Beginning at World Vision Brazil

World Vision Brazil´s Logo with one of its taglines. Meaning ´For Children.For Change.For Life´
World Vision Brazil´s Logo with one of its taglines. Meaning ´For Children.For Change.For Life´

 

World Vision is a not for profit non-governmental organization. It has headquarters in 100 countries. Its main aim is poverty alleviation regardless of race, gender, religion, or ethnicity. It is a humanitarian organization that is focused mainly on children, but believes that children cannot fully develop if their surroundings are not conducive for them to reach their full potential. Communities are helped to deal with poverty and injustice, through tools such as agricultural training and education. They provide emergency assistance to people affected by natural disasters and civil conflict, and develop models for long-term solutions to poverty.

I am interning with World Vision Brazil at their headquarters in the capital city of the state of Pernambuco, Recife. After the organization was mentioned at a social justice conference I had attended in March, World Vision was one of the organizations I contacted to see if they would have me assist them over the summer. World Vision operates a sponsorship program that connects people to disadvantaged children around the world for support especially during their developmental stages and runs projects developing communities around the world. As seen in recent publications on the news surrounding the World Cup, inequalities in standard of living is no stranger to the nation of Brazil. Here in Brazil a number of World Vision´s projects are run in the favelas (poorer districts of many large cities).

My internship this summer focuses on the internal operations of the organization in the Pessoas & Cultura (People and Culture) department which deals with employees in the organization. During my first week I received a comprehensive guide book outlining the organization´s objectives and code of conduct, which I was to read and understand.

As well as everyday office work, I was handed my first project to assist in the planning of an organization event. As a mission based organization, my goal in this is to plan an event rooted in organizational values that will engage employees and their families. Planning this has given me great access to the city, in researching what would appeal to Brazilian employees. It has also provided me with drive to understand what justice is for children in order to make the event both enjoyable and educational. I have found that the city is very rich in history and cultural activity. The month of June has been set out as a month of celebrating saints, such as Sao Joao (St. John), where there are special meals, costumes and dances. Before I had arrived, I was notified that in honor of the World Cup this year, World Vision International had organized a mini World Cup football tournament, where children were the players and employees served as volunteers to run the tournament, it was a big success here in Brazil.

 

World Vision Cup Brazil´s Poster

World Vision Cup Brazil´s Poster

 

It is engaging and educational operating professionally in Portuguese 8 hours of a day. Portuguese was a conversational language for me, but now my vocabulary and fluency is expanding daily. For the rest of the summer, I have been assigned more projects to develop, one which will deal with orientating incoming employees. I hope to visit a project, in order to get an experience of the organization´s field work. Being a part of the department, even for the short time so far has shown me its importance, for it was responsible for successfully creating an organizational culture that is both comfortable and conducive for work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consumer Advocacy With NCL in the Nation’s Capital

Behind me, Chris is busily typing away, working to compile the research on our latest project. I am sifting through lengthy documents, searching for quotes and statistics to create a briefing sheet for NCL’s executive director to use at a conference. Meanwhile, Paige is busy revising an article for NCL’s consumer blog. The past three weeks have just blown by as the work pace at the League has gradually sped up. The plethora of research projects is complemented by trips to conferences and even a  Senate Committee hearing on June 4th, where I had the honor of meeting Minnesota’s Junior Senator Al Franken. I also attended lectures on issues ranging from personal privacy to child labor policy.  The perpetual motion machine that is my workplace ensures that there is really never a dull moment.  In the past 4 weeks, I have gained an abundance of knowledge with regard to a wide variety of consumer issues. I am constantly learning something new with each project.

NCL's executive director, me (middle), and my supervisor outside the Dirksen Senate Office building prior to the Senate Subcommittee hearing on Location Privacy
NCL’s executive director, me (middle), and my supervisor outside the Dirksen Senate Office building prior to the Senate Subcommittee hearing on Location Privacy

I have progressed quite well in terms of my personal goals. The lectures and hearings that I attended have greatly enhanced my understanding of social policy and the nuances of various laws. With regard to my professional goals, I have gained experience in the areas of advocacy and politics through observation, projects, and research. In addition, the projects that I have been assigned have helped sharpen my writing and research skills. This will be quite beneficial for my future coursework, as I plan on taking several writing-intensive courses next year at Brandeis.

One of the projects that I am most proud of is a fact sheet on the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan proposal, which called for a new standard on coal power plant emissions in the United States. For the project, I sorted through a 10,000 file comment docket that had reactions regarding the proposed plan from labor unions, consumer advocacy groups, and other interest groups. I researched both the consumer side and the labor side of this issue and created a chart that showed the benefits of the EPA proposal for the general consumer population on one side and the potential negative impacts for the labor market (in this case workers at coal power plants). In addition to the chart, I also compared the EPA’s proposal and assessed how closely it converged with NCL’s own energy policy framework, which puts consumer interests at the forefront. I discovered that there were several areas in which the two policy frameworks coincided quite well.  I then proceeded to choose a few of the comments to put in the pro-con chart for the fact sheet. The numerous individual and group projects that I have researched, have allowed me to be exposed to an entirely new field of knowledge with regard to everyday issues in areas such as telecommunications, labor, and the environment.

My supervisor, fellow intern, and me (first from the right) with Minnesota Senator Al Franken at the Senate Committee Hearing on Location Privacy
My supervisor, fellow intern, and me (first from the right) with Minnesota Senator Al Franken at the Senate Committee Hearing on Location Privacy

In addition to the projects I am assigned by my supervisor, I am also responsible for drafting questions for NCL’s annual LifeSmarts competition for students from grades 6 through 12. This program seeks to educate students to become informed consumers in today’s society. I recently finished drafting my first set of 25 questions for the competition. The other interns and I are each responsible for 8 subcategories from within the five main areas: consumer rights and responsibilities, personal finance, the environment, health and safety, and technology. For this project, my fellow interns and I are working closely with the League’s LifeSmarts coordinator, who will review and give feedback on our questions. LifeSmarts questions will be one of the long-term projects that I will be working on throughout my internship.

The projects and research that I have done have developed and honed my reading and analytical skills. I have learned to analyze and dissect information quickly (deadlines are a very effective incentive). In addition, the reports that I have composed for the League have improved my writing quality. I have begun to grasp the rhetoric that is used in legislation as well as learn to produce concise and meticulously-crafted pieces of writing on various policy topics. I see this set of skills as extremely beneficial for my anticipated post-university plans of attending law school. By studying legislation and policy through my work, I believe that I am laying the foundation for a strong start in my graduate studies. Perhaps most importantly, the internship has given me a chance to truly experience a professional work setting and develop the social skills necessary to be successful in my professional endeavors. This internship with the National Consumers League has been tremendously beneficial for my personal, academic, and professional development. I believe that the skills I acquire from my time with the League will pay great dividends down the road as I progress towards my professional career after college and graduate school.

-Aaron Dai ’16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning the Ropes: First Week with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

It’s only week one, but I can already tell that my summer internship at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is going to be a whirlwind of a learning experience! Since the DPH is such a vast organization, I suppose I should clarify where exactly I’ll be situated… and how I got here. This summer, I have the exciting opportunity to intern with the DPH’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services Unit, or “SAPSS,” as it’s colloquially called around the office. The SAPSS Unit is dedicated to changing social norms that foster sexual violence, encouraging a state-wide climate in which sexual assault is not tolerated, as well as promoting and enhancing effective and accessible services for all survivors of sexual assault. This means allocating funds to rape crisis centers and other organizations, advocating for sexual assault prevention policies and programs, and providing information about sexual assault and various other resources to agencies and individuals throughout Massachusetts. I secured my internship by getting in touch with Marci Diamond, the Director of the unit (and a Brandeis alum!), and talking with her about how my passion for social justice and sexual violence prevention work might be an asset to the department. An internship with SAPSS seemed like the perfect professional growth opportunity, and so far it’s living up to expectations: I have already met so many interesting and important people to learn from.

The scenic Charles River on my commute home!
The scenic Charles River on my commute home!

As an intern for this incredible group of dedicated professionals, I’m set to take on quite a few tasks throughout the summer. I’m responsible for staffing a group called the Higher Education Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Working Group, which is comprised of leaders from many Massachusetts colleges and universities that work to collaborate on sexual assault prevention. This committee plans university-based informational summits (such as one which was held at Brandeis last fall!), and has regular conference calls to discuss their various ongoing projects.

I’ll also be using surveys to collect, and later analyze, data on Massachusetts rape crisis centers and the ways they are preventing sexual violence. This data will serve as an inventory of the prevention work and capacity-building that rape crisis centers, or “RCCs,” are doing throughout the year. My eventual analysis of the data I collect over the next few weeks will help to inform federal reports regarding the prevention of rape and sexual assault in our state and hopefully help to improve prevention outcomes. All of these projects, and the people I’ll get to work with, will teach me valuable lessons necessary for a career in sexual violence prevention. I’m especially excited to learn more about the field’s data collection and analysis methods, with which I’ll be working closely; proficiency with these programs (like Excel, Qualtrix and even Surveymonkey) are important skills for any future profession I might choose.

This is a list of the rape crisis centers in Massachusetts that I'll be surveying on their prevention efforts.
This is a handy list of the RCCs in Massachusetts that I’ll be surveying on their prevention efforts.

One of my favorite things I’ve noticed throughout the past week is how closely SAPSS works with other relevant units. SAPSS is part of the Division of Violence & Injury Prevention, which also includes other units such as Suicide Prevention, Injury Prevention, and Youth Violence Prevention. All these teams collaborate and communicate with one another on ways to achieve their common goal of making Massachusetts safer overall. This incredible teamwork makes for a great work and learning environment; I’m enthusiastic about spending my summer not only with SAPSS, but as a part of this remarkable DPH community.

My First Week at Boston Children’s Hospital

After spending my last summer swamped in organic chemistry, I decided I needed a summer to test my Brandeis education in the medical world. Having gained a great deal of experience in a lab setting already, I was very interested in expanding that knowledge into a clinical setting. Through my participation in a research trial on female athletes, I had the pleasure of meeting my current supervisor, a physician and clinical researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital. She offered me a position as a research intern, helping to continue the work being done towards preventing injuries in female athletes.

 

Ranked as one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country, Boston Children’s Hospital has a long-standing history of advancing medicine into the future. Their values include excellence, sensitivity, leadership, and community with a mission of providing quality care, progression in research, and teaching future leaders in pediatric care. Boston Children’s Hospital is not-for-profit so all resources go towards fulfilling and maintaining the values and mission of the hospital. Children’s also is home to the world’s largest research enterprise as leaders in uncovering the cause of diseases from autism to juvenile leukemia. I will be stationed at the Waltham campus with some work being conducted in Boston.

Bch Logo

 

Along with my supervisor, I also get to work with another sports medicine physician who does a great deal of work with the Boston Ballet and has a strong interest in conducting more research on dancers and the injuries they sustain. With the guidance of both doctors I have begun working on a patient survey that will be used in the hospital to help find patients with high risks for injury. I have also begun the process of gaining International Review Board approval to perform a retrospective chart review on dancers to see if a specific BMI correlates to certain injuries.

 

All of the research I will get to do this summer will help improve the knowledge of the Female Athlete Triad. The Female Athlete Triad is a syndrome that affects the health of active women and girls who participate in sports. The triad is comprised of three distinct and interrelated conditions: Energy Deficiency with or without Disordered Eating/Eating Disorder, Menstrual Problems and weak bones. Many female athletes are affected by this syndrome but the extent to which it affects each individual ranges along a continuum of severity. Menstrual problems include irregular or missed periods. Bone problems can include stress fractures and reduced bone density for an individual’s age and activity level. Being affected by any aspect of the Triad can have detrimental effects on the health of female athletes, so when an athlete presents with multiple afflictions it is important to treat them quickly. Luckily those affected by the Female Athlete Triad can turn their health around by supplying their bodies with enough calories to fuel them while in motion and at rest. However, many female athletes participate in sports where physical aesthetics are a large factor in the competition or are so driven to win that they disregard the potential harm they place on their bodies. For these athletes it is important to introduce guidelines at a young age to prevent and insure that their bodies will never suffer the consequences of the Triad.

female athlete triad

Over the course of the summer I hope to familiarize myself with clinical research. So far I have gotten to see many different angles of the medical field as I am continuously surrounded with doctors, physician assistants, nurses and researchers all working together in different ways to improve the lives of the people they serve. I also hope to take away information that I could use to directly impact my peers in the athletic community, as preventing injury is one of the most important aspects of being an athlete.

BR Guest Hospitality: A “Taste” of Human Resources

BR Guest Hospitality

After finishing my first few weeks at BR Guest Hospitality, I can already determine that Human Resources, as well as the working in a company in the restaurant business was a perfect fit.
First off, how I secured my internship, looking back, is now somewhat humorous. One of my many responsibilities as an HR intern is posting open positions within the company, selecting, interviewing, and finally choosing candidates. Therefore seeing the process from the other side of the table (literally and figuratively) is an opportunity not many procure.
I first found my internship online through a job website. After applying online for the position of HR Intern, I received an email from the corporate recruiter for a phone interview. While on the phone interview I was asked to come into the corporate office for a second interview as well as a “meet and greet” with the Human Resources team. In February, I visited the corporate office and interviewed in person. Lastly, within a few weeks, I was offered the position.
Immediately after meeting the team and hearing more about the position and company, I knew this is how I wanted to spend my summer. Being the only intern in HR gives me the opportunity to learn all the ins and outs of the position. After being a part of the team for a few weeks, I look back and am thrilled that I found this internship.

BR Guest Hospitality, is a restaurant hospitality group that has over 25 restaurants spanning across four states (New York, New Jersey, Florida, Nevada). The corporate headquarters is located in New York on 315 Park Avenue South. Living in New Jersey, I chose to commute to work every day. Learning how to commute is also a great tool that I am learning during this internship. Navigating through the city, learning the subway systems, deciphering port authority, all are things I do everyday. At first, I probably looked like a tourist wandering through the streets of New York, following signs and asking locals where certain places are located. Now, I feel as though I can be considered a local. I laugh looking back at how scared I was to go into the city alone, because now, only after a few weeks, it seems so simple.

As a Human Resources intern I get to see all aspects of HR from recruiting, payroll, new hire orientation, incident reports, terminations, investigations, hiring, open calls, etc. Being the only intern hired for Human Resources provides me with a chance to see HR from all possible sides. The HR team is quite small, amounting to only 4 people: the HR team consists of my manager, two assistants, and myself. Due to the fact that we are a small team we all share a lot of work and are very close. From my very first day they were extremely inviting, welcoming, friendly, and have taught me so much. Getting to be a member of such a remarkable HR team, makes this internship one of a kind. I am a true member of the staff in that I am given responsibilities that a full time staff member would have to complete. I help each member of my team with their day to day tasks as well as having overarching tasks myself. For example, each week we have new hire orientation located at our restaurant, Blue Water Grill.

BLue Water Grill is located in Union Square, it is also the location for our weekly orientations
Blue Water Grill is located in Union Square, it is also the location for our weekly orientations

At orientation, at first, I was solely responsible for helping in organizing paperwork, checking IDs, etc. However, now, I help lead the orientation with my other team members. By the end of my internship, I will lead an entire orientation by myself.

I have learned so much already and cannot wait to gain more knowledge about the field of HR as well as being a restaurant hospitality group. I am learning every day and expect to keep learning. This internship was a way for me to test the waters in the field of HR, and already I can see that this may be a serious career path for me in the future.

 

This is our Blue Fin Restaurant, one of our largest properties, located in Times Square.
This is our Blue Fin Restaurant, one of our largest properties, located in Times Square.

LAVA BEAR Week One!

This is Alex Weick touching down from Lava Bear Films in Los Angeles! More specifically Culver City: the film company where I am working this summer is couched in a creative adaptive reuse project, a “campus,” where the plants are deep green and the food trucks are sumptuous. Lava Bear Films is a production and film financing company.

I have various internship responsibilities, but my predominant obligation is to do Script Coverage. Coverage is when you write a synopsis of a script and give your feedback, suggesting whether it be produced, pursued, or thrown in the trash. The ideal is to separate the wheat from the chaff so that higher-ups don’t have to bother with the subpar work agents submit. I pride myself on being both a benevolent giver of constructive criticism and a vicious critic who eviscerates soulful, sentimental work, thus the work is apt. You would be shocked at the amount of typos professional screenwriters submit; rest assured, I believe I could definitely forge a career in this.

I wish I could tell you all more about what I’ve been reading, but it’s all top-secret! I had to sign a waiver and everything! Although part of me wishes I could share, feeling privy to the internal machinations of the film industry is an exciting feeling that I actually relish. This sensation of exclusivity, seeing the gears which modulate Hollywood and the star machine…it is fascinating and inspiring for someone who loves film deeply.

I located my internship through a friend, but I earned the job through my coverage. I encourage people to locate studios which produce work they really appreciate. Be persistent and responsible in your application process. If you want a career in entertainment, there aren’t any other options than to pull out the stops, locate the work you enjoy and find the people facilitating it.

The first week was interesting. Day one I was excited, I can be a tiny bit nervous when I’m excited about an opportunity. Fortunately, it all worked out beautifully. The staff is lovely, diverse, intimately sized (my mentoring is dedicated, hands-on), and my supervisor is wonderful. She’s helpful, she answers all my questions, and is eminently concerned that I am learning and growing during this process. AND she has fabulous music taste!

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My humble intern hideaway

I’ve learned a fair amount about how business deals are made (hint: lots of discussion) and I’ve re-learnt a cursory life lesson: the necessity of brevity. I, of course, am the queen of redundancy and tangents, but I’ve managed to become more succinct in the coverage I’ve completed so far. You simply can’t afford to babble when there are more important goals to accomplish. Moreover, I think it will help me when I’m trying to produce creative projects and understand how to better pitch and sell stories.

My overarching goals are manifold. First and foremost, I want to further understand what professional niche I intend to occupy. One can only get a limited idea of what a film-career might look if they rely on screenwriting books and hearsay. Being present is vital: seeing who pulls what weight or how I might someday take on responsibilities. Furthermore, I want to build a network in the area. My coworkers have been very supportive about the prospect of a future career here.

Another goal was to figure if I could imagine living in L.A., and let me tell you, I definitely could! The greenery and weather are glorious, the clubs are exponentially better than any in Boston, and the food is delicious (albeit expensive, but c’mon, it’s L.A.!). It feels incredible to be in a community of artists and people who appreciate art. I feel so whole being around tenacious and creatively engaged citizens, even tangentially and indirectly. I could do without the overabundance of fedoras (which are apparently in style here?) but eh, you take the good with the bad.

My final purpose was to do research that will inform my thesis and future writing and certainly, this all will. The density of scripts I’m reading and the coverage I’m writing are improving my writing, particularly my ability to balance literary economies of purpose, production and expression. In the middle of week one, I had a brain surge that revolutionized my thesis. I feel very in touch with my creative soul in The City of Angels.

I even got to go to Lava Bear’s first film premiere! The Rover, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, is excellent. Go see it! The movie’s harsh realism was right up my alley. I feel so fortunate to have located a production studio that supports independent, innovative, alternative talent. Also: I made eye contact with Zac Efron at the premiere. It’s puerile of me, but I could have burst into tears. I looked right into the abyss and it inexplicably stared back, filled with promise and potentialities of realizing dreams. I feel confident this is where I should be and fortunate that the WOW has helped make it happen.

So long, WOW’ers and readers. I will return soon to regale you with stories of my travails, and ideally, more celebrity sightings.

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Outside the Lava Bear office

Alex Weick — Brandeis University 2015

First Week at the Consortium!

Returning from abroad, I find myself in Boston this summer working with the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights. Located on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, the Consortium is a non-profit organization working towards a just and gender equitable world. Under the leadership of director Carol Cohn, the organization dedicates itself to researching gender and security issues, bridging the gap between researchers and policymakers, and promoting education and activism on these issues. As part of their mission to end conflict and establish peace, the Consortium hosts lectures, discussions, and workshops, most notably their Speaker Series. For the Speaker Series, the Consortium hosts a variety of speakers, such as prominent scholars, policy practitioners, and women leaders from conflict-affected areas to participate and engage in dialogue about their work.

Phoebe Randel is the current Associate Director
Phoebe Randel is the current Associate Director

Unable to attend any of the internship fairs or campus recruitment events, I spent my internship search online. Having an interest in gender and human rights issues, I was eager to find out more about the Consortium once I stumbled upon their site. After researching the organization and their internship program, I sent an application to Carol Cohn, the director. Shortly after applying, I received a request for letters of reference and confirmed my interest in working with the organization. A few weeks following, I received an internship offer and began my application for the World of Work Fellowship!

At the Consortium this summer, I will be assisting the organization with a variety of projects. For the most part, I will be working on projects related to their website.  A week after orientation, all the interns have been actively working on the same website project. We are gathering resources and creating citations for the Consortium’s Research Hub. The Research Hub is a database complied of scholarly resources related to gender, armed conflict, peacebuilding, security, and more just post-conflict societies. After a few days spent looking up articles and pulling resources, I have already been exposed to an variety of gender and security related issues that I have never come across before.

Following this internship, I expect to have a much stronger grasp of the field. Although I have never worked with a nonprofit or gender issues before, through orientation and training, I feel ready to take on the tasks that have been assigned. Initially all the information that we received from orientation seemed a bit overwhelming, but after starting to complete the intern assignments, I see the need for all the training. Additionally, the staff have been so helpful with any questions that I have had. With only three staff members and twenty-five interns, our supervisors have more than enough questions to answer, but they graciously take the time to help us when we need it. And even with such a large staff to intern ratio, I have had the chance to talk with the directors and the special projects manager individually to discuss my interests and just to get to know one another better.

Aside from research and website work, I will be working on budgeting at the Consortium and am one of the networking directors for the Consortium community.  As a networking director, I will help interns connect with each other, as well as with the staff and the directors of the Consortium. So far, I have met many other interns with similar aspirations and interests. I look forward to getting to know everyone at the organization better and to meet everyone that’s part of the Consortium community! I am also so glad and excited to be working with two other Brandeis students for the summer. It was a pleasant surprise to see them the first day at orientation!

Fellow WOW recipients!
Fellow WOW recipients at the office!

Only a week in and I feel that I have already learned plenty, but also that get the sense that I’ll be learning so much more as the weeks pass. I hope to spend more time interacting with our Consortium family, not just within the office and also to explore more of my future academic and career goals as I take on this journey for the next two months.

Until next time!

Iris Lee, ’15

My Work at the Behavioral Health Partial Program

The Behavioral Health Partial (BHP) Program is a treatment center at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, for those battling a wide range of mental health issues, varying from mood and anxiety disorders to thought and personality disorders. Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), the BHP offers group and individual therapy sessions to reduce patient’s symptoms and improve their functioning. On average, patients attend this day program for around 7-10 days and are often transitioning from inpatient care to outpatient treatment.

 The BHP conducts extensive research in order to study different mental illnesses and the effects of CBT and DBT. Each day, patients complete self-report questionnaires. This data is then used to assess treatment outcome, symptom severity, and many other factors. These questionnaires, along with clinical assessments, are essential for research at the BHP. Currently, I am helping with many research projects, including improving research databases and co-writing a research paper.

http://www.mclean.harvard.edu/news/staff/
http://www.mclean.harvard.edu/news/staff/

I secured this internship a year ago, spending only two months at the BHP last summer and mainly working on a treatment fidelity project. This summer, however, I am co-writing a research article that explores the predictors of suicidality in those with psychosis.  Currently, I am working on completing the literature search that will provide the background information for the article. I am researching the suicidality predictors that researchers have used in the past. From this, we can choose a number of predictors from our database to form our own model. These predictors will then be assessed for significance to see if they are notably correlated with suicidality in patients with psychosis. These predictors are taken mostly from clinical assessments and self-report surveys.

I am also working on a visual timeline that displays all of the measures ever administered at the BHP. In order to do so, I have to navigate the BHP database to find the dates of when these measures were administered and terminated. I am also involved with running depressed subjects in a cognitive biased modification (CBM) experiment. It is our hope that this CBM task will improve the automatic negative thoughts that often accompany depression. With this internship, I am gaining experience in a clinical setting by interacting with patients and clinicians.

In the first week, I have been working closely with the research coordinator and a post-doctoral fellow. I have learned how to navigate SPSS, databases, E-prime, and Excel while also learning how to begin a research project and complete a literature search. I am excited to continue with these projects and I am learning something new every day. I am hoping to deepen my understanding of the research methods used in psychology as well as experiencing the implications of such research in a clinical setting.

-Lauryn Garner, ’15

My first week in the Emergency Room

YNHH EntranceThis week, I started research in the Yale Pediatric Emergency Department. Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH), the only level 1 Trauma center in southern Connecticut. YNHH has more beds than any other hospital in New England. The Pediatric ED sees a large variety of cases, including patients sent from other hospitals.

This summer, I am part of a new Undergraduate Research Associate Program (URAP). The program is being run by Dr. Marc Auerbach and Dr. Gunjan Tiyyagura, and includes 6 other students. My job includes front-line work for various studies that are happening within the Pediatric ED, and a few projects happening off the hospital campus as well. URAP received about thirty project applications for us to work on from faculty across the Department of Pediatrics. Our work includes subject enrollment, interviews, and observation.

Being from New Haven, I have grown up with YNHH as a major part of my life. YNHH is one of the largest employers in New Haven. It is also where I was born. I learned about this internship from a family friend who is an attending at the Pediatric Primary Care Clinic. Through her connections in the pediatrics department, she heard about the new research program. Knowing my goal of becoming a doctor, she suggested I apply. I was very lucky that she informed me of this program, as my strong background as an EMT and Research Methods (PSYC 52) made me an ideal candidate for this program.

My first full week in the ER has been a blast, and a huge learning experience. One of the benefits of the program is that I am allowed to observe doctors and nurses as they do their jobs. I have already seen a number of really interesting cases, including some traumas, a couple of seizures, and a handful of children who were ill. I have already learned a lot, and am looking forward to even more time in the ER.

So far, I have only been oriented to a few studies. I spend quite a bit of time watching the patient tracking board, looking for subjects to enroll. As the summer starts to ramp up, I will be oriented to more studies, increasing the amount I am able to do. One study I started this week is an IV placement quality improvement audit. This study includes observing nurses placing IVs and recording a lot of variables including number of attempts and needle size. Among other things, the study is looking to find whether there is a difference between patients with and without sickle cell anemia.

Example patient tracking board. Picture from www.ed-infomatic.org. All names are examples and not actual patients
Example patient tracking board.
Picture from www.ed-infomatic.org. All names are examples and not actual patients

My experience in the YNHH Pediatric ER is just starting, and I am just starting to feel comfortable in the ER. As I become more used to work in the ER, I will also become more introduced to more research projects. I am very excited for what the summer has in store and to continue the work I started this week.

– Yedidya Ben-Avie, ’15

Week One at Healthy Waltham: What I’m Doing and How

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At Healthy Waltham, everyone is passionate about eating healthy, delicious food, and helping others live well. The staff and my fellow intern are inviting, enthusiastic, and a bit on the “crunchy” side– which for me is perfect. Already, the amount of work that goes into a community organization surprises me, and it is only my first week!

Healthy Waltham is a 501 C nonprofit organization that aims to promote healthy living in the Waltham community. It originally started as a coalition to organize various existing health-orientated groups; now Healthy Waltham has several of its own projects aimed at health promotion and childhood obesity prevention. Learning Gardens with local schools and housing developments, cooking classes, and the recent River Fest are just some of the activities in which Healthy Waltham is involved. Brandeis students often intern or volunteer with Healthy Waltham, such as the Veggie Buddies club through Waltham Group.

My role as an intern at Healthy Waltham mainly revolves around recipe development, nutrition, and teaching healthy cooking to kids, teens, and adults. During the Fall 2013 semester, I volunteered with Healthy Waltham and the Chill Zone to teach middle school students how to make healthy snacks. The internship is basically a continuation and expansion of my volunteer role. Another major goal of my internship is to make the cooking classes sustainable with future interns.

In addition to the cooking classes, I am helping with internship development, grant writing, and communications as well.  After becoming more familiar with the needs and specific goals of Healthy Waltham, hopefully I can contribute fresh ideas that will help the group move forwards.

How did you get involved with Healthy Waltham, you ask? Last summer, I met Judy Fallows at a farmer’s market. After talking for a while, she mentioned that she had been looking for someone to give cooking lessons at the Chill Zone for years. The classes started the following fall and Judy was so pleased with the program that she suggested the World of Work (WOW) fellowship for when I returned from abroad. I wanted to learn more about the community side of health care and to make the cooking class sustainable, so I accepted her offer.

The first week went well and I had more fun than I expected! The people at Healthy Waltham become more inspiring as I learn more about them because they are all so passionate and have done amazing things. From helping Reva Haselkorn, the chef instructor, with her cooking class at Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, I learned so much about how to teach others that I wish I knew in the fall! Another highlight of the week was taking the ServSafe certification course so I can handle food with the public more safely.

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During the rest of the summer, I hope to learn how to encourage others to make long-term changes to their lifestyle and to learn how to earn a grant. No matter what I do in the future, I want to help people improve their health on their own. Since I am considering research as a career, knowing how to win a grant may be necessary. Although I expect to learn about certain things, the most valuable lessons I learn during this internship will come unexpected.

– Yuki Wiland, ’15

From Healthier Schools to Green Products: The Boston Public Health Commission

I am interning with the Boston Public Health Commission, the nation’s oldest health department, which operates as an independent public agency providing a broad range of health programs and services.  Public service and access to quality healthcare are the foundations of their mission, which is to protect, promote, and preserve the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly the most vulnerable.  The Commission oversees about 1,200 employees and maintains its mission through more than 40 programs grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Addictions Prevention, Treatment & Recovery Support Services; and Emergency Medical Services.  I work under the Environmental Health Division within the Infectious Disease Bureau.  My responsibilities as an intern this summer are most heavily focused on the Environmental Health Division’s Safe Shops program as part of their Healthy Homes and Environment initiative.

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Me holding a photoionization detector to measure VOC’s and a Q-Trak to read CO2 levels within a middle school.

 I first encountered the Boston Public Health Commission through the Health and Justice, Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS) this past fall.  I shadowed health inspectors in nail salons and attended the Commission’s Healthy Cosmetology Committee meetings to discuss recent regulations being passed regarding the salons.  I quickly grew an interest in their mission to improve public health within Boston as it very much related to the work I was doing in JBS and decided to contact my current supervisor to negotiate my spring internship.  The work we completed in our JBS resulted in the completion of an indoor air quality study within several nail salons throughout Boston to measure levels of toxic volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and toluene.  Beginning my internship and continuing it over the summer was therefore a very natural transition from JBS, as I am conducting indoor air quality testing and educational outreach with several of the same nail salons.

Although I am acquainted with my workplace through my spring internship, this first week was still very much a new experience.  I think that the most profound difference between the summer and spring was not having fellow Brandeis students working with me.  This change initially seemed like a negative one as each day felt extremely long – alone in my cubical or in the field by myself – as I had no one to talk to at work besides the occasional questions I would ask my supervisor.  However, I now view it as a positive one, as it has forced me not only to reach out and talk to people around the office, but it also drove me to put myself out there and show initiative.  For instance, I became friendly with the woman that sits next to me through frequent conversation and now asked her if I could shadow her on a lead based paint inspection in two weeks, which I am excited to attend.  I also got to go on two indoor air quality inspections in a middle school in Dorchester and another in Brighton, to measure levels of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter.

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Example of a “greener” auto body shop paper towel.

The bulk of the work I completed this week was directed at the creation of a price comparison sheet to compare the prices of various paper products like toilet paper through a sampling of prices from different stores such as Shaw’s Supermarket and Whole Foods in order to show small businesses that “greener” recycled products are often not much more expensive than mainstream brands and sometimes even cheaper.

I have high expectations for my internship this summer and plan to go on several more health inspections, dealing with a range of environmental hazards from asbestos to measuring levels of volatile organic compounds within auto body shops.  Furthermore, I expect to gain further insight into the public health regulatory process, learning not only how and why these regulations are coming into existence, but also how they can effectively be enforced.

– Benjamin Krause, ’15

Playing Defense – First Week at the Public Defender Service in D.C.

How to Play Defense

Source: http://www.diversityprelawconference.org/
Source: www.diversityprelawconference.org/

This summer I have the pleasure of working for two defenders at the Mental Health Division of the Public Defender Service, Sheryl Jones and Hadley Truettner, in Washington D.C..  As an intern investigator, it is my responsibility to travel to different mental health facilities, interview our clients, inform them of their legal rights, and help them meet their needs.  When I first came across the internship listing on B.hired, I knew that I had my top choice for a summer job.

Both Sheryl and Hadley are wonderful mentors; they have shared numerous stories about their background and experience as attorneys. Even with just a week’s worth of experience, I know that my time at PDS will be invaluable for determining my interest in law school or a potential career at an attorney in the public sector.

Unlike most legal internships, PDS intern investigators are active “field agents” for their clients’ defense. We  interview clients, family members, eye witnesses, collect relevant information, request record releases from psychiatric hospitals, review and summarize medical records, attend hearings and sometimes we even get to testify on behalf of our clients!

Sheryl and Hadley both have numerous cases that they are working on and they receive new ones from the U.S Superior District Court every week. I have learned that the mental health system proceedings are very complex.  Essentially, patients can get emergencied to psychiatric wards against their will, if certain certified agents determine that they are a danger to themselves or others as a result of their mental illness. Once in the hospital, the court assigns one of the PDS attorneys to represent the clients because they need our help to get out.

I am always impressed by Sheryl and Hadley’s ability to champion their clients’ desires — and it’s not always easy. Many clients refuse to speak to us, others don’t trust us. However, years of experience have given the PDS attorneys a tough skin. Sheryl has informed me that she doesn’t take it personally anymore. It is clear that through this internship you learn to respect a client’s decision, no matter what that decision is. What happens to the cases where the clients refuse to speak with their attorney? Well, attorneys prepare as best they can without the client’s cooperation, and they show up to court hearings to channel the client’s decisions.

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From left to right, Sheryl Jones, me, and Hadley Truettner (at Mental Health Division headquarters, Public Defender Service)

I have had two remarkable experiences following PDS attorneys to court hearings. Regardless of the outcome of the hearings, both attorneys gave powerful and confident performances; they exhibited a thorough knowledge of case law and rules of evidence, clear grasp of their client’s case, and respect towards client’s wishes. They are models for how to build rapport with clients and how to fight for client’s wishes. The longer I stay in this internship, the deeper into the cases I get and the more fieldwork I do. I believe that by the end of the summer, I’ll be on my way learning how to play defense.

Historical Context

Over 100 years ago,  there was a mental health hospital called the “Government Hospital for the Insane.” Deep within the walls of this gothic facility lied psychiatrists and their patients…Looking at old pictures of the historic hospital easily evokes the first words of a scary story. Today, this mental health institution is called St. Elizabeth’s Hospital; it’s gone a long way from where it first started 100 years ago, but the hospital’s “moral treatment” policies still prevail.

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital (Source: Wikipedia)

Stigmatized Clients

While medicine has evolved and many mental health patients experience tremendous progress with regard to their symptoms, there is a stigma against them in contemporary society. The mentally ill are defined by their illness. Investigations coordinator at the Mental Health Division of the Public Defender Service, Carolyn Slenska, stated that “when you’re mentally ill, you’re never the person they listen to…People find ways to use [the mental illness] against you, that’s not fair.”

In many cases this stigma leads to a suppression of human rights. When we consider mental health patients, we must always remember to respect their liberties, their rights, and by extension, their decisions — no matter what those decisions are.

Life as an Intern Investigator

The main lesson we learn from Ms. Slenska is that mental health patients have the same rights as any individual.

-Gina Gkoulgkountina, ’15

My First Week at the National Consumers League

The logo of the National Consumers League
The logo of the National Consumers League

A few rows in front of me, Ralph Nader is giving an introductory speech with a crowd of roughly 100 people watching. Sitting on either side of him are leaders of various advocacy groups such as Public Citizen and EPIC. Thus began my first day of work at the National Consumers League in Washington, DC. I had barely arrived at the League office before I was sent out by my supervisor to attend Nader’s event called Unstoppable Right/Left Convergence. This event brought together both left and right-wing advocacy groups to find common ground on many pressing social issues such as the defense budget, child exploitation through commercialization, and the minimum wage in the United States.

I am a Public Policy intern for the National Consumers League, which is a non-profit consumer advocacy group that was first founded in 1899. I discovered the National Consumers League internship position through the Hiatt Career Center’s World of Work program in late November of 2013. I subsequently began applying for the position through BHired and secured the internship in early April of 2014. As the Brandeis Fellow of the NCL, I am responsible for assisting both the Vice President and the Executive Director of the League with a variety of projects throughout my internship. At the present moment, the League is preparing for a Congressional hearing regarding the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014 that was introduced by Minnesota’s junior senator Al Franken in late March of this year.

My first week working at the League was extremely hectic but also quite exciting. I learned a great deal about various topics such as international trade law through the lectures that were given by the representatives of the consumer advocacy and public interest groups at the Nader event. Assisting my supervisor with preparations for a Congressional hearing has allowed me to focus in-depth on one particular piece of legislation (in this case the Location Privacy Protection Act introduced by Senator Franken) and dissect the nuances of the bill. Through this research, I have become much more aware of the way mobile phone companies and data brokers manage and store consumers’ personal information.  I have become acquainted with a number of my fellow colleagues during the first week of my work and look forward to getting acquainted with my fellow interns once they arrive beginning next week. The League staff are all very cordial and are an absolute pleasure to work with. They certainly do care a great deal about the interns, frequently asking me if I needed anything.

Looking forward, I hope to gain more knowledge with regard to the implementation of public policy and to analyze in-depth the effects and implications of those policies for the general consumer population. Through the various projects and research that I will be conducting and assisting with, I expect that my writing skills will drastically improve and my research skills will be greatly sharpened. Perhaps most importantly, I believe that I will gain a new perspective with regard to the field of consumer advocacy and public policy as I progress in my work. My first week is rapidly coming to a close amidst a flurry of activity that began with the Ralph Nader conference and is ending with making preparations for the Congressional hearing next week. If the initial days are any indication of what is to come, I simply cannot wait to see what the coming weeks at the League have in store.

My supervisor and I during the first week of my internship
My supervisor and I during the first week of my internship

– Aaron Dai ’16

Summer at the American Civil Liberties Union

My first few days at my internship has given me a window into the way the legal system can be used to further social justice issues.

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), founded in 1920, is a nationwide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with more than 500,000 members dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality embodied in the U.S. Constitution.  Through its affiliates, members, and national staff, the ACLU has a presence in every state across the country.  Each affiliate works with its state’s legislature and policymakers to further the protection and advancement of civil liberties. This summer I am working in the Advocacy and Policy side of the organization, located in their national office in New York City. The Advocacy and Policy staff partner with ACLU affiliates and National Chapters throughout the country to protect civil liberties by developing effective advocacy strategies at the state level. The Advocacy and Policy team is part of an interdisciplinary team that develops state-based legislative and public policy campaigns in ACLU priority issue areas.

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The entry to the largest conference room. Next week we will meet the Director of the ACLU in this room.

As an intern in the Advocacy and Policy department, I will be supervised by an advocacy and policy counsel and will be part of a multi-issue team. My particular focus will be mass incarceration, under the ACLU Smart and Fair Campaign to End Mass Incarceration, which seeks to dramatically reduce incarceration and criminalization, particularly of communities of color, over the next 10 years. My supervisor is an expert in policy reform and specifically in criminal justice reform. Over the course of the summer, I will research and write on a number of matters relating to state-based advocacy to achieve the goals of the campaign. Over the first few days I have begun to look at the economic effect prisons have on rural communities—an interesting area that is not often fully explored in conversations about mass incarceration.

The work I’m doing is highly pragmatic and dynamic. In order to achieve its goal of significantly reducing mass incarceration in the next 10 years, the ACLU is weighing a variety of strategies, ranging from which states and polices should be targeted to which messaging strategies are the most effective.
My first few days, I have learned so much about the ways in which social justice can be achieved through strategic action, may it be through policy, litigation or a combination of the two.

My morning commute.
My morning commute.

Starting off at the Consortium

This summer I’m interning at the Umass Boston Consortium on Gender Security and Human Rights. There’s a lot to unpack on this long title alone and, as an intern, the discoveries haven’t stop after fully understanding what the Consortium does or how it operates. As a member of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, the Consortium is devoted to building knowledge about gender and security to inform policy-makers and practitioners all around the world, as well as to develop feminist perspectives on human rights and peace-building. It even helped passed the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, a landmark resolution that finally acknowledged the role of women in prevention and resolution of conflict. As an International and Global Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies double major, I am so excited about this organization’s mission and I don’t think I could have found something more suitable for my interests!

The Consortium’s ambitious mission comes along with only 3 paid staff members and only one small office, but over 20 summer interns from a variety of backgrounds, all sharing an interest in international development and gender analysis. With this much work to be done and the exciting combination of people’s strengths and backgrounds, we started the week off learning about the importance of working as a team. At the Consortium, this often means that while smaller groups may be working on specific projects, a variety of softwares and communication tools are used to maintain a cohesive team that moves forward as a whole in achieving its goals.

After having learned a whole lot about research softwares such as Zotero, project management softwares such as Smartsheet, and everything about the Consortium’s formatting conventions (as well as almost 30 people’s names!), I am very excited to start working on my projects. I am currently in the Consortium’s website development team, and we’ve been working on enhancing the research hub that the Consortium makes available to practitioners that don’t have access to academic databases. It’s been really interesting looking through different databases such as JSTOR and World Cat and picking out what we think would be interesting and valuable for the Consortium’s own search tool. I can’t wait to see it all come together and to test our new advanced search tool for myself!

One of my favorite things about the Consortium is the staff’s concern with making the intern’s experience as enriching and educational as possible. The Director has even taken extra time to assign me to a specific research topic because she wants to make absolute sure that my work will put me ahead of the game when I start writing a senior thesis. I feel so lucky to be working with people who never fail to take into consideration our needs as interns and college students. Right now, my potential research topics will probably be in the area of feminist critiques of human rights discourses, gender mainstreaming in international organizations or education, gender and conflict. I can’t wait to find out exactly what it will be and report back!

 

In the meantime, here are some pictures of my past few days at the Consortium:

 

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I’m very lucky to have other fellow Brandeis students, Emily and Iris, working with me at the Consortium every day!

 

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This is the seating-area of the Umass Boston Campus Center. The interns often get together here for lunch breaks when it’s too hot to go out in the lawn.

-Karen Lengler, ’15

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This is how the Consortium’s home page currently looks like. It’s a huge improvement from what the Consortium had previously and I’m excited to make it even better with the website development team!

ISlide USA: The Beginning of the Journey

This summer I will be working for a start-up, athletic footwear company called ISlide USA. Located in Norwood, MA, ISlide specializes in premium, highly customizable slides (athletic flip flops) that are allowing the business to grow every day. There is nothing like our product on the market today and consumers are starting to realize this.

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I located this internship through our baseball team’s Facebook group. The company reached out to our athletic department and our captain put the information in our group. I thought it sounded very interesting, so I went in for an interview and received the position. ISlide has created and sold slides to celebrities and athletes such as Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather, 2 Chainz, Riff Raff, and many others (view company website). We also have distributed them to the University of New Mexico, Northeastern University, and Southern New Hampshire University. During my internship I will be working mainly on sales, marketing, and generating interest for the company. However, I have been assured that if I find myself interested in any other aspect of the business I can be given the opportunity to learn it and work within it. With the unique corporate structure of ISlide, I will be working directly under CEO Justin Kittredge and the Sales Director which is an amazing opportunity. The company is still in the early stages so the interns here are given responsibilities and access to things that many college students are not. I loved my first week and I am excited to see the person I become by the end of the summer.

Waking up last Monday for my first day of work was nerve-racking. I arrived to the address with no issues, got out of my car, put my back pack on, and headed up the stairs. ISlide USA is located on the fourth floor of an old mill. What is inside is amazing. Worn wood floors and brick walls house the business. Boston sports heroes such as Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, Pedro Martinez, and Mickey Ward are painted on the white wood walls seen throughout the floor plan. There are boxes filled with slides stacked everywhere and a Pop-a-shot basketball game located in the corner. It is truly the most unique business office I have ever seen. While some may think that this space would distract the employees of the company, it actually does the opposite. When it comes right down to it, the mill has a way of bringing all of the members of ISlide closer as well as acting as a highly functional facility. We love this place and are proud to call it home.

After the whirlwind that occurs when meeting everyone and receiving your assignments, Justin told me that I needed to take a song and remix it to make the theme about slides. I was confused but the distraction made the transition much easier. I settled on remixing Sweet Caroline and had to sing my version of the song in front of everyone. It was embarrassing but I got it done; it felt like I had completed a right of passage. After that I got into my job, doing sales. I learned the ropes from my co-workers and began creating my database and contact list. Over the week my lists grew and my email’s sent folder swelled. Finally, towards the end of the week, I made my first sale. Everyone was excited for me and I was pumped. It felt great to do something that helped the company.

So far, I could not be happier with my decision to accept an internship with ISlide. I have only been here for a week and I already feel a true connection with the company, which is rare to find with an internship position. I come to work at 8:30 in the morning and don’t leave until 5:30 but the days don’t feel long, I am still having fun. Going forward my goal is to gain as much knowledge as I can. I want to use this experience to learn about two things I find very interesting, business and entrepreneurship.

First week with the Center on Gender, Security, and Human Rights

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Its a beautiful sunny day and I have no idea where I am going, navigating criss-crossing high-ways into the heart of the city. I pull up to the entrance of UMass Boston and the whole city falls away, melting into the edges of the bay. There is a girl hoolah-hooping by the water in the shade of the trees. You can catch glimpses of the bay through every window I walk by in the Campus Center. I am looking for the door labeled “the Center on Gender, Security, and Human Rights” (CGSHR) (genderandsecurity.org)

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The Center on Gender, Security, and Human Rights is an organization devoted to the dual goals of building knowledge around gender and security to inform policy-makers and practitioners, as well as creating feminist gendered analyses to promote justice and sustainable peace. Founded in 2002, the CGSHR is still a small organization with just three official staff members. It is a great place to learn the inner workings of a small NGO, as well as become familiar and well-versed in the latest research into peace building, armed conflict, and the work of the UN. The CGSHR is currently a member of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security and helped to get passed UN Security Council Resolution 1325. This landmark resolution,

reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.”

The CGSHR is also currently working on the development of a Research Hub on their website – genderandsecurity.org – with the aim to make this the world’s most comprehensive and publicly accessible database of scholarly research on the topics in this field (gender, armed conflict, peace building, security, and justice in post-conflict societies). The Research Hub can be used to inform policymaking, empower women activists from conflict zones lacking access to this important research and information, and help foster new collaborations between scholars in the field.

At the moment, all the interns at the CGSHR are working on entering resources into this Research Hub online. We have been taught how to use a bunch of awesome software tools, such as Zotero (creates citations and stores your research for you!) and SmartSheet. At the most recent staff meeting, however, we were given a list of Annotated Bibliographies that the CGSHR still needs work on, and we made a list of those that we were most interested in. We will find out our assignments soon – the ones that I signed up for had to do with gender analyses of peace building, peace negotiations, corruption (in governments) with a focus on the Middle East. Once assigned a topic, we will be searching for current research within our topic, creating annotated bibliographies, and posting these to the website. I am looking forward to reading widely on these topics, for they will help me to narrow in on what I want to pursue for my senior thesis in politics next year!

IMG_2974The first week here has been full of information and insightful conversations. The staff meeting taught us all about the methods of doing a gender analysis (of anything!) by always remembering to ask questions (What perspectives and viewpoints is the negotiation missing without involving women in the peace process? What different needs/capabilities/and aspirations do women bring to a post-conflict situation? etc.) and what certain key terms in the field mean (DDR, TRCs, CSOs, and the like). Every day (if it is sunny), the interns each lunch together by the bay. And since the office is small, we are encouraged to work either from home or a nearby coffee shop together a couple times a week. The Social Chair at the CGSHR will soon be planning events and finding free concerts/events/things to do in Boston for us all to get to know each other. And I am lucky to get to work with these two girls, also from Brandeis!

Week one leaves me excited to get more involved in the research in this field! Next on my reading list: the IASC Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings

– Emily Friedman

ioby: In Our Backyard

This summer I am working in Brooklyn, NY for a small non-profit called ioby. ioby stands for “in our backyard” and it works to help support local community projects across the country. ioby is an online crowd resourcing platform  that allows people to post, organize and fund-raise for project proposals made to improve a community. Many people that use ioby do not have experience fundraising or community organizing. Because of this, ioby offers trainings on grassroots fundraising and organizing in order to help everyone achieve their goal. The idea behind this organization is that people know what their communities need most. Often times city planners or people in positions of power have set ideas on what a good community looks like. ioby is different because we try to empower people to achieve their own vision of a vibrant community.  Check out this video to learn more.

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ioby logo

I found the organization through a colleague that I worked with at the New York City Council, last summer. Earlier this year I sent him an email asking whether he knew about any organizations that were active around issues of public space and urban issues. I also told him that I am involved with organizing on campus at Brandeis and would be interested in exploring that field as well. My colleague knows the co-founder of the organization sent me some information and put me in touch. I browsed through the website and decided that I was interested in working for this organization. From there I sent a cover letter and resume and went through a phone interview. I was thrilled when offered the internship.

So far I am two weeks into my internship and I have done a number of different tasks. Because this organization is so small (3 full time staff and 5 part time staff), I will be doing a little bit of everything. One project that I have already completed is researching and outlining blog posts for 3 different topics that relate to many proposed projects from our website. These topics are food education, art in tactical urbanism and women of color in biking. ioby is planning on hosting webinars around all three topics to dig into the topics that our project leaders find interesting. These webinars will also provide people with information on how to successfully complete projects that fall within these 3 subject areas. In addition to the research, I am helping out with the logistics of the organization. I have been helping with book keeping to make sure that the organization’s finances are all in order for auditing. The biggest project that I will be taking on this summer will be running a phone survey of all of the people that have used our website in order to improve the organization as well as understand the long term impacts that our organization has had. Right now I am waiting for finalization of the questions before beginning the calls.

This summer I am looking forward to running this survey and improving my data analysis skills. In addition to this I am looking forward to learning more about how a small non-profit operates. I am really happy to be working with ioby. So far my interactions with my co-workers have been great and I am looking forward to the rest of the summer.

-Josh Berman ’15

My week at Lawyers for Children

This summer, I am so fortunate to be working as a social work intern with the non-profit advocacy organization Lawyers for Children. Lawyers for Children, or LFC as everyone likes to call it, consists of attorneys and social workers that provide free representation and services to children of New York City who have been either voluntarily placed in foster care, or are involved in cases of abuse, neglect, adoption, or high conflict custody cases.

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As an intern, I work under the supervision of my assigned social worker, and I am able to be involved in her cases first hand. This includes reading the cases and writing up case notes, visiting the youth’s foster home or group placement, sitting in on client interviews, and attending court for our youths when necessary. Along with about 20 other legal and social work interns, I also am able to participate in training throughout the summer. This allows the interns to not only learn more about what LFC as an organization seeks to accomplish for the youths, but also take a deeper look into the New York City child welfare system itself and the exact situations that we are fighting for for our clients.

Though I’m sure most people feel this way on their first day, I was incredibly nervous as I was making my way to the offices. However, I was calmed as I walked through the doors and saw crafts and paintings all over the walls created by the LFC clients. Not only that, but the working environment itself was so friendly and all of the employees were beyond welcoming. All of the interns sit together in our own conference room/office space, so we have really been able to get to know each other. There are even a few Brandeis alums in the office which helped to make for an easy transition. It was incredible to me how comfortable I felt at this internship so quickly. Within the first week I, along with the other interns, were really able to hit the ground running and be completely immersed in the organization. I sat in on and observed 4 court cases in Manhattan’s Family Court for a few of our clients. During this time, I sat with my assigned social worker as she interviewed our clients to find out more about their wishes and goals moving forward in their foster care placement cases, and we then relayed this information to the lawyers representing each case. I also was able to visit a mother-child foster care placement home, where all of the residents are aged 16-21 women in the system who have children of their own.

New York Family Court

This summer, I’m hoping to learn more about the inner-workings of the New York City foster care system. I am so looking forward to assisting this organization and advocating for our clients to the best of my abilities. Because this is such a hands-on experience, I am excited to learn what it really takes to be a social worker and hopefully determine what path I may follow in the future.

 

First week at Innerscope Research

My first week at Innerscope Research is finally over and I already feel at home. I first heard about the company through personal research. When I heard a representative was speaking at a conference at Harvard, I immediately registered. From that point on, I kept in contact and reached out to current employees as well. I was passionate about what they did and wanted to get involved in any shape or form. In the spring, I applied for an internship and was able to secure a position for the summer! I didn’t expect to get one since it is a small company. However, things worked out and my first week is already over.

Innerscope Research

I walked into the place on a Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. I sat on a couch as I waited for the Internship Director to come by. I was welcomed with a big smile and a somewhat awkward handshake. The office is on the second floor of a building and is split into two office spaces. On one side of the building is the Media Lab where participants come in for experiments. Opposite of the Media Lab are the office rooms and conferences. Of course, they also reserved an area for the interns! I have my own desk and work computer (still figuring out how to use). Everyone welcomed me into the company and went out of their way to introduce themselves to me at my desk. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting everyone to be so kind and genuine. After a few days, I was already able to joke around with some of the Analysts, Project Manager, and the CEO (we’re buds now)!

From this summer internship, I hope to learn from the Analysts and Project Managers. A decent amount of employees have their Ph.D and I plan on figuring out whether graduate school will be in my future path as well. Innerscope’s purpose is what I have always wanted to do. By the end of the summer, I hope to figure out whether or not this is the place for me.
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Innerscope Research is a market research company that uses neuroscience tools to answer clients’ questions on marketing. Their methodologies include eye-tracking, facial coding, and biometrics. Eye-tracking is used to locate where the consumers are looking at within an ad/commercial. Facial coding is used with cameras to study facial muscle movements that correlate with certain emotions. As for biometrics, Innerscope specifically uses GSR ( galvanic skin response) to focus on sweat glands and a heart monitor. With these tools, Innerscope is able to study how consumers react to ads. For instance, does the Twix commercial make a consumer engaged and focused? Are the consumers focusing on the characters during the PopTart commercial? Exploring with consumer neuroscience depends on the clients and what they’re looking for. Innerscope Research’s main goal is to analyze consumer’s non-conscious behavior to improve marketing/advertising worldwide. Sounds cool? Trust me, it’s even cooler from behind-the-scenes…As an intern, my main responsibility is to help and support projects through data entry/analysis, client reports, and data mining. I work closely with a Senior Analyst who is also the Internship Director. With him, I will be exposed to the different departments within the company including Sales, Marketing, and Finance. There is also an Internship project that I was assigned with the other intern. Luckily, this isn’t due until the end of the summer.

They also keep their twitter up-to-date!

 

 

– Alicia Park, ‘ 15

 

Back at McLab

This summer, I have the pleasure of working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the lab of Dr. Sandra McAllister. The McAllister Lab studies breast cancer as a systemic disease, and our research focuses on identifying systemic factors that contribute to tumor progression and finding ways to interdict their function. Located in the Longwood Medical Area of Boston, MA, our lab is housed in the Karp Research Building.

This is actually my third summer at the McAllister Lab, as I interned here previously after my junior and senior years of high school. For those two prior years, I was at the lab under the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center CURE Program. I have continuously maintained dialogue with Dr. McAllister throughout the academic years, and she welcomed me to return to the lab when I had asked if I could return for another summer.

During my very first summer at the McAllister Lab (after junior year of high school), my mentor and I started a project called the Aging Project. In the Aging Project, we are studying the effect of age on triple-negative breast cancer. We have a cohort of young mice and old mice, inject them with human triple-negative breast cancer cell lines, and allow the tumors to grow. The project has been ongoing since its initiation two years ago, so I will once again contribute to its progress. Initially, I was working side-by-side with my mentor throughout my first and second summers. However, he left to pursue graduate school in the middle of the second summer; I ended up working alone for the last two weeks, but with assistance from other post-doctoral researchers in the lab if it was necessary. This summer, I am yet again without a direct mentor. Fortunately, I am still receiving guidance from my principal investigator on the project, and the other post-docs in the lab are also willing to assist me on protocols I am unfamiliar with. In terms of research related responsibilities this summer, I will be doing a lot of immunostaining, tissue culture, gene expression analysis, and literature searches. Other responsibilities concern general upkeep of the lab, such as updating and maintaining cell line and histology databases, restocking supplies, and organization. I will additionally attend weekly meetings with Dr. McAllister and the lab, departmental floor meetings, seminars, and journal clubs.

My first week consisted of catching up on meetings with my principal investigator, as well as planning the experiments that I will be doing. Planning experiments on my own is a new challenge for me, as I am used to having my previous mentor tell me what to do and guide me through each protocol. I feel overwhelmed and stressed about what I have to get done on the Aging Project, but I have confidence that I will be supported by other members of the lab if I need anything. There are also new members of the lab that I have not seen during previous summers, such as new post-docs and summer students, so I hope that I can become well-acquainted with them as well. This summer, I hope to build on my current knowledge of the McAllister Lab’s research and learn how to conduct myself independently in a research setting. I definitely miss having my mentor’s direct guidance, but I am looking forward to growing as a scientist.

– Irene Wong, ’17

Presenting the Aging Project at the New England Science Symposium, April 2014
Presenting the Aging Project at the New England Science Symposium, April 2014
Dr. Sandra S. McAllister Lab, Summer 2013

First Week at NYC Seminar and Conference Center

“Next stop is 23rd Street. Stand clear of the closing doors!” says the subway announcer.  I gather my belongings, knowing that I have to get off at the next stop. When the M train stops at the 23rd Street platform, the doors open and hordes of people get off the train with me. I quickly make my way to exit because, knowing NYC, a line to exit the subway station will always form, and I definitely do not want to get caught up in that in my morning commute. After I exit the station, I catch myself walking quickly to NYC Seminar and Conference Center (NYCSCC) to keep up with the fast-paced pedestrian speed of those around me.

NYC Seminar and Conference Center
NYC Seminar and Conference Center

This summer, I am interning at NYCSCC, located in the Flatiron District of New York City. It is a small business that hosts corporate and business clients’ meetings, seminars, and professional development events. Its clients range from people in the non-profits to financial services, both domestic and international. NYCSCC’s mission is to provide seminar and conference space for companies and groups to use while being budget-friendly. NYCSCC offers facilities that are up-to-date, tech support throughout events, and catering and amenities services for its business clients.

As a Finance intern, my responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

1) Collaborating with NYCSCC employees to complete tasks essential to the business’s functions

2) Collaborating with other NYCSCC interns on various projects ranging from inventory management to brand analysis

3) Focusing on Financial Analysis projects to improve small business financial operations

  •         Forecast recommendations for where the business’s budget should be spent to grow the business
  •         Analyze financial statements of a company in previous years, traffic on website, and all other data to draw correlations and conclusions on NYCSCC’s profitability

I found out about the internship through attending the NYC CIC career fair, January 2014. I am interested in accounting and financial work, and I immediately applied for this opportunity after speaking to a NYCSCC employee at the fair. After successfully navigating the interview and speaking with my future supervisor about my responsibilities as an intern, she offered and I accepted the internship. Since I wanted to stay in my home city of NYC over the summer while pursuing my interests through an internship, being a Finance intern satisfied my internship search.

My first week at NYCSCC was great. I met the other summer interns at the company and got the chance to know them better over lunches and group projects. All the interns were friendly and were willing to help each other out in any way possible. On the first day of the internship, all the interns were given a tour that was similar to what potential clients would see when they request a NYCSCC tour. NYCSCC rents out a couple of floors in the building. Throughout the tour, we learned about the building’s history and were provided with interesting anecdotes of the rooms. After the tour ended, I had a better understanding of the different rooms that clients could book, depending on if they were looking to host a social or a professional event.

In the following couple of days, all of the interns and I worked on projects that involved looking into different aspects of the company and providing suggestions for improvement. In order to evaluate how NYCSCC is performing, I looked into data that other conference centers have put on their websites and compared them to NYCSCC’s data.

While working on the projects, I learned that small business hospitality companies, such as NYCSCC, recently began to gain business again after the 2007-2008 financial crisis. According to Trends in the Conference Center Industry 2013, the reason that NYCSCC follows the economic trend is that this company falls into the category of a luxury good. When the economy is not performing well, small business hospitality companies take a dip in profits as well. People are less willing to spend money to book a space at a conference center when they can perhaps save some money and hold it at their own company’s space.

 

Photo Courtesy of www.nycseminarcenter.com

For the rest of the summer, I expect to handle and complete more finance and accounting projects for the company. In addition, I expect to observe multiple NYCSCC events and see how event managers take charge from the beginning to the end of the event.

 

My First Week at SJ Vietnam

I started my internship at SJ Vietnam last week and have been very excited for my work there this summer. The first few days were filled with getting to know my workplace and the people I work with. I was impressed by the huge number of volunteers and part-time staff at SJ Vietnam and their commitment to the organization’s work. Besides volunteers and part-time partners, there are 9 full-time staff at the office, and they are extremely helpful and make me feel like part of a family. My supervisor walked me over the organization’s work and ongoing projects on the first day. During the next two days I had a chance to sit in the office’s midweek meeting and listened to our fundraising challenges. Then I started working on my first assigned project and my supervisor has been very helpful and supportive so far.

images

SJ Vietnam started in 2004 aiming to connect international and Vietnamese volunteers to work with the most in-need communities in northern Vietnam. Throughout 10 years of endless work, the organization has brought more than 5000 volunteers worldwide and across the country to help children from low-income families access better education and proper health treatment. With its mission “Volunteering for sharing, learning and being responsible”, SJ Vietnam currently has 9 full-time staff in Hanoi office and 10 part-time program managers directing the organization’s work including programs in the National Pediatric Hospital, Fisher Village, and Youth House School to name a few.

During my 10 week- internship, I will work as an Impact Valuation Intern conducting research on the effectiveness of the organization’s ten ongoing projects using SJ Vietnam’s and the local authorities’ statistical data on the children and communities we serve. At the end of the internship, I will present a thorough analysis on the organization’s performance and implement recommended strategies to help improve the programs’ impact. I will also conduct weekly site visits to meet with volunteers and communities to gain a better understanding of the landscape of the nonprofit market in Vietnam and deepen my background in development work.

I knew for sure that I wanted to come back to Vietnam this summer to learn more about development. I started looking for NGOs and nonprofits and came up with a list of two hundred organizations doing development and humanitarian work. Narrowing my search to those focusing on either microfinance or education in the northern area, I finalized my list to twenty and started contacting their human resources departments. Among the 4 organizations I interviewed with, SJ Vietnam was seeking an intern who could conduct quantitative research on impact evaluation, a field that I had some experience in from my last internship. I chose SJ Vietnam because of their significant impact and my very helpful supervisor.

My goals for the summer are to apply my knowledge from my classes at Brandeis into real life work, improve my software skills such as STATA, Excel, PowerPoint, to learn more about non-profits and NGOs sector and the landscape of development work in Vietnam. Last but not least, I wish to give back to my home country and spend time with children to observe the different living and social conditions between Vietnamese and American children. Overall, I believe I will complete my tasks this summer and hope that I will leave giving a little help to SJ Vietnam.

– Trang Luu ’15

The American Jewish World Service: A week of immense learning

Last week, I started interning in the New York office of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS). AJWS is a non-profit organization that, drawing on the Jewish commitment to justice, works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. One of the many things AJWS does is train key opinion leaders in the American Jewish community to advocate in support of U.S. policies that will improve the lives of people in the developing world. I was placed as an intern in the Experiential Education department, which, among other things, devises the curricula through which these leaders are trained. Right now, the team is most focused on a current fellowship of Rabbis which will be going on a ten-day trip to Kenya in August. In Kenya, the Rabbis will learn first-hand from grassroots activists in the area who are working to combat injustices against women, children, and the LGBT community. The trip is just a part of the program though – these Rabbis have spent six months with AJWS learning about advocacy and the issues Kenya faces. They will spend six more months continuing the learning process when they return, after which these Jewish leaders will be well-prepared to lead their communities to advocate for human rights.

I have several responsibilities as an intern, which include collecting art and poetry from Kenya to include in the curriculum; collating and organizing survey data; supporting recruitment for future programs; assisting in preparation of pre-departure emails and orientation calls; and assisting where necessary. AJWS has a meeting-heavy culture, so I have also been attending several meetings a day.

That's me holding the "I."
That’s me holding the “I.”

I found this internship through Brandeis’ B.Hired website. After sending in an application, I was interviewed twice and was then offered the internship. I was very excited, as I had previously been exposed to the work AJWS does, and I wanted to be a part of this movement for real change. Since starting my internship, I know I made the right choice. Everyone here has been remarkably friendly and welcoming. My general impression is that this is an open and comfortable environment filled with people who genuinely care about making a difference. In just one week, I have already learned so much about human rights issues around the world and best practices for dealing with these issues. I have been exposed to a new way of talking and thinking about such matters.

This summer, I expect to learn a great deal. I think I will develop the skills to better advocate for human rights and an end to poverty in the developing world. I also think I will learn how to thrive in an office environment, and how to network. I also hope to learn more about myself. As a rising senior, I expect that this internship will help me make decisions about my future after Brandeis.

– Jessi Puterman ’15

We Start with ABC

I began my internship after being home for only one week. I moved from Paris, a city with harsh housing socio-economic divides, to my home in New York, where one block can house families of every socio-economic status.

ABC

ABC

I am interning at the Association to Benefit Children’s Echo Park location on 126th and Lexington Avenue. I work with social workers to meet the various and vast needs of our clients — families with young children, under five years of age, who are victims of trauma or domestic violence and in need. All Children’s House is the only active preventative program now using child-parent psychotherapy to resort home environments and strengthen family relations.

I learned about ABC when I did volunteer work in the Echo Park school’s classrooms for a community service program in high school. I emailed my previous director asking if there were any positions available for summer internships and I was interviewed by the director of All Children’s House immediately. With my interest in housing and education policy issues and parent-child relations I secured the internship for this summer.

All Children’s House work is accomplished through support groups, weekly meetings, housing assistance, and advocacy for the clients. Depending on the needs of the family, I attend home visits with the social workers, bring the clients to housing court or meetings with housing organizations, help find day care services for the clients’ children, and research health care and housing options for the clients.

 

DV Shelter  http://www.safehorizon.org/index/what-we-do-2/domestic-violence--abuse-53/domestic-violence--abuse-shelters-340.html
DV Shelter
http://www.safehorizon.org/index/what-we-do-2/domestic-violence–abuse-53/domestic-violence–abuse-shelters-340.html

My first week started off with a bit of office work in the morning and then my first home visits. I attend two home visits my first afternoon at work that threw me into the reality of social work very quickly. Within the week I had been to New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartments, Domestic Violence Shelters, Family Shelters, and low income apartments. My most engaging experience was the forth day on the job. I was asked to take a client who I had just met the day before to the Family Justice Center. The FJC helps families apply for housing, get into shelters, manage their budgets, and also offers other services such as parenting classes and self sufficiency courses. Although much the same as ABC, it has resources unavailable at other agencies, such as access to NYPD offices for documents such as orders of protection, and the legal aid services for housing court. That was what we were there for. Here, I learned that Section 8 Housing is frozen in New York and there is a 2 year wait minimum for NYCHA domestic violence priority housing, and about a 4-10 year wait for the NYCHA applicants who do not qualify for priority.

I have observed the toll social work takes on my colleagues but also the rewards we can feel by aiding families in need. The main issues in NYC right now are lack of housing, and lack of understanding between the different organizations trying to help the same people. The amount of paperwork and the variety of formats organizations “need” prevent much from being accomplished. Now that I know what work will be like, I expect to learn more about the services NYC provides to those in need, and to analyze ways policy can aid people in their daily lives who are faced with homelessness and violence. There must be more efficient and less complicated systems in place to aid those to safety.

– Alex Hall

First Week with GRAG

Asalaam Aleekum! Nangeen def, ça va? As I write this, the sounds of the city of Dakar, Senegal drift in through the office window: construction from the housing development across the street, taxis passing through the neighborhood, and some of my co-workers conversing in Wolof infused with French. I have been living in Dakar for the past four months while studying French language and African development as well as attempting to learn the dominant Wolof language and the art of Senegalese cuisine.

A street in the northeastern area of the city.

Dakar has truly been an experience. The capital city of Senegal, it sits on a peninsula on the westernmost point of Africa jutting into the Atlantic. Because of its location in the Sahel region, sand is an omnipresent obstacle here, whether you are walking through it on sidewalks, emptying it from your clothes, or attempting to protect your shoes from the inevitable wear that constant exposure brings about. Gross poverty mixes with excess of wealth on the city streets and people of every nationality and social strata cross paths to work, study, or travel through the region. Experiencing Dakar has complicated my knowledge of West African environmental politics, cross-cultural identity, and, especially, the international aid industry.

The organization I am interning with this summer is Global Research and Advocacy Group (GRAG), a non-profit that works with marginalized communities in Senegal and the greater African continent. I’ve been interested in international development work for a while and knew that this summer would be a great opportunity to experience the industry first-hand. I began my internship search by asking my study abroad program directors and classmates who were interning through the program about their organizations to decide if there were any which aligned with my academic and career interests. I contacted a few companies, sent my resume, and spoke with supervisors about intern responsibilities and planned summer projects. After meeting with the director of GRAG to discuss their goals, I felt that they were the best fit for me. We discussed my qualifications and they offered me an internship position.

Plaque with the GRAG Mission Statement  hanging at the office entrance.
Plaque with the GRAG Mission Statement hanging at the office entrance.

GRAG is a relatively new organization – created just two years ago – and the team is somewhat small, with a staff of about 20 and a few occasional consultants. The size gives the office a more comfortable feel and the attitudes of the team especially contribute to that. Everyone has time to drop into the office I share with another intern for a quick chat that may or may not turn into a Wolof lesson, and I talk to every person here at least once a day because greeting is so important to Senegalese culture. There was an upcoming deadline for a project during the first few days that had everyone harried and feeling rushed, but even that did not stop the flow of conversation and jokes that carries the work along.

GRAG is currently in the midst of a campaign for the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting(FGM/C) on the African continent and most of the energy here goes into that initiative. The team is based in a Francophone West-African country but works as part of an international consortium for many projects, so a large part of my job so far has involved French-to-English translation work and general editing. I actually jumped straight into the project even before my first day: my supervisor sent me part of the proposal to translate a few days beforehand and I decided to get a head start. That decision turned out to be the right one because the amount of documents to translate and research projects to complete sent the entire team into a whirl of activity during my first week. My first days here have been a crash-course in formal document translation and crafting international funding proposals, two fields that I am very interested in.

Though we finished the major points during the first three days, everyone is still tying loose ends and adding new ideas to enhance the proposal before the final review in a few weeks.  We are still working towards the final deadline, but if the consortium is accepted, the initiative against FGM/C will be implemented for a preliminary five years before possible extension for five more.

Me and another intern taking a break from translation.
Me and another intern taking a break from translation.

The prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation, or Female Genital Cutting, ranges by ethnic group and region, and is not as much of an issue in Senegal as in other African and Middle-Eastern nations, not to mention the recent increase in Western countries. But the practice has gained the notice of big international organizations like the UN and Tostan that link the larger themes of female empowerment and public health development to the issue. Problems abound in these initiatives, including those of criminalization of ethnic group practices, the battle between tradition and certain kinds of modernity, and a complicated (and oftentimes paternalistic) history between African groups and international aid programs. The consortium proposal attempts to validate these concerns while keeping in mind the risks that the practice poses to young women and their communities.

The FGM initiative is just one being launched by GRAG this summer and I am excited to help with this and others, such as the opening of a learning center for vulnerable populations here in Dakar. In this predominantly Muslim country, that includes sexual minorities like homosexual men and women, but also sex workers and others who do not follow accepted standards of living. In the next two months I hope to learn more about the daily processes of advocacy work and international development, and what projects are being done to help marginalized people in the region achieve their full human rights.

Ba beneen yoon, or until next time!

First Week at MCAD

Second only to New York, Massachusetts was one of the first states to create an organization entirely devoted to fighting discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation. Located next to the Massachusetts state house, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, or MCAD, utilizes multiple departments to both educate the public of their civil rights and investigate complaints for probable cause of discrimination. Anyone can come to MCAD and discuss discrimination they feel they are receiving, and MCAD will file formal complaints for any person who wishes to. After the complaint has been filed, investigators move forward by receiving statements from the respondents (persons accused of discrimination), then rebuttals from the complainant (person filing the complaint). MCAD uses the standard of probable cause to determine if the case should move forward. This means that if the investigator finds probable cause that discrimination occurred/is occurring, they move forward with the case.

I found an internship position at the MCAD through the Brandeis B-hired website. After applying to several positions, I was called back to interview for two positions; outreach and housing/testing. After interviewing, Eric Bove, the director of housing and testing, emailed me asked if I wanted an internship. After receiving details about the organization and the work I would likely be doing, I accepted the position.

Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House

As mentioned, this summer I am working on the Housing and Testing department of MCAD. The department is responsible for investigating complaints regarding housing discrimination. In addition, the department runs tests in all areas to find out if discrimination is occurring. For example, if the MCAD receives multiple complaints about housing discrimination from a certain realty office or landlord, the department would create a test and send out trained testers to find out if discrimination is taking place. This may be in the form of sending one white person and one person of another ethnicity (based on the ethnicity of the people alleging discriminatory practices) with similar credentials to see if the second person is treated differently.

MCAD, located on the sixth floor
MCAD, located on the sixth floor

My first week at MCAD mostly consisted of intense training. The new summer interns received training for four (4) days in Massachusetts state law and MCAD practices. We learned that most of the complaints filed at MCAD fall under Massachusetts law 151B Section 4, which lists protected categories that are unlawful to discriminate against. While I will learn more about my exact responsibilities next week, as of now, I am to do at least one day of complaint intake. This involves meeting with people who come to the office to allege discrimination. My job is to help them draft and file a complaint. Additionally, a lot of the work I will be doing involves reading through case files and contacting either the complainant or the respondent to continue the investigation process.

MCAD
MCAD

One of my goals for this summer is to fully familiarize myself with Massachusetts discrimination law as well as how the MCAD process impacts individuals who have faced discrimination. That said, the first week has already shown me that while there are myriad people willing to fight for the rights of others, most cases take an extremely long time and those who are discriminated against still suffer, even if they recover damages in the end.

Additionally, I have found through training that while many people are covered under the protected categories in 151B Section 4, there are still groups of people that I believe should also be protected but are not. One obvious group is social class (upper class, middle class, lower class, etc). While Massachusetts housing law makes Section 8 (people receiving money from the government) a protected class, people can still be lawfully discriminated against for their class in all other types of law such as employment.

Finally, we had an interesting discussion in training about an idea going around in Massachusetts about making physical appearance a protected category. The way many people see it, there is no doubt that people are treated differently based on their physical appearance. The question of how to define this concept in legal terms remains unanswered. Thus, my hope for the summer is to learn how certain protected categories came into being and how new ones can be defined and added to state (and federal) law.

unnamed
Boston Common, right next to my office

Getting Acquainted with Streetlight Schools

“Good after…”

“Good afternoon visitor it is nice…”

“Good afternoon visitor it is nice to see you!”

After three tries, the classroom full of young learners welcomed me to Leopard Tree Learning Centre in perfect unison. I started giggling as my supervisor, the founder and director of Streetlight Schools (which runs Leopard Tree) introduced me as Ma’am, and told the class that I wasn’t just a visitor, but that I would be their new tutor. Then, as if on cue, the littlest ones jumped up from their seats and all ran up to introduce themselves and hug me. Although I was clearly disturbing the class, their teacher (whom they also refer to as “Ma’am”), let them carry on and eventually we all settled down and listened to her lesson on multi-digit addition and subtraction.

Despite it only being my first day, I could already tell that the class was hectic. There were at least 25 kids in the room, ranging in ages from 5-14. Leopard Tree is split into two classes: younger learners and older learners (with a few exceptions in those divisions). There is one teacher for each class. However, within those two rooms, there are a range of skill levels, both high-need learners and low-need learners. The Centre is intended to be an education lab that caters to children who live in Bjala Square, a property company that aims to bring affordable urban living to Jeppestown, a suburb of Johannesburg. Streetlight Schools and Bjala Properties recently partnered together to bring Leopard Tree to the Square, so that they could assess urban education and attempt to create a model that caters to the needs of urban learners in South Africa. (For more information on Streetlight Schools click here and for more information on Bjala Properties click here.)

Photo courtesy of mafadi.co.za
Photo courtesy of mafadi.co.za

The learners, most of whom live at Bjala Square, come from a variety of schools in the area, and obviously have a range of backgrounds in literacy and numeracy. That is what makes the Centre so hectic, as of now. It is very difficult for only two teachers to cater to the needs of all of the learners, which is part my job to alleviate as an intern. However, the current set-up of the Centre is temporary: Streetlight is currently working on a huge expansion project, through which the Learning Centre will have a new location where they can accommodate at least 100 learners. They are also in the process of founding a private school in the neighborhood, where they intend to implement the education models that they have been evaluating/developing in the Centre. (The new centre will continue to serve as an education lab to create new and innovative models of urban education.) They hope to open the school next year, beginning with grades R (kindergarten) and 1, and then adding a level each year.

As an intern, my duties fit into each of these different missions. In the mornings, I work in the office, mostly doing research for Streetlight. Right now, I am researching literacy assessments for primary school learners, and using models from leading education systems in the world. I am also in the process of creating assessments that I will be administering to the younger learners to gauge their levels of literacy within the next week. After completing this, I will begin to develop an assessment for the higher levels.

Photo courtesy of http://www.leopardtree.org/
Photo courtesy of http://www.leopardtree.org/

In the afternoons, I work in the Learning Centre as a tutor. My purpose as of now is to give extra attention to those learners that need it, but like I mentioned previously, within the next week or so I will begin to administer assessments. So far, I have really been enjoying the balance between research and office work that I’ve been responsible for, alongside fun afternoons with the learners. I’m eager to see how my responsibilities change and progress throughout the coming weeks.

 

My First Week at MCDI

Malaria is a disease of poverty that affects approximately 207 million people around the world and results in 627,000 deaths per year.  Malaria is transmitted by an infected female Anopheles mosquito (only female mosquitoes bite humans!) that transmits the Plasmodium sporozoite to humans through its salivary glands. The parasite then begins to replicate in the liver and travels into the blood stream where it eventually bursts.  The fever and chills that are chronicled in malaria cases result from this burst.  The malaria life cycle depends on this transmission between mosquito and human to survive. Therefore, to prevent and eradicate malaria this cycle must be broken.

This summer I am working with Medical Care Development International (MCDI) at their Malabo, Equatorial Guinea site.  MCDI is a sector of MCD, an NGO located in Maine that focuses on enhancing the well-being of peoples and communities in developing nations in the areas of health and socio-economic development.  MCDI accomplishes this mission by empowering people with the knowledge and behavior necessary to improve health care in quality and quantity so that it is affordable to the neediest people in the world.  In Malabo, MCDI has two ongoing Malaria control projects.  The Bioko Island Malaria Control Project (BIMCP) concentrates on reducing, monitoring and exploring malaria cases that occur on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. While the Equatorial Guinea Malaria Vaccine Initiative (EGMVI) is working on implementing one of the first malaria vaccine clinical trials in the world, with the use of Sanaria’s PfSPZ vaccine.

The EGMVI team on my first "African Wear Friday"
The EGMVI team on my first “African Wear Friday”

Although during my internship I will be working closer with the latter project, within the last week I have spent time with both projects to familiarize myself with MCDI’s overall mission here on Bioko Island.

During my first week with MCDI, I have worked with different departments and have taken on a variety of tasks.  I recently completed a Good Clinical Practice course, so that I have more background knowledge on EGMVI’s clinical trial process.  I have also contributed in conference calls and worked with a Data Program.  I also spent a day with the Entomology lab where I learned about malaria transmission, the life cycle of the mosquito, how to identify different genera of mosquitoes and helped contribute to a toxicity experiment where two chemicals used to repel mosquitoes were tested for their effectiveness.  Most recently I helped input survey data brought back from MCDI’s spraying team.

Here we are setting up an experiment to test the effectiveness of two different insecticides
Here we are setting up an experiment to test the effectiveness of two different insecticides

In the fall of last year my family moved to Malabo.  Although I had looked into a variety of internships that were located in the U.S. for this summer I decided to switch my search to possible internship opportunities in my new home.  I was informed of MCDI, their mission and their malaria control projects on the Island through a community connection. I was very interested in MCDI’s mission and took this as an opportunity to explore possible career options in the combination of public health, research and the medical sector.

Within the last week, I have bounced a bit between the two malaria control projects.  However, I am so grateful for the experience and knowledge that I have gained.  Without this foundation of knowledge about basics of malaria and malaria control I would be completely lost during the remainder of my internship! All of the staff members at MCDI have taken time to explain the building blocks of MCDI’s mission in EG and have taken care of me in every way.  I am really excited to learn more and make deeper relationships in the next 7 weeks.

In the remainder of my internship I hope to improve and become more confident in my Spanish (which is slowly but surely coming back to me!) as well as explore career paths.  The amazing things the selfless people at MCDI do to give back to their surrounding community has really impacted me and has made me think about even more ways I can use my future to help others.  I hope that, through the knowledge that I continue to gain about malaria, the causes, effects, prevention and possible eradication methods will help me refine my career goals.

– Jesse Knowles ’15