Love Is Still the Most Powerful Force On the Planet

The mission statement of To Write Love On Her Arms, the organization with which I am interning, does as much justice to its mission as two short sentences can:

“To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.”

There are many different ways that TWLOHA addresses these goals. One of the most important of these ways is the blog on the TWLOHA website. Twice a week, a post is published on the blog. These posts often directly discuss the four issues referred to in the mission statement, but also discuss abuse, eating disorders, bullying, anxiety, self-care, and recovery, among other topics. The posts bring these issues to light in an attempt to humanize the people who suffer from them, and to provide encouragement and hope to people struggling. They are also an effort to reach people who are not struggling and convince them to care about those who are, as well as an effort to reach people who are struggling and remind them that recovery is possible, and it’s okay to have a mental illness even in a society that tells you it isn’t.

Another important way TWLOHA addresses its goals is by serving as a bridge between treatment and people struggling. The “Find Help” page contains a constantly updating list of carefully selected treatment services for locations around the United States and even in other countries. It also features a list of national resources that can be accessed by anyone in each of the countries listed. TWLOHA also offers counseling scholarships to help pay for treatment for those who can’t afford it, and invests money directly into places like suicide hotlines and foundations for advocacy and the funding of research. To date, TWLOHA has invested over $1.5 million into organizations that directly and indirectly help people who struggle with mental illness.

As an intern this summer, I have a few different responsibilities that I’ll be tackling along with my fellow interns. All seven of the interns answer emails for the first half of the day. This is more important than it sounds. The emails include everything from partnership requests, to expressions of gratitude to the organization, to telling stories of one’s struggles. Often there are emails that ask for help because the senders have no where else to turn. My job as an intern is to respond to all of these emails thoughtfully, with compassion and encouragement, and in a way that shows the sender that we care about them. This is one of the things we do that has the most impact on individual lives. We receive so many emails from people who say this organization helped them find their reasons to keep living, or that a reply email we sent to them was exactly what they needed to hear. I had no idea sending a simple email could make such an impact on someone’s life.

Another one of my responsibilities is to seek out more resources for the website, especially in the few states and many countries that don’t have any listed yet. I also help go through the applications for the next intern term, and I have been organizing our blog archive. Last weekend, I got to run the TWLOHA booth at Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware. After reading so many emails thanking us for the work we do, I had an even deeper appreciation for the organization than I did before I arrived. However, running the booth at Firefly made me know how incredibly worthwhile this work is. So many people came up to the booth and told us that TWLOHA helped them get through an extremely dark time in their life. Some people hadn’t heard of us, but struggle themselves, or had lost a loved one to mental illness. Their thanks for doing the important work we do was so touching and meaningful. After witnessing this and hearing these stories, my main goal for the summer is to help as many people as possible, directly or indirectly, and to do everything in my power to make life better for people who struggle with mental illness.

Michael Solowey

Working for Environmental Justice at Fiege Films

This summer, I’m working at Fiege Films in Austin, Texas. It’s a small independent film company that I’m really glad to be a part of.

John Fiege, the founder of Fiege Films, is an environmentalist and documentary filmmaker. His past work includes the films Mississippi Chicken, an examination of undocumented workers in the poultry industry in Mississippi, and Above All Else, the story of a last-ditch attempt to stop the Keystone XL pipeline expansion in East Texas.

John has many shorter pieces too. This short film, Torrent on the Blanco, chronicles the devastating flooding that occurred in Wimberley, Texas in 2015:

The environment is a key focus at Fiege Films, and it’s especially important in the current moment, with environmental catastrophes like climate change feeling ever more acute, and a political administration unwilling to do anything to stop it. It’s paramount that people advocate for our habitat. 

Currently, I’m helping out with pre-production on In the Air, an experimental, feature-length film about environmental devastation on the Gulf Coast, told from the perspectives of local artists, such as poets and dancers.

We’re focusing particularly on a part of the country called “Cancer Alley,” a stretch of land along the Mississippi host to over 100 petrochemical complexes and a disproportionate amount of illness.

It’s a depressing situation, but also a great opportunity to speak out about this great injustice. I believe that environmental justice is social justice, and that by fighting for better air and water conditions for the residents of this region that have been traditionally mistreated, I’m helping to further the cause of social justice. When we protect our environment, we protect the people living there, too. That’s why telling this story is so important. 

Here’s an excerpt from the work sample for In the Air. It was shot in Baytown, Texas, and features a piece of poetry from Baytown native Ebony Stewart:

Right now, there’s a lot of work to be done for the film, and it’s pretty busy here in the office—but also really exciting. Coming off a successful Kickstarter in April, we’ve raised enough funds to start production, and for me that means researching locations, creating shooting schedules, and coordinating with artists, among many other tasks.

My hope for this time is that I can best facilitate the creative vision for the film, to help the story of a very marginalized and exploited part of the country get told. Making a film takes a ton of work, but in this case, with such dire subject matter, it’s self-evident how important it is. I’m very grateful to the WOW program for making it possible for me to work for social justice this summer. It’s awesome that I get to spend my time doing something so meaningful and important.

Getting started in Boston Public Market

I will spend the most of my summer interning in Boston Public Market, Boston, MA. Boston Public Market (BPM) is a year-round, indoor market featuring locally sourced, seasonal food brought by and from the diverse vendors from New England area. As a HSSP major, I am very interested in learning about the agricultural sustainability. The philosophy of BPM seems to address sustainability a lot: consuming locally sourced agricultural product reduce both the transportation cost and the waste release. Serving only seasonal food items also reduces energy used to preserve food, as well as transportation cost. However, as good as it sounds, I wonder if it could only be one of a kind, or this operating model can be further promoted. Working here will enable me to get in touch with more vendors, and therefore gain a deeper understand the philosophy of how each vendor works individually to make the market functions as a whole.

This summer, I will work alternating between the office, in the Market, and Dewey Square Farmers Market. I was very excited before starting interning. I envision this internship to be very busy and productive: help setting up farmer’s market, assisting events going on in the market, working closely with supervisor with project after project, etc.

However, little progress was made the first two weeks into this internship. All I had been doing is organizing paperwork, sitting at info desk pointing out the location of bathrooms, and running around for unimportant chores. I comforted myself that it was just the beginning of internship, and the busy summer season hadn’t started. It was not until I got a project related to HIP (Health incentive program) when I develop a feeling of where this internship can go. HIP is a Massachusetts State health program for low-income people, or EBT card holders. This program matches every dollar spent on fruit and vegetable purchase using EBT card, however, only for fresh produce and no added preservative, salt canned or dried fruits and vegetables. In other word, this program further encourages low-income family to purchase more nutritious foods for health needs. The program enacted on June 1st, and replaced Boston Bounty Bucks program, which BPM matched a purchase up to $20 for EBT card holders. While printing out information package for each SNAP vendors, I got the chance to read through the info sheet. This switch made me both excited and concerned. I then offered to summarize a FAQ for volunteers to read and understand the program. It’s only have been a few days since the program started. I had heard a few words about the carrying out of the program among the vendors without actually seeing it happen. With a mixture of concerned and exciting feeling, I look forward to seeing how this program will turn out.

As I dig deeper into this internship and the office gets busier, I gradually realize that I need to actively seize each opportunity. Each project can be more than a plain project if I see the its potential and actively follow up with what is needed. How much I can get out of an internship totally depends on me: how much effort I put into it, how much thought I give, how I ask questions, etc. Through assisting HIP, I started to get a hint of the role of BPM in social justice and conserving of sustainability.

Yuchen He-17′

Social Justice through ‘Avodah’

When I found out about the Social Justice Internship available this summer at Avodah in New York City, I had a feeling it was a perfect fit for me. Avodah is a nonprofit organization that aims to identify, target and address poverty and related social and economic justice issues in the United States. It does so by managing and connecting an extensive network of activists, fellows, and alumni through its Jewish Service Corps and Fellowship programs. The former trains young Jewish people to work and dedicate themselves to social justice work, drawing their inspiration from a fusion of antipoverty organizational culture and Jewish tradition.


(Source: avodah.net)

I think that one of the reasons why poverty is cyclical and challenging to escape is the lack of visibility and attention that disadvantaged or disenfranchised groups and individuals receive in the civic and political arena. Avodah not only gives a voice to these groups, but educates the activists so that their voice is as far-reaching, loud, and effective as possible.
As an intern, I will be working with the Alumni and National Program Network to collect, manage, and analyze data and surveys of Fellows and former Corps Members. I will also provide administrative support to the program of candidate recruitment, followed by assistance to the New York City house turnover process. In making my contribution as valuable as possible to Avodah’s cause, I hope to also become more familiar and ultimately acquire the fundamental skills and knowledge that social justice activists operate with.

Sonia Pavel ’20

My first month at National Consumer League

I am currently working as an intern for the National Consumer League, a consumer advocacy organization, representing consumers and workers on the marketplace and workplace since 1899. The organization deals with real-life knowledge-based education for high school students (LifeSmarts program), eliminates hazardous child labor and fraud, and develops programs to help patients keep up with their medication schedules.

NCL is a small organization, with a total of around 20 employees, which makes it a perfect environment for an intern to get to know everyone, from the director, department heads, to other interns, and learn about what they are working on. NCL is accommodating to the interns’ needs and preferences to improve ourselves. We have C (for privacy purpose, I will only include their initials), who is the general supervisor of all interns. In the first week, the interns will have a one-on-one talk with her about our field of interest, what we want to improve about ourselves, and what goals we would like to achieve. Then, she lets us choose who we will be primarily assigned to. We will work with our supervisor of choice on specific field and assist them with research, blogs, and manage their social media outlet.

I chose to work with R, director of Child Labor issues. Honestly it was not a field I had much background knowledge of prior to the internship. In fact, I hardly ever thought of such matter at all. Talking to R, I realize that is the exact problem we are having with fighting child labor. It is so far removed from the supply chain that average people would never even consider the possibility of some children aged 9 or 12 doing back-breaking work to help produce things consumers use everyday. It startles me to realize virtually everything has some tint of child labor, the cotton in our clothes, the tea leaves and coffee beans in our daily beverage, the bricks in our house and everything else.

My primary work here is to manage the social media outlet of Child Labor Coalition (please follow us on Twitter if you are interested in news and facts about child labor). I respond to questions by followers, follow people who share the same interest, and post facts and news about child labor, or other related issues. It is a never ending job, in a sense of you have to keep doing it everyday. To be honest, there is no sense of accomplishing anything as every morning you wake up, you have to do it all over. It is also never ending because everyday, there is some news about child labor no matter how elusive, as long as you know where to search for them. It is mentally and emotionally draining when you think that it is the 21st century and there are still 168 million children out there participating in labor, often too hazardous and without proper protection, when they should be in school, learning and playing. It is taxing but I am also learning so much.

My goal in dealing with child labor is to think of a way to better communicate this issue and assist consumers out there to make direct, informed and conscious choice in their consumer behavior. So far I am thinking of writing a series of blogs, suggesting how consumers can notice signs of child labor and other types of modern slavery and sweatshop, which sustainable brands to buy from and which unethical ones to avoid. It is a work in progress so far. I will update in my next report.

Credit: All photos belong to NCL Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nationalconsumersleague/

Trang Nguyen

HIVE San Francisco

This summer, I am interning at HIVE in San Francisco, CA. HIVE is a San Francisco General Hospital-based organization that focuses on women and couples affected by HIV. This self-described “hub of positive reproductive and sexual health” has provided preconception and prenatal care to those who are affected by HIV since 1989 and since 2004, all babies born in San Francisco have been free of HIV. HIVE also does much of their work online, hosting a website that holds plenty of resources, both for those who are HIV+ and HIV-, as well as a blog, where contributors can share their experiences with HIV, sex, pregnancy, disclosure, and PrEP, among many others. To visit their website, go to www.hiveonline.org

While HIVE’s multi-pronged approach to HIV care addresses many of the inequalities in reproductive and sexual wellness, one of HIVE’s main focuses is tackling the obstacles that stand in the way of one’s access to healthcare and healthcare education. HIVE recognizes HIV as an identity that coexists and intersects with other marginalized identities; for example, the ways in which people of color and folks with lower incomes are disproportionately affected by HIV. HIVE also focuses on PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, a once-a-day pill for those living without HIV to prevent HIV transmission. HIVE aims to break down the notion that PrEP is solely for one sect of HIV- folks. HIVE champions PrEP as a tool for anyone and everyone as it can relieve the stress of not always being able to express oneself sexually and safely. Read one woman’s story of how PrEP has helped her, or check out another favorite blog post.

My time at HIVE consists mostly of working on a patient database, which will house information about their HIV, sexual, reproductive, and social histories. In other words, the database will allow easier access to the results of HIVE’s work. The team will be able to pull information faster for queries such as how many people were infected with HIV in their pregnancy, how many people had undetectable viral loads at delivery, and how many people were engaged in HIV care 6-12 months postpartum. The database will showcase all of the tireless efforts of the HIVE team to engage women and couples in matters of sexual and reproductive justice. This work will further the mission of HIVE—to advance sexual and reproductive wellness—by illustrating to both the HIVE team and others that their work is making a difference in the lives of their patients. 

By summer’s end, I hope to more acutely understand how HIV affects women and couples, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area. I hope to gain perspective into the lives of those whose sexuality intersects with HIV. Finally, I hope that I can turn HIVE’s manifesto into a daily practice.

Gaby Sandor

From NM to NYC- American Jewish World Service(WOW)!

I have arrived in Manhattan, and already I am enjoying everything the city has to offer. There are so many incredible people living here who do the most inspiring things, and lucky for me I get to experience this first hand. Never would have imagined that this would be such a perfect fit, but so far it has been thanks to WOW! My first week with the American Jewish World Service Organization has surpassed all preconceived internship expectations I had. Everything about the working environment is being nurtured by people who are passionate about the mission AJWS is built upon and I am beyond enthusiastic to begin my work with one of the pioneers in our developing world for Social Justice, Social Action and change. Founded in 1985, AJWS is the only Jewish non-profit community that focuses specifically on Heath and Sexual Rights, Women’s Rights and Land and Water rights.

These areas of work are overseen in 4 continents and 19 different countries struggling to achieve these major and crucial components of living. As part of my time with the organization, I will be serving in the Development Department helping plan donor engagement events, volunteer opportunities for community members and lending a hand in logistics for our Study Tour programs that allow people who support AJWS to travel abroad and see firsthand the work we are accomplishing. So far I have been fortunate enough to attend meetings with various departments here at AJWS including the Finance team, our Communications team, as well as our Administrative team. These meetings have allowed myself and my fellow intern peers to get an inside look at the work we do in the office daily and how we continue to grow and flourish as an organization. The emphasis on my team is donor engagement where we bridge the gap between our generous donors and demonstrate our thanks for their unconditional generosity and consistent belief in the mission of AJWS.

To find more information about the study tours, the mentors I will be working with, and our “strive to end poverty and promote human rights in the developing world” click here! Finally, as part of my first week along with all the other exciting experiences I’ve had, I was able to help coordinate the AJWS Pride March in the 2017 NYC Pride Parade! One of the key focuses here at AJWS is working to “advance the human rights of women, girls and LGBT people, end discrimination, stop violence and combat hate crimes.” In this way, we are able to demonstrate our support for these communities and help to eliminate all discrimination towards people who identify differently than others.

Here I have attached the link to the AJWS twitter page where we will be posting throughout the parade in an effort to stay socially engaged with our international friends. At first I was hesitant about coming to AJWS and spending my summer in Manhattan as I am somewhat of a small town girl from Albuquerque, NM however I strongly believe that my time here will be very educational and eye opening. I look forward to enveloping myself in everything related to “pursuing global justice through grassroots change” and witnessing the ways in which Jewish tradition and values are helping to repair our world.

Aryela Vanetsky

Starting at Umby

I am spending this summer in Chicago at a startup called Umby, which is a peer-to-peer microinsurance platform. Microinsurance is just like regular insurance, except that it targets at individuals living in poverty internationally, mostly making less than $4 USD a day. To address their needs, the premiums and coverage for this type of insurance are relatively low, but it provides an important safety net for families trying to escape the poverty cycle. Umby works by selling umbrellas to consumers, with the money then going to insure one family (of the consumer’s choice) for a full year.

The main social injustice that Umby is redressing is global poverty. In developing countries around the world, individuals are especially vulnerable to the financial hardships which affect all of us at one point or another: health problems, property damage, and the like. However, for someone who is making barely enough money to get by, these hardships can be absolutely devastating. Studies have shown that individuals facing these hardships will do things like selling off their assets, dipping into (quite small) savings accounts, and reducing their food consumption. The problem is that these short-term solutions actually reinforce poverty in the long run: without money-making assets like livestock, it can be difficult to pay for the next hardship; without building up savings, it can be impossible to do economically advantageous but expensive activities such as sending children to school; reducing food consumption to the point of malnourishment or undernourishment can result in long-term health problems that will cost more money later. This is where insurance comes in. If a family has the ability to use insurance to pay for these hardships, they no longer have to deplete their assets or savings, ultimately helping to break the poverty cycle in the best cases.

Further, according to the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change is affecting the poorest countries in the world the most. Many forms of microinsurance help protect against the power of global climate change, including catastrophe insurance and many forms of livestock or crop insurance. This is another social justice issue: the wealthiest people in the wealthiest countries have the ability to ignore the effects of climate change, but those living in poor regions around the world do not have the infrastructure or the funds to recover from natural disasters.

I am specifically in charge of marketing for Umby. Umby will be officially launching at the end of the summer, so I am developing blog posts and social media strategies to ensure that people will hear of it and will be interested in donating or buying an umbrella themselves. Without the effective marketing efforts, we may not be able to provide microinsurance at all.

We are working inside of 1871, which is an incubator in downtown Chicago for startups, most of which are related to tech. This is a really cool environment to work in, as there are a ton of other young people working on a variety of new ideas, many of which are related to social justice. Most of 1871 is taken up by a huge, open workspace, where dozens of people sit on their laptops or talking to one another. It is a very artistic environment, with one side of the room taken up by this huge sculpture of downtown Chicago. There are also murals on the walls of the building done by local artists. It is definitely way cooler than your average office.

The sculpture at the front of 1871
Mark Mulhern’s “Anger/Fear of Retaliation” in the halls of 1871

By the end of the summer, the major event that will be happening is the official launching of the company. I hope by then I will have raised awareness on social media and provided some helpful blog posts that spark interest in the mission and work of Umby, and are entertaining and fun to read.

Charting Green Spaces in New York City

Me in Green Map System’s Office!

With a only a week under my belt, and with new experience in New Jersey transit and the New York subway system, I am excited to have started my first true city experience with Green Map System.

Green Map System, is an environmental nonprofit which encourages inclusive participation and knowledge generation about green spaces through maps. More specifically, the organization encourages active involvement in parklands, nature preserves, and local agriculture while also helping communities address areas that raise concerns, such as waste dumps, disaster areas, noise pollution, and more. Outside of maps, the organization works on local projects such as a community garden, called Siempre Verde, developed an energy passive house in Brooklyn, and encourages bike transportation and waste recycling throughout the city.

In my role, I am helping Green Map System as it transitions some of its Green Mapping technology and launches a new website to encourage further participation and alternative methods of projecting environmental data. I am specifically applying the skills I learned this past year in my Geographic Information Systems (GIS) coursework to carry over Green Map System’s iconography and descriptions to new maps on an open platform called ArcGIS. This is a critical transition as it will allow participants to use the maps in new ways, including visual customization and data analytics. I was really excited that I was able to start working on GIS right away and that I have even worked with individuals from ESRI, the Environmental Systems Research Institute, who have been guiding me through the GIS development process. In addition, I am helping catalog and share stories of mapping projects from the past by inputting details about them on Green Map System’s story page on their website. Through this work, I am beginning to learn how technology and business communication skills can play in the environmental nonprofit space.

Tabling with Green Map System’s Founder at the People Power Planet Party – Image by Erik McGregor

Finally, I have represented Green Map System at tabling and community events, where I have begun learning about the Lower East Side and East Village neighborhoods, where Green Map NYC is based. One thing I specifically learned was how gardens are often created in urban communities. While at a street event called, the People Power Planet Party, Green Map System’s founder pointed to a garden across the street from us, which was filled with vibrant flowers and trees. She told me that only twenty years prior the site was a vacated lot, where individuals would meet for illicit activity. Fortunately, neighborhood residents saw value in the space and transformed it into a verdant and inclusive garden for meetings and meditation. Clearly, understanding the geography of the region granted me a new perspective to the importance of this green space. Ultimately, I am very excited to learn more about the geography of New York City and beyond, and to learn more of how I can apply my skills – and new ones! – to foster community engagement in green spaces with Green Map System.

 

Giving Flight to Hopes and Dreams

The WINGS logo and motto (which I handily borrowed for my blog title).

For the past month, after a rigorous 40-hour training session, I have been interning at WINGS, a not-for-profit domestic violence housing agency that provides critical relief to those who are victims of domestic violence. While WINGS primarily offers housing services, anyone can call the emergency hotline that WINGS offers 24/7 in conjunction with the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline. Over the phone WINGS volunteers, interns, and staff provide callers with emotional support, help develop a safety plan, give advice, offer appropriate referrals to other programs, and, if possible, complete a shelter intake. A shelter intake occurs if the three following criteria are met: one of the shelters has space, there was a recent inciting event that led to the victim fleeing the abuser, and the guest does not pose a major safety concern.

WINGS runs two emergency shelters: the Safe House in the Northwest suburbs of Cook County; and another in downtown Chicago known as WINGS Metro. These emergency shelters offer temporary housing for victims and their children. WINGS also offers transitional housing that survivors can qualify for where they are able to live in a shared home for up to two years, additional access to counseling services, and case management. Permanent housing is the final stage of housing support that WINGS offers, and provides survivors suffering from disabilities including PTSD with permanent housing. In conjunction with all the housing programs, WINGS offers community based services and extended services such as: back to school items, doctor visits, legal services, and a plethora of additional services.

As an intern at WINGS, my primary job is organizing and running a 3-day/week summer camp for children residing in the Safe House. A conscious approach is required when interacting with the children and parents. Every day the children begin the day discussing their feelings in conjunction with the Feelings Chart,

We use a similar but more comprehensive chart with the campers in order to discuss how we are all feeling and our expectations for the day.

and we take time to learn and apply various coping mechanisms and stress relief practices. At the end of each day interaction notes are written for each child in which their overall attitude and emotional state are cataloged for record-keeping.

The primary purpose of the summer camp is to provide children with a fun, welcoming, and loving environment (a concept that is foreign to many of them), while also providing parents with a respite that allows them to work on reaching their goals (finding a job, going to referred programs, applying for transitional housing, etc.) Providing these children with a safe environment is critical as it removes them from the cycle of violence which shows many domestic violence abusers have been abused themselves. In collaboration with the summer camp, children’s advocates work with the children to develop a safety plan, offer counseling, therapy, and other services. By the end of summer, I hope to have been able to impact these children in a positive manner by providing them with a safe, fun escape. As aforementioned, this internship requires a trauma-specific approach, and I hope to further develop my experience working with children using this specific approach.

Statistics, facts, and additional information about domestic violence can be found at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website.

 

Nakeita Henry, 19

 

Welcome to BridgeYear

The BridgeYear logo painted by one of our Co-Founders and me over many lunch breaks.
  • Stop by Home Depot for some blue paint
  • Develop metrics for a business plan proposal
  • Come to work in scrubs
  • Make the enrollment steps to the local community college easily digestible for students
  • Assemble IKEA furniture for the office
  • Update the team’s meeting agenda

It may look odd, but that’s how my to-do list reads on any given week this summer. I could’ve opted to write the responsibilities that were listed in my job description, but the truth is that wouldn’t come close to encompassing this out of the ordinary internship experience. The wide range of my day-to-day activities is the result of interning for a nonprofit startup in education, BridgeYear.  Bridge Year is the brainchild of two former college counselors, Victoria Chen and Victoria Doan,  who I’m delighted to call my mentors, and was founded in the summer of 2016 in Houston, Texas.

BridgeYear started off as a community college transition program for first generation students from low-income communities. The goal was to battle the phenomenon known as summer melt, which “melts” away recent high school graduates’ plans to enroll in college the fall immediately after graduation. To decrease the rates of the phenomenon, BridgeYear provided support to students through near peer advisors -college interns like myself– that helped students matriculate into community college. While enrollment rates were doubled, as the summer progressed, BridgeYear realized there were things beyond summer melt affecting students’ futures. After recognizing that students in low-income communities also lack access to workforce opportunities, the program now immerses students in career simulations that expose them to high-growth careers and propels them toward economic mobility.

This is actually my second summer with BridgeYear, as I was part of the inaugural team back when this was only an idea. It was a life altering experience to establish a nonprofit from the ground up; an opportunity I wanted so desperately to repeat because I felt my work wasn’t done.

And so here I am. A few seasons have passed and my passion, purpose, and philosophies on education have only grown. I knew that round 2 of Continue reading “Welcome to BridgeYear”

Intermission

Fifty days in. Can you believe it? Central Square Theater is in full swing and things have really picked up for the upcoming season. Walking into our cozy office, you will see nine interns clustered around a table all typing on their Macs, charging up on coffee from the Mariposa Bakery next-door.I am already beginning to learn a great deal not only about theater but about being an intern and what it means to be in marketing. I had no idea coming in the intensity of the research I would be responsible for or the need to prioritize work.

The wonderful thing about this internship in particular is that it is completely malleable. I have the ability to initiate projects and propose my own ideas to the marketing team. My initial picture of working at the theater is drastically different from my present status as an intern. I have had the opportunity to set up one-on-ones with my supervisor to really cater my experience to my needs and talents.

So much has happened since we last checked in. We’ve had our last show of the 2016-2017 season, The Midvale High School Fiftieth Reunion which featured Gordon Clapp, star of NYPD Blue and Chicago Fire. I was the main photographer for this event and was instrumental in the social media campaigns surrounding the production. I also walked around the entire city in my little black dress and heels hanging up posters and rallying new patrons.

I have also been taking lots of pictures for Youth Underground which is CST’s education program that “investigates social issues relevant to young people and our world” (CST Website). I really enjoy the face-to-face interaction that comes with going to these events and photographing the performers.

Currently I am in charge of some secret projects regarding our plans for the upcoming season but I guarantee they are exciting and are sure to engage our current patrons and future audience members!

Patricia Cordischi ’18

My First Month at Open Source Wellness

Oftentimes I feel this sense of knowing that an opportunity is exactly right for me. In April, as I was looking for internship opportunities, I had that feeling when I found an internship listing at Open Source Wellness.

OSW is a nonprofit located in Oakland, California that aims to function as a behavioral pharmacy, to support patients when their doctors prescribe lifestyle changes to combat chronic health conditions. Patients are often told to make difficult changes in the way they eat, exercise, or manage their stress without any support from the health care system or their community. OSW helps patients make those changes by creating events where participants can practice healthy behaviors through a movement session, mindfulness/meditation session, and a healthy meal while connecting with people who are making similar changes. The picture below describes OSW’s four principles and the new cohort model.

Here’s a quick video introduction: Open Source Wellness in 60 Seconds. Also, their fantastic website.

After interning for a month, I know that initial feeling about OSW was correct. The first day that I went into the office, the co-founders, Ben and Liz, started our day of training with a game of hot seat. Then, they went straight into training us to do customer discovery in low-income neighborhoods to better understand the demographics of the target population. Finally, we (the other intern, Adam and I) attended their public event which left me feeling energized and on top of the world. Ben ended the night by saying, “at OSW you should never be comfortable, coasting is not an option here.” Now, I may have only had one other internship, but I don’t think is how most first days unfold.

Here is a picture of the interns (Adam and I started a month before the other two – Liza and Kelliann – who started on Tuesday!)

Now, I help run the Tuesday night event and for the past two weeks I have been leading the mindfulness/meditation session. Although it seemed daunting at first, I think leading people in an area that is relatively new to my life has pushed me to be more confident doing something out of my comfort zone.

Additionally, I help run two events at a low-income, re-entry housing community called Alameda Point Collaborative. On Thursdays, OSW hosts a “block party” where they blast music to draw people out of their houses and out onto the dance floor. This is followed by a five-minute meditation/mindfulness session and a vegan meal that is prepared by community members, using produce grown in the community garden. On Saturday, I help run a women’s circle that connects women who are struggling with similar issues to create social support to find solutions to those issues. The session includes light movement, mediation, and a salad.

This is the social injustice that Open Source Wellness is addressing. The organization is attempting to help people in low-income, formerly-incarcerated, and formerly-homeless communities find ways to address and prevent chronic health conditions by changing their behavior.

One of my major tasks over the past month has been to research and contact organizations, community centers, and individual health care providers in the Bay Area to create referral partnerships. Through this, I have made a few strong connections, yay! I also accompanied Ben to a meeting at a large health center to discuss a potential partnership. It was an extremely successful meeting and it showed me the importance and benefit of provider outreach. Ben would like me to eventually conduct these meetings on my own!

Being able to have those conversations and make strong connections on my own, and confidently giving people advice about their health and what they can do improve their health are my goals for this summer. Throughout the past month, I have started implementing those skills and am well on my way to accomplish those goals. These past few weeks have showed me that I truly need to keep pushing myself into uncomfortable spaces because great things really.

Lucy Miller-Suchet

MUA: Breaking Barriers to Success

Latinos comprise the largest ethnic minority in the United States, consisting of sixteen percent of the overall United States population per the 2011 Census. Two-thirds of Latino children in the United States live in low-income households and roughly one-third live in poverty, according to a report by the National Research Center On Hispanic Children and Families. Among Latina women in the United States, only 65% have graduated from high school, and less than 15% hold college degrees. These statistics stem from a cycle of poverty and a lack of educational opportunities, exacerbated by a growing anti-immigrant sentiment within certain political factions of the United States.

These past few weeks I have been interning at Mujeres Unidas Avanzando, or MUA, in Dorchester. “Mujeres Unidas Avanzando,” Spanish for

Mujeres Unidas Avanzando has helped 7,185 women and 1,420 children to date.

“Women United Advancing,” MUA is a nonprofit that encourages Latina girls and women to seek educational and career opportunities and to grow into leadership roles within their community. Many of the students at MUA live in shelters in the Boston area, and many are victims of domestic abuse. MUA offers a variety of classes and social services, Spanish literacy classes, several levels of English, Hi-SET high school equivalency test readiness, computer literacy classes, and home nurse certification classes. MUA also has a daycare on site so that students, most of whom are mothers, can leave their children in safe hands while they attend classes.

I am responsible for several tasks and projects this summer. I have spent a significant portion of my internship thus far working on an outreach project, which includes formulating and updating a database of key industry contacts in order to establish partnerships with similar organizations and recruit new students. I have also been working on public relations and marketing tasks, such as monitoring and updating the MUA Facebook page (give it a  if you feel so inclined!), photographing MUA events, and sending press releases to local news organizations.

On my third day of work, MUA held a graduation ceremony for students who completed a class this semester. Students in caps and gowns passed the HiSET, or high school equivalency test.

In addition to these projects, I will also be teaching a three-week introductory English crash-course starting in July, and have been preparing for that. My work this summer will help to further MUA’s mission by expanding MUA’s reach, both by working on the outreach project to recruit more students, by creating marketing and promotional materials in order to establish MUA’s presence and acclaim in the Boston non-profit community, and by teaching English.

By the end of the summer, I hope to have made a tangible difference in MUA’s reach and in helping students to learn English. It has been very humbling and inspiring to work at MUA thus far, and am looking forward to the rest of the summer.

First month at MPHA

I have been interning for the Massachusetts Public Health Association in Boston for over a month now and so far it has been a very fun and eventful experience. The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) is a non-profit organization aimed at creating health equity for everyone. They are aware of the social determinants of health, and that there are many people who have less access to a healthy lifestyle.

View from my desk

They address issues from low access to healthy and affordable foods, to unsafe streets. They have secured $6 million for the Mass Food Trust which aims to create more access to healthy and affordable food in food deserts/food swamps. This is what first drew me into this organization.

The problem of food deserts and food swamps is very personal to me, as I grew up in a food swamp. A food desert describes neighborhoods that have low access to a grocery store or supermarket. A food swamp, on the other hand, may have a nearby grocery store, but has too much access to unhealthy food. For instance, in my childhood neighborhood I can easily walk to McDonald’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King, etc. (less than a mile away), however the closest grocery store requires a car to get there. This results in overconsumption of unhealthy foods which leads to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.  I like the idea of combating the problem where it starts (healthy food access) rather than only fighting the outcome (chronic disease).

Not only does MPHA aim to create greater access to healthy and affordable food, they also advocate for the Complete Streets Program which aims to make local roads “more walkable, bikeable, and viable for public transit users”. The staff members walk to the state house right across the street in order to attend rallies, go to hearings, deliver flyers to senators, etc. multiple times throughout the week.

For the first month of my time at MPHA, I agreed to help prepare for their 15th Annual Spring Awards Breakfast which took place on June 2nd. This breakfast is to honor health equity champions that have made great strides in the public health of Massachusetts. I helped to write press releases for the honorees, created posters, called potential guests, and more.

15th Annual Spring Awards Breakfast

Once the day of the breakfast came, I was so happy to have helped put it together because of how well it turned out. I was able to listen to the speeches of the honorees and felt truly inspired by their tireless work in their communities.

After the breakfast, my responsibilities changed to work on a story mining project. MPHA does really good work, although the positive i

Hearing on paid maternal/family leave

mpact on people that they have and their other accomplishments are not always effectively promoted as much as they’d like. Therefore, I am interviewing various people in Massachusetts so that I can write their stories to be published online and in print materials. When I’m not working on the story mining project, I go to the state house to attend hearings and rallies as well as provide assistance with data entry .

By the end of the summer, I hope that I will be able to effectively show the impact that MPHA has had throughout the Commonwealth.  I also hope to be more certain about what exactly I want to do in the public health field after I graduate from Brandeis.

Karen Caldwell, ’18

New York Communities for Change

Hello!

My name is Gabriel Fontes. I am an aspiring high school English teacher and this summer I am interning with New York Communities for Change. NYCC is a community organization dedicated to preserving affordable housing, good jobs and living wages, holding Wall Street accountable, and pursuing education and climate justice. NYCC was a lead organization in the “Real Affordability for All” coalition which helped win a landmark victory for affordable housing last year and a lead organization in New York City’s successful “Fight for 15” campaign which secured a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers.

I am situated in the Labor Organizing Division of NYCC. We fight wage theft, inadequate wages, confusing and unfair scheduling, unsafe working conditions and more. I have been working with organizers who are based primarily in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, working with Latino immigrants. I have been working through our phone lists, checking in with members and encouraging them to attend our various actions. For instance, on June 19th, we traveled to Albany to advocate for the passage of S.2664, a bill which “Requires car wash workers in a city with one million or more to be paid the minimum wage without allowance for gratuities.”

On June 12th, we held a rally outside of the Federal Reserve office to urge New York Federal Reserve President, William Dudley, to vote against raising interest rates. Dudley is one of 12 regional presidents, four of whom are former Goldman Sachs executives! Why should Goldman Sachs be making decisions that affect real working families? The economic recovery from the great recession has not yet reached low income Black and Latino communities. Higher interest rates will decrease wages and hiring and make debts more expensive. We were there to make our voices heard and raise awareness on the upcoming vote.

These are just two of the dozen actions that NYCC has led in the two weeks I have been here. To keep up to date visit: http://nycommunities.org/actions or follow us on twitter @nycommunities.

Most of the conversations I have with members are in Spanish, which has been a welcome challenge for me. Spanish fluency is just one of many critical skills I hope to gain this summer. I decided to work at NYCC after reading about community organizing approaches to educational justice in Professor Wallace’s course, “Critical Perspectives in Urban Education”. For instance, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association in Chicago, created a program called Nueva Generacion which trained community members to become bilingual teachers. Their model was so successful that it was replicated across the state of Illinois. How inspiring!!

In my future career as a teacher I hope to mobilize students and their families to advocate for better services, culturally relevant pedagogy and more. To this end, I hope that my time at NYCC helps me to gain interpersonal community organizing skills and knowledge of macro-level campaign tactics.

It is with great gratitude that I begin this journey. Thank you to all the folks at NYCC who have generously mentored me and the generous support of all the folks at the Hiatt Career Center, particularly Sonia Liang, who believed in my vision for this summer.

Gabriel Fontes

First Days

My internship with the Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) started last week. While the headquarters of JVS is located in downtown Boston, JVS has many smaller offsite locations.  One of these locations is located in East Boston close to the Maverick T-Station; this is where my internship for the summer is located.  JVS’ many locations is demonstrative of an integral part of their core principles: being easily accessible to the entire Boston community. The program I am working with this summer is called English for Advancement, one of their many departments and programs.  The English for Advancement program pairs English classes and career counseling services to help immigrants and refugees in the greater Boston area find and secure stable jobs.  

The East Boston location of the English for Advancement (EfA) program where I am working meets in an office space that is shared with the East  Boston Neighborhood Health Center.  Though the two organizations are separate entities, they work together in many ways to serve the East Boston community.  The Health Center informs many people in the area about EfA and many of our clients use services provided by both organizations.  It is a successful partnership and I am excited to learn more about both of these organizations as the summer continues.  Beyond the East Boston site, EfA serves the Boston community from six different locations: Lynn, Lawrence, Roxbury, East Boston, Dorchester, and Downtown Boston.  From these six sites, EfA has found jobs for over 2,000 clients in the past year alone.  JVS’ mission plans for JVS to be, “Empowering individuals from diverse communities to find employment and build careers, while partnering with employers to hire, develop, and retain productive workforces.”  Their EfA program embodies this mission in all sense and even in my first few days with them I have seen how they put this into action.    

 

During my first day at JVS, I was taught about the different policies, processes, and systems in place at JVS- it was a classic intern introduction- being taught how to use the different databases, understand the codes and filing systems, and find every place in the building that I needed to know about.  By the second day however, things were in full swing.  In the morning (as I will each morning), I worked as a teacher’s assistant in the EfA English class.  The English classes are challenging for one teacher to handle because each student/client (used interchangeably) comes in with a very different level of English ability.  There are some clients who arrive to the EfA program knowing nearly zero English, while other students are much more comfortable speaking.  While JVS attempts to level the classes, JVS’ priority is to bring in as many students as possible, and this means adapting to the schedule of everyone who is a part of the EfA program.  This results in having classes with very mixed levels of English.  

Thus far, I have spent the majority of the time during the morning assisting the students with lower levels of English to ensure that they are understanding what is being taught.  Because around half to three quarters of the students that the East Boston location serves are native Spanish speakers, my Spanish fluency has been an extremely useful.  My personal learning goal for the summer was to improve my Spanish speaking skills and this has already begun to occur.  In the afternoons I work independently focusing on projects and tasks delegated to me by supervisors Maria (the head of career coaching) and Laura (the head of the English classes).  This has enabled me to work on one of my other learning goals: learning how non-profit organizations successfully operate.  My work includes meeting with clients to work on their resumes, apply for jobs, or practice for interviews; calling new clients and providing them with information about our program; interviewing potential clients to see if they are a good fit for our program; searching for jobs for our clients, and translating material from English into Spanish or French.  

Working at JVS thus far has been a pleasure.  I already feel as though I have developed strong relationships with many of the clients.  They are helping me learn so much and are already enabling me to accomplish my third learning goal- improving my navigation of multicultural learning environments.  Getting to meet with the clients and watching them achieve all of their goals, find good jobs, and become more confident in their English feels so special.  I have left work each day feeling so joyful after interacting with everyone who is part of the JVS community.  Almost every client I have worked with thus far has been so motivated and optimistic.  I feel so grateful that this is where I will be spending my summer.  More to come soon, EC  

First Week with the Middlesex District Attorney

I have just concluded my first week interning at the Middlesex District Attorney’s office (MDAO), and I’ve already learned more than I could have anticipated in such a short period of time. The MDAO office consists of prosecutors and public servants designed to help effectively prosecute cases and provide prevention programs and partnerships for the community. (A list of those programs and areas of prosecution can be found here.) Since last Wednesday, I have been working in my own office on the first floor of the Woburn office alongside with legal interns, an administrative assistant, and Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs). My internship assignment is with the Malden Superior Court, so my assistance in the Woburn office has been focused on cases related to the Superior Court division, which handles serious criminal crimes with possible prison sentences of more than 2 ½ years (more info on differentiating the Superior Court from District Courts can be found here on the DA’s website!). So far, my biggest assignment with this office has been reviewing jail calls by a person incarcerated at a House of Corrections facility who is awaiting trial. My job is to listen to the records of his jail calls from visits and recreation phone calls to see if the inmate admits to the crime or leaves hints about his crime or other crimes he may have been involved in. These notes will eventually serve to assist the ADAs in their investigation. I listened to over 100 calls so far from 3 CDs! Each CD contains about 22 hours of footage, and I included a picture of them below:

http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/courthouses/ipswich-marl/malden-district-court-generic.html

After spending a few days here in Woburn, I realized that I am very interested in observing how the court process works, so I asked my supervisor if I could attend a few days of my internship at the Malden District Court (featured above), and now I will be working there three days a week (with the remaining two days at the Woburn office). Yesterday was my first day, and the moment I stepped in, I witnessed 12 pleas in three different court sessions. The ADAs were constantly moving, and it was fascinating to watch them conduct each session. It was also the first time I ever heard a criminal plea, and by the end of it I could recite the informational requirements the Judge gives to each accused before he gives his plea (Otherwise known as Criminal Procedure Rule 12 subsections a through d, found here.) It was perfect to analyze the court system and learn about pleas directly from the judges, accused, Defense Attorneys, and ADAs themselves.

Following court, I was given a desk at the ADA’s office, and within four hours, I had already assisted with case research and case filing for three different attorneys. All of this help went directly to their case files, which affects how the cases will be treated moving forward and how they will be filed in the District Court system. I was also told that the next time I go to court, I will be helping organize more of their case files while I watch the trials. This way I’ll be able to help the attorneys better access the research they need for trial while I learn about how the trials work by observing.

This internship experience has so far met my goals to learn about the role of the Prosecution and objectives of the DA in defining justice above and beyond, and I’m very excited for the next few weeks for me to get involved in more in-depth projects and see how much more I can be involved in. I began this internship with the intent to learn more about prosecution and the DA, but I also wanted to fully immerse myself in the experience so that I could learn about areas I didn’t previously know about. After just one week, I’ve already learned about prisons systems (from the inside), the role of detectives at crime scenes, the role of judges, appellate courts, and members of the DA office like Victim/Witness Advocates that I work alongside in my office at the court. Featured above is only one of three folders that I’ve received from my supervisor filled with information about criminal justice, the court, the DA office, elements of crime, etc. Everyone is eager and willing to help and talk with me whenever I have questions, and I’m excited to start my next week to see what else they have to show me!

Disregarding the Red Tape: Americares in Action

A company operating solely to help others in need in the quickest and most efficient way possible is rare. Americares is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and improving the health of people both domestically and internationally. This is primarily done by providing free clinics to those uninsured in Connecticut, setting up mobile health clinics in India and El Salvador, and responding to disasters abroad.

The conference room prior to an all-staff meeting

I am a human resources intern at the Americares headquarters in Stamford, CT. Although I am not on the front lines of reducing disparities, my job is to ensure that fair work policies are in place to aid the employees in their efforts to reduce healthcare inequalities and inequities. Specifically, my tasks include updating their employee handbook, presenting to my fellow interns on topics such as resumes and obstacles in the workplace through the Professional Development Series, and providing support to the Human Resources department. This may entail filing payroll forms and training certifications, providing feedback on the cloud data systems used in the office and how to make them more user-friendly, and communicating to the other interns about networking activities coming soon.

The mission of Americares is to save lives and improve health outcomes for people affected by poverty or disaster so they can reach their full potential. My work directly impacts this mission by providing policies that benefit employees and make their lives easier. For example, it can be very complicated to book flights for Americares employees looking to travel to a foreign country in need of support. If I can help to make traveling as well as other internal corporate affairs easier on the employees, policies will be better understood and employees may be more willing to be a part of the emergency response team. Understanding the employees at Americares and what policies would represent their best interests in the handbook also has the potential to make their work life easier while also increasing motivation, collaboration, and productivity. Therefore, the work I am doing directly impacts the mission of Americares by providing its employees with a positive yet firm structure at home so they can help others abroad.

By the summer’s end, I hope to get an in-depth look at the human resources department and its various functions. Prior to starting this internship, I also had an interest in healthcare and was not sure how to apply it, whether it was by pursuing a career in the field, getting a certification, or using my knowledge of health care for my own personal consumption. I am hoping that, through learning more about the different departments of the organization as well as talking to key stakeholders in the company, I learn more about possible health sectors I could be interested in. Most importantly, by summer’s end, I hope that the work I have contributed to Americares has made a difference in the lives of the employees and the good they are able to do.

Sadie-Rose Apfel

My First Week at the Liver Research Center

I am a research assistant at the Liver Research Center, a facility that is part of the Lifespan Corporation and associated with the Brown Alpert Medical School. The building is located in downtown Providence, RI, nearby the Brown Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital. The research focuses around the molecular biology of liver diseases, using animal models including rats and mice. Ongoing studies examine the effects of nitrosamines, a type of chemical found in many processed foods, on insulin resistance in the brain which can result in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease. This study also involves the exploration of the potential mechanism between white matter degradation and Alzheimer’s development.

I am currently receiving training in various lab techniques and procedures. These include the fixation, sectioning and staining of samples, as well as accurate pipetting, bicinchoninic acid (BCA) protein assay protocol, Matrix Assisted Desorption Ionization Imaging Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-IMS), and cryostat sectioning.

This picture is from when I was practicing my pipetting technique:

Before beginning, I had little to no exposure to any of these procedures. It is exciting to be learning new practices everyday and I look forward to being able to implement them through the summer and in the future. I am also tasked with various reading about the procedures I am learning and the research in the lab. The readings are both interesting and challenging, as they are often scientific publications that introduce new terminology and require high levels of comprehension and concentration. Here is a link to a recent article I read in order to better understand MALDI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2522327/ I was also assigned this review about the role of insulin resistance in Alzheimer’s Disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4550311/ Throughout the day, I receive articles like these in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what I am performing or observing.

This is the desk where I do most of my reading: 

Once I finish the comprehensive training, I will be assisting in a research project that involves measuring the expression of genes that regulate sphingolipid biosynthesis and degradation in the white matter of rat brains that develop Alzheimer’s following low-dose exposures to Streptozotocin. I will also be characterizing insulin-modulation of sphingolipid metabolizing enzyme gene expression using frontal lobe slice cultures generated from control and Streptozotocin-treated rats and generating short-term brain slice cultures utilizing quantitative PT-PCR assays. I will also deliver a summative oral presentation and prepare a poster to be shown at a Brown University event. This work will assist the lab by providing a greater understanding of exactly how nitrosamines affect brain tissue, which can be used to provide greater education to the community about the harmful affects of such chemicals and the importance of an organic diet.

My goals for the summer are academic, career based and personal. My academic goal is to build on the knowledge I have gained from the two biology classes I have taken at Brandeis, Cells and Organisms and Genetics and Genomics, in order to more fully understand how concepts learned in class can be applied in a research setting. I will be building on models including RNA extraction, reverse transcriptase reactions, designing PCR primers, setting up PCR reactions and analyzing data. I will also learn numerous new skills and techniques that I can apply to future research endeavors. Additionally, I will acquire the skills of creating a poster, orally delivering my findings and writing a scientific paper. In addition to building upon and acquiring new skills, this opportunity will help prepare me for the Introduction to Neurology class I am planning to take next semester.

This experience will enhance my chances of being considered for future lab positions as well as help me decide if this is a career path I would like to pursue. Many lab opportunities are closed to students without previous lab experience. Working in a lab this summer will help me to gain the skills necessary to operate lab equipment, analyze data and become familiar with the collaborative environment of a lab, making me a competitive candidate for future research opportunities. I also have the opportunity to author a manuscript, which would increase my exposure in the research field and further my research endeavors.

My personal goal for the summer is to challenge myself to fully understand and master all components of the research I will be performing. I will task myself to ask the necessary questions in order to gain a complete understanding of the research, as well as work to eventually become more independent and confidence in this field.

~Dustine Reich, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York City AAPI: More Than What Meets The Eye

Over the past month, I have commuted 80 hours, talked with approximately 200 strangers, and used 2 times more Mandarin than English. This summer, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work as a Hepatitis B Program Research Intern at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York City.

The Health Center is a nonprofit federally-qualified community health center licensed by the New York State Department of Health. Its mission is to eliminate disparities in health, improve health status, and expand access to the medically under-served (treating all patients regardless of immigration status or income) with a focus on Asian Americans.

The Health Center has a rich history that dates back to 1971, when volunteer doctors, nurses, social workers, and students organized a 10-day Chinatown Health Fair; the first clinic ever held in the streets of New York City’s Chinatown. Forty years later, the Health Center has multiple locations throughout the city, with adequate clinical space and services that meet growing community demands of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in New York City. The Health Center is a leader in providing comprehensive primary care services that are high quality, culturally relevant, and affordable. It also promotes the health of the community through innovative, award-winning health education and advocacy programs, and by recruiting bilingual and bi-cultural health care providers and staff.

With regards to health disparities, the Health Center won the 2015 Tisch Community Health Prize for its Hepatitis B Program. Hepatitis B is a life long liver disease caused by a viral infection that is more common among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) than any other ethnic group, with 1 in 10 AAPIs having chronic hepatitis B. Although AAPIs make up less than 5% of the U.S. population, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B. Unfortunately, the disease can progress without visible symptoms and lead to liver cirrhosis, cancer, or premature death. Furthermore, since there is no cure, physicians need to treat chronic hepatitis B patients on a case-by-case basis according to Clinical Guideline Regulations. This is why effective education about hepatitis B prevention, transmission, and screening is essential.

As a research intern, I am taking the lead on a survey evaluation of a health education comic book on hepatitis B called “The Test,” developed by a local Asian American artist in partnership with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center Hepatitis B Team and Health Education Department in order to make hepatitis B education more engaging for all ages. Each day, I administer 15-minute surveys in English and Mandarin to patients in the waiting rooms and analyze survey data in preparation for a poster presentation at the American Public Health Association’s conference. My goal by summer’s end is to complete at least 100 surveys, revise and improve the health education material, and provide meaningful data about where New York City stands in terms of hepatitis B awareness.

So far, I have administered 86 surveys to patients of varied ethnicity (including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Indian, Filipino, Latino, Spanish, White, and African American), ages, genders, and educational backgrounds at the Internal Medicine Unit of the Health Center. The work has been both challenging and enjoyable. Due to the nature of human subject research, I have had many insightful one-on-one interactions with patients.

In a short period of time, NYC Chinatown and Charles B. Wang Community Health Center have taught me so much about public health, social justice, and my Chinese-American roots. Gradually, I am learning the nuances of my culture and that there is more depth to each person or situation than what meets the eye. As the American healthcare system falls short in delivering culturally effective care and bridging health disparities gaps, I realize how important it is to continue advocating for the Asian American community.

Thank you for reading my blog. More posts/updates to come!

-Michelle Yan ’19

First Week at Orchard Cove

My internship has begun at Orchard Cove, an independent living and enhanced living retirement community. Orchard Cove is part of the Hebrew Senior Life network. Orchard Cove empowers seniors to live healthy independent lives and honors the aim of the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care to ensure that “delivery of care is aligned with values and preferences at all stages of life and all points of care”.  

At Orchard Cove, my internship involves working for The Vitalize 360 Program, a platform through which Vitalize coaches “elicit and document residents goals, values and preferences.” The way the program works is that a vitalize 360 coach meets with a resident twice to discuss the resident’s wellness, health, and quality of life. The coach helps the resident to set goals and then create an action plan, or vitality plan, to assist the resident in accomplishing his or her goals and pursue what matters most in their lives.

In first arriving at Orchard Cove, I was impressed by the beautiful facilities and friendly atmosphere. During my first week, my supervisor brought me to almost all of her meetings so I could get a grasp of what Vitalize 360 is all about and meet the Interdisciplinary Team members, all of whom support the best lives of the residents at Orchard Cove.

Front exterior of Orchard Cove

The first meeting I attended was on the topic of “What Matters Most.” What matters most (WMM) is a philosophy on which Vitalize 360 and Orchard Cove are built. It emphasizes the idea that residents should define what matters most to themselves and have conversations with their loved ones.

During our time together, the team reflected on the Second Annual Coalition Summit which included research presentations from Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care as well as personal experiences. The team discussed their thoughts on the conference and also talked about how it related to the idea of “What Matters Most.” A major aspect of the Coalition and Vitalize 360 is for individuals to get on their own personalized path to “What Matters Most.” With the goal of finding what matters most, individuals define their specific values and preferences, make sure those preferences are clear to loved ones, and create a health care proxy.

With another team member, I began brainstorming an art project for the kickoff WMM event Orchard Cove will be holding in June. I have also begun to support the team by helping to develop a “What Matters Most” tool box that will be used to support residents to articulate and capture what really matters in their lives.

Additionally, I have also supported the team by taking the lead on  administrative tasks, such as creating folders that contain important surveys and questionnaires used during Vitalize 360 evaluations with residents. I had the opportunity to sit in on a resident evaluation with my supervisor and vitalize 360 coach which provided a helpful perspective. My supervisor asked the resident questions about her life and interests. With help from the coach, the resident was able to determine what matters most to her, and create goals for herself to achieve what matters most. This plan is called a vitalize plan.

Vitalize 360 logo used on most documents for the program.

I also sat in on two meetings related to Vitalize 360 both led by my supervisor. At one meeting, my supervisor trained other staff members to become vitalize 360 coaches and at the other meeting, we discussed different residents and how the team can best support their vitalize plans. I was also able to learn how the Vitalize 360 online software works. In addition, I have done a lot of research on Vitalize 360 and other resources out there for seniors. I also had a chance to sit in on a laughter class led by one of the residents.

I am looking forward to really delving into the Vitalize 360 and What Matters Most Projects, work directly with residents, and see how the interdisciplinary team works to support the residents.

United for a Fair Economy: Philanthropy Demands More

 

When financial systems continue to oppress and policymakers walk hand in hand with corporations, we must ask ourselves if we are truly making as big a difference as we would like to believe. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to admit that pinning on a ribbon does nothing, but assessing the situation is so necessary.

It’s not enough to just peruse through info-graphics and sign the occasional petition; society demands so much more from us now.

A majority of us genuinely desire an inclusive community, so we can’t keep opting for slick solutions — our politicians are already following that route!

And this is precisely why I decided to intern at United for a Fair Economy this summer. I was tired of feeling like just another statistic, helpless and unheard. So, for these three months, I will be focusing my energies on the systemic causes of our political reality and work at the forefront of change.

This organization caught my attention in particular because even in high school, I had seen its logo at the corner of many educational materials. It was clear that this was a group that has affected real change and could project its message across many different wavelengths.

For 20 years, UFE has been one of our nation’s primary coalition builders, mobilizing activists across the country. The staff and its partners tackle economic inequality and advocate for a world without institutionalized racism, exorbitant CEO compensation and tax breaks for millionaires.

“Okay, that’s great and all, but what’s happening behind the scenes? We get the mission statement, so what is UFE actually doing to accomplish these goals?”

So far, my experience with the group has only been positive, since it seems as though the UFE office is one of the few hopeful corners of Boston (that is still intact.) Everyday, I have the privilege to brainstorm alongside individuals from all walks of life, and get a preview of a world we are aiming to create. One in which each worker is treated with dignity, regardless of skin tone, education level, or citizenship status.

We have been featured in many major publications, because of UFE’s annual report “State of the Dream” and an unwavering commitment to create a more level playing field. At any given moment, UFE has employees on the road, working from the ground up.

UFE offers training and support for individuals that do care but simply cannot comprehend the economic jargon that makes public policy so inaccessible. We use popular education methods, break language barriers, and connect leaders with the resources they need.

 

Just today, I finished my first week in the Boston office, but I am already getting a feel for the people around me and the mission that ties them together. As of now, I am drafting a thank you letter to send to foundation heads, working on distributional material, and updating UFE’s database.

Occasionally, I am assigned more secretarial tasks (like running to the bank or punching in numbers), but I ultimately acknowledge that this clears up some of the responsibilities of those around me. By taking on the copying machine every now and then, I’m allowing for others to make real change, and that in itself means so much to me.

In the coming weeks, I will be developing an e-mail series designed to increase all-around activism, as well as a monthly donation system.

UFE stands for values that many of us can get behind, and I finally feel like I’m taking a stand against the leaders that are trying to tear us down.

 

Internships End, Careers Begin

IMG_6164__1469638788_17512
It is a part of the office. What I love the most about this place, aside from being stress-free, is that it is so colorful. It brings life and positivism into the room and its staff.

It is sad when something so special to you comes to an end, although, I knew sooner or later, my time would end in El Paso, Texas. Notwithstanding, I am so grateful for the incredible experience in a place where I never imagined I would ever venture to go to.

I keep remembering everything I did at Cinco Puntos Press (CPP) and I am shocked by all I was able to accomplish during my time there.

I kept organizing the e-books, it really was a big project that CPP had for me. It involved going one by one, making sure that every detail was correct. I had to start a few e-books from scratch, often it involved looking for the old files—sometimes they were nowhere to be found. It also led me to compile a list of the e-books that still needed some retouches from us and another column for missing files altogether.

In addition, I also created a metadata spreadsheet and it took quite some time. I needed to synthesize a lot of information about CPP’s books into this one spreadsheet. Even though, there were slots that I was not able to fill because I lacked the information, I tried my best to complete it as much as possible, since CPP still needed it.

These two big projects took most of my time, as the making of e-books is very time-consuming. None the less, I was more than happy to learn all these new skills as well as hone others. I do not think I ever used Excel as much as I did here at CPP. I got to do things in this internship that I had never done before, among them, I also corrected a catalogue, learn a little of creating newsletters, and met my new Bible aka. The Chicago Manual of Style (which I am still pending on purchasing).

Furthermore, what I most embraced about this internship is that I was included in every single one of their meetings and discussions. My opinion was much valued and that gave me a great sense of importance and belonging. Either if it was a story submitted for their consideration, or the final cover of Rani Patel in Full Effect, etc., they wanted my sincere opinion. I just loved their inclusivity. CPP not only preaches about inclusivity, as their main goal as a publishing company, they practice it—and very well indeed.

Mrs. Lee Byrd, said to me nearly the end of the internship, that they had not been around, as much time as they have wished, to teach me. However, I disagree, they were always there for me, but like the bird when they learn how to fly, you have to let them fall when they are trying, that is how they will learn. I think each and every single one at CPP, taught me something about flying and then I figured out the rest.

My internship did not conclude not without first having a great meal with the entire staff. I feel fortunate to have met them all. They are all colorful characters; people who have experienced a lot and are willing to share their knowledge with the younger generations. And just as the Hiatt Career Center always says, this was also a wonderful opportunity for me to “Network, network, network.”

I very much hope that I will get to see them next year, perhaps BookExpo in NYC? There are chances—chances for anything, even to keep networking and opening horizons. I learned from this experience that you should not limit yourself. Go out there and explore the world that is meant to be explored.

Santiago Montoya, ’19

A lovely end at the Red Cross

My internship at the Red Cross ended a few weeks ago. Although I’m back at Brandeis, I still think about my internship a lot and still keep in contact with the Red Cross. As I reflect on this summer, I feel so grateful and honored to have worked with the Red Cross because it is a premier organization that has the ability to respond to many different crises at the same time. The ability to help out and respond is not something that every organization has the funds or volunteers for, so I feel very privileged that I had the opportunity to work and learn in the Red Cross.

unnamed

A picture of the note I left the Red Cross before leaving. I also gave everyone a thank you card!

Before starting the internship, one of my main goals was to gain a deeper understanding of social justice issues in Puerto Rico because I felt that I had learned a lot about social justice issues in America, which is very different than my island. I think the direct field work that I did with the Red Cross,  like going into low-income communities and installing smoke alarms, really allowed me to dive into some social justice issues in Puerto Rico. However, I understand that there are many more complex issues in Puerto Rico that I didn’t get the chance to tackle and understand. I’m also struggling to bring these learnings back to Brandeis, in other words, how do we continue doing the work we did during our internships? What are ways to still be an activist, while also a student, besides joining a club?

unnamed

Picture of a volunteer at an outreach event we held at a shopping mall!

I have been thinking about how different or similar my internship experience would have been at an American Red Cross chapter not in Puerto Rico. For example, I felt very close to all the fellow interns and to my supervisors as well as the employees in the organization. We all had lunch together every day and joked between breaks. Since we shared a culture, we could all relate to each other and find humor in similar things. It’s also important to note that the work we did was mostly based in Puerto Rico, and so we were helping our people and that allowed us to get closer.  I wonder how this “work community” would have been different in another area with people from a different culture. I’m also thinking about what makes us feel close to other people, especially in a work setting that can be draining at times since we are constantly helping others and responding to disasters. Would I still feel a “work community” if I had worked in the marketing department, for example?

I think the best part about my internship at the Red Cross is that I’m still thinking about it and probably will for a long time because it raised a lot of questions for me (as explained above)! While I still keep in touch with the organization and the friends I made, I want to volunteer there whenever I go back home. As cliche as it sounds, when you are doing important work and you are part of a community, you make a world a better place and you become a better person. This is something that I’ve also incorporated in my work as an activist at Brandeis. Here’s to many more wonderful and social justice focused summers!

  • Claudia Roldan ‘18

Lessons Learned

Wow, it’s been over three weeks and I am still having difficulty processing this incredible summer. Throughout the 10 weeks of interning at Roots, I have met the most inspiring people, learned tremendously, and contributed to an organization I believe is making real strides towards peace in the land. I have increased my knowledge, humility, faith, hope, and passion.

One of my many goals for this summer was to determine if non-profit work in a peace-building organization in the region was something that I might like to pursue as an eventual career. While I still have not decided in which direction I would like to head professionally, I am still strongly considering the non-profit world, perhaps even more than I was before. What is definite is that this experience strengthened my resolve to work toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians through dialogue, activity, and action, in order to improve lives on both sides. I believe that this grassroots work can only truly take hold on a local level, so my desire to move to Israel after graduation has been strengthened as a result of this experience.

In this blog post, we were asked to talk about what we are proud of accomplishing this summer. I am most proud of not being afraid to go to new places, often thought of as “dangerous” by various communities, and to talk to people with backgrounds and opinions very different from my own. I am proud of myself for having an open mind, for asking questions, and for seeking to learn as much as I could. I am glad that I took risks and jumped into unknown situations – including the internship itself!

If I were to give advice to someone thinking about going into this field or interning for this organization, I would give them the same advice I received: be proactive and make the most of your time. Be flexible and ready for anything. Most of all, don’t be afraid to put yourself in new situations, talk to people, ask questions, and share your own ideas. Being the only intern can be very lonely, but you also have the opportunity to have a real impact on a small young organization – and that is priceless.13721269_660056010811577_1805919981_n

I realized that I join organizations like Roots and bVIEW (Brandeis Visions for Israel in and Evolving World), which have no specific political agenda, because I myself do not have a specific political solution in mind for this conflict. What I do believe, however, is that no political solution can achieve peace while we are all arguing with each other. Dialogue, mutual action, and a transformation of perceptions of the other must precede, coincide with, and continue after a political solution is enacted. At Roots, I sat with a group of Palestinians and Israelis (settlers, no less!), of different ages and backgrounds, as we went around the circle, articulating which political visions we support. With unbelievable calm and respect, every individual gave a different answer – almost half of them including the words “I don’t know.” This was quite a departure from the usual Israel/Palestine conversation on campus, wherein individuals enter conversations with set opinions and perceived facts. I learned from this summer how important it is to be okay with not knowing all the answers, to be open to discussion and changing perceptions, and to working with people you disagree with to resolve conflict. If Israelis and Palestinians living in the Gush Etzion area and from Bethlehem to Hebron can do it, surely we students at Brandeis can too.

Rebecca (Rivka) Cohen ’17

Wrapping Up My Internship With The UN

My lovely Ministry for Women, Community and Social Development —Division for Youth team
My lovely Ministry for Women, Community and Social Development —Division for Youth team

 

My internship in Samoa has been an unforgettable experience. Before embarking on this internship I set the following goals for myself:

  • Academic goal: To learn from my experience working in Samoa, the core skills and practical knowledge that will help me better understand the relevance of my studies at Brandeis to real-world development challenges.
  • Career goal: To conduct primary research in creative and innovative ways that will enhance my understanding of how technology may be used for youth empowerment and sustainable development.
  • Personal goal: To learn how to balance working in a professional environment with my spiritual and social life.

 

I feel that I achieved all of these goals during my intensely busy two-month internship at UNDP. Among my various jobs at UNDP and at the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, I found myself doing administrative work, conducting research and surveys, writing reports and providing technological support to others. These activities reinforced my learning at Brandeis and also highlighted the areas where I will want to do further studies at Brandeis.

 

A large and very exciting project I worked on this summer has been with the establishment of a Samoan/New Zealand government initiative called the High Tech Youth Network in Samoa. I was given the opportunity to assist with primary research for HTYN by designing and carrying out a survey, which we called a “snapshot” on youth perceptions of technology in Samoa.  As the director of the project is an administrator rather than a tech expert, I was also able to provide advice and support of this nature. I am especially proud of my work for HTYN because I felt able to contribute significantly. To date, the project has been implemented primarily by the director and with my support, so I have a great sense of ownership regarding this endeavor.

 

The personal goal above was the hardest one to achieve. I was pulled in so many directions, both at work and also in the community with my friends. I was called upon to help in many work situations that were not technically my responsibility but I found it impossible to refuse when asked to do something. And many times I jumped in because I really wanted to be involved. An example was working on various projects with the ILO (International Labor Organization), another UN agency, including a video project and several reports.

 

I officially finished working at UNDP on the 12th of August, however, for about a week after I had been going regularly back in to the Division for Youth office and also meeting with the in-country project manager for the High Tech Youth Network. On my last day in the office, I was surprised when all the staff called me to come sit down for a meeting. It was actually a farewell they had organized, and they gave me gifts! We also had cake together. It was a very heartfelt moment that I will remember, and I will continue to strengthen these friendships I have made this summer.

– Ben Percival

Reflections on a transforming summer

It has been a couple weeks since the end of the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), and I have used the this time to reflect on how my experiences this summer changed me. After engaging with the festival on a daily basis for almost 3 months, my eyes have been opened to the commercial, artistic, and activist spheres of the film and media industry. My work at AAIFF exposed me to the success and the struggles, the tips and tricks, and the motivations and passions of independent filmmakers. I am incredibly grateful for the hundreds of actors, producers, filmmakers and industry people I was able to talk to throughout the festival – who passed knowledge onto me and allowed me to think more critically about the film industry and my potential role in it later.

A sold out screening during the festival! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)
A sold out screening during the festival! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)

Before I started my internship, I took note of my goals for the summer. Some of these were strictly professional and related to what I hoped to accomplish through my work, and others were more personal and focused on self-exploration. Through my work as the Special Events and Development Coordinator, I hoped to build strong relationships and partnerships, collaborate with my peers, and run events smoothly.

I am happy to announce that I accomplished all these goals. For example, at the conclusion of our Opening Night Gala all of the sponsors and caterers I had been working with for the past two months came up to me and expressed their gratitude for organizing the event. These interactions and signs of appreciation showed me that I had done my job correctly, which made all the hard work worth it. I was at my proudest moment during Opening Night when I saw the culmination of two months of work in one night and saw people enjoying themselves.

Additionally, by working everyday at a film festival, I made it a goal to immerse myself in independent film and film production. This was not a hard goal to accomplish since I had the privilege of watching any or all of the shorts or features that we put on. By the end of the festival, I watched every short along with a few features when I had time to sit in on the screening. After watching all of these high-quality films, I believe even more strongly in the need for Asian representation in the film industry – the talent and skill exists but people are not getting the exposure they deserve.

Opening Night of AAIFF'16! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)
Opening Night of AAIFF’16! (Courtesy of AAIFF Facebook)

While my summer at the festival was nothing short of extraordinary, I have mixed feelings about the film industry. The festival often had to work with high-profile distributors and producers, which could become frustrating as we battled with deadlines and budget concerns. However, the world of arts activism, and especially Asian American representation in film is important and needed. Because of this, I would absolutely recommend that any other students interested in film or arts activism volunteer for AAIFF. Even though the film industry might be stacked against Asian American interests, the work that AAIFF and many other Asian American film festivals do remains vitally important as a platform.

Concluding Thoughts on My Experience at Massachusetts Peace Action

After concluding my internship with Massachusetts Peace Action, I have been able to take some time to reflect on my experiences, both positive and negative, over the past twelve weeks. Overall, my internship went very well and I learned far more than expected! Through my encounters in the office and at community events, I have been able to expand my professional network while making friendships that I am sure will endure as I enter the next stages in my life and career.

I realize now that social justice, though the term has many connotations, is fighting for the rights and ideas of those people who have been most devastated by oppressive political and socioeconomic institutions. As a Legislative/ Political intern, I tracked legislation on international conflicts including the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, relations with Iran, Israel/Palestine, nuclear weapons policy, and defense appropriations bills. Additionally, I updated Massachusetts Peace Action’s various social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, on news and other related material. I even contacted legislative offices directly to communicate about our issues as well as Peace Action supporters to ask them to contact legislative offices.

Though I worked primarily on-site in Cambridge, I attended several MAPA events, oversaw information tables at the Cambridge River Festival, Lowell Folk Festival, our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series, and helped plan commemorations for the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was truly special to attend the second anniversary of the death of Michael Brown.

August 9, 2016 ~ Activists arrive on Boston Common for a MAPA event to commemorate 71st anniversary of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
August 9, 2016 ~ Activists arrive on Boston Common for a MAPA event to commemorate 71st anniversary of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 10.44.44 PM

In general, I participated in efforts to communicate with United States legislators and other officials with local or international political power that the alienation of distinct religious, ethnic, or racial groups in this country and abroad is no longer acceptable. I also shared that inclusion is a necessary step if we are to foster a sustainable planet on ethical and environmental grounds.

 

The Mission Has No End

This summer I was able to complete the learning goals that I defined before starting. I think a big part of this was that I knew what to expect since it was my second summer with One Mission. Last summer the learning goals I set were not as in line with the work I ended up doing because I did not know what to expect, this year I was better able to gauge what the experience would be like before I started. The reason I was so eager to return to One Mission this summer is because they are exactly the type of organization I want to work for. My passion is pediatric cancer and a few years ago I discovered that within the realm of pediatric cancer nonprofit work, I am most passionate about that which is not medical based. One of my favorite things about OM is how big of an impact they have on the daily lives of these patients and families during treatment (http://onemission.org/what-we-do/). Research is so important but it is difficult to complete a lot of tedious work for things that may or may not end up helping anyone and even if they do it might take so long that you don’t see the benefits in your lifetime.

IMG_6675

In the workplace this summer I learned that my work is valuable. My boss and the other members of the organization were always so grateful of everything I did because it at times made their jobs easier. I spent a lot of time creating a proposal that is being sent to a greeting card designer in hopes of working together to develop an empathy card that appropriately address the emotions that pediatric cancer patients and their families are feeling. I met with a few different people in the office multiple times as I edited my project and improved the content. By the end of my internship I was really proud of the proposal I had created and am hoping that it will lead to a forming of this partnership.

IMG_6834

My advice to those who want to either work at One Mission or a similar organization is to be patient. I say this for two big reasons. My first reason is that sometimes there is only so much work to be done and they might have to send you home early. For a small organization that does not always have interns, they only take on so much and do not always have extra projects laying around waiting for an intern to complete. My other reason for saying this is that at times you will be doing a lot of tedious work. I have spent hours upon hours inputting check donations into our fundraising system or trying to come up with tweets for our twitter account (https://twitter.com/buzzforkids). These are things that I know are very helpful in the end but at the time can make your eyeballs feel like they are about to fall out. My two favorite experiences from this summer were the days that I got to help out with their programs. One day this summer my boss, the other intern and I went and served dinner at a pasta night funded by One Mission. It was great to get to see all of the patients first hand and how thankful the families were for the food.

IMG_6684
My boss Mel, other intern Rob and I serving dinner during a pasta night.

My other favorite was when I got to go shopping for toys for the treasure chest with one of the members of the Board of Directors. The two of us went to target and filled a shopping cart with hundreds of dollars worth of toys, books and educational materials. After we labeled all of them and sorted them to be delivered to the oncology floor at Children’s Hospital Boston. It was great to go on the monthly shopping trip to purchase toys for the Treasure Chest program that I had heard so much about.

Jen Rossman

image1
All of the new toys that were added to the Treasure Chest on the oncology unit at Boston Children’s Hospital in August.

Final Post

It feels strange that just two weeks ago I was still working, but now am switching to classes instead. Although I am excited to see my friends again, I am sad that I am leaving the world I was in this summer.

The view from my apartment (http://www.esbnyc.com/explore/tower-lights)
The view from my apartment (http://www.esbnyc.com/explore/tower-lights)

I did not have specific goals this summer, but rather simply to see whether I wanted to work in the non-profit sector after I graduated. Although I have thought that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector I felt it was important to actually get a taste of what it would be like to do non-profit work. Although working for a summer with a clear end date is very different than potentially starting a career, I think summer experiences are still very valuable. Working at Avodah this summer solidified in my mind that I want to do work like this after graduation. It also showed me that I want to do more work in the research side of non-profit work, rather than the financial and fundraising work that I have done more of in the past.
I am most proud this summer that I was able to be adapt to whatever was needed. Although I had consistent projects, there were also short term projects that came up when there were events or campaigns. My main projects were focused on recruitment, but the other interns (under other supervisors) and I would sometimes work together on phone-banking and helping to prepare for big events if needed. Avodah does not have a lot of staff, so on big projects everyone who can pitches in to help.
If I was giving advice to a student who wanted to work at Avodah or in non-profits as a whole, I think my best advice would be to be adaptable. Many non-profits are small organizations, so if there is a fundraising drive or important event coming up, all staff members may need to help, even if their job is not about fundraising or event planning. I also think it is important to have an open mind. There are a lot of different groups of people and viewpoints involved in non-profit work, and it is important to be able to listen to and try to understand where different groups are coming from, even if you do not agree with them. Specifically at Avodah, I think it is important to speak up if you want to, even if you are ‘just’ an intern, because each person has their own unique viewpoint that can be very bring a new perspective. Finally, I think it is important to realize that not all of the work is going to be fun or interesting. There can be a lot of grunt work that can feel repetitive at times, but it is still important work that needs to done.
For seniors who do not know what they want to want to do after they graduate, or who think or know they want to work in the non-profit sector, the application should be live soon: http://www.avodah.net/apply/.

Lydia Ruddick-Schulman ’17

Last Day at the Alzheimer’s Association

Flowers at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Today is my last day at the Alzheimer’s Association. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and I feel that I’ve learned a lot, both about non-profits and about Alzheimer’s work. As a final reflection, here are a few of the biggest things I’ve learned:

  1. How to gain entry into and the trust of a population in outreach.

In order to gain access to and the trust of a population, there is often one key person acting as a “gatekeeper.” In this case, it was my boss. All of the contacts I made for interviews for my thesis were through her, as she is an established figure in the Hispanic/Latino community in Boston. She has made the effort to reach out and establish trusting relationships with different churches, organizations, and individuals throughout the community. What I learned from this is that outreach, education, and fundraising work best when individual, meaningful relationships are formed.

2. The impact of my thesis interviews was not just for me.

When I was out in the field, interviewing and talking to people, they always seemed very appreciative that a young person was interested in Alzheimer’s disease. When planning my thesis and designing my interviews., I had mainly thought about the impact the interviews would have on my project, but they also seemed to have a positive impact on my interviewees. They were happy to know that young people were invested in them, and they had a chance to tell their stories. It’s easy to forget that we shouldn’t just offer up information, but also let people respond and create a dialogue; the most effective care is usually a result of good communication between the care provider and patient.

Some more information about the Memory Café, one of the programs that I have worked with.

3. Seemingly insignificant tasks can have a big impact.

During my time here at the Alzheimer’s Association, I did a lot of “typical” intern jobs – copying, making packets, organizing drawers. One day, I spent a couple of hours organizing my boss’s file folders for her. Although it wasn’t too difficult and didn’t seem like a big job to me, she really appreciated it and it ended up streamlining her process when organizing for health fairs. I think it is easy for interns to get frustrated with this type of job, but it is important to remember that these little things that we do allow others to more easily complete bigger and more crucial tasks.

I am sad to leave the organization today, but luckily it is just a 10 minute drive from Brandeis, so I will hopefully be back to volunteer a couple of times during the semester!

Also, a quick reminder to sign up for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s! The link is to the Greater Boston walk. Brandeis SEAD will have a team for the Greater Boston Walk on September 25th, so look out for that on campus!

Sign up for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Leah Levine ’17

 

Todos Somos Esperanza: A Summer of Social Justice in San Antonio

I finished my summer internship at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center in San Antonio, Texas last Friday, August 19th. It was a (dare I say) fun and educational experience that taught me about San Antonio, myself, and social justice.

I met my learning goals in that I learned more about water justice and environmental issues in San Antonio. I especially learned how communities interact, shape, and benefit (or not) from the many aspects of “environment”—health, schools, safety, neighborhood cohesiveness, and gentrification, along with natural elements such as water and air quality. While I went in with a general context of my home city, I explored causes and effects of various environmental issues by working with people and policies.  This meant that I needed to do extra research, and push harder to keep informed about various topics like affordable housing rates, San Antonio’s history of ‘urban renewal’, impact fees, and more.

screenshot of the SA Tomorrow hearing
Screencap of my presentation, 8/11/16.Video

I’m most proud of my growth in public speaking. I have always dreaded public speaking and I managed to avoid it for part of the summer, despite the encouragement from Esperanza’s director from the get-go. I avoided saying anything at the first few community meetings, including the one that I helped plan. Eventually, I had to start phone banking and reaching out to community members for events. Then, I had to prepare to speak about affordable housing and the SA Tomorrow Plan. I was nervous speaking both times in front of the Housing Commission and even more nervous my first time in front of the San Antonio City Council.  I ended with a presentation on impervious cover, something I believed needed to stay in the already weakened SA Tomorrow Sustainability Plan. The director of the Esperanza told me that every time we speak to advocate for change, it is a gift to the community. I’d like to think that my voice along with those of other allies helped push for community and environmental justice in San Antonio.

interns with staff 3
Staff and interns at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, Summer 2016.

I think my summer internship at the Esperanza Peace & Justice center helped affirm my interest in community organizing and social justice work. I enjoyed working in a collaborative community with other interns and with other staff members. The work reflected communities we were trying to serve (and that people were from). On a personal note, I learned intersections of my identity such as class, being Mexican-American/Tejana, and queerness. I also learned that community members must be included in social justice work and must be empowered to make change in affected communities; otherwise, those trying to advocate for change follow the same pattern of patronismo—saying that they are doing things for people’s “own good” without actually consulting those affected—as the current forces in power. I learned that while I like working well in a collaborative setting, I should structure my own time a little better.

My advice for someone seeking to work at the Esperanza is that flexibility is key. Oftentimes, Esperanza and our team of interns had to work with various people. Sometimes people would side on progressive issues, who usually would not; other times we watched presumably liberal city council representatives vote for more conservative measures. Dealing with community members often required all sorts of flexibility, like speaking Spanish or talking about another event that wasn’t originally on the phone banking script or trying to explain the concept of privilege. Time-wise, we would often have to drop or focus less on certain projects if other events came up, such as votes on an affordable housing bond or even building maintenance. Everyone had their own schedule but we would share what they were working on, either at staff meetings or debriefs with the intern supervisor.

Also, the nature of the Esperanza Peace & Justice (and hopefully other community/social justice organizations) is to acknowledge and fight against oppression from all angles. This means it was difficult to focus on a single issue—I was involved in “Queer Corazones” outreach, a gentrification event called “Take Back Our City, affordable housing meetings, phone banking for different cultural performances, along with my “primary” focus on SA Tomorrow. I went in thinking that I would focus on one issue, but I ended up with a taste of different types of experiences.

Overall, my summer at the Esperanza was an amazing one. I learned different skills that I can take with me on campus and beyond and hopefully I will be able to return next summer and for years to come.

Anastasia Christelles, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Concluding Thoughts on my Clinical Psychology Internship!

IMG_8172

Outside my building on my last day of work

Before I set out on my internship at Harvard my two main learning goals were to get more insight into the field of clinical psychology and to gain confidence in my work abilities. I think that I achieved my learning goals defined at the beginning of the summer and then some! While not as hands on as I anticipated, my internship was a wonderful learning experience and I really valued the time I spent in the lab. I definitely saw what working in a clinical psychology field entails and how it is different from any other working environment. There is a strict level of confidentiality, especially when dealing with child clinical psychology. I always had to remember to keep data with participant’s names separate from the data with numbers as well as to only upload information that was non-identifying.

I feel that I also achieved my second learning goal of gaining a sense of independence and higher responsibility. I tried to be as professional as possible in all of my interactions and attempted to figure things out on my own before asking for clarification. That being said, I had to learn that it is ok to ask questions and to do so in a confident manner without self-blame. My goal was to appear mature and to not be seen as merely “the intern.” The lab was an incredibly warm and welcoming place and I definitely got a chance to socialize with everyone outside of just a working relationship.

IMG_8130
Ice cream with my co-worker

My internship this summer definitely helped me clarify my interest in working in a clinical psych field. I feel like my interest was really sparked whenever I was reading through the psychological measures given to participants or attending weekly seminars. I listened to talks that were on various topics in the field such as pediatric clinical psychology in a hospital setting and new approaches to looking at the role of parental behavior in anxiety. There is a lot of new and exciting work being done and it is inspiring to see so many people work furiously to ensure that the lives of children are improved.

Due to the nature of the work of my lab, as a volunteer I did not have direct contact with families that had risk or abuse situations. However, in my work I read a lot of participant files that describe traumatic events and sometimes even on paper the accounts were difficult to process. Also, I was in the room where the research assistants made phone calls to families. There were some conversations that described children wanting to hurt themselves or past abuse by others, which again was very disconcerting to hear. For anyone looking to pursue an internship in youth mental health, you should remember that the work that is being done will hopefully make a difference in the lives of adolescents. It is important to practice self-care and to talk to coworkers about issues that are of concern to you. In terms of general internship advice, I recommend trying to take on more responsibility and going above and beyond what is asked of you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to be specific about what you would like to learn from the internship.  I am most proud of navigating my internship, becoming more professional, and even when work was difficult – maintaining a smile on my face.

Melissa Viezel ’17

Final days at The Improper Bostonian

After 8 months of tucking my shirt in, morning commutes on the T and free K-cups, I’ve finished my internship at The Improper Bostonian. Looking back, it is the third longest job I’ve held – behind my on-campus job at Student Financial and Academic Services and my over 8 years of working for my family’s irrigation company (P.S. that’s my dad – like 20 years ago at least – on the tractor on the home page.) It was a great experience and I will definitely remember it as the place where I really launched my career in writing. Being able to continue working over the summer through the WOW program exponentially increased my skills, since I was able to build off of my existing experience.

I met the learning goals I defined for myself at the start of the semester, for the most part. I pitched and wrote a few different articles throughout the summer (my favorite being one about some local t-shirt designers), but not as many as I originally hoped. Overall, I wrote four different pieces over the summer, which really isn’t that much when you consider most online publications look for writers to contribute at least three different stories per day. My lack of writing was due to a few different factors, such as trouble with scheduling interviews and a lack of ideas worthy to pitch but I am still proud of the work I completed and will use them as samples when applying for jobs later on. The portfolio of work I’ve put together from my time at The Improper is enough to get my ‘foot-in-the-door’ at other publications, especially when pitching and submitting articles as a freelance writer.

The portfolio of work is the most important thing, career-wise, I gained from continuing on at The Improper for the summer. I came to the conclusion that I want to be a free-lancer, at least right after I graduate, and not be tied to a specific publication. I would much rather write and submit that work to be published instead of applying to different editor positions and hoping to get one. The freedom associated with writing strictly for the sake of writing and hoping to get paid for it afterwards is exactly what I’m looking for after graduating. I don’t want to have to show up to an office everyday and have to work through some of the intra-office problems that occur every day; I would like to simply focus on what I’m passionate about and mainly work for myself. Most likely later on in life, I will look for a stable job with a regular paycheck but working piecemeal and trying to broaden myself across different publications is much more exciting right now. That’s really how the career ladder works for writers and editors. Before any publication hires a writer full-time, they want to make sure the candidate can be counted on in the freelance capacity. This is exactly how it worked for one of my supervisors when she was hired for The Improper. She had told me she had done some freelance work for the magazine previously, and when her job position opened up, she was a much stronger candidate since she had already worked for the magazine.

As for other students looking to work in this field, and this definitely applies to working at The Improper as well, I would tell them to not be timid. Don’t be shy about your ideas for articles and other pieces, and just keep thinking. Don’t be complacent with what you’ve done so far; there is always more you can submit or work on – both for actual article submissions and just working as an intern. That is definitely my strongest takeaway from my entire summer intern experience. Simply work hard. Of course there will be times when you have to relax a bit and take your mind off of your work, but any writer or journalist knows that the mental effort that goes into the job never really takes a break. Ideas for stories and articles pop up everywhere, and keeping an efficient working habit, you can make the most of them.

 

Final reflections

sally
NCL’s executive director Sally Greenberg, fellow intern Hannah and I visited the National Museum of American History to see NCL’s exhibit.

I would like to think that my hoped-for experiences have become a reality. I’ve gotten to work on some really awesome projects during my time at NCL. Particularly successful and personally proud moments  include researching Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy in favor of FDA approval, writing a letter to President Obama to request a food waste initiative executive order, researching renewal of PDUFA VI, prescription drug policies, and consumer attitudes towards the pharmaceutical drug industry. I think a disappointing experience was at the very beginning of my internship. I researched and worked on a blog post advocating for HPV vaccination but it never got posted. I assume it was because there was too much scientific jargon and not consumer friendly enough. Since then, I have gotten much better at changing up my tone to write more consumer friendly blogs to inform the public about the issues that consumers face every day. Some topics I blogged about were payday loans, Wall Street regulations, and the borrower defense to repayment rule. In terms of spreading consumer education, all the interns and staff members collectively reached our goal of creating enough questions for the annual LifeSmarts competition. I also had the fortunate opportunity to meet and network with influential people from health and consumer organizations.
This internship helped clarify my career interest in health policy. However, I realized that I really don’t enjoy sitting at a desk all day behind a computer so perhaps a job in research is not for me. While I am still interested in policy work, particularly in regards to addressing health disparities, I am now also considering a path towards becoming a health care provider, perhaps a nurse practitioner. I prefer the nursing model more than the medical model because it looks at health more holistically.
I would advise prospective interns to be patient when it comes to implementing public policy reform. Sometimes things don’t always go your way but you just have overlook those moments that haven’t been necessarily successful and still move forward in your work. Policy reform requires a lot of time and it can be years before we see any real changes going into effect, especially with what often seems like bureaucratic ineptitude. In addition, be proactive and step out of your comfort zone, whether that is taking on new projects outside your field or attending networking events. There is always a possibility that you may enjoy something outside your direct field of work.
NCL allowed me to explore both interests in a way that I didn’t think was possible, especially at a consumer advocacy organization rather than a health organization such as CDC or NIH. Lastly, the location itself in Washington D.C. presents so many wonderful opportunities to attend various panel discussions on public health issues such as women’s reproductive health, HPV, DMD, Zika virus, global health infrastructure and many other issues. These events great networking opportunities for interns looking to enter this field of public health and health policy work. My time at NCL has been a great learning experience and I am very grateful to all the staff members who made my experience such a rewarding one.

Elese Chen

NCL's exhibit at the Museum of American History
NCL’s exhibit at the Museum of American History
DSC_0282
Washington Monument
14101941_10206871654015154_378821522_n
Sunset view at Key Bridge by Georgetown

 

 

Completing my summer internship at Girls’ LEAP

Well, our summer session is officially over and the time has come to hang up our shields and send my Girls’ LEAP shirts to the bottom of my t-shirt pile. This whirlwind and inspirational experience has left me with so much joy and so much yet to process. In all honesty, the summer was really challenging. The work was tough, the students were not always excited to be in our program and the stereotypical truths about females played out before my very own eyes. Some girls were especially timid and anxious while others could only discuss their physical attractiveness and viewed their outer beauty as their most important asset. I believe one of the most difficult parts was learning to practice what I preach. How do I take up space? How do I assert my boundaries and care and love myself better? These are very real questions that I have yet to process.

While this experience reinforced my preconceived notions that teaching is hard, it also showed me how rewarding an educator role can be. I know for a fact that my words and actions had a very real and positive impact on specific girls. One in particular mentioned how I “opened her mind and motivated her to step beyond her comfort zone.” Little statements like this made me feel like I really contributed to a positive and strong female culture. Also, I now feel more comfortable facilitating discussions about challenging topics, such as conflict resolution and sexual harassment. I recognize the value of being physically active, that children’s bodies were made to move and engage with the world. I believe the organization gave me a powerful cohort of women to learn with and from. I particularly enjoyed our weekly meetings that focused on professional and personal development. I was certainly frustrated by some aspects of the organization. I wish that it was more efficient and better organized and that despite working in the field, away from the office, I would have been more in the loop about Girls’ LEAP events. I recognize that this is a challenge in any organization that is struggling financially and the experience has actually inspired me to learn more about business and marketing/financial practices. I so strongly believe in the cause and I would love to see this organization expand and grow qualitatively and qualitatively (serve a larger population).

It is challenging to sum up my experiences in one word. But, as we end each of our sessions with a Girls’ LEAP is… “fill in the blank” I will complete this post with a Girls’ LEAP is… exhilarating.

Final Reflections on my Internship at IINE

Fourteen weeks and 264 hours later, I cannot believe that my time at the International Institute of New England (IINE) is over. My learning goals were to apply what I am learning in school to my work and to see if this furthered career interests. I definitely did apply what I am learning to my work. I am studying Politics and Economics and I used concepts from a variety of classes. I took The American Presidency, which helped me while teaching about currency and who is on which denomination. I took American Health Care, which helped me teach basics about health care and insurance in the US. This internship somewhat helped clarify career interests, but it also opened more interests for me. I am still interested in public policy and non-profits, but more in a management role. I am also becoming more interested in learning business skills, and I have signed up for classes accordingly.

IMG_3400-2
Relaxing on Free Fun Friday at the Arnold Arboretum

I definitely learned more about myself in the workplace. I learned to trust myself and to become a better decision maker. I often had to make quick decisions, whether it was in a class, on a field trip, or at a meeting. In the beginning of the summer, I doubted my skills and ability to help refugees find jobs. However, I gained the confidence that I needed when I realized that I did have the experience through having jobs in the US and through growing up here. IINE hired me to teach classes and work with clients, so I realized that if the organization and my clients believed I was qualified, then I was. I became better at trusting myself to make decisions, because everything does not always go as planned.

The advice I would give to a student interested in this organization and field would be to be patient and flexible. Working at a non-profit can be frustrating due to the lack of resources. For over half the summer, the staff squeezed into classrooms at a community center while construction on a new building was delayed. At times, it was frustrating when I could not provide T passes for clients who forgot theirs during a field trip or when clients are waiting to hear back from a job interview and they really want to work. I would give the advice to be patient and flexible, because sometimes situations do not turn out the way you expect or want. Resilience is an important skill and attribute to have. Despite the importance of these skills, working at the IINE was very rewarding. I would also recommend working in Workforce Development, where I interacted with clients more than the interns in the other department. I met many people on their first day of class in America, and taught them in Cultural Orientation and the Workforce Orientation Workshop. I helped them apply for jobs, practice for interviews, and conduct follow up. I became personally invested in their lives and futures, because I wanted the refugees to succeed in their jobs, and to create a life for themselves in the US. I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in non-profits, teaching, human rights, or management. IINE gives you a lot of responsibility, which is the best way to learn and gain new skills.

IMG_3737-1
After our field trip to the Harvard Museum of Natural History

This summer, I am most proud of the bonds I created with my clients. At the end of the summer, I am sad to leave because of the staff and my clients. I want to know when they get new jobs and how they are doing in their jobs. I am interested in seeing how they are doing a year from now– if they live in the same place, if they have the same job, or if they are going back to school. My clients talk about their hopes for the future with me, and I want to know how they are doing with their goals.

I loved working with the staff and other interns as well. On my last day, the office manager said I was always welcome back to work or volunteer. Being in Waltham makes the goodbye easier, since I was also told that if I am ever in Boston, I am always welcome to stop by the office to say hello. Thus, leaving was not really a goodbye and more of a “see you later,” whether it is emailing with staff, visiting the office, or volunteering in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the current refugee crisis and the refugee resettlement process, this link from the USCRI is very helpful. If you are interested in learning about the work IINE does besides employment (which I did), here is a link to other services.

Lastly, I am so thankful to Brandeis and the WOW Fellowship for enabling me to have this amazing opportunity.

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18

Ending my research and policy-filled summer on a great note

My three learning goals for the summer were: 1) combine the skills I have acquired from Brandeis classes to our research project, 2) gain a deeper understanding of the scientific research project from beginning to end, and 3) further explore the intersection between research, advocacy, and policy.

image2 (1)
Me, Carolina (my fellow intern and co-author), and our supervisor Professor Siegel on our last day of work! It was such a spectacular and stimulating summer and I will miss them and their enthusiasm for social justice and public health advocacy greatly!

HSSP, Anthropology, and Legal Studies classes at Brandeis gave me a fantastic background on many of the topics studied in our research, such as structural violence, public health disparities, and public policy advocacy. Because my psychology classes taught me to think critically about statistical concepts, statistical procedures, and research methods, I was able to heavily contribute to the research collection and analysis in our project. I was also exposed to all phases of the research process working with Professor Siegel, from the conceptualization of the research question to the writing of the final manuscript. This will put me at a major advantage when applying to both research positions and graduate school programs in the future. Further, since our research findings were very significant, in the final section of our paper we were able to make important suggestions for public health policy-makers in the future that will be necessary to reduce the amount of firearm-related intimate partner homicides each year. The major policy suggestion here includes making it illegal in all states for domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) subjects to purchase and possess firearms, which is a law that only a few states have passed. In our research, we used many of the Everytown for Gun Safety databases on domestic violence to code our research, which shows how weak state laws are concerning DVRO subjects.

This internship overall has been a spectacular learning opportunity in so many ways, but has really taught me, step-by-step, the value of research in social and political change. I have learned that I want to continue taking part in research in the future and got to graduate school; however, I definitely love the policy side of research, advocating for specific changes in public policy based on research findings, more than I am intrigued by the data collection, data organization, and data analysis phases of research. I have also learned that I love the conceptualization of the research and the planning/organization of the research. By getting involved in each stage of the research, I was able to get a good sense of the areas I am most interested in pursuing in the future. Pinpointing my research-related interests in this internship will be incredibly helpful down the line when I am searching for jobs/internships in the future.

In terms of advice to students, I would recommend an internship at the Boston University School of Public Health to anyone. The faculty there are wonderful, everyone is very welcoming, intelligent, diligent, and thoughtful, and the organization is doing exceptional work right now trying to develop research that will help combat different health injustices around the globe. A huge piece of advice is to show initiative from the beginning of your internship. Explain to your supervisor what you are most interested in about research, what your goals are for the internship, and potentially where your biggest weaknesses lie so that you can work with your supervisor to strengthen these areas. For any student with an internship at a research organization, I would highly recommend speaking to your supervisor about getting involved with the entire research process from beginning to end, especially if you imagine that you want to continue doing research-related work in the future. Having at least a good idea of what goes into each phase of the process will help you really develop an understanding of which aspects of the process you are most interested in.

 

image1
The final version of our research manuscript before it is sent off to leading public health journal JAMA Internal Medicine for publication

Overall this summer, though I am proud of every aspect of the research project that I took part in, I am particularly proud of co-writing the final research paper with Professor Siegel and my fellow research intern Carolina. Once the paper is published in the next few months, hopefully in our top-choice journal JAMA Internal Medicine, I will officially be a published author!

Rachel Kurland, ’18

Social Justice WOW fellow

Final Week @ SLI

My final week at Supportive Living Inc. felt like it wrapped up so quickly, and yet I cannot help but think it was just the right amount of time for me to move onto other things. There is no doubt that my time at Supportive Living Inc. was worthwhile and well spent. My learning goals were met because I got to delve into physical therapy, sociological research projects, and a multitude of activities with brain injured residents. Some residents may have impacted me more than others (there are a couple specific ones I wrote about in a newsletter for Supportive Living) and I know I will definitely visit them from time to time. 

This internship has definitely helped me clarify my career interests. Though enjoyable, physical or occupational therapy is not a field I wish to pursue. I have found research to be incredibly intriguing and more suited towards my personality and interests. I have also learned more things about myself. Not to “toot my own horn,” but I believe I am very good at connecting with certain kinds of people who otherwise are very shy and reserved. I have experienced some incredibly touching and memorable moments with some residents who usually never talk or open up. 

If any other student would like to pursue this internship, I would encourage them earnestly. Especially if one is interested in public health but does not know what aspect of it to work in (like me). There were many interns who I worked with who were interested in neuroscience as well as health sciences and psychology majors. Those who are interested in learning about the post traumatic effects of brain injury should definitely try this internship. However, if you are more interested in learning about the more scientific research of neuroscience, I would recommend a different kind of internship. SLI research is more about sociological research rather than lab work. 

The aspect of this summer internship I am most proud of is how I was able to make connections with people at Brandeis. I think it is very important that I take away some things from this internship that could directly and positively affect my future. I was able to meet another Brandeis student who introduced me to Brandeis Global Brigades (a program I might join in the spring), and I was also able to meet Dr. Laura Lorenz, a visiting scholar at the Heller School. With Dr. Lorenz, I was able to discuss a possible independent study with her when I come back to Brandeis in the spring. I am proud at how I was able to make some immediate plans with Brandeis staff and students concerning my academic future. 

The pictures below include my video project, a bike exercise with an intern and an immobile resident, and a bonsai activity. 

IMG_0889

IMG_1097

IMG_1051

WOW Fellowship: Last Chapter

On the last day of my internship at the Anti-Defamation League, I decided to read through my application for the WOW fellowship. Although nostalgia was hitting hard, I had a big smile on my face as I recalled the anticipation I had for this internship, and the reality that all of my goals were not only reached but surpassed.

Before I began my internship, I had a clear vision of what I hoped to gain, contribute, and learn from this experience. On an academic and career front, I hoped to further develop my writing abilities and become very comfortable in an office setting. Looking back on these past few months, it’s clear that I’ve done just that. I wrote a lot this summer and feel far more comfortable drafting professional letters, op-eds, and press releases. It was an honor and a blessing to further develop this critical skill while contributing in a meaningful way. Feeling comfortable in a boardroom setting is definitely not an issue after spending 200 hours in a non-profit work environment. Interning at the Anti-Defamation League gave me a clearer sense of what I want in my career and reaffirmed that I thrive on contribution and connection.

My personal goal was, by far, the most important one: to challenge myself and stretch far beyond my comfort zone. Before I began my internship, I thought I had a pretty good sense of what working in the field of social justice would be like. After all, I had taken several related classes, completed ADL’s A World of Difference Peer Training, and volunteered in their office throughout high school. From day one of my internship, it was clear that I’d only gotten a glimpse of the type of work I’d be doing. Being immersed in combatting the anti-Semitism, bigotry, and discrimination that still plagues our world is anything but comfortable, especially for a girl who doesn’t even like to watch the news! Each day, I conducted media searches for terms like bullying, anti-Semitism, and racism. Being on the lookout for acts of discrimination and prejudice was often uncomfortable and difficult for me. But as I moved further into my internship, I began to see tragic news stories as opportunities for organizations like the ADL to make the world a better place.

This summer has been a summer of growth. I walked in excited, anticipating the incredible lessons to be gained from this experience. I’m leaving truly inspired, and ready to take these lessons back to Brandeis. Reflecting on this summer, I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished and grateful that I was able to contribute so much. I think my greatest impact was in kickstarting various projects that had been pushed back. Toward the end, a significant part of my internship involved locating the contact information for each principal in the state of Florida. Standardized testing had been scheduled during a window of time that included the Jewish High Holidays. Several schools had scheduled testing during these holidays, which presented an issue for many families. Because we reached out to each district, schools are now better informed and fewer students will face this dilemma.

The advice I have for future ADL interns or social justice WOW fellows is simple: keep a clear vision of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Social justice work is critically important, but it’s also very difficult and emotionally trying. As Olympic athlete Mallory Weggemann says, “You see bad things happen, unfortunately, it is inevitable, but they don’t have to take our ability to believe in the beauty of tomorrow.” Reminding yourself each day of the purpose of your work — the people, the goal, the future —  will be your fuel. This will give you the ammunition to continue on, in high spirits. I’ve learned from the best: The ADL staff always seems to remain optimistic by creating a positive and hopeful work environment.

I will truly miss the incredible and inspiring staff at the Florida regional ADL office. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in such a life-changing experience with such wonderful people!

My Summer at the District Attorney’s Office

I first articulated my learning goals for this summer when applying for my World of Work scholarship. Upon reflection, I chose three goals: to gain experience in a fast-pace environment, to determine what field of law I would be interested in pursuing, and to become a more confident worker. At the time, these goals felt overly optimistic; since I was not sure what to expect, I did not know what I could reasonable hope to gain from my experience. However, now that I have reached the end of my internship, I can confidently say that all my goals have been met.

Working in a courthouse has certainly given me a better understanding of what it would be liked to have a job in a fast-paced field such as criminal justice. Unexpected evidence or witness non-compliance may arise suddenly and completely change the trajectory of a case. However, these situations must be dealt with quickly and efficiently to ensure that the defendant receives his right to a timely trial.

The district attorney's office logo
The district attorney’s office logo

Additionally, I have gained a much better understanding of how I would want to apply a degree in law. Rather than push me to want to be a prosecutor, this internship has made me realize that my true interest in law lies in examining the underlying structure and rules that guide the legal system. This internship has helped me better understand that I am interested in working in legal policy.

 

Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, I have gained extraordinary confidence throughout this summer. This internship has made me realize how important it is that I remember that I am not a nervous college freshman. Instead, I may be less than a year away from entering the workforce without the title of “intern” and have, in my past few years gained tremendous experience and have substantive skills to offer. I have never been a particularly shy or self-conscious person, but this summer I have realized how crucial it is that I take myself seriously not just as a person, but also as a professional.

I would definitely advise students considering attending law school to try and gain a similar experience that includes experience in the courtroom as my internship did. I previously avoided internships in law because I thought that without a law degree, I would only be assigned insignificant, menial work. While I was not asked to represent the Commonwealth in court at any point, by just being in the courthouse and getting first-hand exposure to legal proceedings, I gained valuable skills and a better understanding of my career goals. I would also recommend working at a big, busy office like Boston Municipal where there are constantly new things to see and experience.

All the files I shared my desk with!
All the files I shared my desk with!

Reflecting on this summer, I am extremely happy and proud of all that I have accomplished. Above all, I am proud of myself for taking so many moments to reflect on my experience and what I was learning. I think it was this reflection—in large part prompted by my WOW scholarship—that has made my internship such a valuable growing experience.

 

Dustin Fire, ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

“Friendraising” in Nantucket

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 5.50.16 PM
On the ferry to Nantucket

It’s hard to believe that my internship at Living on Earth is now over. I miss the creative and supportive atmosphere, the interesting stories I helped produce, and of course, I miss working on such important mission.

My experiences during my last week reminded me how important that mission really is. To close the internship, I attended a “friendraising” event that the show hosted in Nantucket with the other interns in the office. I had the opportunity to tour the UMass Field Station on the island (where the event took place) and listen to a few fantastic speakers, like New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina. At the event, I met students and adults from all over who were passionate about protecting the ocean. And the speakers shared emerging science that may be able to help us connect with, and therefore

With the rest of the Living on Earth family in Nantucket
With the rest of the Living on Earth family in Nantucket

preserve, our environment. In fact, there is even emerging science being studied at the field station itself. 

One line of one of the speeches got to me in particular. Safina said,  “We now know, and by that I mean the few scientists that read the paper know that….” He then went on to say that most of what the scientific community knows about is not  known by the general public. That is, a huge portion of scientific knowledge is inaccessible to the very people that scientific issues affect.

This is why journalism is important. Journalism is a medium that can make scientific papers, complicated policies, and other jargon-filled issues accessible to the ordinary person. Journalism has the power to boost scientific literacy and expose important truths. I am so glad that I was able to learn about this field through my internship!

Recording my own piece
Recording my own piece

I’ve been able to meet inspiring individuals who we invited to the show who are trying to make a difference on our planet. I’ve been able to learn about the creative processes that go into making a radio piece. And I’ve been able to work on every step of that process. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.

I hope to continue exploring my interests in journalism and the environment. In fact, I’m taking both environmental and journalism courses this upcoming semester. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do after graduation. But I know that my internship prepared me to work well in a team, to think creatively and to be passionate about working hard in whatever field I choose.

My internship’s over, but I know that the connections I made this summer are not. I met mentors and friends that I hope to stay in touch with for a long time. To all of my friends who I have told to listen to the show: don’t quit just yet. There are still 5 or 6 pieces I’ve produced that have not yet aired. Keep your eyes peeled!

 

~Jay Feinstein

Social Justice WOW Recipient

The Fortune Society: A Summer Well Spent

My internship this summer with The Fortune Society is one that has really opened my eyes.  When people think of those involved in the criminal justice system, individuals with Master’s degrees or those fueled by intrinsic motivation typically don’t come to mind.  Why not? This is because unfortunately as a society we’re taught that these people are somehow less “human” than we are and that they don’t deserve the same place in our society. One of the many things that my internship with The Fortune Society has taught me that these people have often experienced trauma, are in need of support and resources and are good people who are still trying and still hoping.

 

Me and some of the other interns/volunteers at a rally we attended on behalf of The Fortune Society.
Fellow interns/volunteers and me at a rally we attended on behalf of The Fortune Society.

While this internship has not solidified exactly which social justice issue I want to fight for within the criminal justice system,  it has reassured me that this is the field in which I want to work.  As had been my goal, I also learned about the criminal justice system and how it affects and individuals and family systems. Having the chance to see the effects this type of work can have on people is truly a remarkable and humbling. One moment that immediately comes to mind was how thankful a group of veterans were after we held a focus group to help improve policies that create reentry barriers for them.  This moment was such a fulfilling one because I didn’t realize how much of a toll veterans can face coming out of the criminal justice system until I had a chance to sit and listen to folks and shaking their hands.

One thing I realized about myself this summer is how privileged I am, and how privilege operates.  The fact that I have a home,  access to food and the ability to pursue a higher education – and that I can afford basic luxuries such as having a phone and leasing a car – are now things that I have a renewed understanding of because I know that so many people do not and will never have these things.

The participants of Pro Bono Day, an event Fortune holds to educate attorneys on the programs they have and the advocacy work they do.
The participants of Pro Bono Day, an event Fortune holds to educate attorneys on the programs they have and the advocacy work they do.

If someone is getting an internship within the criminal justice system non-profit sector, I would advise keeping an open mind, because the stories you’ll hear about an individual will far surpass the rap sheet someone has to their name.  As the founder of The Fortune Society, David Rothenberg often says, “the crime is what people did, not who they are.”  If someone is fortunate enough (no pun intended) to secure an internship with The Fortune Society, I would recommend to voice your opinions and don’t just be a yes-man.  Your opinions will be appreciated!  If you want to learn more about my experience at Fortune or are interested in interning there, here is the link towards the Brandeis Internship Exchange, and this is my email.

One thing of which I am proud that I did this summer was helping to make a mere dent in reforming the criminal justice system.  Seeing and hearing first-hand how this unjust system can affect not only the individual but their family and even community, a whole other dimension of the justice system unveiled itself.  I think it’s a dimension that needs to be discovered through hearing someone’s story from their mouth, not reading it in a newspaper or even reading this blog.

The End of my Summer at Verité

First and foremost, I would like to emphasize my gratitude towards Verité and the people who I worked alongside this summer, as well as towards the World of Work scholarship from Brandeis, which allowed me to take this opportunity.

I completely met my career and personal learning goals during my internship. My career goal was to discover whether or not researching at an NGO would be something I would like to do as my future career, and my personal goal was to develop good professional workplace etiquette, since this was my first office job. Although I would not trade my experience for the world, I have discovered that I do not necessarily want to pursue a career in which I focus solely on computer research. I realize now that I want to be able to do field research and speak with more people. In terms of my personal goal, my internship allowed me to work on my organizational skills, something I have struggled with throughout my academic career. Especially because I worked on multiple projects at a time, I improved my time management skills.
The goal I defined as my academic goal certainly changed over the course of my internship. My goal previously focused specifically on providing context for my human rights independent disciplinary major. While I will use the information I obtained this summer to help guide the formation of my IIM, I began to focus on learning as much as possible while I had access to such an abundance of valuable resources, rather than on what I would do with that information later on. Besides completing my defined goals, I learned about my own style of research and research methods and was able to expand my approach to research.
If a student were to ask me about my experience at Verité, I would only give praise of my time there. However, if they were to apply for the same internship, I would warn them of the intensity of the research. Although the environment at Verité is cheerful, warm and welcoming, the subject matter is emotionally draining. Verité’s work revolves around researching human labor trafficking, forced child labor, and unsafe working conditions. We research unfair conditions around the world, and the information one finds can often be incredibly sad. However, the staff at Verité all research similar topics—they are always available as a sounding board, and to offer help, whether it is help with work questions or just someone to talk with.
To anyone leaning towards working in the field of human rights, I would strongly encourage that career choice. It is a career path that works for something that is bigger than oneself. Other than it being morally rewarding, one can truly implement changes if they put in the work, whether those changes are small scale or larger, such as policy shifts.

Check out Verité’s new “Knowledge Portal
This summer I am most proud of the pace at which I learned, which was in large part due to the amazing people who surrounded me at work. My main supervisor consistently checked in with me and guided my research, while other project supervisors each paid special attention to the interns assigned to their projects. Because people were always available when I needed help, I felt supported throughout my entire internship. Before I sign off, I encourage you guys to take a look at a report released by Verité in January 2016, “An Exploratory Study on the Role of Corruption in International Labor Migration”

Georgia Nichols ’18

Community Building in Hinche

During my time at ETE camp, I’ve really engaged with parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. To say I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone would be an understatement. In my time in Haiti, I’ve gained more insight into education but most importantly I’ve witnessed firsthand the necessity of communal transformation. There are many qualities that are accompanied with a good education, including qualified teachers, supportive parents and other adequate resources that’ll contribute to the success of the student. However, a very crucial but often overlooked portion of education is the help of the community. The community is what

Here is a picture of one of my students presenting their project.
Here is one of my students presenting their project.

held ETE camp together. The success of ETE camp wouldn’t be visible without communal interference. The community held all of us responsible for igniting the minds of their children and in return we received their grace and aid. We received their support in the little things such as neighbors accompanying us to the store or simply offering help whenever needed. This also included house maintenance issues we faced during our stay. This performance of community played a role when my supervisor was forced to leave the camp due to unforeseen circumstances. In this time, it was up to us and the Hinche community step up and run the camp efficiently in her absence. The community worked together to still facilitate graduation and final projects despite her absence. The community was able to run this program efficiently without direct oversight of the director. We were able to make all of their certificates, organize and clean the school, and operate breakfast and lunch on our own. One parent even volunteered to video record the entire graduation ceremony. I was so grateful to witness a community uplifting each other and maintaining a positive program made for their community.

Honestly, this internship has left me with more questions than answers as far as my career goals. However, there a few things I can see myself doing after graduation. Primarily, I can without a doubt see myself working with kids. At first, I was pretty certain working with younger kids would require too much emotional and physical labor. Though, by the end of the program, I couldn’t stay away from them. Working with them has given me patience and so much compassion. With that being said, I see myself working for Teach for America. Almost all of my co-workers have worked with Teach for America and described their experiences as nothing less than extraordinary.

For anyone who would like to work with educational nonprofits, I would tell them to always remain ready for improvisation. I tend to thrive in comfort and structure and working in Haiti has shown me that I am capable of bending and making it work. I didn’t believe I had this quality to improvise without leaving students behind. Another thing I would tell them is that, one should always conserve resources. There is rarely a surplus in school supplies and other resources. Save everything! You never know if the budget will be as big as the organization would like. The money needed for that fiscal year will not always meet the demands of the organization’s budget. Donations and sponsors are crucial to the maintenance of the program as these programs offer free services for their community.

The thing I am most proud of however is facilitating a poetry workshop for the students at ETE camp. They created their own acrostic poems in English and Haitian Creole. Their poems composed of adjectives and positive affirmations that described them. I felt that it was crucial for students to be able to express themselves both in English and their native tongue. This project benefits the organization because we are now able to use the student’s work as an incentive for donations. I was so happy to contribute and share the veiled brilliance of my students.

Here are some student highlights of the poetry project.
Here are some student highlights of the poetry project.

The Final Performance at Williamstown Theatre Festival

As my last performance here at Williamstown Theatre Festival came to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the amazing experiences that I had throughout this summer. I definitely feel that I met my defined learning goals academically, professionally, and personally as a Stage Management Intern at WTF. After this internship, I believe that I am a much better stage manager and I cannot wait to apply everything I learned to future endeavors.

Here I am at the opening night gala of And No More Shall We Part.
Here I am at the opening night gala of And No More Shall We Part.

Interning at WTF  helped clarify my career interests. Before coming to Williamstown, I thought that I wanted to work in higher level theaters in Washington D.C. and then eventually move to New York. After working alongside many New York theater professionals, I have discovered that I want to move to New York right out of college in order to eventually work on Broadway.

I would greatly recommend an internship at Williamstown Theatre Festival. However, it is important to go into the job knowing that you are going to work a lot of hours and be beaten down to be built back up better than you were when you started. Working at WTF is extremely intense, but you learn so much about yourself, your work, and how you fit into this industry. You are able to work alongside some of the top theater artists in the country and become part of an amazing community that will ensure that you will be successful in your career. Working at WTF is also so much fun (people often compare it to theater camp, since you are working and living with about 350 other people who work in the theater in some capacity). Here is a video that the WTF company created at the end of the summer.

These are 13 out of 15 Stage Management interns. We all became extremely close throughout the summer.
These are 13 out of 15 Stage Management interns. We all became extremely close throughout the summer.

All internships in the theater industry are extremely different depending on the level of the theater and the specific field in the theater that you are interning in. I have now experienced 2 Stage Management internships and they were incredibly different, but equally rewarding. It is important to understand the internship before you accept it-some theaters have developed internship programs, while some just hire interns. Although both have their own advantages, with a specific internship program, you often get to attend specialized workshops and work alongside other interns. Both summers I worked in a specific internship program, but last year I was one of three Stage Management interns and this year I was one of fifteen. The main difference in my two experiences is that Williamstown Theatre Festival is bigger in every way.

 

I am most proud of my ability to fit into and be successful in a rehearsal room alongside theater professionals. Working on And No More Shall We Part was an incredible experience where I felt respected in the room while working with Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek. This show was a beautiful piece of theater and it was amazing to develop such close relationships with actors who have had long successful careers and are much older than I am.

The Stage Management team, crew, and cast of And No More Shall We Part.
The Stage Management team, crew, and cast of And No More Shall We Part.

~Hannah Mitchell ’17, Theater WOW Recipient

Leaving the Lab!

My last week at the Nels Nelson North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History was last Friday! It’s sad to be leaving the museum, but I’m glad I got to work with great people and learn a huge amount about this particular lab as well as a great deal about the future and current state of archaeology in North America. I’m really glad I was able to do several different projects each day as well. I would say I had to tweak my expectations slightly as I wasn’t quite sure what the majority of the work I would be doing this summer would be, but that is hardly a bad thing! With several smaller projects, I was able to learn about many different aspects of the lab. This included working in photography, ArcGIS, consolidating, rehousing, cleaning artifacts, data entry. It seems like I was able to do a bit of everything, down to scanning field forms.

Lab tower

I would say I met my goals for the internship this summer, including being able to put the work we are doing in the lab into context with the people of St. Catherine’s Island through the generations of inhabitants and their technologies. I am certainly more comfortable working in the lab in the last week than the first week, and I have also learned a great deal from my fellow interns who are all at different stages in figuring out their futures in archaeology, whether that includes graduate school, contract archaeology, or museum work. And it has been a great experience living in New York this summer.

I’m not sure yet whether I am more clear about my career interests, but I am definitely more clear on the options in Archaeology and Anthropology that are available to me, and I am in the process of narrowing down the fields I am particularly interested in; including Human Osteology, Conservation. I certainly have a better sense of how to proceed to continue a career doing archaeology, and that includes a lot of new technologies in the field including GIS and various forms of 3D scanning, including photogrammetry. At the end of the internship we were able to discuss how to move forward and the different options available. If I had to give advice about internships in this field I would certainly recommend applying to the NAARCH Lab and definitely to ask questions not only about the work but about the field in general and talk to the people you are working with. Throughout this summer, I am most proud of just keeping a journal of everything I did each day, and taking notes during our discussions. Since I did so many different small projects, it makes it a lot easier to remember what I enjoyed the most and what I had more trouble with and need to work on, and that will definitely help me in the future. All in all it was a fantastic experience! I think it has had a great effect on my perceptions of the field and lab environments, and it’s a great jumping off point moving beyond Brandeis!

79th Street entrance to the museum
79th Street entrance to the museum

Completion at Rosie’s Place

I can’t believe how fast my ten weeks at Rosie’s Place have flown by! I am so thankful for the opportunity I had interning there and for the amazing staff who helped and supported me through everything. All of my expectations about the internship have been exceeded and I am surprised how much I have personally grown because of the work I was doing.

All day at Rosie's Place with fellow interns
All day at Rosie’s Place with fellow interns.

At the start of my internship, my four internship goals were to gain a deeper understanding of poverty and oppression from the women who come to Rosie’s Place as well as the root cause of these conditions; to learn more about who are poor and homeless women in Boston and what circumstances brought them to Rosie’s Place; to develop a greater sense of responsibility and ability to work to bring about social chance and equality; and to better understand how a medium-sized non-profit operates. My two department goals were to learn how to communicate effectively with all the different people that I encounter and to learn to take more initiative as I get more comfortable with the front desk. I am happy to say I did meet my defined goals through my daily interactions with guests and attending direct service meetings, Social Justice Institute seminars, and weekly intern meetings.

This internship has really helped me understand and see what it is like working at a non-profit and in direct service. Before the internship, I did not know that advocacy was a potential career option, but I have also learned that direct service is not the only path in social justice work. The success of a non-profit like Rosie’s Place is how multiple different departments work together toward finding solutions to poverty and homelessness on a small and a large scale. This summer in the workplace, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is how to find my voice to be more assertive. I also learned more about my levels of comfort as an introvert working such an extroverted job and how to set boundaries for myself.

My advice to a student interested in an internship at Rosie’s Place is it is completely okay to feel overwhelmed at first but you will always be supported by a great staff. The front desk staff members were there whenever I had questions and always had my back. My advice for a student interested in this field is the importance of self-care, understanding that the work is difficult and may lead to burn out if you do not set boundaries or if you bring your work into your personal home life. Volunteering is a great way to start getting involved.

This summer I am most proud of the personal interactions and connections I was able to make with guests, staff, and interns at Rosie’s Place. I very much felt included in the community and was able to share my ideas and contribute to projects that will exist even after I have left. The act of being present every single day made a difference in helping and talking to the guests because we are not just providing services for poor and homeless, we really care about our guests and finding solutions to end poverty and homelessness.

Final Reflections: A Summer at United for a Fair Economy

My internship at United for a Fair Economy (UFE) provided me with so much more than I expected. I went into this internship with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how a nonprofit organization actually operates. Interning at UFE helped me gain a more comprehensive understanding about the processes involved in successfully and efficiently running an organization.

UFE gave me the opportunity to work in many departments which gave me a holistic understanding of a nonprofit. When a staff member went away for a couple months I took over all donation processing; I worked on data analysis and graphic design projects; I helped the Finance department prepare for an audit by reconciling all online donations; and I was given the chance to sit in on program meetings and phone calls.

Throughout this process, I met my goal of determining if nonprofit work is actually something I could see myself doing. Getting behind-the-scenes exposure to processes made me more excited about possibly pursuing this field of work. More specifically, I really enjoyed and felt that I excelled at working in the development/communications departments at UFE, and I am now brainstorming ways to continue doing this type of work in the future.

My workspace at UFE!

Beyond meeting the goal I set for myself this summer, my internship provided me with so many unexpected lessons. For example, I learned that there is a lot more to social justice work than one can learn about in a classroom or newspaper. The work these organizations do impacts real people, with real stories, making it complicated, frustrating, and also incredibly important.

One thing that I learned about myself during this internship is how much I enjoy work that I genuinely care about. I have always prided myself on my work ethic, but I realized when I am passionate about a topic it does not feel like work.

UFE taught me how important it is to stay grounded while doing this type of work. It is really easy to distance yourself from it and see it as a chore, but it is so important to always remember what you are working for and who you are serving. Whenever there was a grounding moment – whether it was a tragic event in the news or a heartbreaking story told by someone in one of our workshops – I felt my energy, and the energy among the staff at UFE, increase drastically, which was a really interesting and beneficial environment to be in.

One of the biggest challenges I faced during my internship was not feeling like I had the authority to speak my opinions and ideas. Because I was new to the organization and the nonprofit world in general, I felt inhibited telling someone who had been working at UFE for 20 years how they should implement a program or what the best process might be to solve a conflict within the organization.

Thankfully, in a small nonprofit like UFE all opinions and ideas were valued. In fact, they were welcomed. As someone who was learning the processes for the first time, I was able to notice small details and bring a set of fresh eyes to the organization. Thus, a piece of advice I would have for someone pursuing an internship at UFE or another similar organization is that your ideas and opinions are just as valuable as those of someone who has been at the organization for a long time. In fact, one of the things I am most proud of is how my confidence rose along with my level of comfort by the end of my internship.

On one of the last days of my internship, I was given the opportunity to facilitate UFE’s biweekly staff meeting which meant creating an agenda, leading the actual meeting, and having the confidence to assert my authority to keep the staff on track or to interject my opinions about how I believed they should handle certain situations. At the beginning of my internship, I would have never believed that I could successfully lead a meeting for staff members who I felt had so much authority over me, but with the guidance, acceptance, and trust that UFE provided me, I was able to do it and I am very proud of and grateful for the opportunity.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone at UFE for providing me with such an enriching and educational summer, especially my supervisor who always gave me projects that fit my needs and interests while also allowing me to be helpful to the organization. Please check out their Facebook page and blog (as well as the rest of their website) for more information!

 

Leading a staff meeting on one of the last days of my internship! It was so fun to be given this challenge and use what UFE has taught me to successfully facilitate this meeting.eeds and interests while also allowing me to be helpful to the organization. Please check out their Facebook page and blog (as well as the rest of their website) for more information!

Gratitude and Reflection

14044910_10205139717611132_1519002989_o
This is me holding my present from AJWS, a framed photo of AJWS grantees.

I have completed my internship at American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and I could not have asked for a better experience. My overall goal was to learn about the inner workings of an international human rights nonprofit organization, but I have gained more much than that. I was behind the scenes as AJWS navigated a transition in leadership, Robert Bank, the vice president, become the new president and CEO, and Ruth Messinger, the former president, became the Global Ambassador. I helped with a private AJWS event featuring Frank Bruni, the first openly gay New York Times op-ed columnist. I attended Fundraising Day in New York, the largest one-day conference in the world on philanthropic topics. I participated in AJWS’s global retreat, where I had the opportunity to meet almost all of AJWS’s in-country staff from 19 different countries, who first hand witness the challenging, but rewarding work on the ground.

I am so grateful to have had an incredible supervisor who was attentive and provided me with challenging and engaging work. Without her, this experience would not have been the same. She created a collaborative and supportive environment, but also trusted me to work independently. I worked hard and showed my deep level of commitment to each project I was given. One of the projects I worked on this summer was creating an event planning toolkit for AJWS’s website. Supporters will use the event planning toolkit to plan their own events and educate and engage their family, friends and community members about the work of AJWS. This will result in more recognition of the organization and will be used as a fundraising tool to garner more support.

I am proud of myself for grasping this opportunity and squeezing all I could out of it. I took the initiative to meet with staff members to discuss their professional life and aspects of AJWS that I thought were interesting. For instance, I was interested in the representation of oppression and poverty in published materials of nonprofits and whether guidelines for selecting images and written materials to share with supporters exist to ensure ethicality. I met with the creative director and the director of publications and editorial services, and I was happy to learn that AJWS does have some guidelines in place. I also met with staff members working in Development and Programs. These one-on-one meetings were informative and they opened my eyes to different career possibilities, but also were networking opportunities as I shared who I am and my future plans. I began realizing that my hard work and my passion for learning and improvement were noticed and appreciated when my supervisor and staff members pointed out how helpful I was being. They jokingly would ask me to quit school so they could hire me. Also, at the end of my internship, multiple people offered to be a reference for me anytime I needed. These comments are what every intern wants to hear and they made me feel like I made a valuable contribution.

My supervisor, Neely, and I.
My supervisor, Neely, and me.

One of the challenging moments of working at AJWS turned out to be a positive in the end. When the interns met with Robert Bank, I discussed with him the organization’s silence concerning the many brown and black lives lost due to police brutality. Later, when I spoke with Robert one-on-one, I was happy to hear that he appreciated my tough questions because he said they challenged him. In his opening speech at AJWS’s global retreat, Robert began by acknowledging some of the tragedies the world has seen recently and included Baton Rouge, where the brutal murder of Alton Sterling took place. This was a step in the right direction. I was so impressed by Robert Bank’s openness to hearing constructive criticism and quickly implementing change. This experience has taught me that it is okay to respectfully challenge those in leadership in order to push for improvement. I believe that analyzing and thinking critically rather than accepting how things are is a significant aspect of social justice work.

My advice for someone who wants to pursue an internship at AJWS or at another human rights nonprofit is to think about what aspect of the work you are most passionate about and find a position within that department. There are many different opportunities within one nonprofit organization. Also, be open to working on various types of projects and reach out to staff members in different departments to learn more about their work. This will not only allow you to learn more about the different roles within a large nonprofit, but it can also open your eyes to different career possibilities within the nonprofit world. Finally, do not be afraid to respectfully challenge existing practices or the lack of certain practices that you feel are important and make suggestions for improvements.  

Thank you to the World of Work Fellowship program for this incredible experience!

Marian Gardner ’18

A Fulfilling Summer in the Office of Water

I can’t believe my internship with the EPA just wrapped up! My internship at the EPA Office of Water (OW) immersed me in water policy, and I now know so much more about water quality valuation, water scarcity, environmental justice, and public health. My office had a diversity of professionals, and I enjoyed learning about the overlap of water policy with economics, tribal affairs, climate change, and more. My internship offered me the opportunity to attend seminars throughout Washington D.C. and the EPA, learn more about the economics work at the EPA, and delve into meaningful research for the agency.

My office at the EPA was in the center of DC. I was sad to say goodbye, though I a may be back some day soon!
My office at the EPA was in the center of DC. I was sad to say goodbye to my co-workers, though maybe I will be back some day.

My 25-page report about water indicators to add to EJSCREEN, the agency’s environmental justice screening and mapping tool, was my largest contribution to the Office of Water. I proposed and researched ten water indicators related to environmental justice: water scarcity, flooding vulnerability, sea level rise, storm surge, safe drinking water, lead contaminated drinking water, nitrate contaminated drinking water, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFOs) waste discharge sites, access to water recreation, and water infrastructure quality. I assessed the public health ramifications of each indicator, disparities in the indicator’s burden on the population, and the data quality of existing datasets for these indicators. Each of these water indicators could provide important information for communities and lead to community and agency action to mitigate these risks.

At the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to present my ideas to the EJSCREEN Steering Committee. I spoke to a group of representatives from different EPA offices and regions and highlighted the importance of considering water scarcity, flood vulnerability, and sea level rise as indicators in EJSCREEN. The presentation offered an excellent opportunity to practice my public speaking skills, and I feel confident that the committee will focus efforts on the water indicators related to climate change. Maybe the next version of EJSCREEN will feature these indicators!

I also compiled a report comparing EJSCREEN with another agency community screening tool called C-FERST, and I passed this report along to both the EJSCREEN and C-FERST teams. I wrote two policy memos for the Water Policy Staff after I attended two different seminars in D.C., and I was able to help a co-worker with an Office of Water Tribal Sharepoint. A few of these assignments stemmed from conversations with co-workers in the office, and this emphasized the importance of speaking up, asking questions, and taking initiative.

Special OW intern seminars were one of the highlights of my summer. All six interns met professionals throughout the Office of Water and had the opportunity to learn about OW work ranging from climate ready water utilities to drinking water in Flint, Michigan. We met the Deputy Assistant Administrator in OW, heard the EPA’s Deputy Administrator speak, and learned about how to apply for federal jobs through USAJOBS. Just these seminars alone were an incredible learning experience!

EPA Internship Certificate

Interning with the Office of Water was also an eye-opening experience into the workings of the EPA. On a water policy level, I learned how society often undervalues water. The EPA has an important role to communicate the expensive and intricate process of protecting valuable watersheds and treating and distributing our drinking water. On an agency level, I saw how natural science and economics work together to help protect the environment, as science must be translated into meaningful policy. My experiences illuminated the interdisciplinary nature of the environmental field and the need for our nation to better address water management and disparities in environmental burdens related to water. Overall, my internship was a fantastic learning experience, and I am thankful for the WOW Fellowship and my supervisor at the EPA for their support.

 

12 Weeks, 2 Exonerations: Finishing the Summer at CIC

I have completed my twelve weeks at the Chicago Innocence Center and it has been a truly enlightening summer. Coming into my internship, I had three goals: to apply sociological theories I learned to real-world situations, to gain experience in both legal and social work strategies to determine a graduate course of study, and to develop a stronger personal confidence in and outside of professional settings.

In weekly seminar meetings, I was able to bring my sociological lens to our brainstorm sessions. When looking over case materials, I was able to analyze information using my sociology background. I learned a lot about applying the study of social institutions and how they intersect in the real world. For my second goal, I amended it to allow me to investigate legal and journalism careers to see if I want to pursue these paths in graduate school. While I did love learning about investigative journalism and I think my experience at CIC made me a better writer, I am not interested in pursuing an advanced degree in journalism at this time. I am still open to the idea of attending law school or pursuing a master’s degree in social work in the future. In terms of my larger career goals, at CIC I noticed like being in an organizational role. I work best when I am a leader on a team and able to organize a project and create structure for others. I can see this translating into a role in non-profit management in the future.

The Summer 2016 interns with exonerees Mark Clements, Stanley Wrice, and Timmy Donald.
The Summer 2016 interns with exonerees Mark Clements, Stanley Wrice, and Timmy Donald.

My third goal was to gain more personal confidence. Working with CIC made me a more confident person. My supervisor, Pam Cytrynbaum, was a role model to me. She was strong, fierce, and did not apologize for herself. As someone who has struggled with insecurities in the past, it was so empowering to see a strong woman successfully running an entire organization. Pam taught me to stop apologizing for myself and always stand up for my opinions, even if it meant contradicting the boss. I feel much more confident entering the new school year and I know I will continue to thrive professionally as a strong woman with valuable ideas.

Myself and my fellow interns outside court after we witnessed an exoneration. All smiles!
Myself and my fellow interns outside court after we witnessed an exoneration. All smiles!

If I had one piece of advice to a future intern at CIC, I would let them know to have patience. Every case we work on takes time. Sometimes, when you think you reach a breakthrough, it might fall through or not pan out. It’s really hard to keep yourself motivated, especially when you realize the cases you’re working on have real people’s lives at stake. However, it is crucial to keep going, because your work could mean the difference in whether an exoneree is freed. If I was advising someone working in the field of innocence relief I would urge them to respect each exoneree. I would tell them to try not to treat anyone differently just because they were in prison. Even though exonerees live through a lifetime of pain while incarcerated, they are still people and want to be treated as such. They deserve all your respect and love as a human being.

This summer, I am most proud of my growth in confidence. I went from being very insecure in the workplace to freely sharing my ideas. In building a new website with some fellow interns, we were able to make new suggestions to our supervisors that were our own ideas. Many of these ideas made it on to the final site. Because I grew enough confidence to present an idea to my superiors, I have now made permanent, positive change for CIC as my ideas come to fruition on our new website. I will value the incredible skills I learned at CIC.

 

 

Ruby Macsai-Goren ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Wrapping Up My Big Adventure: Thoughts From the End of Summer

I’m currently writing from my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina after a long day of travel from the West Coast. Camp finished on Thursday and my co-director and I had the Friday to wrap up and clean up from a messy summer of fun. Now that I am back home and able to take a breath, I have time to reflect, digest and process all that has happened this summer.

IMG_5536
A great mural I happened upon in San Francisco

The past eight weeks have been challenging in a lot of ways. Many of my days have been physically, mentally or emotionally difficult. Some days have been all three. It was hard to be responsible for the well being of up to twenty-five children, all with different needs and abilities. It was hard to be on my feet all day, often skipping lunch to deal with a crisis or serve lunch to others. It was hard to always be patient and forgiving. There was a lot of tedious paperwork and exact protocol. There were a few days that did not feel fun.

However, I found that each day I had at least one moment in which I experienced true, unadulterated joy. One day, it could be seeing a camper totally engaged in a science activity. Another day, it could be one camper choosing to include another in a game without being asked. Sometimes it was just a funny comment full of personality from one of the campers. These moments reminded me why I chose this internship in the first place; I wanted to be part of creating a secure, encouraging environment for these kids to make and find joy that is so inherent in childhood.

I learned quite a few lessons from my internship. My supervisor was incredible and supportive in planning and dealing with crises. My co-director was better than I could have imagined. She and I worked well together and complemented each other. The program director was always there from us, offering feedback and asking us for ours. (Read more about the curriculum our program director developed here) From these staff people, I came to understand more about creating strong workplace relationships, putting in the hard work that is necessary for social services, and using my talents and knowledge in conjunction with others’ to leverage our impact. I learned a lot from the administrative staff and case workers about homelessness services, the specifics of homelessness in the Bay area and the psychology of trauma.

IMG_6985
Posing with my fellow children’s services interns at our site

Not surprisingly, though, the most poignant lesson I learned this summer, I learned from working with my campers. While it is easier to rely on authority and dole out discipline, it is always more effective to approach difficult interpersonal situations with empathy, compassion, and curiosity. For example, a child might be refusing to join in on a group activity. Instead of threatening to call her parents or our forcing her to stand and join the group, I could sit down on the grass with her and try to find out if anything was bothering her or if she’d like me to do the activity with her for extra security. It is harder to put in that extra effort, especially when it’s been a long day and more than one camper is having a difficult time, but it is almost always worth that effort. I believe I can use this lesson in other areas of my life, including my personal life and any other social services work I do in the future.

I am so grateful for my summer at LifeMoves and for everyone I met there. I’m sending lots of gratitude to my host family for the summer and everyone who showed me hospitality while I was in San Francisco. I hope all the other WoW Fellows have a great and meaningful end to their internships as well.

Mira McMahon ‘18

Passing the Halfway Mark with the ICM Program

Having just passed the halfway point of my internship, my outlook of the Integrated Chemistry Management (ICM) Program has changed. Initially, I was outraged at the blatant waste of resources spent on chemicals. Some schools had so many chemicals that they didn’t need to purchase any for another ten years. Outrage became acceptance, then resignation. The current school system enables a lack of accountability, knowledge and guidance with respect to chemical management, safety, disposal and protocol.

One school that stood out was Billerica High School. There a chemistry teacher explained that when she first came to the school there were many unknown and spent chemicals, which would be stored in a separate storage area. When teachers don’t know what to do with a chemical, they keep it. This trend carries on due to lack of accountability and oversight leading to an accumulation of RCRA hazardous waste and nonhazardous waste. She further shared that a new facility is being built in three years and that funding was allocated to ensure that the new chemistry labs and storage spaces meet current standards. Timing wise, it was best that Billerica reorganize their chemistry labs before moving to the new facility to avoid transporting old, banned and spent chemicals there.

The school may be the oldest I’ve visited so far this summer. The chemistry laboratories were quite grimy and there was an excess of everything from chemicals to glassware to over the counter products, materials and apparatus. It had lots of RCRA hazardous waste and banned apparatus including 60 mercury thermometers. Consolidating compounds and separating waste from remaining chemicals allowed me to make a number of observations and think about the work I’ve been doing this summer. I noticed that some of the most dangerous chemicals are the prettiest. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) lists a number of transition and heavy metals (metalloids), concentrated acids and bases, and alcohols as hazardous. They fall under the categories of corrosive, ignitable, toxic and reactive. All nitrate salts are considered RCRA hazardous waste because they are oxidizing agents. Chromium nitrate is an oxidizer and toxic. Other hazardous but colorful chemicals include copper sulfate (blue), cobalt chloride (pink), iron oxide (orange), potassium dichromate (orange), potassium chromate (yellow) and so on.

Chromium nitrate
Chromium nitrate crystals
Cobalt Chloride crystals
Cobalt Chloride crystals

The responsibility of disposing RCRA hazardous waste lies with the manufacturer. However, some chemicals are so old that companies have merged or were bought over the years. For instance Welch Chemical Company became Seargent Welch, and eventually their packaging transitioned from glass to mainly plastic. In order for Billerica to dispose of their unwanted chemicals they will have to bring in a hazardous waste company. I hope our efforts will help chemistry teachers there to reduce or halt their spending on chemicals for a number of years, and increase safety within the classrooms.

To learn more about RCRA visit: https://www.epa.gov/rcra/resource-conservation-and-recovery-act-rcra-overview and the ICM program visit: http://www.umassk12.net/maillist/msg00362.html

Midpoint Reflections at IIB

It’s hard to believe that I am more than halfway done with my internship. I started my role the day after I finished finals, and I have exactly one month left at the International Institute of Boston (IBB). When I arrived at IIB, I was somewhat overwhelmed with program acronyms and the names of services offered. Now, I’m at a point where new staff are shadowing me in my work. There is a new Employment Specialist, and she often comes to me with questions about clients and programs. I still love the work I do as well as my increasing responsibilities. Surprisingly, a big boost in confidence actually came when my supervisor left the organization. I was worried that I would be left with many questions and feeling somewhat directionless, however, I have just become more self-directed. I am confident in my ability to direct clients who need help looking for jobs, proactively reaching out to clients by phone, filing reports, and running the Cultural Orientation Program or the Workforce Orientation Workshop. When one client told me he got his Social Security number on Friday, after class on Monday, I scheduled an appointment with him to apply for jobs on Wednesday. I now have a better list in my mind of which companies our clients succeed at and which clients and companies make for a good fit.

My view from a table where I often meet with clients in our temporary space
My view from a table where I often meet with clients in our temporary space

The world of work is different from university and academic life, but I have applied university and academic life to my internship. I love my work because I am a hands-on learner. I learn best from experience, and I think I will learn more skills from having an internship than from sitting in a classroom. Some skills I have built relate to problem solving, communication, flexibility, patience, resilience, teaching, language, and even technology. I have worked at the front desk directing phone calls that I did not know how to answer. I have worked with another intern to create a status report of certain clients neither of us had ever worked with. I have had to figure out how to teach people who do not speak English or French. Resilience is a major skill I have built, and it has helped me problem solve and be patient. I have also learned the importance of communication. These skills are all transferable to my future – academically, professionally, and personally. I see academics as a way to learn information, have discussions, ask questions, and gain interests. I have used knowledge from my Politics and Economics classes, and I have applied experience as a Waltham Group coordinator and Teaching Assistant at Lemberg.

IMG_3332
Free Fun Friday at the Edward Kennedy Institute. Sylvia (other intern I teach with, pictured here) and I decided to tour the clients around ourselves, because we could more effectively explain US government and history than the official tour guides, as we catered to their English levels and related the material to their refugee status.

It has sometimes been hard to work in a temporary space so I look forward to moving into our brand new building in early August. I am also excited to take the refugees on more Free Fun Friday trips, and to go to many of the places I have been to while growing up near Boston. I am also enjoying the Olympics games which for the first time has a Refugee Olympic Team. This team is different from the Independent Olympic Athletes. The Olympic committee states that “Ten refugee athletes will act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis when they take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 this summer.” I think having a team of refugees is important because it shows how the international community can respond positively to the current European migrant crisis and the Syrian Civil War by allowing these athletes to compete in the biggest sports event in the world, despite the fact that they cannot be in their home country. I know I will be watching and thinking of what my clients have gone through and left behind before starting a new life in Boston. In my last month, I hope to use all the skills (and Spanish) I have learned, and to think more what kind of work I want to do in the future.

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18

Proximity

Working five days a week is similar in a lot of ways to going to classes five days a week, but it is also very different. In both cases, there are times when there is not a lot of work, and I have time to work on long-term projects. But there are also frantic days before a big event, in the world of work, or a big paper, in school, where it suddenly seems like there is not nearly enough time.
This week, we had a graduation for the New York City corps members, an event that almost 100 people attended. It was really amazing to see all of the different people come who had been inspired or affected by AVODAH’s work, whether it was rabbis or alums of the program, many from many years ago who still stayed connected to AVODAH. It was also nice to see the event come together so well after all of us the office had been preparing for it.

IMG_3298
My name tag from the graduation

I appreciate working at AVODAH because of the work environment. Not only are all of my co-workers helpful, but everyone is also deeply engaged into their work. People discuss not only how to get their work done, but also why they are doing it and the larger implications of social justice work in general.
For example, we are currently reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, which talks about his work as an lawyer with disadvantaged clients on death row as well as children who had been sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed when they were sometimes as young as 13. Although AVODAH does not work directly on legal cases, one central concept in the book is proximity, which is a concept that is deeply embedded in AVODAH’s work. Stevenson argued for the need for proximity saying, “This is my challenge to you: We need to embrace need. We need to get closer to the problem. Human beings have the capacity – when we get close – of finding our way to justice.”* AVODAH corps members directly engage with the populations they are serving, so they can better understand what those populations want and need, instead of simply assuming what they need or the corps members deciding.

51VYZ+gf58L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_
I think proximity is really important, but I also think that there is the risk that it can be used to simply assuage someone’s guilt, rather than actually address the problem. For example, I went on a service trip in high school that had policies that forbade giving out any food or goods, both of which were not related to the service we were doing there. When the trip first started, I did not understand why. We were in a very poor neighborhood and I did not have to look hard to find something easy that I could do to help someone, like giving a child water or food. The program did not ban giving out food or goods to be stingy, but to try to ensure that relationships were not just a relationship where one person gave and another received, but rather a relationship between two equals. While I do not necessarily completely agree with the policies, by the end of the trip I understood why they were there. They forced me to look beyond simply giving a child a little food and then feeling good about myself to grappling with why the children needed food in the first place and what my role as an American was in the causes.
Proximity is an important tool in social justice work, but I think it can be also dangerous, which is why it is so important to have discussions and truly grapple with the issues, like what I think is happening at AVODAH.

*Quote is from: http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2014/11/bryan_stevenson_huntsville.html

Lydia Ruddick-Schulman ’17

Midpoint Reflections at Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health

 

Midpoint Reflections

 

yard

What summer looks like at Harvard!

Now that I am more than halfway done with my internship at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health it is time that I reflect upon my work here so far! I have definitely become more comfortable with the working environment at the lab and feel like I am a helpful part of the research team.

After the initial excitement of starting out my internship, the next couple of weeks were a bit trying. There was a big push for data to be entered into Excel so a good portion of my time was devoted to data entry. After figuring out how to correctly code the data, I found the work to become monotonous after typing for several hours straight. On top of that I developed tendonitis in both of my wrists from typing too fast and incorrectly so I was a little bit disheartened. However, I remembered from the WOW advice given to me at the start of my internship that I should “embrace the grunt work” and try to look at the bigger picture of the work being done. I really took that guidance and applied it to my internship setting. I recognized that while the day-to-day typing was not the most glamorous job, that the results that came out of the study could really help children with mental health concerns.

match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manual for MATCH therapy used in studies

Furthermore, I was trained in the meta analysis project which is more hands on and utilizes some of the knowledge I have gained from previous neuroscience and psychology classes. The meta analysis is a paper that the PI (principal investigator) puts out every couple of years that examines many previously published studies. It is a way to streamline all the data that exists in youth psychotherapy approaches. There are many different criteria a paper must meet to “pass” through the screening process so my job has been to read the paper and code for different research elements. It is extremely interesting to read about all the current work being done, and I feel like it has really enhanced my internship this summer.

Links to previous meta analyses

I think that while my classes at Brandeis have prepared me for this internship, working is pretty different from university/academic life. I’ve noticed that I am much more tired after working in the lab for a couple hours, versus taking classes and participating in extracurricular at Brandeis. Sitting in front of a computer requires energy in a very different way than I would have originally thought! However, as the weeks continued I noticed I became more adjusted to a working schedule and it didn’t feel as overwhelming. I have also noticed that working in a research lab is not as much about what you know but how well you work with others. Key skills are thinking on your feet, problem solving, and multitasking. Collaboration is essential to being able to accomplish anything in the lab.

Overall I feel that my weeks working at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health have given me a greater understanding in what research in a clinical psych lab looks like. While I am not sure if I would pursue a career solely in research, I can see myself being happy working as a research assistant after graduation and gaining more skills in the field. I am excited to finish out my internship and continue to develop professionally.

Melissa Viezel ’17

Midpoint at Massachusetts Peace Action

Hello everyone!

Over the course of the past few months, there has been much to reflect on and respond to as an organization that works to foster more just and peaceful U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Recently, the shibboleths of both major political parties in the U.S. have come under intense scrutiny and there have been efforts from both the left and right to reshape society as we know it. In the height of this political tension and discord, the summer has also been plagued by rampant gun violence and mass killings, the continuing hatred facing the LGBT+ community, police brutality in minority communities facing unemployment, poor schools and crumbling infrastructure, and today’s wars and nuclear weapons buildup, all symptoms of violence closely tied with racism.

Though all of us at Massachusetts Peace Action are working very hard to reverse these scornful trends, it often feels like our efforts are futile. But on one particularly crestfallen morning in the office, it was a conversation with one of our volunteers that changed my perspective of the movement entirely. “Responding to my qualms,” she said, “Whenever I feel doubtful about how much of a change we are actually making, I try to imagine a world without the peace movement and that keeps me going.” For the first time in my experience working with MAPA, I felt that I was being selfish. I realized that in the face of this collective struggle, progress is not measured by the actions of one person and we must maintain faith in the process in order to achieve social righteousness for all no matter how long it takes.

Keeping this concept in mind, in addition to my daily in-office responsibilities, much of the work that I have been engaged in has been community outreach. For example, I participated in tabling and petition gathering at the Cambridge River Festival, the Lowell Folk Festival, and at our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series, which has featured speakers like Michael Dukakis, Noam Chomsky, and Helen Caldicott.

Jonathan King (Professor of Biology at MIT) gathering signatures at the Cambridge River Festival.
Jonathan King (Professor of Biology at MIT) gathering signatures at the Cambridge River Festival.
Cole Harrison (Executive Director of Massachusetts Peace Action) petitioning at the Lowell Folk Festival.
Cole Harrison (Executive Director of Massachusetts Peace Action) petitioning at the Lowell Folk Festival.
The honorable Dr. Helen Caldicott speaking about nuclear disbarment at our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series.
The honorable Dr. Helen Caldicott speaking about nuclear disbarment at our Distinguished Peacebuilders Series.

In addition, I have been actively involved in planning our first annual folk/acoustic music series as well as one of our major summer events to commemorate the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place respectively on August 6th and 9th, 1945, and the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Brown. We are broadening the focus of our event this year to call attention to racialized police violence and gun violence in light of the tragic events that have transpired over the past few years (Ferguson, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Dallas, etc.) and I invite everyone who is around to attend! Lastly, I have been an active participant in our Legislative and Nuclear Disarmament working groups to structure our new economic and disarmament campaigns.

I look forward to the remaining weeks of my internship and hope that I can continue to spend my time advancing MAPA’s mission of inclusion and social justice.

Remington Pontes ’17

Halfway there!

"Chocolate Thursday" Outing - Every Thursday all the interns go to a chocolate store around the corner. We go to this specific shop because its products are fair trade.
“Chocolate Thursday” Outing – Every Thursday all the interns go to a chocolate store around the corner. We go to this specific shop because its products are fair trade.
Lincoln Memorial
Bernice (a close friend and fellow Brandeis student) visited me one weekend. This is us in front of the Lincoln Memorial

It’s hard to believe that my time at NCL is halfway over. I’ve grown accustomed to my daily routine and it feels second nature to hop on the metro and arrive at the office to begin my day. Washington D.C. is flooded with a new population of interns and young professionals, especially during the summer. It is exciting to be experiencing the city during this time of the year. The other interns and I have become good friends and supportive colleagues. We help each other with projects and provide insightful feedback. My colleagues have impressive backgrounds and they are extremely helpful in that they are always willing to offer me advice or assistance in any way that they can. The other interns and staff members are older and more experienced than I am so it is insightful to be exposed to the different roles that they play within the organization and the manner in which they each complete their tasks.
My week at National Consumer’s League begins with a staff meeting every Monday. Everyone gathers in the conference room to discuss their agenda for the remaining week. We announce any new projects and assign people to work on them throughout the week. We also do a “current events” of recent consumer issues in the news. Then we say all the meetings we will be attending at Capitol Hill to determine which congressional members or senators we would be in contact with to advocate for a certain bill or law. I usually head over to my cubicle/workspace and begin on my assignment for the day. We have set deadlines for our projects so I try to gather all my research and data early in the process. I think the most stimulating aspects of my work are in the beginning of the week when I start a new research assignment or project. For example, this week, my assignments were to research consumers’ perceptions of drug prices and the pharmaceutical industry in general. I also really enjoy attending meetings on the Hill because I get to witness the legislative process and the more proactive efforts on NCL’s part. Other times, attending panel discussions are also really insightful and relevant to the work that I am doing. World of Work has differed from academic life in that there has been a lot more freedom and self-initiative involved in this experience. In a classroom setting, you are often given instructions and assignments. However, this internship experience is really what you make of it. Even if a project is not necessarily under my department, I will ask to be a part of it if it seems interesting. The head department supervisors are great about letting interns be a part of various projects and they really make the effort to cater to our interests.
Something that I’ve learned at my organization is how to write consumer friendly blog posts. I think this is an important skill that will help me in the future because it’s one thing when experts are knowledgeable but it is also really important that the general public is well-informed and educated in consumer issues. I am also constantly honing my research, analytic and writing skills. These are skills that are transferrable to many jobs, especially if I want to pursue a career in public policy. I am still practicing my networking skills. This past week, I attended an intern lunch at Google’s DC office. Google offers a public policy fellowship and one of the interns at NCL, Mike, is a Google Fellow. The whole event was very exciting and I had the fortunate opportunity to speak to people who work for public interest. Understanding the path they took to reach their current career positions was extremely helpful since I’m still not quite sure what my future plans are after graduation, specifically if I want to begin working immediately, attend graduate school or possibly attend law school.

Elese Chen

Change through Roots

WOW (pun intended), a lot has happened since I last posted here! Members of the Roots team and volunteers built a new animal pen and bought a goat, built a temporary new kitchen which will hopefully one day become a guesthouse, and are in the process of building a bigger kitchen with an office space above it. We also held five interfaith break-fasts during Ramadan, a leadership training retreat for core activists, photography workshops for children, photography workshops for women, educational youth trips, history lectures, and many meetings and information sessions to spread the word about this exciting work and create communal paradigm shifts in how each side sees the other.

13781898_691813587635864_6893410495472952752_n
Our newest member of the Roots team!

For my part, firstly, I finally got the cameras out of customs! I also have delved into the world of PR, developing the Friends of Roots Facebook Page and taking over the website as well. I have helped advertise events and send follow up emails to attendees. I am also responsible for recording donation information and sending thank-you emails to donors. It may not sound like a lot, but it is certainly filling up my time! The work is not glamorous, but I am very happy and feel quite fortunate to be able to help out an organization and people that I admire with the things they don’t have time for, so that they can take care of the rest of what needs to get done. Additionally, I am feeling more and more like part of the team and feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and ideas with the leadership.

In addition to my work at Roots, I have taken advantage of my time here by participating in an Encounter trip to Bethlehem, an emotional movie screening with Combatants for Peace, a prayer service with Women of the Wall, and few classes at the Shalom Hartman Institute and the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and other events. I also hope to join part of the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s summer school next week.

13739630_1616673378624672_1843121503_n
Pictures from the gay pride parade in Jerusalem

As a result of this internship, I am learning a lot about the ins and outs of establishing a young organization. I am also learning how to use public relations methodologies, how to run a website, and how to use Salesforce. I am learning about the use of art in resolving conflicts and brainstorming ideas – through the Roots photography classes and sessions on the leadership retreat. Most of all, I am learning that creating change is a process – sometimes a slow process – that can be effectuated through one person at a time.

These skills that I am developing will certainly be transferable back to Brandeis and my eventual career. The patience I am learning in effectuating change is crucial in maintaining hope for the vision of this social justice internship and cause. I know that we cannot fix the world in one day, but the more individuals we reach, the stronger our message will be in order to influence our communities, our leaders, and society at large.

-Rivka (Rebecca) Cohen ’17

“Foundation for a Future Career in the Pacific”

The beauty to be seen almost everywhere in Samoa
The beauty to be seen almost everywhere in Samoa

While Samoa and its culture are not new to me, working within the Apia UN office and within a government ministry is entirely new. I’m seeing a whole new dimension to social and political interaction. First of all, UNDP is a global IGO (intergovernmental organization) and it has a complex hierarchy with its own administrative and operational procedures —some of which I’m learning about. The Ministry of Women, Community, and Social Development (MWCSD) is a large government ministry with about 115 employees. There is a hierarchy here too and I find that Samoans are quite formal in the work place, placing an emphasis on respecting this hierarchy and observing protocols. As I’ve mentioned before, I am an intern at the UNDP but have been asked to work within the MWCSD, in order to assist them with various projects related to youth, especially youth employment. In my office there are about 11 people and everyone is extremely friendly with me. Most people work at a relaxed pace and take moments out for coffee or snacks, but as I have been assigned so many duties by the UN, I rarely feel able to chill. I try to be ultra productive while still taking the time for a bit of friendly conversation now and then. I have regular reports to write up, and various projects to work on, including research on employment opportunities.

Skype meetings together with my boss at the High Tech Youth Network and other HTYN centers across the Pacific
Skype meetings together with my boss at the High Tech Youth Network and other HTYN centers across the Pacific

Two days a week I’ve been assigned to assist a new government program called the High Tech Youth Network (HTYN). I really enjoy being out of the office for this work, going into communities to research and speak to youth about technology and their possible involvement in I.T. training programs. It is also interesting to learn about how Samoan youth understand the word ‘technology’ and their views on media.

My World of Work experience in Samoa is proving to be a fantastic learning opportunity- different from university training, particularly because it carries both responsibility and accountability. The UN and Samoan government are relying on a few of us to conduct research and assist with these initiatives designed to improve the prospects of Samoa’s youth, helping to create a framework for the new High Tech Youth Network, a multimillion-dollar initiative. I feel that I’m learning and building important skills that will endure well beyond this experience. These include: gathering information (often from primary sources), meeting deadlines, liaising with different offices and agencies, speaking to people who are in top leadership positions, speaking with young school leavers and trying to be a role model for them. I am confident that my work this summer will help provide a foundation for a future career in Samoa in my areas of interest: development, social justice and environmental management. I am meeting many key players in the government and the UNDP office and I’m truly enjoying making these connections and being in situations where I am continually learning through experience.

I was invited by the US embassy in Samoa to participate in a workshop titled “Our Changing Oceans - The Challenges Ahead”, hosted by Dr. Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
I was invited by the US embassy in Samoa to participate in a workshop titled “Our Changing Oceans – The Challenges Ahead”, hosted by Dr. Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

What does outreach really mean?

Outreach materials in Spanish
Outreach materials in Spanish

I have been working at the Alzheimer’s Association for a couple of months now, and I have learned that work comes in waves. Some days, I am stuffing packets and calling churches from the second I get there to the second I leave, and other days, there is a lull in the office. As I mentioned in my first post, I am working at the Watertown office, which is the headquarters for all operations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. This means that although the office is huge, it can feel really empty when people are out and about all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

A huge part of what I am doing this summer is outreach. During the past couple of months, I have really gotten a feel for what that word really means. In my case, working with the Hispanic/Latino population in the Boston area, it means calling churches to send informational packets and set up education programs, training volunteers in the community to educate their congregations about Alzheimer’s disease, and generally getting the word out about all of the resources offered by the Association.

I think the most valuable thing I have learned so far about outreach though, is that information alone is not enough; it really has to be put in cultural context. Most of the people I’ve been working with are either immigrants to the United States, or children of immigrants from Latin American countries. The way that they experience and understand disease can be different from my own. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, many Latin American countries have considered the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s (such as memory loss and confusion) to be a normal part of aging, and the medicalization of Alzheimer’s is just beginning to reach some parts of the world.

So we can’t just go into communities and say “hey, there’s something wrong with you!” which could incite fear and mistrust. There is already a pretty widespread aversion among the Latino/Hispanic community to drugs and other resources related to Alzheimer’s disease; which is understandable considering some people don’t even believe that AD is real. This is why cultural competency is so important in medicine. There are small steps that can be taken in terms of outreach to mediate this transition and make the process of diagnosis and treatment of symptoms much less stressful for everyone. These steps include things such as involving family members in decision-making, having professional translators trained in more than one dialect, and focusing outreach efforts on researching different customs and practices. Most importantly, we can find out what people want by actually asking them.

At this mid-way point in my internship, I think the most important lesson I have learned is this: outreach means more than just sitting at a table handing out packets – it means tailoring discussions to the communities you’re working with and learning from within the community; after all, they know their needs. I’m looking forward to continuing with this work and also continuing research for my upcoming thesis.

Leah Levine ’17

The Day in the Life of a Radio Show

Hello everyone!

I’m happy to share my adventures with everyone again! It has been adventurous. I’ve had the opportunity to write, research, and voice my own radio piece. I’ve talked to extraordinary innovators, like a woman who is starting a zero waste store and another who wrote a book inspiring young girls to pursue science. I’ve even had an opportunity to Skype with the government of Paris, which just passed a green transportation law banning cars built before 1997.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 7.33.19 PM
My voice was on the radio!

Now that I’ve had a significant amount of time in my internship, I figured I would share the creative process we go through at Living on Earth when we take an idea and turn it into a radio piece.

Of course, first, we need to find an idea. It can be anything, well anything related to the environment. There are a few hubs for that. I like Eurekalert.org, which provides a feed of all sorts of new scientific studies. Many of them are related to environmental health. I found the study associated with my bee piece on this website.

Other good resources include Google News, Environmental Health News, and Daily Climate. It’s also always great to find an environmental perspective for a mainstream news event, like the election. Sometimes good stories just appear, right at our feet. Literally. As I mentioned in my last post, we often receive advanced copies of books in the mail. Some of these books are really interesting, so we invite quite a few authors to the program.

Once we have a good story, we need to figure out how to approach it: What angle will we take? Who could we interview? For the Paris piece that I mentioned above (it is yet to be aired), I spoke to over 10 people in order to research the topic and figure out what would make the best story. For this specific story, language was a main barrier. There were a few fantastic, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic potential guests that were not ideal for our English speaking audience, but I found one that was just right.

Next, we need to finalize a list of questions for the guest. I usually write most of them before I even speak to potential guests. I then revise after I talk to the guests and figure out what they can speak about the best. We often call the pre-interview conversations, “test interviews.” These allow for the guests to become familiar with our questions, for us to become more familiar with the topic, and for us to make sure all of the technology works.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 7.38.44 PM
There are usually quite a few tracks of audio in Pro Tools!

Next, it’s interview time! We usually record on an iPhone App called “Report It” while we speak to a guest on video chat. Interviews last between a half hour and an hour. It’s always great to finally see what our guests look like because prior to that we usually just talk to them on the phone.

After that, we edit the interview. We use a program called Pro Tools to edit the audio, which includes editing out awkward silences, filler words, and parts of the interview that don’t fit. Sometimes we have to edit hour long interviews down to just 15 minutes, and that can be tough. For one of the pieces I did, I also was able to play with putting music into the piece.

Then, once we write the introduction, the DACS (a blurb that goes with each story), and choose pictures, we’re done!

It always feels great after we finish a story. And then… its time to work on another one!

I like working on the show a lot. It feels great to see a finished product every time a piece I worked on goes on the air. And it’s great to feel like such an important part of the team. I know that I would love a career where I could feel the same way. I’ve been able to work on my writing skill, my creative skills, and my people skills all while learning about all sorts of new technologies. Lastly, I love that this is social justice work. There are so many important issues that we cover on the show, and it’s great to be able to share these issues with the world.

I know that all of these skills will be very useful after Brandeis. I am very happy about this internship placement.

 

Jay Feinstein, ’17

Pain of Silence and the Beauty of Dialogue

I love this vibrant city. Everyone is on a mission to accomplish something big. I have enjoyed being among people who thrive in this fast-paced environment. Traveling through the subway in the early morning among men and women in suits makes me feel important. I am seeing a glimpse of what my professional life after college could be like, which is both scary and exciting. The city is also very expensive, which is a constant reminder for me of how privileged I am to have parents who are able to supplement my WOW stipend. There are many students whose financial standing would not allow them to do a summer internship, which is why the existence of the WOW fellowship program is so critical.

13702428_10204969162387358_76123947_o
Ruth Messinger, former president and now Global Ambassador of AJWS

In my work environment, there are a lot more opportunities at work to collaborate with different groups of people. AJWS has many different departments, but they are interdependent. For instance, the Program Division selects which grassroots organizations AJWS funds, but the grants that are given to these organization would not be possible without the work of the Development Division which is responsible for fundraising. The Communications Department creates the materials that describe our work that are essential to Development Division which utilizes them to engage donors. I have been learning about the importance, but also the challenges of collaborative work. It requires a lot of open discussions and compromises, which I see happening here everyday. These are important lessons that will be useful for any of my future career plans. I have been meeting with individuals in different departments to learn more about their professional experiences and their work at AJWS. These meetings have been very insightful for me. Before this internship, I did not know so many different career options existed within the nonprofit world. I can see myself working in the Programs Division because I am so passionate about grassroots movements, and I can also see myself working as a fundraiser in the Development Division. As for skills, I have been working a lot more with Raiser’s Edge database which is a great skill to have as I continue in the nonprofit sector.

The staff has been extremely welcoming and friendly. However, coming into work this past week has been difficult. The media coverage of all the black lives lost due to police brutality has been tough to digest. As a person of color, I find the constant dehumanization of black and brown bodies in this country to be extremely infuriating and I wish all of America felt the same way. I felt isolated, but I remember feeling grateful that I work at a human rights organization. I thought my work environment would provide me with a space to engage in dialogue and be among colleagues who would be equally outraged. However, I came into work and I was disappointed to see that there was silence. Everyone was proceeding as if it was a normal day at work. I attempted to start a conversation with some people, but the responses ranged from blank faces to statements like “I know it is so sad.”

Our new president, Robert Bank, sent a heartfelt email to the staff during the Orlando shooting in which he offered support and acknowledged the different ways each staff was mourning. The organization as whole released a statement standing in solidarity with the families of the victims and calling for justice. Therefore, I repeatedly refreshed my email imbox hoping to see a similar email and statement about standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and an acknowledgement of all the lives lost, but no such email was sent and no statement was released.

13681784_10204969162347357_326632026_o
Robert Bank, new president of AJWS

When the interns this week met with the Robert, I had an opportunity to ask him about this silence. My question opened up a dialogue about how difficult it is for AJWS to decide which domestic human rights issues it should respond to. Robert discussed how AJWS, as a non political organization, wants to maintain focus on the social movements they we support in the 19 developing countries in which we work. Additionally, when international organizations begin taking a stance regarding many different domestic issues their mission becomes confusing to their supporters. AJWS responded to the Orlando shooting because we fund many organizations abroad that are working for LGBT rights. However, AJWS also funds organizations that are working to protect the lives of blacks and people of color. For instance, AJWS has spoken out against and funds social movement organizations in the Dominican Republic that use the courts and media advocacy to defend equal rights for Dominicans of Haitian descent. The horrid discrimination of Dominicans of Haitian descent is entirely an issue of racism. In other words, while I understand that different factors complicate the decision of whether to take a stance or not,  the brutalization of black and brown bodies is a global human rights issue and no one should remain silent. While I praise and admire the work of AJWS, I will continue to ask these challenging questions and start a dialogue because there is always room for growth and improvement, and I feel lucky to be at an organization that is open to hearing constructive criticism and constantly looks to improve.

Marian Gardner ’18

Midpoint at the Red Cross in Puerto Rico

Hi Everyone!

Last time I wrote here, the Red Cross was responding to the Orlando shooting back in June. After a couple of weeks, the office slowed down and went back to the original environment, busy but not stressful! We had a lot of home fire prevention campaigns and even more pillowcase talks. In case you have forgotten, the fire prevention campaigns seek to prevent home fires by going into communities, usually low-income communities, and installing smoke alarms. We team up in groups of two or three people and go house to house saying that we are from the Red Cross and that as part of our home fire prevention campaigns we are installing smoke alarms. While a volunteer gathers the information of the person we are helping, another installs the smoke alarm. These campaigns are extremely helpful and important because it allows the Red Cross to do the outreach and help people that may not be able to leave their communities and seek the Red Cross. By going into people’s home, we make sure that our services are being offered and utilized by the community. While the pillowcase talks are about disaster prevention geared towards young kids from second to sixth grade. The talks are called this because we give the kids a pillowcase where they can put important things such as water, food, emergency contacts etc in case of an emergency. Being part of presenting the talks has been one of my favorite parts of my internship because I really enjoy interacting with young kids.

Very tired after a home fire prevention campaign in Salinas, Puerto Rico!

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.42.24 PM

One of the homes I went to in the fire prevention campaign had tons of chickens!

Here are just some.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.47.52 PM

These events happened in towns outside of the capital, which is really good because it shows that the Red Cross is helping people throughout the island and not just in the capital. It also shows that volunteering is very important because these programs cannot be done without the work of volunteers. With their help, the Red Cross has the capacity to offer its services all around.

Last week, we had a lot of rain that caused floods. Although this type of disaster is more common from August-November because of hurricane season, it was a great privilege to be part of the response team of the Red Cross. I am sad that I wont be in Puerto Rico during hurricane season to see more of the disaster response. How would you participate in it?

One thing I’ve noticed about the people that work in the Red Cross Puerto Rico chapter is that they know how to manage stress and emergencies. While I understand that this is part of their job, it’s a quality that I really admire and have tried to gain. I’ve never seen anyone yell, or shut someone out because they are too busy.  The Red Cross staff is always looking for volunteers and extra help and will take the time to explain things. It’s also been really good to be part of this department because I’m learning how to apply this to my own life. If something happens, you have to respond and not spend time over thinking or getting stressed out. It’s also been very interesting to be in this environment because most of the people who work here are women (there are only two men). Generally, women tend to get more stressed out but it’s been very refreshing and eye opening to see women handling disaster situations. I feel very empowered to have such great role models.

I’m grateful for this opportunity and hope that the good work continues!

 

Claudia Roldan ’18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relaxed and On a Mission

I love the environment at One Mission, it is one of the major reasons that I wanted to return for a second summer. The office has a very relaxed feel to it. On the average summer day there are only about 4 people in the office, keeping it quiet and quaint. Due to the size, or lack thereof, I have gotten to know and work with everyone and that is something I greatly appreciate. Over the course of the summer I have been able to help everyone with at least one project and get their feedback on my work. I have also been able to get a deeper insight into each person’s role in the organization.

Chemo Duck
One of my favorite One Mission programs is the Chemo Duck program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Chemo Ducks are cute, cuddly companions for kids battling cancer. They were developed with the help of child life specialists and medical professionals, the Chemo Duck Program helps introduce children and families to their new life and encourages healing through the power of play therapy.

The World of Work has differed from university/academic life in multiple ways. First, work stays at work, at least for me. The minute I walk out the door, all of my One Mission tasks are over for the day, unlike at school when I always have more studying and work to do for classes. Working is also more collaborative than school. At school I have to be self driven to my own success, but at work, if I am slacking then that affects the jobs of all of the other employees and the reach of the organization. Another big difference is commute. During the school year, I live on campus, but during the summer I am commuting to my internship. I spend 40 minutes to an hour every day driving to work and another 40 mins – 1 hour driving home, compared to my less than 10 minute walk across campus to class.

A big skill that I am building as a result of my internship at One Mission is how to write professional letters to companies proposing partnerships and/or asking for donations. I have been working on a formal proposal for a partnership with an organization for the past few weeks and have also written a few shorter letters to companies. Regardless of what career path I pursue after graduation, the skill of writing a formal letter and creating a thorough professional proposal is a great asset.

The reason that I applied to intern at One Mission initially last summer is because that I want to work in this specific field. My goal is to work for a pediatric cancer based non-profit, preferably one that focuses on programs more than research, and that is what I found in OM. (To learn about OM programs check out their website http://onemission.org/how-we-help/). The skills I am learning in branding, outreach, social media marketing, and many other things, is invaluable in my future career path. Interning in the type of organization that I want to work in helps me build applicable skills daily and is giving me a realistic insight into what I may be doing in the future.

OM Insta
I have posted all that you see here and much more, make sure to check it out to find out what One Mission does!

If you’re interested in following us on Twitter you can at https://twitter.com/buzzforkids and Instagram at @buzzforkids. I currently control our Instagram account and will continue to until the end of my internship, so like all you want

Jen Rossman

Midpoint at Verité

As I reach the halfway point in my internship, things are beginning to pick up at Verité.  Deadlines are rapidly approaching for some projects, while other projects are just being started.  My fellow interns and I have finally become fully comfortable with our roles and responsibilities at Verité, and have learned how to manage our time surrounding those responsibilities.

13814408_1367076139974770_676642932_n
Entrance of Verité

I have lived in Amherst, MA, for the majority of my life, so I did not expect to experience it differently throughout the course of my internship.  However, the research I have done this summer has altered how I view the world, including how I see my small hometown. After being at Verité, I have become more inclined to take into account the nature and extent of each individual’s rights, specifically labor rights, whether I am buying produce from a local family farm or am buying food at a mega supermarket chain.

My emotions at the office are more dichotomous.  On the one hand, I spend my time at work researching abhorrent topics such as child labor and human trafficking in an attempt to eventually contribute to the eradication of those human rights abuses. Read the 2016 Trafficking Report here

On the other hand, the people who surround me at Verité are not simply co-workers; rather, they are a community of people who provide one another with support—whether it is career-based or emotional.  I am incredibly thankful to be surrounded by such genuinely good and caring people, who not only push me to learn new skills and information, but who also take the time to sit down with me and hash out any questions I may have.

13823293_1367076213308096_2096715644_n
The Main Conference Room

I have found both similarities and differences in the world of work in comparison to university and academic life. The main similarity is that research plays a major part in both settings. However, in a university setting, the research goes into some kind of project or paper, which is demonstrative of my academic capabilities and displays what I have learned. In the world of work, my research is for other people. Rather than hoping to get a good grade, I am instead striving to help others. The effects of this research are more immediately impactful. When at school, if I lose focus or procrastinate, it is generally only myself who is affected by it. If I poorly managed my time at my internship, I would be guilty of negatively affecting many. At Verité, each individual comes together to form a community. We work together on projects and ideas, so losing focus is not an option if one wants to keep up. (Check out Verité’s monthly newsletter!)

My time at Verité has allowed me to expand my skillset. This internship has been my first office job, so spending all my time at a computer has been an adjustment. Prior to Verité, I often had trouble managing multiple projects and tasks, and would become overwhelmed. However working in an office has taught me effective ways to organize myself and manage my time. While working in an office is not necessarily what I want to do in the future, it has been an important and valuable experience.

Georgia Nichols, ’18

Progress: Halfway Through my Internship with Cornerstone

It’s been four weeks since my internship has started and I have learned a lot about the organization I am working with, Cornerstone Church of Boston, and myself. Living in Boston to pursue this internship has opened my eyes about this city. Compared to living at Brandeis, the shift from a suburb to urban environment showed me a different side to the city. Now, I am more comfortable saying that Boston is my home, because after all, I have spent 11 months out of the past year.

One aspect of future pastoring and this internship is meeting with people. This job is less about logistics and office work, but more about building relationships in order for the community to grow stronger. Because I live in the middle of the city now, the accessibility to public transportation makes it so much easier to meet up with people and to talk with them. I realized that if I want to go down this potential career path, then I would have to get a car, either in Boston or in Chicago. With me being an intern at the moment, it is a lot easier for people to come meet me where I live. But if my living conditions were not as favorable as right now, it would be a lot more difficult to meet up with people. A good portion of these meetings are with pastors and other leaders within the community. This is to ensure that there is communication within leadership and everyone knows where we are in our lives, socially, academically, and most importantly spiritually. To have the opportunity to share my life with others and them to share their lives really gives me a good grasp on being a pastor in the future and makes me even more excited to go down this career path.

If i were to describe how this internship is different from academic life at Brandeis, I would say that the only difference is location and people I am involved with. In a way, the same things I am doing in the internship should carry on to my life when I am even at Brandeis. Since my internship entails a job past 9-5 everyday, and is “fieldwork” in a sense, there should be no difference in the way I live during the internship compared to at college. However, Brandeis does not offer theology courses for Christianity and other courses for my career, so I would have to study these things independently, which I am fine doing.

Since I have been given leadership roles within certain ministries, I have scheduled events for the College students, and have led Sunday Service band few times as well. One event that I scheduled this summer was a Bowling Outing with the college students! I planned all the logistics for it. In a way, it was my first major leadership responsibility as a College ministry leader. It went really well and achieved goal of connecting with students and having fun!

13517546_1228333380523711_8366798429938535960_o

As someone who has leadership positions on campus during the school year, my skills have been able to carry on into the internship. However, I believe that this internship is helping me be able to become a better leader and organizer in the next school year. I am excited to close out the internship and put forth as much effort as possible for the next few weeks!

Daniel Choi