Week 1 at the Coalition on Human Needs: Complete!

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The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is a network of organizations sharing a similar mission: to help low-income people by advocating for human needs programs in Congress. CHN, focusing on a range of policy issues including health care, immigration, nutrition and education, facilitates the collaboration of its member organizations in two primary ways. First, CHN hosts a bi-weekly coalition meeting, the Friday Advocates’ Meeting, for representatives of the network’s member organizations. At these meetings, attendees summarize the current development of policy issues and build consensus on these issues. Second, CHN disseminates information to its member organizations and the general public through its website (http://www.chn.org/) and by emailing its network of over 60 thousand individuals across the nation. For example, its newsletter, the Human Needs Report, published every other Friday while Congress is in session, discusses national policy issues affecting the low-income population. The office is small, with a full-time staff of four women in addition to a seasonal consultant and me as the sole intern. CHN is located at 1120 Connecticut Avenue in Washington D.C. (a sixteen minute walk from where I am living!).

After only only four days, I am looking forward to the responsibility that will be delegated to me in this internship.  Each week, CHN publishes a Sequestration Impact Report, which highlights some specific effects that the sequestration cuts have had on certain cities and states.

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I wrote this week’s Sequestration Impact Report (http://www.chn.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Sequester-Impact-June-8dw2-Autosaved.pdf), which required compiling articles detailing the sequestration’s impact and writing short summaries of the stories. After Deborah Weinstein, the Executive Director of CHN, edited my report, it was published on the website, which was exciting. Many of the member organizations use the reports, and it’s very fulfilling to know that I contributed to this publication. On Thursday, I had lunch with my boss, CHN’s Communications Manager, Danica Johnson. The lunch was mostly designed to get to know each other, but we also set up a meeting for early next week to further discuss my internship goals and expectations.

As of now, I know I will be able to voice the specific area of work (either field work, lobbying, communications) and the policy issues that I would like to focus on. Danica also told me that if I’m interested in writing, I could potentially write an article for the Human Needs Report, which would require researching a policy issue (this is something I am eager to do!).

After just a week into my internship, I am confident that I will learn a great deal this summer. Because CHN is concerned with several policy areas, I will not only become well versed in each issue, but I will be able to see their unique overlap and mutual dependencies. In addition, I will observe the strategies that CHN uses to build agreement within its network on how to take action. I will also witness the sensitive and careful approach CHN must take when drafting its articles so as not to offend or infringe upon the missions of any of its many member organizations.

Last summer, I worked as an intern at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) in Washington, D.C., which crystallized my goal to establish my career in non-profit work. Throughout this academic year, I evaluated several organizations whose missions emphasized social action through political advocacy. Whereas FRAC was narrowly focused on the issue of hunger, CHN’s broader policy agenda has a greater appeal to me. Before being offered the internship, I was interviewed by Danica Johnson, CHN’s communications manager, who contacted my references and consulted with the CHN staff. I accepted her offer and geared up for a great summer!

– Zoe Richman ’15

My First Week at the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination

This summer, I am interning at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in Boston.  MCAD is the state’s main civil rights law enforcement agency.  Its mission is to eliminate discrimination in housing, education, and employment, as well as other areas.  The Commission accepts and investigates complaints of discrimination.  MCAD also performs outreach education to groups that may be likely to experience discrimination, and provides workplace-based training for employees and employers.  Here is a link to the Commission’s homepage, which provides information for employees, individuals, and employers about discrimination law.

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One of the conference rooms where we had housing discrimination training.

As an Outreach Intern, I will be working on the Commission’s SEED (Spreading Education to End Discrimination) project, which aims to provide information about civil rights to members of populations that are likely to experience discrimination.  For the next few weeks, my responsibilities will include contacting various community organizations that serve marginalized populations, and planning outreach programs with them.  As I begin to schedule these programs, I will travel to these sites to give informational presentations. This is a brief description of the intake process, for an individual who decides to file a complaint.

I found this internship through idealist.org.  I was looking for a job that combined advocacy, social justice, and the law, and this one seemed particularly intriguing.  I emailed the Director my resume, cover letter, and a writing sample, and she responded requesting an interview.  About a week after my interview, and after some dialogue between us, the Director emailed me offering the position.

My first week included four days of intensive training.  I learned a great deal about discrimination law, the complaint process at MCAD (from the initial complaint through the investigative hearings), and presentation skills.  While I received a lot of important information that I have to remember and understand, the training was very interesting, and will be useful when I inform others about their rights, and their ability to utilize the Commission in seeking justice.

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The pamphlets and handouts that we give to the participants during our presentations.

There are only three other undergraduates interning at the Commission, as well as several law school students.  I learned what brought each student to this opportunity as well as the particular roles and responsibilities of each position.

My expectations for this summer include improving my verbal presentation skills, and learning how to succinctly explain people’s civil rights in a way that is understandable for people of various backgrounds.  I also hope to expand my own knowledge and understanding of discrimination law.  Mostly, though, I want to leave the internship feeling that I have actually helped people more effectively stand up for their rights, and not feel powerless at the hands of discriminatory landowners or employers.

11,817 Miles Later

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The Bairo Pite Clinic (BPC) is a community health center founded after East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesia that left the nation’s health service infrastructure severely damaged. The BPC strives to provide primary health care to some of the poorest people in the world. Every day they serve over 300 patients from all over the country, and they are open until every patient is seen. The clinic is established and financed entirely by contributions and at times is aided by governmental and non-governmental organizations.

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Patients waiting to be seen at the Bairo Pite Clinic

At Brandeis, I am a member of the Project Plus One Student Chapter, which supports the Bairo Pite Clinic. Being involved in the club, I became familiar with the clinic and its efforts to empower the local community to provide healthcare for its members. I also met with a few Brandeis students who have volunteered at the clinic in the past with the organization and I wanted to get more involved by travelling to the clinic. I applied to the clinic through their application process and was invited to volunteer for the summer.

At the BPC, I participate in rounds every morning at 8:00 with Dr. Dan, the director of the clinic, Dr. Simon and other volunteer medical doctors and medical students to see the in-patients. I spend time with the volunteer doctors overseeing assignments and assisting with the application of treatments, making sure the appropriate medications are taken as prescribed and helping nurses take vital signs and record information. I facilitate in patient admittance, in recording patient history, and in communicating and relaying information between doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, and other staff members at the clinic.

After my first week of the internship, I am finding myself falling into a routine at the clinic. In the beginning, it was a bit disorienting trying to figure out the system of the clinic, locating which ward was what or where, and trying to help out in a capacity that I am able to. Now I find myself able to introduce and explain the clinic to new medical volunteers and understand some of my limitations and capabilities at the clinic. Every day I observe rounds in the morning and in the late afternoon. After rounds, the medical students are delegated tasks or follow-ups with patients. This week I was able to observe a few Ziehl-Neelson stains, which is a method to test patients for tuberculosis (a common illness in East Timor), a lumbar puncture, several electrocardiograms (EKGs), and diagnostic tests for malaria and Dengue fever. The medical students and doctors have been very kind and supportive, explaining many of these procedures to me and the results of these tests. I feel that just by being here for only a week so far, I have learned quite a bit.

For this summer, I want learn more about how health care in a developing country operates, and how it faces its problems, such as a limited supply of resources. Already by observing the doctors and the clinic, I am seeing the pieces to this puzzle. In addition, I hope to continue to observe and learn more medical procedures and medical techniques used at the clinic and be familiar with the tools used by these providers.

Alice Luu ’14

The Dove Foundation Week 1: Very Nice in Varanasi

Namaste from the exotic, hectic, sweltering, holy city of Varanasi, India! On my daily rickshaw ride to The Dove Foundation, the vibrant colors, smells, and sounds of Varanasi bombard my senses. The Dove Foundation, is the largest youth-led non-profit organization in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The foundation aims to provide quality healthcare and education, and to expand educational and employment opportunities to youth members of marginalized communities, with a high emphasis on urban slums. At 3 years old, the Dove has already established three programs including Project Arambh, which has received the 2010 MTV Staying Alive Foundation Award.  Project Arambh provides HIV/AIDS and reproductive health education to the low-caste community of bicycle rickshaw pullers in India. The Dove Foundation also runs two other programs: The Youth Education Program (2011), and the Community Involvement Program (2012).

I found the Dove Foundation through internship site leads posted on the Brandeis India Initiative website. I emailed Abhinav Singh, the listed Dove contact person, showing general interest in their organization over winter break.  I soon received an enthusiastic response that we might be able to work together.

As a Communication Intern for the Dove, I will help develop the organization’s online fundraising campaign; create a short promotional video about various programs sponsored by the organization that will be distributed on social media sites and webpages; facilitate programs for members of the marginalized communities that Dove assists; write and edit web content and brochures; and manage the Foundation’s social media sites.

When I first arrived at the Indian Medical Association Building, where Dove Foundation is based, I was thrilled to finally meet Abhinav Singh and Mohita Keshware, my two internship coordinators with whom I had been corresponding with since last winter.  Both introduced me to several other Dove volunteers, all less than 35 years old.  The youthful spirit and energy of the group of volunteers is contagious, and makes working for this organization much more fun. I’ve already picked up some interesting slang from my co-workers.

The first week, the Dove organized the World Blood Donation 2013 mega event.  My first day at work involved advertising the Dove Foundation’s blood donation campaign in Varanasi’s bustling IP Sigra Mall.  This was fantastic exposure.  I met up with other Dove volunteers, and learned several phrases in Hindi about the blood drive:

Didje to-fa dzindi ghee-ka: Donate blood, save a life!

Ya “Blood Donate” carne aye gha!:  Come Donate blood now!

Also… Apke sahg-nam kiya-he? : What is your name?

The following day, I visited a local ashram/ orphanage with Dove volunteers to create a skit for a street theater performance with the young children for The Dove Foundation’s World Blood Donation Day rally.  For this, I learned more lines in Hindi, and felt warmed by the bright faces of the young boys.

The rally was the most exciting part of my first week.  An open-backed van mounted with several large speakers pulled into our office parking lot for the rally event.  We decorated the van with vinyl posters and white and red balloons on all sides. The van blasted music as it drove towards the IP Sigra Mall, where  a large crowd gathered. After we performed our skit for a hundred or so pedestrians, the van drove to its second destination, the gates of Benares Hindu University, for a flash mob performance to promote World Blood Donation Day 2013.  A procession of motorcycles roared along the van’s path and volunteers holding signs followed the van as it reached the destination. As the van made frequent stops to announce its campaign to the community, volunteers distributed informational pamphlets and free coupons to a local restaurant.

Rallying for World Blood Donor’s Day 2013

At the gates of the university, loud music began to play and a group of fifteen dancers gathered behind the van.  The crowd circled around them, and the dance troupe broke out in a choreographed hip-hop piece. In addition to publicizing World Blood Donation Day, and passing out pamphlets, and acting in a Hindi skit at the rally, I also took pictures.

Overall, my first week at the Dove Foundation made me even more excited to be working for a group of energized creative individuals for the rest of my summer. I anticipate learning much about how non-profits function in non-western countries, in addition to understanding the conditions and issues facing the marginalized populations the Dove Foundation assists.

 

Preparing street theater skit for the rally

Check out my more frequently updated blog…more focused on cultural musings and interesting tidbits about my travels in India.

Aliza Gans ‘ 15

Life in the Middle of Osa’s Rainforests

¡Pura vida a todos! “Pura vida” literally means “pure life”, but what a wonderful sign it is that it is also a very common greeting here, unique to Costa Rica! It is actually more than just “hello”: it can also mean “goodbye”, “OK”, “cool”, “all right”, “I’m fine, thank you”, and a whole slew of other things! It is also true that everyone here is super nice and loves de-stressing, but before all this ad-libbing about Costa Rican life, here is the most important baseline information about my summer:

Osa Conservation (Conservación Osa) is a non-profit organization that protects and promotes the immense biodiversity on the Osa Peninsula: home to >50% of all of Costa Rica’s living species and therefore 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity (all of Costa Rica has 5%). The peninsula originated as a separate large island in the Pacific but merged with Central America about 2 million years ago, which explains Osa’s tremendous biodiversity. Living things are known to evolve faster on islands—a likelihood that resulted in a vast number of endemic species and very unique tropical ecosystems found nowhere else in our solar system. In short, Osa is truly and absolutely a stellar physical environment. Learn more about the organization HERE.

I live 24/7 at the Greg Gund Conservation Center: a research station situated in the middle of protected secondary rainforest, several of Osa Conservation’s reforestation plantations, and adjacent to Corcovado National Park. Despite living among jaguars, pumas, and ocelots, to my surprise everyone here sleeps very soundly with their doors and windows completely open. But actually to my surprise—I had no idea about this norm until after waking up from a nap my first afternoon upon arrival with my eyes wide open literally being able to see nothing—all I saw was black. Nothing at all like turning all of your house lights off—no. You open your eyes wide, wiggle them frantically all around, and can see NOTHING. I felt my way over to close all windows and doors and huddled in fetal position on my bed prepared to fight because my supervisor told me earlier that day that interns have come and left literally the next day because they could not stand the darkness or scary rainforest sounds at night. If I am going to learn to survive in the jungle, I need a flashlight ASAP. Thankfully, my supervisor stopped by a few minutes later, told me that there is no danger, and this jungle is now my home.

The research station is a tightly-knit community of local staff and researchers. I sleep 2 minutes away from where my supervisor does, which is great because we get to throw ideas back and forth often and get to know each other better. I believe this is somewhat how research life is; dreaming, eating, sleeping, and breathing what you love in pursuit of making the world a better place. I am super excited to be living it now.

I got this opportunity with the help of a former Brandeis student who was Osa Conservation’s General Manager until just recently. She came to speak to my ecology class last semester, we networked over coffee at Einstein’s, and we corresponded through e-mail to discuss project opportunities that lay at a crossroads between each of our interests before putting together our funding application.

I am working here on monitoring a 20-year-old reforestation plantation of Bombacopsis quinata regarding the amount of atmosphere-sequestered carbon that the area stores as a means of providing a model that can help further research about general trends in tropical-rainforest regeneration, the potential for tropical rainforests to serve as carbon sinks with which to mitigate climate change, and optimal parameters for future tropical-forest conservation projects (especially those in which Osa is involved). This survey will also include edge-effect and species-specific information so as to target more potential information about regenerating tropical rainforests. Here is a great guide for all carbon-measuring projects, and therefore the one I am using for this project: HERE. I have also served as translator for student groups led by local hiking guides.

During my first week here I met the majority of Osa’s staff and other researchers working with Osa, learned to navigate the “backyard” (AKA forest) where I will be working alone using a map and GPS, and worked on the experimental design aspect of the monitoring project, which involved days of staring at the computer learning how to work with completely new but immensely valuable GIS software, a key part of almost all environmental research. What takes years of learning curves I learned in about 2 days…my eyes hurt a little! My supervisor is very helpful conceptually but likes to be hand-off in the practical sense; a method which feels very conducive to learning and growth. Throughout this summer, I hope to learn much more about conducting reliable forestry research and ways through which to effectively communicate environmental-conservation news to audiences with weaker environmental consciences.

I will send love from Brandeis to all of the lizards, iguanas, snakes, toads, pelicans, monkeys, and scarlet-macaw couples I see!

Nick Medina ’14

A map of the rainforest patch  I am working with that I made using the GIS program I learned. I live in "Cerro Osa", ~800m along the blue trail from the plantation.
A map of the rainforest patch I am working with that I made using the GIS program I learned. I live in “Cerro Osa”, ~800m along the blue trail from the plantation.

 

A pregnant spider monkey hanging out at an Osa research station!
A pregnant spider monkey hanging out at an Osa research station!
My supervisor and I ready for work!
My supervisor and I ready for work!

Week One as a National Consumers League Intern

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This summer, I am interning at the National Consumers League in Washington, D.C. as a Louis D. Brandeis Social Justice WOW Fellow. As America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, NCL represents consumers and workers on issues including Internet fraud, child labor, and food safety. I discovered this internship through the Hiatt Career Center, and became immediately interested in NCL’s work in promoting international consumer protection and social justice. As a public policy intern, I primarily research public policies relating to consumer fraud. I will also be updating NCL’s websites, drafting content for NCL’s LifeSmarts competition, and helping coordinate meetings of the Alliance Against Fraud organization.

During the past week, I began my first extensive research project on senior fraud. By researching successful senior educational programs and individuals who have passionately argued for more online scam control, I learned about the numerous cases of financial scams specifically targeted at seniors. Although many cases are unreported, seniors are often victims of health care, insurance, telemarketing, Internet, and lottery scams. To gain more knowledge and different perspectives, I attended a roundtable discussion, where Google’s DC Public Policy Manager discussed the company’s interest in improving online safety and technology for older adults. Existing educational programs for online safety have benefited younger generations, but have yet to reach seniors who are more vulnerable to fraud.

U.S. House of Representative Marsha Blackburn
U.S. House of Representative Marsha Blackburn at
“All Eyes on Privacy: Transparency in the New Economy”

I also had the opportunity to attend All Eyes on Privacy: Transparency in the New Economy, an event hosted by Allstate, National Journal, and The Atlantic. Key speakers including U.S. House of Representative Marsha Blackburn and The Honorable Jon Leibowitz discussed their perspectives on the impact of technology and government collection of data on consumer privacy. While some panelists strictly argued that the collection of data was a violation of consumers right to privacy, others saw the government’s decision as a necessity for the protection of the country against potential threats and attacks. According to the Allstate and National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, the biggest risk associated with data collection was identity theft, one of the biggest concerns associated with senior fraud.

In addition to my research on senior Internet fraud and privacy, I am also studying the impact of high airline cancellation and change fees on consumers. In 2008, airlines began charging consumers to check bags in response to high fuel costs. Since then, airlines started charging consumers with fees on food, drinks, priority boarding, seating arrangements, and extra leg room. Some airlines have even created policies that require overweight passengers to purchase an additional seat. Recently, major airlines have increased ticket change fees from $150 to $200. Airlines are profiting immensely from these fees while consumers continue to struggle to meet the already high airline prices. The government has carried out the three-hour flight delay law to protect consumers from long delays, but has yet to find solutions or alternatives to rising fees.

I am impressed by NCL’s over 100 years of advocacy and the positive changes NCL has made in many lives. This past week has been a truly new experience attending conferences and events. Fellow interns and I had a wonderful time helping out at NCL’s Child Labor Awareness Film Event, where we revealed some of the brutal conditions children are forced to work under. Many children sacrifice their education in order to support their families. I was once again reminded of my responsibility to make efforts to eliminate child labor internationally. I strongly believe that every child deserves an education, and I am proud to say that I am part of an organization that provides opportunities and protection for underprivileged children, seniors, and consumers. For the next upcoming months, I desire to use my international experiences and leadership skills to learn how to accentuate the rights of consumers and workers using public policies by performing detailed and through research and gaining first hand experiences at hearings and conferences.

Fellow interns and I (middle) at the
Child Labor Awareness Film Event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exact Change: Working With The Oregon Bus Project

“Driving Votes. Driving Leaders. Driving Change.“

This is the motto of the non-profit organization I am working for this summer, The Oregon Bus Project.

The Bus Project was started in 2002 by a group of young Portland leaders in a bar who had a vision for local democracy. They were discontent with the status quo of politics, and decided that they wanted to turn things around by reinvigorating civic involvement among average citizens.  So they bought a bus, and recruited volunteers to make real political change and empower a new generation of democracy. They took the bus across the state, helped progressive thinkers win local elections, registered over 70,000 voters, and got thousands of people involved in the process.

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Two years later, in 2005, the organization created a political organizing and leadership development fellowship program called “PolitiCorps”. The 10 week, bootcamp-like fellowship, was designed to train young leaders who were ready to commit themselves full time to working in public service. It developed into a vigorous and effective program, with close to 85% of each year’s 24 fellows going on to work in the public-service sector after graduation.

Eight years later, the program is still going strong. As the field intern on staff, my responsibilities are to assist the Field Director with all of the off-site events and activities, to act as a mentor to the fellows once they arrive, and to implement and sustain a social-media plan for the program.

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Oregon Bus Project Reception

 

Over the past three weeks, we have been planning the educational curriculum, field training logistics, and program needs, to get ready for June 17th; the first day PolitiCorps 2013.

Instead of discussing my first week, I have decided to write my first entry on my first “phase” of my internship: Pre-Arrival Program Preparation.

I arrived to my internship to find the office space of The Bus in disarray. In the past year, the cost of rent had increased four-fold. This turned out to be a problem for our non-profit due to the fact that… we are a non-profit. Like many 501(c)3 organizations, The Bus Project operates on a fairly small budget. This year’s budget was especially low, due to the fact that net donations (the major source of funding) rise and fall cyclically with political election cycles. Due to the fact that 2013 is a relatively “unexciting” election year in Oregon and the nation, the budget this year is very small. This means that we’ve had to compensate for the 400% increase in cost of rent by consolidating the office into ¼ the space that it took up until now.In addition to getting rid of defunct equipment and furniture that we no longer needed, the individual offices turned into group work-pods (determined by department of the organization).

Although the consolidation of office space might sound unfortunate and less than desirable, the final product we ended up with was more efficient, social, and utilitarian. Everything had a place, and we were able to transform the office into an overall more effective center from which to plan, and eventually facilitate, the 2013 PolitiCorps program.

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In addition to office reconfiguration, my duties have been in securing food and supply donations from local businesses (to alleviate program costs), coordinating local events for the fellows to participate in over the next four weeks, and developing a field-safety seminar to deliver to the fellows during program orientation.

Over the next few weeks, in addition to continuously registering first-time voters all across the state, the program fellows will *democratically* decide which social-justice public interest organizations they would like to plan and deliver a campaign-plan for. They will work 7 days a week, for 13 hours a day, for 10 weeks. My job will be to help make sure they stay safe, sane, and on track.

Noah Litwer  ’15

PolitiCorps staff (Me on the far left)
PolitiCorps staff (I’m on the far left)

Fina House: Week 1

This summer I am interning at the YWCA Fina House in Lawrence, MA. The Fina House was opened in 2005 and houses low-income individuals, teen mothers, and homeless domestic violence survivors. The mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism and empower women.  Being an Hispanic woman myself I share this goal. Initially I heard about Fina House from a friend who had wanted to volunteer there. I contacted different members until I was finally able to discuss the idea of a potential internship with the co-director of Women’s Services. The process went smoothly, they had had other interns before, and I was more than willing to partake in this experience.

My employment officially began on June 10th. I will be working on two separate projects; one with the Family Counselor on the Child Advocacy Project (CAP) and the other with TPP (Teen Parenting Program). Part of the mission of the Child Advocacy Project is “to assist victims and their families to stabilize, initiate healing from trauma, and take steps to seek justice”. The children in the CAP are victims of sexual abuse or rape; there are 12 kids currently in the program. We are reaching out to collaborate with local programs to establish a recreational activity for the kids to get involved with. The Teen Parenting Program focuses on empowering young women through self-esteem/financial workshops to help them become economically/emotionally independent. I have been assigned to host workshops with the 8 young women twice a week. One day will be geared towards Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood (PAYA) and the other will be an active workshop in which we will focus on their health by doing physical activities.

All of this seemed quite overwhelming at first, but the staff at Fina have been extremely helpful and welcoming. On my first day on the job I went with a staff member to the YWCA in the nearby town of Haverhill. The staff member and another colleague were hosting a presentation on domestic violence. It was an eye opening experience witnessing the impact that their words had on the audience. One young female sitting in the crowd sobbed quietly. After the presentation, both YWCA employees went to the young girl and offered their services to help in whatever situation she might be going through.

My experience with Fina so far has been warm and positive; this week I will begin to instruct the TPP girls with the PAYA material. I chose to begin with Personal Care, Health, Social Skills, and Safety (the basics, and we can dive into the more difficult topics later on).

I feel very honored to be working with a group of determined, strong women helping other women become self sufficient and empowered. My career plans are to involve myself with non-profits and gain experience and knowledge on how to effectively provide the most help to individuals. Working at Fina House will be an important step in helping me accomplish my goals and I am sure that I will develop more goals throughout the summer.

Side View of Fina House
Side View of Fina House
The Mission of the YWCA & also Mine
The Mission of the YWCA & also mine

– Daniela Ayala ’15

Week One at the U.S. Attorney’s Office

D.O.J. Seal

Hi everyone!  This summer, I will be interning at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice; each state has at least one U.S. Attorney’s Office that investigates and prosecutes violations of federal statutes.  I am interning at the Eastern District New York Office on Long Island in the Criminal Division, which deals with the enforcement of federal criminal laws within the district.  As an intern at the office, my role is to work with Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Paralegal Specialists in trial preparation and various administrative assignments.

I also have my own projects including conducting legal research and drafting legal briefs.  Some of these things I had previously gained exposure to at my internship at the District Attorney’s Office in Suffolk County, Long Island last summer.  In fact, it was actually through a reference from my mentor at that internship that I discovered the position at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Go networking!

I should mention that if the descriptions of the work that I do at my internship sound vague or imprecise, it is not unintentional.   I was told at least a few hundred times during my orientation that I would be privy to sensitive information at the office that I could not discuss.  I am also unable to bring a camera into the federal building to take photographs of my work environment, so you may have to use your imagination.

Nevertheless, last Friday was orientation day.  All of the interns congregated in the office library (which unbeknownst to me at the time would become intern HQ for the summer).  We received packets of paperwork to sign and submit, watched informational and inspirational videos about our roles, and went on a tour of the building.  At the end of the day, each intern was assigned one Assistant U.S. Attorney and/or Paralegal Specialist to work with.  Out of the 30 or so interns, 27 were law students (which came as no surprise to me, since I was one of the only college students at my last legal internship, as well) who were paired with Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Criminal or Civil Division.  The three college interns, myself and two others, were paired with a Paralegal Specialist.

During my first two days, I had mainly administrative and office duties to perform such as scanning documents, organizing trial exhibits into binders, and copying documents for discovery.  I also had the opportunity to observe a jury trial in federal court, which was fascinating to watch since I had already seen hours of district court proceedings.  Over the last two days, I have been working alongside my Paralegal Specialist on drafting answers to complaints for civil cases (which my Paralegal Specialist assured me I would have to write for my Bar Exam so it’s good that I’m starting early!).  Once I master the format for drafting these answers, I can expect to do more work on preparing briefs on my own.

(Courtesy of http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/images/fullcourtroom.jpg)
(Courtesy of http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/images/fullcourtroom.jpg)

What has stood out about my internship to this point is that interns are trusted to complete vital tasks that not only benefit the office, but also the interns’ prospective legal careers.  In addition, more than any job or internship I’ve ever had, I’ve found that the interns are a very close-knit group.  All of us work together on the same two floors; we all eat lunch together, do research in the library – you’d be hard-pressed to find an intern at this office in a group of fewer than three.  And even though some of the other interns are as much as a decade older than me, some of the most educational moments I’ve had have been in conversations with them, which have provided me with a preview of law school, applying to work at law firms and the legal environment in general.  I am looking forward to the upcoming intern social events (we have a summer 5K run, a pizza party, and a softball game against the U.S. Marshals on the calendar), so I can continue to hear more of their stories.  Hopefully by my next blog post, I will have learned everyone’s names!

– Ricky Rosen ’14

First Week (back) in ParaDEIS

As a WOW fellow I am so happy to be joining a group of engaged, motivated and adventurous students. While this year’s WOW fellows span the globe from India to LA, South Africa to Vietnam, I have begun my summer work in more familiar ground: Waltham, Massachusetts. I am working in the Laboratory for Biological Health Psychology right here at Brandeis University. Though my surroundings are familiar, my experience thus far feels new and exciting. Waltham as a city has much more to offer than I realized: local cuisine (Lizzy’s Ice Cream? In a Pickle?!), a farmers market en plein air,  a beautiful bike path, an outstanding thrift shop, and there’s still more to find! I am living independently and looking forward to this opportunity to expand my self-reliance and personal initiative.

Health psychology is a fascinating new field, and I am particularly interested in it as I intend to pursue a career that promotes both psychological and physiological wellness. The Laboratory for Biological Health Psychology investigates how psychosocial states – such as anxiety, depression, acute stress and chronic stress – can affect our health, and the intracellular pathways that link these mental states to physical outcomes. I became interested in this lab while taking Health Psychology at Brandeis. I expressed my interest to my TA, and she put me in contact with the professor in charge. I began attending lab meetings, and was offered a position as a summer research assistant.

As a research assistant in this lab I am primarily working on a new, upcoming study known as Athletes and Stress. The lab team consists of one head professor, several Ph.D. and masters students, myself, and one other undergraduate research assistant. This team is inspiring, diverse, friendly, helpful and funny, and it is an enjoyable environment to work in. Athletes and Stress is a large and long-term project looking at differences in the emotional and biological stress response in student athletes, active non-athletes, and minimally active. The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which these three groups differ in their stress responses, and determine the potential contributing factors for these group differences.

My lab responsibilities are varied and will change over the course of the summer. While we await final project approval from the Institutional Review Board, I am being trained in the lab protocol and procedure, learning about equipment use, helping to set up and format the two-week take-home diary portion of the study, and doing literature search and review. Next week I will also be joining a subgroup within Athletes and Stress. This group of graduate students is working on writing papers from different angles relevant to the study. I will be helping find sources for their papers, peer-edit their work, and engage in frequent group discussions.

I will be concentrating on the diary portion of Athletes and Stress as I am being allowed to do an independent focus on data collected in the diary. For this independent portion I am doing lots of literature review.  If you’re interested in learning a bit more about how stress affects our health and the types of research being done in this area, check out this fantastic documentary on the work of Robert Sapolsky. Sapolsky is a neuroendocrinologist and professor at Stanford University, and a leading researcher in this field.

This summer I am looking forward to learning the many steps that go into conceptualizing, creating, and conducting a psychological study. Since I am joining in its preliminary stages, I have the chance to see how a research question is developed into a full-fledged study.  I hope to learn what sort of complications psychological researchers face and how we can overcome these obstacles. I also hope to learn what aspects of research ignite my interest and my personal challenges and strengths. I think this will be a summer of learning and growth, and I am excited to have begun!

– Clara Gray ’15

 

My First Week at American Jewish World Service

Hi everyone! I have just finished my first week of my internship at American Jewish World Service. AJWS is a nonprofit organization that seeks to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. That mission statement is a mouthful, which is why I was so interested to learn more about all of the work that AJWS does.  I first found out about the organization a few years ago, when my cousin went on a service trip with AJWS to Ghana.  When I saw the posting on Hiatt’s B.Hired website, I got very excited because I already knew about some of the great work AJWS was doing.  I immediately replied and made an effort to speak with my cousin about her experience with the organization before my interviews, so that I’d have a more thorough understanding of its work.

This is the logo for American Jewish World Service.
This is the logo for American Jewish World Service.

My internship is located at the AJWS New York office in Manhattan. I am working in the Development, with both the Donor Engagement and Major Gifts teams.  Both teams assign me projects and I have a series of meetings with members of each team over the course of the summer, so that I can learn about the work that they do and their roles in the organization.

Currently, I am working on a few projects. My main project right now is to assemble issue-based portfolios for donors who are particularly interested in one aspect of AJWS’s work. Each issue will get one portfolio, which will aggregate all of the information on that topic. The issues I’m currently working on are women/girls, LGBTI rights/sexual health and rights, natural resource rights, disaster response, and peace/conflict work. I have really enjoyed working on these issues, and I think it’s a great project to start with because it has really exposed me to a lot of information about the organization. To create a portfolio, I have to go through hundreds of publications to find the right information, presented the right way. Through this, I have learned a lot about AJWS’s grantee organizations in developing countries, the grassroots organizing they are doing, and the diverse ways these small but empowered groups can create change.

The cover of a publication included in the "Women and Girls" issue folder.
The cover of a publication included in the “Women and Girls” issue folder.

My other projects are not as large-scale, but are also teaching me a lot about nonprofit development. I am helping to organize a spreadsheet of possible venues for AJWS’s upcoming gala fundraiser by looking at what other large nonprofits are doing. Additionally, I am working to research and organize data on donors in specific areas so that when AJWS hosts events there, they are able to invite everyone who might want to be involved. For some geographic areas, I am researching the Jewish community to determine the major institutions and organizations there.

In addition to the work I’m assigned, I also have the opportunity to meet many important people in the organization. Our internship program is very comprehensive, and includes the opportunity to have lunch with the president of AJWS, Ruth Messenger, as well as other members of the executive board! Additionally, AJWS has a tradition called “Brown bags,” where everyone brings their lunches to a conference room to listen to a visiting grantee speak about his or her experience.  This week, a grantee from Haiti came to speak about his work organizing young law students to form a legal accompaniment service for those who need it the most. I found this fascinating and was really glad to have the opportunity to hear him speak.

My first week at AJWS has been really great. It is a fantastic working environment- everyone is incredibly friendly and considerate, and made me feel at home right away. I am enjoying the work I’m doing, and I feel that my supervisors are inclusive and making a strong effort to help me understand development and the goals of AJWS. Aside from meeting with various members of the two teams I’m working with, I also got to participate in a training called “Social Styles,” which taught me a lot about professional styles in the work place. The other interns and I all discussed our personality types and were trained in meeting people where they are, creating a more cohesive and understanding working environment for everyone. This summer, I expect to learn not only about development and fundraising (including improving technical skills like databases and excel), but also to learn a lot about teamwork and professionalism. This is my first 9-5 job and I’m loving it so far!

Learn more about AJWS:

AJWS Website

Global Voices: The AJWS Blog Site

– Shira Almeleh ’14

Day 10 Without a Tick Incident

This summer I am conducting environmental research under the guidance of Professor Eric Olson at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. The Heller School focuses on utilizing interdisciplinary research, with public engagement, to respond to an ever-changing society.

After several meetings with Professor Olson last semester, we created a project focusing on gathering baseline data of the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) nymph population within the town of Weston, Massachusetts. It is critical to collect this data now because Weston legalized deer hunting last July. One of the many justifications for this legislation was that by controlling the deer population, there should be a gradual decline in the tick population. Decreasing the tick population is important since this would reduce the instance of diseases like Lyme disease and Babesiosis.

In preparation for this research, Professor Olson and I traveled to the University of Rhode Island to meet with Dr. Thomas Mather, the Director of URI’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease and the TickEncounter Resource Center. Dr. Mather has been conducting tick based research and promoting tick-bite awareness for more than 20 years. His experience made him the ideal person to discuss our proposed research with. Beyond meeting with Professor Olson and me, Dr. Mather allowed us to be trained with the rest of his team. Under the guidance of Jason LaPorte, a research assistant at the TickEncounter Resource Center, Professor Olson and I were taught how to flag for ticks and how to keep the ticks that have been collected alive for later studies. This training has been invaluable and an incredible start to the summer.

Most people would think that field research would involve something like trekking through a tropical rainforest with huge backpacks of supplies. Or maybe, they think of a massive sailboat in the middle of the ocean with various pieces of large equipment for taking samples. I on the other hand, was shown that research could begin in a place as bizarre as a fabric store. Using these supplies, and the URI training, I was able to make the flags and vials for collecting ticks (see below).

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Through this research, I hope to prepare myself for a career in environmental research. I have completed several other field research projects, though none have been quite as extensive as this research. Completing a project that spans multiple months will help me confirm that field research is a realistic career. Furthermore, I plan on applying my lab knowledge by processing the ticks for the diseases mentioned above. The prevalence of tick-borne illness is commonly debated; by testing the ticks collected (more than 200 have been collected in less then a week of field work), I will be able to make a more accurate estimation of the prevalence of diseases within Weston.  By combining field and lab techniques, the research will be more comprehensive and thorough.

For more information on Weston’s Deer Management Program, please visit: bit.ly/14z1pAg

I hope everyone’s summer is off to a great start.

– Adam Krebs ’14

Finally!

The big, dusty blue and white striped tent that I’ve seen in so many pictures came into view as we drove up to the entrance of Tui Ni Duse Pre-School. Already from about two blocks away, beautiful smiles, inquisitive stares, and shy waves welcomed me to the squatter camp where the school is located in Epako, Namibia. The tent is the only unique marker that separates Tui Ni Duse from the hundreds of other tin house complexes and makeshift stick fences that populate the squatter camp. As I opened the car door and stepped into the bright sunshine, all eyes seemed to follow me—something I’d already grown accustomed to in my first few days in Namibia where people are mostly either white or black. For about the twelfth time in the past five days, I wish I had a shirt that reads, “I’m not Chinese…I’m Korean,” because of the somewhat negative attitudes towards Chinese people in Namibia, mostly due to the invasion of Chinese building or business projects during the past couple of years. But the curious eyes that stared at me soon turned into excited crescent smiles as they realized Teacher Daniel’s sister had finally arrived.

My first day at Tui Ni Duse was a day I had been anticipating for months! After hearing so much about it from my dad and my brother, who had visited before, and after spending half a semester researching the Namibian education system and similar schools in developing countries for a final project, I was itching to put all my academic knowledge to use. This summer internship at three Namibian schools—Tui Ni Duse, a private pre-school for street children and children who cannot afford to go to government schools; Gobabis Gymnasium School, a government approved private school; and a Namibian public primary school—would not only allow me to pursue my love of teaching in a setting that is close to my heart, but would also give me the opportunity to practice my recently discovered passion for anthropology.

Accordingly, my first week has been spent visiting all three schools, meeting with headmasters and working out my weekly schedule for the next seven weeks. Luckily, my sparse Afrikaans was not a problem as most people also speak English. However, I am glad to say that as a combined result of interest and necessity, my Afrikaans is rapidly improving. It has become crucial for me to learn Afrikaans to teach the children at Tui Ni Duse because they are bilingual in Afrikaans and Damara, their mother tongue which I can only hope to start to learn because of its various clicking sounds that most non-native speakers find challenging.

Of the three schools, I have only yet taught at Tui Ni Duse, where I have observed a need for clearer communication between teacher and students as well as between staff members. At most, the five-year-old school that started as a day care for the squatter camp community has only had three local teachers for its approximately 120 students. Together, the inconsistent attendance of both teachers and students and the low level of education among teachers have made it difficult for efficient education. In my two days at Tui Ni Duse, I have observed the “over-aged” class, which consists of about thirty students from ages 7 to 15 who are behind the state’s age-appropriate standards. Although I am still getting to know each student’s academic capability, I quickly realized that my lessons have to be taught in Afrikaans for the students to understand clearly. Furthermore, the lack of school supplies has led to some creative work on my part, making this challenge all the more exciting.

Despite the obstacles I face at Tui Ni Duse, I find that each hardship pushes me further to find ways to help these children learn and grow. Next week marks the beginning of my stabilized schedule, which is divided between the three schools. Hopefully, my observation and assistant teaching at the two government schools will give me a fuller experience of Namibia’s education system and will aid in my development for a stable and sustainable system at Tui Ni Duse.

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– Brontte Hwang ’15

My first week at AVODAH

 

This summer I am interning in AVODAH’s New York City office.  As explained on their website, AVODAH is a Hebrew word which encompasses spiritual, communal and work related “service”.  Upon it’s foundation in 1998, AVODAH became the first Jewish service corps. AVODAH corps members spend a year working at a placement site, building community, and learning about Judaism and social justice. AVODAH’s mission, reflected in corps members’ placement sites, is to strengthen the Jewish community’s fight against the causes and effects of poverty. AVODAH’s initial program took place in New York, and programs have now been launched in D.C., Chicago and New Orleans.

I am working with Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, Director for Alumni and Community Engagement. After a meaningful year in service, corps members are part of a life-long alumni network. Rabbi Ruskay facilitates this network and continues to provide alumni with opportunities to engage in the social justice community.  One of my favorite parts about my internship thus far is that I have a wide variety of jobs and responsibilities. I develop lesson plans for events and projects that provide alumni with the opportunity to network with each other and continue to address current issues regarding social injustices. I am also working with Rabbi Ruskay to improve the current resources available to alumni.

My first week at AVODAH was a great learning experience. The day I started working was a huge day for the New York office. It was the day of our annual Partners in Justice event, an evening where corps members, alumni, friends and supporters come together to celebrate successes and honor some of AVODAH’s extraordinary leaders and alumni.  I was very impressed—my first time meeting everyone at the organization was on one of their busiest days of the year, yet everyone went above and beyond their specific roles and the event came together beautifully.  They were especially welcoming to a new and nervous intern.

Gorgeous event set-up at the Prince George!
Gorgeous event set-up at the Prince George!
Goodies with a message.
Goodies with a message.

On my second day, I met with Rabbi Ruskay and we had a great discussion about the current state of the alumni program and the future program goals.  I was immediately excited about learning from someone who had so much experience and expertise. Throughout my first week, I especially appreciated the networking opportunities I had. On Tuesday, Rabbi Ruskay and I met with two staff members from the American Jewish World Service: a Senior Organizer and the Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement to discuss program successes and lessons learned with PresenTense, an organization that inspires young social entrepreneurs to invest in ideas that lead to a better future while strengthening their Jewish community.  We also met with the coordinator for the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, to plan the next steps for engaging AVODAH alumni in the campaign for Immigration legislation reform (a very current issue), which I have now taken on as a project with Rabbi Ruskay.

Heading into our eighth floor office!
Heading into our eighth floor office!

As I continue my work at AVODAH, I know I will continue learning exponentially about non-profit organizations and how to best engage social justice leaders with the larger community. When corps members finish their year in service, many of them want to stay involved in the world of social justice. Through working with Rabbi Ruskay on the alumni program, I hope to continue learning about many ways we can be a force for change and prevent social injustice. Regardless of where we are at in life, whether it is grad school, the work force, or already engaged in community service, each one of us can help fight poverty. I am so excited to continue learning at AVODAH.

How does AVODAH help build community? Inspiration from our Partners in Justice event.
How does AVODAH help build community? Inspiration from our Partners in Justice event.

– Sophie Brickman ’16

Bootcamp in Digital Video Technology

Welcome, everyone! First week has been very busy, full of new information, and to be honest, excitement on my part. I learned so much about digital technology this past week that I can’t believe it’s only been 5 days. Did you know Google can predict with 94% accuracy how well the next movie will do at the box office, based on the data it gathers from people’s Google searches? As the CEO described this internship, it is the summer boot camp in digital video distribution and monetization.

IRIS.TV is a start up tech company in downtown Los Angeles that specializes in the digital management, targeting, analysis, distribution and monetization of video content for publishers, advertisers and content owners. Using the latest advances in data science and content mapping, IRIS.TV adds each viewer’s distinct taste to a video’s advertising value. IRIS.TV personalizes content flow, indexes metadata, activates user behavior and more.

In other words, we work with software programs that are able to analyze data from consumers and use it to personalize their viewing experience. When people are recommended videos based on their viewing experience, they are more likely to watch more videos, spend more time online, and interact more with media. This is extremely valuable for advertisers, who pay a huge amount of money to place their ads on videos that are watched by the right people.

I found this internship through Hiatt’s CIC (Career and Internship Connections). When I saw the ad it seemed to be an interesting opportunity, even though I didn’t exactly understand what IRIS.TV did. All I remember seeing were a myriad of technical terms, that they work in the online video industry, and somehow “monetize” video content. Being a film, economics, and business major, this captured my attention and decided to apply. I was invited to an interview on January 8th in LA. I live in San Diego, thus it was a fairly short trip. I had a great interview with my supervisor, Lindsay. She is also a media/communications major, so we connected well. A week later, she offered me an internship.

To stay true to the ubiquitous use of data at my internship, I recorded various activities I did this past week. For example, I wrote down all the times I arrived/left my internship, and discovered that my first week I averaged 9.5 hours of work per day. This is a startup company and fortunately there is no shortage of work. More excitingly, unlike some past internships where work was just that, work, most things I do here are opportunities for me to learn about things I’m extremely interested in. Mostly I research competitor companies and create reports on their technologies. Also, I do the daily note, a daily email with most relevant tech articles of the day, and manage the company’s twitter page. Finally, I search for potential clients, companies who are seeking to optimize and monetize their content inventory.

Though these look like boring routine work, through my constant research I am learning a ton of information that is helping me understand the patterns that will decide where the entertainment and media industry are going. Also, through my research I realize how important and in-demand the IRIS.TV technology will be in the very near future. A few times I read current articles in the media that explained that it is most important for entertainment and media companies to improve their digital distribution and enhance their viewers’ online experience, which is exactly what IRIS.TV specializes in. It’s very exciting to be part of this company! This internship will undoubtedly influence my post-Brandeis plans. Maybe I will even work for IRIS.TV.

Finally, this week has exceeded my learning expectations. I have no idea what to expect for the rest of the summer, other than to continue learning, which is so much easier when I’m curious and excited about the subject.

– Paul Vancea ’14

IRIS.tv

IRIS.TV specializes in the distribution and monetization of digital content across all platforms
IRIS.TV specializes in the distribution and monetization of digital content across all platforms

First Week at PCDC

 

Today was my third day interning at the Parent-Child Development Center (PCDC), a program of Community Action, which provides daycare and many other social services to low-income families in Western Massachusetts.  The PCDC runs numerous Head Start and Early Head Start centers in the area which serve nearly 1,000 kids who otherwise would not have high-quality daycare and medical care.  The PCDC building that I am working in for the summer is located in Northampton, Massachusetts and houses both a daycare and many offices for PCDC employees, managers, and directors.

I was immediately interested in working for the PCDC when I read about it online during my internship hunt because it perfectly aligns with my past experiences working in Head Start daycares and my future academic and career goals of getting my Master’s in early intervention.  I also have always wanted to live in Northampton, so it seems the stars aligned on this one.

While I knew I would be working directly under the Manager of Data and Planning, I was unsure of and nervous about exactly what this internship would entail.  It turns out I should not have wasted my time worrying!  My supervisor (the manager of data and planning) is an amazing woman who spent hours orienting me and asking what I most want to accomplish and experience this summer and ensuring that I would be able to do all of those things.  She went above and beyond when she found out that I want to go into early intervention by offering to have me trained to do diagnostic screenings and possibly perform some screenings for their clientele later in the summer.  Everyone else I have met in the office has been incredibly welcoming, and many people mentioned that since the cubicle was reserved for “Avital data + planning intern,” everyone thought it was being reserved for a vital intern.  We had a good laugh about that.

Work-wise, these first few days have thus far mostly been spent researching all of the regulations that pertain to the PCDC and its services.  I’ve also spent a lot of time in my cubicle (which is quite spacious, actually, you can see it in the picture) figuring out how to use the new database that is being rolled out in July and which it seems I will spend lots of time on.  Having spent only a few hours in the office so far, it is already apparent what it really means to be passionate about your job and put everything into it no matter how much (or how little, as the case may be) money comes back to you in return, which is incredibly refreshing.

I had high hopes for this summer internship before, and now I can say for sure that I managed to find my dream job and I could not be more grateful.  I expect to learn a lot about the administrative side of childcare in addition to learning how to navigate public resources and social services.  Should be a great summer!

 

In my apartment for the summer getting ready to leave for my first day at the PCDC
In my apartment for the summer getting ready to leave for my first day at the PCDC
My cubicle at the PCDC office.
My cubicle at the PCDC office.

– Avital Sokolow Silverman ’14

What I learned my first week at Women’s Center for Wellness!

Women’s Center for Wellness (WCW) is a relatively small facility located in South Windsor, CT. WCW is part of a larger organization of health care providers called the Eastern Connecticut Health Network, or ECHN. The mission of WCW is to provide comprehensive health care to (primarily) women of all ages and backgrounds. The organization focuses specifically on services such as mammography, bone density analysis, breast ultrasound,

Patients get these goody bags filled with informational leaflets and chocolate after their mammogram.
Patients get these goody bags filled with informational leaflets and chocolate after their mammogram.

and digital breast biopsies. In addition to these services, WCW provides alternative care that focuses on holistic health and involves services such as diet counseling, massage therapy, yoga, and even acupuncture. The result is that WCW offers a holistic approach to managing women’s health.

My responsibility as an intern is to assist various departments with tasks that the faculty may not have time to perform when the facility is overwhelmed with patients. While many of these are clinical tasks, some are clerical. Though I will likely work within different specialties throughout the summer, this week I worked primarily with the radiology technicians. The technicians perform mammograms, bone density scans and ultrasounds. Part of my responsibility is to be a liaison between the technicians and the patients by preparing them for their procedure. I also ensure that the required paperwork is compiled so that the technicians may have all the necessary documentation prior to beginning the procedure. As my internship progresses, I will have more responsibilities, such as setting up examination rooms prior to a procedure.

For my own benefit, I have also personally observed some of these procedures so that I have a greater understanding of how the organization operates and how its services are meant to help people. Because this week was somewhat less busy, I also found myself doing some clerical tasks that are necessary to complete. However, even these tasks gave me insight on how the organization operates. For example, I had to create folders with various pamphlets and informational leaflets for Breast Care Collaborative. This is a program that helps work with patients after they have received a breast cancer diagnosis. The folders provide information from the Susan G. Komen Foundation that helps explain the next steps that the woman can take after being diagnosed. It has become clear to me that a large part of running an organization such as WCW is ensuring that patients have sufficient information to make educated decisions about their health.

I feel very fortunate to have found this internship. I began my search for an internship by looking for postings in my local hospitals and health care facilities. I quickly found that official postings were difficult to find. I decided to take a different approach and personally address the representatives of various facilities to find out whether they had unlisted internships. I even proposed that if such a position did not exist, that the organization may create an unpaid internship position so that I might work with them. Luckily, Women’s Center for Wellness accepts students for the summer as interns. My supervisor received my e-mail and invited me to become an intern after a short interview because it was clear that it was a good fit.

This summer I hope to really absorb a lot of information through this internship. I already feel like I have learned a lot, but I want to gain an in-depth understanding of not just the procedures that are performed at WCW, but also how the organization operates as a whole. I also hope to learn to be able to interact with patients, because that is a large part of being a health care provider. I have high hopes for the rest of the summer!

– Alex Zhakov ’14

First week at IDG

Welcome everyone!  I have just completed my first week at International Data Group Ventures Vietnam (IDG Vietnam). I arrived in Vietnam on May 22nd, and I have been slowly adjusting to the time zone. Despite the exhaustion from jetlag, I was still very excited about my upcoming internship.

IDG Ventures Vietnam is the first technology venture capital fund in Vietnam. Since 2004, IDG has been working with entrepreneurs to grow innovative and market-leading companies. The company currently has $100 million under management, with investments in over 40 companies in the information technology, media, telecom infrastructure and services, and consumer sectors.

Unlike many WOW fellows, I  have worked at IDG previously .  I spent two months in the summer after my freshman year as a research analyst. It was already a valuable experience, but I thought  that I could still gain more from working here. Luckily I maintained a good relationship with my supervisor, and he introduced me to the IDG internship program and suggested I apply.   After reviewing my application, the CEO interviewed me via phone. We discussed my interests in social networks, and how I would contribute to the organization’s goal to develop them more fully. The CEO offered me an unpaid internship on the spot.

My internship kicked off with an orientation at Mercure Hotel in Hanoi, where I got to meet IDG staff and other interns in the program. The IDG branch in Hanoi is relatively small, comprised of four partners and fifteen investment professionals. The friendliness of the partners and other members of the company really impressed me. The managing partner introduced me to the staff and provided me basic information about the operation of the company. I also met ten other interns, many of whom come from top universities in Vietnam and the United Stes. My teammate on my project is a senior at Mount Holyoke College, MA (small world). She seems great, and I am definitely looked forward to working on the project with her.

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Me during the orientation (bottom 2nd from left)

During the internship, I will primarily learn how to conduct market research on social networks in Vietnam. In the first week, my supervisor showed me how to collect and analyze empirical data about domestic and foreign markets, and write weekly reports for the company.  In the following weeks, I will learn how to build complicated charts about supply-demand and cost-revenue for social networking sites. I have learned some of these concepts at Brandeisl, and I want to see how it’s like to apply them in the real world settings.. I think the biggest challenge about this project will be  the technology aspect of establishin social networks. Since I don’t have a strong background in computer science, I will definitely have to consult my IT friends and other associates in the company.

Looking forward, after the summer, I really want to have a deeper understanding about venture capital in Vietnam and expand my networking contacts in the industry. Venture capital is playing its greater part in this country, and I really want to contribute my knowledge to its development.

-Nam Pham ’14

My First Week at The Walker School

This past week was my first full week working at The Walker School in Needham, MA.  The Walker School offers a range of special education and mental health services that provide intensive therapeutic and academic programs for children, adolescents, and their families.  The Walker Needham campus offers a variety of services, including an Intensive Residential Treatment Program, an Intensive Community-Based Acute Treatment Program, and a school and summer camp.  The programs are created for children ages 3 to 15 with severe emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities or with a history of past trauma, including sexual abuse or disrupted foster placements.  These programs provide therapeutic learning and living environments that help children to learn, grow, and heal and integrate successfully into society.

Logo
The Walker School Logo

As an intern in the Intensive Residential Treatment Program, I will participate as a member of a treatment team to meet the social, recreational, behavioral, and educational needs of children with severe emotional and behavioral difficulties and with histories of past trauma.  I will plan, implement, and participate in social and recreational activities, help to provide a safe and therapeutic milieu, and assist with the implementation of treatment protocols.  I will also co-lead activity-based groups for small numbers of children, work one-on-one with children toward improvement of academic skills, and facilitate developmentally appropriate and normalizing experiences for children, such as reading before bedtime.

I found my internship through a series of networking.  I am on the Board of Directors for the Brookline Teen Center and was part of a committee that interviewed prospective Executive Directors.  The person we hired was the Director of Residential Services at Walker.  After talking with the teen center’s new Executive Director about summer internship possibilities, I applied for a position at Walker because my passion and experience align with the goals of the organization.  I emailed the Director of Child Care Training and was interviewed by the Vice President of Operations.  I then observed a residential program to determine if it was a proper fit and decided Walker would be an extremely valuable learning experience for me.

My first week at Walker was both rewarding and difficult.  After spending only an hour going over Walker’s policies, I began working in my assigned residential program.  All of the staff were extremely friendly and my coworkers immediately welcomed me to their program, introduced me to all of the children, and put me straight to work.  Even after just one week, I can already tell that it will take the children a while to completely trust me, as many of them were previously hurt (either physically and/or emotionally) by adults in their lives.  While some children quickly accepted my presence, others were more resistant listening to my instructions or even talking to me or sitting next to me.  Regardless of these hesitations, my coworkers reassured me that, with time and the stability of my presence, the children will grow to trust me.

Walker_Entrance
The Main Entrance to The Walker School

This summer, I hope to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible out of my time at Walker.  Above all else, I want to learn, to the best of my ability, how to help children who have gone through difficult times.  I want to be a social worker for children  when I grow older, and I believe that Walker will provide me with extremely valuable knowledge and skills, such as how to make children who have experienced abuse feel comfortable and safe around you.  Once children feel they can trust you, they are then more likely to open up to you and the true healing can begin.

– Avi Cohen ’15

Challenging Corporate Abuse: Week 1

I am an intern at Corporate Accountability International, formerly known as Infact. It is a non-profit organization that is passionately driven by its mission is to stop corporate abuse of human rights, the environment, and any and all threats to the well-being of the public.  Corporate Accountability International uses strategic measures to pressure corporations through public support to cease dangerous practices.  I am working on their domestic water campaign to challenge corporate control of our water. The two umbrella campaigns within that are Think Outside The Bottle and Public Water Works.

I’m working on a project to support National Parks going bottled-water-free. I will also help to gather support for our organization and cause through methods such as petitions, which is what we did this past week. At the Cambridge River Festival, we obtained over 400 signatures for our Think Outside the Bottle petition, showing support for tap over bottled water, and our petition to urge McDonald’s to stop marketing to children.

This is a poster from our Food Campaign to challenge McDonald's by working to stop them from marketing to children with tactics such as their clown, Ronald McDonald.
Poster from the Value [the] Meal Campaign calling on Ronald McDonald to “retire” from his job marketing fast food to kids.

I found my internship both on Idealist.org as well as through the listserv of my job last summer with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. I was immediately struck by the human rights focus of the organization. I was also impressed with the extensive application and interview process, which first proved to me that the people of this organization are serious about what they do.

During all three interviews I took part in, I could see how passionate each and every employee was. It is clearly a cohesive group of individuals who work together to make real change happen in an organized and aggressive way. I see more and more proof of this every day I spend with them. In addition to everything I have already learned from all of the organized orientation presentations about every aspect of the organization, I have also begun to get to know a great group of 11 other fellow interns. I have already learned so much about the horrendous practices of transnational corporations, as well as the consequences of their environmental and human rights abuses on a national and global scale. Much of what I learned about corporate control of our water is summed up in this incredibly helpful video produced by Corporate Accountability International called“The Story of Bottled Water.”

This summer, I hope to learn more about the specific consequences of the privatization of water in the hands of enormous organizations that take water as a natural resource that is actually a human right, and bottle it up into a commodity to sell it back to us at thousands of times the cost we should be paying for it. I expect to learn more about this type of manufactured demand, and more about whether huge transnational corporations that are legally bound to make profits for their shareholders are inherently evil, or simply amoral. After meeting with my supervisor, I am also looking forward to becoming a much more effective campaign organizer with more experience organizing individual on a large scale and keeping track of everyone in the most efficient way possible.

–Kate Cohen ’14

 

 

The first week at China Sustainable Energy Program (CSEP)

I just finished the first week of my internship at the Beijing office of China Sustainable Energy Program (CSEP). CSEP is a non-profit organization, headquartered in Beijing, China. The main goal of CSEP is to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution in new and existing Chinese cities by promoting and implementing sustainable urbanization and transportation systems. These goals are achieved by working with national and municipal governments to establish pilot projects demonstrating the effectiveness of sustainable urban development in China and providing personnel training programs. The Beijing office aims to provide program management and funding to more than 40 regional projects around China. Technology support is provided by China Sustainable Transportation Center (CSTC). There are about 30 staff members in this office, and there are four interns helping for this summer. Most funding of CSEP comes from HP Inc.

My internship mainly consists of two parts. First, I will be tracking progress of the projects, conducting data entry and analysis, writing project evaluation reports, and translating some related materials. Second, I am very lucky to have a chance to join the Jinan Sustainable City Planning Project. We will analyze real residential energy use data gathered for the last three years and conduct some research for further project refinement.

I found this internship from “Earth Notes” sent by Prof. Laura Goldin. “Earth Notes” is a list of internship opportunities for students of environmental studies and other types of related social work. The summer internship in CSEP got my attention and interest immediately because of its location in China and because the energy field has always been an interest of mine. I sent them my resume and after a phone interview, I got this summer internship.

The first week of this internship has been interesting and a bit challenging. My supervisor and other colleagues are very friendly and helpful. They impressed me with their professionalism and problem solving skills from the first day I was there. My assigned jobs consist of both urgent and long-term projects. One urgent job is preparing a group of Chinese mayors before they travel to  the U.S. to learn about sustainable city planning next week.  We are now busy preparing schedules and translating papers for their trip. The long-term project is the Jinan Sustainable Planning Project, for which I will do research with another intern over the next two months. We have set goals and we will meet our supervisor on a weekly basis. This project is kind of challenging for me because it requires strong background knowledge in urban planning, but I feel like I am learning a lot and getting more and more familiar with this field as we work. The whole organization has a file sharing system accessible to interns for ongoing projects. This common file is very useful to me. I read a lot of reports, related academic papers, and background information about this organization.  I now have a much better understanding about how this non-profit organization works and how to combine theory with practice.

Finally, in terms my expectations about the internship, I hope to learn about sustainability in urban planning through reading both academic papers and reports from real projects. Second, I wish to work closely and network with my colleagues and become aware of more opportunities in the sustainability field, both in the United States and in China. Third, by conducting a research in a team environment, I hope to develop a better communication and problem solving skills, and to have a better understanding about cultural differences between the U.S and China in this field.

CSEP logo
The logo of CSEP
The view from the window near my desk (Beijing)
office
A very “green” office!

– Yifan Wang ’14