Before I began my internship with OneWorld Now!, I hoped to gain insights into non-profit management, program management, and international education. I also hoped to foster students’ commitment to language learning and study abroad. Now, that I have completed my internship, I believe that I accomplished all of the above.
Throughout my internship with OneWorld Now!, I carried out a variety of tasks. I worked on compiling Study Abroad Booklets (one for a group going to China and one for a group going to Morocco), which included students’ flight itineraries, daily itineraries, insurance information, medical forms, and passport/visa copies. Compiling these booklets was rewarding because I felt as though I was contributing to students’ successful study abroad experiences. In addition to the Booklets, I created a Chaperone Guide with another intern. The Guide’s purpose was to help study abroad chaperones support students while abroad and discussed such topics as culture shock, group dynamics, safety, and physical and mental health. This project required me to draw upon my own language learning and study abroad experiences and gave me an opportunity to pass down some of what I have learned to others.
A part of the work I have done with OneWorld Now! has also been administrative (emailing students and parents, scanning, copying, printing, filing, mailing letters, taking inventories of office supplies, and filling out check request forms). I also took photos during the organization’s Summer Language and Leadership Camp, networking events, and guest speaker presentations. Being able to take photos and also to utilize my Chinese language skills were unexpected, but I feel as though this contributed to my experience in a very positive way.
What I have enjoyed most about my work with the organization is seeing how it has impacted students’ language learning and/or study abroad success and how excited and dedicated many of the students are to their education through the organization. It has been really rewarding observing, in-person, how OneWorld Now! has helped transform students’ lives. Students who were once hesitant to talk in class are more willing to do so, as the organization’s programs have given many a greater sense of self-confidence and an expanded comfort zone. In addition, learning a new language has introduced and given students a wide range of study abroad opportunities.
Something that I really appreciate about the organization is how its mission (to promote cultural awareness and understanding, as well as global leadership through language learning and study abroad) is so embedded in its “innermost parts.” Though the organization could easily split up its Arabic and Chinese programs, it does not, as it is dedicated to promoting the study of critical languages in general. Therefore, those who work for the organization do not work for the instruction of just one language, but both of them. And, students who study Arabic do not only meet other Arabic language learners, but also Chinese language learners.
Interning at the organization also made me realize that its mission does not only extend to its students, but also to its staff. One of my most memorable experiences with OneWorld Now! was attending a networking event, during which I met college students from all over the Middle East and North Africa. It was really amazing being surrounded by students who came from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria. This experience has given me a greater appreciation and interest in the Arabic language and the cultures of Arabic-speaking people. The event also reminded me of a sociology course I took at Brandeis called “Deconstructing War, Building Peace,” in which we talked about how deconstructing war and building peace begins at the individual level through compassionate listening.
After having interned with OneWorld Now!, I can definitely see myself working for a non-profit organization in the future. Working at the organization has made me realize how much I value challenge and the opportunity to be creative. Like the work I did at OneWorld Now!, I want what I do in the future to be service and international oriented.
Being an intern at OneWorld Now! has reminded me how important it is to ask questions and to take initiative. An intern can work at an organization without fully understanding the nuts and bolts that make it run successfully. But, in order to get the most out of an internship experience, it is useful to look at the tasks one is given and to try to understand how they will impact the organization and others. Instead of waiting to be invited, INVITE YOURSELF! For me, this meant asking to take notes at staff meetings to learn more about non-profit management and asking questions to better understand the context of the work I was assigned.
As OneWorld Now! is only just over a decade old, I hope to see it grow in the number of languages it teaches and the number of people it impacts. The organization already plans to add Korean (another critical language) to the languages it provides instruction for. As the demography of the United States is rapidly changing, I want to see more American students gain a greater sense of cultural awareness and make an effort to involve themselves in important global issues.