Final weeks at Embassy Madrid

The last weeks of my internship at the Embassy went extremely well. At the American Citizen Services unit I took on the task of reorganizing the several bins for official forms that are handed out to clients, making it easier to locate desired forms and ultimately increasing the unit’s efficiency. I had the chance to attend a private meeting with a Spanish business entrepreneurial leader, which was probably one of the most interesting events during my time at the Embassy. I had the chance to experience the “cool” part of being a diplomat: having a driver taking me and the Consular Foreign Service Officer I was with to the meeting in an official diplomatic car, and personally representing the US in front of a prestigious Spanish business leader. But even more importantly, I learned that meeting with local contacts is absolutely key to understanding a country’s situation. This meeting gave us insight into what is really going on in the entrepreneurial scene in Spain, much more that any press article or blog post would. In addition, I learned how to integrate the content of an interview into an Embassy report, and to remember meeting themes and details without taking notes.

At the Economic Section, I continued work on the follow-up part of the 4th of July’s corporate fundraising project, and requested a new project that helped me incorporate some of my economics knowledge and develop new skills. The new project consisted of skimming through long and complex macroeconomic analyst reports on the Spanish economy, identifying the key points and aspects of those reports and summarizing the information in a concise macroeconomic fact sheet. The fact sheet would be for internal Embassy use, specifically to brief congressional delegations, senators, treasury delegations, and other Embassy visitors. The task was challenging, as I was skimming through piles of analyst reports with limited time and without an advanced knowledge of macroeconomics. However, I quickly got used to reading quickly, then going deeper into the readings when I identified a key aspect. My supervisors seemed very satisfied with the result, and I developed skills that I use now for school readings.

On my last week, I received an email from two of my supervisors about a “surprise” that would be taking place later that week. The surprise turned out to be an award from the Ambassador himself (see photo). I received a US Department of State Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding service.  The Ambassador gave me the certificate along with his personal token coin, a typical item that represents one’s department, unit, embassy, or any other agency of the federal government. I was extremely honored and excited to receive the award, and receiving compensation for my work was truly priceless.

I think I’ll never forget that last day at the Embassy: turning in my badge, saying goodbye to my friends and coworkers, and walking through the Embassy’s beautiful patio. The internship made me realize how much there is to a career in foreign policy, how it is possible to advance a country’s interests and cooperate internationally at the same time, and how hard US diplomats work to advance the Department of State’s mission. Big ideas like these are important to understanding the impact of one’s day-to-day work, and I look forward to incorporating these ideas and new skills into my future career – whatever it turns out to be.

Fin

Parisian cafés in color

I imagine that every final post on the WOW blog will be tinged with sadness. And it only makes sense. These internships that we’ve all taken part of have helped all of us grow as professionals, as adults, as human beings. If anything, we’ve discovered more about ourselves and perhaps even figured out what we’d like to do with the rest of our lives. The people we’ve met and the things that we’ve learned have changed us for good.

The final days of my internship were a whirlwind of activity. I’d never felt so busy during my stay. I was flying around making calls, desperately making checklists for the museum’s archives, choosing some works to present in one of the rooms, etc. It seemed that despite everything I did for the museum during my internship, there were always things on my desk that needed to be completed. Even with another intern working with me in the curation department, it was an incredibly trying time. I never did get to finish all my cataloguing on Gustave Charpentier. In the end, I had some assignments that I couldn’t possibly finish without working overtime for four more hours each night and regretfully left them for the next intern to deal with. The Musée de Montmartre’s work is never finished.

My final day in Paris was a sad ordeal as well. I spent it running around, saying goodbye to all of my new loved ones and friends, purchasing trinkets for family at home, and jotting down contact information from everyone I could. There were no tears, though I did sigh a lot thinking about how near my departure was. And as it always goes, as one part of your life ends, you start thinking about what lies ahead.

The internship was over. My time in Paris, a period of my life that feels like a slowly disappearing dream now, was over. And knowing myself, I would start forgetting some of the French that I learned, some of the names of my friends, some of the faces of my past. But what I learned from the internship and my time there will stay with me for a long time. I learned how to deal with a fast-paced work environment. I learned the value of a good day’s work and that a well-oiled team is the most important aspect of a successful operation. I learned more about the inner workings of a museum and the importance of celebrating, not just preserving the past. But I also learned patience, gratitude, and how better to deal with what life throws me. So in the end, I realize that I have achieved my goals that I set out to reach when applying for the World of Work funding. I believe I am more organized, more confident about what I would like to do after my undergraduate career at Brandeis, and more mature as a person.

The exhibition I had been so fervently working on has now started. “Autour du Chat Noir: Arts et Plaisirs à Montmartre 1880-1910” is now on display at the museum and I couldn’t even get to go to the opening. But I never like to keep loose ends. I know I will be back in Paris someday, and that exhibition will be the first thing to cross off my list.

The expo I will not get to see…

– Sujin Shin ’13

Reflections on a summer with the Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project

I had an amazing experience this summer interning with the Kenya Scholar Athlete Project. This summer was completely different from anything I have done before and I am extremely happy that I took a chance to try something new.

One of my primary goals for the summer was to improve my communication and language skills through my work as a teacher. I had no direct teaching experience before working with KenSAP so I had to learn on the job. Teaching students whose first language is not English made it particularly important to be clear during instruction. Many of the lessons I taught focused on grammar and writing which required me to improve my own understanding of the language. As a first language speaker it is easy to see a grammatical mistake and simply see that it is wrong and correct it. This is much more difficult to do when you have not had consistent access to English books. It was very important to explain the rules to the nuances of the language which was something that I have never really focused on. This experience undoubtedly improved my ability to communicate with others.

Living in a new place has augmented my interest in learning about cultures that are foreign to me. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this internship was getting to know my students extremely well over the summer. Outside of class we discussed cultural values and beliefs as we were particularly interested in each other’s lives. Having spent most of my life around people with fairly similar backgrounds it was great to hear about a culture that is entirely different from my own in some ways and extremely similar in others. Spending a summer abroad has increased my interest in travelling and potentially living somewhere new.

Teaching was much more enjoyable than I expected. Observing improvements from one assignment to the next was particularly gratifying. The students were very intelligent which made it easier for them to use the classes effectively. Seeing the improvement from the student’s essays at the beginning of the program to those at the end showed remarkable progress. From the first week to the last week the student’s improved their SAT scores by about 300 points on average. This data primarily shows how intelligent the student’s are, but it was also great personal feedback for me as a teacher.

 

This internship gave me a much more realistic outlook on the challenges that face an organization that seeks to improve social justice. I think I entered the summer with some reasonable expectations for the disparity between developed and emerging countries. This internship truly showed me how significant the difference is. The number of capable students who the program had to turn down showed me how many people never receive an opportunity. While I believe that KenSAP is an amazing program that provides an unbelievable chance for many deserving students, it was difficult to grasp how many people do not. This internship reinforced my conviction about supporting social justice because I developed an understanding of the number of capable people who just need a chance.

I think that entering this internship with an open mind and being patient allowed me to be successful in reaching my learning goals and enjoying the process. It was important to expect cultural differences to arise so they were not shocking when they actually occurred. I feel like I learned so much this summer and had an amazing time doing it.

-Alex Kramer ’13

Answering Questions with More Questions: Concluding my AJWS Internship

After spending some time reflecting on my experiences at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), it is clear that I not only got what I was looking for in my internship, but even more than I anticipated.  Although it was not entirely unexpected, I am humbled by the realization that I took more than I gave and am looking forward to building off my summer experience during my final year at Brandeis.

I knew from my first day that I would need to learn how to work in an office environment. At the beginning, this was the most challenging component of my experience.  I found the idea of sitting behind a computer at a desk from 9 am – 5 pm to be very intimidating, and was unsure if I could perform at my best under these circumstances.  However, after a few weeks, I developed skills and strategies to help me work effectively in a new environment. I also learned how to better be a team player, growing to feel a part of the communications department and understand the intricacies of a large organization. It was important for me to learn that I am able to adapt and be flexible.

In addition to adjusting to an office environment, I left AJWS with many new professional skills and important experiences. My job consisted mostly of working with social media and the press.  I was responsible for managing and updating AJWS’s twitter and facebook as well as research new social media platforms. I monitored the press for related coverage and developed lists of journalists and publications for AJWS to pitch its stories and campaigns. I also made two videos profiling AJWS grantees.  I now know how to edit videos, adapt my writing tone to fit an organization’s specific style guide, work with the media, and use social media strategically. I’ve also had exposure to branding initiatives, strategic plans and organizational changes. I will benefit immensely from all of these skills and experiences when I enter the workforce next year.

Although these concrete skills are important, I would not say that they were the most important take aways from my summer experience. I am most pleased that I learned how I can contribute to the global struggle to realize human rights, even from an office in midtown, New York City.

One of my main goals for my internship was to connect my academic interests and passion for human rights with professional skills. I’ve often struggled to determine how I can best use my skills, background, and place of privilege to make a difference on causes I believe in. Through my internship, I learned how even the smallest details and actions, from a twitter update to crafting the perfect language for a press release has a role to play in crating a more just world. Although I am not doing grass roots human rights work currently, by being a partner in the global struggle for justice and using my skills to amplify the voices of those on the front lines, I am make a positive contribution.  Although compared to the magnitude of the issues AJWS works to address through all of its work, my contributions are minimal, I take comfort in a saying from the Talmud, which is sort of a mantra at AJWS: “It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it.”

Like any good experience, my internship at AJWS left me with more questions than answers:

– Is communications the right field for me to work in to pursue my passion for global human rights?

– What are the ethical lines of telling other peoples’ stories through media?

– How can well-intended people from the West help the Global South while respecting culture, dignity and sustainability?

– How can I most effectively “sell” causes I care about?

– How can we integrate a human-rights approach to international development not only into actions, but how these actions are shared with others?

– What is the most effective way for me to make a difference? Grass-roots community organizing? Or working to sustain the powerful efforts of others through writing and communications?

Although I do not have the answers to these questions now, I am confident that I will continue to think about them and contextualize them during my last year at Brandeis and as I enter the “world of work” permanently. I am thankful that my WOW fellowship gave the support and financial means to have this experience and am looking forward to seeing how it connects to my future endeavors.  I’m excited to continue working with AJWS, whether through organizing a Global Hunger Shabbat at Brandeis, or participating in one of its service programs in the future.

 

Picking a Major, Following a Career

When I was in high school, I remembered debating for a really, really long time what I wanted to study in university. I knew what academic subjects I was particularly good at, what I was really, really bad at, and what subjects I found to be especially intriguing. I was good at history, a bit of a struggler in the sciences, and deeply passionate about what I now understand to be sociology. Beyond this, I had it stuck in my mind that what I majored in undergrad must directly relate to what career I ultimately would take on post-grad. Balancing a profound excitement for social justice and the glimmering hopes of my self-proclaimed tiger mom, my attempts at channeling all of these thoughts and opinions into some kind of major caused me to be more confused than before. I wanted to take these pieces and lend into some sort of study – a life path that would ultimately bring me somewhere that made me happy on all of these fronts.

 Chief Medical Officer for PIH, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, working one on one with a patient in rural Haiti. 

But I was ultimately able to come up with a formal version of a major. Whatsmore, I came up with a potential career plan that fit all of my key points. I hope to one day work as an OBGYN (obstetrician/gynecologist) for an NGO that does long term health infrastructure development in Southeast Asia. I knew the what, I knew the how, and in knowing that this was a direction that made me happy, I knew a bit of why. But my ‘why’ was solidified in working with Partners in Health, a health infrastructure NGO, this summer.

Partners in Health operates with the following as a long-form mission statement; “At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services.  Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.”

It was not until being faced by banners around the office that proudly served as daily reminders of this statement that I internalized the importance of long term health infrastructure. In the past, as I was formulating my future plans, I thought of working with organizations like Doctors without Borders; emergency medical relief programs. While Doctors without Borders certainly is an essential NGO, my heart finds more of a kinship with Partners in Health and their mission to structural development of healthcare infrastructure. With an organization like Doctors without Borders, crisis; be it war, a natural disaster, a civil conflict, or other emergency event, is required for a form of intervention. Once the crisis is nearly over Doctors without Borders tends to leave the area. I once read in a Doctors without Borders memory book “Hope in Hell” that some global posts are abandoned if the estimated time slated to complete the intervention surpasses a few years. It’s not a bad model. But to me, it feels that that short-term approach overlooks a crucial point – the crisis, whatever that might be, is often the boiling point for structural inequity within that nation. A natural disaster is so devastating because access to clean water was already so limited before it. War or civil conflict has such horrible, horrible consequences because of pre-existing structures of violence and unrest. Crisis is not the problem; it’s a consequence of a problem. In approaching healthcare with a full understanding and undertaking of structural violence, Partners in Health is different.

Patients under the care of Doctors without Borders, a crisis-prevention healthcare NGO.

Thinking about what I did this summer, and how that translates into what I want to do in the future, both in and beyond my career, I want to go back to what I ended up studying during my four years at Brandeis. I am currently a double major in Biology and International and Global Studies, making my way through the pre-health track. I’m also minoring in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, supplementing both my global and clinical perspective with these essential lenses. I think about the full education I received by being an undergraduate at Brandeis and how that has effected and shaped my perspective on health, healthcare access, and the global community. And I think back on the summer that I spent at Partners in Health, in many ways the intersection of all of my academic passions at Brandeis. From the three or so months I spent at the organization, I learned a lot about the why of my intended career choice; both why I wanted to pursue the career path I did and why it made sense in the larger context of the world. As I finish my undergraduate career up this May, and begin another academic journey into medical school, I hope that I might take with me lessons of true, sustainable development work and an even deeper dedication to healthcare for the poor.

 

A PIH project; the layout for the new Zanmi Lasante Hospital to be build in rural Haiti. 

“What I tell my students all the time is: you speak English, you have a passport, you have a responsibility to use those tools. Go see these places and talk about them. Write about them. Be an advocate. It’s a huge job, but the coolest thing ever is to change the world.”

– Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer of Partners in Health

See Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, Joia Mukherjee and many, many other amazing people speak this weekend at the Millennium Campus Conference!

An article by Joia Mukherjee, “Structural Violence, Poverty, and the AIDS Pandemic”

Learn more about Partners in Health in this “Global Journal” article.

– Sarah Van Buren ’13

 

Reverse culture shock and moving forward with Unite For Sight

One of my top reasons for choosing to volunteer at Kalinga Eye Hospital at Orissa was the pediatric ophthalmology services it offered. As an aspiring pediatrician, I was curious to learn more about how ophthalmology services were delivered to children, and how children and parents would evaluate the overall experience at the hospital. When I was given the tour of the hospital for the first time in India, I was surprised. Kalinga Eye Hospital had a room dedicated to children as a playing and a waiting room, yet it did not have appropriate toys or staff to work with children the room. Moreover, even when the children were sitting in the waiting area with their parents, no staff directed them to the children’s room. This underutilized room was beautifully painted in local cartoons and languages, and it had a separate door to the pediatric ophthalmologist’s office. It hosted a small plastic playground for children to go down the slide and ride the rocking horse. During my observation, however, I was baffled by how no staff took children patients to the doctor’s room through the directly connected door. Curious to understand the reasons for such underutilization of this playing room despite the high number of children patients, I’ve asked administrators, Director Samal, and paramedics. Their responses varied. The administrators were aware of the lack of attention to the children’s room, but as the hospital puts its priority on functions of the operating theatre and generation of sufficient revenue to sustain their humanitarian efforts, there was less emphasis on service quality in comparison to actual treatment. Moreover, there was no set protocol for children patients, so there was a big separation between treatment and service because it was culturally accepted that there was simply no need to incorporate service into children’s care. The paramedics explained that they simply do not have the money to staff the room and make best use of the room. So the room served as an accessory to the hospital, but not an integral part of the hospital experience for the intended user: the children.

The room is painted beautifully with local cartoons
We need new toys for children at the hospital! Exhibit A: the eyeless Mr. Rabbit

On one hot day at the hospital, I noticed two adorable boys sitting on the bench with other adults in the waiting room. Many minutes had passed, yet no one has suggested to them that they can go play in the children’s room. I nudged my dear friend and hospital paramedic, Trupti, to offer them a playing room while they waited for their turn to see the ophthalmologist. The boys lightened up at the paramedic’s good news and widened their eyes when the room light was turned on. There, my paramedic friend and I played with the children and watched the father smile at his boys’ smiles and laughter. A few paramedics passed by and watched us play with the children, and watched how happy and energetic the children were with a few toys and a simple welcoming gesture to the children’s eye care room.

A boy and his father playing in the children’s care room
A child patient at Kalinga Eye Hospital having fun while waiting
A child patient and the children’s eye care room

Watching these two children has inspired me to make another suggestion to the Kalinga Eye Hospital: why don’t we revamp the children’s room so that not only children can have a smooth, fun experience at the hospital, but can also increase patient satisfaction for both the child and the parents? Since this room has not been used for a very long time, it also motivated the paramedics to turn this place into a gem one day. After explaining my thoughts to Director Samal, he agreed to accept donations of environmentally friendly toys and story books for children from future volunteers from Unite For Sight instead of the required 600 eyeglasses (which are very difficult to fit into two suitcases along with other essential items). Moreover, a few paramedics have given me their word that with new supplies and toys, they will bring more children into this room and give them the vision that this hospital aims to provide for all generations. I left the place promising them that I will never forget about this experience at Kalinga Eye Hospital, and that I will continually serve as their ambassador in the United States and also in South Korea. I am happy to announce that I will be serving as Unite For Sight’s campus representative and am currently working to found a Unite for Sight chapter at Brandeis.

Prior to my trip to India, which would not have been possible without the generous support from World of Work, I was conflicted in choosing my career path: hospital administration/public health or becoming a doctor. I aimed to explore both aspects of health care in India, and I am so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had. I’ve conducted patient satisfaction surveys, brainstormed marketing strategies to sustain the hospital so that it can continue to provide services to the poor, and talked with the director of the hospital about health delivery and health disparities. Yet I did not feel as connected to those to whom I was reaching at outreach camps, ophthalmologist offices, and the hospital community. Encountering these children reaffirmed my decision to pursue attending medical school because I want to help children on a personal level. I’ve also developed a newfound interest in ophthalmology, because the joy and hope I witnessed when the patients restore their vision were so compelling and unforgettable.

The reverse culture shock I’ve experienced was none like any other culture shocks in the past. The average cost of cataract surgery at Kalinga Eye Hospital is $18, and it gave me a new perspective on my value system. $18 can mean a lot of things: four cups of coffee, a shirt, an eyeliner, and a surgery that saves lives. I will forever take this experience with me, and although my internship ended it really feels like a new beginning. I have a home in India to go back to one day, and it is time for me support the hospital’s initiatives and Unite For Sight’s objectives through my actions here in the states. If you would like to support me through Unite For Sight, please consider donating here, and if you would like to get more involved in other volunteer opportunities through Kalinga Eye Hospital and other sponsor organizations, please visit NYSASDRI website here . Thank you so much for reading!

-Gloria Park, ’13

MCAD–Third Blog Post

I can’t believe the summer is over, and my internship is complete. I’m so grateful that I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. I got along extremely well with my supervisor, who is a wonderful person, as well as my coworkers. We all worked together as a team and managed to help each other out whenever in need of support. I recall the first week of work when we listened to eight hours of lectures on discrimination laws in Massachusetts, the rights of citizens and immigrants, and the role of MCAD. I have learned a wealth of knowledge about the legal field this summer, and I believe I gained the most experience from working hands-on with the public and people of different races and backgrounds in and around the Greater Boston area.

This is a pic of the building where I worked, the building is called McCormack.

My internship challenged my ability to do public speaking. My first presentation, which was at Mount Ida College, was challenging because I was nervous and timid. I was new and did not know what to expect. I had the audience ask me random questions and although I did know the answers to most of them, I remembered right them down and ask my supervisor during the appropriate time. Fortunately, I learned plenty from the audience’s questions as well as my supervisor and coworkers. I’m happy to say that my learning goals were successfully accomplished.

My last presentation was my best one because I was very confident and not only that, but I was poised and spoke loudly and clearly. I embarked on the internship with the academic goal of applying knowledge from my Legal Studies courses at Brandeis but I felt at first that I lacked self-assurance. In the end of my final presentation, the audience clapped and thanked me for presenting. I received some generous compliments, and I plan to build off this experience at Brandeis by not only sharing my knowledge, but more importantly I plan to speak out in classes more than before. I can now say that I will no longer be reluctant to speak aloud in classrooms.

This is a picture of my coworkers at the MCAD. They are all awesome people.

Now that my internship at MCAD is complete, I want to move on to something more challenging and new. Although I’m very busy during the school year (with homework, varsity soccer, and the Brandeis Labor Coalition) I plan to find a job this summer in the business field. I want to see what both sides are like, and not that I have worked in a law firm I would really like to see what a business internship is like. I hope that in the business world, my concept of social justice continues to be reinforced by other good people who are out there to make a positive difference in this world.

Attached are two links related to the MCAD in case anyone was interested in reading a bit more information.

http://www.enterprisenews.com/topstories/x780624485/Massachusetts-Commission-Against-Discrimination-finds-lack-of-probable-cause-in-discrimination-complaint-by-former-West-Bridgewater-cop

http://www.mass.gov/mcad/

 

I want to give a huge Thanks to my supervisor Becky Shuster for teaching me so much in just a couple of weeks, and to the WOW committee for this wonderful opportunity, which would not have been possible without their support.

If anyone has any questions feel free to email me at Harold10@brandeis.edu.

Culminating my internship at CBRC

My summer at the Childhood Bilingualism Research Center was very fruitful; I accomplished all of my learning goals that I had set before beginning the internship. Time flew by as I worked on experiment design and data analysis, transcribed video files and learned how to use various programs and equipment at the Center. Additionally, I gained many new skills along the way that were beyond my expectations, such as learning how to use SPSS and the eye-tracker. Day by day, I became accustomed to the pace of working in academia alongside graduate students. All of these experiences will be useful for me in the future, academically and professionally.

I embarked on the internship with the academic goal of applying theoretical knowledge from my Brandeis courses to practical research. Originally only hoping to participate in experimental design, I actually got the chance to design an experiment from scratch. I created an interactive game studying trilingual children’s acquisition of spatial relations, making it fun for 4 to 6 year olds to participate in the study. In planning the experiment, I applied concepts from the language acquisition course I took this spring semester, and searched for relevant journal articles using databases introduced to me by a Brandeis professor. In my last week, I presented my ideas to the directors of the Center, Prof. Yip and Prof. Matthews, and all of the lab members.

Welcoming Dr. Gorter and Dr. Cenoz from University of the Basque Country, Spain

Throughout the internship, starting from the Conference in May, I met and chatted with many linguistics professors from around the world who came to visit the Center here in Hong Kong. It was eye-opening and refreshing to hear about the most recent studies about multilingual education and language policies across the globe. Like many others at the Center, I took pride that Hong Kong is becoming a vibrant academic meeting point where students and scholars come together to discuss the topic of multilingualism. I believe that this increased discourse will extend into the mainstream culture and encourage more parents to raise their children multilingually. Last year, CBRC collaborated with Radio Television Hong Kong to create a hour-long TV program promoting the positive outcomes of child multilingualism. This discussion has also been featured in an International Herald Tribune op-ed piece entitled “Cantonese, Please”.

Learning how to use the eye-tracker

For those who are interested in a research internship in linguistics, I really encourage you to connect with professors, in and out of Brandeis. Many of them are very keen to get to know undergraduates who are beginning a path in linguistics. Since there are so many sub-fields in linguistics, be sure to find a professor whose research interests align with your own. They may offer you an internship if you display passion for the subject and willingness to learn.

Dim sum with Prof. Yip, Prof. Matthews and Kenneth, visiting student from Harvard

During these past eight weeks, I gained valuable knowledge that will be important for me to have as I continue my studies in linguistics at Brandeis and explore possibilities for future research. I am so grateful to my supervisor and mentor Prof. Virginia Yip, without whom none of this would be possible and whose encouragement and guidance led me to challenge myself during the internship. Thank you to all of the lab members for introducing me to everything at the Center, showing me around the CUHK campus, and making sure I achieved all of my learning goals. Last but not least, thank you so much to the WOW committee for funding this very rewarding experience.

– Miriam Wong ’14

The Month that Changed My Life

I am almost completely at a loss for words when I try to describe all that has happened to me in the last third of my internship. To say it has changed my life is an understatement. Everything is different. But first I need to explain how I got here:

In my last three weeks with Bible Raps, I got to go “on tour.” Matt, Matan, and I went to four different camps in five days, all in the gorgeous northern PA mountains. As a “camp person” myself, I love experiencing the different cultures and embracing all the different modes of camp life. I also got into the groove of my job. I knew when to start handing out the packets at the concerts, which songs to film, and I even got to jump in on some songs. I also helped to run the workshop, working with kids on learning and writing. After driving 12 hours overnight from PA to GA, we were once again at Camp Ramah Darom, my home turf. But this time, I had a lot more to do. Almost all the workshops we put on that week I ran myself. I chose and complied the text to learn, ran the study, gave the explanation, helped the kids write, and walked them through the recording. My  favorite song from the week is about Nachshon, who according to tradition was the first to walk into the sea, causing God to part the waters.  Here is a short video of the song and the recording process!

I also finished up and performed my first original Bible Rap about the book of Ruth! It was so great being able to share it with all of the counselors and kids. With more work, it will hopefully be incorporated into the Bible Raps curriculum and appear on the next album! Here’s a video and a pdf of the Torah Rap-Map.

 

All throughout that week and once I was home, I spent most of my time making videos with the rap-maps of the songs in the curriculum for teachers to use. They aren’t public yet, but I hope to share those soon!

I had such an amazing experience with Bible Raps, especially traveling and running the workshops, that I’m in discussions with Matt to continue working with them! (more on this later.)

After a week at home I was off to Montclair New Jersey for the NewCAJE conference for Jewish education. It was an incredible week. I had the opportunity to perform my Jewish music for the first time and had such amazing responses.

 

Teachers want to use my music in their classrooms and bring me in for workshops. I received encouragement from new friends and musicians that I have loved an admired all my life. I was also able to represent Bible Raps, and ran a 2 hour presentation on their behalf to five incredibly engaged educators. I learned so much from them, and all five want to bring me in for workshops this year!

This is the jump-start to a year full of singing, writing, recording, and traveling. I have been so inspired and motivated from this summer. My advice to budding artists? Just do it. Stop waiting for some future time to make it happen. That time is right now.

– Eliana Light ’13

Two months in at the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge!

I’ve now been working at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge for more than two months and things have been going great!  I’m really starting to get into the flow of things here and feel that I’ve already learned a great deal.

One of the new experiences I’ve had in the past few weeks was the opportunity to see Olive Ridley sea turtle hatchlings during the day.  Sea turtles generally hatch at night when fewer predators are on the beach and without the hot sun that can hurt the sensitive hatchlings.  Sometimes, however, the hatchlings also emerge around sunrise and I was able to snap the picture below.  Seeing how small (fits in the palm of your hand!) and vulnerable the hatchlings are makes me think about how incredible it is that any of these little guys survive long enough to grow to 45 kg. (100 lb.) as adults.  For more information about sea turtles, including nesting and hatchling behavior, see this website.

A Olive Ridley sea turtle hatching making its way to sea at sunrise while people scare away dogs and vultures.

Although I’ve always thought I would enjoy studying biology in the field, this internship has reaffirmed my desire to pursue some sort of biological fieldwork in the future.  I am looking forward to applying some of these skills to my work in the Environmental Field Semester JBS program this fall.  My other goals for this internship are to learn about the local community and to improve my Spanish vocabulary. I have been able to make a great deal of progress towards these goals in a short period of time.

I am most proud of how well I’ve come to know the beach here at Ostional.  Before coming here, I didn’t think much about factors such as the tides, sand texture, vultures and feral animals or beach debris.  However, after being here for a few months, I have become increasingly aware of the many facets of the environment here.  Much of my work here entails leading groups of volunteers on nightly beach patrols in search of turtles.  In my first few weeks as a patrol leader, I struggled to orient myself on the beach at night.  Now that I’ve gained some experience, I can recognize many landmarks on the beach, even at night, and know where I am on the beach without having to check with a light.

On July 25th, the province of Guanacaste celebrated the Anniversary of Annexation into Costa Rica.  This region of Costa Rica  was part of Nicaragua until 1824, when it was annexed by Costa Rica.  This event is celebrated every year in the province with a huge festival including traditional dances and a rodeo.  I took this photo from the side of a bull ring in the city of Nicoya.  For more information about the Annexation of Guanacaste, visit this website.

Every July 25th the Anniversary of Guanacaste is celebrated with a rodeo.

Even though my future may or may not include sea turtles, the skills I’m building in my work here are definitely applicable to my future.  Most importantly, I’ve begun to understand what it takes to undertake science in a field setting.  When compared to a laboratory, there are simply so many factors which are beyond scientists’ control, including weather, feral animals, and interference by people.  Although work in the field has many challenges, I am excited to continue my internship at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge as I consider engaging in my own field investigations one day.

 

– Sarah Steele ’13

 

 

 

The End to an Amazing Journey

M.A.S.O’s Banner

It is so crazy to think that I have finally completed my internship with Massachusetts Survivors Outreach. This will have to go down as one of the hardest summers of my life because of the high expectations and short turn around time to get all the work done. I met so many incredible people this summer who I will continue to connect with even though we are all leaving back to school. Within the span of three months, M.A.S.O has taken huge strides. We have become a non profit organization, fundraised over $5,000, and even secured an office space in Quincy. M.A.S.O has gone from a small organization into a huge Non-Profit organization that is recognized by other organizations such as Dove.

The Interns at the State House

This experience will help me throughout my Brandeis career because M.A.S.O has showed me first hand how hard work can trump over all other factors. Brandeis has taught me to question all things, even how straight forward the concept and this has made my experience with M.A.S.O much more fulfilling. Combining these two life long lessons, I feel, is an ideal that people strive to learn but never get the chance to learn first hand but I have.

After completing this internship however, there is so much more I want to look into and learn. I want to become more familiar with the court proceeding process in all kinds of courts. Since I spent all my time in family court and working with victims of domestic violence, my experience with with diverse kinds of victims and proceedings is limited. I want to know how criminal and juvenile court proceeding work as well.  I also want to try and complete my research that I started with M.A.S.O on the Economic Strain Within the Family Court System and maybe even write a thesis. All of the knowledge that I have soaked-up through out the summer makes me want to write it all down. I guess all of these Brandeis courses have drilled that kind of process in my head so where I actually want to write a long paper. HA HA!

The best advice that I would give a perspective intern is to be open to new ideas and get as many jobs you can handle during your internship. It will make the experience so much more fulfilling at the end of it all. I was hired as the pre-health intern but I did not only do research. I worked with the Business and Law students and helped them out as much as I could and from that experience, I was able to utilize not only my pre-health knowledge but also work on other areas that I could be interested in.

One of the main things that I have learned this summer is that action, even for a good cause, starts with one person. Just because you do not have the big following or the recognition that you expected, you must keep moving forward. I did not understand the concept of good organizations that help fight for great causes failing before it gets started. No matter how good your cause, you must keep fighting for it even when you think everything is going to be okay.

– Johnny Wilson ’13

Summer Protests

My mid-point was a time of a turbulent renewal of the social justice protest movement that began in the summer of 2011. At this time, marches calling for social change, specifically for a socially-conscious governmental budget, were organized and highly attended.  At Shatil and on the street, there was a feeling of anticipation for another summer of social action.  I personally felt excited for Israel and the potential for change, and also about being so involved in the social justice world at a time of change and action. Reading organization-wide conversations about the movement participating in Shatil conferences at the Knesset made me feel meaningfully involved. I felt more than just the high of marching in a protest, I had the feeling of being part of something greater, that had large impact on Israeli society.  Shatil’s work with a variety of organizations, truly enables it to have strength in numbers and make meaningful contributions on a range of issues.

Above: Photograph at the one year anniversary of the social justice protest movement in Tel Aviv

One of my learning goals this summer was to learn about the spectrum of civil society organizations and movements in Israel. Through the emails, and renewal of the social justice protest movement, I was able to learn about a range of civil society actors and organizations. Beyond this, I began a new assignment to write short examples of work Shatil has done with various organizations. Through this task I was able to talk both with Shatil consultants and leaders of organizations about the work Shatil and the various organizations do.

One of the skills that I am building right now is writing skills.  Many of my responsibilities include writing, either writing for the newsletter (check out this week’s newsletter here) and writing reports for donors. Because of this, my writing abilities have greatly improved. Another skill I have improved is communication. Many of my responsibilities, including writing for the newsletter, updating a volunteer database (check out the database here) and writing case study examples, forced me to call and talk with a range of people. This has helped improve both my language skills, as most of the conversations were in Hebrew, and my communication skills. A skill that I have gained is translation. There have been a few opportunities for me to translate documents from Hebrew into English, which I have enjoyed greatly. Through this I discovered my own gratification from doing translations. These skills are skills that I hope to bring with me to whatever my future job will be.

I am most proud of participating in a Facilitative Leadership seminar. The two-day seminar was taught entirely in Hebrew (although I was also given English materials), and I am very happy that I was able to follow, participate and learn from the seminar. The seminar included the seven practices of facilitative leadership, below.

Seven Practices of Facilitative Leadership

Tamar Schneck ’13