Consortium also recently brought in a speaker to discuss his work on masculinity in armed conflict with the interns, and I was able to connect with him afterwards to discuss resources on this topic. I am grateful that the Consortium puts us in contact with such interesting speakers and valuable organizations!


I find that research is not the only skill I have been developing here, as I have learned a ton about organization and team leadership. I have been placed as team manager on the Syllabus Collection project, which gives me the opportunity to research academic programs regarding gender, politics, armed conflict, and international relations, and practice writing professional correspondence. The best part about it, however, is that I am getting leadership experience in managing a team, which is something I find I enjoy much more than I thought I would!

The work I am most proud of, however, is the work I have done on the Country Profile and Thematic Reports for the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security. The NGO WG draws on these profiles and reports that we draft to write their Monthly Action Plan (MAP) Reports, used to bring issues of women, peace and security to the United Nations Security Council. I have been researching the ways the mandates and resolutions of the UN Security Council adequately (or, often, not) address issues of women, gender, gender equality, women’s political participation in the peace negotiation process, etc. I was assigned to draft reports for South Sudan, Syria, and Israel/Palestine, which gave me a chance to read up on what is currently happening in these areas with histories of brutal and deadly conflicts. The works I am reading are both informative and disheartening, but I am glad that this internship is a motivator for keeping up-to-date on international news and events.

Looking forward to this upcoming week: our associate director will be leading us in a yoga class on the green by the bay outside of the office!

whoopie

We had a lot of fun throughout the summer, especially when trying to finish a giant Whoopie Pie (see above via Instagram).

As the hours ticked by on my last day of work at ISlide, I noticed several things running through my mind. The first was relief. I knew that after this day I would be able to go home and see my family and that 45-hour work weeks were a thing of the past (for now at least). The second, however, was sadness. Throughout my time as a summer intern for ISlide, I grew extremely close with my coworkers, my boss, and the company itself, and the day had come where I would be leaving it. I had fallen in love with everything the company stood for, the product, and how we went about our business day in and day out. I started to realize how much I would miss that hot, old, amazing mill. But my time had come to move on and to allow another batch of young, intelligent, hard-working interns to come in and give it everything they had.

slides

Here is a picture of the slides I had made for a CrossFit Gym in Dallas (via Instagram).

During the months that I worked at ISlide, I had tasks and activities that helped me move towards my learning goals everyday. My main job was in sales. I worked day in and day out trying to add accounts for the company and manage the ones that I was able to sign. This task allowed me to build communication skills, confidence on the phone and in emails, and bolstered my Microsoft Office abilities. On top of that, we all worked very closely with Justin (ISlide’s CEO) in meetings where the topics included real world sales and operations reports, cash flow sheets, and investor decks that were used to pitch the company to outside venture capitalists and angel investors. These activities gave me background on all the things I had learned in the classroom and showed me how they are relevant in the business world. My tasks and activities at ISlide boosted my real-world business experience, taught me new skills and techniques, and showed me what it truly takes to run a successful start-up company.

From this point forward I will be looking to build off of my experience at ISlide. When it comes to my time in the classroom at Brandeis, I will use the experience I have gained and the new facets of business that I have learned to put the material into context as to how it could be important in future jobs. I think that this will allow me to focus more because what I am learning will have more meaning. I will also take my experience beyond to levels that reach outside of the classroom. Without a doubt in my mind, I will put to use the skills I learned at ISlide in my future internships, jobs, applications, and in life in general. I want to learn so much more and what I learned this summer will serve as excellent background knowledge for all of my future endeavors. I would love to explore more and more facets of business. I have experienced the start up world and the positions as a sales rep and I loved it. However, I would also like to look into advertising, marketing, and finance. These three things are experiences that I would like to take on in the future so that my knowledge can become as well-rounded as possible.

If I were to advise a future intern at ISlide or one in the sales/business field in general, I would tell them one thing: work hard. Work harder than you think you should. Don’t go into this internship thinking you have good work ethic; look to improve it. When I arrived at ISlide, I thought that I had top-notch work ethic, but then I watched Justin day in and day out. He is so diligent and so passionate and is willing to put in the hours for his company, for his child, so to speak. This rubbed off on me and before I knew it the nine hour days were flying by, I was working on emails when I got home from work, and I was thinking about ISlide all the time. The fact that I pushed myself to new limits when it came to my work ethic allowed me to experience success, and there is no better feeling than when the grind pays off. Here is a link to the website of an MMA apparel brand that I signed. I advise to work your tail off because in the end, it will make it exponentially more rewarding and you will be proud of the body of work you put together.

I loved my time at ISlide and wouldn’t change it for anything. It was an amazing summer, I learned more than I could have ever expected to, and it was a ride that I will never forget. Here is the “Meet the Interns” video that one of my fellow interns made about our summer with ISlide.

-Max Hart

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My internship has come to a close! Unlike in my other posts, I feel at a loss for words. This experience at Lava Bear was everything I had hoped it would be. In my exit interview, I pretty much delivered heaps upon heaps of effusive praise. Lava Bear is a great company – it was sheer serendipity that this place was perfect for me. The last few days have been rough, acclimating to the responsibilities of “real life” and accepting that my time in Los Angeles has come to a close (or at least a hiatus).

The viewof Lava Bear through the garage

The view of Lava Bear through the garage

Spending these last few days reflecting, I feel that I accomplished my many goals. I now know that I could happily live in LA. I now know that I could work in development. I now know that I could read scripts for a living. This summer was not necessarily revelatory (it was too lifelike for that) but it was an incredibly important step in my career. I now know that I want to learn more about film budgeting and the Massachusetts Film Commission (potential future internship site?). I have developed a deeper love of screenwriting that I cannot really expound upon; again, my confidentiality agreement heeds, but I must say that one of the highlights of my summer was sorting through tens of fascinating and individualistic scripts that I cannot tell you about.

I was just discussing with a friend whether I thought reading such a dense volume of scripts improved my writing. While I don’t think it stoked my creative side, I feel my analytical work will be much stronger now. My wit is definitely more acerbic, that’s for sure! I will definitely be able to apply these skills during my final year at Brandeis. On the way out, one of the higher-ups told me I should start a blog. What a thought! I discussed with my coworkers the possibility of moving out here; all of them seemed willing (even eager) to help me locate a job. Writing thank-you notes was easy. I feel blessed and happy that I was able to make this dream a reality (with the help of others). Moreover, I made contact with a bevy of independent artists in the community. The friends I have made in California have been wonderful. I feel satisfied with the networking I did, and furthermore, I believe I developed my skills in networking.

I walked past this street art every day on the day to work

I walked past this street art every day on the day to work

My thoughts on film have shifted, particularly my thoughts on screenwriting. I feel pretty confident that I could work various vocations, from a suit to a creative. Now I have this year to make some decisions about the niche I want to occupy. Thanks to the WOW, I feel certain that I could compete in this landscape. I encourage anyone looking to work in film to simply start networking immediately. Networking is vital and you cannot make film without the assistance of others. That is what I love about film art, that it requires collaboration. I took particular joy in showing the work of Brandeis Television, a club I’m on the E-board of, to my employers and artistic friends. This is also not a shill, but I strongly recommend taking advantage of the resources the Hiatt Career Center has to offer. I used Hiatt offices to conduct my multiple phone interviews, have my resume checked, and the advice of my Hiatt liaison has been vital throughout the process. Keep working, keep pushing, because really, what else is there to life besides kindness and art-making?

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog posts, my intermittent Carriemoments. Bonne chance, Brandesians and future WOW’ers!

-Alex Weick, Brandeis 2015

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At the tallest point on Bioko Island- El Pico.

At the tallest point on Bioko Island- El Pico.

 

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since my internship ended. I’ve been putting off writing this last blog for a while now due to a busy schedule and ongoing self-reflection.  Before my internship, I had a set of learning goals that I wished to, and did, accomplish: I spoke Spanish on a daily basis and continued to challenge myself throughout each day of my summer.  I learned the basics behind a data-collecting program and worked with various medical professionals in the clinical trial setting.  However, I also accomplished many tasks that I didn’t set goals for: I learned the difference between three species of mosquitoes and the difference between a male and female mosquito.  I learned what a good Standard Operating Procedure looks like. I also grew more comfortable expressing my ideas to my colleagues.

In the last few weeks I’ve been asked countless times what I did over the summer.  Now that I’ve had time to reflect on my summer experience I now know how great of an opportunity this was for me.  I am determined to pursue a career in the public health area and have looked at classes at Brandeis I can apply my new knowledge to.  I also recently met another CA that is a part of a Nothing but Nets chapter on campus that I hope to join this year.  I’m very excited to keep in touch with my summer colleagues and to learn about the progress that is happening in Malabo.  I know now that even the little things that I did were a part of a great cause.  It’s very motivating to think that I was a part of a clinical trial for a potential malaria vaccine.

My advice for other interns is to be flexible! There were multiple times during my internship that I felt like my expectations of myself and my internship were not being met.  It is during these times that you will learn something new about yourself and about “the working life.” MCDI was a great organization to work with and I encourage all interested people to apply to be an intern at one of their various sites.  Working in a country that you are not accustomed to and in a field where the territory is new (like implementing a vaccine trial) can be frustrating at times.  However, it is important to always carry a positive attitude and an open mind.  I met some amazing and inspiring people during my internship that will continue to motivate me throughout my career.

In Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, MCDI concentrates on preventing malaria transmission through indoor spraying, bed net distribution and education as well as implementing a malaria vaccine trial with the PfSPZ vaccine created by Sanaria.  During my internship, I had a chance to accompany the spray team to one of the remote villages that they visit.  It was then that I learned that malaria, although a huge issue, was not as important to the community members of this village as it was to MCDI. Many members complained of their lack of clean water, electricity and stable houses and protested MCDI’s attempt to spray the houses because they lacked more essential items.  It is difficult to pursue social justice in one area when there are other areas that need help too.  It is important that we as individuals work together to provide social justice in all areas.  All aspects of social justice are as equally as important as others.  I know that I won’t be able to help everyone in the world, but I am determined to help in whatever area I specialize in and strive to understand and listen to those that I work with and for.  Before I started writing this blog I felt as if it would be the end of my internship experience; however I am now more excited than ever to see where this experience will take me next.  Thanks to everyone who helped me get here.

Last staff photo!

Last staff photo!

– Jesse Knowles

The summer is all but done, I’m back in the US, and the temperature is already dropping here at Brandeis. Considering that the heat in Dakar is only just hitting its stride, I’m pretty happy that the northeast is cooling off sooner than usual. It’s a little strange to be speaking English almost exclusively and I’ll miss the homemade Senegalese dishes that I’d gotten used to, but it’s also been nice to see my family and be surrounded by green trees again. There’s nothing wrong with the Sahel,  but greenery is nice after 6 months of sand, sandy wind, and the occasional baobab tree thrown into the mix.

My learning goals were definitely skills that I improved during the summer. In the wake of the Ebola spread happening in West and North Africa, sanitation and disease have been keywords popping up in more conversations than I can count. One of my goals was to link my classroom knowledge of West Africa and its history to a more in-depth, on the ground perspective. One of my main tasks at GRAG during my last month was to complete a preliminary evaluation of a sanitation project done by UNICEF and a few other big-name international NGOs. I learned a lot about some of the smaller issues that affect the success of sanitation programs in the region in complex ways. For example, hand washing isn’t necessarily something taught in a lot of rural schools or focused on in households. And without a culture of focusing on small sanitation acts like that, any large companies coming in to spread messages about them can seem like just more of the same Western aid programs that might mean well but don’t end up benefiting the population in any meaningful way. The key to successfully impacting communities like the ones targeted by the UNICEF program isn’t anything difficult or impossible, it just requires careful listening to those populations. Community involvement does much more in the long-run than programs that only involve the population in secondary roles.

This example is relevant for my career goal, too. I had wanted to gain more experience with crafting NGO publications and reports and community involvement is important for that as well. Some of my translation work required translation of publications from English to French, which is one of the languages spoken in the area. But there are several other languages spoken by people in the area who don’t have access to the French education system. Sometimes another GRAG member fluent in those languages would have to take my translations and translate them again into local languages. And community engagement was important for the questionnaires to be used for research projects — we would occasionally have to bring in a consultant to handle parts of the project regarding a specific region or ethnic group and their traditions. This was in addition to hiring research teams from the targeted populations to be overseen by a supervisor from GRAG. All of this served to engage the communities better and achieve more of a grassroots, long-lasting impact.

My personal goal, learning more coping mechanisms for this line of work, generally went well. I’d become attached to some of the projects that I helped with or evaluated, so any failures I heard about could hit hard. But you learn how to deal with these kinds of emotional twists while working on so many things at once. It’s important that I remind myself that everyone will be trying harder on the next project and all I can really do is continue to perfect my section of it all. The team atmosphere at GRAG helped me to realize this philosophy and I think I can go forward knowing that those kinds of workplace bonds can be helpful in any kind of emotional situation.

My experience has given me a lot more confidence in my ability to work in an industry that I’m interested in. From here on I’m hoping to jump into even more experiences in line with research and NGO work and possibly including travel. I’ve looked into internships in the Brandeis area that do public health research or deal with sustainable tourism.

I would advise anyone wanting to work at GRAG to make sure to look for opportunities outside of the given tasks. After about a month and a half the pace got pretty erratic. There would be some weeks with pages and pages of proposals to work on and others when days went by with only simple tasks or almost nothing to do. In the end I would come up with tasks to add onto, like helping other GRAG members on their projects, or I would ask my supervisor for more things to do. I think the pace of my internship is pretty similar to that at other international aid organizations since I helped my boss do some work for a UNAID office at their headquarters in Dakar once and the setup was much the same. In general it’s necessary to be aware of the differences in activity day-to-day and not to let the fast pace or a dragging day dishearten you.

My thoughts about social justice have been reinforced as a result of my experience this summer. My internship helped me to focus on the fact that there are many different ways that I can help people in far-flung locations…but also many ways in which I can’t. I’m not fluent in any local languages in the Dakar region or fully knowledgeable of the cultures that exist there. I could pick almost any point on the globe outside of the northeast United States and the same would be true. I think that many times our vision of social justice becomes patronizing and very paternalistic to some of the people we think we are “helping.” An important part of social justice abroad is standing up for your corner of the globe and realizing that you are not the expert on any others. For me this means that I will look for opportunities in the future that partner me with people who have grown up in these places and have a deeper understanding of the forces at play there. Organizations like UNICEF or UNAID can do a lot of good, but doing so takes some stepping forward from people like me and also some stepping back. Maybe the gap between classroom education and real-world experience can never be fully filled in and that’s fine. We all have to do what good we can in the ways that we can, adding onto others and eventually creating an even better network of specialized change agents.

The summer was everything that I needed in my career and personal lives and more. I’ll miss Dakar for a while but for now it’s back to Brandeis, back to formal academics, and back to figuring out the future as it comes.

 

-Natasha Gordon ’15

 

“… there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

AVODAH’s mission statement states that the organisation strengthens the American Jewish community’s response to the causes and effects of domestic poverty. The mission statement also expresses the goal of fostering “lifelong leaders whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values.” The question I had after reading the mission statement when applying for my internship was what connects those two aspects of AVODAH. Fighting poverty is an important and noble cause, and fostering Jewish leaders is integral for continuity, but what makes fighting poverty so Jewish, and what about anti-poverty work makes for a Jewish environment?

One of the first questions I was asked upon coming to AVODAH was: what keeps you up at night? This was not referring to the New York heat, nor was it referring to the neighbour’s dog, but rather it was asking me to think about what truly bothers me. Walking through the subway in New York, and on the streets in Midtown on the way to work every day, I began to see poverty everywhere. I saw homeless individuals on corners where I had not seen them the week before. The scary realisation that I had was that they were there all along, but they didn’t stand out to me – they seemed like a natural environmental fixture. My “indifference to evil” was worse “than evil itself.” When my sensitivity was heightened to the suffering around me, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to get a roll of quarters so I could help everyone, but a friend reminded me that that would only assuage my guilt and not actually help.

I began to think of what AVODAH does as an organisation. I realised that trying to remedy the effects of poverty is important, but combating poverty from its roots was key. AVODAH’s approach to fighting poverty addresses the issue from varying approaches including housing, healthcare, education, and hunger. Corps members are placed in jobs that extend from direct action, to advocacy, to organising around individual’s rights and policy. I learned that the only way to properly address a social issue was not just to assuage the effects that make the rest of society uncomfortable (like I wanted to make myself more comfortable by having quarters to give out), but to also address the root issues and work towards solving them.

On considering the new subject that succeeded in keeping me up at night, a teacher of mine reminded me of the rabbinic trope that “it is not on you to complete the task; however, you are not free to abandon it” (Tractate Avot 2:21). This was the view I had to take in encountering poverty as I sipped my Starbucks coffee, while going to work to fight poverty. I was doing my job, I was contributing to the effort, but this was not a task I could go at alone. Likewise, fighting poverty is not a task anyone can go at alone and that’s why AVODAH exists, to create a community of leaders with a common goal. My question, however, still remained: what makes antipoverty work so inherently Jewish?

The quotation that I quoted and affixed to the top of this post is, not surprisingly, one that I borrowed from an AVODAH promotional poster. It emphasizes the Jewish values of mutual responsibility and fighting injustice. Acknowledging an issue is human, actually doing something about it is Jewish. I think this idea is what Heschel was trying to convey in his words, and I think this is the idea that AVODAH embodies every day.

– Ariel Kagedan

Hello everyone,

I hope your summers have ended well and that you are all settling back into school or whatever you may be up to at this point. I have been at Brandeis for three weeks, jumping right from my internship into CA training, and from that to classes. Although my internship ended on a “good note,” for all intents and purposes, I still have work to do.

Just in case I did not clarify sooner, AVODAH, the organization for which I interned this summer, is a Jewish non-profit organization, which works towards bringing social justice-oriented Jews into significant roles in antipoverty organizations, influencing Jewish communities to do likewise. The word avodah in Hebrew literally translates to “work”, hinting at the difficult work at hand in the effort to eliminate or at least ameliorate the causes and effects of domestic poverty. A Jewish proverb delineates the same concept, stating that “it is not on you to finish the work, and you are not free to exempt yourself from it.” There may be large, overwhelming steps in the process of reaching the goal at hand, but you can’t back away from it.

This proverb perfectly expresses what has been on my mind since my completion of the internship. I have learned a tremendous amount about the inner-workings of a non-profit organization, as well as the goal of the organization and especially pertaining to alumni and community engagement strategy. I have begun to think critically about my role as a leader in multiple subsets of the Jewish community, and how my experiences at AVODAH can bring others to think similarly about issues of domestic poverty and Jewish communal involvement. I look forward to contributing and facilitating programming on the Brandeis campus and perhaps beyond, bringing others to better understand and contribute to a more socially and economically just society. I have much to learn about antipoverty work and urban poverty in the United States, but I have a good foundation on which to build greater understanding.

I have also an enormous amount of respect for all the AVODAH staff members. Each and every one has great expertise on how to run this crucial organization, and has helped me understand how their job contributes to the larger picture and how my work added to their project. Finally, I have to thank my supervisor, Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, for teaching me about what it is to be passionate about Jewish antipoverty efforts and how to bring knowledge and personal experiences into the work setting in a productive way. I hope to continue the relationships I have built with my supervisor as well as other AVODAH staff members, as I see them as invaluable guides to that particular field and trailblazers in progressive Jewish communal efforts.

As I plunge into this semester and what it may bring, I will have an increased awareness of the world around me, and have a better grounding in what I can do to contribute to a more sustainable and socially just community and society. I am grateful to have been able to give you all snapshots of my experiences, and hope that you all have meaningful semesters and feel free to ask any questions you may have about my internship.

Thank you for reading, and best of luck to you all!

Hannah Z. Kober

 

My summer internship has finally come to an end. I have learned so much and worked with so many inspiring people who are friendly, always willing to help, and passionate about their jobs. After the internship, I can confirm my passion for development work and my career path ahead. The following is the farewell card from my SJ team as a good-luck gift for my career path in international development.

 

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Over the summer I have run the first phases of a project called “Raising awareness about climate change for children in remote areas”. My task started with desk research on what has been done and what materials we can provide for the libraries we set up in coastal areas which are heavily affected by rising temperature and immigrating sea water. The children and farmers there still lack basic information about climate change, its effects, and how we can mitigate its destruction.

Along with mapping climate change in Vietnam, I also collected physical documents and soft copies for the information center. This work required lots of traveling, contacting other organizations and also explaining our projects for their support. I learn a lot about the landscape of NGO work in Vietnam.  I also learned what skills and experience are needed for a development worker and what I need to do next for my career path. I am thankful because the people I met and worked with are very passionate about their jobs and willing to share with me their experiences.

Another part of my job requires traveling and talking with local people at the sites that we will set up our information center. I have traveled a lot through out the country, but have never been on business trips like these before! We were able to go to very remote places with only limited access for locals. We created a survey about climate change issues and sent out copies to local people to fill out so that we could know about their needs and their background knowledge on the subjects. I was amazed at the low level of information they have about the alarming issue of climate change, and I really hope that our project can bring some positive change to the villages.

After the internship, I am more confirmed about the career route that I want to follow. I will continue my work in international development, improve my language skills, and travel more. The first thing I will do when I get back to Brandeis is to talk with my professor in Development Economics about my career path and ask for her suggestion on graduate schools and work experience. I will take more classes in related fields such as environment studies and sociology to prepare a better background on the subjects that I have been working on. More importantly, I will do more research on climate change issues in South East Asia and the possibilities of micro-finance in a climate change context, two concepts that I have been working on for the last two summers. That idea has been given to me by my supervisor during the time we worked together. I have gained so much advice from him and plan to stay connected after my summer internship.

For other students interested in working in international development in developing countries, the most important thing is reaching out and showing people that you are passionate about what you are doing. Development work, especially NGO work in Vietnam requires multitasking and interpersonal skills because you will have to deal with many unexpected situations and overcome challenging living conditions. But once you get through all the difficulties, the reward is satisfying. I am very glad to see the impact of my project in the local people’s lives and how they are looking forward to more projects like that.  A plus of the job is the people in the field. They are very open and want to share their experience. They come from different countries with different backgrounds but all share the same wish for a better community. Once you love your job and are willing to learn and contribute your work to the community, people will welcome and help you. For an internship with SJ Vietnam, I suggest contacting the program officer with the specific projects you are interested in and asking for an informal interview. If you are suitable for the job then SJ will let you join because the organization still needs lots of help!

As a Social Justice recipient, I think my philosophies and ideals have been strengthened as I can see the result of my work and how it can improve a community. The goal of my work is not about learning a new theory or solving a difficult mathematics problem but finding the best solutions for a sustainable community supporting people and making their lives better. Along the way there will be difficulties ranging from financial shortages, support from the government, or coordination of local people. But I am sure that with my social justice philosophies and beliefs, I can work through such challenges. Thanks to my summer internship site and the support from WOW to make this experience a reality. Now it is the end of summer and I am heading back to school. But I am glad that I am much more prepared than before I left, and I believe I will be more prepared for next year when I leave Brandeis and be ready for my real life journey.

– Trang Luu

Working at NARAL, a tiny organization with a four-member staff, made me realize that the job descriptions offered by non-profits encompass only a fraction of the tasks employees actually undertake. I began my summer with the impression that my sole task would be to oversee the Political Interns and help build membership, never guessing that my role would eventually expand to encompass strategizing grassroots campaigns, drafting NARAL literature, and coordinating regional activist teams to accomplish initiatives remotely.

Certain tasks I was assigned this summer allowed me to accomplish the learning goals I laid out in May. Each Wednesday I supervised an intern weekly meeting, which gave me a platform to develop my leadership style. When interns gave feedback about the prior week, I learned how to be a sympathetic ear, an attentive listener, and a problem solver if the situation demanded it. Five minutes later, I had to delegate tasks assertively, offer background information about NARAL’s work that week, and occasionally offer constructive criticism of the interns’ work the week before. I learned through these weekly meetings that being a leader is not a one-dimensional role; it requires great personal flexibility in the way you handle different situations, and the interns ultimately appreciate a leader that can be both firm and personable.

This summer, I had over 25 one-on-one meetings with activists and organizational leaders in the hopes of getting more individuals and organizations involved in NARAL’s work. After hours spent chatting about abortion access over coffee, I learned that the best way to engage new activists is to frame NARAL’s work through the lens of the activist’s interests. Even those who may not initially be receptive to NARAL’s mission may become more interested when you frame NARAL’s work in a less polarized way. For example, I recruited an organization that focuses on poverty among low-income women by explaining to their Political Director that crisis pregnancy centers – false health centers that seek to deter women from receiving abortion care – typically target low-income women of color. The Political Director did not identify as “staunchly pro-choice,” but this direct appeal to her organization’s focal point made her more receptive to NARAL’s work.

Now that the summer is over, I feel like my cumulative intern experience – both this summer and in the semesters prior – has finally paid off. Two weeks ago, NARAL applied for a grant that allow for the hiring of a full time, paid staff member that would oversee our electoral work and campus program. We received the grant a week later, and NARAL has opted to hire me for the position. On September 2, I will sign my contract and continue my journey as a pro-choice advocate, this time as NARAL’s Political Organizer. Though I will be adopting a new title, I will oversee multiple teams of activists, draft NARAL-specific literature, coordinate field campaigns, a devise strategic grassroots mobilization efforts – all tasks I accomplished this summer, and will continue to build upon in my new role.

This internship gave me an in-depth look at the mechanics of grassroots organizing: mobilizing folks at the individual level to create broad political change. Grassroots organizing is deeply satisfying – in that you as an organizer develop personal relationships with volunteers and activists – but it is also exhausting, because it requires a heavy investment of time and energy with no guarantee that it will yield results. Now, I want to learn grasstops organizing: building coalitions, developing organizational partnerships, and working with elected officials to pass priority legislation. Political Directors are required to negotiate complicated political dynamics and protocols when they interact with other organizations and elected officials. As grasstops organizers, Political Directors must learn an entirely new code of conduct, and must juggle the organization’s needs with the needs of the elected officials with which they interact. It’s a complicated balancing act, one I have little knowledge of and one I’d like to become more familiar with.

As someone who appreciates structure, organization, and clear-cut duties, I would tell prospective NARAL interns that working at NARAL is a lesson in learning workplace flexibility. I learned this summer that small political non-profit organizations are often reactionary, responding to elections, Supreme Court decisions, and executive orders at the drop of a hat. Professionals in the political non-profit industry quickly learn that they must be flexible and readily adaptable, or else their organization will not be able to respond to political happenings appropriately.

This summer was my first experiencing approaching “social justice” as a staff member at an advocacy organization. It was my first experience encountering the thrills of broad-spectrum political change – and the unfortunate bureaucracy and gridlock that follow. I learned that political organizations often compromise or sacrifice their ideals for incremental success – a far cry from the romanticized “social justice” movements of the 60s and 70s that tended to be more radical and unapologetic in nature. In our current political climate, the organizations that minimally challenge the status quo and seek incremental, “baby-step” success towards their ultimate goals are the best respected. Pragmatism trumps idealism. The same can be said for our elected officials; we elect and endorse candidates not for their ideals or their liberalism, but for their viability and the projected success of their initiatives. Though I understand the paradigm of being radical, and challenging society from the roots up, working at NARAL has made me realize that I can be the most effective change agent by working slowly but determinedly to advance the pro-choice cause.

My internship at the San Francisco District Attorney in Victim Services has come to end. It was a bittersweet day because I have made connections with the advocates that I worked with this summer. The advocates showed me what they go through on a typical day. They give support to victims while caring for their safety. The task I would do on a daily basis was explaining the California Victims of Violent Crime Compensation program to our Spanish-speaking clients and process. It would be difficult for them to understand because all the paper works was in English. Some of these Spanish-speaking clients would just come in to comprehend their claims and what steps they needed to take. This made me realize that there are not enough resources for the Latino community. It’s very difficult for them to try to read their information and understand court while it is being conducted in English.

I was working on reviewing U-visa for undocumented immigrants who have been a victim of a violent crime. It was interesting seeing the qualifications that are needed for this process and the forms that need to be filled out. One main question that is asked for this is: Was the victim cooperative? With the prosecutor? With the advocate? Most of them were cooperative in the case, which made it easier for my supervisor to sign their visas. For others we needed to see more into their case and see what really occurred during court. I am glad I worked with this because it made me learn on how the process is really about and the requirements that are needed. Especially with my interest in immigration and the obstacles that immigrants have to constantly face. There were many stories that immigrants have come to San Francisco and less than a month are assaulted and become victims.

With my time at Victim Services, I want to see more of how the criminal justice system is seen from multiple sides. It’s not just the prosecutor and defense attorney but the victim as well. At times the victim’s story goes unseen. While at Brandeis I want other student to see the truth within social justice. We need to focus on not only what happens at Brandeis, but in the outside world as well. There are so many tragedies that are occurring in San Francisco and all around the United States. Sometimes the blame gets put on the victim for being a minority and being at the wrong place at the wrong time. There still needs to be justice for the victim’s families. I want to see changes and any small differences that I can do by educating these communities to protect them.

I intend to apply to be an intern in other district attorney’s offices with Victim Services in other states such as Massachusetts  to see for myself how their process works in the criminal justice system. It’s great to learn from other locations and see what is working and what can be improved. I would like to see how other counties deal with violence in their communities and how their victims are being represented. We also visited a jail during my summer but did not have an extensive amount of time and I would like to learn more about how the prison system works.

Advice that I would give to anyone who works at Victim Services at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office is to be able to deal with anything and anyone who comes in. Some of are clients has suffered Posttraumatic Stress Disorder due to the incident that occurred to them which is understandable. However, we had to act quickly and help those and anyone who came in. It is very rewarding because it was great knowing that I could help someone calm down and relax to understand the support that they need. The same is with the criminal justice system because there can’t be preconceived notations about the incident until everything is laid out and explained.

Some of my ideals have been challenged because at times there are discrepancies between the victim and the prosecutor. At times the victim story changes due to how long ago was the incident and difficult to remember. Then the prosecutor feels that the victim might be lying to them or trying to protect others. The next question is whom do we believe? Is it the police officers that respond and write the police report, the victim, the defendant, and the witness? This occurs in many cases that are taken to court and makes it more complicated to resolve. I have learned that it is critical to take the time to listen to the victim’s story and what happened to them so they can trust you and that will make it easier for them to cooperate with you. It is going to help me personally to stop and listen to what people have to say because it is vital to anyone that you want to help and see him or her succeed.

Over half of my internship has passed and it seems like such short amount of time. Beyond desk research and collecting data for the project that I am working on, my tasks involve a lot of traveling to remote areas to conduct surveys. We are working on building libraries focused on climate change issues for children, so the work requires on-field surveys to get information on the needs and facilities in the villages where we want to set up our information centers.

Through field visits and data collecting from the field, I have learned so much about the job and the skills I would need to be more prepared for my future career. Despite strong quantitative skills and attention to details, a development worker should build up a very strong background on the community and soft skills to deal with unexpected situations. We have worked with people from different sectors such as the government, private businesses, and most importantly with farmers and children. I have learned that all the theories and knowledge I get in school contributes to the work that I am doing now, bringing our project on paper into real life.  Moreover, I have had a chance to talk with local people about various NGOs’ work and the impact on their lives. One of the most interesting parts about the job is that I could travel to lots of remote places in the country that I have never been to.

During our trips we face many challenges.  The local authorities are not always coordinated.  Sometimes traveling takes lots of time and road conditions are not very good. However, thanks to our partners in the village, we are able to collect all the survey we need.

Here is the picture of our team in a coastal village which is heavily affected by climate change. As we can see, the old church which used to be in the center of the village is now partly covered by sea water.

 

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The following picture captures us conducting a survey about climate change in  Hai Hau village in the Nam Dinh province.

 

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The more I get involved in my work the more I learn about a career path in development and sustainability. The knowledge I receive at Brandeis is very important, but I also have to learn a lots about the field, the situations in developing countries and what development needs are most pressing. In Vietnam for example, environment and climate issues are the two most in-need fields of development as the country is the second most country affected by climate change. The cross-cutting approach that has been recently used in NGOs requires students with variety of skills and multitasking abilities. Hence, I know what I should gain for my last year at Brandeis. Beyond academic focus, I also need to explore the needs in other developing countries and prepare a good background in global issues.

The experience has been so good so far. I have learnt many things about the culture, the people, and most importantly the next steps I need to progress in my career path. I hope the rest of the summer will come with more journeys and explorations.

– Trang Luu

Working at CECYTEM-EMSAD has been an honor because I have grown and matured as a student and woman. I am very thankful for this great opportunity to work at this organization and have an amazing group of individuals working and supporting me. Although I have sacrificed many things while here, it has been worth it; seeing the smiles from my students and being thanked by the mothers of children with special needs for helping their children progress is the best gift I could ever ask for. Being around the Purépecha Mexican community has made me appreciate my culture and heritage that I come from. I love working at CECYTEM-EMSAD and hope to one day in my near future return and continue the work and change I have initiated at this organization and community.

“Clinic Rooms at CECYTEM-EMSAD”

I believe that I am on the right track on accomplishing my defined learning goals that I established before arriving at my internship. My academic goal is to use my Health: Science, Society and Policy major knowledge in order to help progress the health and education of this community. I also intend to improve my presentation skills through teaching English to children as well as educating teens about sexual and reproductive health. This includes holding workshops on various health topics at the clinic and nearby towns. I am really proud of the progress I have made toward this goal because I feel very confident speaking in front of large groups of children as well as adults all by myself. At first it was a bit difficult, but now I am used to the type of work and no longer feel scared, embarrassed or nervous.  This is the skill for which I am most proud and grateful.

 “Workshop on the Theme of Pregnancy”

My career goal is to establish an Occupational Therapeutic Learning Center for special needs children as well as a clinic for teens in order to help progress the medical and educational knowledge of this community. I think that I am on a good path in achieving this goal because through the weekly committee meetings with the faculty each week, I am learning how to better operate an organization, giving me the fundamental skills in understanding how to manage a business. Being around staff members that are so welcoming and understanding helps me to comprehend that in order to capture an intern’s attention, supervisors and staff must engage and challenge the interns in order to demonstrate if in fact they are ready to take on the responsibility of managing a whole team or event on their own. As I have learned through this experience, I must work hard and embrace struggle.

 “Patient Beds at CECYTEM-EMSAD’s Community Clinic”

My personal goal is to build a stronger connection with this community as well as build my skills of working with special needs children by operating different cases and offering them services such as speech, occupational therapy and behavioral therapy in order to help better the lives of the children and these families. I am working on three cases that have children with special needs. The parents love the way that I motivate their children and they tell me that they see drastic progress in the way that their children behave and act. By holding the weekly workshops of various medical themes, such as family nutrition, disabilities, psychology/stress, pregnancy, methods of protection from sexual reproduction, I am able to build a stronger connection with the population and help them adopt better health styles.

“Teaching English to Elementary Students at CECYTEM-EMSAD”

“Teaching English to Middle School Students at CECYTEM-EMSAD”

The thing that I am most proud of is teaching English to the students at the local school. Within these four weeks my students are already writing and reading English.  As I walk around the village I hear them singing the ABC’s and counting. This shows me that my students are learning and I am making the classes fun. I hope that they continue to have an enjoyable time in my classes and that at the end of my internship they will be able to have basic conversations in English. This would show me that I am creating change in the lives of these students.

“Having Class Outside with my Awesome Students”

I am very grateful that I was selected as a recipient for the WOW Social Justice because this is an unforgettable experience. It is awesome to go to another country and see the difference in culture and lifestyles because one appreciates the little things in life that one once considered insignificant. As a result of this internship, I am building many academic and life skills that will help me become a better student and woman in life. I am improving my participation, confidence, and most importantly I am no longer nervous or scared to speak in front of an audience or ask questions. I would not been able to improve on all of these weaknesses if it were not for this internship. This work has giving me the opportunity to become a better person and has supported me in my path to help me in my academics, future career plans, and other campus involvements. I am no longer a follower, but a leader that is ready to take upon any challenge.

Working at CECYTEM-EMSAD has been one of the most gratifying experiences in my entire life. At the organization, I completed many tasks that required great patience, responsibility, determination and hard work. I taught English to Elementary, Middle and High school students. I would also teach teens about sexual and reproductive health at the school. Half of the time I would teach English and the other half I would utilize it to educate teens about sexual health. At the end of my internship, I organized a graduation for all of my students and provided food, drinks and banners for their completion of my English courses. We sang songs, recited poems, did plays and had a wonderful time. Parents told me that they wished that I would never leave the organization. I loved hearing this because it made me feel that I completed my job and created a difference in the lives of so many individuals.

“Preparing Cotton Balls for Next Patients’ Vaccination”

At the clinic I would take patient vitals and help distribute medication. I was also in charge of organizing all medication and make sure that all the medicine was not expired. I also held weekly workshops on various health topics at the clinic and neighboring rural towns. I worked on three family cases involving special needs children. I provided them with OT, Speech, PE, and ABA/Behavioral therapy in order to help their children progress. The doctor was very patient with me. I learned how to take shots, measure a mother’s stomach and hear a baby’s heartbeat. I also learned how to do a small incision in a woman’s’ arm to implant an “implanon,” a type of contraceptive.

I am very proud of the work I put into this organization. As a result of my interaction with the population, the staff of CECYTEM-EMSAD has a better understanding of how to work with, talk to and better connect with this Mexican-Purépecha community. My academic, career and personal goals were achieved. I was even able to connect and understand my culture and heritage better, creating a stronger bond with my family and their cultural ties.

This internship opened my eyes to many career opportunities and helped me grow as a student and woman. Working at CECYTEM-EMSAD made me into a leader and inspired me to take on great responsibility. I had to keep myself very organized and manage my time wisely. This whole community depended on me to help them improve their health and education. I never thought that working with a community in such a rural society would be so difficult, but the experience was so gratifying and beautiful to watch.

Now that my time at my internship has come to an end, I am very interested in continuing to take HSSP and Business courses that deal with underprivileged communities and the struggles these societies face. I came to understand many of this town’s philosophies, missions, economy, education and health care. Through personal interactions, I have insight into the people who make up this community, more than I could ever achieve from reading about their lives in a textbook. By completing this successful internship, I want to one day return to work with my host organization again. I also want to work for the government or another company in Mexico to better understand the politics and economy of this country. This would help me in my career because if I apply for a job in the United States, I will be a more experienced individual for having the ability of understand the standards of life, health, medicine, economy of a different country.

“Taking a Horse to CEYCTEM-EMSAD”

One piece of advice that I would give a student who wants to work at my host organization is not to be afraid to take risks and ask questions. Speak up and stand up for what you believe in. If some one does decide to work at CECYTEM-EMSAD, they must be fluent in Spanish as none of the personnel speak English.

Someone who is interested in education, psychology, medicine, business, special education, or becoming a therapist should look into this internship. This internship is the best place for anyone who wants to explore more career paths. All the personnel are extraordinary, and my supervisor is the most considerate and best individual I have met.

“Graduated Students”

Yes, my ideals, philosophies and concepts of social justice have been challenged while working in Poturo, Michoacán México. I used to think that one person could not make a difference in an underprivileged community, but I was completely wrong. To my surprise, I learned that one person could not only make a difference, but also change a society as a whole. Being in charge of so many tasks at the organization made me become a more effective problem solver and citizen because I coordinated many tasks at a time, managed various teams and most importantly I worked with over 200 community members. I learned to appreciate the little things in life that I have because they can be the most valuable items in life.

 

On August 16th, the project I was working on finally bore fruit. That day, the participants finally performed the play  which they had been practicing for a month. Approximately 200 people who came to see the play, which was performed twice that day. They were friends and family of the participants, high school students from theater clubs and other people who were interested in the subject. The play consisted of episodes based on the participants’ own stories. For example, there was an episode about how someone was bullied when he was in elementary and middle school, then he started to bully others in high school.  Another episode was about some of the participants’ experiences with their parents’ divorces, and experiences they had as outcasts.
I was glad that quite a lot of people came to see the play and was especially glad to see that the participants’ friends and family came to see them. Lots of the participants do not have very close relationships with their parents because it can be hard for them to reveal their thoughts and feeling. Many r parents do not really know what the children are doing on a daily basis because they may be busy with work, so it’s hard for them to connect with their children. Even worse, some parents stop caring about their children. I had already known that most of the participants did not tell their parents much about what they were doing in the program, so it was nice to see their parents being pleasantly surprised by the performances. They were surprised by how capable their children are at performing and many of them did not even know about their children’s interest in theater.
I spent my last few weeks coordinating for the next performance. For example, I managed the venue and advertising and more! I was also in charge of finishing the project and documenting the outcomes. Overall, I think it was a very helpful experience for my future career and personal growth. This experience has given me the chance to learn about my strengths as well as weaknesses. Moreover, it taught me what I truly want to do and what the right fit for me might be.
The most important lesson that I learned this summer was the importance of work/life balance, especially when you are passionate and dedicated to what you do. The people where I worked this summer did not have much of a life outside of their work. It is admirable that they are working toward something that they can dedicate their whole lives to, but at times they could be overwhelmed by it. It is especially hard for NGO workers or social workers since they put a lot of energy and emotion into their work. Also, especially since I was working with participants whom I cared about, it was easy for me to get emotionally attached to them. Overall, I am happy to have had this internship experience, and I look forward to what is next to come.
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– Sohyun Shin

Two and a half months after setting foot on the University of Massachusetts campus for the first time, I’m back at Brandeis for my senior year. From everything, I believe that I have gained an immense amount of knowledge about how a small non-profit runs. Going into this internship, I had little idea about the amount of work that each staff member puts into the organization every day. And although I did not conduct much research, from staff meetings, talking with other interns, and all the work I was coming in contact with, I learned a lot more about the field. I learned about new wars, masculinities, peacekeeping operations, and micro-finance, among many other interesting topics relevant to my studies at Brandeis.

The experience I had this summer was also the first time that I had the chance to work in the non-profit sector, and it has solidified my belief that working in a non-profit sector is something that I would like to pursue after graduation. Working at this internship for the summer was also the first time I had the responsibility of maintaining a full-time position. I executed my tasks to the best of my ability and believe from that I gained time management skills and a greater sense of responsibility.

From working with the Consortium, I had the chance to fine-tune my organizational skills. I was on the Cloud Organization team, which I happily signed up for after hearing about the project at the beginning of the summer. More importantly, I have become more detail oriented after working on many of the projects that required me to do so. For example, I was on the Website Accuracy team, which performed checks on website nodes that are part of the Research Hub on the Consortium’s website.

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One last lunch with the interns

 

One part of the internship that I really enjoyed was when we took the time out of a staff meeting to discuss application processes, which were relevant to many, if not all of the interns. Fellow interns and the staff shared advice on applying to various positions, whether it’s a job or an internship. Entering my senior year, and seeking employment after graduation, I’m grateful to have picked up resume and interview tips that will be helpful very soon.

After having had this experience with the Consortium, I’m interested in working with another nonprofit. I would like to gather even more new experiences and see how work is being done in different organizations within the nonprofit sector. If there is anyone interested in gender and security issues or working closely with a small nonprofit organization, I would highly recommend that they apply to intern with the Consortium. Particularly for international relations students, the Consortium presents issues that are very relevant to their field, but rarely discussed.

From participating in this internship, I know that the nonprofit sector is in my future. I saw the passion and the drive that the staff at the Consortium had that they applied to their work and hope to one day also be part of the change for greater social justice.

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View overlooking the water outside UMB

Thank you WOW for such a great summer!

Iris Lee ’15

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It’s hard to believe my internship at the LCADP is over. Although I’m not in New Orleans anymore, it won’t really be over. I feel very connected to this organization, so I will be keeping in touch, and finishing some projects over the next few weeks.

One task in particular was a challenging one for me: I created a phone app this summer, based on a calendar that was developed last year for Catholic Churches and High Schools to become more involved in social justice. This was new for me because I was not brought up in a religious household. I was able to accomplish the task however, and in doing so, I learned a lot about a part of peoples’ lives I knew very little about, and also learned how to work well with a different community. I was able to reach out to religious leaders and get feedback, advice and encouragement. This was a unique and wonderful experience that could have only happened by working for this organization in Louisiana.

This experience has given me an excellent platform to continue my entrance into the criminal justice field. I have made many connections this summer that I will carry with me both at Brandeis and in the outside world. I have applied to work for an Innocence Project housed at Brandeis because of this experience, and intend on looking in to Investigative Internships for next summer because of the work I did with investigators this summer.

After getting a taste of work in this field, I want to learn everything there is about criminal justice and human behavior. I am truly inspired and am actively seeking out more information. There is so much for me to learn, and I am very excited for all of it. I am keeping up to date on executions in the U.S., and continue to read through material I received this summer. A lot of the work I did was with defense attorneys, so I’ll be keeping in touch with them and following their work. I will also be keeping in touch with the inmates I met this summer, because they mean a lot to me, and I was lucky enough to become pretty close with them during my time in Louisiana.

My advice for students looking at this type of work would be to be prepared for very long hours. The people who work in the law offices I worked with do not sleep. It is very intense, hard, depressing work, so people with a sense of humor and a sense of justice are required. The humor is to stay sane, and the sense of justice is to remind you why you’re putting in 70 hours a week and not sleeping. It sounds horrible, but the work is the most fulfilling work I’ve ever experienced. I would also suggest doing more listening than taking. The people in this field know so much. They’re the best of the best because they’re self-selected to work as hard as they possibly can because most of the time they lose cases. They have to be smarter and better than the average lawyer and investigator, because they’re up against society’s norms and standards.

My goals and spirit for justice has been reinforced this summer, more than any other time in my life. I am positive that criminal justice is something I want to fight for. I was challenged a lot this summer by being in Louisiana. It’s a hard place to be when you’re fighting for the rights of poor people. What kept me going was the passion I felt, but also the grit and determination I observed from my boss and co-workers. It was beautiful, inspiring and refreshing. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer.

Links:

The botched execution in AZ hit me really hard. I had been following Joseph Wood’s case and went through an emotional rollar-coaster as he was granted stays then denied stays over and over. In the end, he was brutally killed, his execution taking over an hour involving a lot of pain. Read more: http://www.thereporteronline.com/opinion/20140802/botched-arizona-execution-proves-death-penalty-is-torture

More attention is being brought the the injustice of the death penalty! Let’s keep it going!

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Should-death-penalty-go-Law-panel-begins-review/articleshow/40862013.cms

 

No internship is complete without seeing a cute pup on the street.

No internship is complete without seeing a cute pup on the street.

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Great book to check out. This is an early edition given to Sister Helen, but it’s coming out soon, so look out for it! Bryan Stevenson is one of the leading Capital Defense Attorneys in the world; truly an amazing human being.

 

Reflecting back on my internship at the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights, there are many things that I have taken away from this experience that will enrich my life here at Brandeis and beyond. As a student, this internship opened my eyes to range of armed conflicts and human rights abuses taking place around the world today. I am so much better versed in geography, in international and comparative politics, and in current issues. I have learned an entire new language almost — that of gender analysis as a lens through which to more comprehensively research situations and conflicts. As a senior-year student, with an imminent post-grad job search always in the back of my mind, this internship also helped me to see what working in NGOs and research or advocacy groups might be like, and put me in contact with a whole range of interesting organizations from all around the world.

Now that I have completed this internship, there is even more I want to learn than when I began. At the Consortium, we read and spoke a lot about peacebuilding processes post-conflict, as well as peace negotiations during conflict. Being a “peace-nik” used to get me called “naive” or “idealistic.” Now, I know that there is a whole body of research out there on these kinds of peace-building processes and methods of post-conflict reconstruction, that show this kind of work to be valuable, practical, and tangible. Moving forward, I want to conduct targeted case study research on what kinds of peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction strategies actually work, and why (from an individual level, incorporating my psychology major). I want to look at the effect of sustained and chronic stress in conflict on the psyche, and its implications for post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding work.

As a Social Justice recipient, this ties directly into both challenging and reinforcing my ideas of social justice. I feel relieved and gratified to have read and immersed myself in research devoted to the practical application of peaceful solutions to violent conflict. Cycles of violence are endlessly complex and self-reinforcing, and it takes incredibly careful and thoughtful research to look at why these cycles of violence are perpetuated, and what kinds of interventions or support can help them to find new paths to peace. At this internship, I learned how to better ask the important questions, how to analyze conflict from a gender perspective— and ultimately, learned that this type of research does exist and, armed with this knowledge and experience I have gained, I feel I can become a more effective, informed, careful and practical peacebuilder in my future work.

My advice for any student interested in working at the Consortium? Read up on current events! You will get so much more out of the discussions and research if you already have a foundational base of knowledge about current world conflicts. When I began my internship, I didn’t even know where some of the countries were that we were studying.

Another thing I would advise, after a more personal reflection, for anyone looking to work in this field– would be to really know yourself and respect your limits. There are endless amounts of work to be done at this kind of small NGO, and often there is not enough staff or funding to get it all done. At one point in the summer, I found myself being added to more projects than I could possibly keep up with. I requested a meeting with my supervisor– and it was the first time I have ever had to tell a boss or teacher that I simply could not finish the work, that it was too much. She was incredibly understanding, and immediately shifted one of the projects to another intern who was looking for more work. It was such a simple thing for her, but such a huuuuuuge weight off my shoulders for me. I learned a lot about respecting my self-limits at work, and about leaving work at the door once I came home.

Finally, I am incredibly that this WOW Fellowship gave me the opportunity to have this experience at the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights. I have learned so so much and my life has been so incredibly enriched, and I genuinely could not have done this without the WOW!

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The Streetlight Schools that I was working at during my last week in Johannesburg felt worlds different than the Streetlight Schools that I began working at back in May. The organization didn’t fundamentally change, but my role certainly developed.  The internship helped me to develop new skills as well as to realize my future professional goals and aspirations. When I arrived in South Africa in May, I knew that equitable education was important to me, but now I know that my professional future will involve increasing opportunities for education in the United States or abroad.

This internship not only made me more sure of my goals, but it also improved my skills in the office, which was exactly what I was looking for. In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to gain quite a bit of hands-on experience with students in classrooms, but I’ve had little exposure to independent work in an office setting in the non-profit organization.  I now realize that if I was employed in a position which was entirely office-based, I would be unhappy in the long run. It is for this reason that the Streetlight internship was the perfect balance for me: I spent mornings doing research in the office and afternoons tutoring in the Learning Centre.

As far as changes at the organization, I was incredibly luck to be able to witness the organization progress throughout the course of my internship. When I first arrived, I was looking for a team environment, however most of my work was independent.  It was quiet in the office, and while there was a lot to do, it seemed to be going slowly. But as time went on, it seemed like good things were happening left and right. During my time there, we created a Facebook page, a blog about innovation in education, and we also further developed the website. The organization also welcomed two new interns during my last month, both of whom I learned quite a bit from. It was also nice because they moved into my apartment with me, which was in the building that I was working (owned by Bjala Properties, the affordable housing project that partners with Streetlight Schools).

As a matter of fact, I think that that was one of my favorite things about the internship (which ended up making it more like a residency). I lived in the building that I worked. Normally, I think a situation like this might be a little bit too much, especially when putting a large time commitment to a job. I was initially slightly afraid that I would never be able to get the feeling of going home after a long day at work. It was, in fact, an incredible opportunity because it allowed me to learn more about the families that the Learning Centre was serving than would’ve been possible if I had been living elsewhere.

Saying goodbye to some of the learners

Saying goodbye to some of the learners

With the other two tutors at Leopard Tree

All in all, I learned a great deal during my internship at Streetlight Schools. I clarified about  my future career. It also provided me with the opportunity to get to know very knowledgeable people in my field, while working alongside them and observing their inspiring passion for improvement in and through education.

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Having worked with Healthy Waltham closely for the past few months, I have come to appreciate the complexity and effort that goes into nonprofits. Organizations like Healthy Waltham rely on a vast variety of people to promote healthy eating and living. It takes all kinds of people within the organization to push an idea, and community members are equally, if not more, important in creating change. It’s a team effort in which everyone invests. When the community members are engaged and interested, it works.

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But not everything works out all the time. You just have to make the best of it. A large part of my internship was supposed to be teaching a healthy cooking class, but the class ended up being canceled. The kids preferred other activities. I felt really disappointed in myself for not creating a class the students wanted to keep.

I could have seriously increased my fun-time with fewer obligations at the internship, but I focused my attention on programming and administrative projects instead. For example, reporting methods for events and programs was fragmented since HW gained 501c3 status, so I created an online survey. Moving forward, we should be able to see information like where and how most of our time is spent. That information will help answer questions raised at a strategic planning meeting about how HW is growing and how it should focus.

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Now that I have learned a bit about community health from one nonprofit’s perspective, I want to learn how research is applied to public health. Although I wish to pursue a research and medical career, I want to remain involved in public health. The most important improvements in the population’s health has been through public health initiatives rather than scientific discoveries (see “Medical measures and the decline of mortality” by John B. McKinlay and Sonja M. McKinlay). The next step would be something in translational medicine or research! It has always sounded exciting, but how to get my foot in the door…?

Even though my internship is over, I am now a real employee. If someone wants to be involved with Healthy Waltham or a similar health organization, just reach out! Take the initiative to start the conversation and show them you are interested. You will likely need several emails, phone calls, meetings, or a combination; but if you are dedicated and passionate, you will find someone who could give you the chance. You never know where you will end up.

 

– Yuki Wiland ’15

I can’t believe this internship has come to an end, but yet it is bitter sweet. Being a part of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission has been an amazing experience that I will never forget. Midway through my internship I started to take my role to the next level by taking on more responsibilities and projects. Throughout my internship I have completed many projects such as letters to specific human rights organizations (including amnesty international), planning summer information series for American University, planning congressional briefings on pressing human rights issues, and maintaining the office by ordering supplies. This difficult but rewarding experience will help me not only at Brandeis but in my future career because it has challenged me to push beyond my knowledge and educate myself with issues I was previously unaware of. At Brandeis, I now feel more comfortable with my IGS major because I now am now more geographically and politically aware. In addition, this internship will not only help my resume for my future career but it has taught me professionalism and how to work as a team with my colleagues.

Now that my internship is complete, I would like to pursue another internship experience within a Business setting. I am very passionate about my work I did this past summer, but it will not be feasible for a sustainable career. Hopefully next semester I will have the opportunity to broaden my internship experience and have it be applicable to my future career. I hope to learn tools outside of the political realm and incorporate both of my skills.

I advise anyone that would like to pursue an internship at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to be a self-starter and be able manage stress well. Being a fellow here requires a lot of patience and great communications skills. It is an amazing experience that I would encourage anyone to take advantage of. I now have many amazing memories from the work we have done at the Commission and the people I encountered. Although this internship was great, I do not advise many people to pursue a career/ internship in human rights. I know this may sound bad, but do not take it negatively. I strongly encourage everyone to volunteer and be activists for pressing human rights issues, but it is very difficult to make a difference no matter what your internship or position may be. Most of my colleagues who are highly educated with masters and doctorates were having trouble finding a full time job. It is definitely a field that I have promised myself I will always be involved with, but it is very frustrating because it is difficult to see change.

 

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My summer in Timor has come to an end.  I am happy to say that during my time at the Bairo Pite Clinic I did meet most of my learning goals.  I’ve talked in my previous posts about the DTS program and how rewarding it has been to see how a program is implemented almost from the very beginning.  I’m ecstatic to say that the program is up and running and is already reaping the rewards of all the hard work staff at the clinic have put into it.

The other facet of my internship at the BPC that helped me meet my learning goals, which I haven’t spoken about yet, is the clinical side of my experience.  Though I’ve always been interested in medicine and health care in general, I’ve never been certain about whether or not I want to actually practice medicine.  One of my hopes for this summer was that my time at the clinic would inform my future career choice and I am happy to say that it has done just that.   This summer I observed a number of fantastic doctors as well as medical students at work.  It’s admirable how dedicated they all are to trying to deliver the best care they can despite all the obvious obstacles they have to overcome on a day to day basis.  I learned a lot about the compassion and patience needed in order to be a good physician which I’m sure is a constant no matter what setting you’re in (developed vs developing country for example).  However, I also learned a lot about practicing medicine in a developing country where every step of obtaining health care is more challenging than it would be here in the United States. For example, the difficulty begins with accessing care in the first place, to obtaining a diagnosis, to actually having the resources to treat a condition once it has been diagnosed, to then completing treatment obtained.  I’ve seen and experienced myself how frustrating it is to have to fight for your patient to get an x-ray or a CT scan and to fail or to not be able to help a patient who is in such terrible condition because he/she did not have adequate access to care to begin with.  There were instances where it didn’t matter how much we wanted to help, we simply could not.  In the end you just do the best you can, which is what I saw the physicians and med students do at the clinic.

After this experience, I am more determined than ever to do the best I can in my studies in order to achieve my career goals and also to help PP1 grow and develop as a club.  After this internship I feel I want to gain more experience both in clinical medicine in the U.S and in other developing countries.  Perhaps I’ll look for an internship at a hospital or clinic and apply for health-related programs abroad for my upcoming gap year.  For anyone who may go to Timor to work in health care I would advise they pay close attention to the national health system there and why it is exactly that Timor is struggling with such low health outcomes in many different areas of health.  I think anyone in this field should at least consider an experience abroad that will help broaden your perspective of health care and help learn what makes one system more efficient than another.

All in all, my concept of social justice as it pertains to health care equity has been strongly reinforced.  We know health disparities are present within the U.S and other developed nations but they are less striking (though not less important) compared to global health disparities   I think that the most important thing to keep in mind in order to address this issue is that no life is more important than another.  As long as you believe that some people deserve better care than others, health disparities will continue to prevail.

This, is a short documentary filmed during my time at the clinic.  It does not adequately represent all of the work done at the clinic or go too much into the struggles within the Timorese health system as a whole but it does give an idea of some of the cases the BPC encounters.

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Receiving my farewell Tai from Dr. Dan

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One last picture of the clinic

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Hi everyone!

I hope your summers have been treating you well! Recently I have begun to work at AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, interning in for the director of Alumni and Community Engagement. Before I get too far into my experience this summer, it is best I outline my thoughts and goals going into this new workplace.

First of all, this is my first internship lasting over a month, and I am most looking forward to having the time and opportunity to become better acquainted with my work environment, including all of the people I will meet of the duration of the internship. I likewise hope to learn a lot about non-profit management, office culture, and work ethic from my co-workers and mentors.

Even further than that, I would venture to say, I am determined to also better understand the work of the organization as a whole. AVODAH has two programs running currently: the Service Corps and the Fellowship. The Service Corps is a post-college gap year program in which young Jewish adults engage in serious antipoverty work in four US cities. While working for separate organizations, the Corps members live together and learn about the Jewish ethical motivations for pursuing social justice. The Fellowship has brought in crowd of Jewish adults based in New York who are already working for antipoverty organizations and gives them the opportunity to get to know one another and similarly learn about social justice through a Jewish lens. I anticipate having the opportunity to meet some of these incredible AVODAH participants (which you’ll hear more about below). Through my department and daily tasks, I am interested in learning about the paths alumni take following completion of the program, and how much they bring their work into their adult lives and Jewish experiences. So far, I have done a lot of data organization to better reach our alumni.

The first exciting event to take place since I have started was the launch and success of the 48-hour flash-fundraising online #BeGenerous campaign. The idea was to ask alumni to be actively involved in funding alumni programming. In just that short period of time, the goal of reaching $10,000 was met, to our elation. Now we’re up to the “Thank You” notes for everyone’s tremendous efforts!

During my first week I had two very unique experiences that had me jump right into the work at hand. The first of which was an assignment to create a logic model for alumni programming, which will be included in a grant application in the near future. In the process of creating the chart, I had to outline the purposes and goals of the alumni network, as well as project statistics of what could be considered successful outcomes with respect to the goals. After only one full work day I had a pretty good idea of scope and aims of the program; namely to encourage alumni to get to know one another and bring the larger Jewish community into the world of antipoverty work and community organizing from a Jewish lens.

The second of these instances was on my third day, when I had the opportunity to go to an evening program for the Service Corps and Fellows, discussing faith-based community organizing. My supervisor and a representative of the Micah Institute facilitated a conversation regarding their own experiences in the Jewish and Christian communities, respectively, and addressed the questions of the audience. After the panel, I joined the smaller group discussions, focused how each of the participants planned on bring social justice and antipoverty work into the Jewish community. The diversity in Jewish background added much nuance to each of our answers, and I was honored to have the opportunity to get to know the corps members and fellows who were in my group. This was also valuable to my understanding of what the outgoing participants would like to see from AVODAH after completion of the program, and how we can better equip them to be leaders and teachers in the Jewish community who move their peers and constituents to work to alleviate the causes and effects of poverty in the US.

My supervisor claims that the most pressing question in the world of community organizing is “what keeps you up at night?” This, she believes, is the ultimate way to tap into the motivations and energies of a social justice activist. I’ll be honest and say that at this point, unlike many of the AVODAH participants, I don’t know enough about the causes and effects of poverty in the US for that to be what currently “keeps me up at night.” I would like for that to change, as I am learning more about the facts on the ground and the work that can be done to improve the situation in the United States.

I look forward to sharing more with you later this summer! Enjoy, and keep your eye out for my next post!

 

– Hannah Kober ’16

 

 

After finishing my internship I feel a distinct sense of accomplishment in more ways than I imagined. As I have written in previous blogs, I have learned so much that I can take back to the class room. At Brandeis I have created an IIM around Urban Studies. Over the course of my internship I conducted over 40 interviews of community leaders that have used ioby to help create the change they want in their own neighborhoods. These interviews have given me insight into what needs community members have from their community. It also has shown me many different ways that people go about ensuring that their neighborhoods are healthy and vibrant. I have saved all of the research that I have done and may use it for a project some time this year.

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While I did expect to have an enriching academic experience, I also got to meet and work with talented and passionate people. It was really awesome working directly underneath the co-founders of the organization because I not only learned how the organization functions in the present but I also learned about how the organization has changed and grown. These relationships will definitely help me as I enter into the workforce.

I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone that is interested. While it was not a very established program like other internship opportunities, It did allow me to get real hands on experience. As a senior this internship has given me a better idea of what working a 9-5. It has also helped me narrow down what I want to be getting from a job that I might take after this school year. I think that it was really helpful to have personal interaction with the leaders of the organization. If anyone is looking into working for ioby I would recommend investing in relationships with the co-founders. They were not only hardworking but also very willing to talk about their experience. We discussed topics ranging from grad school to the process of starting a non-profit.

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I am so grateful that I have had this important opportunity. It has not only taught me so much but also made me feel productive throughout the summer. I hope to find a job next year that will be as rewarding as working for ioby this summer.

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Josh Berman ’15

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Project Healthcare volunteers bid farewell to Bellevue Hospital Center

As a project healthcare (PHC) volunteer, about 90 percent of my time was spent in the Emergency Department (ED), which consists of the Adult Emergency Services, the Pediatric Emergency Services, Psychiatric Emergency Services, Urgent Care, and the Emergency Ward or the Trauma ICU. In the ED, my responsibilities included, but were not limited to, doing EKGs, making stretchers, transporting patients, and being a patient advocate, which included making phone calls on behalf of patients and monitoring length of patient stay. I also had the incredible opportunity to observe surgeries in the OR and shadow doctors with various specialties. With the endless opportunities to learn and an unparallel experience for someone who wants to go into the medical field, I not only reached the goals I set for myself at the inception of PHC, but also surpass those goals and grow in ways that I couldn’t have possibly imagined.

In shadowing doctors ranging from neurologists, gynecologists, surgeons, internists, and many more, I achieved my career goal of learning the ins and outs of daily hospital operations and the day-to-day life of being a doctor. In observing procedures including lumbar punctures, sutures, a craniotomy, etc, I achieved my academic goal of paralleling my experience with courses I’ve taken or will take at Brandeis. Learning about the anatomy of the human body or the physiological ways in which parts of the body function is one thing, but actually witnessing doctors using this knowledge to save lives is something completely different.

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I and other PHC interns in front of the historic Bellevue Hospital gates

When I set my final goal, my personal goal, at the beginning of the program, I couldn’t have predicted how far I’d transcend that goal by simply being in the ED and interacting with patients. My personal goal was to improve my day-to-day interactions with people regardless of their mental health or medical status. With Bellevue’s diverse patient population ranging from homeless people and prisoners to people from all socio-economic backgrounds, I learned to become effective in communicating mainly by being attentive and learning how to listen without being dismissive of people’s ideas, thoughts and feelings. In retrospect, when I think about how, towards the end of PHC, I could simply walk into the ED and deduce from a look on a patient’s face, what his or her pain and/or comfort level was and help them get a nurse’s attention, I now know that I helped to make patients’ experience in the ED more pleasant.

My next steps, after PHC, are to continue to build on the skills I’ve developed and continue to stay on the path to becoming a physician. At Brandeis University, I will continue to take classes that will not only fulfill the pre-med requirements I need to complete before applying to medical school, but also give me more of an in-depth explanation and a comprehensive understanding of some of the procedures I was fortunate to observe over the summer. The human body is fascinating machinery and I still have a lot to learn about how that machine operates. I will also look for and take advantages of opportunities to gain more clinical experience in a hospital setting. To anyone who is interested in interning with Project Healthcare or anyone who wants to pursue a career in medicine, my advice is to seize every opportunity to learn, and remember that no question is a stupid question. Physicians aren’t the only people you can learn from; talk to nurses, physician assistants, patient care technicians, and anyone who is willing to teach you. You will get out of your internship almost as much as you put into it, so work hard, even when no one is looking, and take advantage of opportunities to network and gain advice from people in your field of interest.

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One of my final moments with other PHC interns at Bellevue Hospital.

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Having completed my internship and having time to reflect, I can see I have met all goals originally set at the beginning of this experience. As previously discussed in my blogs, the educational, workplace, and personal goals I set I have achieved. I learned how to apply my psychology and business knowledge to the world of Human Resources, was able to experience HR in full capacity, and lastly was able to learn about the restaurant industry from the corporate perspective. Moreover, I have learned and experienced more than I could even imagine. For example, through completing the internship project, I was able to learn all about my specific field as well as others in corporate and the restaurant industry in general. For the project, we had to create a new restaurant concept and create a PowerPoint (presented in front of the CEO), explaining all the steps it would take to open the restaurant. To get all the information, the other interns and I had to meet with many different directors and employees to learn every step in creating a restaurant. After completion, I truly understand the ins and outs of the restaurant industry and hospitality.

Interns restaurant pitch

Interns restaurant pitch

Mock Menu

Mock Menu

Timeline to opening day

Timeline to opening day

After learning so much already, I am hungry for more. I want to continue to learn about Human Resources and see what the field is like outside of the restaurant group. The restaurant industry is fast paced which includes a lot of turnover, so I am curious what Human Resources looks like from a different industry. Also, within BR Guest itself, I would want to experience a day-in-the-life of a Director of Operations (this is the person who directly oversees the restaurant). I loved the industry I was in and would love to explore more within the company.

For any student who is interested in an internship at BR Guest, I would advise them to DEFINITELY apply! My experience was amazing with this company and I hope to work with them again in the future. I would advise applicants to put yourself out there and to be passionate, open-minded, and eager to learn. For those students intrigued with the restaurant hospitality industry I would let them know that being personable is a must. You are meeting with people every day and must be comfortable with public speaking. You must be flexible due to the fast paced environment, something can come up at any second. The industry is a challenge but it is manageable.

I am so thankful for WOW letting me complete this experience because it helped me understand more about what I want to do in the future as well as more about myself. This is an experience I will never forget!

I finished my internship at United for a Fair Economy last week. I was working on my projects up until the last minutes (literally!) and on my last day I wrote a list of my projects and any next steps to be taken on each one.

In the final analysis, I ended up doing more than I expected to this summer, and learning a lot. In the last couple of weeks, I launched my donor survey (first via email blast to a certain segment, then another to another segment, and then made postcards to send to donors whose email addresses we did not have on file).

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I analyzed the results that had come in already, was able to determine a portrait of the average UFE donor (of those who had responded to the survey — of course there is response bias) and shared the conclusions with the UFE staff. I discussed what these results tell us about how we’re doing in terms of responsiveness to donors and what UFE can do to keep it up and improve in the future.

I got the Spanish versions of my blog post and brochure edited, approved and finalized. I also created a card to put into regular mail appeals requesting that people make bequests to UFE.

Finally, I had a meeting with Suzanna (my supervisor) to discuss the summer. I came to the conclusion that this has probably been my best internship yet. I felt supported, respected, and like I was learning almost the entire time. The staff was wonderful, friendly, and clearly passionate about their work. They even held a goodbye celebration for me, with ice cream and a card and gift (a baking cookbook because I told them that I love to bake!)

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I learned a ton about development, about inequality, about how people work towards social justice every day, and about how non-profits function. These are absolutely important lessons that I will carry with me in my future studies and career. I plan to go into the non-profit sector, and this experience has both solidified that choice and given me a lot of the tools and knowledge necessary to do so.

I wrote a review of this internship on the Brandeis Internship Exchange, and when asked to give advice to other students considering this internship, I wrote:

“This was probably my best internship yet (and that’s saying a lot). It’s not all fun and exciting all the time (what job/internship is?) but if you’re willing to do some boring database stuff for part of the time, it will be rewarding. It’s a great group of people and it was clear that they care about their interns’ growth and well-being. Try to learn quickly and work independently, but don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Talk to all the staff members and learn about what they do – it’s really interesting stuff! My biggest piece of advice is to be ambitious and choose at least one project that you DON’T completely know how to do, then learn how to do it (ask Suzanna for resources or find your own). This is the best way to learn a new skill or technique, and they will be understanding and supportive during the process.”

Thanks, UFE, for making my summer great!

Well, my last assignment for AFJ is finished. My office is packed. My good-byes have been said. It’s really strange to think that I won’t be researching foundations in areas where we are expanding our Bolder Advocacy Initiative anymore. I find it bizarre that I am done with critiquing how our organization can promote a particular fundraising platform on social media. As proud as I am of my participation in our Justice First! and intern luncheon, it’s a little sad that I won’t be at our gala in New York in December that I’ve evaluated spaces for. But the good news is that even though my internship with Alliance for Justice is over, I can continuing developing my skills in development at other organizations. I want to continue learning more about grant writing and foundations and their relationship with nonprofits. Fortunately, one of my supervisors pointed me into the direction of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Their resource center can be found here: http://www.afpnet.org/ResourceCenter/?navItemNumber=502. I intend on using this organization to improve my skills and understanding of fundraising as a profession. My internship at Alliance for Justice has really inspired me to search for more development internships this year so I can continue building my development resume.

After working in development for three months, the advice that I would give to someone who was interested in this field is to take advantage of the fact that you live and work at a non-profit. Brandeis University is a non-profit organization and thus has lots of opportunities for people interested in fundraising. All of my friends who have worked at Phonathon have had a wonderful experience and a better understanding of what individual fundraising entails. I am really excited to examine how Brandeis uses development in its mission in my final year here. As for advice specific to this internship, I would highly recommend getting to know the people in the office. I guess this probably applies to any internship, but you never know what kind of journey someone has had to their current position until you talk to them and those conversations can be so informative and helpful. Just taking someone out to coffee can provide more reassurance and resources than a hundred Google searches.

I think that when most people think about social justice and the courts, they tend to think of public defenders, or victim’s rights advocates, or other people who are using the law to directly empower people, usually in criminal law. My summer at AFJ has taught me that in addition to those issues, we must focus on making sure the very institution of the courts are fair at all. This focus on systematic change has altered my opinion on how to approach social justice writ large and the importance of legal institutions. I am really excited to continue my work at AFJ by promoting their upcoming documentary on forced arbitration. People don’t generally consider what they are signing themselves up for when they click yes on a terms and conditions agreement, but chances are they are agreeing to a mandatory arbitration agreement. These clauses deny people access to the civil court system when they are wronged and create horrible externalities for consumers and employees. If you want to learn more about mandatory arbitration clauses, you should check out AFJ’s work on them: http://www.afj.org/our-work/issues/eliminating-forced-arbitration. I’m intending on bringing a film screening of the documentary to campus, so you should also definitely come to that if you’re as outraged as I am that these things exist.

Just in closing, I want to give a shout out to Hiatt’s World of Work program for giving us this amazing opportunity. Taking on an unpaid internship for the summer is such a privilege and that fact that Brandeis facilitates this demonstrates how committed it is to its students.

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