First Week at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild

I just finished my first full week as an intern at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) in Boston, MA, which is a national non-profit organization composed of a network of legal professionals who provide legal assistance and support to immigrant communities and their legal practitioners and advocates. The NIPNLG seeks to promote justice and equality by both defending and advancing the rights of immigrants. We focus on assisting five major categories of immigrant communities: those facing criminal charges with consequences of deportation, survivors of crimes and domestic violence, those facing raids or immigration enforcement action, non-citizens who want complete freedom of political expression, and non-citizens living with HIV/AIDS. Our mission is to provide immigrants and their attorneys the support and guidance they need in defending their rights. The legal process can be very confusing and daunting for non-citizens who cannot afford attorneys’ fees. The organization’s success depends on the dedication of its staff and members who provide crucial technical assistance. Our role is to provide useful information and set up connections between attorneys and immigrants.

My responsibilities will include assisting both the Director of Development and Communications and the Staff Attorneys on various administrative, legal, and development projects throughout the summer. My first project is creating a program book for an upcoming reception at an American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) conference which honors one of our members who has done outstanding work to defend immigrants’ rights within the past year. Click here for the story of one of the immigrants whom he represented and successfully defended. Another component of my experience at the NIPNLG will be communicating with immigrants who are currently detained in prisons all over the country who are looking for a pro bono attorney or legal advice. As we receive these letters, the staff splits them up, and everyone is responsible for responding to detainees with the resources they have requested. Through this ongoing project, I hope to better understand both the legal aspects of immigration and the areas in which our legal system does not support immigrants’ needs and rights.

I found and secured this internship with the tremendous help of a Brandeis professor and colleague of an NIPNLG member. Through this connection, I contacted the Director of Legal Advocacy and set up an interview before I went abroad for the spring semester. Though they usually only take law student interns, they created a unique position for me that both fit their needs and my summer learning goals. I feel very welcomed and needed in the office, and I am very excited to continue to learn about how a small non-profit functions and how it contributes to the greater picture of advancing immigrant rights. I also hope to explore options for graduate school and/or a possible future legal or non-profit career having to do with social justice.

Here is a picture of my desk: I already feel like a contributing member to the important work that the staff does. They really try to include me in the office culture. I look forward to contributing to the NIPNLG’s goals.

– Jonna Cottrell ’13

First Week at Centro Presente

Hi! My name is Ivonne Moreno and I am an intern at Centro Presente located in Somerville, MA. Centro Presente is a member-driven, state-wide, Latin American Immigrant organization dedicated to the self- sufficiency of the Latin American immigrant community of Massachusetts.  Centro Presente struggles for immigrant rights and for economic and social justice. Through the integration of community organizing, leadership development and basic services such as youth programs, adult education, and legal services, Centro Presente strives to give its member voice and build community power.

During this summer, I will be working in the legal department at Centro Presente, which provides legal services, educational trainings on immigrants’ rights to the Latino Community and works closely with politicians, religious groups and other community organization. This first week, we have been focusing on organizing the next educational training called “Citizenship Fair”, the main goal of which is to educate Latino immigrants that qualify for citizenship about the process of becoming a US citizen and the importance of voting.  My main responsibility has been getting in touch with immigrants who have come to the Centro and have said to be interested in becoming citizens and invite them to come to the next citizenship fair and how to sign up for the upcoming class to take the citizenship test.

One important event that has a big impact at Centro Presente has been President Obama’s announcement on June 15th giving opportunity to undocumented young people who qualify to obtain a two year permit to stay in the US legally and obtain a work permit to be able to work called deferred action. This announcement has been a joy and an achievement for the immigrant community and especially for those young people who have been in the United States since they were kids and have been unable to get jobs and go to college because of their immigrant status.  This week, we have been receiving a lot of calls from people asking about the deferred action and how they can apply if they qualify. In the weekly meeting staff, the Centro decided to do something like a forum and invite the community to give them all the information we have on the deferred action. I think it is very important to do since they are people who are trying to take advantage of this situation by asking people for money to apply for this permit when there is not even an application process and the ICE has 60 days to organize the application process.

In the weekly staff meeting, I was introduced to the people who work at the Centro Presente and the work they do. I was really impressed by the work they do and how passionate they are about fighting for the rights of the undocumented community. From this short period that I have been at Centro Presente, I feel that I will gain a deep understanding of the US immigration system as well as the many issues that undocumented people face in the United States. It has been great to also have a different working experience that I did not have the opportunity to get before.

– Ivonne Moreno ’13

 

 

Midway point of my internship at WATCH CDC

I am just about halfway done with my internship and it has definitely been a whirlwind.  Some days are slow and I spend my time updating the database, researching housing resources, stuffing donation letters and other basic office activities.  Other days I am very busy meeting with clients who come in to ask questions, look for housing or fill out applications.  My learning goals for this summer were quite basic:  I wanted to learn about the functions of a community based non-profit and develop organizing skills that allow me to serve the needs of community. On a level more applicable to my every day duties at my internship, my goal was to research and learn enough about Massachusetts housing law and the community needs of the people of Waltham in order to serve and assists clients as best as I possibly can. What I have learned and accomplished in those terms can be displayed by a variety of small indicators; like how now when a client who was served a Notice To Quit comes in with questions I can confidently explain the process to them without having to look up the eviction timeline in our resources. Or how it no longer takes me an hour to pre-read a Section 8 application before I feel okay starting to fill it out for a client. I have been viewing each client who walks through the door as a new challenge. Each one poses a challenge for me to help alleviate their housing issues at least a little. So the summer has truly been filled with challenges.

 I have kept a tally sheet next to my desk and have tried to keep track of the number of clients who have come into or contacted the clinic for assistance. The numbers read 24 walk-ins, 12 phone calls and 2 emails.

Some of those are clients who dropped by with a quick question or were looking for a local resource, and others are clients who have come in repeatedly. That is a pretty good number of clients I’ve worked with. What I am even more proud of, however, are the communication skills I’ve gained through working with so many people. Many clients who come in speak little English, but their needs are every bit as large. Sometimes, I have an interpreter with me, but other times it’s just me and my minimal Spanish skills there to communicate and help solve some of their housing issues. On an anecdotal note, I’ve had one older, disabled man named ****** come in two or three times to get help filling out a variety of housing applications due to his limited English ability. He has spent probably a total of 4 hours working with me in my office and we have filled out five different applications and chatted a great deal. After the second time he came in and spent about an hour and a half going over the applications with me, a fellow intern who works in the office next door came in to my office and noted how ****** was here for about 2 hours and she did not understand a word he said to me the entire time, and yet I continued to respond without any hesitation or question. I hadn’t really noticed until she pointed it out, but between his broken English and my sad excuse of Spanish, we had created a vocabulary in order to communicate and form a dialogue. And, somehow we understood each other perfectly.  It is overcoming language barriers such as this that I am most proud of during my internship experience, and I think it is these skills that will resonate most as I continue my career at Brandeis and forge into my future career, whatever that may be.

– Molly Lortie ’13

First Weeks at Ostional Wildlife Refuge

Greetings from Ostional National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica!  I’ve been working here for a few weeks and it’s been a great experience so far.  The Refuge is located in the small town of Ostional, on the northwestern Pacific coast of the country.  This protected area was created in 1983 by the Costa Rican government to preserve a major nesting site of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).  I found out about this project by emailing a supervisor in charge of the Guanacaste Conservation Area, who put me in touch with one of the researchers in charge of the work in Ostional, who offered me the opportunity to be an intern for the summer here.

The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle is distributed worldwide in tropical areas and Ostional is the largest nesting area for this species of sea turtle in Costa Rica.  The Olive Ridley is famous for the phenomenon of mass nesting, called arribadas, although two other species of sea turtles, the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles, also nest here.  The refuge spans 18 kilometers (11 miles) of coastline, extending 200 meters (700 feet) onto land, and 6 kilometers (3 nautical miles) out to sea.

Sunset at Ostional Wildlife Refuge

The majority of my work takes place at night, when the turtles come up on the beach to nest.  To get an idea of what a nesting turtle does, here is a video produced by WWF.  Along with other staff members, I lead groups of volunteers on nightly beach patrols to find nesting turtles and record their location and size, the number of eggs they lay, the size of the nest, the time it takes for the turtle to lay the eggs, among other data.  Finally, we tag the turtle so that we can keep track of her, if she comes back to nest in Ostional.  During the day, we excavate and exhume nests to examine the eggs and determine how many turtles hatched from each nest and what stage of development the unhatched eggs reached before death.  Additionally, we perform a weekly beach clean up and coordinate hiking trips for the volunteers who come to the refuge.  Most of the volunteers do not speak Spanish and many of the workers do not speak English, so my duties include quite a bit of translation.  In my free time, I give English lessons to several of the staff members and their children, as well as enjoy the beautiful beach.

A turtle returning to the ocean during a recent arribada

My first week here consisted mainly of training and getting to know the staff here at Ostional Wildlife Refuge.  I spent about a week being taught how to lead groups on the turtle patrols and about all of the procedures in place here.  I also had a lot of time to get to know the staff here at the refuge.  About a dozen or so people are working here at any given time, including researchers, park rangers, research assistants, and the cook, in addition to the constantly rotating groups of volunteers.  I hope to continue to learn a great deal this summer from the staff here at the refuge.  Most of them have lived in Ostional their whole lives and have a lot to teach me.  I’m also hoping to witness a large arribada as the rainy season continues.  The organization I’m working with is vital to the conservation efforts of this sea turtle species, and I’m looking forward to continuing my work here.

– Sarah Steele ’13

My first week at Shatil

I am interning this summer at an organization named Shatil (seedling in Hebrew). Shatil has three offices throughout Israel: Jerusalem, Haifa, and Be’er Sheva; I am working in the Jerusalem office. Shatil’s mission is to help develop Israeli civil society through support, mentorship, consultation and guidance of various non-profit organizations throughout Israel. In addition to supporting other non-profits, Shatil runs its own projects, such as organizing strikes for workers‘ rights, creating forums for Israeli- Arab co-existence and lobbying the government for socially conscious policy change. While Shatil functions as an umbrella organization for many other NGO’s, it is also under the umbrella of the New Israel Fund (NIF), a philanthropy organization that works to promote democracy and social justice in Israel. Shatil functions as the action arm of the NIF through creating, promoting, and helping to sustain civil society in Israel. In addition to the aforementioned roles, Shatil runs a database for people to find jobs with socially conscious organizations, and many Israelis know Shatil for this function. Shatil’s English webpage can be found here.

 

 

I am interning in the Development Department of Shatil, which works on fund-raising and publicity, and runs some of its own projects concerning the environment, shared society (Israeli-Arab coexistence), Bedouin womens rights, social protests and more. In my role as intern I am expected to write reports to donors, write articles for NIF’s e-newsletter, update the job database, translate documents from Hebrew to English, and work on a research project concerning Shatil’s status on ECOSOC (the UN Economic and Social Council). Additionally, I will attend Shatil events and conferences and meet a variety of activists in Israeli civil society.

Here is a link to the E-Newsletter article that I worked on.

I spent this past semester studying abroad in Morocco, and knew that I really wanted to be in Israel this summer. I looked at a variety of organizations and opportunities, but wasn’t really excited about any of them. Then, while talking to my sister who lives in Israel, she told me to look at Shatil. She knew of Shatil because of their work with social workers (which is what she is) and she knew about my interests in civil society, social justice and the non-profit world. I looked at the website and was really interested, so I sent an email with my resume and a cover letter to Shatil, secured a phone interview (conducted while sitting in a loud café with a terrible connection) and, thankfully, got the internship.

My first week at the internship was interesting. I did not have very much information about my specific day-to-day activities before I came, and was expecting to be sitting in the office a little less than I am. However, the people in the office are all very nice, friendly, and open to answering my millions of questions. They immediately got me set up with everything I need and put me to work right away. They also gave me a short briefing about what exactly Shatil is and does, its relationship with the NIF and other NGO’s, and introduced me to everyone in the office.

This summer I hope to learn about civil society in Israel, and working in the non-profit world. What I like about Shatil is that it is a big organization that is associated with a variety of other organizations.  Therefore, I will learn not only about different departments and functions within the organization, but also inter-organizational relationships as I am exposed to various organizations and projects.

Tamar Schneck ’13

My First Week at NBC News Washington Bureau

I am interning in the investigative department of NBC News in the Washington Bureau.  I will be observing and assisting a group of three producers and two on-air correspondents who create content for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, MSNBC, and the Today show.  I first became interested in investigative journalism through my job at Brandeis as a researcher on the Justice Brandeis Innocence Project at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.  I discovered I have a real passion for digging and exposing injustices, and wanted to immerse myself in the field.  This is why I chose to “study abroad” in Washington, D.C. last semester on the Washington Semester Program, an intensive journalism seminar program through American University.  It provided the perfect opportunity to become fully engaged in all forms of journalism, and allowed me to hear about the possibilities of a career in journalism from many prominent reporters.

I decided to stay in Washington for the summer and continue to explore my interest in investigative journalism.  I applied to the internship program at the NBC News Washington Bureau by sending a cover letter and resume directly to one of NBC’s investigative correspondents, who forwarded my information to an investigative producer.  I interviewed, completed a written test, and was lucky enough to secure an internship.

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838587/

My first week has mainly consisted of orientation, tours, and meeting the people who I will be working with this summer.  It took a while for me to familiarize myself with the computer system, especially one of the programs NBC uses called I-News.  I-News is basically an information sharing network which has everything from incoming feeds on breaking news, to scripts for upcoming segments of Nightly News, to lists of what will be covered by the Washington Bureau each day.  As an intern, I have the opportunity observe a lot of the news covered by the Washington Bureau, including congressional hearings, tapings, and press conferences.  All of these opportunities can be found by searching through I-News, which is why I wanted to understand the program right away.

My main responsibilities as an intern include observing the investigative team and researching.  In just my first week, I’ve researched a possible lead for an investigative piece and observed the editing of a breaking news spot for Nightly News on the John Edwards trial verdict.  The verdict came close to air time, so there was not much time for the spot to be put together.  It was exciting to watch the editing process and observe the decisions which a producer must make under a tight deadline.  I am looking forward to more opportunities throughout the summer to learn from experienced producers and correspondents about investigative journalism, and to be part of the excitement of NBC’s Washington Bureau.

Source: http://blog.signalnoise.com/2008/07/17/television-logos-nbc/

– Abigail Kagan ’13

My First Week at the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab

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I began work this week at the Lifespan Emotional Development (LEDLab) at Northeastern University. This psychology lab is headed by Principal Investigator Derek Isaacowitz, a researcher and professor who worked at Brandeis before Northeastern. I chose to spend my summer with this lab because I had wanted to get involved in Professor Isaacowitz’s research on emotion and attention across the lifespan since he was my instructor for Social Psychology during my freshman year. I actually interviewed for a position as a Research Assistant (RA) with this lab while it was still at Brandeis, but had to defer joining for a semester because of prior commitments. I thought I had missed my chance to join the lab when it moved to Northeastern in January 2012. Lucky for me, support from WOW made it possible for me to have my chance to be an RA this summer.

The LEDLab investigates “the links between attention and emotion throughout the adult lifespan…how individuals of different ages manage their emotions, and what role attention plays in emotion regulation and maintenance of well-being” (lab website). In order to study the way that adults of different ages attend to information and how that relates to the emotions that they experience, we make use of an eye tracker. which continuously tracks where a person’s gaze is across the screen. This lets us to know what a person focuses on: is is the emotional expressions on people’s faces or is it irrelevant details of the scene which allow a person to avoid facing emotional content? Believe it or not, this varies among ages. In order to better understand what eye tracking is really like, here is a photo of my lab manager and P.I. using the equipment.

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You might wonder why knowing this type of information matters. However, understanding how people relate to emotional content has important practical uses for society. For example, the study I am working on is looking at how people of different ages (younger adults, middle adults and older adults) process health-relevant information differently if the focus is on emotions or information. Professor Isaacowtiz published on this topic in article called “Looking, Feeling and Doing: Are There Age Differences in Attention, Mood and Behavioral Responses to Skin Cancer Information” in the journal Health Psychology earlier this year. I will not go into detail on the findings, since they are a bit complicated to explain here, but they did find a difference in the way older and younger people processed information that was important to their health and well-being. This knowledge is important in knowing how to reach out to people in the most effective manner to protect their health.

My expectations for learning this summer relate to both the particular skill set that I hope to gain, and knowledge about myself and my future career goals. The particular skill set I think I will learn is the nitty-gritty details of psychology research: running human subjects, coding and entering data, analyzing data, and discussing findings. For myself, I think that this summer will help me figure out which path I want to take with psychology: will I want to focus on research, or clinical work? By gaining a deeper understanding of what research really entails, I will be able to make a more informed choice for my future.

– Leah Igdalsky ’14

Tweeting for Social Change: My First Weeks at American Jewish World Service

I remember first hearing about American Jewish World Service (AJWS) when I was fourteen years old and participating in a philanthropy project at my local Jewish Community Center. The organization’s mission and the way it uses Jewish values to inspire Jewish communities to help marginalized people across the globe deeply resonated with me. As I aged and discovered my passion for human rights work and international development, I never forgot about one of the first organizations to inspire me. Therefore, I truly see it as a privilege to be an intern in American Jewish World Service’s communications department this summer.

AJWS’s mission is: “Inspired by Judaism’s commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world.”  Through service projects, educational programs, advocacy, and grants to grassroots partners in the developing world, AJWS works to empower marginalized peoples across the globe and pursue justice.

On the opening day of the Rio +20 conference, 300 indigenous people occupied the dam to spell “Pare Belo Monte,” meaning “Stop Belo Monte”. The Belo Monte Dam, which will be the third biggest in the world, will flood their homelands and destroy wildlife. By posting this on Facebook, I help share their work.

I am fortunate to not only be a WOW intern but to have gotten my internship directly through Hiatt. AJWS partners with Brandeis every year to offer placement for one WOW intern. This year, it was me! I wanted to apply for an internship with AJWS for a while and was thrilled to learn that there was an expedited process for Brandeis students. It’s an amazing opportunity!

AJWS has fourteen total interns this summer. I am the lone intern in the communications department. My responsibilities include content development for the blog, social media work, media monitoring, and video making. Although I am not directly furthering AJWS’ mission, I hope that through the writing and social media work I do this summer I can leave even a small contribution to an incredible cause.

These sunflower seeds were delivered to Capitol Hill and the White House to represent the 18,000 people who signed the Jewish Petition for a Just Farm Bill. During the delivery, I shared our success through social media.

I see this internship as a unique opportunity to combine my academic passions – global human rights and peace-building – with the writing and social media skills I gained through my extracurricular work. I hope to improve my writing skills, and particularly want to learn how to craft my tone for different audiences. In addition, I am eager to learn about effective outreach and audience retention. I also hope to see how the different components of nonprofit work interact in order to help a larger cause. I am most nervous about working from nine to five and sitting behind a desk all day.  I am excited to experience working in a nonprofit, particularly since it will allow me to discover if this is a good route for me when I graduate Brandeis next spring.

After my first two weeks, I still am growing into my role in the communications department and establishing a routine. I spend the bulk of my day managing the Facebook page, generating content, and researching articles on current events related to AJWS’ work. Unlike other college students, when on Facebook or Twitter, I am not procrastinating, but doing my job! The most meaningful project I have worked on so far was interviewing and recording an event with a leader of one of AJWS’ partners in India. His stories were incredibly moving and displayed the profound struggles, beauty, and potential in India.

Often times, when I am compiling spreadsheets and writing Facebook statues or tweets, it is hard to remember the “why” behind my daily tasks and feel motivated by my work. However, after hearing from about our partner in India’s work firsthand and realizing that I can use my voice to share his stories, I remembered why what I do is of value and how it contributes to the bigger picture. As my internship continues, I aspire to remember to always work with intention and complete awareness of my global partners in the universal struggle for justice.

– Erica Shaps ’13

My First Week at The Center for Ethics and Advocacy in Healthcare in Techny, IL

I was lucky enough to secure a summer internship at The Center for Ethics and Advocacy in Healthcare in Techny, Illinois. The Center is a small, non-denominational, community-initiated nonprofit and NGO that educates and supports people regarding their right to make well-informed decisions about their healthcare needs regardless of religious beliefs, age, and gender. In addition, The Center offers educational programs on healthcare ethics issues; some topics include: spirituality and end of life issues; conflict resolution; learning to live with pain/suffering; and decision-making. Lecture series and guest speakers frequent The Center regularly. The Center also offers individual counseling for those people who want to talk to someone about a current medical dilemma.

The Center for Ethics and Advocacy in Healthcare is located in Techny Towers, Techny, IL.

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I wanted to intern at the Center because it’s mission fits well with my interests. I am a Philosophy major, and I am very interested in ethics – specifically, bioethics. With each person that asks for assistance, the Center has to be able to comfort the person and guide them through whatever problem they are facing. This decision making process is what I am very interested in. In addition, this internship will teach me about healthcare on the local and global scale and how near-future Medicaid and Medicare cuts will affect people and their decisions about healthcare.

To secure the internship, I went to the Center’s website; I was so excited with what I read that I called the Director herself. She took a liking to me, as I did to her, and the rest is history! I also was able to find someone at Brandeis who had this internship a few years earlier, so I talked with her over coffee about her experience.

Another reason why I wanted to intern at The Center is because of the woman who runs it. The Director exudes so much joy, kindness and warmth. After talking with her a few times, I knew I could and would want to learn a lot from her. She is a nun and was a nurse in the Boston area for a while, until she chose to pursue Ethics. Her passion for helping people get through tough medical situations led her to found this nonprofit, which I think is an extremely laudable path to take, if you ask me!

The view behind Techny Towers.

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My internship responsibilities include: clerical work (filing, printing, photo-copying, answering phone calls and email requests, cleaning), learning about the current healthcare climate on both local and global levels from the speakers who will speak to us, and learning how the Director helps people make tough decisions during trying times. She will teach me how she has helped people in all different situations get through whatever medical or financial dilemma they faced. Lastly, one of the employees at The Center will teach me how to apply ethics theories to real life, everyday situations. This is my main goal for this summer- to learn how to apply theoretical ideas to real situations.

My first week was great! I got to meet the Director and the other two interns, who are very nice. I did not realize how small the office would be, but it makes sense now, knowing that it is a nonprofit and that it exists only because of the people who donate money to help support it. A lot of people in the area donate to the Center because they think it serves a real need in a very personal way.

We met with a couple of people who work at the New Trier Township in the Health and Social Services department – a social worker and director of community services – to learn more about all the different social services being offered in the area to people who either do not have health insurance or who are unemployed and have few or no health benefits. We learned how the Township assists these people and how much of a need there is since the state of Illinois, not to mention the entire country, is in dire financial straits.

Also during the first week, we learned how some philosophical ideas tie into viewing healthcare. We discussed theories about how people think it best to approach healthcare decision making. One theory is beneficence, which states that we should always aim to do good and eliminate evil. But when one agrees with the idea of Respect for Autonomy, (s)he thinks we should respect whatever decision the person will make. We also talked about the two different views of Justice – Distributive Justice and Justice “as desert,” or Deserved Justice.

After meeting everyone and learning a lot already, the first week was a great introduction into the internship program and I’m really excited for the coming weeks!

My goals for the summer are to learn how the Director helps people get through tough medical situations by examining her decision making process, to learn more about the current state of healthcare on the local and international level, and to learn how to apply philosophical theories to real life situations.

To learn more about some of the issues within bioethics, look here!

– Emily Breitbart ’13

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Hello! My name is Harold Salinas. I’m an intern at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). MCAD is the state agency charged with enforcing the state’s anti-discrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing, credit, education, public accommodations, mortgage, and lending. State law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, genetics, military status, and retaliation. In addition to these bases, the Massachusetts fair housing law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of children, public assistance, veteran status, and marital status.

The MCAD has offices in Boston, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester. I’m currently working in the Boston site. Although I do receive training on housing, employment and public accommodation laws, my responsibilities focus mainly on MCAD’s community outreach program. The Commission’s “Spreading Education to End Discrimination” project (“S.E.E.D.”) aims to provide information about civil rights in the workplace, housing, public accommodations and other areas to members of populations that are likely to experience discrimination.

As a S.E.E.D. intern, I have participated in five days – during my first week – of intensive training on discrimination law, the MCAD complaint process, and presentation skills. Following this training, I have started contacting numerous community organizations that serve disenfranchised populations to introduce them to the outreach program and, wherever possible, work with them to plan outreach programs on site. As I succeed in scheduling programs, I will travel to the sites to deliver informational presentations. At each presentation, I will offer participants the opportunity to initiate the complaint process by meeting with him/her one-on-one to complete an intake form following the program.

My first week here has been fantastic and while eight hours of training for a whole week may seem intense, I have learned so much already and I’m excited for the experience I will gain this summer. My impressions overall are very positive. The work environment is friendly but at the same time very serious. The other three interns I work with are well qualified and we all seem to be on the same boat in terms of our obligations here at MCAD. I have begun to establish a good relationship between my supervisor and I. She is a very smart, humble and respected woman, and I’m looking forward to learning so much from her this summer.

I grew up in Boston, and I’m bilingual in Spanish. I’m a passionate advocate for Latinos, African-Americans, and low wage workers. As a Legal Studies minor, my goal is to use this internship opportunity to expand my skills as a public speaker, and learn more about the law and legal proceedings. This position will offer an ideal setting for me to reach my goals.

– Harold Salinas ’14
MCAD

A Week at the Chinese Progressive Assocation

“The Chinese Progressive Association is a grassroots community organization which works for full equality and empowerment of the Chinese community in the Greater Boston area and beyond. Our activities seek to improve the living and working conditions of Chinese Americans and to involve ordinary community members in making decisions that affect our lives.” [Mission].

I just finished my second week at the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), a non-profit based in Boston’s Chinatown. The Chinese Progressive Association has been playing a large role in the lives of Chinatown residents since 1977 when it was founded.  CPA wishes to create a grassroots movement, meaning a movement directly led and supported by residents of the community whose lives are affected by issues such as the need for jobs and education, freedom from discrimination, and a clean and safe living environment (click here for a short video on CPA).


CPA signs used at rallies supporting worker’s rights (Photo by Kelly Li)

The summer before my senior year of high school, I interned at another non-profit in the Chinatown area. During that time, I learned about the history of Chinatown and its need for affordable housing and the economic gap in terms of income between most of its residents compared to the median income of Boston residents. Having grown up in the suburbs, generally without much exposure to the Asian Pacific Islander (API) issues that Asian Americans face every day, I believe that summer helped me become more aware of myself as an Asian American in the context of society and sparked my interest in learning more about API issues and how to go about trying to seek social justice. Around then, I learned about the Chinese Progressive Association which promoted not only education on the rights of the Chinatown residents but community activism and action. I knew that getting involved in CPA would be the next step in engaging in these issues.

These last few days have been interesting ones. My first week, I accompanied my supervisor on a “canvassing” trip, which more or less meant knocking on people’s doors, talking to them about a petition. At the moment, CPA is working toward getting a question on the ballot for the next election in order to gauge voter reaction to potential changes in policies related to taxation of the wealthiest Americans, access to affordable housing, and the recent MBTA toll hikes. I also got to sit in on a staff meeting, which gave me a little insight into how a non-profit operates behind the scenes and how decisions are made. However, the most exciting moment of the week was getting to meet photographer Corky Lee and having a chance to sit down and interview him for CPA. Although I had never heard of Corky Lee before coming to CPA (CPA was showcasing a small gallery of his photographs), I found his story and experiences fascinating, not to mention inspiring. Decades ago, he had seen that Asian Americans were not prominent in the media or American history. Today, he is helping raise awareness of Asian Americans and their struggles, cultures, and daily lives through his photography.

I can’t wait to write the interview article!

Gallery of Corky Lee's Photographs in CPA (Photo by Kelly Li)

At the moment, I am in charge of gathering research about the Boston Public Library’s fiscal budget and new Compass Plan in order to help CPA and further their goal of creating a library in Chinatown as its residents have been without a library since the 1950s when urban renewal occurred, causing its demolition. I’ll also be helping CPA with their various summer projects such as the annual Chinatown Bike-A-Thon and their current voter outreach project.

It’s hard to say what I expect for the summer as I’m happy with learning and experiencing anything and everything that I can. I hope to get a better understanding of how non-profits operate as well as more knowledge of the Chinatown community. Besides that, I hope that I can make a meaningful contribution to CPA. I love the idea of being involved in a community that is always evolving and changing, seeing the development up close. I look forward to witnessing firsthand and playing a part in this progress over the next few weeks.

– Kelly Li ’15

La Fundacion Paraguaya

After 20 hours of travel, three flights, two layovers, and one baby to throw up on my shirt, I finally arrived at my apartment in Asuncion, Paraguay. Despite the lengthy trip and an urgent need to shower, I felt profoundly excited and humbled by the thought that all the planning and effort I had committed to this internship was finally coming into fruition; that is, that I was actually here and about to begin this opportunity to learn and work in a different country and language.

I am working for an organization called “Fundacion Paraguaya,” and its mission is to, “promote entrepreneurship, enabling people of limited resources to create jobs and increase their family income.” Fundacion Paraguaya, or la Fundacion as it is referred to here, was formed in 1985 out of the desire of civil leaders to take action to combat the severe poverty that plagued much of the nation – a problem strongly perceived as having been too long neglected by the government.  This non-profit organization has three distinct programs to help families improve their economic situations – Microfinance, Junior Achievement, and the Agriculture school. While the details of each program differ, essentially each one teaches basic business theory and responsible decision-making to enable participants with the skills and confidence needed to start a business. Through training and eventually financial assistance through microloans, the ultimate goal is that each participant can create a sustainable source of income and free themselves from day-to-day struggles (read more).

Due to my interest in economics, I have decided to work within the Microfinance department. In my first few days in the office, I have been reading materials and accompanying co-workers in their activities to improve my understanding of how the program is organized and functions. The most powerful experience so far has been attending a meeting of a group of women entrepreneurs. The 15-20 women who comprise the group have all received business education and microloans from la Fundacion to start their own operations, and are assigned an advisor for guidance. The group requires that each woman have a distinct business, so that in the case that one of the members in unable to repay her microloan that meeting, the other members, working in different markets, are more likely to be able to assist her in repaying her due.

Aside from a practical purpose, the group also functions as a support system as the women share the challenges they face as well as positive moments in their lives.  At this meeting I had the chance to see how the meetings are conducted as well as to speak one-on-one with women about their experiences in the group.  I am still processing all that I have learned from this experience, but it was profoundly humbling – the warmth and friendliness that was tangible among these women was incredible, and I am finding that these aspects seem characteristic of almost all the people I have met in Asuncion in general.

Next week, I will be looking to form my own project for the summer.  Ideally, I would like to follow the model of the micro-franchise program already established at la Fundacion to find a business model that is simple enough to understand quickly, generate income for entrepreneurs, and in some way promote good health for its users. Until next post!

– Brandon Frank ’14

RECENT STUDY: MASS AUDUBON’S JOPPA FLATS CONFIRMS STARFISH NOW “EXTINCT”… INTERNS LEFT IN CONFUSION

Mass Audubon at Joppa Flats

At every team meeting (where we set our team goals) at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats, we create news headlines that describe the recent weeks’ events.  I felt it was rather appropriate to start off my blog with a similar headline.  A starfish? A what? I don’t know what that is.  One of the first things I learned at Joppa Flats is that we call them by their real name—a sea star.  Contrary to urban legend, a starfish is actually not a fish.

Speaking of sea stars, we find these creatures daily in the tide pools at the Sandy Point State Reservation at Plum Island. In only two weeks at work, I have taken multiple school groups out to the nationally protected wildlife refuge in hopes of discovering amazing organisms in their natural habitat.  From kindergarten to high school, hundreds of children come to Joppa Flats daily to learn, discover, and explore.  As an intern for the Audubon Society, it is my job to facilitate this learning and exploration of these young scientists to help them make their own scientific discoveries.

The mission of the Massachusetts Audubon Society is one that I am very proud to uphold this summer.  We dedicate ourselves to protecting the nature of Massachusetts for both people and wildlife.  The wildlife sanctuary at Joppa Flats provides families with clean places for relaxation and recreation, a beautiful backdrop for birding from an observation deck, and a change to learn about the wildlife of the nearby Plum Island (with it’s own marine life touch tanks).  In addition to being the largest conservation organization in New England and being a strong advocator for environmental policies, Mass Audubon provides education programs.  The summer camps provide children with the opportunity to explore and connect with the natural world while developing their interests for the outdoors.

As a summer camp intern, I will be responsible for teaching children aged 6-12 on environmental awareness, conservation, coastal habitats, and local animals.  I will be developing fun science projects using live animals, interactive crafts, and games.  This is such a great opportunity because the kids are able to appreciate science with hands-on activities and obtain a valuable education outside of the classroom!

Even though I am in a teaching position, I am finding that I am learning so many valuable skills.  I also know that I’m going to continue to learn so much about the ecology, marine biology, and the natural world of the New England coast.  I’m already beginning to warn my friends and family that they will never want to go to the beach with me again as I’m sure I’ll never stop blabbering with my extensive knowledge of the local ecology.  In addition to science, I am learning so much about the other interns and even learning plenty about myself along the way.

Not only do I care for the natural environment, my favorite part of the job here at Joppa is the work environment!  Marine biology has always been something that I have loved. I have never been around such a great group of people who also have this passion (and are willing to have conversations with me about it)!  In addition to just being cool and fascinating individuals, the other 8 interns all bring something valuable to our team.  We are all from different schools from several states, have a wide diversity of majors and academic interests, all do a wide variety of sports and clubs, and have a varied taste in music (yes, some of the interns even listen to country music all the time!).  Yet, although we are all unique, we all have the same passion for the environment, education, and science!  Not only are the interns awesome, the summer camp directors/teacher-naturalists that we work with are very welcoming, supportive, insightful, and ENTHUSIASTIC.  They send the interns daily emails explaining how great of a job we are doing, are always accepting new ideas from us, and immediately trusted us with so much responsibility with leading school programs.  My employers lead by example: their enthusiasm and passion for the job is evident throughout the day and it definitely influences my own work ethic.  A perfect example of their characters is that even though they have a very tight budget, they made us write down what gifts they could buy us for $0.25, $0.50, $1, and $5 if we ever need a gift to cheer us up.  It’s nice to have people care about me and truly appreciate all of my hard work.

Most importantly, there are other people my age that live every week like it’s shark week! YES! This internship and my fellow interns are really making me realize that marine biology and education are right career paths for me.  I wouldn’t be realizing this had it not been for Mass Audubon.  I’m very excited to continue to grow this summer and find out more about my love for the marine world and the amazing organization that I am so proud to work for.

Also: LIKE Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center Facebook Page

Matt Eames and Cam Jenkins discuss the safety and discoveries of the tide pools for the school field trip!
Tidepool at Joppa Flats

– Matt Eames ’13

First weeks at the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine

I am interning this summer in Kiev with the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU). The STCU is a State Department program that helps weapons experts from countries of the former Soviet Union to find peaceful employment so they don’t sell their knowledge to unfavorable parties (terrorists, rogue nations). It’s part of a larger State Department program to reduce the threats that have outlived the Cold War.

I am double majoring in Political Science and Russian Studies, and I’m especially interested in nuclear issues, counter-terrorism, and diplomacy, so working at the STCU is perfect. During the school year I knew I wanted to do something involving those issues, and in researching State Department non-proliferation programs I found the STCU. I wrote to the Board of Directors inquiring about an internship, and received a favorable response.

So far my internship has gone quite well. Everyone at the office is very nice. I like the work that I am doing. So far I’m researching funding opportunities (grants, mostly) for Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS: a loose confederation of the countries that formed the Soviet Union) scientists. In the near future I will be presenting to scientists on possible funding opportunities, working with scientists on filling out research proposals, and co-editing STCU publications. I will also be traveling to Moldova next week to attend the STCU Board Meeting. That will be a really neat opportunity, as there will be representatives from the US State Department and Department of Energy, from the Canadian government, and from the European Union there to access the STCU’s work. I’m very excited not only to visit Moldova but also for the opportunity to speak to the US government officials.

The whole summer thus far, from living in Kiev to working at the STCU, has been a fantastic learning experience and a most excellent adventure.  Before, when I thought of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD scientists, I primarily thought of nuclear weapons and physics. But, now I realize, as the term “WMD” refers to chemical and biological weapons as well, the scientists the STCU works with come from a much broader range of scientific disciplines. I’ve also learned a great deal about the grant process. Most of the American charitable foundations, like the Gates Foundation or the Packard Foundation, only give grants to US citizens, something I did not realize before. Just being in the office and chatting to colleagues at lunch-time has also been so interesting.

It’s been a lot of fun for me to explore the city. I love history, and Kiev is full of it. One can walk past a church from the 11th century, an imposing, cement example of Soviet architecture, a McDonalds, and a statue of Cossacks galloping by to defend the city, all on the same block.  To compound the adventure, the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, or Euro 2012 as it’s more colloquially known, is taking place in Poland and Ukraine this year. This is a special moment of Ukraine, as it’s the first time a former Soviet republic has hosted a European football championship. The incredible enthusiasm displayed by fans (and really the whole city), is quite something.

This National Geographic article vividly describes the dangers should WMDs fall into the wrong hands (and mentions the work the STCU does and the dangers it tries to prevent).

– Jennifer Ginsberg ’14

First week at FVLC!

Walking through the door on my first day at Family Violence Law Center, I felt a rush of excitement. After months of searching, emailing and seemingly endless games of phone tag, I had finally arrived!
This board tells everyone when people are available in the office. I got my very own magnet! 🙂

Family Violence Law Center strives to end domestic violence and provides a great deal of services to survivors, such as a crisis hotline, legal assistance and emergency aid.   My internship here will consist of a little bit of all three; in addition to working on the crisis hotline answering calls, I will be doing client intakes (essentially vetting clients to determine if they are eligible for our legal assistance). Through the combination of these two tasks, I end up serving as a temporary case manager, helping clients navigate the murky waters of trauma’s aftermath. We have a large comprehensive list of other agencies in the area that provide services that an individual might need- from shelters to the district attorney’s office to self-help family law facilitating centers- so that if we cannot help someone, we can find them someone who can. Pictured below is what we affectionately call our “Bible”:

This packet contains all of the resources we use on a daily basis. It's the best.
And this is a table for all the pamphlets we hand out to clients
Since I had already complete 40 hours of official domestic violence training in Massachusetts, FVLC is allowing me to skip certain aspects of training that new staff members generally have to go through. However, I didn’t realize the extent to which they were going to extend this liberty until the first day. I had just been given my first tour of the office by one of the crisis line advocates when she was told she and my supervisor had a webinar (a seminar via webcam), which would leave the hotlines unattended. She turned to me, an hour into my first day, and said, “Alright, are you ready to answer some calls?”
The wall next to my desk has LOTS of information for quick access.
That beautiful (albeit terrifying) and immediate acknowledgement of trust has proved to be fairly standard procedure. On my second day I was already working on legal intakes with new clients- a task normally preceded by at least 16 hours of training. The office atmosphere is similarly exciting and fast-paced; each client has a different story, a new challenge, a completely unique puzzle that needs to be solved instantly. We are lucky enough to be located in a building that houses the District Attorney’s office, a childcare center, and other organizations whose interests often overlap with ours in a complementary manner (i.e. MISSEY is located downstairs, a non-profit for youth who have been sexually exploited). Everyone seems genuinely pleased to be working together, which adds to the lovely work environment here!
I’m definitely looking forward to what this summer will bring!
– Ashley Lynette ’13

My First Week in the Tea Industry

By this time, I have completed almost two weeks of my internship at the Asia Tea Company Limited. Asia Tea Co., Ltd. is a leading tea manufacturer and exporter in Vietnam, after three months of searching for internships in the tea industry. Asia Tea Co., Ltd. processes and produces fresh tea buds as well as high-quality black tea—the most popular type of tea sold in the world. It exports over 7,000 tons of tea each year to more than twenty nations in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. It owns numerous tea plants and factories in the highland region of Vietnam, and employs thousands of workers. The company is unique among Vietnamese tea corporations because it not only aims at making high profits, but also strives to promote Vietnamese tea culture abroad and foster the domestic tea industry.

Asia Tea Co., Ltd. is on the seventeenth floor of the second building from the left.

I spent about three months last year, from October to December, searching for an internship in the Vietnamese tea industry over the summer. Fortunately, last November, I came across the website of Asia Tea Co., Ltd. In December, I submitted my resume for a summer internship position as a Market Analyst. After reviewing my application, the CEO interviewed me via phone. We discussed my interests in economics and tea, and how I would contribute to the company. Several days later, the CEO offered me an internship.

As a Market Analyst at Asia Tea Co., Ltd., I will collect and analyze empirical data about foreign markets, and write weekly reports for the company. I will also build complicated charts about supply-demand and cost-revenue. In the modern business world, quantitative methods and computer skills are extremely important. I hope to master statistical and econometric techniques as well as advanced software applications such as STATA, Excel, and XLSTAT-PRO after the summer. I also want to learn to negotiate contracts in a professional way under the supervision of the CEO.

On the first day of my internship at the company, I was both excited and worried. I did not know how everything would go and how people would think about me. But the friendliness of the CEO and other members of the company impressed me. Everything went so well. The CEO introduced me to the staff and provided me basic information about the operation of the company. During the first two weeks, I primarily learned to use computer software programs, and to collect and analyze empirical data about foreign markets. On the following week, I would work on the project of analyzing a foreign market the CEO chooses.

After the first weeks at the company, I have learned a great deal about the tea industry and the methods of analyzing empirical data in the real world. After the summer, I want to have a deeper understanding of the tea industry in Vietnam, expand my networking contacts in the industry, and learn more about the art of management. In the future, I hope that I can contribute to the development of the Vietnamese tea industry.

– Duc Tran ’13

First Impressions at San Juan del Sur Biblioteca

This week, I began my internship at the SJDS Biblioteca or the library of San Juan del Sur. For this small coastal town in Southern Nicaragua, the library serves as a vital educational resource. With a collection of nearly 12,000 books, computers, and free internet access, the library has become a central space in town for community members to congregate. In addition, the SJDS Biblioteca offers a variety of workshops and classes including sessions on public health, art, and English. One of the most unique aspects of this library is the Mobile Project. Designed to target the poorer, rural communities surrounding the town, the Mobile Project brings books to residents who are unable to come to the library. The Mobile Project also raises money to build bathrooms and provide supplies for schools that lack resources and are in critical need.

Outside the Library of San Juan del Sur

In the fall, as I was searching for a summer internship, I attended a lecture by Dr. Rosa Elena Bello, a major community organizer here in SJDS. She spoke about her efforts to remodel the educational and health care systems for women and children in town. Her work and the challenges that this town faced resonated strongly with me. After talking with her partner, Margaret Gullette, who works here at the Brandeis Women’s Research Center, I was put in touch with the director of the SJDS Biblioteca. After explaining my passion for both education and working with children, I was offered an internship for the summer. Over the next couple months, the two of us began tailoring an internship that would combine both the library’s needs as well as my own.

Upon arriving in town, I was taken to the library to meet other staff members and get a tour. Walking into the center of the library you see an open space with walls lined by bookshelves. In the center are rows of tables and chairs that come the afternoon, are filled with children and adults working on school projects or taking advantage of the library’s free internet access. On the left, is a small room containing four computers and a printer, which are usually reserved for students many of whom do not have a computer of their own.

I spent my first week working on the Mobile Project. Three times a week, staff load up trucks with boxes of books and drive out to rural schools on the outskirts of San Juan del Sur. My first day, I helped the children exchange their books. They would file out of the classrooms a few at a time to return their books from the previous visit. Some brought their library card but many did not so we had to look up their name, double check that they brought back all of their books, and write the information down on their card. After that, they were free to pick out two new books. What I found remarkable is that these children were so excited to have access to these books that very few of them ever forget to bring them back. In fact this library has a higher return rate than most of the libraries in the U.S.!

Feeling more comfortable on my second trip out to the schools I asked to help out with that day’s art activity. Before the children go out to exchange their books, they first have the opportunity to do an art project. For many of these children, our monthly visits are the only time they ever get a chance to participate in any type of crafts. For this month, in honor of Father’s Day we helped each of the children make cards for their fathers. First, I read the entire class a story called, The Ten Best Things About My Father. After that we passed out paper, glue, and markers and walked around to help each of them complete the activity. Classrooms here often contain children ranging in ages so the younger children needed a lot of help. In the end, each of the children had a card that was shaped like a shirt and tie. Inside the card we helped them write a message to their fathers.  The children were particularly excited when I showed them how to decorate their cards by drawing hearts.

In two days, my supervisor and the director of the library will arrive. I will be working with her to create a plan for the English lessons and art activities that I will work on with the children this summer. Along with teaching both art and English classes, I will continue my work with the Mobile project. So far, my excursions to the rural schools have been a wonderful introduction for my summer internship. I already feel more comfortable using my Spanish skills. I also have a greater understanding of the school system here and the ways in which the library supplements the educational opportunities for these children. The library is an integral part of this community and over the next two months I look forward to assisting both the children and the library in any way I can.

– Abigail Simon ’14

A Week in the Musée de Montmartre

I’ve always envied my little sister who, from eight years of age, knew she wanted to study Nefertiti and the ancient Egyptian culture. She’s now is in college, pursuing an archaeology degree. She speaks Arabic and can read hieroglyphs. And she’s dead set on this. I’m not built like my sister. She’s confident about her skills, knows what she wants, and how to get it. For me, my talents and interests lie all over the place. When March rolled around, I was anxious. I’d never had an internship before: who would want me? What I did know is that I love the arts and humanities, and this ultimately led me to an internship at the Musée de Montmartre.

The Eiffel Tower at the end of the day

I had been studying in Paris for an entire academic year, and during that time I took an art history class focusing on French art in the past two centuries. The professor was incredible, animated and devoted to her subject, and her enthusiasm floated like a bright yellow miasma around her perfectly coiffed bob. She helped me realize that I had become attached to art history: it played into all of my interests and skills.

So, I asked my professor if she knew of any art galleries or perhaps even museums that might like an intern for the summer. And what do you know? It turns out she’s the curator for the Musée de Montmartre (as if she wasn’t awesome enough already) and said she’d be glad to have me work for her.

So, today concludes a hectic first week with the Musée de Montmartre and my head is turning from everything that I’ve encountered. Right now, we are in the process of preparing the future exhibition “Autour du Chat Noir à Montmartre, Arts et Plaisirs 1880-1910” which will take place from the Sept 13, 2012 to January 13, 2013. The exhibition will focus around the importance of the Chat Noir (or Black Cat) which was a famous cabaret in the heart of Montmartre frequented by many famous artists and intellectuals during this golden age of Paris.

Moulin de la Galette, a cabaret in the heart of Montmartre

The museum’s goal is to showcase and celebrate the incredible body of work that flourished in area of Montmartre, especially in the 19th century when Paris was the center of the art world. They call it “The Old Montmartre.” My professor (now my internship director) and I spent some time getting acquainted with the history of this artists’ district, which is located just a stone’s throw from the famous Sacré Coeur church that overlooks Paris. I’ve also gone into the reserves to take a look at the daunting tasks I will have to tackle soon. At the moment, my duties include frantic translation of press documents and creation of reports for the Museum (without these, the museum can’t borrow any works of art!). But, in the coming weeks I will be personally handling and cataloguing works of art, two-hundred year old newspapers, and posters made by Toulouse-Lautrec and Steinlen. I’ll also be researching for future exhibitions, helping with the museology of exhibits, organizing the trades and lending works of art to other museums in the world, and even working on future museum catalogs! My supervisor is really serious about the mission of the museum, to educate the public about the wonderful works produced by Parisian artists during the heyday of Montmartre’s artistic period. And, as usual, I feel her enthusiasm resonating with me.

My premier goal this summer is to center myself and discover what it is I would like to do after Brandeis. As a student with only a vague idea of what the future holds for her, the atmosphere of the museum is bound to help me see if a career in museum work is for me. I have an incredible director who is one of the most driven and fantastic women I’ve ever met. I’m surrounded by the colorful history of Montmartre. And I’m looking forward to working in an area of Paris that sparked the creative powers of hundreds of people; hopefully I’ll be able to profit from that, too.

– Sujin Shin ’13

Massachusetts Survivors Outreach: “Alone We Are Weak…Together We Are Strong”

M.A.S.O Business Card

Hi! My name is Johnny Wilson, a rising senior double majoring in Health: Science, Society Policy and Women and Gender Studies. It has been a week since I started my internship at Massachusetts Survivors Outreach in Quincy Massachusetts. M.A.S.O. is a grass roots organization what specializes in research and holistic healing for victims of domestic violence. Our mission is to aid victims in the healing process by providing holistic services such as Reiki, coaching,and meditation, while blogging about domestic violence in health care. This past week, we have solidified an office space in Quincy on Federal Avenue. M.A.S.O. is working hard on becoming a non-profit organization, but donor funding is currently the main obstacle. So this past week, my fellow interns and I have been working on promoting our first fundraising event of the summer – Psychics, Reiki, Massage OH MY!: An Evening of Fun and Healing for a Cause.

M.A.S.O's First Fundraiser
M.A.S.O's First Fundraiser Banner That I Created

My job responsibilities to this point have been to promote this upcoming event, but once the event is over my responsibilities will consist on doing research, court watching and coaching. M.A.S.O. has a large case load (the actual numbers are confidential), of parents and children who survived the flawed judicial system, designed to protect all victims of abuse.

I found M.A.S.O. through a close friend who was also looking for internships online. She told me about their mission statement and how it correlates with my majors/goals.  One aspect of M.A.S.O. that interests me is that it focuses on health policy and women’s rights within a legal atmosphere, to advocate and support women. Working for M.A.S.O will help me employ all the tools that I have learned in my classes to assist low income victims of domestic violence, which is ideal because my career goals are forced on both law and supporting low-income families within the Boston area.

This past week was also a catch up week for me. I met with the other interns for three days from 2-6pm. During these meetings, we discussed the work each of us has completed, and the goals that we would like to achieve as a group. Some of these goals are to better organize and manage the case load, and find other ways to fundraise to help us to qualify to be a non-profit.  I have also been reading court proceedings to get familiar with legal terms and been researching new health care issues affecting victims of domestic violence.

During this past week I realized that I am helping M.A.S.O. build its foundation; I am a part of something bigger than myself. Major non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross and Mayo both started somewhere. I feel that this summer I will be contributing to a evolving organization that will push for better laws and rights for victims of domestic violence.

– Johnny Wilson ’13

Week 1 at the State’s Attorney’s Office

This summer I am interning at the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office in Burlington, VT.   The office is already exciting with T.J Donovan, the state’s attorney, running to be the new Attorney General in Vermont.  It is an exciting time to be in this office and hear first hand how the campaign is coming along. Donovan and the other attorneys work hard to represent the state in a variety of criminal cases.  Within the office is also a victims advocate department, which is where I am specifically interning. This department consists of three advocates who work closely with the victims. The advocates help the victims throughout the entire court process, by helping them better understand the process and by providing any support they may need. One major aspect that the advocates help with is compensation, usually in the form of money through restitution. The advocates deal with the paperwork throughout this process and I have been assisting them with it.  The advocates ultimate goal is to support the victims while ensuring that they understand the case process.

Courthouse where my internship is!

I already feel immersed in the office and have been assisting the advocates any way necessary. My first week has been kind of slow because of judicial college week, meaning that all of the judges in the state of Vermont had to go to trainings all week. Although it was a “slow” week in court, victims still showed up in the office and were in need of assistance.  I worked closely with one of the advocates who gave me many tasks and answered any questions that I had.  We discussed that throughout the rest of the summer I will be monitoring court proceedings, helping with restitution claims, and assisting with keeping the case files up to date.

I am excited that I have the rest of the summer to learn more about the court system and the work that goes on in this office.  I was able to obtain this internship through another internship I had last fall.  Through the class “Violence Hits Home: Internship in Domestic Violence” I had an internship at The Second Step, a domestic violence organization in Newton. While interning there I established a relationship with a woman who used to work at the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office, who put me in contact with some of the people from the office. I sent a cover letter and resume to them, and after a successful interview I was offered the internship with the victims advocate department. I am extremely thankful that I found this internship because I believe that I want to pursue a career in law with a focus in domestic violence.

I am also glad to be interning in Burlington because I am from Vermont and am interested in the legal processes within Vermont. Certain states might have different laws and programs for the victims, but already I have learned that Vermont has a victims compensation program, which does not exist in every state. Burlington, Vermont is an amazing place to spend the summer with the waterfront, ongoing jazz festival, and overall great charisma. It’s a gorgeous city and I am glad to be spending my time here in an internship that truly interests me.

Gorgeous Lake Champlain

– Ilana Abramson ’13

First Week at the Cambridge Public Health Department

The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) improves the quality of life of Cambridge residents and workers by encouraging healthy behaviors, fostering safe environments, and reducing illness.

I am interning at the CPHD’s Division of Epidemiology and Data Services, whose main objectives are to identify community health problems, evaluate population-based health services, and research innovative solutions to health problems. Epidemiologists study factors that influence population health, which serve as a basis for thinking about solutions to these problems.

I wanted an internship this summer that would allow me to learn more about public health departments and incorporate my interest in socioeconomic roots of illness. I researched internships at hospitals, community health centers, and public health departments. The internship at the Division Epidemiology and Data Services at CPHD interested me the most because the project would allow me to focus on social epidemiology and health initiatives in a city. I initially contacted them last fall for a spring internship, but there were no positions available. I kept in touch, and my perseverance paid off. I worked closely with the manager to find projects that will meet the department’s need for creative thinkers to analyze data while giving me the opportunity to advance my own goals by studying social determinants of health.

The Division of Epidemiology and Data Services recently received a grant to incorporate GIS (Geographic Information System) maps into their surveillance of chronic diseases. Integrating a GIS component would help identify areas of need and give direction for policy efforts. One of the ways in which GIS may be used is to create and map a neighborhood wellness index. This index would be overlaid with socioeconomic status and baseline health maps in order to identify any potential health disparities and spatial patterns in health outcomes and the environment. In my first week, I researched existing neighborhood wellness indexes and what layers of these indexes might be mapped (i.e., walkability, miles of bike lanes, green space, access to healthy food options, fitness stations, etc.). The map below shows how GIS technology can be used to map walkability. In this map, the darker shaded areas in the Seattle area are more walkable than the lighter areas.

King County, WA walkability mapped using GIS

Learn how GIS is used in public health on the World Health Organization’s page on GIS and Public Health Mapping.

Overall, my first week went very well! I liked that I was able to start working on a project right away, and the orientation I had on the first day helped me get better acquainted with the CPHD and the work of the Division. The work I have done so far has been very independent, but my supervisors check in with me often to make sure that I understand the project and answer any questions. I have enjoyed slowly getting to know the other people in the office. The other intern, an MPH student, and I went to a coffee shop on Thursday morning, and I liked hearing about her work and plans for the future. I found it helpful to speak with someone who is a little farther along in the process of working in public health than I am. I have already learned so much about working in a public health setting in this first week, and I expect that I will continue to learn more about epidemiology and the factors that contribute to illness as the summer progresses.

Image Sources:

http://www.cambridgema.gov/citynewsandpublications/news/2011/06/cambridgecelebratesmenshealthmonth1.aspx

http://www.b-sustainable.org/built-environment/walkability-index

– Jennifer Mandelbaum ’14

Interning at St. Francis House

Photo source: http://www.stfrancishouse.org/site/PageServer?pagename=virtual_tour

Having just completed my first week interning at Boston’s St. Francis House, I am extremely excited for opportunities to learn from and contribute to the organization throughout the rest of the summer. St. Francis House is a non-sectarian, non-profit organization that provides a variety of services to the poor and homeless. In addition to serving as a day shelter providing meals and an indoor space for people to stay during the day, it also provides housing, job training, medical care, counseling, and a variety of other services to its guests to further the organization’s mission of “rebuilding lives.” The organization is located in downtown Boston near the Boston Common and Boston’s Chinatown, providing convenient access for those in need of assistance.

I first heard about St. Francis House through the Brandeis Social Justice and Social Policy minor’s compilation of sites where past Brandeis students have interned. I was specifically interested in this organization because of my interest in addressing issues of poverty and homelessness. Discussing the organization with the Brandeis student who had previously interned there prompted me to contact her former supervisor, who then spoke at great length to me about his work and the organization’s mission. After this meeting, which included a tour of the services contained within the building, I was eager to work at St. Francis House.

There are a wide variety of projects that I will be involved with throughout the summer. At the moment, I am collaborating with others to develop a marketing plan for an eco-friendly bag-making business (including bags such as the ones sold on this website). Because some guests, particularly those with criminal records, have difficulty finding employment, a business is being created to employ people eager to work. Additionally, I am doing research related to an entrepreneurial course that St. Francis House plans to offer. This course would work with individuals to develop business plans and entrepreneurial skills, and I am identifying possible colleges to partner with in the hopes of combining education for St. Francis House guests with education for college students.

Repurposed, Environmentally Friendly Bags From Bag Business

In the future I will be doing policy work aimed at reforming the Massachusetts criminal justice system. I also will have an opportunity to visit incarcerated individuals with my supervisor and attend court cases at which my supervisor testifies. In addition, it is likely that I will gain experience writing letters of inquiry to obtain grants for specific projects.

This week I spent a great deal of time with my supervisor in meetings. Given my supervisor’s “open door policy” welcoming guests into his office, there is a large amount of time devoted to meeting with individuals, hearing their stories, and working with them to find solutions to their problems. I found this casework particularly interesting. It was incredible to hear people reflect upon their experiences and see how enormously resilient human nature can be. I also saw how policies directly impact individuals’ lives and can bar them from opportunities such as employment or a place to live, or, on the other hand, offer them crucial monetary or other assistance.

After my first week I have already engaged with problems of homelessness and poverty as well as issues with the Massachusetts criminal justice system, and I anticipate a much deeper understanding of these issues in the future. I am excited to learn more about these issues and also develop skills related to grant writing, research, and working with individuals who are homeless.

– Sarah Schneider ’13

The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma: Week One

My first week in Israel brought with it a hot environment outside, but a warm one inside my internship site. The staff at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma are some of most humble, kind, and compassionate people I have ever met.  And, being from Brandeis, this is saying a lot!

The mission of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma is multifold. Besides offering direct treatment to survivors of trauma, they also implement programs to help individuals and communities build psychological resilience in the face of great trauma. Based in Jerusalem, Israel, the Center’s work extends across the globe. Within Israel, they work with an array of survivors, from survivors of terrorist attacks to medics and soldiers who served in elite combat units. Outside Israel, they help implement programs for children as well as adults survivors, including countries such as Haiti and the United States following Hurricane Katrina. On top of all this, a large part of what they do involves researching intervention strategies.

As an intern at the Center, my primary responsibility is to assist with research in the Child & Adolescence Clinical Services Unit. I am working on my own research project as well as on a special YouTube video the Center is creating. In addition, I also assist with PR activities.

droplet

The process of securing my internship was straightforward. I had worked at the Center before, and was still in touch with my former supervisor. After corresponding via e-mail for a few weeks, we worked out a plan for a main project and supplemental work I could do for this summer. After that, it was only a matter of staying focused on my goals and securing funding. Thanks to WOW, I am here now, doing exactly what I hoped to be doing.

My first week involved very little turbulence. I struggled a bit with jet lag and had to fight to stay awake on at least one afternoon, however my passion for this type of work (and dousing my face with a little cold water) literally washed my fatigue away. Getting a grasp on my Hebrew has been challenging, but day by day I become more comfortable with the language.

The summer has already proved to be an exciting one, and I am still only in its first stretches. I expect to increase my research experience this summer, but also to gain new experiences in combining media with psychology and meeting other volunteers at the Center. Also important, I hope to correspond with several people in the Center, and learn more about this type of profession, psychology in Israel, and what my career options are for the future.

My Resilience Workbook

– Rocky Reichman ’13

United for a Fair Economy: Week One

I arrived at United for a Fair Economy (UFE) safely, but in the midst of pure chaos — I walked into a scene of power tools disassembling furniture, boxes piled high, and various items with bright signs saying, “KEEP!” or “TOSS!” As some of us with housing leases know, June 1st is the big moving day, and this also held true for UFE as they upgraded to a bigger space, a few blocks over on Milk Street in Boston. However chaotic it may have been, there was still this wonderful energy amongst my new co-workers. Everyone was enjoying themselves as they labored through all the burdens associated with moving. Already reflecting on that first day, I can tell that UFE will be a positive environment in which to be working this summer. 
UFE is a national organization whose mission is to “raise awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart.” There are five core programs under the umbrella of UFE: Popular Education for Action, Estate & Federal Taxes, Responsible Wealth, Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative, and the Racial Wealth Divide. Each branch has a goal to make connections with outside resources, then ultimately collaborate with them in order to strengthen the broader movement. Their 2011 annual report nicely summarizes the successes of the past year and goals for the future.

I have been hired as an intern of the Development Team which is heavily focused on organizing fundraising projects and donor communications. As a non-profit organization, UFE relies on grants and donations in order to sustain itself, so much of my work will be focused in researching new, potential funding sources, working on grant writing, communicating with long term donors, and helping to organize fundraisers such as Call-A-Thons and House Parties.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with the UFE Board of Directors. Each year there are four meetings between the staff and Board. It was a really interactive meeting that involved many activities such as, getting into groups and writing our own “elevator speeches,” so that if we find ourselves stuck in an elevator, we can successfully encourage someone to make a donation or even join the UFE movement. What I enjoyed most about the day was listening to the directors talk about their experiences with UFE and how they became involved. Membership to the board is unpaid and volunteer-based, which proved just how much these directors care about the cause. I came out of that meeting feeling so empowered really only because they were so excited about their work.

Recently, the director of Development lent me a fantastic book called, The Self Made Myth. It is written by Brian Miller, the executive director of UFE, and Mike Lapham, a project director and cofounder of UFE. So far I am just about halfway through it, but from the dialogue on the very first page, I became hooked. In overview thus far, it is about debunking the “self made myth” that progressive taxes are a form of “punishing success.” Many of the wealthy in the U.S. like to believe that success was earned solely on an individual level — without the help of anyone along the way. However in Chuck Collins’ foreword, he says, “No individual is and island. No one starts a business or creates wealth in a social vacuum. There are things we do together — through our tax dollars and public expenditures — that create fertile ground for wealth creation” (xii). Miller and Lapham’s book is centered upon this myth and presents stories of prosperous business leaders like Warren Buffet and Ben & Jerry’s who recognize that without various public investments and support, they never would have made it to where they are today; for this reason, they support higher taxes for themselves (the wealthy) because it is a way of giving back after all the help they received along the way.

On the UFE webpage, there is an interesting article titled “Eight Reasons You Should Agree with Will Smith on Taxes”. I highly recommend checking it out!

It was really by luck that I came across this internship opportunity. I was totally unsure of what I wanted to do this summer, but back in February I happened to read through the weekly community service e-mail and saw the blurb about UFE looking for a summer intern. It is very unlike anything I have ever done in the past, but that is why I was so drawn in. For years since hearing about the economic crisis in the U.S., I have not once tried to understand the root of the problem. Already working with this staff, their enthusiasm and passion has been contagious. I look forward to learning more and gaining the tools needed so that I can continue the chain of educating others the same way the the staff at UFE has begun educating me.

– Gwen Teutsch ’14

From Brandeis to the Big Apple

This summer I am interning at an organization called Lawyers For Children (LFC), a not-for-profit law firm located in the heart of New York City. LFC’s mission is to provide free legal and social work advocacy to children who are in dire need of such services, such as children who have been abused and/or neglected by their parents, children who are in the midst of custody disputes, children who are in the process of finding adoptive homes, as well as a host of other complex issues. One of the unique aspects about LFC that distinguishes it from similar organizations is the staff’s steadfast dedication to empowering the children whom they represent. One such way that this is evidenced is by LFC’s practice of assigning not only an attorney but also a social worker to each and every client of the firm. This comprehensive approach ensures that each child has both someone who can advocate on their behalf in the legal system and also a knowledgeable liaison who is dedicated to making sure that they receive the social services that many of these children so desperately need. With both a lawyer and a social worker fighting to bring their clients’ wishes to fruition, the children whom LFC represents can be sure that their voices truly are being heard.

 

I first learned of the LFC summer internship program from an email sent out by the Hiatt Career Center in November. After reading about LFC and all of the admirable work that they do, I knew that LFC was the type of organization from which I could learn a great deal so I decided to submit my application. After waiting to hear from them for 3 months I gradually came to the realization that I simply had not been selected for the program. But then in March I got a call from Sue Greenberg at LFC, offering me an interview. The next week I was on a bus to New York City and the rest is history.

 

As a social work intern at LFC, I have been assigned to a social worker who I will, essentially, shadow this summer. This entails me accompanying my supervisor on home visits as well as court appearances.  I will also be responsible for observing client interviews and assisting with the preparation of reports for court. In my capacity as an intern at LFC, I hope to gain a more broad insight into not only the intricacies of the legal system but also the impact that legal decisions can have on actual people’s lives. I am hopeful that attending court proceedings and also participating in the work that goes on outside of court will allow me to learn a great deal about the nexus between the law and real life.

My first week has mostly consisted of orientation events, such as various trainings and social mixers. Everyone at the office seems to be genuinely nice and passionate about their work. I look forward to providing a more detailed update in the coming weeks.

– Aaron Bray ’13

Week 1 at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic

It has been almost two weeks since I started into my internship at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Kentucky Children’s Hospital is an integral part of the University of Kentucky (UK) HealthCare, located in the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, KY. For those of you who may not know, BMI stands for Body Mass Index. The Pediatric High BMI Clinic at UK serves children between the ages of 2 and 18 years who are overweight or obese with a BMI of above the 85th percentile for their age and sex.

University of Kentucky

I spent almost the entire winter break searching for an internship over the summer. I did research on my own and made phone calls and wrote emails to various health-related organizations. Luckily I was informed about the Pediatric High BMI Clinic by a family friend who knows of my interests.. At the end of the winter break, I had the opportunity to meet with the director of the clinic. After discussing my previous related experience and my enthusiastic interests in healthcare, she kindly offered me a summer internship.

Kentucky Children's Hospital logo

My main responsibilities are divided into two parts. I will spend most of my time in the clinic working directly with patients by calculating and recording the anthropometric measurements and by taking surveys from patients and families regarding dietary and physical activity history, past medical history and family history. Under the supervision of the director, I will also assist the work of the clinical staff member and learn the ethics of working in a clinical setting. In addition to working in the clinic, I will also participate in projects, such as creating and maintaining a database for the patients seen at the clinic, and conducting surveys with patients to follow up on their progress after their visits.

The truth is that I was very excited and also a little intimated walking into the clinic on my first day. To my relief, the clinical staff was very friendly and helpful. The physician, nurse coordinator, and registered dietitian each gave me an introduction and a training session. On the first day, I primarily worked with the nurse coordinator. I learned to take accurate height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure measurements on patients. After sending the patients and their families to their examination room, I calculated their BMI values and plotted their weight, stature, and BMI on growth charts, and prepared all of the documents for the physican’s evaluation. From the growth chart the physician can easily compare the patient’s growth to national percentiles and to observe the patient’s growth by age.

Growth chart for girls 2 to 18 years of age

On the following days, I took turns working with the dietitian and the physician. The dietitian shared and discussed with me the patients’ diets and physical activity. Depending on the patient’s condition, the dietitian varied her methods in interacting with the patients. I assisted her in counseling the patients and their families about importance of healthy nutrition and exercise. In several instances, we demonstrated a healthy balanced meal with visual props that resembled real food. While I was working alongside the physician, I observed that she focused more on the patients’ medical problems that accompany their overweight or obese status. I learned more about the comorbidities of obesity such as hypertension, sleep apnea, joint and feet problems.

I feel like I have already learned a lot at the clinic from directly working with patients and healthcare professionals. I am excited to do more hands-on work as I become more familiar with the routine at the clinic. I also look forward to starting on the data analysis and survey projects outside of the clinic. I hope that I can put my knowledge from statistical and science courses at Brandeis to good use. With more understanding of childhood obesity, I hope that I can contribute to fighting this epidemic, one small step at a time.

– Yan Chu ’13

Week One with The Bible Raps Project

When people ask me what I’m doing this summer, I always smile, shake my head, and laugh a little. Not because I don’t want to tell them, but because it’s kind of hard to explain.  A few people have even asked, “So you’re going around the country to wrap Bibles? Like at bookstores?” It’s a logical thing to assume when I say “I’m touring with Bible Raps this summer.”

The Bible Raps Project is a unique teaching tool that uses rap to engage students in Torah stories and Jewish values. It was founded by Matt Barr in 2007, when he found he could get his Hebrew school students excited about learning by rapping with them. Bible Raps has two main components: a song Toolkit and workshops. Matt created a Toolkit revolving around songs that he has written. (Listen to an example from an upcoming album. Each song has a “rap-map” showing how specific lines connect to passages in the Torah and midrashim (commentary). Hundreds of teachers currently use the Toolkit in their classrooms.

Bible Raps also travels around the world creating original raps with students of all ages. Students learn a few Jewish texts about a core topic and then split into groups to write. They then record their song, which is professionally mixed, and film an accompanying video.  In the end they can be proud of the work of art they created.  Students are able to take ownership of their history and pride in their community by rapping the words they have written.  I saw this model at work when I was a counselor at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, GA. In this video, it’s clear to see how excited these girls are. (I was there for the outdoor performance, it was awesome! )

As education coordinator on Hillel Board, I was able to bring Bible Raps to Brandeis for a weekend. They taught about the Toolkit, did some concerts, and then hosted a Brandeis workshop about Tu B’shvat, the “birthday” of the trees. We had so much fun writing and recording, and what we made is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!  In the middle of it all, I went up to Matt and said, half-jokingly, “Do you need an intern this summer?” To my surprise, he said yes, and after a few months of emails and phone calls, here I am!

Last week I spent a few days at Matt’s home in Philadelphia. Bible Raps doesn’t have a physical office space, but we decided it would be productive to have some in-person training before we take off for the summer. I had no idea that so much goes in to this project: grant writing, managing contacts, fundraising, booking tours, as well as writing and recording, and I got a crash course in all of those things. I learned how to use a Tascam pocket recorder that will be on the road with us.

I also helped begin a “how-to” guide for running the workshop, which will be turned into a fully-fledged user’s manual over the summer.  My other responsibilities this summer include working on a fundraising campaign for the new album, helping with grant writing, and documenting the tour. In two weeks we head out on the road to our first stop at my old camp, Ramah Darom, where we’ll have a whole week of workshopping, performing, and writing. See you from the road!

– Eliana Light ’13

American Diplomacy in Madrid

My name is Ivan and I am a rising junior majoring in Economics and International & Global Studies. This summer I am interning for the United States Department of State Foreign Service at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain. The Foreign Service carries out American foreign policy around the world. Its mission is to promote peace, development, and democracy abroad for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.

I have wanted to intern for the Foreign Service since I was a senior in high school, when I learned about the internship opportunity through the Department of State website. When the application period opened last November, I worked closely with career counselors at Hiatt to make sure that my application reflected strong candidacy. I applied to the internship online and was offered a position in December upon receiving security clearance. After completing extensive paperwork and being interviewed by federal investigators, I successfully received my security clearance and a final offer during early March. The Embassy in Madrid is divided into five different sections: management, economic, political, public affairs, and consular. I am working at the consular and economic sections.

The consular section is divided in the Visas unit and the American Citizen Services unit (ACS). Visas is in charge of processing both immigrant and non-immigrant visas for foreign nationals who wish to travel to the United States. ACS takes care of American citizens in Spain, from processing new passports to going on prison visits and handling abduction cases. I am currently working in Visas assisting consuls in processing an average of 200 daily visa requests. I work with the general public receiving cases, entering passport data, and taking fingerprints.

The economic section works mainly with the Spanish government to handle the current economic crisis, but also works on issues of energy, sustainability, economic development, and elaborates reports on the economy that are later sent to Washington. I am currently working on a fundraising project for the Embassy’s annual 4th of July party. This is the largest and most important event of the Embassy, with around 3,000 attendees ranging from World War II veterans to Spanish government officials and foreign diplomats. I work with an Economic Officer soliciting financial support from both American and Spanish businesses. I organize and update all information using a spreadsheet and personally speak with business executives on behalf of the Embassy about the event and financial support. I also contribute to the daily economic press report that is sent back to the U.S. by reading articles from local newspapers and summarizing them.


So far, my experience at the Embassy has been absolutely wonderful. During the first week, I met with officers from all around the Embassy. These meetings, which ranged from health unit personnel to diplomatic security special agents, were a great opportunity to ask a lot of questions and to understand the bigger picture of how the Embassy carries out its mission. All officers are very nice and approachable, and they really make an effort to integrate interns and answer all of our questions. I had the chance to meet with the chiefs of the Visa and ACS units, the Deputy Chief of Mission, the Consul General, and many other very experienced officers who were highly interesting to talk to. It was also especially interesting talking to the General Services officer, who explained how housing for U.S. diplomats is arranged. With regards to work, I was fully integrated into the staff and was working in a fairly independent manner. I feel I have already gained a lot of valuable and insider knowledge about the Foreign Service and American diplomacy in general. I have also improved my multitasking, data analysis, communication, and customer service skills. Hopefully, I will have a deep understanding of the mission and dynamics of the U.S. Foreign Service and a clear view of what a career as a Foreign Service Officer is like by the end of the internship. I will network across every Section of the Embassy to better understand its functioning and its overall mission in Spain, and will continue to develop my work skills.

Feel free to ask any questions about the Embassy, the Foreign Service, Spain, or anything else!

– Ivan Ponieman ’14

 

Exploring the “linguistic genius” of bilingual children: Week 1 at CBRC

I began my internship at the Childhood Bilingualism Research Center (CBRC) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong a few weeks ago. The Center is one of the only institutes in the world dedicated to studying Cantonese-English and Cantonese-Mandarin bilingual children. The Center’s mission is to research bilingual and multilingual Hong Kong children and to use its findings to spread local awareness about multilingualism’s positive outcomes. Working at CBRC, I will be mostly assisting with research experiments, in data collection and analysis, and transcribing Cantonese, English and Mandarin speech data from video recordings.

Inventory check
Creating an inventory of all the video and audio files in the corpus database

After learning about the research of Prof. Virginia Yip, director of CBRC, for my Ling 190b “Heritage Language Experience” final project last spring, I was inspired by her work and contacted her through email to arrange a visit to the Center. During my visit, Prof. Yip and her graduate students introduced me to their current projects, including corpus-based studies and psycholinguistic experiments. The grad students even conducted an informal interview with me, since I was also once a bilingual child just like the young subjects of their studies. I knew right away that CBRC would be the perfect internship site for me this summer, and Prof. Yip kindly offered me the position after we discussed specific tasks and objectives.

On May 15-16, as a pre-internship experience, I attended the Conference on Bilingualism and Comparative Linguistics, where I listened to eye-opening lectures and talked with professors and graduate students from around the world. The most fascinating presentation was by Prof. Patricia Kuhl, who showed us neuroimaging scans of a baby language learner’s brain, in her keynote speech entitled “The linguistic genius of bilingual babies.” The Conference culminated with a dialogue on sound change between Prof. William Labov and Prof. William Wang, an unprecedented and special occasion. It was an extremely intellectually-engaging two days, learning from so many scholars in this particular subfield of linguistics who play pivotal roles in advancing research.

Listening to Prof. William Wang discuss his theories on language evolution

One of my main goals of the internship is to apply theoretical knowledge I gained from Brandeis linguistics courses to practical research done at the Center. I will soon be analyzing data for a study looking at the syntax of bilingual children’s Mandarin speech. Moreover, to prepare for the transcription tasks, I have been familiarizing myself with standard notations and CLAN, the software that I will be using. The transcriptions will go into the CHILDES corpus, an online multimedia database that makes linguistic data openly available to all scholars wishing to study Hong Kong bilingual children. It is a resource I have also been using for my linguistics courses. My time so far at CBRC has been very fulfilling and I look forward to learning and accomplishing even more as the summer progresses.

– Miriam Wong ’14

Lefika la Phodiso: The Art Therapy Centre in South Africa

Last week I began my internship in Lefika La Phodiso: The Art Therapy Centre. It is a non-profit organization in Johannesburg, South Africa that focuses on aiding individuals affected by racism, abuse, trauma, and violence through art therapy. Lefika’s mission is to reduce violence, dependence, and poverty, and whatever else comes their way.

Securing this internship is a story on its own. My search criteria focused on diverse locations that could incorporate my passion for foreign cultures and working with children. I knew I wanted to work in the field of art therapy; however, most organizations did not offer internships or summer employment opportunities. Eventually, I found Lefika La Phodiso: The Art Therapy Centre, an organization that encompassed everything I was looking for. After sending my resume, cover letter, and speaking over Skype; I was offered a summer intern position beginning in May.

There is so much that can be done at Lefika, that I have the opportunity to work in many different sections. Every week I will be receiving weekly trainings with other art counselors. Each counselor runs their own group and I will be helping them with their projects as needed. My main focus though, will be running and managing the School Holiday Program. This is a two-week-long program that runs daily from 8 am to 4 pm while schools are on vacation. It addresses a time when children are out of school and receive less adult supervision, and they are as the center states, “most vulnerable and at risk.” The children who attend this program are living in a condemned building and come from environments where issues of racism, HIV and AIDS, violence, and abuse are present. This Holiday Program will not only give them adult supervision, but also allow them to express themselves through the medium of art, an important outlet when facing difficult times. I will also be working with the guardians and siblings of these children throughout my stay.

Mural from a Previous Holiday Program

My first week was an amazing experience. I arrived and immediately began training with therapists and psychologists who came to Johannesburg especially for this course. It was an intensive five day all day course, in which as a group we explored the possibilities of art therapy. We connected theory and practice in an experiential learning environment (very Brandeisian). Being in a new country alone, it also introduced me to local South Africans. I have found Joburg (as they say here) to be a very friendly place. In the group, almost everyone offered to take me out and show me around the city, and the other day as I walked to the supermarket to buy food for the week, everyone in the streets waved and said hi.

Art Therapy Training Workshop

I tried to come without many expectations and only an open mind. I do however hope to have fun, explore Johannesburg, meet new people and learn about the range of art therapy and how it can affect others. I look forward to the experience that awaits.

– Nicole Bortnik ’14

The Start of a Tasty Internship at Brandeis University

A bowl of fanesca Source:www.schullo.com.ec

In the Latin American country of Ecuador, during semana santa or Holy Week, everyone eats the creamy soup, fanesca. Fanesca is an old Spanish word that literally means mixture and its significance is apparent if you try the hearty soup made of every grain in the kitchen, peanut butter, cheese, and white fish (and that doesn’t cover the small food items you add as garnishes later). At first, you might find yourself being slightly ill-at-ease by the thick consistency as the cream-based liquid coats your taste buds and the slightly fishy overtones mix with the peanutty aroma. It’s difficult to notice that there are beans and quinoa mixed in as you reluctantly finish the first bowl. The next days give rise to more fanesca and over the course of the week you find yourself enjoying the soup more and asking for seconds (maybe even thirds): congratulations! You’ve experienced the behavioral phenomenon called the attenuation of neophobia. Neophobia being, literally, a fear of the new and its decrease over the course of days has been studied as a model of learning and memory. Recently, however, research from the Katz lab at Brandeis University has shown that there is another version of this attenuation that occurs over the course of twenty to thirty minutes. This recent discovery will form the basis of my internship this summer.

Source: colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com

The Katz lab at Brandeis University has a history of using a seemingly simple neural system (i.e. the chemical senses system) to reveal more about neural activity, systems interactions, and behavioral processes. It is a research laboratory in Waltham, MA that uses rats as a model organism for these systems. The lab is under the direction of Professor Donald Katz and has ten members ranging from post-doctorate fellows to undergraduates. As mentioned above, my internship will require that I perform a new and exciting experiment regarding the recently described behavior; the project is, in essence, to inject a chemical compound directly into the brain blocking the often-seen attenuation and determining if there is any effect on the more rapid, and less understood, attenuation. Eventually, I will be responsible for analyzing the data which will shed more light on this mysterious aspect of taste memory. This data may also serve as a foundation for future research that has clinical implications because the same circuitry has been implicated in anxiety disorders.

I have known about the Katz lab since I started my education at Brandeis with Professor Katz as my academic adviser. Sophomore year I gained a better understanding of the work done in the lab, at which time my interest grew. Starting in my junior year I worked in the lab part-time, and during this time I worked on a former post-doctorate fellow’s project that was used to describe the rapid attenuation. From this, Professor Katz and I designed the new project that forms the basis of my internship.

Though I just started on Monday, June 4th work is already under way. My project entails many technical skills and this first week I have not only observed those techniques in action, but also tried my hand at a few. The other undergraduate researchers, post-doctorate fellows and Professor Katz, himself, are all incredibly helpful and the overall attitude in the lab is that of helpfulness and camaraderie. I remember this feeling when I first started working in the lab and am sure that it will remain throughout the summer.

– Kevin Monk ’13

 

WATCH CDC

Last week I began my internship at WATCH CDC right here in Waltham, Massachusetts. WATCH is a non-profit founded in 1988 dedicated to providing housing justice in the Waltham community through empowerment and advocacy. Here in Waltham, those issues primarily deal with affordable housing and immigration.  WATCH offers a Housing Advocacy Clinic open Monday and Thursday evenings that is staffed with students trained in Massachusetts housing law and equipped with information on local resources for financial, food and fuel assistance, legal services and shelters. Clients come in to the clinic faced with evictions, inability to pay rent and unsanitary conditions and the clinic helps them to demystify the laws, know their rights as tenants and connect them to affordable and helpful resources, meanwhile building confidence and leadership skills required to resolve future issues. In addition, WATCH has English language courses and participates in community organizing in attempt to create and maintain more affordable housing in Waltham.

As an intern, my duties are to run the clinic and train tenants on tenant-landlord law, aiding them in resolving their housing issues. I also update and maintain the database of tenant cases and connecting appropriate clinic clients to WATCH’s community organizing in order to pursue collective action.

I was first exposed to WATCH in the fall of 2011 when I participated in the Environmental Health and Justice JBS with Professor Laura Goldin.  As part of the class, we were required to volunteer so many evenings in the clinic as advocates.  What I found at WATCH was a connection to the Waltham community that transcended our Brandeis bubble and a realization that social injustice happened close to home. I continued working in the clinic as a Housing Advocate and volunteered weekly in the ESOL classes and this spring was offered a full time internship for the summer.

My first week has involved getting to know the full-time aspect of the office, as in the past I have been in only to work the evenings of the clinic and English classes.  But since I have already been trained in housing laws and know how to interact with inquiring clients, I was able to jump right in to helping clients who stop by to ask questions during the day.

Looking towards the rest of the summer, my projects include researching resources in order to update WATCH’s community resource guide and calling past clients to follow-up and get them to participate in WATCH’s community organizing campaigns, since they have faced housing issues face on.  I look forward to learning how to create action through community empowerment during my summer interning at WATCH.

– Mollie Lortie ’14

My first week at Dartmouth!

It’s been a little over a week since I began my internship, but there’s been so much going on that I only have time now to sit down and write this blog. So far, my internship has been great, and is definitely meeting my expectations. The first day, I actually had to do an online training called CITI, or the “Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative,” because I’ll be working with human subjects. It took multiple hours, but now I’m proud to say I’m CITI certified! The next day, I went to Dartmouth to meet my supervisor, a professor of Linguistics. The plan was for me to work on two of his projects;  carrying out field work in New England, as well as working from home or at the phonetics lab on acoustic analysis.  We had corresponded previously by email and phone, and it was very exciting to meet him. Since then, I’ve gone two more times, one to see the seniors’ linguistic thesis presentations, and once because my responsibilities include checking up with my supervisor once a week. At the thesis presentations, I met linguistic students at Dartmouth with whom I will be working on the New England dialect project. This project includes traveling around New Hampshire and Vermont and interviewing people in order to listen to their dialects. The students were really nice, and I’m excited to travel with them! I’m glad that I will be able to interact with other people my age, because at first I thought that it might all be on my own.

Dartmouth during my first visit!

In the phonetics lab I have started the acoustic analysis of people’s dialects from both Vermont and New Hampshire from previous fieldwork recordings.  I use software called “Praat” to analyze speech. Right now I’m focusing specifically on vowels and whether or not people pronounce “r’s” in words (this is called “Rhoticity”). I record the data in Excel, and use another program called “StatPlus” to analyze it further.  I have already learned so many valuable linguistic skills, and I am excited to learn even more! This screenshot is an example of the work I’ve been doing. The red dots are called “formants,” and I record the Hz of the two bottom ones, which become F1 and F2. Charted, this can be compared to standard English, and can determine whether a person’s dialect is different from standard English.

Screenshot of "Praat"...analyzing the vowel in "law"

Later on in the summer I will move to the Boston area to carry out fieldwork with Hmong, an Asian ethnic group, many of whom have immigrated to the US. This will be exciting for me, as I have read about them in my courses at Brandeis. My supervisor has given me books to read about their culture, and I’m looking forward to learning more through these accounts.  I found this internship through the “Brandeis Internship Exchange,” as someone had done Hmong work with the same professor three years ago. This sparked my interest, and I decided to contact the professor to see if he had any need of an intern at this point. He was very excited to hear from me, and after corresponding about my preparedness through coursework at Brandeis, and his available projects, we decided on the two projects that seemed to fit me best.

At the beginning of my internship I was worried that I would be working alone. However, my supervisor is very helpful discussing expectations during our weekly meetings. I set daily goals for myself and I am able to do the amount of work he expects me to do. I am excited to continue this internship, and I really can’t believe how much I’ve learned already. So far, I’d actually say it has exceeded my expectations. I feel like I can only learn more from this point on, and this is really showing me that linguistics is a field I would like to pursue!

– Alexandra Patch ’14

Week 1 at the National Consumers League

This past week, I started my internship at the National Consumers League. The National Consumers League, or NCL for short, is the oldest consumer organization. NCL is dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers and workers through progressive legislative change. They are a nonprofit (501c3) located in Washington, D.C. For my internship, I am working both with the executive director, as well as the vice president of public policy. I am responsible for researching and supporting policy projects. I found this internship through the Hiatt Career Center. It was attached to the Social Justice World of Work grant.

My first week was a whirlwind of introductions, meetings, and of course, new assignments. Everyone in the office was incredibly welcoming. On my first day, there was a staff meeting, so I was able to meet just about everybody. After the meeting, the executive director invited me and the other intern to see her speak at the Woman’s National Democratic Club. The Club treated us to lunch, and we met several members. After lunch, the executive director of NCL spoke on a range issues, including the role of women’s clubs and female leaders in the consumer movement and NCL’s history. As she discussed various consumer issues, from clear unit pricing in grocery stores to safety of electric table saws, one thing she said especially resonated with me: that safe products, safe food, clean drinking water should not just be for the rich and those who can afford it, it should be for everyone.

I will research a variety of consumer issues, including phone “cramming,” which involves a third-party adding additional fraudulent charges to phone bills that appear as normal charges, such as “additional fees” or “voicemail.” The FCC now protects consumers from wireline cramming, but does not yet protect for wireless cramming. With cell phones, this often appears as text messaging scams, such as horoscope or celebrity gossip sent to cell phones via text message without the customers agreement. The problem has been written about in the New York Times.

My desk in the NCL office

I also began research on ticketing issues. Over the past few years, two coalitions have emerged arguing that they protect consumers’ rights. Fan’s First supports paperless tickets, in which one cannot receive an actual paper ticket, but must present his or her credit card and ID at the event in order to gain entrance. Paperless tickets essentially prohibit the resale of tickets in the secondary-market, such as on websites such as StubHub, or even to a friend. NCL stands with the Fan Freedom Project, which asserts that there should always be a paper ticket option and that paperless tickets promotes the monopolization of the market by Livenation/Ticketmaster, who controls the prices, and they continue to raise prices and add additional service fees. This video illustrates the problem:

“The Real Story Behind Paperless Tickets” 

This summer I’m excited to learn a lot about various consumer issues that I did not know about before. In addition, I will learn more about the political processes, and have an opportunity to focus on issues of interest to me, such as labor issues and food safety.

– Lili Gecker ’13

First week at Kalinga Eye Hospital and Research Centre in Orissa, India (Unite For Sight)

Namaskar! After 51 hours of traveling due to a series of delayed flights, I was so happy to finally arrive at my internship site for the summer, Kalinga Eye Hospital and Research Centre (KEHRC) in Orissa, India. I obtained this internship by becoming a Global Impact Fellow of a non-profit organization called Unite For Sight. One of my main reasons for applying was that a former Social Justice WOW recipient and Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow, Samuel Icaza, told me about it.  He informed me about Unite For Sight programs and how the effort you put in to provide accessible medical services to people in need has a long-lasting impact on the community. At that time, I was going to Costa Rica and Nicaragua on a medical volunteer trip for 10 days that sought to provide basic physician services through free clinics and our donated supply of over-the-counter drugs while traveling to different villages. While the experience taught me invaluable lessons and gave me unforgettable memories, I realized that my efforts were not spent on working with the local infrastructure of the health care system to make sustainable changes in its access to health.

After being inspired by what I observed, I applied to Unite For Sight because instead of short-term relief mission trips, the organization collaborates with local eye clinics to provide outreach camps to villages without eye care facility, screen patients and provide corrective refractive glasses, and bring patients back to the hospital for cataract and other eye surgeries, free-of-charge. These surgeries are sponsored and paid for by Unite For Sight.  I helped contribute by fund-raising $1,800 prior to my internship so that 100% of the donations can be made to restore people’s eye sight without the barrier of high operation cost. Lastly, the average cost of cataract surgery through Unite For Sight is $50, which is incredible in that the price we pay for a pair of jeans in the US can help someone to regain eye sight and be able to connect with their family, friends, and the world.

I specifically chose Kalinga Eye Hospital and Research Centre among different Unite For Sight sites because this facility offers pediatric care and even has initiated a training for pediatric eye surgeons. At this hospital, as a volunteer and intern, I shadow ophthalmologists in the morning for about 4-5 hours, shadow and learn about basic visual acuity tests by engaging with optometrists, and work on hospital marketing and management projects of my choice. During outreach camps, I travel by bus for 4 hours to arrive at a remote village where I help contribute in the screening process (such as distributing eye glasses), help bring patients back to the hospital, and observe all cataract surgeries for non-paying patients (most from outreach camps). This is a protocol specified by Unite For Sight, as the organization needs to logistically track all the sponsored eye surgeries.

Currently, the hospital founder and president is abroad for conferences, but will soon return to Kalinga Eye Hospital. Based on my observations and ideas, I am currently working on a presentation to recommend some changes made to hospital marketing strategies and pediatric services here, as well as conducting a patient satisfaction survey for both non-paying and paying patients. I will also soon be writing letters to insurance companies to ask them to collaborate with the hospital, as KEHRC has not yet implemented a system where it accepts insurance plans (to facilitate patients’ hospital experience and also promote higher quality medical services).  Lastly, I will be finding a local baby to become a model for the hospital and design posters to improve the hospital’s image. Having run for the Student Union for 2 years, I have learned to enjoy the poster designing process and creating memorable slogans.

Finally, I will be recording a video about the patient’s perspective of Kalinga Eye Hospital, so that upon completing my hospital experience, I can edit the raw footage to best capture the essence of what KEHRC does and how Unite For Sight is involved.

I have learned so much already by talking to ophthalmologists.  Today I learned how to use the bio-microscopy machine (the eye machine in ophthalmologist’s office) and saw multiple layers of the eye through the instrument! Another interesting fact here is that many patients refuse to accept the concept of ‘no cure’ because the body will naturally heal itself, such as in cases of trauma. So often , doctors provide eye drops that do not directly ‘heal’ the symptoms but that serve as a psychological aid to patients’ worried minds (as they believe they will not heal without a medical ‘aid’).

If anyone is interested in knowing more about the Kalinga Eye Hospital, please visit the hospital website. Also, if anyone wants to learn more about Unite For Sight, please visit the organization’s website.

That is it for now, I am excited to update you more about my internship! Please leave any comment or questions if you’d like. Thanks for reading!

-Gloria Park, 2013

 

First Week at AVODAH

AVODAH is a Jewish Service Corps that engages participants in service by placing them with anti-poverty nonprofit organizations. They also focus on group-building skills since corps members live together. I gained so much more insight on the incredible accomplishments of the organization when I arrived at the office in New York City. Its mission puts great emphasis on the importance of continuing to create social change throughout one’s life even after their year of service. I am working as the program intern, and am predominantly responsible for improving the alumni program. This involves reaching out to alumni that have lost touch with the organization, working on the monthly newsletter and the alumni resource website, sending out important messages to alumni, and completing other important paper work. I found out about this summer opportunity through a Hiatt Career Center information session on my floor. I applied for the internship on B.hired over winter break and was contacted for a phone interview. After two sets of interviews the woman I now work under emailed and congratulated me on receiving the internship.

My first week at AVODAH was both an exciting and unique experience. My first day at the Jewish Service Corps was hectic since the organization was holding their biggest fundraising event the next day.  I was immediately put to work, stuffing bags and name tags, and was scheduled to help run the registration table at the event. Although this was nerve-racking since I would be one of the first people to greet the attendees, I knew it was a wonderful opportunity to meet others who held similar values for social justice and social change. I was working throughout the whole event but enjoyed it as much as everyone else.  The genuine passion everyone held for AVODAH was inspiring and I was so grateful to be a part of the event.

In just two days I felt a part of the staff at AVODAH. They were very welcoming and thought of me as a valuable helper. The next day, after doing some post-event work, I sat down with the woman I was going to be working with for the rest of the summer. We had a two and a half hour conversation of the goals for the alumni program. Feeling even more informed about the service corps, I began working on the alumni program. I expect to learn much more from this summer internship. It has only been the first week and I feel as though I have gained a great deal of knowledge about how service corps works and the importance of maintaining a strong alumni network.

– Danielle Mizrachi ’13

No Equity without Solidarity

“I’m glad you made it on time, Sarah!”

“Absolutely! I am really excited to be here.”

I had been nervously waiting with ice coffee in hand at the non-profit Partners in Health (PIH) lobby for a few minutes, waiting for my site-supervisor to walk through the front door of the main office entrance. While I had read much about PIH in books, watched videos online, and discussed the organization’s global impact with friends, I had never quite made it past the lobby of their central Boston office. I knew that once I saw my site-supervisor cross the threshold of the office entrance, I would begin engaging with the domestic epicenter of this vastly global organization.

“Fantastic that you made your way up here. But we’re actually about to head right out. I have a bit of a wild goose chase for us…”

May 24th was my first full day working with PIH, but I ended up spending no more than twenty minutes beyond the lobby of the non-profit I had long looked up to. While I had anticipated my first day to be limited to small steps like acclimating to my desk area, a lot of handshakes, and a swirling array of new faces and names to learn, my first day ended up being a more proper introduction to PIH and my summer internship.

PIH is a health-oriented non-profit that is based in Boston but delivers its impact to 13 countries; Haiti, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, Burundi, Guatemala, Liberia, Mali, Nepal, and domestically within the Boston-metro area. An organization that operates with a mission that is both medical and moral, the PIH approach is one based in solidarity rather than charity alone. Founded in 1987 by Dr. Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, and Dr. Jin Yong Kim, the non-profit entity was a logical second step from Dr. Farmer’s extraordinary healthcare projects in rural Haiti.

Children in rural Malawi make PIH’s primary logo with their hands. 

“We’re heading out to IBM’s headquarters for the day,” my site-supervisor tells me while we wait for the T to come to a full stop. “They’re hosting a Volunteer Festival for the employees, you know, so they can learn more about different opportunities that they can be a part of in the Boston area. PIH hosts volunteer nights once a month that IBM can help out with.” The train doors open as Boston University students and non-profit workers pour from all of the doors. “So Sarah,” my supervisor turns to me as we push our way onto the train, “how would you explain PIH to someone?”

A lot of people have learned about Dr. Farmer and PIH through a book called Mountains Beyond Mountains. It is an up-close biography following Dr. Farmer through many years and many countries; the author, Tracy Kidder, justifies the subheading of his book as “The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.” Kidder’s book was my first introduction to PIH as well, though it was not my first taste of the growing field of global health. Since high school, I had been passionate about healthcare access in marginalized communities, particularly women’s healthcare. I had decided upon entering Brandeis that my education and future career goals would be oriented towards empowering my global community to seek and achieve a better form of healthcare. And, when I read the snippets of Dr. Farmer’s life characterized in Mountains Beyond Mountains, I felt solidarity in his dedication as he climbed the steep and rocky foothills of rural Haiti to reach remote patients that sought healthcare.

The picture above shows Dr. Farmer with a young patient in Haiti. While PIH’s work spans thirteen countries, the largest efforts have been based in Haiti. 

In February, I organized a panel for ‘DEISImpact!; a week-long celebration of social justice at Brandeis, both on and off campus. My panel was called “Idealism and the Undergrad: Student Involvement and its Effectiveness on Global Health Initiatives.” I gathered an American student studying global development and a Burmese student who was both a doctor and public health specialist in her home country, both of whom study at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Dr. Tschampl, the Health, Science, Society, Policy (HSSP) Internship Instructor and the Boston Global Group Leader for RESULTS, and my site-supervisor, the Community Engagement Coordinator at PIH. My goal in hosting this panel was to address my question of possible value and harm that could come from hopeful and idealistic undergraduates engaging with international clinics. How can undergraduates be a part of a sustainable healthcare movement without adequate training, experience, or education? Through ongoing dialogue after this panel with my site-supervisor, I was able to secure my current internship at PIH.

I am currently collaborating with several PIH employees and volunteers to create a project which will increase domestic knowledge about PIH. While the program has yet to launch, my role is to design various components of this program as it will be piloted to numerous communities in the United States.

“Partners in Health? So what do you guys do?”

Not many of the IBM workers at the Volunteer Festival had heard of PIH. But as more people came to our table, my site-supervisor and I shared stories of the wonderful work that PIH does with each of them. Not all of them signed up for a volunteer shift, but more than a few did. I think a lot of the reason why so many people signed up for the PIH volunteer night was not because the volunteer work particularly struck them. Rather, it was the idea that they would be joining a movement that tackling a Goliath issue — providing sustainable and equitable healthcare to impoverished communities around the world — an immense problem at which Dr. Farmer and his many supporters chip away day by day.

I am not the only person to have been moved after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains or heard people talk about PIH. Far from it. The office is filled with many young and brilliant workers working on a range of projects under the umbrella that is PIH. It’s this impactful and visible work that drive so many students, doctors, and local community members want to become a part of PIH. This summer, I hope to learn what my role, both as an undergraduate and as a hopeful doctor a few years down the line, could be in such a great movement.

 “No data in the world, no good vaccine, no potent medicine will get to the poorest of the poor without you. There will be no equity without solidarity. There will be no justice without a social movement.”

Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer, Partners in Health

 

 A village healthcare worker takes notes on a patient in rural Haiti. 

 

For more on Partners in Health and Paul Farmer, see below:

The Good Doctor,” an article profiling Dr. Farmer by Tracy Kidder (author of “Mountains Beyond Mountains”)

Realigning Health with Care,” an article co-authored by Dr. Farmer.

Mountains Beyond Mountains,” the detailed biography on Dr. Farmer and PIH by Tracy Kidder.

– Sarah Van Buren ’13