NOLA Indie Scene: Community Media and Youth

Photo by TuckerGurl inc.
Photo by TuckerGurl inc.

After hearing Ava DuVernay speak about diversity in media at the Essence Festival and seeing a diverse number of independent filmmakers in and out of our office, I am proud to be a summer intern for an organization that is about making filmmaking and community media accessible for all members of society. At its core, NOVAC is about giving the citizens of New Orleans access to channels of communication so they can tell their personal narratives. NOVAC provides the tools necessary for digital storytelling to its local community by forming workforce training programs, digital storytelling camps, filmmaker workshops, and free conferences.

Since late June, my responsibilities includes designing logos for non-profit organizations, creating slideshows and short videos for NOVAC and taking notes in meetings with NOVAC affiliates. But lately everyone at NOVAC has been trying to spread awareness about the detrimental effects of the HB 289 Bill that just passed through the Louisiana state legislature. The HB 289 Bill caps tax incentives at 180 million dollars for film production companies. This bill would increase unemployment and displace film professionals out of their profession because film studios would rather produce films in areas that do not cap tax incentives, like Atlanta. The HBO/Cinemax Quarry Internship program was an amazing opportunity that provide 15 individuals with an internship based on their interests, but now their industry worthy skills may be under utilized because of the the HB 289 Bill. NOVAC’s workforce training workshops are economic opportunities for local residents. After New Orleanians complete our training programs, they gain access to jobs in the film industry through our job referral program and they can use their newly acquired skills to gain social mobility but the HB 289 Bill may hinder that.

Despite worrying about the effects of the HB 289 Bill, NOVAC has been preoccupied with New Orleans youth! Earlier this month, I checked in with parents to confirmed their children’s spot in NOVAC’s Youth Digital Storytelling Summer Camp. These young aspiring filmmakers spent one week creating a PSA about the harmful effects of smoking. From creating their own props to adding the credits, our campers had a say in the creative process and in deciding what issue they wanted to tackle with their video. Through digital storytelling, these students were able to disseminate a powerful message about the effects of smoking, and here at NOVAC we think it is imperative that community members, young and old, learn how to use mediums of communication to inform citizens about social justice issues. After all, in 1972, when NOVAC was founded, one of their aims was to use videos to spread awareness about poverty in New Orleans. Now, NOVAC provides outlets for New Orleans youth to tackle issues of domestic violence, drug abuse, homelessness, abuse, and other issues they are passionate about.

I’ve worked closely with Clark Prep High School rising senior Bernisha Hooker since she joined NOVAC as a summer intern. The city of New Orleans offers an internship program for teenagers in New Orleans, however most of these internships do not correlate with the students’ future career aspirations. Through a special program called Youth Force, Bernisha was placed at an internship site that matches her career interests: photography and filmmaking. Bernisha and I work side by side and I aid her with her duties. Since she is a New Orleanian, I thought it would be interesting to hear about her experience with Hurricane Katrina, especially since this year is the 10th anniversary. I interviewed and recorded her story for NOVAC Project 10. Project 10 is a digital storytelling initiative from NOVAC and the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Representatives from local community organizations and New Orleans citizens tell us their stories about one of the most devastating events in America. The project has taught me about documentary and social justice filmmaking as well as the non-exciting part of filmmaking: planning and working with people’s schedules. There are ALWAYS last minute changes and you have to adapt accordingly. In college, you are aware of deadlines and you usually have enough time to prepare for assignments and projects. I’m realizing in the independent filmmaking world, you just always have to be ready for the next opportunity, especially when working on documentaries based on people volunteering their time to help you with your work.

My awesome radical bosses!
My awesome radical bosses!

My internship is providing me with the technical skills necessary for documentary filmmaking and community media. Since I have been in New Orleans, I’ve met state senators, representatives from the Urban League New Orleans Chapter, independent filmmakers and creative problem-solvers. Meeting these people emphasized the importance of teamwork and collaborative practices. As a college student, I am use to working solo, aside from the dreaded group project, and I like working by myself because I make all the decisions and I do not have to work with people’s schedules. However, this summer I was brought into projects, so I could add my own vision and my mentors have pushed me to think critically about the work I am doing, whether it is editing my logo designs or finding an issue to tackle for my final project. Working with other talented individuals makes my work better and I am excited to engage with more community members for my final video project on Gentrification in the Upper Ninth Ward New Orleans!

Karen Seymour ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

The midway point

Now that I have completed half of my internship at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), I have a lot to reflect upon. From the lessons I’ve learned to the friends I’ve made, I know that I have already gained so much from this experience. I can’t believe it’s almost coming to an end!

The doors to AEI's building.
The doors to AEI’s building.

When I first came to DC I was scared. The city was so huge and overwhelming, and I knew next to no one. Unlike when I began Brandeis, no one was here to show me the way. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to explore and even to play tour guide to others. When my family visited me, they were impressed with my knowledge of this city, which at first glance on a map looks like a maze. I have my favorite restaurants and boutiques, and the places where I love to stroll (like Rock Creek Park: http://www.nps.gov/rocr/index.htm). I know the shortcuts and the scenic routes. At school, my life revolves around happenings on campus, and my focus seems far narrower; however, living in the middle of the city has allowed me the opportunity to get to know Washington far more intimately. Now, this place feels like my home.

Working at AEI has also become less overwhelming. The interns have really bonded and I’ve made friends that I hope to keep in touch with when we all leave this town. My co-workers are also less intimidating, perhaps as a result of our shared experience of waiting in the lunch line each day. AEI is known for its stellar kitchen, and everyone, including interns, guests, and staff, lines up at noon to wait for the amazing food. As a result, the person in front of you striking up a casual conversation may turn out to be an AEI fellow or even a Senator. After finding myself in that position a number of times, I’m ready for anything. I’ve learned that sometimes even a quick chat can be the foundation of a professional relationship, which may be solidified over coffee or a later meeting. The opportunity to interact with these individuals has been a highlight of my summer experience.

One amazing thing about working at AEI is each department’s willingness to help provide the experience interns are looking for. In addition to mastering my ongoing and day-to-day tasks managing various digital platforms, I wanted to learn more hard skills this summer for personal and professional development. After mentioning this goal to the digital strategy team, one of my co-workers took it upon herself to schedule weekly training sessions with me. So far, she has taught me how to use design tools such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. I feel as though I now have a good handle on each of these products. I even designed a vector that AEI is using to promote Arthur Brooks’ new book The Conservative Heart. (See more here from AEI’s Instagram account: https://instagram.com/aei/).

 

Screen shot 2015-07-26 at 10.33.07 AM
A vector I designed for AEI.

Overall, I am immensely enjoying my summer here in DC and at AEI. I know that I am learning valuable skills, meeting important people, and really taking advantage of my opportunities here. I know that none of this would have been possible if not for the WOW Scholarship, and I think about my gratitude for this program every single day. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer brings!

 

Margot Grubert, ’17

Midpoint at SIF

11210409_1441492066163063_7717508155396816506_n

At the midpoint of my internship at the Social Innovation Forum, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for five weeks. There has never been a slow moment at the Social Innovation Forum. Though I do not have much experience at other offices, my impression is that my office environment is exceptionally friendly, kind, and passionate. Since it is a nonprofit, it attracts people who care deeply about making a positive change in the world. I’ve heard from friends who have worked at direct service nonprofits that the work is extremely rewarding, but it can be emotionally draining because you interact with individuals in great need of help on a daily basis. This feedback has always made me hesitant to seek out nonprofit internships, but since the Social Innovation Forum is not a direct service nonprofit, I get to learn about the incredible innovative work happening in the nonprofit field from a happy office environment where people don’t seem to mind going the extra mile.

The SIF Social Innovator Showcase attracts 300 Boston area business leaders, funders, and individual philanthropists
The SIF Social Innovator Showcase attracts 300 Boston area business leaders, funders, and individual philanthropists

I am constantly learning new skills that I have no doubt can be transferred to different jobs and projects in the future. For instance, two of my biggest projects are market scans and outreach, which involve research and phone skills, respectively. My classes, as well as many jobs, require some level of research skills, so I have no doubt that the hours I spend researching at this internship will help me build the skills for future success. Additionally, I have become extremely comfortable on the phone. Like many Millennials, I make much fewer phone calls than previous generations, but this internship has made me well versed in phone etiquette, a skill that will make me a competitive candidate for future jobs that may require phoning skills.
Working a nine-to-five job is very different from student life. I think I will return to school with a greater appreciation of my free time. During the school year it always feels like there is more to be done, and when I spend a Saturday hanging out without being productive, I feel like I’ve wasted the day. However, now that I’m working at an internship, I can go home on Friday and not have any responsibilities until Monday morning. At the same time, I spend a much longer time working than I do on my schoolwork on the typical day, and by the time my commute is over there’s very little time left for myself at the end of the day. Balancing work with other responsibilities is certainly teaching me how precious my free time is. Working life certainly has its pros and cons, but I’m glad that this internship is giving me a good idea of what full-time employment is like as I prepare to graduate from Brandeis. I am looking forward to more good things to come in the second half of my internship.

Emma Farber, ’16

My First Week at Kids4Peace in Jerusalem

Since joining the Kids4Peace family, I have grown in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Kids4Peace is an interfaith youth movement for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Israeli and Palestinian youth. Last summer, I worked at Project Harmony Israel, an integrated Arab-Jewish day camp hosted at the Hand in Hand Bilingual School in Jerusalem. Since working there to provide a space for Arab and Jewish youth to play and just be kids in the midst of the Gaza War, I knew I had to come back and continue doing the work I had begun. In leaving Jerusalem last summer, I felt guilty that I had the privilege to leave this conflict whereas my Arab and Jewish campers could in no way escape it. I am glad I made the choice to continue this effort through an internship position with Kids4Peace based in East Jerusalem.

My favorite part about my work here is that my colleagues are both Israeli and Palestinian whereas last year, I worked only with other Americans. It is exciting and interesting for me to learn about what life is like for my Israeli and Palestinian coworkers who are living within this conflict and also doing work in it. I think am learning the most from them.  Before coming here and after my summer here last year, I thought I had a good idea for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but since speaking with my colleagues, I have learned about the complexities of approaching a peaceful end to this war. Through their experiences, I am gaining a perspective on the situation in Israel/Palestine that I would not have understood otherwise without this dialogue.

horizontal-logo-transparent1-300x71Other than learning about the big picture of the work I am doing through my colleagues, I am gaining an incredible understanding of how an NGO is run. Since the staff is so small, I have been given many great opportunities to do real purposeful and meaningful work. For example, I am working with the director of Kids4Peace on creating a platform for Israeli and Palestinian youth to search for integration, coexistence, or interfaith programs that fit their interests. In addition, I have designed a budget for one of the overnight camps that Kids4Peace runs, allocating grants from USAID, the US Consulate, and the European Union. Most excitingly, I got to write a letter to Natalie Portman, who is one of Kids4Peace’s biggest donors!

As an intern at Kids4Peace, I have learned to stay on top of all of my responsibilities because I know that my boss is not constantly checking up on me. Rather, she expects me to do the work I am assigned without holding my hand. I know this will help me in the future when I become a professional. I am also learning about how to work in a diverse environment. It is an interesting experience to fulfill my duties as an intern alongside half my colleagues who are observing Ramadan. I have become much more sensitive to people’s backgrounds and the way that their personal lives play a role in their job performance. In the future, I would like to go into education policy and my motive is to desegregate the American public school system and narrow the achievement gap. Lofty goal, yes. However, if I want to do this type of work in the future, it will be an important skill for me to understand how to work with people who come from different backgrounds from mine.

10985230_690290234410375_8329010132681356192_n

 

-Leah Susman, ’18

Akshaya Patra Foundation in Bangalore, India—Mid-Point Reflection

My first month in Bangalore has brought a host of opportunities for personal and professional growth. As I mentioned in my first blog post, my primary responsibility is to visit government schools that receive the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal in order to collect testimony about the impact that the mid-day meal has on students, teachers, and school administrators.

I collect this information via one-to-one interviews, often translated from English to Kannada, and then Kannada back to English. With support from the Foundation, I have been able to collect a reasonably representative sample of testimony of school children from several communities in Bangalore.

Collecting testimony has been a practical application of the fieldwork necessary for much of the work produced in social science research. I’m lucky to be able to practice a modified version of fieldwork, with a lot of support from the people around me. After finishing my time at Brandeis, I would like to pursue graduate study in anthropology. I have India in mind as a place I would like to explore further, so the exposure I’m getting this summer will be helpful to me during future trips.

Being an intern at such a large transnational NGO, like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, has helped me understand some of the challenges of operating an NGO in conjunction with a government mandated program. I am also learning about the opportunities, and difficulties, that fundraising across continents may pose.

During my time at Brandeis, I have been introduced to the ethics of international (and domestic) development. I have been fortunate to receive a strong academic background in some of the ethical considerations that circulate in academic circles. My internship is supplementing theoretical arguments that I have been exposed to—most of which are very critical of the development industry—with exposure to the challenges of running a social welfare program, initiated by the government, on a scale necessary to accommodate India’s large population.

In the last month, I have been reading Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?written by Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m finding that much of Dr. King’s commentary is directly relevant to my time as an intern at Akshaya Patra. Dr. King rhetorically asks, “How responsible am I for the well-being of my fellows?” (1968:86). He then responds, “To ignore evil is to become an accomplice in it” (1968:86).

The effect, however small, that the actions in my adult life will have in swaying our collective consciousness towards justice—or towards further harm—remains to be seen. For now, I have been very lucky to sit with, and bear witness to, the stories of people in India who we do not regularly hear from. I hope that, in my working life, I’ll be able to remember and honor the stories I have been exposed to this summer. My internship is renewing my commitment to following Dr. King’s leadership, and his assertion that it is in our best interest to actively engage in creating humane, fair, and just living conditions for all members of our societies.

-Shane Weitzman ’16

 

Government Urdu High School, DJ Halli

Government Urdu High School, DJ Halli

(A school I visited to collect testimony.)

 

school 1

Government Lower Primary School, Kattugollahalli

(A school I visited to collect testimony.)

 

To learn more about the mid-day meal scheme in India, please see:

  1. http://mdm.nic.in/

(Government of India website for mid-day meal scheme)

  1. http://www.archive.india.gov.in/sectors/education/index.php?id=7

(Explanation of mid-day meal scheme by Government of India)

 

Project Harmony Israel Internship

One week into my internship at Project Harmony Israel I have been engaging with a lot of introductory and new logistical components of the more content-rich work I will be doing in a week or so. Project Harmony Israel is focused on the individual:

“All curricula are tailored to meet individual developmental, behavioral and linguistic needs, and couched in the principles of universal youth development. We believe that by creating a safe integrated space for children to share experiences, our campers are able to build organic, lasting relationships–on their own terms.

In order to achieve these programmatic goals we offer a wide variety of daily activities, including fine arts, music, athletics, team building, community gardening, American Sign Language, and English games. We go on weekly field trips and also host guest teachers to lead week-long workshops. Every summer we also host a community event in which we invite families, friends and community members to join us in celebrating our campers’ remarkable achievements.”

I’m still getting used to the commute and the work environment in Israel; it is all very casual. A number of times I have been sure that I have strict deadlines and then things end up being very flexible; the timeline here is entirely different here and the friendliness and collaborative work environment only adds to that feeling of accommodation and appropriate informality.

Most of my time has been spent developing a lesson plan. As an arts specialist I have been trying to think of the best ways to combine the efforts of normalization in a way that brings meaning to the fact that there are people engaged in this project and camp who come from such varying narratives. I’ve primarily been developing a portrait unit directed towards the goal of seeing and experiencing one another as full people. In my lesson plan I have considered comparing fast-paced portraiture as well as longer sessions wherein which two people take turns doing portraits of each other. The goal of this is to really get to know the faces and the (visual) experience of another person in a very personal way. As a supplemental component of the unit I hope for campers to conduct short interviews with the person they are drawing and to then use one phrase or quote from that interview as the title for the portrait or as an accompanying linguistic element to the visual experience of the portraits. I feel like there is something very inspiring about taking the time with another to notice the details of their being.

I have yet to work directly with other staff members, as they arrive on Sunday and we enter formal training for one week together prior to the camp’s start. I can’t wait to get to know those other staff members and experience this with them. So much more is in store! Meanwhile, here’s some photos of the space I’m working in at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem.

IMG_7522IMG_7525

First photo: The Max Rayne Hand in Hand School

Second photo: A communal staff brainstorm on the process of how to have the greatest impacts on campers

United for a Fair Economy- Where has the time gone?

It’s hard to believe the summer is half over. I have learned so many valuable things so far at United for a Fair Economy (UFE). One of my goals this summer was to learn more about the behind-the-scenes at a small non-profit organization. Even in such a short time, I have gained an understanding of how UFE operates. I’ve learned what goes into a budget, how to frame a development plan, and what different types of communications are used.  I also attended a website building meeting to determine who visits our website, what they are looking for, and what content is essential for us.

IMG_5066
My beautiful walk to work in downtown Boston

One particular skill I am building is my writing. UFE talks about being “donor centric,” which means writing from the viewpoint of the donor. In broader terms, I am working to understand other perspectives. I have been able to apply the writing skills I learned in school in a new and creative way. I have to think carefully about the wording of everything I write, improving my writing for both academic work and future jobs.

The work I am most proud of at this point is a three-email appeal I helped write that was sent to donors. They were designed to get donors excited about the direction UFE is headed, and to let them know what their money does and why it is important that they support our work.

More abstractly, I’ve learned that non-profit work is complicated. From the development perspective, the organization never really knows how much money will be given, or how successful what we are doing is. For example, UFE sends multiple appeals each year. Sometimes, more money is donated than others. It is hard to know what about the appeal worked- the writing, content, design, timing, or something else. However, this money is necessary to fund the many worthwhile projects UFE hopes to take on, so I’ve learned that you just keep going and do the best you can.

In addition, working in the real world has been different from academic life because it isn’t planned. In my classes, the professor has a plan of what he or she will teach and provides a syllabus. As a student, I know what I am going to learn and when I will be tested. On the other hand, in my internship, I find out what I am doing each day based on what is happening. The future is unknown to everyone; there are plans and objectives, but any number of things could change them. Furthermore, at school, I am only accountable to myself and my own success. I do as well as I can in classes for myself. At a non-profit, I am doing all this work for and with others as well. I am accountable to the organization and the people the organization is helping.

This internship is helping me build skills for school and the future. I’m learning to ask questions, help with as much as I can, stay organized and motivated, and develop relationships. I look forward to the second half of the summer.

Midpoint Blog Post

Here at the American Jewish World Service New York Office, everybody has an exceedingly impressive positive attitude. I say “exceedingly impressive” because every day the staff members here are grappling with social justice issues around the globe that make life extremely difficult for some people. In addition, because of the nonprofit nature of the organization, the only way they are able to help these issues is with the help of donors, and so the work here is constantly appealing to peoples’ sense of morality. I would think that with all of these difficult realizations, to persevere for these causes and for peoples’ lack of immediate willingness to help sometimes, the work would get discouraging. The attitude of the staff at AJWS, however, truly reflects the opposite. The work environment is very energetic and very friendly. Everyone is inspired and hardworking, intelligent with a good story to tell of how they decided to work for this organization.

Even out of the workplace, I have noticed an effort to reach out with us as interns to get to know us as individuals and people. There are many opportunities to do activities around New York as suggested by the staff- some relevant to AJWS and some not.

The World of Work really does differ from university/academic life drastically- although this may partially be due to the fact that I grew up in a smaller suburban type of area, then went to Brandeis which is on a campus, and then was placed in the large city of New York to live on my own for the first time.

In the World of Work, as I work in an office in New York, the hours are 9am to 5pm with an hour lunch break. This is very different from university life, as my schedules of classes since I have been at Brandeis have really had many breaks throughout the day that sometimes even amounted to three hours at a time.

Also, in the office, we (my co-intern and I) have our own space to work all day, so while we are usually scheduled in meetings, we always return to our spot afterwards to complete our work, which is very different from university life, as people complete their work in all different areas. Because you are working in the same office space on a common mission with others every day, your working relationships are closer than I would say of people who simply have the same class as you.

I stand between two of the five total interns in the AJWS New York office.
I stand between two of the five total interns in the AJWS New York office.

Although, as an intern, I am not in a really high position with a heavy amount of very crucial work for the organizations with hard deadlines, I can imagine that the work in a nonprofit organization is far different from the work we experience as students. There are decisions that matter more, so meetings and planning are more important. Trying to get others involved in what you are doing is a huge component of the work world, similar to how clubs want students to get involved, but at much higher stakes so the process in trying is far more thoughtful.

I am building many skills as a result of this internship from as little as learning what is appropriate behavior and dress in a work environment to as big as learning how to conduct research in a professional setting. I have met and had the privilege and opportunity to get to know many upper-staff and learned about the way that their paths have all led them to their jobs now, and what they see as their trajectory for the future. It has helped me realize how my path in finding a career may be more of lattice than ladder route. Many of the conversations I have had with upper-staff have been about struggles I have experienced in my extracurricular leadership roles and how to proceed, and I received a lot of good advice that I intend on taking back to campus. In addition, I have been exposed to many more nonprofit organizations, programs, and issues around the globe and nation so I can take my knowledge and put it to good use in my academic career and in my life in general.

My co-intern and I used this AJWS image in our presentation to the group of high school students to educate them on Early Child Marriage.
My co-intern and I used this AJWS image in our presentation to the group of high school students to educate them on Early Child Marriage.

Recently, I was able, with my co-intern and supervisor, to present about AJWS to a group of high school students. I learned how to inform people of ways to get involved through the presentation- to be interactive, and provide some good programming in this informational type of presentation. We showed them exactly how to get involved on the AJWS website, and included AJWS made graphics. It was an incredible experience, with the ability to answer questions and learn from how my supervisor, Joshua, and Executive Vice President, Robert Bank, answers [sometimes very difficult] questions posed by the high school students.

 

-Gabi Hersch ’17

One month into research

I can’t believe it’s already been one month working at the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital! One of the best parts about this internship is how comprehensive it is in terms of the tasks I get to work on at the Institute and the hospital. At Benson-Henry, we work on tons of different projects and studies all at the same time. Most of our studies center around the body’s reception of the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Right now, we’re working on a study that examines various manifestations of the relaxation response (i.e. meditation or yoga) in healthy individuals who are chronically stressed, a study that tracks the same response in individuals who have a certain susceptibility gene for multiple myeloma, and a study that explores how the relaxation response can affect resident students in medical school. And those are just a few of the projects I am working on! In comparison to some of the research I do at Brandeis and in the classroom, at the BHI I really get to follow experiments all the way through and see all of their different parts come together. Because we’re working on so many projects at once, each project is usually in a different place than the one next to it. That is to say, some studies are in their beginning phases in terms of recruitment, some are in full swing in terms of data collection, others are pushing through data entry, and still others are being analyzed.

One of the best parts about this internship is that I get to combine and manipulate much of what I have learned in my psychology classes at Brandeis in science. For instance, for the chronic stress study, one of the biomedical measures we are collecting is cortisol, a steroid hormone involved in stress in the body, a hormone I have learned about in multiple classes. It’s really interesting to combine what I learned about cortisol in my Biological Basis of Motivation neuroscience class with what I learned about cortisol in my Adolescent psychology class to really see cortisol in action. Similarly, I just started a literature review for the Institute on a new research topic we are starting that will focus on stress and eating disorders. After taking Research Methods and reading multiple research articles, I am thrilled that I can incorporate those classroom lessons in practical psychology in the real world. I am especially enjoying working with the research coordinators at the BHI because they all have such different and unique research interests and have already proven to be great resources for me as I delve into the world of research and clinical psychology.

Below is a video of Dr. Herbert Benson explaining the benefits of the Mind Body Medicine.

The BHI also holds many classes for multiple populations with various focuses. Below is a video compiled by Mass General about stress, teenagers, and the relaxation response.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=w12H_U7IXvw

 

url-1

Back to the books!

Ellie Rosenthal ’16

ERG: Midpoint

By now I’ve grown comfortable in my adopted corner office with the four pet plants and the picturesque views. After interning at Eastern Research Group for more than a month, I feel more integrated with the work and the people. Since the previous blog post, I’ve helped conduct social science research, built spreadsheets and continued to shadow environmental consulting work. I’ve become more adjusted to the work schedule and grown better about inter-office communication.

I think that, after being in school for so long, it’s easy to forget about the non-stop nature of the world outside the “bubble”. That’s why I believe doing internships is so important; not only is it about gaining insight into the world of work, but it’s about recognizing and preparing for other aspects of the world as well.

IMAG3736
Monthly meeting in Boston – a presentation on renewable energy options

Recently, while at ERG, it occurred to me just how “abnormal” and condensed the academic year is. Since I’ve lived by the academic year for the past 15 years, it’s not easy to imagine what a full calendar year of work really entails mentally and physically, but it’s something I will learn to adjust to when the time comes.

Another comparison I would make is: academic work is more structured and comes in cyclical waves, but being at ERG has shown me that, often times, work can happen on a less predictable and rigid schedule. I’ve seen how work doesn’t necessarily stop after completing a project or leaving the office for the day.

IMAG3738
Notes and visitor cards from the monthly meeting

 

At ERG, I’m learning to become a better communicator. I’m learning to think deeper about the purpose behind my tasks and to not be shy about asking questions and contributing ideas. As a student, I’m admittedly more accustomed to independent projects and assignments, but at ERG I am adjusting my mindset to be more teamwork-oriented.  It feels good to know that my work here ultimately contributes to larger projects and therefore impacts my colleagues and the company. While the pressure is greater, I enjoy not having to worry about achieving a certain letter grade, but rather something that feels more significant and meaningful.

I am also realizing both the limitations of academic applications in the world of work as well as the intersections of skills and knowledge between the world of work and school. For example, it felt rewarding to use my research paper reading experiences from Political Psychology class to conduct social science research for ERG, just as it did when I could understand some of the data I’m working with thanks to a foundation of knowledge built in my Conservation Biology class.

Interning here confirms there are many aspects to the world of work missing from the familiar grind of academic life, and that there are many aspects to environmental consulting that one can only learn or learn best from the job itself. My observations and experiences at ERG have reinforced to me why interning is so critical, and why the WOW program is so valuable to us. As I begin my senior year next month (eep!), I am confident that what I’ve learned here will inform and ease my transition from my work-hard-play-hard student life to my independent, professional life.

Dora Chi, ’16

Week One of Empowerment through Education Camp: Hinche, Haiti (Contact Phase)

Sa kap fet!  At this point of my internship I have reached the Island of Hispaniola, and made my travels throughout Haiti from Port-au-Prince, where I landed, to Hinche where ETE Camp is held. We, five other teachers and I, have been holding sessions of ETE Camp for a week now and all I can say is that I am loving this experience. My new environment is only new to me in technical ways while the ambiance of my surrounding is all too familiar. I have been to the Caribbean many times and have spent weeks in my family’s countries of Guyana and Grenada. The familiarity of the food, culture, and day-to-day life of Hinche, Haiti is one that makes me feel close to home. It is not that hard to adjust although there are many inconveniences. The power is consistently inconsistent and makes it slightly harder to be comfortable in the sweltering summer heat and to get important things done by email. My work in ETE Camp, as a leader in the English class, and outside of it, as a Hinche community member, both involve the same levels of enthusiasm, attention, and participation from me, which I appreciate a lot. I feel fully immersed in this experience.

Port-au-Prince: The Have's and the Have not's
Port-au-Prince: The Have’s and the Have not’s

The world of work differs so much from academic/university life. Firstly, no one here cares about my grades, clubs, or the authors that I could name drop. People, to simply put it, care that I can do the tasks in front of me. Shaina Gilbert, the director of the camp, cares that I can bring to fruition all of the public health workshops that we discussed. Ms. Jessica, my teaching partner cares that I can effectively co-lead lessons in english with her. The students of ETE Camp care that I know what I am talking about and that I am there to help them be better leaders. The list goes on and on. I am not saying however that my academic transcript is insignificant or my resumé and mental stock of literary scholars is useless, because it is important. I am just noting how refreshing it is to take the skill I’ve learned from my academics like quantitative reasoning, flexibility, and quick-thinking and use them in an everyday setting of a classroom. The spontaneity of the students, ages 10-17, makes everyday, although planned through the curriculum, very much a series of surprises.

Education programs in Haiti article

 I’ve had recent discussions in my education group’s forum about this article and the complications of it being written by a white man and the tone that presents education as a luxury instead of as a right. That being said I am still including the article to continue the conversation of education’s meaning and how, as a community, we can do better to educate one another.

I am gaining a lot from working for ETE Camp. I am developing my teaching skills that include the ability to be charismatic and command the attention of others, improving my diction, and expanding my confidence in what I know, amongst other things. My ability to asses forms of nonverbal communication and look for context clues has sky-rocketed because I do not speak any Kreyol. The thing I enjoy about being an English teacher is that while the kids are learning English I am learning Kreyol and somehow we are able to meet in the middle and have this bond.

Some of the unbelievable students of the GREEN GROUP!
Some of the unbelievable students of the GREEN GROUP!

At this point in the camp the 60 day time students and the approximately 60 alumni kids make their way throughout the school between the hours of 7:30am and 6:00pm. The fact that we are seeing, most-likely, over 120 students a day is mind-blowing to me because I’ve gotten to know them personally in such a short amount of time. They all laugh at my Kreyol and I take their photos and teach them English. My public health projects just started and have been a hit so far, as we tackle positive self-esteem. I think I am getting a feel for what I want to do career-wise, which I appreciate a lot. In all honesty I can talk about ETE camp and Hinche all day but I think this will do for now. Bon soir!

ETE Camp blog

Zari Havercome, ’16

Is This Where I Really Want to Be? : My Midway Point at AVODAH

It is weird for me to think that I am halfway through my internship, and yet by the same token that I still have so much time left. When I first entered AVODAH five weeks ago I was excited by all that I would learn and the opportunities I would have, and I certainly have gained a lot from this experience. I had the opportunity to work at a fundraiser that was attended by more than 200 people, and learned how to mingle with extremely influential members of the Jewish Service community.   11407160_10204301021381322_3430737214322635737_n

 

I have also been able to learn about software tools such as Salesforce, which holds current, alumni, and staff contact information, as well as records of phone calls and donations made by these members. The skills that I have gained this summer are extremely valuable. However, I mentioned in my last post that this summer was going to be a trial for me on whether my passions sided more with community service or with theater, and I believe I have discovered my answer (although it may change 100 more times between now and when I graduate).  AVODAH is a wonderful organization, and I want to make that clear before I continue, but I have come to realize that my interest and passions lie more with theater. However, I am really thankful to have given this opportunity to discover this passion, and also to spend a summer in such a wonderful city. Internships are an opportunity to explore career prospects and this experience has better aligned me with my preferred path.  In the future, I foresee myself supporting a non-profit in more of a volunteer capacity.
sign_petition

Again, this should not dissuade anyone from applying here because I think AVODAH is wonderful, and I have loved and been inspired by everyone I’ve met. In fact, it is a testament to AVODAH that I enjoy coming into work every day.  There is no denying that it is a noble endeavor to work in a social justice field, and the feeling you get from helping others is unmatched. However, if there is something that you really love doing and you can find a profession in it, then you have to follow your heart. At the end of the day, I want to go into the theater after I graduate because it excites me in a way that no other field does. I am glad that I took this summer to test out working in a non-profit, because it taught me to go for what I really love moving forward, but also to make sure that I do not forget my love of service.

– Jessica Star ’17

 

 

First Week at NARAL

This summer, I am a Political Organizing Intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts (NARAL PCM). NARAL PCM is a nonprofit, pro-choice organization and affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America. The organization’s mission is to develop and sustain a grassroots constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices. NARAL is committed to expanding abortion access and ensuring that all women can exercise their right to comprehensive and unbiased reproductive healthcare information. In addition, NARAL advocates for comprehensive sex education and for a woman’s right to a safe and health pregnancy if she decides to carry her pregnancy to term.

As a Political Organizing Intern, I am assisting with NARAL PCM’s legislative and organizing efforts. NARAL PCM has endorsed five bills being put to vote in the current legislative session in the state. The majority of my duties have to do with constituent outreach in regards to these bills. My intern cohort and I must find creative ways to show the legislature that these bills are important to a large percentage of their constituents. One strategy that we frequently use to do so is by collecting signatures. Another effective strategy we use to generate support around these bills is through testimony. It is crucial to present these testimonies, both written and oral, at legislative hearings. NARAL PCM has found that stories play an extremely important role in the legislative process because they provide a personal aspect to the proposed legislation, which enables politicians to see how their decisions on our bills will directly affect the lives of their constituents.

Finding stories can often be difficult, which is why our Political Organizing team must be strategic and creative. We must be sure to always mention that we are looking for stories at any event, petition signing, etc. We also make sure to utilize our social media presence to ask for stories. This also means posting on our personal accounts so that we can tap into the largest network possible. However, these strategies are not as extensive as we would like them to be. When dealing with reproductive health, people often tend to hold back on disclosing personal information and are reluctant to share their stories, which is something we respect but also struggle with at NARAL. Some bills are harder to collect stories for than others, while some may apply more to a specific community than it does to others.

My overarching goal for this summer is to improve my communication skills. This position requires me to be in close contact with politicians and constituents and will help me in becoming more proficient in communicating with others. I hope to become more confident in making asks of politicians and constituents for their support of NARAL’s efforts. I also hope to become more skilled at making cases for support of NARAL’s mission to those who are unfamiliar with the organization and the pro-choice movement. I care deeply about NARAL’s mission, and I hope that I can connect to others and have them feel the same way too.

Here is our Pro-Choice legislation for this session:

Here is the Anti-Choice Legislation that we are opposing:

NARAL Interns at the Boston Pride Parade

Menstrual Health Conference

*this post was originally published on June 14, 2015.

– Ari Keigan ’18

OneWorld Now! – Midpoint Entry

Interning for a non-profit organization whose mission I am very passionate about has made me really think about what kind of work I want to do in the future. I know that I want to do something international and service-oriented, but have not yet figured out what it is that I want to do. Because work is a large part of most peoples’ lives and takes much of our time, I want my work to be meaningful both to myself and to others. What can I do that will add meaning to my life? And, what will I find self-fulfilling?

The organization that I am interning at is located in downtown Seattle. The organization so far is small (and young). There are three permanent staff members, three part-time staff members, and 6 – 8 interns. As we all share one office space and work in close proximity to each other, it can be slightly chaotic at times. However, the space makes it possible for us to easily talk to one another and keep track of what everyone else is doing.

IMG_7685

IMG_7689

It feels good being in an international and service-oriented environment and to be able to have contact with some of the students whose lives we are impacting. The organization has just finished hosting a three-week summer language and leadership camp, and has sent two groups of students to China. I am currently compiling a Study Abroad Booklet for the students who will be traveling to Morocco in August.

How Speaking Multiple Languages Benefits the Brain

IMG_7497

Working at a non-profit organization has made me realize how our academic lives at Brandeis tend to be self-oriented. When we are in school, the focus is entirely on us; the person who benefits most from every book we read is oneself; the person who benefits most from every essay we write is oneself. In sum, we do not work for others, but for ourselves.

At OneWorld Now!, the attention is entirely on the success of the organization and the success of the students whom we serve. Thus, each task we are given is not necessarily aimed at enhancing our knowledge in one discipline or another or improving our critical language skills. Though I enjoy working at OneWorld Now!, some of the tasks I am asked to do are not as exciting as others. This has allowed me, however, to develop skills that will help me no matter the job market. Interning at OneWorld Now! has taught me how to conduct myself in a professional manner, strengthened my problem-solving skills, and my ability to think on my feet. It has also taught me when to ask for help and how to pick up work from where someone else has left off.

IMG_7604

In conclusion, I really appreciate being in a culturally sensitive environment that is not too stressful and living in a city that is so diverse. I am very grateful that I am honestly able to say that I find my work at OneWorld Now! to be both enjoyable and meaningful.

– Honore Cole ’17

Midpoint at VocaliD

Despite getting settled in a little more at VocaliD, my excitement about being here this summer hasn’t changed. It continues to be an interdisciplinary, dynamic environment, and though my central roles haven’t changed much, the details and everyday tasks vary from day to day, making it an always-interesting place to be. For a few weeks now, I have also been joined by another summer intern. The two of us work closely on some tasks and separately on others.

Our crowdfunding campaign ended its initial phase this week, marking a critical point for both the company and my summer. The campaign was largely a success, raising nearly twice as much as the initial goal, bringing in troves of new customers, and solidifying the coming timeline for VocaliD.

The current campaign status, showing our funding percentage.

For most of July, I’ll be doing more or less the same work as before, but applied towards the fulfillment of “perks” bought by customers on Indiegogo.

This week and next, we have a special visitor. Samantha Grimaldo was among the earliest recipients of a VocaliD voice, and an important pioneer in bringing the technology to market. We’re working with her to become more comfortable using her device to speak in public spaces, and documenting the process for a short video piece. Sam, who has much to say, made a few contributions to a new Tumblr page we’ve put up. In the future, the page will become an important place for people like Sam, who can feel very alone, to connect with other users of augmentative communication and share information about having and using a voice from VocaliD. In fact, most of the recipients of pre-orders during our campaign have been children or teenagers. The opportunity for somebody still young to be able to speak with their own voice is a wonderful thing to witness, and part of VocaliD’s service is that as your voice changes with age, the custom voice is updated to match these changes and always sound like you. Most of our past and current customers are young children, and that seems to be the demographic VocaliD most immediately affects. Hopefully the Tumblr page will allow for the sort of connecting between these young people that we hope.

In working on marketing-related things, such as drafting and sending email campaigns, I’ve become privy to just how many businesses today use email marketing as their main method of customer relations. We’ve been using Mailchimp, for example, and now I look at all of my email subscriptions and notice just how many companies use Mailchimp.

Mailchimp's ubiquitous email footer, common in emails we probably all subscribe to.

Email marketing is a staple today, especially for small businesses, and a great thing to have experience with, no matter what sort of business I may find myself in.

As someone who has worked a variety of jobs since early high school, I tend to think not of how work differs from university life, but more the other way around. In studying Linguistics and being exposed to academic publishing and field research, that always seems the more magical, less accessible, somewhat intimidating world that undergrads seem to mean when they talk about the “real world.” Even more daunting is the prospect of leading a life as a composer, which inherently involves connection with the academic world (and a good amount of financial struggle), and can be called “work” only in the loosest sense of the word.

Then again, that sort of thinking only reminds me that there aren’t really any such boundaries. My “world of work” this summer has been at a tech startup with a social mission, driven by donations from interested, generous people, and founded by a professor who underwent something of a STEM learning epiphany after some uplifting research findings. It blurs the lines between business and academia, something I often wish would happen to more of my university peers, and something I predict more of in the future business world.

-David Stiefel ’16

Midpoint at the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center

At my midpoint working at the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center, I feel confident that the organization is getting more focused and stable to do the work they do more effectively. After a board training from Interfaith Worker Justice (the national organization through which I was placed at my internship site) we know what IWJC is, what it could/should be in the near future, and how to get there. Because of that, the board is able to actively take those steps and we now officially have our first members. I am enjoying being in a new city and a different part of the United States and being able to experience the differences in the culture of the Midwest. Beyond the work at the Worker Justice Center, many board members are involved in other social justice and labor groups, and therefore, I have had the opportunity to attend meetings from groups such as Indiana Moral Mondays, Indiana Central Labor Council, and Jobs with Justice.

 

The first IWJC members taking their membership pledge.
The first IWJC members taking their membership pledge.

The World of Work is very different than my academic life, mostly because I am working more independently than I do at school, since IWCJ is currently not a staffed organization. However, the interactions that I have are with people with more varying life experiences. At Brandeis most of my interactions are with people of a similar age in a similar stage of their lives. Here I am working with people from many different ways of life and I am able to learn from them. I am learning about social issues similar to the way I am learning about them at Brandeis. Here I get to meet groups of people affected by the same issues and see how they work together to fight it. In addition to learning about what is going wrong, I also see people take action to improve their situation and I can take part in the actions as well.

4th of July party preperations
4th of July party preparations

 

As a result of this internship I am learning how to work independently and keep myself motivated, even when I am by myself. I am also learning how to be more open and talk to people I don’t know and how to listen to people with very different stories. Being able to work more independently and motivated without constant supervision is very important for me both in an academic setting and in the future. So is the ability to be more open and talk to people. I am usually shy and having to go out and talk to people helps me get over that. This will hopefully help me to be more comfortable talking to people I don’t know in the future, which is helpful in any situation.

– Tamar Lyssy ’16

Midpoint Musings from the Semitic Museum

It is hard to believe that I’m already past the half-way point of my summer here at the Harvard Semitic Museum. Since my last post, I’ve spent many mornings walking through Cambridge and admiring its tidy gardens and historic homes, and then settling in the museum’s basement, where the collection is housed. Over the past months, I have handled and archived ancient materials- mostly from the sites of Nuzi and Tel el-Keleifeh, and am now working to complete another project- organizing, inventorying, and archiving the museum’s collection of work produced by Theresa Goell, a female archaeologist who worked in the late 1940s through the early 1970s.

Goell was a truly groundbreaking archaeologist, as it was not common for women to lead digs in the 20th century, especially in the Middle East (she dug several sites in Turkey). She commanded so much respect that there are stories of her mediating disputes between government officials and local tribal leaders, in order to acquire the proper permits to excavate. I recently completed work on materials produced at a dig she led at the city of Samsat, a site just off of the Euphrates River. Shortly after the dig, the site was permanently flooded as a result of the building of the Atatürk Dam, leaving Goell’s records even more relevant.

Photo Credit: “Atatürk Dam” by Bernard Gagnon. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

My experience going through artifacts has been satisfying on an emotional and intellectual level. It is truly moving to hold an artifact produced and used by humans living thousands of years ago. One particularly moving moment for me was when I picked up a ceramic figurine of a woman, from a site near modern Eilat in Israel. The figurine was likely a representation of a goddess, or a young girl’s doll. Either way, this figurine was of immense importance to its owner, and I felt a connection to that individual through our shared experience of holding the figurine. Working with these ancient artifacts, I was constantly reminded of the daily lives of ancient Near Eastern people, and to the unique experience of each person and each culture.

A similar clay figurine, but this one is from the collection of the Jewish Museum.           Photo Credit: The Jewish Museum New York, via Wikimedia Commons

It has also been enlightening to steadily work through the Goell materials. I have developed an intimate familiarity with her and her team’s archaeological records, and have gained a great understanding of the process of how excavations are conducted, and the centrality of record keeping to an excavation’s success. As my supervisor put it, being an archaeologist is 90% archival work.

My work at the museum has given me greater perspective on life in the Ancient Near East, and also the many ways in which to study it. I’ve worked with ancient artifacts, modern excavation materials, and I recently met with a museum team that is creating a 3D model of Giza based off of archaeological records (a neat video demonstration is here). I will come back to Brandeis with a broader perspective of the field, but also with more technical archaeological and historical knowledge.

Midpoint Entry–Teaching and Learning at the Same Time

It is difficult to imagine that I have already reached the halfway point for my internship at Legal Outreach, Inc., time has gone by so quickly. Since the Summer Law Institute (SLI) began during the end of June, my two co-coordinators, our 28 students, and I have embarked on a valuable and exciting educational journey.  Check out this great video about our program!

When the Institute began, the significance of all of the work that my colleagues and I had been doing suddenly became realized since it was being put into action. We were all a bit nervous on the first day, especially since it was our first time actually teaching and handling a classroom full of teenagers. However, after seeing how enthusiastic and bright our students were, we realized that we were not alone on this endeavor. Since the first day, our mission to educate and encourage our students has continuously inspired our efforts.

I give an academic skills lesson every Tuesday, and my first one was on study skills. I had rehearsed this one previously with my supervisors and colleagues, but I was unsure about how our students would react, especially since this was only the second day of SLI. Fortunately, the lesson went well and the students seemed interested in learning about new ways to study and its importance.

Teaching these students, listening to lessons, and above all, becoming responsible for twenty-eight young adults has taught me a tremendous amount about the value of education. Being in the shoes of a teacher has allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for the work of teachers, as I now understand much better how much time and dedication is required both inside and outside of school hours.

Lesson at SLI
Lesson at SLI

Through my responsibilities, I have also been able to develop many of the skills I wanted to prior to beginning this internship. For example, I have further developed my organizational skills to complete the variety of tasks and duties with efficiency. I have also been able to strengthen my communication and public speaking skills, since that is essential to be a good teacher and lead a classroom. Most importantly, I believe that so far, through my experiences in this internship and by being surrounded in a legally-charged atmosphere, I have become more interested in pursuing law in the future. Interacting with and learning from inspiring attorneys and legal professionals has given me the opportunity to learn more about the profession and to explore my own passions and interests.

Moreover, one of the most rewarding aspects of this internship so far has been the opportunity to mentor students and learn from them at the same time. Many of them are so intelligent and inquisitive, and their questions often lead us to wonder and think in ways we did not previously. This is notable not only in the classroom, but also on our exciting field trips, such as our first one to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) last week. This experience has certainly taught me that in any working process, including teaching, there is both giving and receiving.

SLI Students at Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Field Trip

– Aditi Shah ’17

Virtual Exhibit Takes Shape

Working at the Rose Art Museum over the summer has been a considerably different experience than being here during the school year, which is when I learn about the logistics of keeping a museum’s doors open. Recently I got to see what the process of de-installing an exhibition looks like. Currently I am getting a glimpse into what planning one entails, as my work is being done in relation to the museum planning a reimagining of a historical exhibition of Louise Nevelson’s work.

IMG_5335

Detail of the empty Fineberg Gallery, which will soon be full of artwork again.

A fair bit of my time at the beginning of this internship went into researching the immersive installation created by Nevelson at the Rose in ‘67, which I am recreating virtually. I also spent quite a bit of time on measuring the space so I can faithfully reconstruct what it looked like. Later I began modeling some of the sculptures and thinking about 3D printing them at the Maker Lab, which is located in the library. There I talked to other enthusiastic students/makers who loved the idea of making art museums more accessible via new technology. A current worker at the Maker Lab became really interested in this project and is joining me in continuing to work on this project over the next semester.

So far we have worked on putting together everything we have of the space and of the sculptures into a game engine called Unreal. From this engine one can export the virtual environment to an Oculus Rift, which allows the user to experience the environment as if they are physically in it.

IMG_5305 2

Maker Lab worker wearing the Oculus Rift and a computer screen showing what he is seeing.

Unreal Second ImageDetail of Lower Rose Gallery with two works by Louise Nevelson. On the left Totality Dark, 1962, courtesy of Pace Gallery, NY, and The Tropical Gardens on the right, 1967, courtesy of Grey Gallery, NY.

Talking to museum staff about recreating the exhibit has also been incredibly encouraging. Everyone has been passionate about museum accessibility and has been helpful when it came time to do more art historical research and to think about questions of copyright of images.

Aside from the major difference of not having homework and classes to go to, this summer has so far been a really optimistic glimpse into the World of Work. Being surrounded by interesting people who are enthusiastic about museum accessibility and new technology has been great. Furthermore, getting a chance to delve into an area of work and focus on something I am really interested in has been phenomenal and I feel like I am learning a lot.

In that line of thought, I am indeed exploring more deeply ideas and technology that I studied in 3D Animation class. I’m spending quite a bit of time learning new things and problem solving sometimes on my own and sometimes with colleagues. These skills feel like they are going to be essential to my professional development because no matter how much any of us learns in college we will need to think on our feet and learn new things as we go along.

– Daniela Dimitrova ’16

 

 

 

 

 

Internship at Lawyers For Children in NYC: Midpoint post

I just finished up my sixth week interning at Lawyers For Children in NYC! Where has the time gone? I knew this internship would be incredibly eye opening and enriching, but I never expected it to be this much so this quickly. I have learned so much in so little time that I am left eager to acquire even more knowledge in the time I have left in New York City.

Here is a recent article from the Wall Street Journal touching on few of the many issues with New York’s Foster Care system today:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-citys-foster-care-system-is-mismanaged-lawsuit-alleges-1436373462

First off, living in New York City is an adventure in itself. There’s always so much going on and so much to see. Traveling by subway is an adventure in itself; I never get bored of the slam poetry performances, magic tricks and soul singers! My workplace is situated in the heart of Chinatown and I am also just a short walk from Broadway (which is full of shops and restaurants) and Little Italy! I am living in midtown Manhattan right near Penn Station, which is also a very bustling area. My apartment is very close to the Hudson River Parkway, which is where I complete most of my morning runs! I’ve been able to explore Central Park and West Manhattan while on longer runs over the weekend, which has been a nice break after the long workweek!central park photo

(a picture I took in central park during an evening run)

   I’ve been incredibly busy at Lawyers For Children. Working everyday from 9:30-5 is quite an adjustment from the college where there are often long breaks throughout the day in between classes. Everyday is different as a forensic social work intern at LFC, which keeps things exciting. I have traveled to all five boroughs in New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island) visiting clients and participating in meetings. I’m so fortunate to have an internship that allows me to get to know the city I’m living in while at work!

As I mentioned, I’ve learned so much at Lawyers For Children already despite only having been there six weeks. Before beginning this internship, I knew that the foster care system does not always provide children with the love, support, and resources that they need and that as a result many children in foster care endure many more hardships than those living in loving families, but I never imagined the extent of those hardships could be as profound as what I’ve seen thus far. Through my work at Lawyers For Children, I’ve learned to view every situation with a fresh set of eyes because the context of these children’s histories can impact their lives in so many ways. It’s important not to make assumptions about a child based on their behavior or by who they are ‘on paper,’ (as they say) because there is always a reason they act and feel the way they do. Before assuming anything at all, it is important to listen.

This is also true in the classroom. When engaging in social, political, economic or any sort of debate, it is important to understand why the person feels a certain way instead of judging them for feeling differently on an issue than you. Sometimes understanding why can even change your point of view!

LFC logoAbove is LFC’s logo/slogan. Taken from lawyersforchildren.org

Here is a link to a few videos of LFC clients describing some of their experiences in foster care and how LFC has helped them.

http://www.lawyersforchildren.org/lfc-difference

This is also a very important skill to possess as a social worker or attorney. To develop a relationship with your client, you must understand where they are coming from and why they have certain goals instead of trying to impose your own ideas on them; otherwise it is nearly impossible to develop a constructive, successful relationship from which both parties can benefit! I’m hopeful that I will obtain many more skills as this internship progresses and I am eager to share those with you all at the end of the summer!

-Lydia

 

 

 

 

Halfway through my internship at Tip Comunicación

Sin título 7 copia
“Floralis Genérica” is only a couple of blocks away from Tip. It opens when the sun comes out, and closes when it sets

It has now been a little over a month since I started working at Tip Comunicación, a small PR agency in Buenos Aires. I have had such a good time so far, and I am excited to share a little about my experience with you. This past month has been an amazing learning experience.

First, I assisted at a fashion show for Sweet Victorian, Argentina’s leading swimwear and underwear brand, for the launch of their swimsuit collection. It was so fun! I got to greet some amazing journalists at the door and guide them towards where the other press representatives where gathered, help my boss and coworkers throughout the event, and also watch the show alongside a few Argentinian celebrities.

I also have had the opportunity to ghost-write a few articles to promote our brands and write more press releases. My writing skills have gotten a lot better this past month! I know this will help me so much after college, when I hope to be working full time either in PR or advertising. Another thing I’ve been doing a lot of this past month has been preparing product kits to send out to journalists. We have a new client at Tip called Successo. They produce alfajores: traditional Argentinian candy that consists of two cookies put together by dulce de leche (milk caramel) and usually covered in chocolate. Successo also makes cookies and other types of candy, but alfajores are their specialty. I had to make 93 packages, so by the time I was done I had seen more alfajores than I ever need to, but it was actually quite a relaxing experience. I have been working on my organization skills through this task, which I know will be very useful after my work at Tip is over. Whether I end up in advertising or PR, I will most certainly need to be organized.

Writing for brands has also helped me get out of my “writing comfort zone” and speak in a way that represents the brand I’m trying to promote rather than myself. I know that if I’m writing for an educational institution I must use a somewhat friendly yet mostly serious tone, while if I’m writing for a teen swimwear company I have to take on a younger, bubblier personality. Different vocabulary is also used for the different brands and it is very important to always keep that in mind. Writing a press release or an article in the name of a certain brand is very different from writing my own blog, or posting something on my social media accounts. This internship has provided me with the tools to identify each brand’s personality, target, and “dialect.” My boss is very strict about this and it has made me very aware of the use of each word.

Sin título 9 copia
Just a few of the many, many Successo packages I put together

Being at work is so different from being at school for many reasons. First, there are no grades involved, which means my goals are only to learn as much as possible and to meet my boss’ expectations. Second, there’s a lot more “figuring out” to do on my own. I am told what needs to get done and a few tips on how to do it. I’m always allowed –and expected– to ask questions and get help when necessary, but I am also expected to get things done as well and fast as possible, which sometimes means I have to make my own decisions. I am so lucky to have an amazing boss that gives me the space and tools to work things out on my own and make some mistakes that will help me learn. Of course, she is always there to step in and save the day in case I actually do something wrong, but so far it’s been working out just fine!

Overall it’s been a really exciting month. I’m so glad I have this opportunity this summer and I’m excited for the rest of my internship.

Mijal Tenenbaum, ’16

Dominican Republic and the Preservation of the Afro-Dominican and Dominico-Haitiano Cultures

The Fundacion Cultural Cofradia, is a non-profit organization that promotes and preserves the Afro-Dominican and Dominico-Haitiano traditions in the Dominican Republic. Cofradia is located in Santo Domingo, the capital, but their mission extends throughout different regions of the country. They work closely with the portadores de cultura, which are the people in the community in charge of keeping these traditions, in order to provide support in the areas most needed. This support comes in different forms, such as the creation of schools, workshops and festivals centered on these traditions.

People dancing perico ripiao in Yamasá

I contribute to their mission in two different ways, the office and field work. As part of the office work I file documents, communicate with el Ministerio de Cultura, (the government office in charge of approving the projects and providing the monetary support) and follow up in the updates of previous projects. During the fieldwork, the Cofradia team and I travel to diverse parts of the country and visit the communities that most need our support. Here, I interviewed the portadores de cultura on their traditions and how they function in the communities. I also document events by photography and videos which are later used as documentation to create new projects.
Last summer I traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit some family members. As part of my visit I wanted to learn more about the Afro-Dominican traditions. When I expressed this to my aunt she put me in contact with the Director of Cofradia, Roldán Marmol.  Director Mármol invited me to a fiesta de palo, a religious practice that mixes African and Taino religious beliefs with Catholicism. Later I expressed my interested in learning more about these traditions and religions. He told me about his organization and we discussed the possibility of an internship.

Gagá group
Gagá group

 

During my first week of work I met the entire team of my co-workers and learned about the projects they been working on.  I was provided with books and articles that talked about the diverse traditions of the Dominican Republic. That week we participated in the celebration of San Antonio sponsored by the Brothers Guillen in Yamasa. There I photographed the event and first experienced Gaga, a tradition born out of the sharing of cultures between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. For me, it was the first time, since I arrived to the island, that I have witnessed such a harmonious and unifying manifestation of the two countries traditions living as one.

The more I work with Cofradia the more I realize the importance of providing visibility to the Afro-Dominican and Dominico-Haitiano traditions. One cannot set apart these traditions with their communities, which means that if the traditions remain invisible and unappreciated the community suffers the same condition. These traditions are rich in knowledge, dance, music, art and history. I want to learn how to work with both the communities and the government to create projects that support the preservation and changes, that come naturally with time and new generations, of these traditions.

Me documenting the inauguration of La Escuela de Gagá in the Romana.

Me documenting the inauguration of La Escuela de Gagá in the Romana