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

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

The coffee machine

The coffee machine in its natural habitat

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

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

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

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

Sketches

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

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Very few of these notes made it into this post

 

–Katherine Currier

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

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

 

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A sweet note from a camper

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

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

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

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The LifeMoves Model

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

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

Mira McMahon ‘18

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

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

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

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

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

Ilana Cedarbaum

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Modulus Audio room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anastasia Christilles, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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

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My corner of the office!

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Dustin Fire, ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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

The CIC interns with Stanley Wrice at a legal luncheon

The CIC interns with Stanley Wrice at a legal luncheon

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

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

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

 

Some of the interns grab coffee before work!

Some of the interns grab coffee before work!

Ruby Macsai-Goren, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Rachel Kurland, ’18

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

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

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

Me and a few of my students

Me and a few of my students

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

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

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

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

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

LaShawn Simmons, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Ms.LaShawn's English Class

Ms.LaShawn’s English Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Seth Siegel's book about Israeli water innovation

Seth Siegel’s book about Israeli water innovation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sooyoung Jeong ’18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Working on the e-books.

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

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

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

Best,

Santiago Montoya, ’19

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

Haven Family House: My internship site

Haven Family House: My internship site

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

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

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

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

Me with the other LifeMoves interns at out beach retreat

Me with the other LifeMoves interns at our beach retreat

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

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

Until next time!

Mira McMahon ‘18

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

My first week went something like this:

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NCL’s Office (1701 K St.)

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

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

17 & K Street (Washington D.C.)

17 & K Street (Washington D.C.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elese Chen

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) is dedicated to producing top tier productions with some of the most acclaimed theater artists in the country. WTF is also known as one of the top training and professional development programs for new generations of aspiring theater artists and administrators. One of the most incredible parts of the Williamstown mission is its commitment to creating some of the highest quality theater in the country, while making sure to help nurture the next generation of top theater artists.

This summer, I am one of 15 Stage Management Interns. As Stage Management Interns, we serve as Assistant Stage Managers on the  main season shows and as Stage Managers and Assistant Stage Managers on the late night cabarets and other events. I am currently working as an Assistant Stage Manager on Orpheus in the Berkshires, which is a new work. This show is part of a new initiative to literally bring theater to the greater community of Williamstown, MA, and will be performed in an old mill.

The production team in Greylock WORKS (our performance venue)

The production team in Greylock WORKS (our performance venue)

This show has a cast of 80, ranging in age from 7-87, and is made up of both people who live in the area and actors in attendance at the festival. This is the first year that Williamstown Theatre Festival is producing a show like this, so my work on this show is incredibly influential in the continuation of this type of production in the future. With the success of this specific production, there will hopefully be an annual occurrence. Because of the scale of this show, my work has been extensive since the sheer number of cast members makes every task more complicated, but also more rewarding. Many of these community members have never been in a show before. The pure joy on their faces when they leave rehearsal is incredibly inspiring for me to watch and shows how theater can transform peoples’ lives.

Some of my amazing cast members on the first day of rehearsal.

Some of my amazing cast members on the first day of rehearsal.

In rehearsal, I am responsible for tracking all script changes because with new plays, the playwright is often in the rehearsal room and therefore the text can shift. As an Assistant Stage Manager, I help with the organization of all show materials and the coordination of all players involved within the production.

Updating the scene breakdown, which is used to show who is onstage when.

Updating the scene breakdown, which is used to show who is onstage when.

My career goal for this summer is to confirm that I want to pursue a stage management career in high level theaters and Broadway. Stage management is different depending on the level of theater due to different rules and expectations. In order to decide where I want to apply to work next year after I graduate, I need to make sure that this is the path that I want to pursue. Also, at Brandeis, I have served as a Stage Manager more than an Assistant Stage Manager, however when I first enter the field after graduation, I will be hired as an Assistant. It is important that I have the chance to develop these skills so that I am better prepared to enter the theater industry as a professional. Additionally, this internship will allow me to continue to make connections with Broadway actors, directors, and designers. In the theater world, like many other professions, networking is incredibly important.

My personal goal through this summer internship is to continue to improve my confidence in my stage management skills. I have found that working closely with and observing professional stage managers is incredibly beneficial because it allows me to compare my ideas and instincts to someone who is successful in the field.

My internship with the United Nations in Samoa did not officially begin until the 6th of June, after Samoa’s long independence weekend; however, during the country’s celebrations my friends and I assisted with a government driven, youth education and outreach program that focused on the two themes of bullying and sexual reproductive health. The program entailed splitting into groups and going around the “hang out” spots in town where youth congregate to discuss the important topics that are a big problem in Samoa. It was a thought generating exercise resulting in fruitful discussions. Once my work officially started, I joined in with the UN Youth Employment Program (YEP) team.

Youth education and outreach program held in the first week of June 2016

Originally I was to be based at the UNDP office, but because I am working primarily on the YEP, it made more sense for me to be placed at the Ministry for Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD), Division for Youth, working directly with the Project Manager of the YEP. The United Nations is engaged in a number of core development areas in partnership with the Samoan government. Their Millennium Development Goals include eradicating extreme poverty, ensuring environmental sustainability, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, universal primary education, and others. My task is to assist with some specific projects addressing the needs of youth. Preventing early school leavers and providing employment for youth, are important goals for the government and the UN in Samoa. I will be doing research to identify and highlight pathways between IT training programs and labor market opportunities for youth.  I’ve been asked to assist with some technology training related to a new government initiative called the “High Tech Youth Network”. This is a large project sponsored by the New Zealand government, aiming to give youth in Samoa the opportunity to learn IT skills at no cost whatsoever.

My workspace in the MWCSD Division for Youth office

My workspace in the MWCSD Division for Youth office

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The most interesting work for me so far has been in dealing with child vendors and their families. This assignment has entailed visits to low -income families in the villages surrounding Apia, the capitol of Samoa. While conducting a “needs assessment survey”, for the Ministry, I have become quite engaged with these families. In each case the family has been willing to speak openly and frankly about their personal economic situations. For the most part they are large families, with only one or two wage earners. One family in particular consists of 30 people and there is only one adult wage earner. Several of their children have been peddling goods on the streets, in a desire to contribute to the family and improve their conditions. Nevertheless they are extremely poor and struggle to eat. In my professional capacity I am able to listen to them, collect data assessing their needs and offer advice when I can. Witnessing their struggle and tough but positive attitudes makes it impossible not to want to offer some assistance!

This internship with the UN is a fantastic introduction to the operations of a global development organization within a small, developing country. Because my role within the UN has me working in cooperation with the Samoan governments’ MWCSD, I am also able to learn about the mandates of different government departments and the relationships between them. My goal is to learn from my experience working in Samoa, the core skills and practical knowledge that will help me better understand the relevance of my studies at Brandeis to real-world development challenges. I also wish to conduct research that will enhance my understanding of how technology may be used for youth empowerment and sustainable development. The internship is fascinating, and I know it will be a very busy two months.

The Boston University School of Public Health has a spectacular location in South Boston, just steps away from Boston Medical with an impressive presence on the Boston University Medical Campus. The mission of the School of Public Health is to promote health equality on both a local and global scale, and through research and innovation to significantly improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged and medically under-served communities. Throughout my internship I will be working directly with Dr. Michael Siegel of the Department of Community Health Sciences. I first had the pleasure of working alongside Dr. Siegel when I assisted with his research on the impact of internet alcohol advertisements on teenage alcohol abuse two summers ago. After I learned that Dr. Siegel planned to conduct research this summer on the intersection between intimate partner and firearm violence, I jumped at the opportunity to join his research team again. My first week working on Dr. Siegel’s research team was exciting and stimulating, and I got the sense that I was going to have a lot of responsibilities for multiple parts of the project this summer. The other professors and students working on this project were incredibly welcoming, and throughout the week I was able to spend a bit of time with each team member to learn how they are contributing to the project. 

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The Boston Medical center, which is the hub of the Boston University School of Medicine and School of Public Health

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The Boston University School of Public Health campus, featuring one of the school’s buildings. This building houses a spectacular library for the School of Medicine, and on the top floor has an incredible view of the entire city of Boston

(source: http://www.bu.edu/sph/files/2013/06/header-about.jpg).

In a powerful article on gun violence and increasing homicide rates, “Who Mourns for Brianna?”, Dr. Siegel writes,

“Somehow, there is a human tendency to pay more attention to a single tragic event than to a pattern of fatal violence that occurs on a regular basis. Maybe we need to reconsider what counts as a tragedy worthy of commemoration, versus a “normal,” everyday occurrence that we merely accept as a way of life.” (http://www.bu.edu/today/2014/pov-who-mourns-for-brianna/)

On the first day of our research, Dr. Siegel explained that in the wake of tragedies, such as Newtown (and subsequently Orlando), it is easy to forget that gun violence and deaths due to firearms occur every single day and affect thousands of lives. Although most of my responsibilities include punching numbers and data/statistical analysis, each day Dr. Siegel urges me not to forget that we are fighting for individuals, real children, parents, friends, and loved ones who have been affected by gun violence, through our research. According to recent data from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, it is five times more likely that a woman will be killed by her abuser if the abuser owns a firearm, and in 2011, nearly two-thirds of women killed with guns were killed by their intimate partners. (http://smartgunlaws.org/domestic-violence-firearms-policy-summary/) However, in my first week, Dr. Siegel set this extremely powerful and especially motivating tone for the summer that our research would truly mean something and matter to the individual lives lost every year to domestic gun violence!

My job for the first part of the project is to construct an extensive database on specific state firearm laws in order to determine how weak/strong individual state laws are concerning controls on firearm ownership/purchase for domestic violence offenders. We will then compare this data on gun control laws to the number of intimate partner homicides that occur state-by-state. From there, we will be able to extract data on which state gun control laws are the most powerful and effective in preventing intimate partner homicides, and will have the capability to make suggestions for public policy revisions regarding gun control. I hope that my work will not only help Dr. Siegel and the Dept. of Community Health Sciences with their research, but will significantly minimize the number of people who may be affected by intimate partner gun violence in the future.

One learning goal for this summer is to gain a deeper understanding of the scientific research project from beginning to end, a very attainable goal, since I have been participating in the conceptualization of our project’s research questions with Dr. Siegel, and at the end of our project we will write and submit a paper for publication. I also hope to integrate and fuse my passions for research and advocacy this summer by learning to use empirical research to suggest changes in public policy that would reduce social injustices caused by gun violence.

 

Rachel Kurland, ’18

Social Justice Fellow

I have just begun working with Cornerstone Church of Boston. It has been such an amazing and eventful internship thus far. Already, I have gone to Bridgeport, Connecticut to work with Habitat for Humanity to create homes for families that will impact their communities. We landscaped lawns and yards, and painted walls and doors. Although it was tough and dirty, the reward of seeing people’s lives changing was worth it. I was there for about 3 days and 3 nights, and wound up bonding with my team. With all the work, we also visited a few places in Connecticut in our downtime and ate amazing food. I learned through this small trip that service was not just supposed to be a 9-5, once a year kind of activity, but a sentiment to carry on in our daily life. Whether that be as a person of a faith or not, helping others should be something we as humans should strive for. Relating to my internship, it opened my eyes to see that working in a church ministry setting isn’t just at a local level, but outreaching to communities nearby.

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In terms of getting my feet wet, I would say that it has been fairly easy to get into the swing of things with the staff team. I have attended Cornerstone Church in Boston during my time at Brandeis so I knew the pastors on staff, and I just met the other intern. We attend a weekly meeting on Tuesday and the interns get to see how some decisions are made for the church community, and we also get to see how relationships work between coworkers in a non-cubicle setting. During the second half of the meeting, we discuss our lives and get to know each other more on a personal level. The meetings have really connected me with the pastors and allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable with them and with the new environment.

In terms of duty and responsibilities, they have presented a lot of opportunities for me to lead the community and get hands on work to learn what it feels like to be a pastor and leader within the church. I have been given tasks to lead college ministry events, a weekly community group, and also to lead music ministry, also known as worship ministry. I have had experience leading, but I have never had the responsibility of logistics and seeing how these ministries fit into the bigger picture and vision of the church. It has been easier than I expected, but challenging as well because it is a lot more responsibility to handle. Thankfully the pastors have been by my side the whole time training me and giving me constructive criticism to allow me to improve! I cannot wait for what the rest of the internship holds.

Daniel Choi ’18

Photos Library

This summer, I am interning at AVODAH at their New York office. AVODAH works to alleviate poverty, mainly by running a service corps program. In four cities, New Orleans, Chicago, Washington D. C., and New York City, corps members live together while working at different, local anti-poverty non-profits and organizations. The wide range of issues that corps members, from immigration to criminal justice to housing to youth programs to community mediation programs as well as many other issues, allows for a diversity of corps members with a wide range of skills and interests. AVODAH has also recently started a fellowship in two cities, New York City and Chicago, for people in the social justice field with full time jobs. Instead of living together, as in the service corps program, participants go to a variety of educational sessions, retreats, and events to grow their career and explore the intersection between social justice work and Judaism. (More information can be found here).

Avodah

I work under the Recruitment Director, so my focus is helping find places to recruit applicants. Since AVODAH has a fairly small staff, it is impossible to recruit individually at every university in the United States. I am helping to find more ways to recruit applicants with their limited staff. It is important to find qualified applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and colleges across the country.

I have also enjoyed helping other Jewish social justice organizations. With interns from AVODAH and other Jewish organizations, I helped to put together mailings for Bend the Arc. Bend the Arc planned a “Vigil Against Violence” on the anniversary of the deaths of three civil rights activists, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, in 1964 in Mississippi. The three activists, two of whom were Jewish, tried to register Black voters. In honor of their commitment to social justice, Bend the Arc held vigils where people lit yahrzeit (Jewish memorial) candles.  They also mailed out kits with posters and candles for people who would not be able to attend a vigil. The vigils took place in multiple places around the country, but especially in New York at Trump Tower to protest Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric and proposals.

candle-and-poster-3-480 (Photo credit: Bend the Arc)

I think these vigils were important, but on a more general level, I think it is important for Jewish social justice organizations to have strong relationships of collaboration with each other, as well as with non-Jewish organizations. This is one of the goals of the service corps programs, as alumni of the program go on to work for a wide variety of social justice organizations, creating a large network of alumni that can turn to each other for support and collaboration. I am excited for this summer because I will continue to learn more about the domestic non-profit world, but specifically the Jewish non-profit world.

Lydia Ruddick-Schulman ’17

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My cubicle at UMass Boston

Stationed amongst the urban brick and concrete UMass Boston Campus is an office inspired by clear rivers, thick forests and fresh, clean air. The radio show Living on Earth, where I am interning this summer, is a hub for environmental justice and sustainability, surrounded by the metropolitan center of New England.

I am an environmental studies major at Brandeis with an interest in writing and journalism. So this show, which broadcasts its weekly environmental program on 250 public radio stations around the country, is a great fit for me. I hope to explore the intersection of my twin interests of journalism and environmental studies in hopes of preparing for life after Brandeis. I also hope to meet people in the fields of journalism and environmental studies and provide a public service. For social change to occur, the public must be made aware of pressing environmental issues, and this show’s mission is to get the word out about these issues. As an intern at Living on Earth, I will research environmental issues and the inequalities that they cause for broadcast to a national audience.

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The recording studio

Although my internship has just begun, I have been able to work on many aspects of the program.

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Steve Curwood, the host of the show, recording introductions to the pieces

I’ve reached out to potential guests for the show, I’ve written interview questions and introductions, I’ve worked on the show’s website, and I’ve even learned how to use computer programs to edit audio. I had no idea that radio shows often edit out the “um”s and “like”s and stutters that are commonplace in colloquial speech. But when it’s a pre-recorded show, it doesn’t hurt to make our guests sound smarter. We can even add sound effects to the background: the song of a bird, the splash of a stream, or whatever else fits with a piece.

So far, my experience has been great. I’ve learned a lot about what goes into producing a radio show, while exploring my interest in the environment. Our team is small, but very friendly. They share my love for social justice and the environment. In addition to our impact-focused work, we also have lively discussions during lunch. Lastly, our view of the Boston waterfront is refreshing.

Pro Tools is the editing software that I learned how to use.

Pro Tools is the editing software that I learned how to use.

The juxtaposition between the seagulls that pass overhead and the airplanes that buzz over the sky reminds me why I care about environmental issues. Pollution, harmful toxins, deforestation, extinctions, climate change, among others are part of our world now. But so are animals, forests, deserts and oceans. We must learn how to mitigate the first list, so we can enjoy the second.

This internship is a great first step for me to use everything I’ve learned at Brandeis to understand how to further my impact. In addition to everything I’ve mentioned, there’s an unexpected perk: quite a few publishers send the office advanced copies of books. I already finished one, and I expect to get a lot more reading done this summer.

I look forward to continuing to document my experience! Until then, check out the show on loe.org

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Lafayette St. where the Lawyers for Children office is located. It’s within walking distance of Chinatown and Soho, so there’s always a good place to grab lunch at lunch break.

This week I began working as a social work intern at Lawyers for Children. Lawyers for Children advocates for children in New York City in abuse/neglect situations, children placed in foster care, and those involved in custody battles and paternity cases. The free advocacy service matches children with both an attorney and a social worker to ensure that they are adequately represented.
The quality that sets LFC apart from other advocating agencies is that they are dedicated to advocating for what the children want in their cases, not only for what they believe is best for the kids. They work hard to ensure that the child’s voice is heard and that they have a say in decisions that are made for them. Lawyers for Children also has numerous special projects that focus on high-risk children in the foster care system such as an LGBTQ task force, an immigration project, a project for youth aging out of the system, a task force specializing in sexual assault, and a mental health project.

As an intern, I was matched with a social worker and a youth advocate at the center. Social work interns are directly involved in the work LFC does and I felt very welcome in my first week. Interns accompany social workers on home visits, client interviews, and to court. I have really enjoyed working with my mentor, and already sense the dedication LFC has towards giving their clients a voice in their future. So far, it seems that the most trying part of the day is commuting on the subway during rush hour in New York City!

On top of shadowing a social worker, I have also been working with a Youth Advocate in the office. This Thursday the Youth Advisory Board met at the office to discuss their experiences. The Board is led by Youth Advocates and is composed of young adults in the foster care system who are clients at LFC. We provide them with resources at the end of the meeting such as an application to help them find employment, and resources about youth-led projects in NYC.
Serving as an intern at Lawyers For Children has thus far given me an opportunity to put into practice some of what I’ve learned and read about in classes at Brandeis. Now, I’m not only reading about court cases where individuals fought for their rights, I’m sitting in a court room with attorneys and social workers working to get the children what they need and want. I hope to learn how to effectively advocate for individuals who are in a difficult position to advocate for themselves, especially in a flawed system, such as the NYC foster care and child services systems.

  • The Lawyers for Children office in Tribeca, NYC

Rachel Geller, ’18

Social Work WOW Fellow

It has been a great first week at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health! The lab is located at William James Hall, which is named after the famous psychologist.

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William James Hall, Harvard University

 

The lab’s main mission is to improve child and adolescent mental health through the dissemination of evidence-based mental health practices. The projects span across many clinics and schools to test the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. The lab’s work is of further importance as many of the projects deal with providing quality mental health services to youth in lower income communities. One of the research projects I am helping out with tests the effectiveness of the “MATCH therapy”, which is an evidence-based treatment of childhood anxiety, depression, trauma, and conduct problems. Given that many of the studies are conducted over multiple years and have 100+ participants, maintaining the database is an integral part of the work being done in the lab. I help out with a lot of the “behind the scenes” work such as entering data from psychological measures in the database, verifying that information is correct, and updating participants’ files. For further information about the research projects you can follow this link.

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The office where I work. (the desk behind me was once owned by the well-known developmental psychologist Erik Erikson!)

 

For me, it is really interesting to see what the actual assessments look like and how data is put together to examine the psychological needs of a child. The work I am doing in the lab will hopefully help me figure out what my specific interests are within the field of child clinical psychology.

Another interesting aspect to my internship is getting the opportunity to sit in on lab meetings and presentations. I attended a presentation by one of the post-doctoral students regarding her work at Boston Children’s Hospital. The presentation topic was about the emerging field of pediatric psychology and how psychologists can positively impact a patient’s hospital stay and overall outcome. Several case studies were presented in which children who had traumatic injuries and severe illnesses had their psychological needs met in addition to their medical ones. The hospital can be a scary place for a child and having adequate psychological services can help kids cope with their illnesses. Pediatric psychologists can help with explaining the illness/injury in a developmentally appropriate way, addressing emotional concerns, and working through issues regarding self-identity. We also learned that it is also important to conduct a comprehensive screening as some children with chronic medical conditions have had their psychological needs previously overlooked as a result of their serious illness. The importance of early intervention and streamlining psychological screening was also discussed.

I also attended an MRI safety session at the Harvard Center for Brain Science. I went for training to obtain a “yellow badge” so that I can observe MRI scans and be a “scan buddy” for child participants. The training emphasized the importance of being vigilant about safety and how powerful the MRI machine is. We discussed what conditions/implants would be contraindicated for an MRI scan and what the safety procedures are. At the end of the training we went into the room with the machine and threw around a tennis ball filled with magnetic paper clips!

One of the videos that we watched during training can be viewed here:

Overall, I had a very exciting (and busy!) week at the lab and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the upcoming weeks.

Melissa Viezel, ’16

 

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Roots (also known as שורשים or جدور) is a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative aimed at building a grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Palestinians and Israelis through projects such as dialogue groups, photography workshops, interfaith exchanges, and children’s activities. Roots is based in the Gush Etzion/Bethlehem region, in the West Bank, on a plot of land that is owned by the Abu Awwad family and lovingly referred to as “the field.” Instead of a formal office space, the administrators of the organization, along with a network of volunteer activists, mostly work from their homes, while holding meetings and events at “the field.” This plot of land includes a room lined with beds, a small kitchen, an outdoor area with couches and plastic chairs, a greenhouse, and a freshly planted field with a small playground.

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Chairs set up for a dialogue group at Roots

Roots was founded on the basis of “dignity, trust and a mutual recognition and respect for both people’s historic belonging to the entire Land.” Their mission is to build a grassroots model for co-existence through non-violent means, believing that this can affect larger change in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This young organization has managed to reach nearly 13,000 people in their productive two years of existence.

The intern position at Roots is an informal role, so my schedule and tasks vary tremendously. As someone who is passionate about the work Roots is doing, but is not yet a member of either community, I see myself as a helping hand, assisting whomever I can however I can. For example, my first major task was to navigate Israeli bureaucracy in order to get twenty cameras out of customs for a women’s photography workshop Roots is running in a few weeks. While this was not a task I was expecting to undertake, it was definitely a learning experience nonetheless.

Aside from the cameras, I have been tasked with setting up a Facebook page for Roots’ international supporters, learning how to use Salesforce and enter donations data, organizing a meeting between an Israeli and a Palestinian who are each interested in running interfaith gatherings through Roots, helping with shopping for an interfaith iftar (break-fast during Ramadan), and other miscellaneous responsibilities.

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One of my goals for this summer is to gain insight into an Israeli/Palestinian non-profit, observing how grassroots peace organizations are built from the bottom-up. In the short time I have spent with the organization, I have already learned a great deal about the details and discussions that go on behind-the-scenes. Through my attendance at meetings of the leadership and the volunteer activists, I have already seen how much deliberation goes on about every decision – both regarding logistics and ideology.

Another goal that I have already begun to work on is my language skills. During meetings and events and just sitting around the field schmoozing, there is almost always a mix of English, Hebrew, and Arabic. I have sat through entire meetings in Hebrew, and while I don’t understand everything 100%, I am sure that my Hebrew is improving already. Additionally, I have begun to talk to Palestinians in Arabic and attempt to adjust to their dialect. While my Arabic is barely conversational, I have already received appreciation for trying to talk to others in their mother tongue.

I look forward to learning more, to doing more, and to becoming more inspired by these selfless individuals who care so much about their work every day.

Rivka (Rebecca) Cohen ’17

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This summer, I have the privilege of interning with the Office of Water at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C. I am an Environmental Studies and Economics double major, and I am working with an economist on water quality policy. The internship is a perfect fit as I get to apply my economics coursework, help impact our nation’s water bodies, and learn about the incredible work of the EPA. I appreciate the OW’s warm welcome for me, and I am fortunate to work with so many talented environmental professionals this summer.

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My cubicle for the summer

My first week has been a whirlwind of getting my cubicle set up, meeting lots of new people, weaving my way through the labyrinth of the EPA headquarters’ building, and getting a taste of the economics work in the EPA Water Policy office. For the first few days, I shadowed my supervisor and read environmental economics academic papers pertaining to water quality. I sat in on engaging meetings, ranging from discussions about the water quality index to planning for a stated preference study (a survey given to people asking how much they would pay for improvement in water quality for a water body near them). I enjoyed learning about economist’s role in the EPA and seeing coursework theory applied in the meetings.

The welcoming and friendly vibe of the EPA has been one of the highlights of my internship. The EPA feels like a community, as everyone is passionate about the environment and effecting change. My co-workers have gone out of their way to introduce themselves and make me feel part of the office. The Water Policy Staff has an interesting variety of professionals in the office—staff that focus on climate change and water, tribal affairs, water scarcity, ecosystem services, water quality economics and more. Throughout the summer, I will try to get to know more of my co-workers to learn more about their career path and their current work in the office. I am sure that I have a lot to learn from them!

This week I also started my first intern tasks. I started brainstorming water indicators for EJSCREEN, an environmental justice mapping tool that maps proximity of at-risk populations to environmental hazards. There are few water indicators on the tool, so I began to brainstorm new indicators, such as water scarcity, access/proximity to water resources, and drinking water violations. It is a lot of work to collect the data, create a methodology, and pitch my idea to the EJSCREEN committee! I am happy to be making a difference, and I hope the additions in the tool can be used to flag environmental hazards, like Flint Michigan, and to help the EPA implement policy.

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My ID badge

In addition to my intern tasks, my supervisor is encouraging me to attend water-related EPA and NGO seminars throughout the summer and to write summaries for the office. Today I attended a talk about urban ecosystems, and tomorrow I am going to a seminar at Resources for the Future to learn about the federal coal leasing program. I cannot wait to delve in to my internship, and I am very thankful for this learning experience.

 

-Allison Marill

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This summer I am working as a Legislative Intern for Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to develop the sustained political power to foster a more just and peaceful U.S. foreign policy. Massachusetts Peace Action is an affiliate of Peace Action, the largest grassroots peace and disarmament membership organization in the U.S., with some 100 chapters nationwide. Through grassroots organizing, policy advocacy, and community education, we promote human rights and global cooperation, seek an end to war and the spread of nuclear weapons, and support budget priorities that redirect excessive military spending to meeting human and environmental needs in our communities.

My experience with this organization began in late May when I attended the Peace Action National Organizers Conference and Lobby Day in Washington D.C.. During the first two days, representatives from Peace Action chapters from around the country (California, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New York, Florida, Ohio, etc.) met and discussed foreign policy and the role of the national Peace Action organization in the affairs of the affiliates. Some of the policy topics that we covered were the Syrian War, nuclear disarmament, the People’s Budget, Saudi Arabia/ Yemen conflict, and climate justice. It was fascinating to not only hear the perspectives of progressive leaders from around the country on these issues but also to learn about the framework of the organization and non-profit work in general. There were also several student chapters represented including Syracuse U., Tufts U., Harvard U., Hofstra U., and several state colleges from New York. It was helpful to engage in political discussion and form alliances with other students who share a similar vision.

Peace Action delegates at the National Organizers Conference in Washington D.C.

Peace Action delegates at the National Organizers Conference in Washington D.C.

MAPA interns in front of the United States Capitol building.

MAPA interns in front of the United States Capitol building.

On the final day of the trip, along with other delegates from the Massachusetts Peace Action, I participated in lobby meetings with all of the eleven Massachusetts federal legislators or their staff. It was such an amazing experience to travel between the Senate and House offices on Capitol Hill and actually speak with the individuals who develop policy and represent large populations of Massachusetts residents. Often times it seems that officials in Washington are alienated from the public so it was interesting to get some insider knowledge of the legislative processes of the federal government and other congressional procedures.

MAPA interns with MA Senator Elizabeth Warren!

MAPA interns with MA Senator Elizabeth Warren!

Members of Massachusetts Peace Action meet with MA Rep. Jim McGovern.

Members of Massachusetts Peace Action meet with MA Rep. Jim McGovern.

Since my return from Washington D.C., I have been working in the MAPA headquarters in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA) and have been involved in a wide range of tasks including fundraising, community outreach, event planning, and legislative affairs.

I am really looking forward to the rest of the summer and hope that I will be able to continue strengthening my network by building friendships and alliances with those that I meet along the way.

Remington Pontes ‘17

Hello dear readers! My name is Amy Zhang and I am an intern at a Supportive Living Inc., a brain injury rehabilitation clinic located in Lexington, Massachusetts. Supportive Living is an organization that is dedicated to aiding brain injured members of the population through funding, housing, and rehabilitating programs at their multiple locations. I work at the Douglas House in Lexington that acts as sort of the hub center of all Supportive Living management. As one of ten new college interns, I participate in assisting with the physical therapy and other rehabilitating cognitive activities designed for each individual clinic’s residents. I, in layman’s terms, interact, help, and motivate the residents through different programs.

I just finished my first week of work and it certainly was an experience. You know that feeling of when you are in the cart of an ascending roller coaster? You know when the descent is going to happen and how it’s going to feel and yet that prior knowledge doesn’t really prepare you for the fall anyways? That’s kind of similar to how I felt during my first week. I had a pretty solid idea of what I would be doing for the internship and yet I still found myself being apprehensive throughout the whole week. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the work. The best part about this internship was the opportunity getting to interact with residents and other interns on a personal basis. But I was still constantly getting surprised by the kinds of conversations I would have with the residents. Working with brain injured patients, I had a vague idea of how difficult interacting with them might be. And yet, as I was working on activities like horticultural therapy with some of the patients, I found myself constantly being surprised by how easy it was to partake in regular daily conversations.

The first picture depicts interns interacting with some of the brain injury residents during a music therapy class while the second picture is some of the horticultural plants we work with.

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I get to also partake in a research project directed at creating the outlining foundation of a new wellness center. As I interview residents and employee staff, research online, and visit other wellness centers, I will summarize all my new information into a final research paper provided at the end of the summer. I also get to help with a video documentary directed at advertising the program to the community. On my fourth day, I got to attend video training at a local company called LexMedia. The documentary should and will showcase the daily activities of the residents and also the struggles of dealing with different brain injuries.

This picture is of the video lecturer at LexMedia.

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From this internship, I am hoping to attain a personal experience with working within a strong developing public health institution. As I hope to work in some aspect of public health one day, I think it is important for me to understand how a quickly growing public health institution works. I also hope I get to create more personal relationships with not only the other employees and interns, but also the residents at Supportive Living. I really want a more intimate perspective on how the inner workings of the institution operate and how effective it truly is.

I have so much to reflect upon about the beginning of my summer as a Workforce Development intern at the International Institute of Boston (IIB). IIB is a refugee resettlement agency, with two other locations, in Lowell, MA and Manchester, NH. When a refugee (or asylee, Cuban/Haitian entrant, or Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa recipient) is resettled in Boston, they are enrolled in Case Management, Employment Services, and English classes. I work with Employment Services. You can read IIB’s mission on their website, but to explain it in my own words, I will describe my job as a Workforce Development intern.

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This summer, IIB is in a temporary location, since their new building is under construction. Their interim space is now with the Asian American Civic Association (AACA), another non-profit with a goal of developing the workforce and promoting economic self-sufficiency.

My walk to AACA in Chinatown.

My walk to AACA in Chinatown.

I do many different projects and tasks with Employment Services. I create resumes for clients and then meet with them to review. I apply for jobs for clients after knowing their preferred positions and locations– the positions are mostly entry level, but the jobs vary on the English level of the client. I make retention calls to clients after they get jobs, and update the records, which is important for IIB to track how clients are doing in their jobs. Clients are enrolled in CRES or TAG, and both are funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, and you can read about them here. Something I did not expect was the amount of French I would be speaking (I took French from 6th-12th grade). I am often assigned to meet with Haitians with low-English literacy because I can translate material.

A big part of my job is teaching. On Mondays, I teach the Cultural Orientation Program (COP). New clients are enrolled in COP which runs for four weeks. This class covers living in the US, rights/ laws, education, personal finance, government, health/ hygiene, and sex ed. I never thought about these aspects of life in the US since I grew up here, but many of the clients come from countries where there are different cultural norms and expectations.I never pictured myself teaching consent to a group of young men from Somalia, but this internship always surpasses expectations.

On Fridays, another intern, Sylvia, and I lead the COP trip. Examples of the trips include the Freedom Trail, Boston Public Library, Harvard Square, and the State House. Also on Fridays, Sylvia and I teach the Workforce Orientation Workshop (coincidentally, another WOW acronym) to the same students in COP. After the trip, we give the students a break, and we prepare for the afternoon class, which also runs for four weeks. This class covers getting a job in the US, job etiquette and workplace standards, interview skills, and personal finance/ budgeting/ taxes. This class is a great way for people to learn about jobs they may have in the US, and how to apply and interview for them. It is difficult to find a job in a new country where you may not speak the language well, do not have professional references or a career network, and do not have an equivalent degree in the US to one you may have earned in your home country.

COP trip to the State House. IIB often requests this guide, Brian, who adjusts the tour for people who are new to the country and who may have low levels of English proficiency.

COP trip to the State House. IIB often requests this guide, Brian, who adjusts the tour for people who are new to the country and may have low levels of English proficiency.

My main goals for this summer were to see how this furthered my career interests and to apply what I am studying in school to my work. For my career interests, I have become more interested in non-profit management. For my academic goal, I have seen how my studies apply to my internship. I have been able to apply Politics and Economics classes, as well as certain classes like American Health Care. When I am teaching US policies, laws, and personal finance, I want to think more about what I have learned at Brandeis, and how it can help refugees who are assimilating to American social, political, and economic life.

I have already seen how rewarding the work can be– two brothers were recently resettled in Boston and enrolled in programs at IIB. From teaching them in COP and WOW, I could see how determined they were to get jobs. They were excited the day they received Social Security cards, which meant I could help them apply for jobs. I helped them apply for a job, took them to the local Citizens Bank to set up bank accounts, and practiced interview skills. In the same week, they each interviewed and were hired at the same full time job. After their first job, they can come back to IIB to enroll in the Service Industry Training Program or the Hospitality Training Program, and they can use any other employment service.

This is just the beginning. I’m looking forward to a fulfilling summer at IIB!

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18

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natural history front

This summer I am working, along with 6 other interns, at the North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The work of the interns varies each summer, but usually revolves around the artifacts, materials, and past research from the site at St. Catherine’s Island in Georgia, USA. The site at St. Catherine’s is significant because we can see around 5000 years of human habitation, relatively untouched until European contact, and there is still little modern activity or development on the Island. Some important areas of the excavation center around the Mission Santa Catalina de Gaule as well as the history of the native people of lived on the Island.

 

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

 

http://www.stcatherinesisland.org/history/spanish-colonial/

 

The goal for the interns this summer is to make it possible for the artifacts that have been brought to the lab from excavations over the last 10 years to be moved back down to Georgia in the Fall. The duties of the interns vary daily and weekly, but they will include consolidating and reorganizing the artifacts in the lab from the last several years of excavations on St. Catherine’s Island. The artifacts need to be consolidated so that they can be transferred to Georgia. They will be organized according to where and in what layer they were found instead of by material. I will be checking the documentation of these objects. Other tasks will include data entry, photography, the storing and handling of artifacts, and possibly photogrammetry related to the 3-D scanning of objects, and various forms of analysis. So far we have been working with materials from the most recent work on the Island. We cleaned several fragments of ceramic as well as shell. We have also sorted through materials found around features and several other sites, this included slowly going through bags of fine material to find hidden pieces of ceramic, fired clay, fish bones, certain lithics, and beads. As you can imagine, this is a long process in order to catch every piece of information, but we managed to finish sorting all of the leftover materials from the excavation and move on to cataloguing, and then sorting and consolidating some of the catalogued materials.

In terms of my goals for the summer, the first is to learn how to perform cursory and historical analysis of artifacts, and more importantly to be able to recognize different kinds of materials more accurately. I’m excited to learn from my fellow interns, who have varying levels of experience in the field and in different areas of North America and the rest of the world as well as my supervisors. On a more general level, my goal is of course to gain experience working in a professional archaeology lab. I have not worked in a lab nor had many experiences in a non-fieldwork setting, and I am eager to be able to increase my confidence of my own knowledge of archaeology and the nature of the sites I will be working with through the North American Archaeology Lab this summer!

View from the lab!

View from the lab!

Mozelle Shamash Rosenthal, ‘16

Like everyone else here on the World of Work Summer Internship Blog, I’m writing about the first week of my summer experience. I’m interning in the editorial department at The Improper Bostonian, a lifestyle magazine focused on restaurants, events, trends and shopping in Boston. However, it’s not really my first week at The Improper since I’ve interned here since January, hence the quotation marks in the title of this post.

The location of The Improper’s offices on Berkeley St. in the Back Bay.

Even though I’m familiar with my supervisors and workspace from the spring, it’s been my first week of a completely different experience. Instead of interning twice a week in the midst of classes and other extra curricula activities, I’m able to focus more on the work I’m doing at my internship while taking a step outside the comforts of Brandeis. Thanks to the WOW scholarship, I’m able to sublet an apartment in Somerville and practice living like an actual young professional—cooking dinner for myself each night, commuting on the T, etc. Aside from the opportunity to continue pursue my dream of being a professional writer, I’m most grateful for the freedom granted by this scholarship.

Improper Intern Desk

Intern computers and work area

Before I get sidetracked, I should mention what I’m actually doing each day at The Improper. The foundation of the editorial internship experience and what I did throughout the spring is fact-checking articles for print, laying out calendar pages in InDesign and writing short blurbs—’callouts’—highlighting upcoming film screenings, performances or book readings around the area to be published in the print issue. It was comforting to get back to the same “meat and potatoes” work after a few weeks off but my goal for the summer is to move beyond these tasks and conduct more research, investigations and generate articles and online posts. The Improper’s website is pretty out-dated and bogged down but is in the process of a complete remodel.

Once that gets up and running, I’ll be able to focus more on different topics and trends around Boston to write about. In the meantime, I’ve been relentlessly fact-checking for the magazine’s biggest issue of the year—Boston’s Best. While I can’t share any of the winners (you’ll have to check out the print issue once it’s published next month), it is exciting to read about the best wedding caterers and local musicians as determined by our panel of judges. In the midst of my work this past week, I was reminded of a passage from a book I read for Professor McNamara’s Ethics in Journalism class I took this past spring.

Talking about the lure of journalism, especially while working at a publication like The New York Times, Seth Mnookin explains why journalists go into this stressful, typically underpaid, field. It’s the immediate access to the news and being among the first to learn about something makes it all worthwhile. While I might not be interviewing global leaders or reporting on multi-million dollar business deals, the access I have in The Improper’s editorial department is still enthralling. Not only do I get to read the magazine before it’s published, but I get to learn all about what’s going on around the city. If anything, interning for The Improper has made me a more well-informed citizen. Even if it concerns the newest restaurants and shops opening in Boston.

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This is me on my first day!

I have just completed my first week at American World Jewish Service (AJWS) in NYC, and I am overcome with excitement for the rest of my time at this incredible organization. Thanks to WOW, I have the opportunity to intern at AJWS as a Donor Engagement Intern in the development division. AJWS is the only Jewish organization dedicated solely to ending poverty and promoting human rights in the developing world. Highlights of AJWS’ work includes campaigning to stop the Darfur genocide, fighting global hunger, responding to the Ebola epidemic in Liberia and the earthquake in Nepal, and working to end violence against women, girls, and LGBT people worldwide. Here is a link to the organization’s website for more information. Feel free to browse around!

Highlights from my week:

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Stephen McGill and me!

 

Walking in on my first day, I was nervous but excited and up for any tasks. However, I was happy to discover that at AJWS interns are not asked to get coffee and do photocopying. Currently, there are only two people working in Donor Engagement, so I was right away thrust into real work. I have been responsible for finalizing details for an upcoming Study Tour Trip to Guatemala, and beginning the prep work for another Study Tour Trip to Uganda. Study Tours are designed to provide major donors a first-hand look at the impact their dollars are making. When I first heard about Study Tours, I had a lot of critical thoughts and hoped that AJWS is not taking their wealthy donors to intrude into impoverished and oppressed communities in order to evoke more sympathy for the purpose of receiving larger donations. To my relief, I learned that donors visit AJWS’ grantees, local organizations which are funded by AJWS. Therefore, study tours are an important initiative to inspire donors to continue to give to AJWS causes.

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to help my supervisor prepare for an event where AJWS’ incoming president, Robert Bank was in conversation with Frank Bruni, the New York Times first openly gay op-ed columnist. It was great to hear Bruni speak about his journey. Here is a link to AJWS’ facebook page for pictures from the event.

Lastly, on Friday I had the opportunity to meet and hear Stephen McGill speak. McGill is the director of Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL), an AJWS partner organization. McGill is in New York this week to join United Nations delegates and civil society representatives from around the world for the 2016 United Nations High-Level Meeting to End AIDS. He along with many others is fighting to end the systemic exclusion of marginalized communities including transgender people, sex workers, gay and bisexual men, drug users, migrants and prisoners from this conversation and movement.

Looking Forward:

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This is my cubicle!

I am very excited to continue with organizing Study Tours, helping with a marathon fundraising event, and continuing to learn how to use Raiser’s Edge, which is a database widely used by nonprofits for compiling lists of donors and their information. My other projects will include creating an organized system that will, for example, have information about different venues and caterers that the Donor Engagement department can utilize to efficiently plan different types of fundraising events. In addition, I will be working with the communications department to brainstorm a template and write newsletters on the Study Tours.

My goal is to soak up all aspects of this organization’s work. I want to leave with a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of a nonprofit organization. This includes learning both the positives and the negatives. I want to look into the difficulties that each department and the organization as a whole faces. I believe I joined the organization at an interesting time because the vice president of AJWS, Robert Bank, will be stepping into the role of president on July 1st. I am excited to observe and learn a lot from this transitional period. Attending and participating in meetings has already given me a perspective on the constant need for compromise when each department has a different vision and opinion of how something should be done. I plan to meet with members of the different departments that I am interested in to gain their perspectives on the organization, their contributions, and their journey. I am especially interested in meeting with members of the communication and media department because I am intrigued by how nonprofit organizations present issues and discuss the narratives of impoverished individuals. I want to investigate more empowering ways rather than dehumanizing or exploitative, to present these types of narratives.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for my second post!

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The front doors of Rosie’s Place located at 889 Harrison Ave in Boston.

This summer I am working at Rosie’s Place located in Boston’s South End. Rosie’s Place is a sanctuary for poor and homeless women founded in 1974 by Kip Tiernan as the first women’s shelter in the United States, with the mission to provide a safe and nurturing environment that helps guests maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives. Rosie’s Place provides a wide range of services and support for women including meals, emergency overnight shelter, education, advocacy, and many more found in the directory of programs and services.

One of the first things I learned about Rosie’s Place during my phone interview and reiterated during my first day was Rosie’s prides itself on being a sanctuary – not just a shelter – for women and being there to help with the needs of the guests who walk through the doors. Rosie’s is committed not only to help guests and their needs on the day to day basis but also working in public policy to change laws to bring social change in issues relating to poverty and homelessness.

My first week at Rosie’s as one of the eight summer interns (including Ari Keigan ’18) was overwhelming but very rewarding. I am in the Direct Service department and am on the front lines helping guests at the front desk.

As the first point of contact for guests, I work to create a warm, friendly, welcoming, and supportive environment and learn about the needs of the guests and direct them to how Rosie’s can help. I have covered the front desk before at my job at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, but I had not expected how busy and demanding it would be. It truly requires me to be flexible and be able to multitask.

The bulletin board with bios of the summer interns posted for the community to see.

For example, some of the tasks I am responsible for include answering questions in person and over the phone sorting, organizing and checking mail for the guests, and helping guests sign up for showers, laundry, phones or computers. During my first week I have already experienced having to answer the phone while organizing mail and politely asking a guest to wait before I can help them all at the same time. At first I was quite intimidated working at the front desk because I was afraid of giving out the wrong information but with the help of my supervisors, I was encouraged to ask questions and assured that it was okay if I put people on hold because I was not required to know all the answers right away.

I am grateful as part of my internship, all summer interns participate in a series of seminars that explore social justice issues on Friday afternoons. During our first meeting, we got the chance to listen and discuss how the week went in our individual departments. Two points we had discussed were checking our own privilege and wanting to help as much as we can but learning how to say no. We also discussed the four main goals of the internship and our two individual department goals.

The four internship goals are to gain a deeper understanding of poverty and oppression from the women who come to Rosie’s Place as well as the root cause of these conditions; to learn more about who are poor and homeless women in Boston and what circumstances brought them to Rosie’s Place; to develop a greater sense of responsibility and ability to work to bring about social chance and equality; and to better understand how a medium-sized non-profit operates. My two department goals are to learn how to communicate effectively with all the different people that I encounter and to learn to take more initiative as I get more comfortable with the front desk.

The work that I am doing is difficult but it is work that needs to be done, and I am excited for what is more to come.

Tina Nguyen ’17

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This summer I am lucky enough to have an internship at The Fortune Society in New York City.  This is a non-profit organization that provides a wide variety of services to formerly incarcerated or at-risk individuals, such as housing, counseling, and employment services to name only a few.  The mission of Fortune is “to support successful reentry from prison and promote alternatives to incarceration, thus strengthening the fabric of our communities.”  This is accomplished primarily by believing in an individual’s ability to change with the right guidance.  This site is good because it elaborates on some of the most popular of services provided by the agency.  During my time at Fortune, I will be working in the housing department as well as the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy (DRCPP), where one of the bigger projects I will help with is to conduct a study related to the effect of criminal background questions in New York State.  This effort is called Ban-the-Box, and can be more closely reviewed here.  This week, I spent most of my time at the housing center and orientation for the DRCPP starts next week where I will look forward to meeting the rest of the interns.  

Fortune's Harlem site, known as Castle Gardens. (photo: fortunesociety.org)

Fortune’s Harlem site, known as Castle Gardens. (photo: fortunesociety.org)

During my time at the housing center thus far, I have worked with numerous people with varying roles in the organization so I can learn about the efforts of the Center in a holistic manner. I look forward to understanding more about how to create a successful and supportive transitional housing building which is occupied by formerly incarcerated individuals.  Every client utilizing the housing services at Fortune is immediately assigned a case manager upon entry to the program who remains in close contact with the client during their time at Fortune.  

Case managers typically talk to their clients at least every other week, and through my experience so far, there seems to be an amicable relationship between the two individuals, which creates a more comfortable environment for the client.  I had the opportunity to work closely with one case manager in particular; he walked me through conducting room inspections for clients, compiling reports into the computer, and then filing the reports.  Next week I will start having one-on-one conversations with clients to discuss their progress in the program including strategizing employment opportunities, overcoming substance abuse, and addressing other issues relevant to their successful re-entry from prison.

My desk at Castle Gardens.

My desk at Castle Gardens.

Earlier in the week I also worked closely with the supervisor of residential aides; in addition to him showing me the conveniently stocked break room, which was a plus, he guided my through documenting incidents concerning clients. From what I documented, incidents can range from an ambulance being called for a client to a client’s unfortunate re-incarceration to a physical brawl between clients.  Perhaps the most shocking and dare I say uncomfortable thing I’ve done so far was administer a urine toxicology test, where I had to watch a client urinate into a plastic cup and proceed to test it for a variety of drugs.  Luckily for both me and the client, all of the results were negative.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the summer—I really feel like I have the ability to both directly and indirectly help people.

Ely Schudrich ‘19

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One of the many things I confirmed upon completing my first week interning at the Anti-Defamation (ADL) League was that you can learn a tremendous amount in just one week. Although I knew that I would leave this internship feeling more inspired, educated, and passionate, I hadn’t anticipated feeling all of those emotions so early on. In this blog post, I’ll share glimpses into the short, yet prolific, time I’ve spent interning at the ADL. Before I dive into what I’ve been doing at the ADL, allow me to paint a picture:

I walk into the South Florida ADL office bright and early on a Monday morning. I’m immediately taken by the aroma of altruism in the air. I can already sense that there are intelligent, passionate, and kind people in this office. The Anti-Defamation League, one of America’s leading civil rights organization, works vigorously to combat anti-Semitism, racism, and all forms of bigotry. Given their strong efforts to promote understanding and diversity, it makes perfect sense that driven and dedicated people are steering the ship.

The morning was devoted to orienting me on the computer systems, teaching me the best way to delicately handle phone calls with victims, and introducing me to the ADL staff (my intuition was right: they are all intelligent, passionate, and kind individuals). The majority of my first day was comprised of following up on incident reports, which means that I communicate with victims or witnesses of discrimination, who have filed or wish to file reports. Initially, it was incredibly disheartening to hear about the terrible incidents that occur on a daily basis (not to mention, in my hometown of South Florida). However, I’ve chosen to use this discouragement as fuel, empowering me to take the lessons I’m learning at the ADL and bring them back to Brandeis.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed attending and participating in ADL staff meetings, where I get the latest scoop on how the organization is working towards attaining social justice. It has been truly inspiring to witness important decisions being made, and new ideas being shared, and to be in the presence of such idealistic people. I also went on an out-of-the-office field trip to assist with a presentation highlighting anti-Semitism on college campuses. As a college student and a Jew, it was disconcerting to learn how often these incidents occur. However, I’m committed to converting these uneasy feelings into ammunition, and choosing to peacefully fight against all forms of bigotry.

NPFH Logo

A part of the WOW application asks participants to identify the goals we have for our internships. One of the three goals that I listed was “to challenge myself to stretch far beyond my comfort zone and prove that I am indeed capable of successfully handling matters of great importance.” Although it’s only been a week since I began interning at the ADL, I really believe that I’m on the right track toward achieving the goals I’ve set for myself. I’ve already learned that it takes motivated people to make a true, lasting difference. I’ve learned that, unfortunately, bullying and discrimination are still very much present. I’ve also learned that we still have a long road ahead of us in regard to social justice, but that we can make tremendous strides when more individuals step up and take action.

I want to sincerely thank Brandeis University and the incredibly generous donors who have made this experience possible. I promise to ensure that your generosity – both in time and in funds – is worth every second and every penny.

 

ADL 2013 LOGO BLUE

This summer I will be a research intern at an organization called Verité, which is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. Verité is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes fair, safe and legal labor practices around the world. In particular, they address forced labor/slavery, child labor, systemic gender inequalities and discrimination within the workplace, and dangerous working conditions. They provide four major services including assessment, research, training and consultation in order to help companies identify any problems or violations within their labor supply chains. Verité facilitates working relationships with local NGOs, governments, and international institutions in order to increase accountability among corporations and to expand the capacity of local NGOs.

The entrance to the lower floor of Verité, where the interns work

The entrance to the lower floor of Verité, where the interns work

The community at Verité is warm and welcoming, and the interns are made to feel like a part of that community. On my first day, my fellow interns and I congregated around an oval table in a small conference room where we were introduced to our supervisors, and were given a presentation outlining our responsibilities. The presentation contained staple resources which we will use in our research, such as the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons reports, and the International Labour Organization’s website.

Throughout the summer, I will be assigned to help out with various projects. My first project is to update a few annual reports assessing production labor practices in specific countries; at the moment, I am working on the Taiwan report. A large American pension fund uses these updated reports to guide their investments.  Highlighting changes in each country’s labor practices report, whether the new information is positive or negative, will allow the pension fund to make more socially responsible investments, thus supporting countries with fair labor practices.

Because there is a no naming-and-shaming policy at Verité, much of the information I am given to research, as well as the standing of certain organizations, must remain confidential. However, the research I do will be used to establish statistics that will eventually be presented to the public.

Much of the Verité’s work revolves around combating forced labor. In this TEDx talk, Dan Viederman, the former CEO of Verité, gives an in-depth explanation on modern-day slavery in labor supply chains.

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My desk space and research materials

At Brandeis, I hope to create an independent interdisciplinary major (IIM) in human rights. I believe that this internship will be a highly valuable experience that will contribute to how I shape and focus my major. I hope to expand my researching skills, in order to positively contribute to Verité, as well as to learn new information for myself. Being immersed in an organization that focuses solely on human rights is an incredible opportunity, as I will be able to communicate with and learn from people who have varying roles in the world of human rights, which will allow me to explore the abundance of careers available in that field.

Verité's beautiful backyard/lunch break destination

Verité’s beautiful backyard/lunch break destination

Georgia Nichols, ’18

 

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This is almost my third week at the American Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter. Every day here is different because the organization’s work is heavily influenced by what happens in the world. Right now, we have been sending volunteers to Orlando to help at the Mental Health Department of the Red Cross. Since 23 of the victims were Puerto Ricans, we are also establishing support services in the island. The fact that I’m working with such an active organization is a privilege. We have also been sending volunteers to Texas, where there are heavy floods and people have been moved to refuges. Although I don’t go on these trips, I have the opportunity to see how these activities are planned and interact with the volunteers that are sent.

Shirt that I was given for the pillowcase talks!

Shirt that I was given for the pillowcase talks!

I mostly work under Disaster Relief Department but some days I help out with other departments such as the Volunteer Services.  In the disaster department, I am in charge of managing a Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, which means that I am in charge of planning and implementing the program. Through this, I have also begun training to become a “Pillowcase Presenter”. The Pillowcase Project is a “preparedness education program for children in grades 3 – 5, which teaches students about personal and family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills” (Red Cross website). I have had the opportunity to attend these talks and I’m excited to be given the opportunity of presenting a talk soon.

Picture from a Pillowcase talk! There were aout 50 kids, and the presenter did a really good job!

Picture from a Pillowcase talk! There were about 50 kids, and the presenter did a really good job!

 

The first day of my internship, I had the opportunity to attend a symposium on volunteering in Puerto Rico. They talked about making volunteers feel useful and important. I think this applies to internships as well, and I have felt very useful and important at the Red Cross so far. Moreover, I have gained a new perspective on running an organization like the Red Cross. They are an amazing and well-respected organization, but this is because of the work and dedication of the employees. The employees get here at 8 am and try to leave by 4:30pm, although most of them stay way past that. The “work environment” is also very friendly, from people constantly offering me coffee in the mornings to everyone knowing my name since my first day, and every day we all have lunch together.

Needless to say, I’m learning a lot from a business perspective, but also gaining tons of administrative and logistical skills that I didn’t have before. I’m also learning a lot about disaster management, which is very unique but important. I’m excited to see how the following weeks unfold, and I’m excited to have such an unpredictable but amazing internship opportunity thanks to the WOW fellowship.

Claudia Roldan Rivera ’18

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Courthouse

Outside of Boston Municipal Courthouse

I used to think criminal justice was like a puzzle. Lawyers and judges were given a set of rules to apply and, as long as they followed those rules, they could ensure a just outcome. I have since realized, however, that unlike puzzles, criminal justice does not come in a box with a picture of justice on the front. We can only ensure that the rules will lead to an acceptable outcome if we constantly discuss and define what it means for law and punishment to be just.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Victim Witness Assistance Program, where I am interning this summer, is a product of this continually evolving understanding of justice.

The Victim’s Bill of Rights was established in 1982, resulting in 44 states adopting statutes to give victims access to funds, protection, case information, and rights to attend trial. Massachusetts enacted the legislation in 1984, establishing Victim Witness Assistance Programs in every District Attorney’s Office in the state. The VWA Program is a source of legal and emotional support for the victims and witnesses of crimes and their families and ensures that their legal rights are not forgotten during the criminal prosecution process.

Boston Municipal Courthouse

Inside of Boston Municipal Courthouse

 

As an intern, I work directly with the two full time advocates. In my first week as an intern, I have come to learn how the small VWA office—easy to miss in the corner of the bustling Boston Municipal Courthouse—plays a fundamental role in maintaining the morality and justice of many proceedings. The advocates are primarily charged with contacting and meeting witnesses and victims of crimes to ensure that these individuals remain aware of the status of their case, know their participatory and compensatory rights, and feel comfortable during and after the trial. The job of the advocates is not only important for the well-being of the victims and witnesses, but is also essential to the legal process as a whole. Often these vulnerable individuals provide material testimony and, without the support of the advocates, would be unwilling or unable to come to trial.

In my first week, I was primarily tasked with writing letters to victims of crimes to updates of proceedings so they know when they can or should appear in court. I also spent time editing case files to ensure Assistant District Attorneys had updated information during arraignments and trial. My biggest task was to learn the workings of the office and gain my footing in the courthouse. I learned how to use the internal management software to find past crime records, which courtroom to go to depending on the stage of the proceeding, and have accumulated a lengthy list of the important legal jargon.

I also shadowed the advocates and spent time in the courtroom during different stages of the criminal proceedings. This included observing trials and arraignments and participating in advocate-victim meetings. I hope to utilize this internship to clarify my future career options and interests. The knowledge and exposure to the courtroom this internship is affording will make this goal not only achievable, but nearly inevitable.

It is easy to forget that criminal justice serves a purpose beyond punishment. We want law to reflect a code of fairness and equality and to protect the inherent moral worth of both the criminal and the victim. Ensuring that our penal code maintains a standard of justice is certainly not a simple goal, but it is undoubtedly one towards which we must constantly strive.

This summer, I am excited to contribute to that goal.

 

 

My ID to get into the courthouse each day

Dustin Fire, ’17

 

I recently started my second summer internship with One Mission (OM), a pediatric cancer foundation that does whatever it takes to help kids get through cancer. “Rather than fund long-term solutions like research, One Mission programs and services provide immediate relief from the relentless wrath cancer unleashes every single day,” says the OM mission statement. One Mission is located in Framingham, MA. The organization is very small, currently only 5 employees and a few interns, yet they do big things for the pediatric cancer community.

The Shave Line at the Buzz Off. Where all of the buzzing happens

The Shave Line at the Buzz Off. Where all of the buzzing happens!

On Sunday June 5th, 2016, I helped out at their 7th annual Buzz Off for Kids with Cancer at Gillette Stadium. “The One Mission Buzz Off is a fun and unforgettable event where passionate people come together to shave their heads in honor and support of kids with cancer; kids who don’t have the choice to lose their hair. Just like a walk or road race, participants raise money by asking family and friends to sponsor their participation,” explains the Buzz Off website. Last year was my first Buzz Off and I immediately fell in love with the organization and their event. Seeing 8 year old girls walking in all excited to shave their heads is an amazing site for which words cannot do justice.

Working the Volunteer Registration table the day of the Buzz Off!

Working the Volunteer Registration table the day of the Buzz Off!

Since the Buzz Off is such a large event, drawing thousands of people and raising over a million dollars, most of my time so far has been spent preparing for the Buzz Off and helping with all of the post event tasks like reorganizing the office and inputting offline check donations into our online fundraising system. These tasks at times can be tedious, especially when I have a giant stack of checks on my desk and spend hours straight working on them, but I know it is important for the Buzz Off so that OM can do all it does and more for patients.

Packing for the Buzz Off

Packing for the Buzz Off.

As time passes and we get further away from the Buzz Off I will start working on more long term projects. I have begun to work on an internship outreach project. Essentially, I am working on how to advertise my job to other college students and contacting local universities about how to post the opportunity for their students. Interns have a large impact on OM. Since it is such a small organization, any extra people around are helpful. We often do things that the main employees don’t have much time for, such as unpacking and organizing the office after the Buzz Off. Therefore, despite the fact that this project does not directly impact patients, it does help OM to function better and have the capacity to do more for the patients in the long run.

One Mission funds yoga classes for patients and their families as a way to manage stress during treatment

One Mission funds yoga classes for patients and their families as a way to manage stress during treatment.

My goals for the summer are to work on more long term projects in order to have a bigger impact on the organization. This internship project is not what I originally pictured but at the same time it does help me work towards my goals.

– Jennifer Rossman

This summer, I will be interning at the Chicago Innocence Center in Chicago, IL. The Chicago Innocence Center (CIC) is a non-profit organization that uses an investigative journalism lens to find evidence towards exonerating wrongfully convicted prisoners. Unlike most Innocence Projects throughout the nation, CIC is not attached to a legal clinic or law school and instead sits at the intersection of law, journalism, and social work. Since 2011, this incredible organization has helped exonerate four wrongfully convicted individuals. Some of these individuals were in prison for thirty years or more. Some spent much of their time in prison in solitary confinement, which was detrimental to their psychological well-being. Many individuals experience police brutality leading to false confessions. Through CIC’s research, they are able to right the wrongs of the criminal justice system and find the truth in cases that have been ignored or lost in bureaucracy.

 

The CIC Office Building

CIC strongly believes in independence, diversity, and community engagement. Their team of summer and year-round interns come from colleges all over the country and represent diversity in race, gender, hometown, and academic concentration. As one of the summer interns, I am so lucky to work with six other college students from schools all over the country. On my first day, I met my fellow interns, who are truly an incredible group of young people interested in social justice and positive systemic change in the criminal justice system. I am really looking forward to working together with the interns to help CIC with its mission. While the main CIC office is located directly in the heart of downtown Chicago, my work as a research intern will take me all over the city. In addition to working at CIC headquarters, I will travel to libraries, prisons, archives, and courthouses.

While my research will take many forms, I am starting by introducing myself to criminal law through text. Right now, I am reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which discusses the mass incarceration of African Americans in the United States as well as The Death of Innocents by Sister Helen Prejean, which chronicles the Sister’s experience working with men on Death Row whom she believes to be innocent. These texts will give me an introduction to the flaws in our criminal justice system. Additionally, I am working on finding relevant events to attend that explore race, violence, the prison system, criminal and restorative justice, and community development. I look forward to networking with important leaders in the criminal justice reform community through attending workshops, speeches, and symposiums.

Taking the Train to Work

 

I am so excited to continue my work at the CIC in order to fulfill my goals for the summer. I hope to apply sociological theories I’ve learned in school to real-world situations, gain experience in both legal and social work strategies to determine if I want to pursue law or social work in post-baccalaureate studies, and develop a stronger personal confidence. I truly believe CIC will serve as a catalyst to help me achieve my goals and I am so honored and excited to continue to contribute to an amazing organization.

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It had just finished raining when my plane landed at Edinburgh airport in Scotland; the runway was covered in small puddles and the air felt damp with that after rain musk. But the sky was clear and blue and a wonderful signal that my drive to St Andrews would be dry and my luggage wouldn’t get soaked. And that’s when I learned that the Scotland sky is a liar. It can always rain.

But St Andrews is old and beautiful, home to the ruins of a castle and the creatively named University of St Andrews. The university has a long list of titles (the oldest university in Scotland, Prince William attended this university and met Kate here, etc.), but most importantly (or at least most relevant to me and you the reader), they also house the SACHI research group in their School of Computer Science. SACHI is a catchy acronym for St Andrews Computer-Human Interaction, where they perform research into innovative technologies to aid in the daily life of people. Computer-Human Interaction, or HCI, is the “people-person” of computer science; we focus on the applications of developing technology rather than the theories and algorithms behind much of computer science.

This summer I’m working with Dr. Uta Hinrichs on updating the Speculative W@nderverse, an international research project between computer scientists and literary scholars at the University of St Andrews and the University of Calgary. This project explores the potential impact of early science fiction stories on the development of the genre through the use of digital visualization tools. Its focuses on the “Bob Gibson Anthologies of Speculative Fiction,” a unique collection of thousands of sci-fi stories. I’m designing, implementing, and evaluating a novel interactive web visualization to help literary researchers investigate the role of pulp magazines and periodicals within this vast and unique collection.

To summarize, I’m developing a visualization to explore and understand all of these hundreds of anthologies. Information (or data) visualization is the limbo between the intersections of computer science, graphing, statistics, psychology, and design. Robert Kosara explains it more eloquently in his post.

Dr. Hinrichs has been developing the Speculative W@nderverse long before I arrived here; here’s a screenshot of the interactive visualization:initial

 

My work is going to be added to the existing site. Here is a very preliminary exploration of the data that I created in this first week (showing the categories of science fiction themes and each anthology’s inclusion of these themes):

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It certainly fulfills the graph aspect of visualization (and has wonderful colors), but is useless for exploring the data in terms other than the themes of each anthology. But I have two and a half months to go, so I’ll improve my design and software development skills during this time. I’m excited to work alongside experts in the field and become more familiar with research practices in computer science, human-computer interaction, and information visualization. And while I learn from the graduate students and faculty here, I hope to make more personal connections and friends. And hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll learn how to understand the temperature in Celsius.

Katherine Currier ’17

 

 

For my internship this summer I am working at ExpandED Schools, formerly known as TASC (The After-School Corporation), a non-profit organization in New York City dedicated to closing learning gaps. Thee Glossary of Education Reform defines learning gaps as the difference between what a student has learned… and what the student was expected to learn at a certain point in his or her education”. The organization focuses on creating an expanded school day and increased learning hours through after school enrichment programs to help reduce learning gaps. Part of the organization’s work is directly with schools and after school programs. The other part focuses on research and policy to fix issues effecting community partners through policy reform, advocacy, or other means.

Expanded pic

http://www.expandedschools.org/about-us#sthash.n5MHnT91.dpbs

I am working as a member of the research and policy team. Previously, most of my work in education has been direct work with children. I greatly enjoyed my Education Policy class in the fall semester and realized it was an area in which I wanted to gain more experience and insight. I can already tell that my internship will provide me with wonderful opportunities. My boss and mentor is Saskia Traill, Vice President of Policy and Research. She and the rest of the office have been so helpful and welcoming to me. I appreciate that the office actually respects me as an intern. I have been given real work and feel like a member of the staff. I even have my own desk and phone extension!

desk

I am currently researching partnerships between after-school programs and colleges and universities, and I am exploring ways to create a central system for university students to easily get involved in after school programs for elementary, middle, and high school students. I will be writing a policy memo about what I discover in my research to be used in future projects. I have also helped the advocacy department put together and deliver letters from some of ExpandED Schools’ partners to their council members. These personal messages to council members were part of a big project for the advocacy team during the very important budget allocations taking place this month.

I hope to gain a great deal from my internship this summer and I know ExpandED Schools will provide me with many opportunities to grow. I look forward to learning more about what it means to work in education policy; connecting with other professionals within the field of education who can share a variety of perspectives about careers and approaches; and improving my research and writing skills.

I have really enjoyed my internship this past week and am excited to see what the rest of the summer brings.

 

hands-up-editted

Retrieved from https://etecamphaiti.wordpress.com Date accessed: June 6, 2016

This summer I will be working with the Empowering Through Education (ETE) Camp located in Hinche, Haiti. This organization’s primary mission is to serve underprivileged youth that do not have access to comprehensive education and positive leadership. One of the ways this organization achieves its mission is by strengthening their students’ academic skills in courses such as Engineering, Math and Literacy/English. Coming into this position, I felt relatively comfortable as I have worked with educators during my last internship as a teaching fellow. Nonetheless, I was eager to gain new ideas and skills to strengthen my curriculum for my camp class.

I am now forming a literacy curriculum that will be critiqued by the Boston Public School English as a Second Language (ESL) volunteer teachers. In this pre-departure section of my internship, I am charged with the task of collecting pieces of literature that would enhance students’ vocabulary in order to form this curriculum. The topics range from writing introductions to learning new vocabulary. The fear I have with this task emerges from the language barrier as most citizens speak Haitian Creole. Additionally, teaching English poses as a challenge for me because my teaching experience reside exclusively in Mathematics, specifically Pre-Algebra and Algebra.

Here is the daily schedule for the camp. I will be teaching three classes with a co-teacher. My classes are circled in blue.

Here is the daily schedule for the camp. I will be teaching three classes with a co-teacher. My classes are circled in blue.

My first week of work was filled with anxiety and uncertainty. However I am aware that comfort and growth do not co-exist. In order to combat my anxiety, it is my desire to perform adequate research in what an English literacy curriculum will look like. This anxiety sheds light on the importance of organizing and planning. This internship allows me to build skills in planning and ultimately developing an efficient curriculum. I am quite simply learning how to properly plan in the realm of education. While improving my planning skills, I am learning that one must consider elements such as environmental factors, time delays, and progress of the students. I am learning to organize a curriculum that is flexible and almost invincible to any possible curve ball. Planning is essential in this internship. During one’s class time, it is important that they maintain composure and diligence in the presence of students.

Thankfully, I have the help of my co-workers and my amazing director. I am learning quite quickly that I should seek help in times of uncertainty. With that being said, self agency is celebrated in my academic life especially at Brandeis. Yet, in collaborative workspaces such as these, asking for help is not a sign of incompetence. As a new employee, I didn’t want to live with the fear of appearing incompetent or too dependent on my director for assistance. After engaging in other conversations with my peers, I’ve learned that many of them seek inspiration from online sources for curriculum ideas from other teachers. Most importantly, I’ve learned that feeling stuck or nervous about the efficacy of one’s curriculum is not a foreign feeling in education. If anything, I am learning that it is a sign of ambition, passion, and intrinsic care for the students. A mantra that is often repeated in this workspace is “Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Along with building a literacy curriculum, I plan to conduct a writing project that includes West Indian literature that centers around self-agency or coming of age stories. I wish to include works from the Haitian diaspora including the works of Haitian-American writer Edwidge Dancticat. One of the core texts I wish to examine and pull inspiration is from Haiti Noir 2 : The Classics and The Butterfly’s Way : Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, a collection of fictional stories created by young writers of Haitian descent. I believe the texts will help me in including materials that are culturally relevant to students and not to mention that both texts are edited by Edwidge Danticat. For those with knowledge of writers from not only Haitian literature but other West Indian literature, please feel free to comment with texts or articles you think will be helpful.

Literacy Curriculum ETE

The director was kind enough to give me a sample Literacy curriculum from previous sessions. This was incredibly helpful. Never be afraid to ask for help!

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The Children's Museum is basically a playground, including a model American cabin and farm that the kids can play inside.

I’ve already been at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago for two weeks, although it feels like a lot longer! The Swedish American museum is a mid-size museum in Chicago that tries to connect people with their Scandinavian heritage as they educate both children and adults on what it was like to be a Swedish immigrant in the United States, describing Swedish-American culture from the nineteenth century to the present. They operate a children’s museum that aims to detail the difficulties and dreams of people who arrived in Chicago (here’s the website: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/childrensmuseum/). Although it’s called a museum, it’s really more of a playground for the kids- with hands on play, they explore what life was like for a Swedish American in the late nineteenth century. However, the museum doesn’t concentrate on solely the past, as they also endeavor to present modern Swedish-American culture, such as the exhibit currently in the gallery, which is about Scandinavian drinking culture (you can check that out here: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/exhibits/currentexhibit.php).

The Swedish American Museum Brunk Children's Museum

This is the outside of the model stuga, or Swedish farm house, that kids can play inside. There are even smocks and work shirts so the kids can dress up like nineteenth century Swedish kids.

At the museum, I’m a shared intern between the Collections department and the Children’s Museum. My first day, I was dropped head first into my project for the summer in the archives; basically, I’m digitizing records associated with different artifacts. It’s giving me an in depth look at how the cataloguing system at a museum works, which will no doubt be important for my future career as a historian. For the museum itself, though, organization right now is key, as they are in the process of reorganizing the archives. By digitizing these documents, I’m making it far easier to locate forty years worth of information, so that anyone looking can find a description of the artifact itself as well as its history.

When I’m a Children’s Museum intern, I’m actually working on several different projects, such as a revised self-guided tour for adults in the Children’s Museum. Many grown-ups are put off by the sign on the door that says the museum was designed primarily for kids between 6 and 12, even though there’s so much more for people of all ages to learn. I’ve really enjoyed this project because it’s allowed me to explore the Children’s Museum more and get a close look at all the objects that the kids are allowed to handle and play with; it’s helped me build up a cache of facts so I can answer questions by the kids and the parents when I act as a docent. I enjoy this part a lot because it outlines what people are most curious about; since I want to be a historian one day, it’s important for me to know what people are interested in and how they best react to that information so I know how to share what I’ve learned as a researcher.

I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to explore my chosen career field more and I’m really looking forward to getting more involved in my projects throughout the summer, as well as getting to know all the super amazing staff and volunteers at the museum!

The Children's Museum is basically a playground, including a model American cabin and farm that the kids can play inside.

The Children’s Museum is basically a playground, including a model American cabin and farm that the kids can play inside.

 

 

 

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My own personal corner of the lab

I just finished the first week of my internship at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine. Thanks to my WOW fellowship, I’ll be here all summer helping to modify an existing treatment for neuroblastoma. According to the American Cancer Society, neuroblastoma is a cancer of the nerve cells that affects young children; it is the most prevalent form of cancer in babies [1]. As my supervisor explained to me on my first day of work, neuroblastoma is especially horrible because the current treatments are far from ideal. At present, there is a very high relapse rate in patients who have been “cured” of neuroblastoma; I was shocked to hear that there is a 60-70% failure rate from remission.

Check out this site for some heartbreaking, and hopeful, patient stories that humanize this horrible illness.

Once in remission, patients often receive an immunotherapy treatment called ch.14.18 (which, fun fact, was pioneered by my lab’s PI!). Ch.14.18 is an antibody that attacks the GD2 antigen present on neuroblastoma cells. However, I learned that a major problem is that the antigens are also present on nerve cells; therefore, this treatment is painful. Additionally, I was saddened to hear that even with the immunotherapy, there is a low 4-year survival rate at about only 55%. I will be conducting research to see whether adding an experimental compound to the ch.14.18 treatment improves its efficacy. While this may seem like a simple goal, testing this hypothesis will require numerous complex and time-consuming experiments, many of which have never been done before.

This week I conducted my first experiment. While I did not obtain great data, I learned a lot about the process of cancer research, which I am finding to be an art as much as an exact science. I was introduced to a variety of techniques I will be using throughout the summer, most importantly, cell culture. In order to conduct my experiments, I need tumor cells to treat, so this week I learned about maintaining human tumor cell lines in vitro (meaning, in the lab). Cells are quite finicky about the conditions they require for growth, and are also high maintenance, requiring new media every couple of days (a process known as “feeding”) as well as “splitting” when the growth becomes too dense. Check out this link for more information on cell culture.

I conducted a preliminary experiment looking at the effects of two different antibodies, as well as the experimental compound, on a human neuroblastoma cell line. Already on day two I was given the freedom to design my own experiment, as far as picking my controls and determining the concentrations of the compounds that I added to my cells. Today I collected and analyzed the data, which deviated from my expectations, so I will be re-doing the experiment next week. I learned an important lesson: research (often) doesn’t go as planned, and as a newbie, mistakes are practically unavoidable.

I’m excited to learn more about the research process this summer and to become adept at the techniques I’ve been introduced to. Also, as a pre-vet student, this internship provides an excellent opportunity to see how I like biomedical research, as lately I’ve been thinking about non-clinical aspects of veterinary medicine that might interest me. All in all, I am excited to forge ahead with my research and hopefully make my own small contribution to this very important field.

Source:

www.cancer.org/cancer/neuroblastoma/detailedguide/neuroblastoma-what-is-neuroblastoma

 

 

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Fact: a productive lab is a cluttered lab!

Michelle Oberman, ’16 (Dec)

 

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This is Cinco Puntos Press from the outside. I love that it is a colorful place; it is what a publishing company that has come be known for their colorful picture books should look like, I think.

Minutes before the airplane landed, I knew I was not in Kansas anymore… I am just kidding with all of you. I happen to come from New York. But, I have come to a land that I never thought of coming: El Paso, Texas.

I bet a lot of people would instantly assume that I have come here to do some work with immigrants because I am coming to a place very close to the border between Mexico and US. I don’t know, I get the sense people would just think something completely opposite to what I have really come here to do. To answer your questions, I found an internship in Cinco Puntos Press, which is a publishing company that exists since 1985. Their main aim when the founders, Bobby Byrd and Lee Byrd, created Cinco Puntos was to publish stories that would represent different diverse groups of people in literature. What I have been able to discover, in the little time that I have been here, is that they publish literary work that focuses beyond the Chicano (Mexican-American) experience. I mean right now I am proofreading a book, called Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel, which is coming out in October. The story is about an Indian-American girl, specifically Gujarati, who deals with her parents’ divorce and a dreadful sexual abuse experience through hip-hop in the early 90s. The book takes place in Moloka’i, Hawaii, and what makes it interesting and compelling is this clash of cultures in this remote place we do not hear about too often. Mrs. Byrd told me that the great thing about publishing books, such as Rani Patel, is that the book is a vehicle to another world; a portal that yearns for other people to glance at a completely different world from ours.

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This Mrs. Byrd reviewing all the artwork that it is going to be part of one of their new picture books. Although, Cinco Puntos does not just publishes pictures books.

The book won the BEA (BookExpo America) Book Buzz Award in the YA (Young Adult) section and it is getting ready to come out this upcoming October. But first I am going through the text, proofreading it, before the press prints the all copies that will be distributed all over the country’s bookstores. In addition, as a way to promote the book, I have also been sending ARCs (Advance Readers Copy) to different critics and reviewers all over the nation, including at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, among others.

What I love about the working environment at Cinco Puntos is that it is quite calm and informal. The staff is incredibly amicable and they all want me to learn and glean as much as possible about the publishing industry through their internship. For instance, John Byrd (the vice-president and son of the founders), told me to read The Chicago Manual of Style. He said that every editor needs to know this manual by heart. The book sort of introduces you to a new world. It explains you the dos and don’ts of being an editor reviewing a writer’s work or a writer submitting work to an editor. If you are an editor reviewing a writer’s work, there are even several different marks that you need to learn when proofreading—always, of course, with a red pen, which John Byrd emphasized very well.

I think the world of work is different to my academic life, in the sense that it focuses on two aspects: quality but also making business. Selling a book is not easy, especially these days with a lot of self-publishing books, meaning way more competition. A book must sell, that is the primary concern that an editor questions when reviewing a manuscript. In my academic life, I do not worry so much about whether what I am reading is publishable or not. Or whether the work has been read by a lot of people or by very few. At school, we concern more about interpreting what we read and understanding it. However, this internship has allowed me to do both, hone my skills interpreting and close-reading texts, but in addition to learn more about the business wise aspect of it.

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These are Mrs. Byrd (to the left) and Mr. Byrd (to the right). Both are my supervisors this summer.

I am quite content working this summer at Cinco Puntos. My bosses are nurturing and caring. They care about me as a human being and my learning—they bring this human quality that is unforgettable, and that I bet it is hard to obtain if I were interning, perhaps, in New York. I mean, they even bothered to pick me up at the airport and have invited me twice to their house for dinner and it has only been a week.

The skills that I am learning here will obviously transfer to the way I will interpret texts in the future and it has also opened a door for me to conduct more research on the different efforts that have been made to diversify the book industry. Mrs. Byrd and Mr. Byrd have their own take on the subject and it is refreshing and nuanced. I think, whether I decide to work in the publishing industry in the future, my time at Cinco Puntos Press will definitely prepare me for me to plunge into it.

 

Best,

Santiago Montoya ’19

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This summer, I am working at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, located a bit north of downtown San Antonio. The Esperanza Center serves primarily the Westside of San Antonio, but also reaches out to other underrepresented and marginalized folks—women, people of color, queer people, the working class and those with low income. The most condensed way to explain what Esperanza actually does is arts programming and community organizing, but that includes a broad spectrum of activities. The Esperanza Center will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary in 2017.

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Esperanza Peace & Justice Center (photo: A.Christilles)

Since there are only five full-time staff, interns take on various responsibilities. I am more involved in Esperanza’s environmental work, which consists primarily of reading and analyzing the SA Tomorrow Sustainability Plan and writing about the proposed Vista Ridge Pipeline. SA Tomorrow is a three-part future plan for the city. This week, my job has been to read and critique the Sustainability portion. Often, “sustainability” or “green” measures detrimentally affect low-income and marginalized people by raising prices and forcing people from their neighborhoods. Much of the critique I am doing revolves around implementation of the plan and gentrification. Representatives from Esperanza and the greater community will meet city officials to address these concerns while the draft undergoes finalization this summer.

I will also keep track of the Vista Ridge pipeline. The proposed pipeline will transfer water from Burleson County south to San Antonio. The pipeline poses different issues pertaining to privatizing water. The financial instability of the project, only recently addressed, and steep water rate hikes are the top of these concerns. The Esperanza Center and other organizations like Mi Agua Mi Vida Coalition have demonstrated against the pipeline’s construction.

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Proposed Vista Ridge Pipeline (image from the San Antonio Water Authority website)

With all of the other events going on at the Center, information about this deal has fallen to the wayside, so part of my job is keeping folks updated about this through La Voz, the Esperanza Center’s monthly publication.

I’m excited to be back home and interacting with the issues that first led me towards environmental justice. I have already seen firsthand how climate change affects my home, and I appreciate the opportunity to approach these issues from an intersectional perspective. Environmental destruction affects people on different axes, and the Esperanza Center takes this into account. I find it more productive to work in a place where I grew up and where have context. I also appreciate the opportunity to work off of a college campus. I hope pursue a career in grassroots activism and social justice work, and this would internship would grant me the opportunity to see how it works in the real world and not just a campus bubble. This internship will guide me in exploring parts of the city I’ve never seen before and hopefully inform me more about my Chicana culture as well.

Anastasia Christilles, ’18

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Organizing it is a meaningful, but demanding job. I enjoy very much the relationship that those in the Worker Justice Project create with its members. These people need the support WJP gives them to stand up to unfair wages, and the abuse they face in their everyday jobs. This is my mid-point blog, in which I will describe how these past weeks had been as a Worker Justice. I am still working on the research with Cornell together with Angel Sanchez, my supervisor. It has become a routine to wake up around 4am so I am able to reach the site around 6 am. Then, between 6 am and 11 am, Angel and I observe, and sometimes converse with the day laborers. Sometimes the places we visit are filled with hardworking immigrants, other times we visit corners, in which a lot of issues are present. For example, we recently visited the corner situated between East Tremont Ave and Westchester Square. The majority of day laborers at this corner felt our presence to be hostile; they stared at us and even approached us to tell us to leave. I did not feel safe at such a place, filled with men that reeked of alcohol and marijuana. A few day labors were open to talked and explained to us how this corner worked, “Estamos divididos en dos grupos: los que quieren trabajar y los que vienen a bochinchar y pasar el rato.” (We are divided into two groups: Those who want to work, and those who come to fool around and waste time). This division was palpable to us, outsiders. This experience allowed me to understand that corners are a unique and complex world, which inner-work we do not completely understand.

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Besides, observing for the research Cornell was conducting on corners and day labors, I was still working on mapping the corners in the Bronx. So, after 11 am I explored the surrounding areas, and visited multiple offices, churches and other institutions to introduce the organization, as well as, our purpose and work with day labors. Many of these institutions were not interested in our work or the well being of these day labors, which made it difficult for us to organize the community to provide essential protection to these workers. Day laborers face numerous barriers in their work; a vast majority of them are illegal immigrants, who need to feed their family. Their only source of income is doing these jobs for cheaper rates, and without any guarantees that they will work on a safe environment, that they will be provided adequate equipment, or even that they will get paid the amount that was promised. They are unable to seek legal retribution or consult because of their illegal residence in the United States.

This summer working with the WJP, I have learned a lot about the labor movement, Unions, how corners work and the type of individuals that work at these sites, as well as, the issues that they face. But, learning about these issues from someone is incredibly different than when you are listening to these stories from the people themselves. It really does stir up something in your belly that pressures you to do something about it, to stand up and support these people to grow, and that is exactly what the Worker Justice Project does. WJP does not only help them face their problems, but trains them to become problem-solvers, conscious, resilient, and independent individuals so when faced with other problems

Lisbeth Bueno ’17

My last post regarding my summer involvement with the Workers Justice Project is not a happy one, but undeniably it serves as a learning experience. This summer, I worked as hard as possible to make a good impression, as well as, to create connections with the members I was working with. The job I was doing focused on fieldwork, which felt meaningful and important. And even though it was extremely demanding of my time and energy, and I worked very flexible and bizarre hours, I did not complain. A couple weeks before the end of my internship, my supervisor, Angel Sanchez, moved from Queens, NY to South Caroline looking for a change of scenery and environment. After he left, I was given a sort of odd vacation, since they did not know what to do with me. Therefore, for about a week or so I was given nothing to work on, and I just stayed home. It was very frustrating, since I decided to pursue this internship to do something significant and satisfying over the summer, but most times I felt I was not helpful or needed. During that period my grandmother became sick (she is a cancer survivor with other major health issues). I utilized my free time to tend to her, and help around the house. The director of WJP reached out to me, and after explaining my situation, I asked for some time (3 days max.) to help my grandmother before I went back to my duties in WJP. Unfortunately, she reached out to IWJ and I was terminated from my internship. I was heart broken that after all my hard work, and the time I put into this internship over the summer I was terminated over the situation I was facing. I felt I had to make a choice between helping my grandmother or continuing my work with WJP. I, of course, decided to be with my family.

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Even though, I feel the end of my internship was a failure and a disappointment, the exciting time I spend working with IWJ and WJP before then, was a rewarding and satisfactory experience. This summer overall, I had an opportunity to learn about the labor movement, and the impact still has on workers. Also, I learned about Day Labors and had a chance to work towards the betterment of their work environment together with them. I will never forget the conversations I had with numerous members, the places I visited together with my supervisor, or the conferences and meetings I was part of and I had the opportunity to voice my opinion and concerns. Undeniably, I would have preferred to end my internship in a positive note, but even though it did not, the experiences I lived this summer were more meaningful and satisfactory that any misunderstanding or disagreement I faced during my time with the Workers Justice Project. Therefore, I am grateful to WJP, IWJ, WOW and Mr. Bernstein for giving me the opportunity to have such a fulfilling summer.

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Lisbeth Bueno ’17

Interning at VocaliD was definitely more than I expected it to be, and I was able to achieve my learning goals. The summer between my penultimate and final year was the perfect time for this opportunity, and I’ve come out of it with a greater sense of clarity when it comes to career paths I can pursue after graduation. A huge part of this was my career-specific goal of exposing myself to programming and its role in linguistics and speech science. For the past couple years at Brandeis I’ve considered more and more the option of pursuing further education in computational linguistics, and have become more interested in topics related to the field. The central role of speech science and text-to-speech technology in VocaliD’s work resonated with this interest, and has been all the convincing I need that this is a viable industry to attempt to enter in the coming years.

To another student looking for an internship at VocaliD, I would say this: be prepared for a fast-paced, interdisciplinary environment, and get ready to work with people of all calibers from all sorts of backgrounds. On more than one occasion there were company advisors in the office – often for advertising – and every one of them wanted to hear the opinion of the interns. Rather than sit back and simply absorb knowledge from experienced professionals, we were allowed to engage with them and be taken just as seriously.

This sort of open-mindedness could be an industry thing, or, more probably, due to the nature of small start-ups. There is a sense of urgency to everything that reinforces the “team” environment, requiring different, multi-faceted tasks from us on a daily basis. For this reason it felt very demanding, in a good way. The advice for somebody doing work for a tech start-up like this would be essentially the same, but phrased differently: the work you do is important, just as important as everyone else’s. This was by no means a “fetch coffee for the office” internship.

Emma, a fellow intern, and Sam, a previous recipient of a VocaliD voice, out for pizza in downtown Belmont.

Working for a company with a social mission was generally very rewarding. The effect we were having on people’s lives was so tangible, especially so when Samantha, a previous recipient of a VocaliD voice, came in to visit us at the office. Being able to see the difference in her regard for her old, generic voice and her new VocaliD voice put it in perspective how necessary the product is.

Maeve, a young girl with cerebral palsy, is receiving one of the voices we worked on this summer. Her story was featured heavily on our Indiegogo campaign.

And while my work this summer will go into voices that will be finished months from now, I am still proud to have participated in their creation. There are also customers awaiting their VocaliD voice currently (like Maeve, pictured above), and getting to see them receive it in the future is something I’m very excited for.

-David Stiefel ’16

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After I return home from India, I see my life in a different way. Although I have traveled back to Boston twice from India within the same calendar year, I am finding that the most challenging part of my summer experience is in returning to my life in the US. After my summer in Bangalore, I am returning with not only a more developed understanding of the alarming barriers that separate many Indian youths from regularly attending government schools, but also an awareness that many of the ways in which I live my life in the US directly harm Indian citizens. My challenges are: How do I apply what I have learned to help repair a small piece of our often violently unfair, radically unequal world? How do I address the systematic devaluation of Indian lives, which is implicitly reflected in my consumption practices in the US?

I wouldn’t call this “culture shock”—at least not the way I often hear it spoken of. In fact, I experienced a heightened awareness of my race and class status, rather than a “blending” that others may experience during their time abroad. My advice to future interns doing internships abroad—or even domestically, if there is a significant difference in the concentration of power—is to consider the ethical implications of participating in a “voluntourist” capacity. There is certainly a way to do ethical, mutually beneficial work that challenges historical concentrations of power. But even more important than spending a summer abroad is making a commitment to living the vast majority of our day-to-day lives—which, for many of us, is in the United States—in a way that subverts and challenges the consumption habits, institutions, and mores that make up part of the foundation on which India’s poverty rests. I would certainly encourage other students to peruse an internship at The Akshaya Patra Foundation. I found it to be a wonderfully supportive environment and I was able to work on an issue that is deeply relevant to the wellbeing of our world. I also benefited from spending time abroad—in an environment that I found challenging. My internship, and my time in India, have taught me that acknowledging my responsibility and my role in perpetuating vast inequity in the distribution of global wealth is central to my ability to resist the grossly unfair consequences of that distribution.

The majority of my time at The Akshaya Patra Foundation was spent listening to the stories of Indian youths enrolled in government schools in which the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal is served. I wrote one narrative per child to document many of the stories that I heard. I feel my work was successful because I documented stories in the most fair and honest way that I was able to. Although I remain skeptical about the ethics of transnational “development”-oriented work, my experiences this summer have made me anything but indifferent to the suffering I witnessed. For that reason, I am committed to using my education and my privileges in service of dismantling the foundation of India’s poverty, which will necessarily discourage child slavery and improve access to education. This summer, I have learned about the importance of addressing both immediate needs, and the source of suffering. Indeed, it is through the recognition that, in our increasingly globalized world, the way that I live my life in the US has profound consequences for the people whose labor—and whose lives—are all too often dismissed and unseen.

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One of Akshaya Patra’s 24 centralized kitchens
Photo source: http://www.techsangam.com/wp33/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/apatra3.png

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Akshaya Patra vehicles about to deliver containers of food
Photo source: http://blog.akshayapatra.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/vehicles.jpg

 

Shane Weitzman ’16

As I am writing this post a nostalgic feeling consumes my body. What I learned and experienced exceeded my expectations and goals.  When applying to the World of Work Fellowship, I wrote about my desire to understand better the Afro-Dominican traditions as one of my main goals. I never imagined how immersed I was going to be in the process of learning about it.

Throughout the summer we had seven projects to work on, one of them was the “Escuela de Atabales” in the Romana. During that project we worked together with a Portador de Tradicion, a person in charge of preserving and continuing the traditions in the community, to inaugurate a school that teaches how to play different rhythms of Palos and Gaga as well as its history. It was the first time I visited the Romana. The specific place where the school was build is an impoverished community, which means that it has little or no space for investing in the youth people living there. Therefore, the Escuela de Atabales served as tool not only to pass information about history and tradition but also to organized the youth into something positive. When I first joined the organization I never imagined how impactful the projects I would be working on were to the target communities.

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After spending my summer working with Cofradia I understood that I want my work as an artist to reach beyond a museum or gallery space. I want to share my skills with communities that are underrepresented and with the help of others create spaces for healing and learning throughout different artistic practices. Many of the artists that I met during this summer share their skills with underprivileged people, especially young people. For instance, Camilo Rijo Fulcar who with a group of other musician started giving free music classes in the Conde. Although the lessons were open to everyone they focuzed more on the children who work in the area as boot cleaners. Eventually, this idea turned into an organization call Asoartca, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asoartca/1595308404051068?pnref=lhc.  I found this very inspiring, as I saw the great impact it did on the children. In a system that makes childhood available to only those that can afford it, creating a space for learning, play and community is an essential for our future generation.  

If someone is interested in working with Fundacion Cultural Cofradia or in a field that requires the interaction with people from a range of social class and customs one has to be open and respectful towards people’s believes. You do not have to agree with everything you experience but you have to leave your pride outside the door. At the same time be ready to manage the frustration that comes with trying to reach out to government sites in charge of supporting the advancement of these communities. Other than that be ready to step out of your comfort zone, the Fundacion Cultural Cofradia wants you to learn, explore, and experience everything the the Afro-traditions in the Dominican Republic can offer.

What I am the most proud this summer was my willingness to challenge myself. I traveled to different parts of the country to collect information for the organization. In many instances I thought I was not ready for the job. Then I understood that there is not a special manual to do new things, you just have to bring your knowledge and an open heart and mind to make mistakes and learn from them.

  • Daniela Marquez 17

They invited you to dance merengue and eat mangú. Come, consume us, and believe that you are getting the full package. You will leave satisfy and ignorant because what was sold to you as our culture it is only the surface of the richness that exists in the Dominican Republic.

I am not talking about the beaches in Punta Cana but the Gagá of the Hermanos Guillén in Yamasá. A celebration in where the whole community gets together to commemorate the only black San Antonio de Padua. In here people dance, eat, talk and sing but the party really starts when the Gagá arrives.

Gagá, one of the many cultural traditions we enjoy thanks to the ever-going interaction and relationship between DR and Haiti. Just like the Gagá, there are a variety of rich traditions, carried by communities that despite past and current oppositions by the church and some government officials, it breathes in the hearts of those that still practice them.

Unfortunately, these traditions lack the support from governmental sites in charge of investing in the arts and culture of the country. Making it harder to get recognized and survive and get passed to future generations. Fundación Cultural Cofradía is a non-profit organization that promotes and preserves the afro-Dominicans and Dominico-Haitiana traditions in the Dominican Republic. They work closely between the members of the community in charge of keeping these traditions alive and the Ministerio de Cultura, to create programs, events, and workshops aim to maintain and ensure the passage of these traditions to future generations. At the same time these programs becomes a positive and productive outlet to express the youth in these communities.

My responsibilities vary depending the project I am working on, but generally it is a combination of office and fieldwork. As part of the office work I am in charge of keeping in track with the projects set up for the following months. This means researching and communicating with different companies that could facilitate materials for the workshops or schools, keep files organized and develop a new website and plan to get the organization more active in social media. Then, the field work is where I have the most fun. I get to take pictures to of the celebrations to keep it as records so the organization can have material to present to the Ministerio de Cultura for future projects. I travel to different parts of the country to interview people and gather information about their traditions and how we could provide support.

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It is important to point out that on my first week in the organization I was given a series of books and research about the places we would be going to recollect information. I am still flipping the pages and I am grateful to experience with every single part of my senses what I have been reading.

My goal this summer is to acquire a deeper understanding of the afro-Dominicans and Dominico-Haitiana traditions and communities. I want to learn the ways one can provide visibility to these communities and maintain the traditions alive. Furthermore, I want to expand my artistic knowledge and incorporate new elements to my art practice.

  • Daniela Marquez ’17

Today marks a week since I left DC and finished my internship at PFLAG National. I could not have asked for a more fabulous, educational, all-inclusive, or enlightening experience during my time in Washington, DC. By my final week, I had done more than I had ever imagined: I completed 5 issues of our national policy newsletter Policy MattersI wrote the advocacy guide for our state Chapter Operations Manual as well as the national legislative update in our biannual newsletter PFLAGPole; I researched and tracked a host of new LGBTQ-related bills that were introduced into Congress; I engaged in an LGBTQ lobby day at Capitol Hill where I spoke with all of our Massachusetts legislators; and did countless other important things.  

The Lincoln Memorial at its finest.

The Lincoln Memorial at its finest.

The most monumental achievement I participated in however, was the introduction of the Equality Act into Congress on July 23rd. This unprecedented legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to employment, public services and spaces, public education, fair housing, credit, and access to jury service. Not only did I have the opportunity to participate in the drafting of the bill, but I also was able to attend the very first Equality Act coalition meeting with all of the top LGBTQ advocacy organizations in the country. This was truly a magnificent, inspiring, and extraordinary honor, that I don’t think I will ever forget.

Good 'ol VP Joe Biden speaking at the Make Progress Summit

Good ‘ol VP Joe Biden speaking at the Make Progress Summit

Having done all this work, I more than met my original goals. I not only learned the ins and outs of LGBT advocacy and policy, but also received first-hand experience in the top priorities and current events of the LGBTQ advocacy community in DC. I also had the opportunity to be an active participant in the political process, as well as all of the research and preparatory work that goes into policy work behind-the-scenes. Finally, with aid from my wonderful and amazing supervisor Diego, I had the chance to meet and form important connections with influential figures in the field of LGBTQ and social justice advocacy from across the nation.

Our MA Senator Elizabeth Warren energizing the crowd with a passionate speech

Our MA Senator Elizabeth Warren energizing the crowd with a passionate speech

This internship along with my time in DC has only worked to clarify my career goals. During my time in the Capital, I fell head over heels in love with the city, its people, its history, its restaurants, and its policy and social justice focused atmosphere. I know now that when I graduate in May, DC is definitely the place to which I’m headed. Whether I end up working on Capitol Hill, in some federal agency or NGO, or in the private sector, I know I’ll be happy and fulfilled doing whatever I’m doing in DC.

For those who are interested in an internship in DC or at an LGBTQ non-profit like PFLAG National, I would say GO FOR IT! Having the chance to live and work at the epicenter of where policy is made is an amazing opportunity. Even if you don’t want to be there after graduation, having the ability to explore the depths of DC is a unique and truly illuminating experience. Plus, not to mention, they have incredible food.

-Aliya Bean ’16

The summer went by incredibly quickly because I was having such a wonderful time. Even though I was working 9 to 5pm it was not a burden at all because I was doing something that I enjoyed thoroughly. Any challenges that arose were fun instead of frustrating because I had people both at the Rose and at the MakerLab to bounce ideas off of.

I have to say that I am quite proud of the final product of the virtual environment that I worked on this summer with the help of another Maker In Residence at the Maker Lab. Here is a snapshot of the same part of the exhibit I posted last time – I hope you will see the difference!

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Virtual visitors can either walk around the galleries on their computer or they can put on the Oculus Rift and be more completely immersed in this old exhibit. I believe this will make a great difference in the lives of people who would otherwise be unable to come to the museum. Finally I’m still working on printing some of the sculptures, which will then make it possible for people who are visually impaired to experience the art works.

In the process of creating this space, I learned quite a few things: from teamwork to new ways of researching art historical topics. All of these will be a great help in both my academic and professional life. Yet one thing stands out the most to me – the realization that I am able to learn on my own and expand upon what I’ve been taught in class. For example, in the course of the last few months, I had to learn how to use a whole new game engine to develop my virtual environment in.

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Even though we all take classes that can help us learn as much as possible for our professional life, there is only so much that can be taught in a course. This is particularly true for a field like Computer Science, which is constantly evolving and demands of practitioners to constantly keep up with new technology. Despite having learned how to work only in Blender in class, I applied the skills I had amassed in the classroom and quickly adapted to the new program. I’m really grateful to have had practice in this because it has given me the peace of mind that whatever field of work I go into, I’ll be able to orient myself quickly because I have learned at university how to learn.

  • Daniela Dimitrova ’16

Overall, my internship with the Social Innovation Forum was an amazing experience. I feel as though I met my learning goals. I aimed to leave the internship having built a professional network among the Boston area nonprofit field. There was no better place to achieve this than at SIF. I got to research many different social issues prevalent in the Boston area, and see the different approaches nonprofits take to solving those issues. I spent a lot of time of the phone with different nonprofit managers, discussing their approach to these social issues. As I did research and reviewed applications, I became familiar with the names of the major players in the nonprofit world.

Posing for an SIF social media campaign

Posing for an SIF social media campaign

I also learned so much about nonprofit management, common obstacles faced by nonprofits, sources of funding, staffing, and much more. The knowledge I gained was invaluable. I feel confident that I can apply my new skills to any future internship I may have, whether or not I am working in nonprofit management. I learned how to do expense reports, analyze statistics, improved my research skills, and more. These skills will definitely come in handy in the future.

Additionally, working full time was amazing preparation for post-college life. I have never worked full time before, and it taught me how to stay motivated in a long work week. Prior to this experience, I was nervous thinking about leaving school and beginning a full time career, but my time with SIF gave me a better idea of what to expect, and now the prospect of entering the workforce is much less daunting. This certainly fulfilled my goal of professional development.

I am very grateful that World of Work funded my internship, and made this experience possible for me. The internship opened so many doors for me when it came to personal growth, professional development, and building my network. Since my internship ended, I have kept in touch with my coworkers and recommended that other students apply for internships with SIF in the future. For someone interested in getting an internship in the nonprofit world, I would advise them to think about what sort of team they would like to work with. The majority of nonprofits are small organizations, so your team dynamic is a very defining part of a nonprofit internship. I am lucky to have worked with an incredible team at SIF. To future SIF interns, my advice is to dive right into the work: the SIF team will treat you like a full-time employee, so don’t be afraid to act like one by sharing your ideas and making your best effort!

 

Leaving SIF, I feel prepared and excited to take on new challenges. I am very proud of my ability to thrive in a fast-paced work environment, and I can’t wait for future jobs that can push me to succeed in the same way SIF did.

The SIF team and other participants at a program run by Inner City Weightlifting, one of our Social Innovators

 

 

Emma Farber ’16

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At an event for one of our clothing brands!

After an amazing summer of learning and working, I finished my internship at Tip Comunicación. Friday the 21st was my last day, and as I closed the door I felt a combination of pride, sadness, and excitement.

Pride, because I am so happy with all that I have accomplished this summer. I started my internship with the goal of learning more about the world of Public Relations and whether it was the field I wanted to pursue after graduation next year, and that goal was most certainly met. I am leaving Tip knowing that I want to work in communications after college. I am also proud of how far my writing skills have come. I am now more able to put myself in a brand’s shoes and write with their voice rather than my own. I have a much greater understanding of what Public Relations are and how they work.

Sadness, because I am going to miss going there every day. I learned so much from my coworkers and supervisors, and I wish I could continue to learn even more from them. I am so grateful for the time they put towards helping me grow, and it’s always sad leaving places where you’re treated with respect.

Excitement, because I know I will continue to grow within this field and that this experience was only the beginning of a long path. There is so much more for me to learn and I can’t wait to learn it!

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A beautiful Buenos Aires sunset on one of my days off

Anyone who would be interested in an internship at Tip should a) make sure they speak Spanish 100% fluently, and B) reach out to the organization and ask. To those interested in the world of PR in general: put yourselves out there! Tell everyone you know that you are looking to work in PR and would love an internship. You never know who could be able to help you. You should also go online, research the different agencies, and send out your resume to the ones that appeal to you the most. Join LinkedIn and contact Brandeis alumni.

I am now beginning my senior year, and I am very happy that I am able to bring everything I have learned this summer back to school. I know that having seen a little bit of the real world will enrich my classroom experience so much and allow me to make a more seamless transition into post-college life next year because of it.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone at Brandeis and the World of Work program for allowing me to do this internship and get this amazing experience! It is such a helpful and important fellowship, and just another way in which our university is helping us grow and succeed.

Mijal Tenenbaum, ’16

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In mid-August, I left my temporary shotgun home in the Upper Ninth Ward after making videos and collecting footage on Downtown New Orleans. Since my last blog post, I attended several of NOVAC’s film workshops and networking events. One of my learning goals this summer was to meet independent documentary filmmakers. One of the people I met was Lily Keber, the director of Bayou Maharajah, at her workshop she co-taught with one of my supervisors, Biliana Grozanda (see photo below). Since they are both documentarians, they offered an Interview Techniques for Documentary workshop. The workshop was part of a larger course, the Documentary Production Project, that brings a group of indie filmmakers together to craft a documentary on a subject of their choice. I left this workshop knowing how to ask my future subjects questions to lead to a good story and I also learned how to prepare for an interview—research your subject, plan to meet them in a space conducive to dialogue, etc. bayouAfter taking this workshop, I felt comfortable interviewing subjects for my first video but I still felt I needed to work on my production and editing skills, which was another one of my learning goals this summer. I was assigned to a Virtuous Video assignment. For those that forgot, NOVAC’s Virtuous Video Program brings filmmakers and non-profit organizations together to produce videos to spread awareness about their cause. For my Virtuous Video assignment, I worked with Core Element Hands On STEM Camp, a summer camp for children and teachers in Jefferson and New Orleans Parish that focuses on increasing interest in science. I worked with an independent filmmaker and assisted him with sound. That project was a huge learning lesson; I messed up the sound on numerous occasions and I kept entering the frame. However, I now know how to act on set and how to properly operate sound equipment. I was also allowed to make the first rough cut of the video and that certainly aided my editing skills.

STEM_summer_camp_logo_FINALSince I received more experience, I started collecting footage for a short documentary that I am in the process of editing. I interviewed Eve Abrams, a writer that created her own audio-documentary called Along the St. Claude, for her experience with gentrification in the Bywater, Lower Ninth Ward, area. Then after I collected some footage of her, I interviewed a student at Clark Preparatory High School, a student from Tulane University, a native of New Orleans, and an artist that may be considered a gentrifier. Usually when people discuss gentrification, things become black and white: a group of people, usually young white people with money, comes into a space that is predominantly black and low-income. However, based on the interviews I conducted over the summer, I realized that the gentrification process crossed into different racial, class, and age groups. Plus, New Orleans is a port city, so different people have always entered New Orleans. Although New Orleans was segregated until the 1960s, I think New Orleanians were used to people from different backgrounds entering their city. Personally, I think people notice the different class groups entering different neighborhoods first, then I think the intersection between race and class becomes more apparent, especially since poverty is sometimes matched with the black experience in America.

True New OrleansI decided to take all of my footage and split it into multiple parts around a theme. My first video is a pair of people that were at Shotgun Cinema’s first film festival, True Orleans. True Orleans is a film festival dedicated to celebrating innovative non-fiction/documentary films made by New Orleans’ filmmakers. Aside from screenings, they also offered free panel discussions centered around non-fiction storytelling. When I was not filming the attendees for my project, I managed to sneak into a couple of the panel discussions. At True New Orleans, I asked a couple of people at the theater if they could describe gentrification in New Orleans in one word or what word would they associate with gentrification in New Orleans. I broke up their responses into two videos. You guys can watch the first one here!

KarenInternshipOverall, I think I meet all of my learning goals: I met some cool independent filmmakers and even a stop motion animator; I learned how to conduct interviews, which could help me with my sociology interviews and with my future documentary projects; I learned how to use some applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud; and I learned how to use basic video and audio equipment. Plus, I was in the same room as Ava Devarnay, so I definitely had the best summer ever. Thank for reading my summer blog!

Karen Seymour ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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        Suffolk University Law School             Our New Home is on the top floor!

After almost exactly seven months, Thursday, August 13rd concluded my tenure as intake intern and case assistant at the New England Innocence Project. The end of my internship signified a new chapter in not only my life, but in the history of the New England Innocence Project, as the organization moved into its new home at Suffolk University Law School. While leaving NEIP was difficult to say the least, I left having knowing that my experience with the organization was nothing short of life changing. I started as an intern back in January hoping to gain a greater appreciation of the law, while achieving a better understanding of what life is like working for a non-profit. What I received from NEIP was extensive knowledge of the legal profession, invaluable experience communicating with attorneys and clients, and a new direction for my future endeavors.

My lovely coworkers: Nick, Jamie, Angela, Catherine, and Eric.

My lovely coworkers: Nick, Jamie, Angela, Catherine, and Eric.

Entering my summer with NEIP, my goals were three pronged: 1) gain a more robust understanding of the criminal justice system; 2) acquire some of the required skills of an attorney; and 3) positively impact those who have witnessed the pain of wrongful convictions. By and large, I can honestly say that I have achieved my goals.

In an academic sense, I have learned a significant deal about the criminal justice system on the local, and national level primarily through the reading of trial transcripts, and working with trial and appellate attorneys on the state and federal level.

In a professional sense, while my goal of learning the necessary skills to be an effective attorney was lofty, I do believe I made progress towards that goal. Through NEIP, I learned how to more effective communicator by discussing legal matters with clients, co-workers, and attorneys on a daily basis. Additionally, I was given the chance to engage in legal writing, working on “Post-CRC” Memos that concisely summarize an applicant’s case in order for the organization to determine whether NEIP should choose to represent them. While I would’ve liked to receive further experience in legal writing, the nature of the NEIP organizational structure primarily delegated that task to the legal interns. Nonetheless, I can confidently say that as an intake intern, I received a unique opportunity to learn and grow from a legal environment that few others get the chance to be immersed in at such an early stage in my professional career.

Lastly, in a personal sense, I have provided support and consolation to those who have witnessed immense pain at the hands of wrongful convictions. I have worked with inmates and their families to guide them through our case process and ensure them that as an organization we are there for them. The gratitude that I have received from inmates –many of whom have wrongfully spent decades behind bars—has brought me satisfaction that has been thus far unparalleled in my life, and in turn, I am incredibly proud of the work I have done at NEIP.

As I turn towards the future, NEIP has undoubtedly solidified my interest in the law. While I entered this summer certain of a passion for legal advocacy, and a potential career in public interest law, NEIP has directed me towards an interest in criminal law, in particular, defending individuals without the means to appoint sufficient legal representation. Witnessing the plight of low-income individuals that often culminates in legal troubles has instilled within me a passion for aiding those of less fortunate means. While I may be uncertain as to where I may turn with the legal profession, I am now convinced that law is the proper path for me.

For any student looking to understand the dynamics of the criminal justice system, NEIP would make a great internship for you. At NEIP, interns get the opportunity to form connections with inmates, attorneys, and police departments, working in conjunction to remediate the inadequacies of the criminal justice system. At NEIP, real progress is not an abstract goal, but a tangible thing that can be measured. For those passionate about assisting the least fortunate members of our society, while ensuring that every individual is treated fairly under the law, NEIP would be an incredible organization to work for.

 

Daniel Jacobson ’16

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Since completing my internship at AEI, I have had some time to reflect upon my experiences, all I learned, and what my next steps may be. It is surreal to know that my time in DC this summer has come to a close, but I know that I will be back one day. I set out on this adventure to learn all I could, but I had no conception of the breadth of knowledge I would gain—knowledge that is applicable both personally and professionally. I went in with a series of goals, but my primary goal was to learn as much as possible. Therefore, for my final blog post, I’ve highlighted a few of these lessons I have learned. I hope that these lessons may serve as advice to future students planning on interning in this field, and I hope that by recording them, I, too, will remember to live by them.

Lesson 1: See the value in learning outside of your comfort zone.

What I mean by this is simple: When you have the chance to learn something, learn it. It can be totally unrelated to what you want to do, but take the chance and learn for a little while. Ultimately, regardless as to whether or not it ends up being relevant to your career path, it will be another skill in your proverbial tool belt.

For example, one of my co-workers this summer specialized in graphic design, and offered to teach me a few tricks. I accepted skeptically, letting her know that the extent of my knowledge in graphic design was limited to scribbles in Microsoft Paint. A few short weeks later, a vector I designed using Illustrator was featured on AEI’s social media platforms. I was hooked. I even began formatting simple memos in InDesign! Even if I never design another graphic, I am so happy I learned to do something outside of my conventional learning path.

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

 

Lesson 2: Make your coworkers’ jobs’ easier.

It is all well and good to be the first one in in the morning, and the last one out at night; however, none of that matters unless you are excelling. One of my fellow interns this summer who had just graduated from college left the office almost daily for job interviews. Although he rarely put in a full day of work, I could see from the way his department treated him that he was a well-respected and valued member of their team. This was because during the time he did spend in the office, the work he did was exceptional: He made his coworkers’ jobs’ easier.

 

I decided to incorporate this observation into my daily work pattern. For example, instead of just updating the website’s home page and sending it off to the editor, I would take the time to edit my work so that the editor had less to fix. Even small moments of effort, such as this one, can add up.

I applied this same logic to larger tasks, as well. For instance, I took the lead on creating AEI’s Instagram account. AEI had, for some time, considered creating an Instagram account; however, the process took more time than my co-workers had, and it required research to develop a solid marketing strategy. I offered to take on the project and within the month our Instagram account was up and running. In doing so, I was able to alleviate a good deal of stress within the department while AEI settled into the new platform.

Lesson 3: Figure out how to do the things that scare you.

This is not just a re-wording of the classic advice “take risks.” To me, figuring out how to do the things that scare you means to make what is scary into something manageable. Flip it around and do what you have to do.

For example, something I am not entirely comfortable with is DC networking events. The awkwardness of mingling is something that I feel will never leave me. I found myself faced with the necessity of figuring out how to make these events manageable. I realized I was most comfortable when I studied up on a ‘default topic’ for the night. This meant that I always had a topic of conversation to fall back upon when I was at a cringe-worthy loss for words (which was often). Usually my ‘default topic’ was some aspect of the host organization or perhaps a Supreme Court case; regardless, it worked like a charm every time.

All you really need to make something scary into something manageable is an understanding of what makes you feel more secure. Sometimes, this can even make the terrifying a little—dare I say it—fun!

 

These three tips represent my best practices and experiences from the summer.  Each of these lessons allowed me to do my best work, from creating an Instagram account to snagging the right business card. As long as I remember to learn outside of my comfort zone, make my coworkers’ jobs’ easier, and figure out how to do what scares me, I think I’ll be fine. I am proud of what I accomplished at AEI in terms of professional development, I am already looking forward to next summer!

 

Margot Grubert ’17

 

 

Before I began my internship with OneWorld Now!, I hoped to gain insights into non-profit management, program management, and international education. I also hoped to foster students’ commitment to language learning and study abroad. Now, that I have completed my internship, I believe that I accomplished all of the above.

Throughout my internship with OneWorld Now!, I carried out a variety of tasks. I worked on compiling Study Abroad Booklets (one for a group going to China and one for a group going to Morocco), which included students’ flight itineraries, daily itineraries, insurance information, medical forms, and passport/visa copies. Compiling these booklets was rewarding because I felt as though I was contributing to students’ successful study abroad experiences. In addition to the Booklets, I created a Chaperone Guide with another intern. The Guide’s purpose was to help study abroad chaperones support students while abroad and discussed such topics as culture shock, group dynamics, safety, and physical and mental health. This project required me to draw upon my own language learning and study abroad experiences and gave me an opportunity to pass down some of what I have learned to others.

A part of the work I have done with OneWorld Now! has also been administrative (emailing students and parents, scanning, copying, printing, filing, mailing letters, taking inventories of office supplies, and filling out check request forms). I also took photos during the organization’s Summer Language and Leadership Camp, networking events, and guest speaker presentations. Being able to take photos and also to utilize my Chinese language skills were unexpected, but I feel as though this contributed to my experience in a very positive way.

Impact Hub - the building where OneWorld Now! is located.

What I have enjoyed most about my work with the organization is seeing how it has impacted students’ language learning and/or study abroad success and how excited and dedicated many of the students are to their education through the organization. It has been really rewarding observing, in-person, how OneWorld Now! has helped transform students’ lives. Students who were once hesitant to talk in class are more willing to do so, as the organization’s programs have given many a greater sense of self-confidence and an expanded comfort zone. In addition, learning a new language has introduced and given students a wide range of study abroad opportunities.

Something that I really appreciate about the organization is how its mission (to promote cultural awareness and understanding, as well as global leadership through language learning and study abroad) is so embedded in its “innermost parts.” Though the organization could easily split up its Arabic and Chinese programs, it does not, as it is dedicated to promoting the study of critical languages in general. Therefore, those who work for the organization do not work for the instruction of just one language, but both of them. And, students who study Arabic do not only meet other Arabic language learners, but also Chinese language learners.

Interning at the organization also made me realize that its mission does not only extend to its students, but also to its staff. One of my most memorable experiences with OneWorld Now! was attending a networking event, during which I met college students from all over the Middle East and North Africa. It was really amazing being surrounded by students who came from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria. This experience has given me a greater appreciation and interest in the Arabic language and the cultures of Arabic-speaking people. The event also reminded me of a sociology course I took at Brandeis called “Deconstructing War, Building Peace,” in which we talked about how deconstructing war and building peace begins at the individual level through compassionate listening.

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-diplomats-languages-2015-8

After having interned with OneWorld Now!, I can definitely see myself working for a non-profit organization in the future. Working at the organization has made me realize how much I value challenge and the opportunity to be creative. Like the work I did at OneWorld Now!, I want what I do in the future to be service and international oriented.

Being an intern at OneWorld Now! has reminded me how important it is to ask questions and to take initiative. An intern can work at an organization without fully understanding the nuts and bolts that make it run successfully. But, in order to get the most out of an internship experience, it is useful to look at the tasks one is given and to try to understand how they will impact the organization and others. Instead of waiting to be invited, INVITE YOURSELF! For me, this meant asking to take notes at staff meetings to learn more about non-profit management and asking questions to better understand the context of the work I was assigned.

As OneWorld Now! is only just over a decade old, I hope to see it grow in the number of languages it teaches and the number of people it impacts. The organization already plans to add Korean (another critical language) to the languages it provides instruction for. As the demography of the United States is rapidly changing, I want to see more American students gain a greater sense of cultural awareness and make an effort to involve themselves in important global issues.

 

Although the summer is ending, my internship is not! After the amazing experience I’ve had these last few weeks, I’m grateful, humbled and excited to be able to say that it is not yet over; I will be continuing my internship for the rest of this semester in conjunction with a Brandeis internship seminar.

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It seems it is not yet time to part with my intern badge!

While there is plenty to look forward to, it is crucial (not to mention enjoyable) to retrospectively analyze the crucial changes I have undergone by taking on the challenges that have accompanied this internship. These challenges, ranging from getting a taste of what it is like to be alone and away from home to forcing myself to gather my confidence and approach the inspiring lecturer who, within an hour, changed my outlook on my future career and built my character in a way I could not have foreseen. Looking back at my summer experience at the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, I find myself to be an adult, a proud servant of the Commonwealth, and a fervent advocate of self-exploration via internships.

From among the main goals I outlined for myself at the beginning of my internship, I have truly surpassed the most important ones. I originally aspired to “mold myself into a meritorious and ‘civic-ly’ aware adult.” I could not have imagined the extent to which my dedication to civic engagement would solidify during my time in the AGO, but here I stand, a matured version of the person I was at the end of the school year, convinced that my career path would feel empty without some sort of community service which would allow me to benefit the society to which I belong. I hoped to “forge new connections,” and I am now fortunate enough to include a group of talented interns, law students, paralegals, lawyers, officers and financial investigators in my ever-growing network. I realized through my exploration of “the intricacies of my passion for law” that I am most interested in civil rights and anti-discrimination efforts within the context of the law and I know that the next steps I take towards my future will involve the study and promotion of diversification and acceptance. With all of these goals realized, I look forward to expanding my knowledge of myself and the legal world as I return to the office this semester and as I take on future internships.

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A pleasant intern lunch organized by a charismatic and involved lawyer at the Criminal Bureau (I’m the third person from the right!). I’m lucky enough to have these future lawyers in my career network.

https://www.ted.com/talks/verna_myers_how_to_overcome_our_biases_walk_boldly_toward_them?language=en – The AGO organized an event during which dozens of office members watched Vernā Myers’ inspirational TED talk about overcoming subconscious biases and then discussed the video to deepen our understanding of how it applies to us.

I am most proud of my work combating  human trafficking and my new interest in this field, which evolved from my involvement in the Human Trafficking Unit. My extensive involvement in the unit’s developing policy-implementation plan, which spanned almost the entirety of this internship, started with a request that I create a simple excel document and developed into an enriching and layered experience in the art of networking. The creation of the spreadsheet was an opportunity for me to aid the AGO’s Director of Human Trafficking Policy, Programs, and Education, who specialized in a field which I was eager to explore. My scrupulous efforts, paired with a genuine interest in the unique and kind woman I was helping, resulted in a rewarding networking connection which I now cherish. This woman mentored me by taking me to observe meetings with outside organizations, looking out for different events I could attend, and even asking me for input on how to move forward with the implementation of the policy I helped to create. I am both proud of and thankful for the working relationship I now have with her, and I look forward to collaborating with her in the coming months.

http://www.polarisproject.org – A wonderful anti-human trafficking organization which shares many of the same goals of the AGO’s Human Trafficking Division

http://www.polarisproject.org/storage/documents/hotelindustryfactsheet.pdf – a trusty reference sheet for the AGO’s Human Trafficking Division in its effort to increase human trafficking awareness in the Commonwealth

Thus, my advice to students interested in working in this office is to take this opportunity by the reins and make the most of the resources around them, be it the esteem of others, the unique events and presentations, the work experience, or just the boundless advice of the good, hardworking people of the AGO. In any internship context, including this one, my greatest piece of advice is to balance challenging oneself by stepping outside of one’s comfort zone with being conscious of oneself in one’s work-environment context. Branch out, but don’t seem too haughty; be confident but don’t forget the value of humility. While it is important to be sure of one’s merit, there is no disadvantage to asking and asking again to gain a complete understanding from those who have been doing this way longer than any intern. Remember that being memorable (in a good way) also requires being personable and receptive. This balance has helped me grow from this amazing opportunity in ways which, only three months ago, I did not believe to be possible. Though I am still perfecting this equilibrium and will continue fine-tuning it this semester in this familiar context, it has been my greatest ally and will continue to be in future classroom, recreational, and professional experiences.

Lilly Hecht ’18

I would like to start off by saying thank you. Thank you for giving me the funding I needed in order to make this summer a possibility. I would have never been able to work halfway around the world if it were not for the WOW grant, and I am forever grateful that Brandeis offers its students opportunities like this to help enable valuable work experiences like the one I had.

This summer was a complicated, but it was a summer of growth. As I mentioned in my last post, working within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a fulltime job… and by that, I mean twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. As the intern for Kids4Peace in Jerusalem, I learned an incredible amount about the conflict, religion, how to work with people who come from different backgrounds, and what I want in the workplace as a professional.

Before I started working at Kids4Peace this summer, I hoped to bring what I learned about integration in Israel and Palestine back to America. As an education major, I feel that it is within the education system’s reach to narrow the achievement gap by integrating the public school system. By no means did I want to create a career out of working within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That was mainly because I thought that it would be pretty depressing work. However, after this summer, I am beginning to be more open to working for a peace building organization between Israelis and Palestinians. At Brandeis, I am the coordinator of the Brandeis-Al Quds Student Dialogue Initiative and the vice president of J Street U. I feel very passionately about bringing peace to Israel and Palestine and seeing the Jewish values I was raised with reflected in the Jewish state. It did not occur to me that a career in the peace building was a possibility until I started working within it. I always felt that it is a job that is too unstable for me, but now I cannot imagine myself doing any other work than in this field. When I was not at the Kids4Peace office, I spent my free time organizing steps toward reestablishing the Brandeis-Al Quds student dialogue initiative and in meetings in Jerusalem and the West Bank with J Street U. I completely immersed myself in the conflict because as a Jew, I feel it is my role to do everything in my power to make the Jewish state the best it can be, allowing Palestinians equal and human rights, and ending the occupation. This summer, I truly lived my work. How can I not continue something I am so passionate about?

And then I go back to where I started: this work is too depressing to make it my career. By the end of the summer, I was excited to go home so I could escape the stress and tension in Jerusalem’s mixed city. Admitting that makes me feel selfish because I know that Israelis and Palestinians have no choice: this is their reality. So, I am keeping my options open. The past two summers, I worked with Israelis and Palestinians. The test will be trying out a different kind of career next summer to be able to tell if peace building really is my calling, or if another career path is more fulfilling.

I would encourage anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, non-profits, or NGOs to apply to intern for Kids4Peace. The best part about working there was the community. Kids4Peace is a family. All my colleagues this summer knew everything about each other’s families and personal lives, and they were always so supportive of one another both in and out of the workplace. Experiencing that these past couple months helped me realize how important a community within my work is when I am a professional. Working for an NGO/non-profit helped me realize how much change a small group of people can make. It really opened my eyes and excites me about the possibility of working for an NGO or non-profit in the future. The main piece of advice I would give someone working in activism, conflict, or peace building, is to take care of yourself. It is so easy to get wrapped up in a mix between our work and our own personal activism (because a peace builder practices their values). This summer, I got very overwhelmed because of the things I saw on my time off, including IDF soldiers shooting rubber bullets at Palestinians and Palestinians throwing burning furniture at IDF soldiers at Qalandiya checkpoint. I learned that it was important to give myself a break so I could be productive as both a Kids4Peace employee and an activist working in my own self-interest.

Before this summer, I had never had concrete dialogue with a Palestinian peer. While I have worked with Palestinian children in the past, working alongside Palestinian adults is an entirely different story. I had this opportunity at Kids4Peace and through the Brandeis-Al Quds Student Dialogue Initiative. After befriending Palestinians, I felt a sense of trust for the “other” that I had never thought I would feel. This newfound trust allowed my to visit the West Bank on my own (with just a friend and me) and let the experience take me. Never in a million years could I have imagined doing something like this on my own. I am proud of my ability to break down the barriers between me, a Jew, and “them.” Palestinians. This summer, I truly lived the values the Kids4Peace practices, and that is what I am most proud of.

-Leah Susman ’18

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Kids4Peace campers learning about sustainability at Kibbutz Lotan. The back of their shirts say “peace” in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

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Kids4Peace campers (Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Israelis and Palestinians) exploring spirituality together at the sand dunes in the Arava desert in Israel.

My summer internship at the Community Day Center of Waltham has greatly helped me clarify my career interests. I knew that whatever job I did I would want to work with people, but at the same time recognized the many ways bigger-picture things get done through policy reform and research. I was willing to consider working in policy reform and research, if it was going to make a real difference.  However, after working at the Community Day Center of Waltham, I realized that working with people directly was something I want to do, whether it is in a position that provides therapy or social work.  I greatly enjoy direct service and would not want to give up. In an ideal world, I would like to be able to do some kind of work working with people while also conducting research or policy reform.

Me holding up the drawing one of my clients made for me.


Me holding up the drawing one of my clients made for me.

My work has also taught me a lot about myself. Because there is only one other staff member besides my supervisor and I, there were many opportunities for me to take leadership roles. As I became more comfortable with the population and they began to appreciate and respect me, I found myself taking increased initiative in the workplace. I was able to control the floor on my own, and found myself to be stronger and more confident with my capabilities to do my work now and in my future professional endeavors. I really stepped-up and surprised myself in with the initiative I took, which ended up creating a much more meaningful and enriching work experience.

For a student interested in an internship at my host organization as well as this industry/field, it is important to go into it with an open-mind and open-heart, wanting to help and having the drive to do what it takes to get the job done. Emotionally, working in this field can be both uplifting and draining, so it important to maintain a level-headed perspective on things, appreciate small successes.  Remind yourself that even your showing up to support this population is incredibly important, as you are supporting an incredibly marginalized population where in many cases, you are their only advocate and support system.

This summer I am most proud of the role I played in some big and many small successes guests achieved. My biggest accomplishment was one particular relationship I created with one of the guests. We mutually gained each other’s trust and worked together.  Because of the strong bond created, I went the extra-mile, driving him to apartment visits and interviews, calling his family and services as needed, filling out applications, and discussing his personal goings-on. By going the extra-mile and advocating for him, I was able to get him into an apartment. This was a big success that has set him up in a stable position, allowing for him to  focus on growth in other parts of his life.

Relevant articles:

Successes at the Community Day Center of Waltham

Addresses the Emotional Toll of Being a Social Worker

-Diana Langberg ’17

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