Recipient of Social Justice WOW

The author of this post received a Louis D. Brandeis Social Justice WOW Fellowship. Learn more: http://www.brandeis.edu/hiatt/funding/wow/socialjustice.html

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

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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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

 

I am now in the thick of the Girls’ LEAP experience. In the past week, I have met more than 70 new girls! Each session contains a range of 15-20 girls and they all have their own vibe. Three of the groups are made up of girls aged 12-14 and the fourth group is composed of mid-teens. It is said that once girls reach about 7th grade, their self-esteem begins to drop. While I do not have before and after snapshots of the same girls, it is remarkably clear that the younger girls feel more comfortable volunteering and speaking in large groups. Before working with this older group, I was thinking that our program would run more smoothly with older students. The older girls/young women are more receptive to the class and understand more clearly why learning emotional and physical self-defense is worthwhile. But, as my supervisors have mentioned, potentially at that point it is too late to prevent an incident and their self esteem is already suffering, thus I am glad we work with a younger population too.

Most recently, I have been challenged by navigating my role within our team. There is an on-site lead teacher, other college Teaching Women and Teen Mentors. I am working on how to provide both positive and constructive feedback to my colleagues while maintaining respect for their positions. I believe these skills will be transferable to other work places as well as academic settings. I am also challenged by the content of our material, often needing time to reflect upon my own self-esteem and feelings. Also, I believe the charts we do with how to manage anger and conflict will positively contribute to the way I interact with all people. Looking forward to another awesome month!

World of Work has differed from my university academic life because I become a more independent person. Leaving my home everyday to travel by car or public transportation to work forces me to rely on my own self for transportation. I have become a much more self motivated person by discussing with colleagues about what kinds of work I hope to pursue in the future because of my experience here.

An official picture of me and the other interns for Summer 2016 internship.

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Due to this internship, I have been able to participate in two research opportunities during my time at Supportive Living. My first research project involved evaluating the nutritional diets of residents at each of the houses. I have and will be conducting interviews with the staff and residents on what kinds of menus they have and the overall kitchen/dining experience by looking in the pantries and observing the meal times. My second research opportunity involves designing an ideal brain injury fitness center for a future house. I have to participate in more individualized research by looking into other successful wellness centers and looking into financial aspects. These opportunities for research have helped me develop my skills in communication. I have been able to go out of my comfort zone to actively network with other staff members to learn about their new positions at the organization and how they got to be there. In addition, I got to meet a fellow Brandeis alumni through my work. Her name is Laura Lorenz and she is a current visiting scholar at Brandeis working on research with some Brandeis graduate students at Heller. She came to talk to us about a photo voice project she worked on with some of the brain injury residents at the Douglas House. Her project involved giving cameras to the residents to take pictures of struggles in their lives that otherwise would not have been noticed by “normal” people. For example, there is one picture that is angled on the ground that shows a sharp ridge hill. From this perspective, the picture shows how difficult it is for wheelchair bound residents to navigate. I have also talked to Ms. Lorenz about possibly participating in some research with her, dedicated at understanding the financial opportunities for different programs and the effect finances have on the resident experience. Unfortunately, I would not be able to do anything until I came back from studying abroad this fall, but she said she was very interested in working with me in the future. She has allowed me the freedom to pursue any kind of independent study I am interested in, with hopes that I can find something I am personally passionate about and am motivated to work for everyday while I am with her.

A picture of fellow Brandeis alumni Dr. Laura Lorenz who has allowed me to work with her on an independent study this upcoming spring.

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As an HSSP major working at Supportive Living, I have been able to utilize my skills from interviewing friends and family members for papers in class to interacting with people from all kinds of organizations at work for research. Therefore, my work at Supportive Living has helped me immensely improve upon my communication skills. As a previously reserved and quiet student, course interviews on the experience of illness with family members have prepared me for interviews with work colleagues and even complete strangers. Also the fact that I already have experience talking with people of a specific disability/illness background (my interview with my father who deals with diabetes) has definitely helped me in interacting with the brain injury population. As I talk to people from various organizations, my skills in communication have helped me inquire about their backgrounds and current projects/missions. Thanks to these skills, I was able to further discuss with Dr. Laura Lorenz about her upcoming research project which I can hopefully be a part of one day. These communication skills are necessary in being able to learn about different career paths I can possibly take in the future and also learn from other more experienced veterans in other fields.

A picture of me with one of my residents for physical fitness

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I am at the midpoint of my time at United for a Fair Economy and it feels like time is going by so quickly! The more I have adapted to the environment at UFE and the more I have become acquainted with the type of work I am doing there, the more I feel like a part of their community and it is hard to believe that I am halfway done with my internship. It feels like there is so much left to learn! Recently, I have been learning a lot about the finance side of non profit organizations. At first, I thought this would be more tedious and monotonous than the rest of the work I have been doing, but I have actually enjoyed it a lot because I feel like an integral part of the organization; the tasks I have been given are ones that if they were not completed, the organization would fail to run smoothly. For example, I have been in charge of all donation processing and deposits, as well as reconciling information regarding online donations in preparation for their upcoming audit. While I have been doing this, I have also been given projects that fit my interests such as creating an informational postcard to send out with some of their mailings regarding bequests. I feel very fortunate and grateful that I am being given projects and tasks that both fit my interests, teach me a lot, and also help UFE a lot. Feeling valued by the people who work at UFE has allowed me to become more passionate about the work I am doing as well as take notice to more real life issues that are relevant to UFE’s work. I have felt myself become more aware of economic injustices and feel a stronger need to fight for economic equality. Staff members periodically send articles or events related to economic justice through email as a way to keep us grounded in our work. For example, I was sent an article about internships and the fact that they are only provided to people with privilege (link to article here). Reading this article made me realize how grateful I am for the opportunities I have, and how unfair it is that not everyone is provided these opportunities, making UFE’s work so important. Similarly, I was sent an article about a protest led by immigrants against deportations (link to article here). Before working at UFE, I would have probably skimmed through this article and not given it a second thought, but after meeting people through UFE with heartbreaking stories of deportation and unequal rights as immigrants, this article sparked an anger in me that made me want to do my very best work while at UFE and spread the word about these injustices.

One of the many charts found on UFE’s website illustrating economic phenomenons that are causing inequality.

In this way, working at UFE is very different than academic life because the work is so real. In academics, a lot of what I learn comes from textbooks or lectures, and sometimes it is hard to remember that the things I am learning are reality when they are coming from words on a page or someone else’s voice. At my internship, however, I am constantly reminded that what I am doing matters because what I am doing is linked to real life people and situations. Rather than just reading about people who are experiencing economic justice, I am meeting them in person and hearing their personal stories. Rather than just having a professor tell me how to compile and analyze data in a spreadsheet, I am determining the best ways to do so for the present needs of the organization and creating reports that will be used to persuade real people to help others in need.

Another graphic produced by UFE in response to a policy in North Carolina, one of the states that they are expanding to.

Similarly, doing work that involves real people and real issues makes the work I am doing more prone to sudden changes or problems. Thus, this internship is teaching me how to creatively problem solve quickly and effectively in a way that I have never had to do before. In school, solving problems quickly and effectively is important, but only for my own success; at UFE, solving problems quickly and effectively could be the difference between getting a program funded that will help a lot of people in need, or having to cancel that program. This is a skill that I think will be useful in everything I do, whether that’s academics, work, or even interpersonal relationships and social situations. In addition, I am learning how to assert myself and ask for projects that I really want to do. This was scary at first, but my boss really appreciates it because it allows me to do work that I care about and thus will do a better job on. I look forward to the lessons I learn in the second half of my internship! 

Ilana Cedarbaum

 

I am halfway through my summer internship at ExpandED Schools and have begun to hit a real stride with my role, team and workflow. I have developed a steady routine and my desk has accumulated lots of papers and clutter. I know what time I need wake up and leave for the bus, what I do for lunch, and how to budget my time after work. I take the bus and the commute usually takes about 45 minutes each way. On the ride I get to listen to my music and the Port Authority Bus Terminal is only a 2 block walk from my office which is perfect. I hit the ground running when I arrive to the office, work on projects until lunch with occasional meetings, and usually walk down the street to Bryant Park to parkenjoy a little bit of fresh air. After lunch I continue working on my projects and then check in with my boss to update her on my progress, ask questions, and receive any new assignments.

I also try and see friends after work about twice a week. In fact, one thing I find particularly nice about work life as opposed to academic life is that once my day is done I don’t have more work to do. There is no homework to complete, essays to write, or studying for tests. When I leave the office I just get to appreciate my time with the knowledge I put in a good days work.

As I have become more comfortable in my role I have had the chance to learn new things and expand my understanding of how my projects impact our mission. After the first few weeks I started sitting in on more meetings, including discussions about topics outside my specific role. I also went on my first site visit last week to one of the summer programs ExpandED Schools runs. It was really interesting to see firsthand how the work we do materializes into these programs. It was also really nice to interact with the students and hear how excited they were about the things they were learning.

site visitOne set of skills I have improved is my research abilities. I spend most of my day doing research and there have been some very difficult pieces of information to find. I have learned research requires immense patience, knowledge and creativity to use alternative paths to find the information I seek.

I have also improved my communication skills by conducting phone interviews to gather information which is the other substantial part of my job. I has taught me to be thoughtful, organized, and clear in my conversations with people.

This internship has been a wonderful learning process. I had a bit of a slow start with some of my projects this summer and learned how to ask my supervisor for additional opportunities in an open and respectful manner. I am also gaining a range of skills and experience. I am sure that my research skills will have a greater effect on my academic life, and that both my research and communication skills will be incredibly valuable and necessary in helping me reach my future career goals.

At the Esperanza, I enjoy not just working but living as a part of a community. Everything done here reflects the values of inclusion and community. One of the aspects of working at the Esperanza includes self-reliance. Since our community is predominantly working-class, many folks don’t have the privilege of paying someone for building maintenance. The interns spent a couple of weeks repainting walls after taking down an art exhibit. Everyone takes turn cleaning bathrooms or mopping before a performance, and we invite community members to help fold La Voz before mailing out the magazine.

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Photo courtesy of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center. I’m on the scaffold.

As far as outside of the workplace, I already knew that San Antonio is extremely economically segregated, but my time at the Esperanza reminded me how true that is. Early on, the director and other staff members took us to different parts of town—Eastside near the Hayes Street Bride and the near Westside—to learn the history and conditions of people living them. Developers have started targeting the Westside, a predominantly Mexican/Mexican-American working-class side of town. Many cities have been hit with gentrification and displacement and San Antonio is no different.

Working in the real world back at home feels like more of a relief than working in college. Although I have to drive nearly everywhere I go (welcome to Texas), I know where I am and can often navigate without the assistance of GPS. My internship feels like a full time job, considering I spend more than forty hours a week at the Esperanza. More importantly, I feel like the work I do affects people other than those that live in a campus bubble.

One significant change is my outlook on meetings. This summer, I’ve observed city council, comprehensive planning, and housing bond committees.

Photo from The Rivard Report. That's me in the hat.

Photo from The Rivard Report. That’s me in the hat.

Many meetings I’ve attended in college revolve around planning events or discussing long-term organizing strategies. The meetings I’ve sat at (or spoken at in some cases) affect the lives of the over one million people living in San Antonio. It amazes me that policy can be decided in a simple conference room. For example, I recently attended two meetings surrounding San Antonio’s affordable housing bond. This bond had the potential to provide affordable housing and emergency repairs to families. At the meeting—in which the committee had to make draft recommendations for affordable housing—members were surprised to learn that they could not pass most of the policies for legal reasons.

Much of the work for SA Tomorrow involved reading, research, and coming up with creative solutions. One of the other interns majored in urban planning and environmental policy, so while she already had background education around sustainability, I have to read extra to understand some proposals in the works. Hopefully this extra work will pay off when studying for my environmental studies minor.  I’m also learning to take the initiative on certain projects. One of the interns and I are spearheading a social media campaign talking about water in San Antonio. This will build my social media skills, which I can transfer to campus organizing.

Anastasia Christilles, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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To me, the phrase the “criminal justice system” has always evoked the image of a well-oiled machine. A case comes into the courthouse and—after a little under the hood mechanics—is transformed into a verdict. My mechanical vision of criminal justice led me to believe that a career in law would necessarily be mundane and repetitive. Halfway through my internship, I have come to realize I was entirely wrong.

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My corner of the office!

Cases certainly enter Boston Municipal, but sentences depend on countless factors. Last week, the office also hosted a “Brown Bag Lunch” where they invited interns to hear a speaker: the head of the Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau, David Deakin. Deakin discussed a rape and robbery he was prosecuting in which the defendant was an identical twin. While his DNA had been found on the victim, his brother’s DNA matched the sample as well. In 2014—ten years after the assault—a German company became the first to pioneer a DNA test that could differentiate between identical twins. Deakin now prepares to be the first prosecutor to ever introduce ultra-deep next-generation sequencing in court, setting a legal precedent for years to come. His job certainly did not sound systematic or dull.

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Some of the many disposed case files being stored in the office

 

 

Even my “boring” tasks as an intern have proved to be exciting, thought provoking and incredibly gratifying. Answering phone calls is exceptionally rewarding, when there is a victim on the other end expressing how thankful they are to have someone they can contact directly to update them on the status of their case. Shadowing the daily routine of my supervisors is so impactful, when I get to watch them help transform timid, vulnerable victims into confident, self-advocates willing to testify against their assailant. And filling out paperwork is extremely satisfying when I know I am creating an important document that a prosecutor will use in an upcoming trial. My work has taught me important skills such as how to work in a high-paced environment where assignments often need immediate attention and how to stay calm when presented with unfamiliar situations and tasks. I truly feel like I am developing skills that will better equip me to enter the work force, teaching me how to adapt, take direction and be a leader.

As a student preparing to apply to law school, I hoped my internship would provide me clarity as to my future career goals and I have not been disappointed. This internship has allowed me to see the legal system from a closer perspective and through a far different lens then any academic or on-campus experiences have permitted. My experience at Boston Municipal has proved to be exceptionally different than learning about legal issues in a classroom. Rather than reading about the criminal justice process or learning about an individual’s legal rights from an analytic perspective, I am able to see these issues unfold. The work is fast-paced, exciting, and extremely rewarding. Seeing the application of law makes me realize the integral role the legal system plays in maintaining order within our society.

Overall, this experience is making me confident that pursuing a career in law is, undoubtedly, the right decision for me.

Dustin Fire, ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

I am currently at the midway point in my internship at The Chicago Innocence Center and I could not be more thrilled to be part of such an incredible organization. I have loved working with CIC over the past seven weeks. I am mostly working with twelve other interns, our Director, Pamela, our President, David, our Program Associate, Diana, and our Outreach Coordinator, Stanley, who was wrongfully convicted and served 31 years in prison. I have learned so much working with this group. Our interns come from ten different colleges and represent a range of majors, extra-curricular activities, hometowns, backgrounds, and interests. As interns, we work together on many tasks. Because of our diverse backgrounds, we are able to build off each other’s previous knowledge. One intern who is pre-law could help explain a court proceeding while an intern majoring in journalism could write an op-ed about that proceeding that another intern interested in human rights could turn into a policy brief.

The CIC interns with Stanley Wrice at a legal luncheon

The CIC interns with Stanley Wrice at a legal luncheon

It is really powerful to work with so many engaged individuals who are all at the same points in their life as I am. I feel that I have not just fostered positive workplace relationships but that I have also made lifelong friends. I appreciate the collaborative, open atmosphere at CIC because the subject matter we deal with is very serious. Sometimes, concepts are hard to process because they are so evident of systematic issues such as racism, poverty, or misconduct in the criminal justice system. Luckily, our group can dialogue about these issues, discussing why they are so shocking (or not very shocking, in many unfortunate cases) and what we can do to change them. Overall, I feel excited to be a part of this work.

Working at CIC differs from academic life in two main ways. First, I feel that I am treated as an equal in meetings rather than a student in the classroom. Many of my professors at Brandeis create positive learning environments where I feel comfortable, however I still feel they are my teachers and it is their job to lecture and mine to listen and engage. In contrast, Pam and David cultivate an environment of collaborative learning.  There are no lectures; every meeting is a conversation. While Pam and David are our mentors, they value our contributions and encourage us to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Pam and David treat me as their colleague and welcome all ideas, no matter if they are useful or not. I feel respected and I know my opinion is always encouraged.

Second, my internship is much more experiential than my academic experience. Every day, I do something new. My week can be five days in five different locations. One day I am in the office, the next day I am at the book launch of Exoneree Diaries, an incredible book by Alison Flowers, the next day I attend a legal luncheon, the next day I am out in the field, and the next I am attending an evidentiary hearing for one of our investigative cases. Through these unique opportunities in my internship, I am gaining tangible skills to bring back to school or to future job opportunities. My writing has absolutely improved through our investigative journalism workshops, which challenge me to ask succinct questions and not to bury the lead. I have learned how to build a website, which is useful for any job in the future that may need technical support. Finally, I think I have become a more empathetic listener. I am able to silence my thoughts in order to yield the floor to someone else. As they speak, I have learned to truly listen. These skills will translate to my academic life and career for years to come, all thanks to CIC.

 

Some of the interns grab coffee before work!

Some of the interns grab coffee before work!

Ruby Macsai-Goren, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Walking into the Boston University School of Public Health offices each day, I know there will be contagious energy and enthusiasm from the moment I step off the elevator.  Most of the work spaces in the office are designated for faculty who work on original research during the summer, so everyone (faculty and interns alike) is always deeply immersed in a new and exciting project. The other research intern on Dr. Siegel’s project for the summer, Carolina, is someone who I am incredibly lucky to work with directly every day. She is one of the most passionate people I have ever met about intimate partner gun violence, which is the primary focus of our research.

A photo of me and my inspiring fellow research intern, Carolina, with our Boston University research badges!

My inspiring fellow research intern, Carolina, and I finally received our Boston University research badges!

What has surprised me most working on this project is how close to this topic not only Carolina but also the other members of our team feel. The amount of emotion and passion that people on the team have expressed about our research topic can even be somewhat overwhelming at times. However, tragedy and injustice lie at the core of both domestic violence and gun violence. Especially after the multitude of recent, devastating shootings that have occurred in the last few weeks, we hope that the results of our research will be profound enough to convince politicians and the public that stronger gun laws are the only way to prevent further loss of life. In a wonderfully powerful article that my supervisor Dr. Siegel wrote, he states that it is no longer enough to ‘pray’ for the victims of gun violence and their families; the country as a whole must actually commit to making a change in order to make any headway.  One way to start a movement like this is through the publication of more research on gun violence, yet the CDC at the moment is allocating zero funding to research this enormous public health and human rights issue.

 

A beautifully candid Carolina in the midst of researching Massachusetts' own laws about gun control

A beautifully candid Carolina in the midst of researching Massachusetts’ own laws about gun control.

One spectacular thing I have noticed about the World of Work is how passionate everyone is about the work they are doing. After years of dreading group projects throughout school I never thought that I would enjoy working on a team, but after only a few weeks on this research team I have found that teamwork can be infinitely more rewarding, productive, and energizing than working alone. My experiences with group projects in high school mostly consisted of members attempting to do the least amount of work possible; nonetheless, everyone on this research team actually fights to do the most amount of work! In addition, I have found that each member thoughtfully assesses their own strengths and weaknesses before they decide how they can most effectively contribute to the group’s goal, which really impressed me.

On this note, I would say that understanding how to find self-motivation and passion in the work that I do is one of the most valuable things that I have learned so far from my team members this summer. Additionally, the mathematical, statistical, and computer skills that I am gaining through the research process will be beneficial for any job that I have in the future. Some of these skills include learning to construct and organize a comprehensive research database, collect and code data, and perform complex statistical analyses in different programs. I am also, through this process, learning how to plan and orchestrate an entire research project from start to finish. In the future I hope to utilize this knowledge to conduct original research of my own in graduate school and beyond.

Rachel Kurland, ’18

Upon arriving to Haiti, I was greeted by customs and eager taxi drivers to drive me to my desired location. Yet, the only person I was excited to see was my supervisor. She greeted me with her warm embrace and reassurance of a transformative time in Haiti. So far, she has lived up to her promise.

Once I arrived in Hinche, our staff was immediately put to work and started organizing the materials for open house the following day. During this time, I was able to bond with my new staff members. Most of the staff members are Boston Public School teachers who have experience teaching Haitian-American students at their local school. I am really grateful to receive insight about the education field through their experiences. In our time of exchanging stories, I found out that three of the staff members are first generation Haitian-Americans. Witnessing the intrinsic motivation to give back to their community was comforting. I knew right then that my staff would instill passion and dedication in their work during their time in Haiti.

The busy and vibrant city of Hinche is encased in voluminous green mountains. Everyone around you is working or going somewhere. To add on to the excitement, the director is pretty much a local celebrity in the community. With that being said, it is a thrilling feeling to migrate through the street and witness the smiling faces of the citizens. In that time, I noticed that

Me and a few of my students

Me and a few of my students

the local citizens really value their Christian faith. Most communal spaces are reserved for religious ceremonies and the citizens outwardly and unapologetically express their faith. It is beautiful to see so many people rejoicing and in celebration together.

On my first day of work, about sixty students were eager to start camp and immediately greeted me. You can see the gratitude plastered on their face as they successfully entered the camp. Gaining a spot in this camp is extremely valuable to the students because they are receiving enrichment and are guaranteed two meals a day for free. Services such as these are usually not free and thus helpful to both the student and their parents. Their desire to be here is beyond admirable. I know students who walk twenty minutes to get to the camp. The students come prepared and are attentive and very respectful. It is safe to say we have a symbiotic relationship too. Since I am teaching them English, the students have agreed to teach me Haitian Creole.

The World of Work in regards to this specific organization is not too different from university life in my opinion. I live in a shared space with different people, we eat together and we work together. Like Brandeis, we are all working to achieve the same goal even if it is through different paths. Socially, my life here in Haiti is not too different from university life as my staff members all have different values and experiences. The varying experiences and unique perspectives existing in the workspace enhance productivity and the overall richness of the program.

Outside of organizational and team building skills, I believe I’ve gained great experience in project management. I am currently conducting a poetry project at the camp. To complete this project, I had to work closely with my co-teachers to successfully execute the project and be in consistent communication with my director with any updates on the project’s progress. Engaging in this kind of work directly applies to my life at Brandeis. This is especially true in my role as a Community Advisor at Brandeis where planning is essential to maintaining a healthy environment for my residents.

Overall, I am so grateful to have an opportunity to work with such remarkable people to achieve such a meaningful mission.

LaShawn Simmons, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Ms.LaShawn's English Class

Ms.LaShawn’s English Class

I’ve been working with the North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History for 5 weeks already. The summer is flying by! I’ve really enjoyed my time working here so far; each week offers something new to do and to learn about St. Catherine’s Island and about the more general field of North American archaeology. Since my last post, we have been having reading discussion groups one morning a week to talk about articles pertaining to the site or the types of materials we have been working with. This has been a great opportunity to get some background into what we are handling, and the craft and culture behind it, as well as how it sometimes related the archaeology of St. Catherine’s to people inland and along the East Coast. These articles often bring up unanswered questions and theories surrounding the island and the Gaule people as well as their relationship to the mission.

(photo from: http://www.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/research/north-american-archaeology/projects/st.-catherines-island-ga )

(photo from: http://www.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/research/north-american-archaeology/projects/st.-catherines-island-ga )

http://www.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/research/north-american-archaeology/publications

In terms of work in the lab, every day I’m doing something different ranging anywhere from cataloguing, to searching for artifacts, to transcription. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into the internship since my brief experience in the archaeology lab at Brandeis has been cleaning and recording artifacts. In the past few weeks we have done some cleaning, but the range of tasks that needs to be done over the summer is much larger than that, which I think is part of what makes the internship so interesting every day; there are a lot of smaller projects within a larger plan for the summer. It’s certainly different from my academic life at Brandeis where most of my contact with archaeology is through articles and papers on subjects that usually cover several various sites rather than a single period or culture. While these skills are very useful, working in the North American Archaeology Lab is teaching me more hands-on skills for the organization and categorization of artifacts and of the excavation itself that go hand in hand with articles written about the site. I think this is applicable well beyond the lab in terms of learning new methods of organization and working with your peers. I think one more skill that I think will be applicable beyond the lab is being able to be flexible in whatever you are doing, and being able to move between projects and learning to point out potential issues. I’ve learned to move slower and double-check everything, since one wrong number on an artifact could cause larger problems down the line for the next intern or researcher trying to find the mislabeled or miscatalogued piece. Looking to the future, I have learned a great deal, simply from my supervisor’s and my fellow intern’s varying experiences in archaeology both in North America and abroad, and about the options for working in contract archaeology and continuing to study within a more specified field of archaeology.

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I am thoroughly enjoying my internship with Girls’ LEAP (Lifetime Empowerment and Awareness Program). The beginning has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I’ve entered pre-survey and post-survey data as well as attendances for programs that took place this past winter. While this work has been rather dry, I have enjoyed gaining a clearer understanding of the administrative work. There is a tremendous amount of infrastructure in place that allows our programs to run as seamlessly as they do. The office is a friendly and relaxed environment where colleagues stop for a moment to discuss Black Lives Matter and other social-justice issues in the news. I look forward to gaining so much for such kind and passionate colleagues.

After my initial week in the office, I spent a weekend chalk-full of training with the other college interns. The other interns are kind, passionate, and inspirational women and I feel tremendously lucky to be working closely with them this summer. We completed our first 2-week intensive where we worked with a Lead Teacher and group of about ten girls. I was concerned that the hardest part would be how well I could do a bully-role but it turns out engaging the students and avoiding discipline issues is quite a bit harder. I really enjoyed the opportunity to build positive relationships with the girls and know a bit about them rather than calling them to gather so we could learn the next move. I imagine my skills will develop and improve throughout the summer and this will certainly transfer to working in any type of direct-service job.

I also believe that the skills we teach really benefit ourselves in the process. I feel like a more confident and “worthy” person after the many conversations we have shared and I believe the conflict-resolution tools will continue to benefit me in any personal or professional setting I encounter.

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The alarm clock wakes me up around 7:30 a.m. The sun is already trying to sneak into my room. I do not think that El Paso has a much time living in the darkness. The scintillating sun does not leave until 9 p.m. and comes back sooner than it is expected.

After a shower, I put on some sunscreen, have a little snack, and grab my belongings, ready to go to work. I can walk daily from where I am staying to Cinco Puntos Press (CPP). Obviously, a routine has formed, however, it is a routine I very much enjoy. My supervisors, they described themselves as “hippies”—although, according to them, they were not the sort of hippies who would do drugs or used to go insane when they were young, back in the 60s. They usually order me that the first thing that I must do when I get to work is to grab a cup of coffee, so that I am wide awake, and I am happy to follow their orders.

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A regular day working at Cinco Puntos Press (CPP).

They have all appreciated my work and I have come to appreciate their hospitality and selfless guidance. As the days go by swiftly. I have done a little bit of everything. I have had the opportunity to proofread a Spanish translation of a successful sequel to a series of books that CPP has published for quite some time already, known as Maximilian. The third installment is titled, Maximilian and the Lucha Libre Club: A Bilingual Lucha Libre by Xavier Garza. It is a gleeful story about a young boy who happens to have an interesting, comic, yet dangerous family. They are all involved in the business of lucha libre (a term used in Mexico for a form of professional wrestling). The boy begins to train to become the next big thing, just like his uncle the Ángel Guardian (Guardian Angel). Although Max has still a long way to go, after all he is just a boy. However, he has two professional, expert trainers along him: his uncles. They are on the verge of retiring and Max’s family has commenced to seek and train the next big successor. It seems that lucha libre is intrinsically pumping through Max’s blood because he seems to be their man.

Furthermore, the truth is that I have enjoyed every book that I have read from CPP. I have given the privilege to attend the pitch meetings, in which the three editors (Mrs. Lee, Mr. John, and Mr. Bobby Byrd) choose the books they will like to publish the upcoming spring of 2017. They select a few options from the hundreds of submissions that CPP receives for consideration.

In fact, I had the chance of reading two stories that would, eventually, if chosen, become picture books. One I liked ; the other one I did not. I had to write a report, about 350 to 400 words on what I thought it works and what does not for each of the submissions that I read. Both stories were, of course, centered around diverse characters. An excerpt of my report from the submission I liked, “Lois Dreamed” by Kara Stewart:

[…] I think the metaphor of Lois’s yearning to become an acrobat has an element of universality. Any child that reads this story may replace Lois’s personal longings of becoming an acrobat with his/er own goals (i.e. becoming a doctor, astronaut, president, etc.). They will for sure understand that the color of their skin or gender or any other intersectionality, will not dictate what they ought to become. […] [D]espite the story being about an Indian, it undoubtedly has universal elements that would make of this book: a book for everyone.

Not only does CPP need my opinion on the book they publish, but I have also been collaborating on getting their books out there. One of such books, it is a book, titled, Photographs of My Father by Paul Spike. It is a great book, which I happen to have read as well—one of the perks of this job is that I get to read as many books as I want for free. The story about Rev. Robert Spike, who later became a civil rights activist and was mysteriously killed after finding out that the funding that was supposed to go to a federal Mississippi education program was in lieu going somewhere else–to fund the Vietnam War.

This book was published in 1973 and when it came out, it was reviewed by a lot of newspapers and publications, including The New York Times. Nevertheless, the book stopped printing, and what CPP decided was to re-print it again. The bad news is that not everyone is interested in reviewing a book that has already come out and reviewed. Therefore, my job has been reaching out to different outlets that could potentially be interested in selling, endorsing, or reviewing the book, and I have been successful at it. This task has allowed me to develop my marketing skills, which I did not really think I had.

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Working on the e-books.

I have also come to realize that close-reading skills are indeed transferable. In the current week, I have been compiling a spreadsheet list of all the contracts of rights that CCP has signed with different publishing and film companies over the world. Some contracts are one-time deal, while others are renewable, others have expired, and others are about to. I need to follow up on each and every single one of them. I need to make sure that CPP has received the payments from the companies on which the agreement has been settled. Also, I need to add the contracts’ expiration dates on Google calendar. In addition, I ought to reach out to the companies whose contract with CPP has expired, inquiring whether they would like to renew their contract or not.

Mr. John Byrd has also been introducing me to how to convert books into e-books, using InDesign. InDesign skills were skills that I used to possess, but throughout time, I have forgotten half of it. But, thankfully it is coming back, thanks to Mr. Byrd’s guidance. This is still a work in progress, notwithstanding, I look forward to telling you more about it as I keep trying.

My time at Cinco Puntos has allowed me to think about my future. I can definitely see myself doing this.

Best,

Santiago Montoya, ’19

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Every morning for the past week I have shown up to my office at 8 am (or a few minutes before since I’m a little eager), met with my coworkers, and started in on my paperwork before a busy day. However, it looks a little different than one might imagine for an intern at a large nonprofit. My “office” is actually a shared craft room filled with glitter and stickers, my coworkers are high school aged volunteers, and my paperwork is usually something like printing BINGO cards. All in a morning’s work for a Summer Camp Director intern at LifeMoves.

Haven Family House: My internship site

Haven Family House: My internship site

LifeMoves is a nonprofit organization that serves individuals and families experiencing homelessness in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties in California. The organization is the result of a merger in 2012 between two well-established organizations doing similar work, InnVision the Way Home and Shelter Network, and was formerly named InnVision Shelter Network. Fun fact: During my application process for this internship, the organization went through its 2016 rebranding, which means I applied to InnVision, but my internship is officially with LifeMoves. A little confusing, I know!

LifeMoves operates at 17 sites throughout the two counties, housing over 1,000 individuals (including those staying with families) each night. The goal for those individuals is to achieve permanent housing and self-sufficiency after graduating from LifeMoves’ rigorous, comprehensive program. Those living in the shelters must commit to working with their case manager to take charge of financial planning and saving, housing and job searches, and receiving counseling when necessary. Additionally, LifeMoves provides meals and a safe, spacious, private housing unit while the family or individual is in shelter. While each of the sites operates differently and caters to different populations (some are geared more towards families, one is specifically for those living with mental illness, one is just for women, etc.), the organization as a whole has had success—they report that 97% of families and 82% of individuals who graduate their programs return to stable housing and self sufficiency (Source).

This summer I am interning with LifeMoves as the director of the Summer Adventure Camp for the children living at Haven Family House, the largest site for families living in shelter. Along with my co-director, my duties include planning the curriculum for each week of camp, managing the USDA summer food program, supervising the high school aged volunteers, communicating with parents, and completing official internal paperwork for reporting incidents, attendance, injury, etc. And, because it’s summer camp after all, it would not be out of the ordinary to catch me playing a game of four-square or tossing the occasional water balloon.

My first week at LifeMoves was devoted to attending an all-intern orientation at the administrative offices. There, I got to learn from those who have been working in social services for years and could share their insights into the type of program that LifeMoves runs. During this week, I learned that the counties we are serving have among some of the highest rents in the U.S., making it literally impossible for minimum-wage workers to afford any type of permanent housing. In 2015, there were approximately 8,338 individuals living without a permanent residence in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and LifeMoves claims that this is even an underestimation due to the fact that the figure does not include the “vehicularly housed,” (those living in their car) (Source 1, 2.)

Me with the other LifeMoves interns at out beach retreat

Me with the other LifeMoves interns at our beach retreat

If you’re still with me, I commend you; all of these figures and details can be a little numbing and impersonal. This is part of what makes my internship so appealing to me. I have the chance for 8 hours every weekday to simply spend time with the clients who are living the reality of what these numbers point to. And it looks different for everyone. Each of the campers and their family is coming from a different background and are at different points in their process of returning to stability. It is a privilege to get to be part of that process for someone. While I don’t know every child’s story (nor do I need to), I hope that offering this summer camp will enhance the individual’s experience. Maybe having the kids out of the house will give the parents time to complete that housing application that finally gets approved or maybe one of our STEM activities will really stick with one of the campers and make them more interested in science. Or maybe it will just give the kids a couple hours of fun building structures out of marshmallows and competing in relay races. I may not ever know, but I’m excited to be in this environment and to learn from whatever happens.

If you can’t get enough of LifeMoves at this blog, feel free to follow along with our adventures at the camp blog at https://lifemovessummercamp.wordpress.com.

Until next time!

Mira McMahon ‘18

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NCL’s Office (1701 K St.)

My first week interning at the National Consumer’s League in Washington, D.C. has been rather eventful. NCL is America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization and has been representing consumers and workers since 1899. Some of the issues that NCL addresses include child labor, food safety, medication adherence and internet fraud. There are multiple departments within the organization that run their own programs such as Fraud.org, LifeSmarts, Child Labor Coalition, and Script Your Future.

Recently, I wrote a blog post for NCL’s website. I wrote about the HPV vaccine and its potential to reduce the growing number of cases of cervical cancer. I am also reviewing NCL’s website and applicants for the Script Your Future medication adherence competition.

17 & K Street (Washington D.C.)

17 & K Street (Washington D.C.)

Every intern is responsible for drafting content for the NCL’s annual LifeSmarts competition. LifeSmarts is a program that spreads consumer education especially for teenagers and young adults. The topics that the questions cover are expansive and range from health and safety to personal finances.

In addition, I am doing research on multiple projects. The projects I have been working on have been really interesting and informative. The National Center for Health Research reached out to NCL and requested that we sign on to their letter to FDA’s Commissioner Califf and Dr. Woodcock that stated their stance against FDA approval of Sarepta’s new drug, eteplirsen. It is designed to treat Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, a rare disease but debilitating disease. I researched this topic so that NCL could make an informed decision as to whether or not we would sign in support of the letter. However, after extensive research, Sally Greenberg, NCL’s executive director and my supervisor, decided to not sign the letter. While the drug has yet to be perfected, NCL believes that the drug provides patients and their families some hope in treating this fatal disease.

I am also researching the differences in the ways male and female students approach competition. This is to improve the LifeSmarts competition for there are changes we could make to help girls be more successful in this competitive environment.

Lastly, another project I have been working on is a food waste initiative. NCL would like to write a letter to President Obama asking for his consideration of an Executive Order to address the issue of food waste. This would make it mandatory for all federal agencies to have a food waste plan.

I am also grateful that I received the opportunity to attend multiple events. I went to the library of congress with my supervisor, and attended a panel and lunch called “Digital & Data Privacy: Civil Rights Solutions for Good.” The panelists discussed ways in which the civil rights community can protect consumer privacy but still allow digital inclusion online. I also attended The Hill’s briefing, “Pathways to Prevention: A Policy Discussion on Research & Treatments for Alzheimer’s”. The panel held a great discussion on the policies that can help combat Alzheimer’s with the goal of curing it by 2025. Featured speakers included Senator Shelley Capito and Senator Ed Markey. Tomorrow, I will be attending a breakfast briefing: “Challenges in the Global Health Arena” with Senator Bob Corker as the speaker.

This past week has been both exciting and rewarding. I look forward to continuing these projects and hope to make some real impact on policies surrounding NCL’s issues and expand my own consumer knowledge over the course of this summer.

Elese Chen

United for a Fair Economy (UFE) is a non-profit in downtown Boston that focuses on economic justice and supporting social justice movements that are fighting for a fair economy. The organization believes that the unequal distribution of wealth (and thus power) in our country leads to a corrupt society, and that this inequality is strongly linked to deepening racial divides. UFE works towards achieving their goals through a number of ways, including trainings for workers and movement leaders that provide accessible explanations of the economy using popular education, a methodology that elicits participants’ personal experiences to identify injustices. UFE also focuses on state-based policy change and a project called Responsible Wealth, which encourages people in the top 5% to become allies and advocate for progressive policies. Further, UFE is currently expanding their programs to places like North Carolina and Minnesota.

At the Training of Trainers Institute, reflecting on the weekend (I am second from the right, in the white shirt!)

This summer I will be acting as the Development Intern, working with the Development Director who oversees the fundraising and communication with donors. My tasks include assisting with mailings such as thank you letters and appeals; updating the donor database; assisting with donation processing; and generating lists and reports based on the information in the database that relate to our mailings. I also hope to be given projects throughout my internship that will enable me to create informational materials and content for UFE’s electronic publications.

This week, I was given tasks that would allow me to get acclimated with the organization’s database in conjunction with my orientation and training. I was included in staff meetings and retreats, phone conferences, and organizational meetings between department directors which really allowed me to experience first-hand the processes of non-profit management. All of the staff members are incredibly welcoming and eager to answer my questions, and they make my own opinions and suggestions feel valuable and legitimate as well. In addition, this past weekend I attended one of their Training of Trainers Institutes, a three day training that provides movement leaders tools on how to use popular education in their own workshops. The weekend was incredibly informative, transformative, and and participants ranged from non-profit leaders to students to immigrants and refugees, each with their own stories and struggles and talents.

There were many moments of reflection on current tragic events, of spirituality in the form of circle work, and of sharing experiences that sparked a community bond and awareness of the need for social justice movements. Moreover, I was given a great introduction to popular education and how to effectively prepare and facilitate a popular education workshop, specifically regarding economic justice. Another interesting and inspiring aspect of the training was that it was completely bilingual using simultaneous interpretation. The facilitators spoke both English and Spanish while interpreters translated into headsets that all participants wore so that people who did not speak English could participate.

 

The “State of the Dream,” an infographic put out by UFE every year that discusses ways that racial divides are linked to economic injustice. (http://www.faireconomy.org/infographics)

 

 

 

 

 

During this internship, I hope to gain a better understanding of non-profit management. As I begin to think about what I want to do after I graduate, non-profit work remains at the top of my list and I hope to use this internship as a way to gain the experience necessary to effectively be a part of how a non-profit operates. Further, I hope that I can contribute to UFE in a useful and effective way. I have only been here for a week, but I already feel like an integral part of the organization and I have already become incredibly passionate towards their cause and their commitment to social justice and equality, both in their work and in the way they manage their organization by ensuring equal representation and never losing sight of their values. I hope to harness this passion and use the values and tools that I develop by being included in the managerial processes not only during this summer, but beyond.

 

The Boston University School of Public Health has a spectacular location in South Boston, just steps away from Boston Medical with an impressive presence on the Boston University Medical Campus. The mission of the School of Public Health is to promote health equality on both a local and global scale, and through research and innovation to significantly improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged and medically under-served communities. Throughout my internship I will be working directly with Dr. Michael Siegel of the Department of Community Health Sciences. I first had the pleasure of working alongside Dr. Siegel when I assisted with his research on the impact of internet alcohol advertisements on teenage alcohol abuse two summers ago. After I learned that Dr. Siegel planned to conduct research this summer on the intersection between intimate partner and firearm violence, I jumped at the opportunity to join his research team again. My first week working on Dr. Siegel’s research team was exciting and stimulating, and I got the sense that I was going to have a lot of responsibilities for multiple parts of the project this summer. The other professors and students working on this project were incredibly welcoming, and throughout the week I was able to spend a bit of time with each team member to learn how they are contributing to the project. 

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The Boston Medical center, which is the hub of the Boston University School of Medicine and School of Public Health

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The Boston University School of Public Health campus, featuring one of the school’s buildings. This building houses a spectacular library for the School of Medicine, and on the top floor has an incredible view of the entire city of Boston

(source: http://www.bu.edu/sph/files/2013/06/header-about.jpg).

In a powerful article on gun violence and increasing homicide rates, “Who Mourns for Brianna?”, Dr. Siegel writes,

“Somehow, there is a human tendency to pay more attention to a single tragic event than to a pattern of fatal violence that occurs on a regular basis. Maybe we need to reconsider what counts as a tragedy worthy of commemoration, versus a “normal,” everyday occurrence that we merely accept as a way of life.” (http://www.bu.edu/today/2014/pov-who-mourns-for-brianna/)

On the first day of our research, Dr. Siegel explained that in the wake of tragedies, such as Newtown (and subsequently Orlando), it is easy to forget that gun violence and deaths due to firearms occur every single day and affect thousands of lives. Although most of my responsibilities include punching numbers and data/statistical analysis, each day Dr. Siegel urges me not to forget that we are fighting for individuals, real children, parents, friends, and loved ones who have been affected by gun violence, through our research. According to recent data from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, it is five times more likely that a woman will be killed by her abuser if the abuser owns a firearm, and in 2011, nearly two-thirds of women killed with guns were killed by their intimate partners. (http://smartgunlaws.org/domestic-violence-firearms-policy-summary/) However, in my first week, Dr. Siegel set this extremely powerful and especially motivating tone for the summer that our research would truly mean something and matter to the individual lives lost every year to domestic gun violence!

My job for the first part of the project is to construct an extensive database on specific state firearm laws in order to determine how weak/strong individual state laws are concerning controls on firearm ownership/purchase for domestic violence offenders. We will then compare this data on gun control laws to the number of intimate partner homicides that occur state-by-state. From there, we will be able to extract data on which state gun control laws are the most powerful and effective in preventing intimate partner homicides, and will have the capability to make suggestions for public policy revisions regarding gun control. I hope that my work will not only help Dr. Siegel and the Dept. of Community Health Sciences with their research, but will significantly minimize the number of people who may be affected by intimate partner gun violence in the future.

One learning goal for this summer is to gain a deeper understanding of the scientific research project from beginning to end, a very attainable goal, since I have been participating in the conceptualization of our project’s research questions with Dr. Siegel, and at the end of our project we will write and submit a paper for publication. I also hope to integrate and fuse my passions for research and advocacy this summer by learning to use empirical research to suggest changes in public policy that would reduce social injustices caused by gun violence.

 

Rachel Kurland, ’18

Social Justice Fellow

This summer, I am interning at AVODAH at their New York office. AVODAH works to alleviate poverty, mainly by running a service corps program. In four cities, New Orleans, Chicago, Washington D. C., and New York City, corps members live together while working at different, local anti-poverty non-profits and organizations. The wide range of issues that corps members, from immigration to criminal justice to housing to youth programs to community mediation programs as well as many other issues, allows for a diversity of corps members with a wide range of skills and interests. AVODAH has also recently started a fellowship in two cities, New York City and Chicago, for people in the social justice field with full time jobs. Instead of living together, as in the service corps program, participants go to a variety of educational sessions, retreats, and events to grow their career and explore the intersection between social justice work and Judaism. (More information can be found here).

Avodah

I work under the Recruitment Director, so my focus is helping find places to recruit applicants. Since AVODAH has a fairly small staff, it is impossible to recruit individually at every university in the United States. I am helping to find more ways to recruit applicants with their limited staff. It is important to find qualified applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and colleges across the country.

I have also enjoyed helping other Jewish social justice organizations. With interns from AVODAH and other Jewish organizations, I helped to put together mailings for Bend the Arc. Bend the Arc planned a “Vigil Against Violence” on the anniversary of the deaths of three civil rights activists, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, in 1964 in Mississippi. The three activists, two of whom were Jewish, tried to register Black voters. In honor of their commitment to social justice, Bend the Arc held vigils where people lit yahrzeit (Jewish memorial) candles.  They also mailed out kits with posters and candles for people who would not be able to attend a vigil. The vigils took place in multiple places around the country, but especially in New York at Trump Tower to protest Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric and proposals.

candle-and-poster-3-480 (Photo credit: Bend the Arc)

I think these vigils were important, but on a more general level, I think it is important for Jewish social justice organizations to have strong relationships of collaboration with each other, as well as with non-Jewish organizations. This is one of the goals of the service corps programs, as alumni of the program go on to work for a wide variety of social justice organizations, creating a large network of alumni that can turn to each other for support and collaboration. I am excited for this summer because I will continue to learn more about the domestic non-profit world, but specifically the Jewish non-profit world.

Lydia Ruddick-Schulman ’17

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My cubicle at UMass Boston

Stationed amongst the urban brick and concrete UMass Boston Campus is an office inspired by clear rivers, thick forests and fresh, clean air. The radio show Living on Earth, where I am interning this summer, is a hub for environmental justice and sustainability, surrounded by the metropolitan center of New England.

I am an environmental studies major at Brandeis with an interest in writing and journalism. So this show, which broadcasts its weekly environmental program on 250 public radio stations around the country, is a great fit for me. I hope to explore the intersection of my twin interests of journalism and environmental studies in hopes of preparing for life after Brandeis. I also hope to meet people in the fields of journalism and environmental studies and provide a public service. For social change to occur, the public must be made aware of pressing environmental issues, and this show’s mission is to get the word out about these issues. As an intern at Living on Earth, I will research environmental issues and the inequalities that they cause for broadcast to a national audience.

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The recording studio

Although my internship has just begun, I have been able to work on many aspects of the program.

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Steve Curwood, the host of the show, recording introductions to the pieces

I’ve reached out to potential guests for the show, I’ve written interview questions and introductions, I’ve worked on the show’s website, and I’ve even learned how to use computer programs to edit audio. I had no idea that radio shows often edit out the “um”s and “like”s and stutters that are commonplace in colloquial speech. But when it’s a pre-recorded show, it doesn’t hurt to make our guests sound smarter. We can even add sound effects to the background: the song of a bird, the splash of a stream, or whatever else fits with a piece.

So far, my experience has been great. I’ve learned a lot about what goes into producing a radio show, while exploring my interest in the environment. Our team is small, but very friendly. They share my love for social justice and the environment. In addition to our impact-focused work, we also have lively discussions during lunch. Lastly, our view of the Boston waterfront is refreshing.

Pro Tools is the editing software that I learned how to use.

Pro Tools is the editing software that I learned how to use.

The juxtaposition between the seagulls that pass overhead and the airplanes that buzz over the sky reminds me why I care about environmental issues. Pollution, harmful toxins, deforestation, extinctions, climate change, among others are part of our world now. But so are animals, forests, deserts and oceans. We must learn how to mitigate the first list, so we can enjoy the second.

This internship is a great first step for me to use everything I’ve learned at Brandeis to understand how to further my impact. In addition to everything I’ve mentioned, there’s an unexpected perk: quite a few publishers send the office advanced copies of books. I already finished one, and I expect to get a lot more reading done this summer.

I look forward to continuing to document my experience! Until then, check out the show on loe.org

It has been a great first week at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health! The lab is located at William James Hall, which is named after the famous psychologist.

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William James Hall, Harvard University

 

The lab’s main mission is to improve child and adolescent mental health through the dissemination of evidence-based mental health practices. The projects span across many clinics and schools to test the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. The lab’s work is of further importance as many of the projects deal with providing quality mental health services to youth in lower income communities. One of the research projects I am helping out with tests the effectiveness of the “MATCH therapy”, which is an evidence-based treatment of childhood anxiety, depression, trauma, and conduct problems. Given that many of the studies are conducted over multiple years and have 100+ participants, maintaining the database is an integral part of the work being done in the lab. I help out with a lot of the “behind the scenes” work such as entering data from psychological measures in the database, verifying that information is correct, and updating participants’ files. For further information about the research projects you can follow this link.

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The office where I work. (the desk behind me was once owned by the well-known developmental psychologist Erik Erikson!)

 

For me, it is really interesting to see what the actual assessments look like and how data is put together to examine the psychological needs of a child. The work I am doing in the lab will hopefully help me figure out what my specific interests are within the field of child clinical psychology.

Another interesting aspect to my internship is getting the opportunity to sit in on lab meetings and presentations. I attended a presentation by one of the post-doctoral students regarding her work at Boston Children’s Hospital. The presentation topic was about the emerging field of pediatric psychology and how psychologists can positively impact a patient’s hospital stay and overall outcome. Several case studies were presented in which children who had traumatic injuries and severe illnesses had their psychological needs met in addition to their medical ones. The hospital can be a scary place for a child and having adequate psychological services can help kids cope with their illnesses. Pediatric psychologists can help with explaining the illness/injury in a developmentally appropriate way, addressing emotional concerns, and working through issues regarding self-identity. We also learned that it is also important to conduct a comprehensive screening as some children with chronic medical conditions have had their psychological needs previously overlooked as a result of their serious illness. The importance of early intervention and streamlining psychological screening was also discussed.

I also attended an MRI safety session at the Harvard Center for Brain Science. I went for training to obtain a “yellow badge” so that I can observe MRI scans and be a “scan buddy” for child participants. The training emphasized the importance of being vigilant about safety and how powerful the MRI machine is. We discussed what conditions/implants would be contraindicated for an MRI scan and what the safety procedures are. At the end of the training we went into the room with the machine and threw around a tennis ball filled with magnetic paper clips!

One of the videos that we watched during training can be viewed here:

Overall, I had a very exciting (and busy!) week at the lab and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the upcoming weeks.

Melissa Viezel, ’16

 

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Roots (also known as שורשים or جدور) is a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative aimed at building a grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Palestinians and Israelis through projects such as dialogue groups, photography workshops, interfaith exchanges, and children’s activities. Roots is based in the Gush Etzion/Bethlehem region, in the West Bank, on a plot of land that is owned by the Abu Awwad family and lovingly referred to as “the field.” Instead of a formal office space, the administrators of the organization, along with a network of volunteer activists, mostly work from their homes, while holding meetings and events at “the field.” This plot of land includes a room lined with beds, a small kitchen, an outdoor area with couches and plastic chairs, a greenhouse, and a freshly planted field with a small playground.

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Chairs set up for a dialogue group at Roots

Roots was founded on the basis of “dignity, trust and a mutual recognition and respect for both people’s historic belonging to the entire Land.” Their mission is to build a grassroots model for co-existence through non-violent means, believing that this can affect larger change in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This young organization has managed to reach nearly 13,000 people in their productive two years of existence.

The intern position at Roots is an informal role, so my schedule and tasks vary tremendously. As someone who is passionate about the work Roots is doing, but is not yet a member of either community, I see myself as a helping hand, assisting whomever I can however I can. For example, my first major task was to navigate Israeli bureaucracy in order to get twenty cameras out of customs for a women’s photography workshop Roots is running in a few weeks. While this was not a task I was expecting to undertake, it was definitely a learning experience nonetheless.

Aside from the cameras, I have been tasked with setting up a Facebook page for Roots’ international supporters, learning how to use Salesforce and enter donations data, organizing a meeting between an Israeli and a Palestinian who are each interested in running interfaith gatherings through Roots, helping with shopping for an interfaith iftar (break-fast during Ramadan), and other miscellaneous responsibilities.

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One of my goals for this summer is to gain insight into an Israeli/Palestinian non-profit, observing how grassroots peace organizations are built from the bottom-up. In the short time I have spent with the organization, I have already learned a great deal about the details and discussions that go on behind-the-scenes. Through my attendance at meetings of the leadership and the volunteer activists, I have already seen how much deliberation goes on about every decision – both regarding logistics and ideology.

Another goal that I have already begun to work on is my language skills. During meetings and events and just sitting around the field schmoozing, there is almost always a mix of English, Hebrew, and Arabic. I have sat through entire meetings in Hebrew, and while I don’t understand everything 100%, I am sure that my Hebrew is improving already. Additionally, I have begun to talk to Palestinians in Arabic and attempt to adjust to their dialect. While my Arabic is barely conversational, I have already received appreciation for trying to talk to others in their mother tongue.

I look forward to learning more, to doing more, and to becoming more inspired by these selfless individuals who care so much about their work every day.

Rivka (Rebecca) Cohen ’17

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Hello dear readers! My name is Amy Zhang and I am an intern at a Supportive Living Inc., a brain injury rehabilitation clinic located in Lexington, Massachusetts. Supportive Living is an organization that is dedicated to aiding brain injured members of the population through funding, housing, and rehabilitating programs at their multiple locations. I work at the Douglas House in Lexington that acts as sort of the hub center of all Supportive Living management. As one of ten new college interns, I participate in assisting with the physical therapy and other rehabilitating cognitive activities designed for each individual clinic’s residents. I, in layman’s terms, interact, help, and motivate the residents through different programs.

I just finished my first week of work and it certainly was an experience. You know that feeling of when you are in the cart of an ascending roller coaster? You know when the descent is going to happen and how it’s going to feel and yet that prior knowledge doesn’t really prepare you for the fall anyways? That’s kind of similar to how I felt during my first week. I had a pretty solid idea of what I would be doing for the internship and yet I still found myself being apprehensive throughout the whole week. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the work. The best part about this internship was the opportunity getting to interact with residents and other interns on a personal basis. But I was still constantly getting surprised by the kinds of conversations I would have with the residents. Working with brain injured patients, I had a vague idea of how difficult interacting with them might be. And yet, as I was working on activities like horticultural therapy with some of the patients, I found myself constantly being surprised by how easy it was to partake in regular daily conversations.

The first picture depicts interns interacting with some of the brain injury residents during a music therapy class while the second picture is some of the horticultural plants we work with.

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I get to also partake in a research project directed at creating the outlining foundation of a new wellness center. As I interview residents and employee staff, research online, and visit other wellness centers, I will summarize all my new information into a final research paper provided at the end of the summer. I also get to help with a video documentary directed at advertising the program to the community. On my fourth day, I got to attend video training at a local company called LexMedia. The documentary should and will showcase the daily activities of the residents and also the struggles of dealing with different brain injuries.

This picture is of the video lecturer at LexMedia.

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From this internship, I am hoping to attain a personal experience with working within a strong developing public health institution. As I hope to work in some aspect of public health one day, I think it is important for me to understand how a quickly growing public health institution works. I also hope I get to create more personal relationships with not only the other employees and interns, but also the residents at Supportive Living. I really want a more intimate perspective on how the inner workings of the institution operate and how effective it truly is.

I have so much to reflect upon about the beginning of my summer as a Workforce Development intern at the International Institute of Boston (IIB). IIB is a refugee resettlement agency, with two other locations, in Lowell, MA and Manchester, NH. When a refugee (or asylee, Cuban/Haitian entrant, or Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa recipient) is resettled in Boston, they are enrolled in Case Management, Employment Services, and English classes. I work with Employment Services. You can read IIB’s mission on their website, but to explain it in my own words, I will describe my job as a Workforce Development intern.

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This summer, IIB is in a temporary location, since their new building is under construction. Their interim space is now with the Asian American Civic Association (AACA), another non-profit with a goal of developing the workforce and promoting economic self-sufficiency.

My walk to AACA in Chinatown.

My walk to AACA in Chinatown.

I do many different projects and tasks with Employment Services. I create resumes for clients and then meet with them to review. I apply for jobs for clients after knowing their preferred positions and locations– the positions are mostly entry level, but the jobs vary on the English level of the client. I make retention calls to clients after they get jobs, and update the records, which is important for IIB to track how clients are doing in their jobs. Clients are enrolled in CRES or TAG, and both are funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, and you can read about them here. Something I did not expect was the amount of French I would be speaking (I took French from 6th-12th grade). I am often assigned to meet with Haitians with low-English literacy because I can translate material.

A big part of my job is teaching. On Mondays, I teach the Cultural Orientation Program (COP). New clients are enrolled in COP which runs for four weeks. This class covers living in the US, rights/ laws, education, personal finance, government, health/ hygiene, and sex ed. I never thought about these aspects of life in the US since I grew up here, but many of the clients come from countries where there are different cultural norms and expectations.I never pictured myself teaching consent to a group of young men from Somalia, but this internship always surpasses expectations.

On Fridays, another intern, Sylvia, and I lead the COP trip. Examples of the trips include the Freedom Trail, Boston Public Library, Harvard Square, and the State House. Also on Fridays, Sylvia and I teach the Workforce Orientation Workshop (coincidentally, another WOW acronym) to the same students in COP. After the trip, we give the students a break, and we prepare for the afternoon class, which also runs for four weeks. This class covers getting a job in the US, job etiquette and workplace standards, interview skills, and personal finance/ budgeting/ taxes. This class is a great way for people to learn about jobs they may have in the US, and how to apply and interview for them. It is difficult to find a job in a new country where you may not speak the language well, do not have professional references or a career network, and do not have an equivalent degree in the US to one you may have earned in your home country.

COP trip to the State House. IIB often requests this guide, Brian, who adjusts the tour for people who are new to the country and who may have low levels of English proficiency.

COP trip to the State House. IIB often requests this guide, Brian, who adjusts the tour for people who are new to the country and may have low levels of English proficiency.

My main goals for this summer were to see how this furthered my career interests and to apply what I am studying in school to my work. For my career interests, I have become more interested in non-profit management. For my academic goal, I have seen how my studies apply to my internship. I have been able to apply Politics and Economics classes, as well as certain classes like American Health Care. When I am teaching US policies, laws, and personal finance, I want to think more about what I have learned at Brandeis, and how it can help refugees who are assimilating to American social, political, and economic life.

I have already seen how rewarding the work can be– two brothers were recently resettled in Boston and enrolled in programs at IIB. From teaching them in COP and WOW, I could see how determined they were to get jobs. They were excited the day they received Social Security cards, which meant I could help them apply for jobs. I helped them apply for a job, took them to the local Citizens Bank to set up bank accounts, and practiced interview skills. In the same week, they each interviewed and were hired at the same full time job. After their first job, they can come back to IIB to enroll in the Service Industry Training Program or the Hospitality Training Program, and they can use any other employment service.

This is just the beginning. I’m looking forward to a fulfilling summer at IIB!

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18

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natural history front

This summer I am working, along with 6 other interns, at the North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The work of the interns varies each summer, but usually revolves around the artifacts, materials, and past research from the site at St. Catherine’s Island in Georgia, USA. The site at St. Catherine’s is significant because we can see around 5000 years of human habitation, relatively untouched until European contact, and there is still little modern activity or development on the Island. Some important areas of the excavation center around the Mission Santa Catalina de Gaule as well as the history of the native people of lived on the Island.

 

http://www.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/research/north-american-archaeology/projects/st.-catherines-island-ga

 

http://www.stcatherinesisland.org/history/spanish-colonial/

 

The goal for the interns this summer is to make it possible for the artifacts that have been brought to the lab from excavations over the last 10 years to be moved back down to Georgia in the Fall. The duties of the interns vary daily and weekly, but they will include consolidating and reorganizing the artifacts in the lab from the last several years of excavations on St. Catherine’s Island. The artifacts need to be consolidated so that they can be transferred to Georgia. They will be organized according to where and in what layer they were found instead of by material. I will be checking the documentation of these objects. Other tasks will include data entry, photography, the storing and handling of artifacts, and possibly photogrammetry related to the 3-D scanning of objects, and various forms of analysis. So far we have been working with materials from the most recent work on the Island. We cleaned several fragments of ceramic as well as shell. We have also sorted through materials found around features and several other sites, this included slowly going through bags of fine material to find hidden pieces of ceramic, fired clay, fish bones, certain lithics, and beads. As you can imagine, this is a long process in order to catch every piece of information, but we managed to finish sorting all of the leftover materials from the excavation and move on to cataloguing, and then sorting and consolidating some of the catalogued materials.

In terms of my goals for the summer, the first is to learn how to perform cursory and historical analysis of artifacts, and more importantly to be able to recognize different kinds of materials more accurately. I’m excited to learn from my fellow interns, who have varying levels of experience in the field and in different areas of North America and the rest of the world as well as my supervisors. On a more general level, my goal is of course to gain experience working in a professional archaeology lab. I have not worked in a lab nor had many experiences in a non-fieldwork setting, and I am eager to be able to increase my confidence of my own knowledge of archaeology and the nature of the sites I will be working with through the North American Archaeology Lab this summer!

View from the lab!

View from the lab!

Mozelle Shamash Rosenthal, ‘16

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This is me on my first day!

I have just completed my first week at American World Jewish Service (AJWS) in NYC, and I am overcome with excitement for the rest of my time at this incredible organization. Thanks to WOW, I have the opportunity to intern at AJWS as a Donor Engagement Intern in the development division. AJWS is the only Jewish organization dedicated solely to ending poverty and promoting human rights in the developing world. Highlights of AJWS’ work includes campaigning to stop the Darfur genocide, fighting global hunger, responding to the Ebola epidemic in Liberia and the earthquake in Nepal, and working to end violence against women, girls, and LGBT people worldwide. Here is a link to the organization’s website for more information. Feel free to browse around!

Highlights from my week:

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Stephen McGill and me!

 

Walking in on my first day, I was nervous but excited and up for any tasks. However, I was happy to discover that at AJWS interns are not asked to get coffee and do photocopying. Currently, there are only two people working in Donor Engagement, so I was right away thrust into real work. I have been responsible for finalizing details for an upcoming Study Tour Trip to Guatemala, and beginning the prep work for another Study Tour Trip to Uganda. Study Tours are designed to provide major donors a first-hand look at the impact their dollars are making. When I first heard about Study Tours, I had a lot of critical thoughts and hoped that AJWS is not taking their wealthy donors to intrude into impoverished and oppressed communities in order to evoke more sympathy for the purpose of receiving larger donations. To my relief, I learned that donors visit AJWS’ grantees, local organizations which are funded by AJWS. Therefore, study tours are an important initiative to inspire donors to continue to give to AJWS causes.

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to help my supervisor prepare for an event where AJWS’ incoming president, Robert Bank was in conversation with Frank Bruni, the New York Times first openly gay op-ed columnist. It was great to hear Bruni speak about his journey. Here is a link to AJWS’ facebook page for pictures from the event.

Lastly, on Friday I had the opportunity to meet and hear Stephen McGill speak. McGill is the director of Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL), an AJWS partner organization. McGill is in New York this week to join United Nations delegates and civil society representatives from around the world for the 2016 United Nations High-Level Meeting to End AIDS. He along with many others is fighting to end the systemic exclusion of marginalized communities including transgender people, sex workers, gay and bisexual men, drug users, migrants and prisoners from this conversation and movement.

Looking Forward:

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This is my cubicle!

I am very excited to continue with organizing Study Tours, helping with a marathon fundraising event, and continuing to learn how to use Raiser’s Edge, which is a database widely used by nonprofits for compiling lists of donors and their information. My other projects will include creating an organized system that will, for example, have information about different venues and caterers that the Donor Engagement department can utilize to efficiently plan different types of fundraising events. In addition, I will be working with the communications department to brainstorm a template and write newsletters on the Study Tours.

My goal is to soak up all aspects of this organization’s work. I want to leave with a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of a nonprofit organization. This includes learning both the positives and the negatives. I want to look into the difficulties that each department and the organization as a whole faces. I believe I joined the organization at an interesting time because the vice president of AJWS, Robert Bank, will be stepping into the role of president on July 1st. I am excited to observe and learn a lot from this transitional period. Attending and participating in meetings has already given me a perspective on the constant need for compromise when each department has a different vision and opinion of how something should be done. I plan to meet with members of the different departments that I am interested in to gain their perspectives on the organization, their contributions, and their journey. I am especially interested in meeting with members of the communication and media department because I am intrigued by how nonprofit organizations present issues and discuss the narratives of impoverished individuals. I want to investigate more empowering ways rather than dehumanizing or exploitative, to present these types of narratives.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for my second post!

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The front doors of Rosie’s Place located at 889 Harrison Ave in Boston.

This summer I am working at Rosie’s Place located in Boston’s South End. Rosie’s Place is a sanctuary for poor and homeless women founded in 1974 by Kip Tiernan as the first women’s shelter in the United States, with the mission to provide a safe and nurturing environment that helps guests maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives. Rosie’s Place provides a wide range of services and support for women including meals, emergency overnight shelter, education, advocacy, and many more found in the directory of programs and services.

One of the first things I learned about Rosie’s Place during my phone interview and reiterated during my first day was Rosie’s prides itself on being a sanctuary – not just a shelter – for women and being there to help with the needs of the guests who walk through the doors. Rosie’s is committed not only to help guests and their needs on the day to day basis but also working in public policy to change laws to bring social change in issues relating to poverty and homelessness.

My first week at Rosie’s as one of the eight summer interns (including Ari Keigan ’18) was overwhelming but very rewarding. I am in the Direct Service department and am on the front lines helping guests at the front desk.

As the first point of contact for guests, I work to create a warm, friendly, welcoming, and supportive environment and learn about the needs of the guests and direct them to how Rosie’s can help. I have covered the front desk before at my job at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, but I had not expected how busy and demanding it would be. It truly requires me to be flexible and be able to multitask.

The bulletin board with bios of the summer interns posted for the community to see.

For example, some of the tasks I am responsible for include answering questions in person and over the phone sorting, organizing and checking mail for the guests, and helping guests sign up for showers, laundry, phones or computers. During my first week I have already experienced having to answer the phone while organizing mail and politely asking a guest to wait before I can help them all at the same time. At first I was quite intimidated working at the front desk because I was afraid of giving out the wrong information but with the help of my supervisors, I was encouraged to ask questions and assured that it was okay if I put people on hold because I was not required to know all the answers right away.

I am grateful as part of my internship, all summer interns participate in a series of seminars that explore social justice issues on Friday afternoons. During our first meeting, we got the chance to listen and discuss how the week went in our individual departments. Two points we had discussed were checking our own privilege and wanting to help as much as we can but learning how to say no. We also discussed the four main goals of the internship and our two individual department goals.

The four internship goals are 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 are 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.

The work that I am doing is difficult but it is work that needs to be done, and I am excited for what is more to come.

Tina Nguyen ’17

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This summer I am lucky enough to have an internship at The Fortune Society in New York City.  This is a non-profit organization that provides a wide variety of services to formerly incarcerated or at-risk individuals, such as housing, counseling, and employment services to name only a few.  The mission of Fortune is “to support successful reentry from prison and promote alternatives to incarceration, thus strengthening the fabric of our communities.”  This is accomplished primarily by believing in an individual’s ability to change with the right guidance.  This site is good because it elaborates on some of the most popular of services provided by the agency.  During my time at Fortune, I will be working in the housing department as well as the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy (DRCPP), where one of the bigger projects I will help with is to conduct a study related to the effect of criminal background questions in New York State.  This effort is called Ban-the-Box, and can be more closely reviewed here.  This week, I spent most of my time at the housing center and orientation for the DRCPP starts next week where I will look forward to meeting the rest of the interns.  

Fortune's Harlem site, known as Castle Gardens. (photo: fortunesociety.org)

Fortune’s Harlem site, known as Castle Gardens. (photo: fortunesociety.org)

During my time at the housing center thus far, I have worked with numerous people with varying roles in the organization so I can learn about the efforts of the Center in a holistic manner. I look forward to understanding more about how to create a successful and supportive transitional housing building which is occupied by formerly incarcerated individuals.  Every client utilizing the housing services at Fortune is immediately assigned a case manager upon entry to the program who remains in close contact with the client during their time at Fortune.  

Case managers typically talk to their clients at least every other week, and through my experience so far, there seems to be an amicable relationship between the two individuals, which creates a more comfortable environment for the client.  I had the opportunity to work closely with one case manager in particular; he walked me through conducting room inspections for clients, compiling reports into the computer, and then filing the reports.  Next week I will start having one-on-one conversations with clients to discuss their progress in the program including strategizing employment opportunities, overcoming substance abuse, and addressing other issues relevant to their successful re-entry from prison.

My desk at Castle Gardens.

My desk at Castle Gardens.

Earlier in the week I also worked closely with the supervisor of residential aides; in addition to him showing me the conveniently stocked break room, which was a plus, he guided my through documenting incidents concerning clients. From what I documented, incidents can range from an ambulance being called for a client to a client’s unfortunate re-incarceration to a physical brawl between clients.  Perhaps the most shocking and dare I say uncomfortable thing I’ve done so far was administer a urine toxicology test, where I had to watch a client urinate into a plastic cup and proceed to test it for a variety of drugs.  Luckily for both me and the client, all of the results were negative.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the summer—I really feel like I have the ability to both directly and indirectly help people.

Ely Schudrich ‘19

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This summer I will be a research intern at an organization called Verité, which is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. Verité is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes fair, safe and legal labor practices around the world. In particular, they address forced labor/slavery, child labor, systemic gender inequalities and discrimination within the workplace, and dangerous working conditions. They provide four major services including assessment, research, training and consultation in order to help companies identify any problems or violations within their labor supply chains. Verité facilitates working relationships with local NGOs, governments, and international institutions in order to increase accountability among corporations and to expand the capacity of local NGOs.

The entrance to the lower floor of Verité, where the interns work

The entrance to the lower floor of Verité, where the interns work

The community at Verité is warm and welcoming, and the interns are made to feel like a part of that community. On my first day, my fellow interns and I congregated around an oval table in a small conference room where we were introduced to our supervisors, and were given a presentation outlining our responsibilities. The presentation contained staple resources which we will use in our research, such as the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons reports, and the International Labour Organization’s website.

Throughout the summer, I will be assigned to help out with various projects. My first project is to update a few annual reports assessing production labor practices in specific countries; at the moment, I am working on the Taiwan report. A large American pension fund uses these updated reports to guide their investments.  Highlighting changes in each country’s labor practices report, whether the new information is positive or negative, will allow the pension fund to make more socially responsible investments, thus supporting countries with fair labor practices.

Because there is a no naming-and-shaming policy at Verité, much of the information I am given to research, as well as the standing of certain organizations, must remain confidential. However, the research I do will be used to establish statistics that will eventually be presented to the public.

Much of the Verité’s work revolves around combating forced labor. In this TEDx talk, Dan Viederman, the former CEO of Verité, gives an in-depth explanation on modern-day slavery in labor supply chains.

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My desk space and research materials

At Brandeis, I hope to create an independent interdisciplinary major (IIM) in human rights. I believe that this internship will be a highly valuable experience that will contribute to how I shape and focus my major. I hope to expand my researching skills, in order to positively contribute to Verité, as well as to learn new information for myself. Being immersed in an organization that focuses solely on human rights is an incredible opportunity, as I will be able to communicate with and learn from people who have varying roles in the world of human rights, which will allow me to explore the abundance of careers available in that field.

Verité's beautiful backyard/lunch break destination

Verité’s beautiful backyard/lunch break destination

Georgia Nichols, ’18

 

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This is almost my third week at the American Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter. Every day here is different because the organization’s work is heavily influenced by what happens in the world. Right now, we have been sending volunteers to Orlando to help at the Mental Health Department of the Red Cross. Since 23 of the victims were Puerto Ricans, we are also establishing support services in the island. The fact that I’m working with such an active organization is a privilege. We have also been sending volunteers to Texas, where there are heavy floods and people have been moved to refuges. Although I don’t go on these trips, I have the opportunity to see how these activities are planned and interact with the volunteers that are sent.

Shirt that I was given for the pillowcase talks!

Shirt that I was given for the pillowcase talks!

I mostly work under Disaster Relief Department but some days I help out with other departments such as the Volunteer Services.  In the disaster department, I am in charge of managing a Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, which means that I am in charge of planning and implementing the program. Through this, I have also begun training to become a “Pillowcase Presenter”. The Pillowcase Project is a “preparedness education program for children in grades 3 – 5, which teaches students about personal and family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills” (Red Cross website). I have had the opportunity to attend these talks and I’m excited to be given the opportunity of presenting a talk soon.

Picture from a Pillowcase talk! There were aout 50 kids, and the presenter did a really good job!

Picture from a Pillowcase talk! There were about 50 kids, and the presenter did a really good job!

 

The first day of my internship, I had the opportunity to attend a symposium on volunteering in Puerto Rico. They talked about making volunteers feel useful and important. I think this applies to internships as well, and I have felt very useful and important at the Red Cross so far. Moreover, I have gained a new perspective on running an organization like the Red Cross. They are an amazing and well-respected organization, but this is because of the work and dedication of the employees. The employees get here at 8 am and try to leave by 4:30pm, although most of them stay way past that. The “work environment” is also very friendly, from people constantly offering me coffee in the mornings to everyone knowing my name since my first day, and every day we all have lunch together.

Needless to say, I’m learning a lot from a business perspective, but also gaining tons of administrative and logistical skills that I didn’t have before. I’m also learning a lot about disaster management, which is very unique but important. I’m excited to see how the following weeks unfold, and I’m excited to have such an unpredictable but amazing internship opportunity thanks to the WOW fellowship.

Claudia Roldan Rivera ’18

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Courthouse

Outside of Boston Municipal Courthouse

I used to think criminal justice was like a puzzle. Lawyers and judges were given a set of rules to apply and, as long as they followed those rules, they could ensure a just outcome. I have since realized, however, that unlike puzzles, criminal justice does not come in a box with a picture of justice on the front. We can only ensure that the rules will lead to an acceptable outcome if we constantly discuss and define what it means for law and punishment to be just.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Victim Witness Assistance Program, where I am interning this summer, is a product of this continually evolving understanding of justice.

The Victim’s Bill of Rights was established in 1982, resulting in 44 states adopting statutes to give victims access to funds, protection, case information, and rights to attend trial. Massachusetts enacted the legislation in 1984, establishing Victim Witness Assistance Programs in every District Attorney’s Office in the state. The VWA Program is a source of legal and emotional support for the victims and witnesses of crimes and their families and ensures that their legal rights are not forgotten during the criminal prosecution process.

Boston Municipal Courthouse

Inside of Boston Municipal Courthouse

 

As an intern, I work directly with the two full time advocates. In my first week as an intern, I have come to learn how the small VWA office—easy to miss in the corner of the bustling Boston Municipal Courthouse—plays a fundamental role in maintaining the morality and justice of many proceedings. The advocates are primarily charged with contacting and meeting witnesses and victims of crimes to ensure that these individuals remain aware of the status of their case, know their participatory and compensatory rights, and feel comfortable during and after the trial. The job of the advocates is not only important for the well-being of the victims and witnesses, but is also essential to the legal process as a whole. Often these vulnerable individuals provide material testimony and, without the support of the advocates, would be unwilling or unable to come to trial.

In my first week, I was primarily tasked with writing letters to victims of crimes to updates of proceedings so they know when they can or should appear in court. I also spent time editing case files to ensure Assistant District Attorneys had updated information during arraignments and trial. My biggest task was to learn the workings of the office and gain my footing in the courthouse. I learned how to use the internal management software to find past crime records, which courtroom to go to depending on the stage of the proceeding, and have accumulated a lengthy list of the important legal jargon.

I also shadowed the advocates and spent time in the courtroom during different stages of the criminal proceedings. This included observing trials and arraignments and participating in advocate-victim meetings. I hope to utilize this internship to clarify my future career options and interests. The knowledge and exposure to the courtroom this internship is affording will make this goal not only achievable, but nearly inevitable.

It is easy to forget that criminal justice serves a purpose beyond punishment. We want law to reflect a code of fairness and equality and to protect the inherent moral worth of both the criminal and the victim. Ensuring that our penal code maintains a standard of justice is certainly not a simple goal, but it is undoubtedly one towards which we must constantly strive.

This summer, I am excited to contribute to that goal.

 

 

My ID to get into the courthouse each day

Dustin Fire, ’17

 

I recently started my second summer internship with One Mission (OM), a pediatric cancer foundation that does whatever it takes to help kids get through cancer. “Rather than fund long-term solutions like research, One Mission programs and services provide immediate relief from the relentless wrath cancer unleashes every single day,” says the OM mission statement. One Mission is located in Framingham, MA. The organization is very small, currently only 5 employees and a few interns, yet they do big things for the pediatric cancer community.

The Shave Line at the Buzz Off. Where all of the buzzing happens

The Shave Line at the Buzz Off. Where all of the buzzing happens!

On Sunday June 5th, 2016, I helped out at their 7th annual Buzz Off for Kids with Cancer at Gillette Stadium. “The One Mission Buzz Off is a fun and unforgettable event where passionate people come together to shave their heads in honor and support of kids with cancer; kids who don’t have the choice to lose their hair. Just like a walk or road race, participants raise money by asking family and friends to sponsor their participation,” explains the Buzz Off website. Last year was my first Buzz Off and I immediately fell in love with the organization and their event. Seeing 8 year old girls walking in all excited to shave their heads is an amazing site for which words cannot do justice.

Working the Volunteer Registration table the day of the Buzz Off!

Working the Volunteer Registration table the day of the Buzz Off!

Since the Buzz Off is such a large event, drawing thousands of people and raising over a million dollars, most of my time so far has been spent preparing for the Buzz Off and helping with all of the post event tasks like reorganizing the office and inputting offline check donations into our online fundraising system. These tasks at times can be tedious, especially when I have a giant stack of checks on my desk and spend hours straight working on them, but I know it is important for the Buzz Off so that OM can do all it does and more for patients.

Packing for the Buzz Off

Packing for the Buzz Off.

As time passes and we get further away from the Buzz Off I will start working on more long term projects. I have begun to work on an internship outreach project. Essentially, I am working on how to advertise my job to other college students and contacting local universities about how to post the opportunity for their students. Interns have a large impact on OM. Since it is such a small organization, any extra people around are helpful. We often do things that the main employees don’t have much time for, such as unpacking and organizing the office after the Buzz Off. Therefore, despite the fact that this project does not directly impact patients, it does help OM to function better and have the capacity to do more for the patients in the long run.

One Mission funds yoga classes for patients and their families as a way to manage stress during treatment

One Mission funds yoga classes for patients and their families as a way to manage stress during treatment.

My goals for the summer are to work on more long term projects in order to have a bigger impact on the organization. This internship project is not what I originally pictured but at the same time it does help me work towards my goals.

– Jennifer Rossman

This summer, I will be interning at the Chicago Innocence Center in Chicago, IL. The Chicago Innocence Center (CIC) is a non-profit organization that uses an investigative journalism lens to find evidence towards exonerating wrongfully convicted prisoners. Unlike most Innocence Projects throughout the nation, CIC is not attached to a legal clinic or law school and instead sits at the intersection of law, journalism, and social work. Since 2011, this incredible organization has helped exonerate four wrongfully convicted individuals. Some of these individuals were in prison for thirty years or more. Some spent much of their time in prison in solitary confinement, which was detrimental to their psychological well-being. Many individuals experience police brutality leading to false confessions. Through CIC’s research, they are able to right the wrongs of the criminal justice system and find the truth in cases that have been ignored or lost in bureaucracy.

 

The CIC Office Building

CIC strongly believes in independence, diversity, and community engagement. Their team of summer and year-round interns come from colleges all over the country and represent diversity in race, gender, hometown, and academic concentration. As one of the summer interns, I am so lucky to work with six other college students from schools all over the country. On my first day, I met my fellow interns, who are truly an incredible group of young people interested in social justice and positive systemic change in the criminal justice system. I am really looking forward to working together with the interns to help CIC with its mission. While the main CIC office is located directly in the heart of downtown Chicago, my work as a research intern will take me all over the city. In addition to working at CIC headquarters, I will travel to libraries, prisons, archives, and courthouses.

While my research will take many forms, I am starting by introducing myself to criminal law through text. Right now, I am reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which discusses the mass incarceration of African Americans in the United States as well as The Death of Innocents by Sister Helen Prejean, which chronicles the Sister’s experience working with men on Death Row whom she believes to be innocent. These texts will give me an introduction to the flaws in our criminal justice system. Additionally, I am working on finding relevant events to attend that explore race, violence, the prison system, criminal and restorative justice, and community development. I look forward to networking with important leaders in the criminal justice reform community through attending workshops, speeches, and symposiums.

Taking the Train to Work

 

I am so excited to continue my work at the CIC in order to fulfill my goals for the summer. I hope to apply sociological theories I’ve learned in school to real-world situations, gain experience in both legal and social work strategies to determine if I want to pursue law or social work in post-baccalaureate studies, and develop a stronger personal confidence. I truly believe CIC will serve as a catalyst to help me achieve my goals and I am so honored and excited to continue to contribute to an amazing organization.

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For my internship this summer I am working at ExpandED Schools, formerly known as TASC (The After-School Corporation), a non-profit organization in New York City dedicated to closing learning gaps. Thee Glossary of Education Reform defines learning gaps as the difference between what a student has learned… and what the student was expected to learn at a certain point in his or her education”. The organization focuses on creating an expanded school day and increased learning hours through after school enrichment programs to help reduce learning gaps. Part of the organization’s work is directly with schools and after school programs. The other part focuses on research and policy to fix issues effecting community partners through policy reform, advocacy, or other means.

Expanded pic

http://www.expandedschools.org/about-us#sthash.n5MHnT91.dpbs

I am working as a member of the research and policy team. Previously, most of my work in education has been direct work with children. I greatly enjoyed my Education Policy class in the fall semester and realized it was an area in which I wanted to gain more experience and insight. I can already tell that my internship will provide me with wonderful opportunities. My boss and mentor is Saskia Traill, Vice President of Policy and Research. She and the rest of the office have been so helpful and welcoming to me. I appreciate that the office actually respects me as an intern. I have been given real work and feel like a member of the staff. I even have my own desk and phone extension!

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I am currently researching partnerships between after-school programs and colleges and universities, and I am exploring ways to create a central system for university students to easily get involved in after school programs for elementary, middle, and high school students. I will be writing a policy memo about what I discover in my research to be used in future projects. I have also helped the advocacy department put together and deliver letters from some of ExpandED Schools’ partners to their council members. These personal messages to council members were part of a big project for the advocacy team during the very important budget allocations taking place this month.

I hope to gain a great deal from my internship this summer and I know ExpandED Schools will provide me with many opportunities to grow. I look forward to learning more about what it means to work in education policy; connecting with other professionals within the field of education who can share a variety of perspectives about careers and approaches; and improving my research and writing skills.

I have really enjoyed my internship this past week and am excited to see what the rest of the summer brings.

 

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Retrieved from https://etecamphaiti.wordpress.com Date accessed: June 6, 2016

This summer I will be working with the Empowering Through Education (ETE) Camp located in Hinche, Haiti. This organization’s primary mission is to serve underprivileged youth that do not have access to comprehensive education and positive leadership. One of the ways this organization achieves its mission is by strengthening their students’ academic skills in courses such as Engineering, Math and Literacy/English. Coming into this position, I felt relatively comfortable as I have worked with educators during my last internship as a teaching fellow. Nonetheless, I was eager to gain new ideas and skills to strengthen my curriculum for my camp class.

I am now forming a literacy curriculum that will be critiqued by the Boston Public School English as a Second Language (ESL) volunteer teachers. In this pre-departure section of my internship, I am charged with the task of collecting pieces of literature that would enhance students’ vocabulary in order to form this curriculum. The topics range from writing introductions to learning new vocabulary. The fear I have with this task emerges from the language barrier as most citizens speak Haitian Creole. Additionally, teaching English poses as a challenge for me because my teaching experience reside exclusively in Mathematics, specifically Pre-Algebra and Algebra.

Here is the daily schedule for the camp. I will be teaching three classes with a co-teacher. My classes are circled in blue.

Here is the daily schedule for the camp. I will be teaching three classes with a co-teacher. My classes are circled in blue.

My first week of work was filled with anxiety and uncertainty. However I am aware that comfort and growth do not co-exist. In order to combat my anxiety, it is my desire to perform adequate research in what an English literacy curriculum will look like. This anxiety sheds light on the importance of organizing and planning. This internship allows me to build skills in planning and ultimately developing an efficient curriculum. I am quite simply learning how to properly plan in the realm of education. While improving my planning skills, I am learning that one must consider elements such as environmental factors, time delays, and progress of the students. I am learning to organize a curriculum that is flexible and almost invincible to any possible curve ball. Planning is essential in this internship. During one’s class time, it is important that they maintain composure and diligence in the presence of students.

Thankfully, I have the help of my co-workers and my amazing director. I am learning quite quickly that I should seek help in times of uncertainty. With that being said, self agency is celebrated in my academic life especially at Brandeis. Yet, in collaborative workspaces such as these, asking for help is not a sign of incompetence. As a new employee, I didn’t want to live with the fear of appearing incompetent or too dependent on my director for assistance. After engaging in other conversations with my peers, I’ve learned that many of them seek inspiration from online sources for curriculum ideas from other teachers. Most importantly, I’ve learned that feeling stuck or nervous about the efficacy of one’s curriculum is not a foreign feeling in education. If anything, I am learning that it is a sign of ambition, passion, and intrinsic care for the students. A mantra that is often repeated in this workspace is “Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Along with building a literacy curriculum, I plan to conduct a writing project that includes West Indian literature that centers around self-agency or coming of age stories. I wish to include works from the Haitian diaspora including the works of Haitian-American writer Edwidge Dancticat. One of the core texts I wish to examine and pull inspiration is from Haiti Noir 2 : The Classics and The Butterfly’s Way : Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, a collection of fictional stories created by young writers of Haitian descent. I believe the texts will help me in including materials that are culturally relevant to students and not to mention that both texts are edited by Edwidge Danticat. For those with knowledge of writers from not only Haitian literature but other West Indian literature, please feel free to comment with texts or articles you think will be helpful.

Literacy Curriculum ETE

The director was kind enough to give me a sample Literacy curriculum from previous sessions. This was incredibly helpful. Never be afraid to ask for help!

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My own personal corner of the lab

I just finished the first week of my internship at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine. Thanks to my WOW fellowship, I’ll be here all summer helping to modify an existing treatment for neuroblastoma. According to the American Cancer Society, neuroblastoma is a cancer of the nerve cells that affects young children; it is the most prevalent form of cancer in babies [1]. As my supervisor explained to me on my first day of work, neuroblastoma is especially horrible because the current treatments are far from ideal. At present, there is a very high relapse rate in patients who have been “cured” of neuroblastoma; I was shocked to hear that there is a 60-70% failure rate from remission.

Check out this site for some heartbreaking, and hopeful, patient stories that humanize this horrible illness.

Once in remission, patients often receive an immunotherapy treatment called ch.14.18 (which, fun fact, was pioneered by my lab’s PI!). Ch.14.18 is an antibody that attacks the GD2 antigen present on neuroblastoma cells. However, I learned that a major problem is that the antigens are also present on nerve cells; therefore, this treatment is painful. Additionally, I was saddened to hear that even with the immunotherapy, there is a low 4-year survival rate at about only 55%. I will be conducting research to see whether adding an experimental compound to the ch.14.18 treatment improves its efficacy. While this may seem like a simple goal, testing this hypothesis will require numerous complex and time-consuming experiments, many of which have never been done before.

This week I conducted my first experiment. While I did not obtain great data, I learned a lot about the process of cancer research, which I am finding to be an art as much as an exact science. I was introduced to a variety of techniques I will be using throughout the summer, most importantly, cell culture. In order to conduct my experiments, I need tumor cells to treat, so this week I learned about maintaining human tumor cell lines in vitro (meaning, in the lab). Cells are quite finicky about the conditions they require for growth, and are also high maintenance, requiring new media every couple of days (a process known as “feeding”) as well as “splitting” when the growth becomes too dense. Check out this link for more information on cell culture.

I conducted a preliminary experiment looking at the effects of two different antibodies, as well as the experimental compound, on a human neuroblastoma cell line. Already on day two I was given the freedom to design my own experiment, as far as picking my controls and determining the concentrations of the compounds that I added to my cells. Today I collected and analyzed the data, which deviated from my expectations, so I will be re-doing the experiment next week. I learned an important lesson: research (often) doesn’t go as planned, and as a newbie, mistakes are practically unavoidable.

I’m excited to learn more about the research process this summer and to become adept at the techniques I’ve been introduced to. Also, as a pre-vet student, this internship provides an excellent opportunity to see how I like biomedical research, as lately I’ve been thinking about non-clinical aspects of veterinary medicine that might interest me. All in all, I am excited to forge ahead with my research and hopefully make my own small contribution to this very important field.

Source:

www.cancer.org/cancer/neuroblastoma/detailedguide/neuroblastoma-what-is-neuroblastoma

 

 

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Fact: a productive lab is a cluttered lab!

Michelle Oberman, ’16 (Dec)

 

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This is Cinco Puntos Press from the outside. I love that it is a colorful place; it is what a publishing company that has come be known for their colorful picture books should look like, I think.

Minutes before the airplane landed, I knew I was not in Kansas anymore… I am just kidding with all of you. I happen to come from New York. But, I have come to a land that I never thought of coming: El Paso, Texas.

I bet a lot of people would instantly assume that I have come here to do some work with immigrants because I am coming to a place very close to the border between Mexico and US. I don’t know, I get the sense people would just think something completely opposite to what I have really come here to do. To answer your questions, I found an internship in Cinco Puntos Press, which is a publishing company that exists since 1985. Their main aim when the founders, Bobby Byrd and Lee Byrd, created Cinco Puntos was to publish stories that would represent different diverse groups of people in literature. What I have been able to discover, in the little time that I have been here, is that they publish literary work that focuses beyond the Chicano (Mexican-American) experience. I mean right now I am proofreading a book, called Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel, which is coming out in October. The story is about an Indian-American girl, specifically Gujarati, who deals with her parents’ divorce and a dreadful sexual abuse experience through hip-hop in the early 90s. The book takes place in Moloka’i, Hawaii, and what makes it interesting and compelling is this clash of cultures in this remote place we do not hear about too often. Mrs. Byrd told me that the great thing about publishing books, such as Rani Patel, is that the book is a vehicle to another world; a portal that yearns for other people to glance at a completely different world from ours.

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This Mrs. Byrd reviewing all the artwork that it is going to be part of one of their new picture books. Although, Cinco Puntos does not just publishes pictures books.

The book won the BEA (BookExpo America) Book Buzz Award in the YA (Young Adult) section and it is getting ready to come out this upcoming October. But first I am going through the text, proofreading it, before the press prints the all copies that will be distributed all over the country’s bookstores. In addition, as a way to promote the book, I have also been sending ARCs (Advance Readers Copy) to different critics and reviewers all over the nation, including at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, among others.

What I love about the working environment at Cinco Puntos is that it is quite calm and informal. The staff is incredibly amicable and they all want me to learn and glean as much as possible about the publishing industry through their internship. For instance, John Byrd (the vice-president and son of the founders), told me to read The Chicago Manual of Style. He said that every editor needs to know this manual by heart. The book sort of introduces you to a new world. It explains you the dos and don’ts of being an editor reviewing a writer’s work or a writer submitting work to an editor. If you are an editor reviewing a writer’s work, there are even several different marks that you need to learn when proofreading—always, of course, with a red pen, which John Byrd emphasized very well.

I think the world of work is different to my academic life, in the sense that it focuses on two aspects: quality but also making business. Selling a book is not easy, especially these days with a lot of self-publishing books, meaning way more competition. A book must sell, that is the primary concern that an editor questions when reviewing a manuscript. In my academic life, I do not worry so much about whether what I am reading is publishable or not. Or whether the work has been read by a lot of people or by very few. At school, we concern more about interpreting what we read and understanding it. However, this internship has allowed me to do both, hone my skills interpreting and close-reading texts, but in addition to learn more about the business wise aspect of it.

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These are Mrs. Byrd (to the left) and Mr. Byrd (to the right). Both are my supervisors this summer.

I am quite content working this summer at Cinco Puntos. My bosses are nurturing and caring. They care about me as a human being and my learning—they bring this human quality that is unforgettable, and that I bet it is hard to obtain if I were interning, perhaps, in New York. I mean, they even bothered to pick me up at the airport and have invited me twice to their house for dinner and it has only been a week.

The skills that I am learning here will obviously transfer to the way I will interpret texts in the future and it has also opened a door for me to conduct more research on the different efforts that have been made to diversify the book industry. Mrs. Byrd and Mr. Byrd have their own take on the subject and it is refreshing and nuanced. I think, whether I decide to work in the publishing industry in the future, my time at Cinco Puntos Press will definitely prepare me for me to plunge into it.

 

Best,

Santiago Montoya ’19

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This summer, I am working at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, located a bit north of downtown San Antonio. The Esperanza Center serves primarily the Westside of San Antonio, but also reaches out to other underrepresented and marginalized folks—women, people of color, queer people, the working class and those with low income. The most condensed way to explain what Esperanza actually does is arts programming and community organizing, but that includes a broad spectrum of activities. The Esperanza Center will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary in 2017.

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Esperanza Peace & Justice Center (photo: A.Christilles)

Since there are only five full-time staff, interns take on various responsibilities. I am more involved in Esperanza’s environmental work, which consists primarily of reading and analyzing the SA Tomorrow Sustainability Plan and writing about the proposed Vista Ridge Pipeline. SA Tomorrow is a three-part future plan for the city. This week, my job has been to read and critique the Sustainability portion. Often, “sustainability” or “green” measures detrimentally affect low-income and marginalized people by raising prices and forcing people from their neighborhoods. Much of the critique I am doing revolves around implementation of the plan and gentrification. Representatives from Esperanza and the greater community will meet city officials to address these concerns while the draft undergoes finalization this summer.

I will also keep track of the Vista Ridge pipeline. The proposed pipeline will transfer water from Burleson County south to San Antonio. The pipeline poses different issues pertaining to privatizing water. The financial instability of the project, only recently addressed, and steep water rate hikes are the top of these concerns. The Esperanza Center and other organizations like Mi Agua Mi Vida Coalition have demonstrated against the pipeline’s construction.

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Proposed Vista Ridge Pipeline (image from the San Antonio Water Authority website)

With all of the other events going on at the Center, information about this deal has fallen to the wayside, so part of my job is keeping folks updated about this through La Voz, the Esperanza Center’s monthly publication.

I’m excited to be back home and interacting with the issues that first led me towards environmental justice. I have already seen firsthand how climate change affects my home, and I appreciate the opportunity to approach these issues from an intersectional perspective. Environmental destruction affects people on different axes, and the Esperanza Center takes this into account. I find it more productive to work in a place where I grew up and where have context. I also appreciate the opportunity to work off of a college campus. I hope pursue a career in grassroots activism and social justice work, and this would internship would grant me the opportunity to see how it works in the real world and not just a campus bubble. This internship will guide me in exploring parts of the city I’ve never seen before and hopefully inform me more about my Chicana culture as well.

Anastasia Christilles, ’18

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Organizing it is a meaningful, but demanding job. I enjoy very much the relationship that those in the Worker Justice Project create with its members. These people need the support WJP gives them to stand up to unfair wages, and the abuse they face in their everyday jobs. This is my mid-point blog, in which I will describe how these past weeks had been as a Worker Justice. I am still working on the research with Cornell together with Angel Sanchez, my supervisor. It has become a routine to wake up around 4am so I am able to reach the site around 6 am. Then, between 6 am and 11 am, Angel and I observe, and sometimes converse with the day laborers. Sometimes the places we visit are filled with hardworking immigrants, other times we visit corners, in which a lot of issues are present. For example, we recently visited the corner situated between East Tremont Ave and Westchester Square. The majority of day laborers at this corner felt our presence to be hostile; they stared at us and even approached us to tell us to leave. I did not feel safe at such a place, filled with men that reeked of alcohol and marijuana. A few day labors were open to talked and explained to us how this corner worked, “Estamos divididos en dos grupos: los que quieren trabajar y los que vienen a bochinchar y pasar el rato.” (We are divided into two groups: Those who want to work, and those who come to fool around and waste time). This division was palpable to us, outsiders. This experience allowed me to understand that corners are a unique and complex world, which inner-work we do not completely understand.

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Besides, observing for the research Cornell was conducting on corners and day labors, I was still working on mapping the corners in the Bronx. So, after 11 am I explored the surrounding areas, and visited multiple offices, churches and other institutions to introduce the organization, as well as, our purpose and work with day labors. Many of these institutions were not interested in our work or the well being of these day labors, which made it difficult for us to organize the community to provide essential protection to these workers. Day laborers face numerous barriers in their work; a vast majority of them are illegal immigrants, who need to feed their family. Their only source of income is doing these jobs for cheaper rates, and without any guarantees that they will work on a safe environment, that they will be provided adequate equipment, or even that they will get paid the amount that was promised. They are unable to seek legal retribution or consult because of their illegal residence in the United States.

This summer working with the WJP, I have learned a lot about the labor movement, Unions, how corners work and the type of individuals that work at these sites, as well as, the issues that they face. But, learning about these issues from someone is incredibly different than when you are listening to these stories from the people themselves. It really does stir up something in your belly that pressures you to do something about it, to stand up and support these people to grow, and that is exactly what the Worker Justice Project does. WJP does not only help them face their problems, but trains them to become problem-solvers, conscious, resilient, and independent individuals so when faced with other problems

Lisbeth Bueno ’17

My last post regarding my summer involvement with the Workers Justice Project is not a happy one, but undeniably it serves as a learning experience. This summer, I worked as hard as possible to make a good impression, as well as, to create connections with the members I was working with. The job I was doing focused on fieldwork, which felt meaningful and important. And even though it was extremely demanding of my time and energy, and I worked very flexible and bizarre hours, I did not complain. A couple weeks before the end of my internship, my supervisor, Angel Sanchez, moved from Queens, NY to South Caroline looking for a change of scenery and environment. After he left, I was given a sort of odd vacation, since they did not know what to do with me. Therefore, for about a week or so I was given nothing to work on, and I just stayed home. It was very frustrating, since I decided to pursue this internship to do something significant and satisfying over the summer, but most times I felt I was not helpful or needed. During that period my grandmother became sick (she is a cancer survivor with other major health issues). I utilized my free time to tend to her, and help around the house. The director of WJP reached out to me, and after explaining my situation, I asked for some time (3 days max.) to help my grandmother before I went back to my duties in WJP. Unfortunately, she reached out to IWJ and I was terminated from my internship. I was heart broken that after all my hard work, and the time I put into this internship over the summer I was terminated over the situation I was facing. I felt I had to make a choice between helping my grandmother or continuing my work with WJP. I, of course, decided to be with my family.

http://workersjustice.org/2015/04/27/marching-for-the-right-to-a-safe-workplace-on-workers-memorial-day/

Even though, I feel the end of my internship was a failure and a disappointment, the exciting time I spend working with IWJ and WJP before then, was a rewarding and satisfactory experience. This summer overall, I had an opportunity to learn about the labor movement, and the impact still has on workers. Also, I learned about Day Labors and had a chance to work towards the betterment of their work environment together with them. I will never forget the conversations I had with numerous members, the places I visited together with my supervisor, or the conferences and meetings I was part of and I had the opportunity to voice my opinion and concerns. Undeniably, I would have preferred to end my internship in a positive note, but even though it did not, the experiences I lived this summer were more meaningful and satisfactory that any misunderstanding or disagreement I faced during my time with the Workers Justice Project. Therefore, I am grateful to WJP, IWJ, WOW and Mr. Bernstein for giving me the opportunity to have such a fulfilling summer.

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Lisbeth Bueno ’17

Interning at VocaliD was definitely more than I expected it to be, and I was able to achieve my learning goals. The summer between my penultimate and final year was the perfect time for this opportunity, and I’ve come out of it with a greater sense of clarity when it comes to career paths I can pursue after graduation. A huge part of this was my career-specific goal of exposing myself to programming and its role in linguistics and speech science. For the past couple years at Brandeis I’ve considered more and more the option of pursuing further education in computational linguistics, and have become more interested in topics related to the field. The central role of speech science and text-to-speech technology in VocaliD’s work resonated with this interest, and has been all the convincing I need that this is a viable industry to attempt to enter in the coming years.

To another student looking for an internship at VocaliD, I would say this: be prepared for a fast-paced, interdisciplinary environment, and get ready to work with people of all calibers from all sorts of backgrounds. On more than one occasion there were company advisors in the office – often for advertising – and every one of them wanted to hear the opinion of the interns. Rather than sit back and simply absorb knowledge from experienced professionals, we were allowed to engage with them and be taken just as seriously.

This sort of open-mindedness could be an industry thing, or, more probably, due to the nature of small start-ups. There is a sense of urgency to everything that reinforces the “team” environment, requiring different, multi-faceted tasks from us on a daily basis. For this reason it felt very demanding, in a good way. The advice for somebody doing work for a tech start-up like this would be essentially the same, but phrased differently: the work you do is important, just as important as everyone else’s. This was by no means a “fetch coffee for the office” internship.

Emma, a fellow intern, and Sam, a previous recipient of a VocaliD voice, out for pizza in downtown Belmont.

Working for a company with a social mission was generally very rewarding. The effect we were having on people’s lives was so tangible, especially so when Samantha, a previous recipient of a VocaliD voice, came in to visit us at the office. Being able to see the difference in her regard for her old, generic voice and her new VocaliD voice put it in perspective how necessary the product is.

Maeve, a young girl with cerebral palsy, is receiving one of the voices we worked on this summer. Her story was featured heavily on our Indiegogo campaign.

And while my work this summer will go into voices that will be finished months from now, I am still proud to have participated in their creation. There are also customers awaiting their VocaliD voice currently (like Maeve, pictured above), and getting to see them receive it in the future is something I’m very excited for.

-David Stiefel ’16

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After I return home from India, I see my life in a different way. Although I have traveled back to Boston twice from India within the same calendar year, I am finding that the most challenging part of my summer experience is in returning to my life in the US. After my summer in Bangalore, I am returning with not only a more developed understanding of the alarming barriers that separate many Indian youths from regularly attending government schools, but also an awareness that many of the ways in which I live my life in the US directly harm Indian citizens. My challenges are: How do I apply what I have learned to help repair a small piece of our often violently unfair, radically unequal world? How do I address the systematic devaluation of Indian lives, which is implicitly reflected in my consumption practices in the US?

I wouldn’t call this “culture shock”—at least not the way I often hear it spoken of. In fact, I experienced a heightened awareness of my race and class status, rather than a “blending” that others may experience during their time abroad. My advice to future interns doing internships abroad—or even domestically, if there is a significant difference in the concentration of power—is to consider the ethical implications of participating in a “voluntourist” capacity. There is certainly a way to do ethical, mutually beneficial work that challenges historical concentrations of power. But even more important than spending a summer abroad is making a commitment to living the vast majority of our day-to-day lives—which, for many of us, is in the United States—in a way that subverts and challenges the consumption habits, institutions, and mores that make up part of the foundation on which India’s poverty rests. I would certainly encourage other students to peruse an internship at The Akshaya Patra Foundation. I found it to be a wonderfully supportive environment and I was able to work on an issue that is deeply relevant to the wellbeing of our world. I also benefited from spending time abroad—in an environment that I found challenging. My internship, and my time in India, have taught me that acknowledging my responsibility and my role in perpetuating vast inequity in the distribution of global wealth is central to my ability to resist the grossly unfair consequences of that distribution.

The majority of my time at The Akshaya Patra Foundation was spent listening to the stories of Indian youths enrolled in government schools in which the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal is served. I wrote one narrative per child to document many of the stories that I heard. I feel my work was successful because I documented stories in the most fair and honest way that I was able to. Although I remain skeptical about the ethics of transnational “development”-oriented work, my experiences this summer have made me anything but indifferent to the suffering I witnessed. For that reason, I am committed to using my education and my privileges in service of dismantling the foundation of India’s poverty, which will necessarily discourage child slavery and improve access to education. This summer, I have learned about the importance of addressing both immediate needs, and the source of suffering. Indeed, it is through the recognition that, in our increasingly globalized world, the way that I live my life in the US has profound consequences for the people whose labor—and whose lives—are all too often dismissed and unseen.

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One of Akshaya Patra’s 24 centralized kitchens
Photo source: http://www.techsangam.com/wp33/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/apatra3.png

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Akshaya Patra vehicles about to deliver containers of food
Photo source: http://blog.akshayapatra.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/vehicles.jpg

 

Shane Weitzman ’16

Today marks a week since I left DC and finished my internship at PFLAG National. I could not have asked for a more fabulous, educational, all-inclusive, or enlightening experience during my time in Washington, DC. By my final week, I had done more than I had ever imagined: I completed 5 issues of our national policy newsletter Policy MattersI wrote the advocacy guide for our state Chapter Operations Manual as well as the national legislative update in our biannual newsletter PFLAGPole; I researched and tracked a host of new LGBTQ-related bills that were introduced into Congress; I engaged in an LGBTQ lobby day at Capitol Hill where I spoke with all of our Massachusetts legislators; and did countless other important things.  

The Lincoln Memorial at its finest.

The Lincoln Memorial at its finest.

The most monumental achievement I participated in however, was the introduction of the Equality Act into Congress on July 23rd. This unprecedented legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to employment, public services and spaces, public education, fair housing, credit, and access to jury service. Not only did I have the opportunity to participate in the drafting of the bill, but I also was able to attend the very first Equality Act coalition meeting with all of the top LGBTQ advocacy organizations in the country. This was truly a magnificent, inspiring, and extraordinary honor, that I don’t think I will ever forget.

Good 'ol VP Joe Biden speaking at the Make Progress Summit

Good ‘ol VP Joe Biden speaking at the Make Progress Summit

Having done all this work, I more than met my original goals. I not only learned the ins and outs of LGBT advocacy and policy, but also received first-hand experience in the top priorities and current events of the LGBTQ advocacy community in DC. I also had the opportunity to be an active participant in the political process, as well as all of the research and preparatory work that goes into policy work behind-the-scenes. Finally, with aid from my wonderful and amazing supervisor Diego, I had the chance to meet and form important connections with influential figures in the field of LGBTQ and social justice advocacy from across the nation.

Our MA Senator Elizabeth Warren energizing the crowd with a passionate speech

Our MA Senator Elizabeth Warren energizing the crowd with a passionate speech

This internship along with my time in DC has only worked to clarify my career goals. During my time in the Capital, I fell head over heels in love with the city, its people, its history, its restaurants, and its policy and social justice focused atmosphere. I know now that when I graduate in May, DC is definitely the place to which I’m headed. Whether I end up working on Capitol Hill, in some federal agency or NGO, or in the private sector, I know I’ll be happy and fulfilled doing whatever I’m doing in DC.

For those who are interested in an internship in DC or at an LGBTQ non-profit like PFLAG National, I would say GO FOR IT! Having the chance to live and work at the epicenter of where policy is made is an amazing opportunity. Even if you don’t want to be there after graduation, having the ability to explore the depths of DC is a unique and truly illuminating experience. Plus, not to mention, they have incredible food.

-Aliya Bean ’16

The summer went by incredibly quickly because I was having such a wonderful time. Even though I was working 9 to 5pm it was not a burden at all because I was doing something that I enjoyed thoroughly. Any challenges that arose were fun instead of frustrating because I had people both at the Rose and at the MakerLab to bounce ideas off of.

I have to say that I am quite proud of the final product of the virtual environment that I worked on this summer with the help of another Maker In Residence at the Maker Lab. Here is a snapshot of the same part of the exhibit I posted last time – I hope you will see the difference!

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Virtual visitors can either walk around the galleries on their computer or they can put on the Oculus Rift and be more completely immersed in this old exhibit. I believe this will make a great difference in the lives of people who would otherwise be unable to come to the museum. Finally I’m still working on printing some of the sculptures, which will then make it possible for people who are visually impaired to experience the art works.

In the process of creating this space, I learned quite a few things: from teamwork to new ways of researching art historical topics. All of these will be a great help in both my academic and professional life. Yet one thing stands out the most to me – the realization that I am able to learn on my own and expand upon what I’ve been taught in class. For example, in the course of the last few months, I had to learn how to use a whole new game engine to develop my virtual environment in.

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Even though we all take classes that can help us learn as much as possible for our professional life, there is only so much that can be taught in a course. This is particularly true for a field like Computer Science, which is constantly evolving and demands of practitioners to constantly keep up with new technology. Despite having learned how to work only in Blender in class, I applied the skills I had amassed in the classroom and quickly adapted to the new program. I’m really grateful to have had practice in this because it has given me the peace of mind that whatever field of work I go into, I’ll be able to orient myself quickly because I have learned at university how to learn.

  • Daniela Dimitrova ’16

Overall, my internship with the Social Innovation Forum was an amazing experience. I feel as though I met my learning goals. I aimed to leave the internship having built a professional network among the Boston area nonprofit field. There was no better place to achieve this than at SIF. I got to research many different social issues prevalent in the Boston area, and see the different approaches nonprofits take to solving those issues. I spent a lot of time of the phone with different nonprofit managers, discussing their approach to these social issues. As I did research and reviewed applications, I became familiar with the names of the major players in the nonprofit world.

Posing for an SIF social media campaign

Posing for an SIF social media campaign

I also learned so much about nonprofit management, common obstacles faced by nonprofits, sources of funding, staffing, and much more. The knowledge I gained was invaluable. I feel confident that I can apply my new skills to any future internship I may have, whether or not I am working in nonprofit management. I learned how to do expense reports, analyze statistics, improved my research skills, and more. These skills will definitely come in handy in the future.

Additionally, working full time was amazing preparation for post-college life. I have never worked full time before, and it taught me how to stay motivated in a long work week. Prior to this experience, I was nervous thinking about leaving school and beginning a full time career, but my time with SIF gave me a better idea of what to expect, and now the prospect of entering the workforce is much less daunting. This certainly fulfilled my goal of professional development.

I am very grateful that World of Work funded my internship, and made this experience possible for me. The internship opened so many doors for me when it came to personal growth, professional development, and building my network. Since my internship ended, I have kept in touch with my coworkers and recommended that other students apply for internships with SIF in the future. For someone interested in getting an internship in the nonprofit world, I would advise them to think about what sort of team they would like to work with. The majority of nonprofits are small organizations, so your team dynamic is a very defining part of a nonprofit internship. I am lucky to have worked with an incredible team at SIF. To future SIF interns, my advice is to dive right into the work: the SIF team will treat you like a full-time employee, so don’t be afraid to act like one by sharing your ideas and making your best effort!

 

Leaving SIF, I feel prepared and excited to take on new challenges. I am very proud of my ability to thrive in a fast-paced work environment, and I can’t wait for future jobs that can push me to succeed in the same way SIF did.

The SIF team and other participants at a program run by Inner City Weightlifting, one of our Social Innovators

 

 

Emma Farber ’16

In mid-August, I left my temporary shotgun home in the Upper Ninth Ward after making videos and collecting footage on Downtown New Orleans. Since my last blog post, I attended several of NOVAC’s film workshops and networking events. One of my learning goals this summer was to meet independent documentary filmmakers. One of the people I met was Lily Keber, the director of Bayou Maharajah, at her workshop she co-taught with one of my supervisors, Biliana Grozanda (see photo below). Since they are both documentarians, they offered an Interview Techniques for Documentary workshop. The workshop was part of a larger course, the Documentary Production Project, that brings a group of indie filmmakers together to craft a documentary on a subject of their choice. I left this workshop knowing how to ask my future subjects questions to lead to a good story and I also learned how to prepare for an interview—research your subject, plan to meet them in a space conducive to dialogue, etc. bayouAfter taking this workshop, I felt comfortable interviewing subjects for my first video but I still felt I needed to work on my production and editing skills, which was another one of my learning goals this summer. I was assigned to a Virtuous Video assignment. For those that forgot, NOVAC’s Virtuous Video Program brings filmmakers and non-profit organizations together to produce videos to spread awareness about their cause. For my Virtuous Video assignment, I worked with Core Element Hands On STEM Camp, a summer camp for children and teachers in Jefferson and New Orleans Parish that focuses on increasing interest in science. I worked with an independent filmmaker and assisted him with sound. That project was a huge learning lesson; I messed up the sound on numerous occasions and I kept entering the frame. However, I now know how to act on set and how to properly operate sound equipment. I was also allowed to make the first rough cut of the video and that certainly aided my editing skills.

STEM_summer_camp_logo_FINALSince I received more experience, I started collecting footage for a short documentary that I am in the process of editing. I interviewed Eve Abrams, a writer that created her own audio-documentary called Along the St. Claude, for her experience with gentrification in the Bywater, Lower Ninth Ward, area. Then after I collected some footage of her, I interviewed a student at Clark Preparatory High School, a student from Tulane University, a native of New Orleans, and an artist that may be considered a gentrifier. Usually when people discuss gentrification, things become black and white: a group of people, usually young white people with money, comes into a space that is predominantly black and low-income. However, based on the interviews I conducted over the summer, I realized that the gentrification process crossed into different racial, class, and age groups. Plus, New Orleans is a port city, so different people have always entered New Orleans. Although New Orleans was segregated until the 1960s, I think New Orleanians were used to people from different backgrounds entering their city. Personally, I think people notice the different class groups entering different neighborhoods first, then I think the intersection between race and class becomes more apparent, especially since poverty is sometimes matched with the black experience in America.

True New OrleansI decided to take all of my footage and split it into multiple parts around a theme. My first video is a pair of people that were at Shotgun Cinema’s first film festival, True Orleans. True Orleans is a film festival dedicated to celebrating innovative non-fiction/documentary films made by New Orleans’ filmmakers. Aside from screenings, they also offered free panel discussions centered around non-fiction storytelling. When I was not filming the attendees for my project, I managed to sneak into a couple of the panel discussions. At True New Orleans, I asked a couple of people at the theater if they could describe gentrification in New Orleans in one word or what word would they associate with gentrification in New Orleans. I broke up their responses into two videos. You guys can watch the first one here!

KarenInternshipOverall, I think I meet all of my learning goals: I met some cool independent filmmakers and even a stop motion animator; I learned how to conduct interviews, which could help me with my sociology interviews and with my future documentary projects; I learned how to use some applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud; and I learned how to use basic video and audio equipment. Plus, I was in the same room as Ava Devarnay, so I definitely had the best summer ever. Thank for reading my summer blog!

Karen Seymour ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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        Suffolk University Law School             Our New Home is on the top floor!

After almost exactly seven months, Thursday, August 13rd concluded my tenure as intake intern and case assistant at the New England Innocence Project. The end of my internship signified a new chapter in not only my life, but in the history of the New England Innocence Project, as the organization moved into its new home at Suffolk University Law School. While leaving NEIP was difficult to say the least, I left having knowing that my experience with the organization was nothing short of life changing. I started as an intern back in January hoping to gain a greater appreciation of the law, while achieving a better understanding of what life is like working for a non-profit. What I received from NEIP was extensive knowledge of the legal profession, invaluable experience communicating with attorneys and clients, and a new direction for my future endeavors.

My lovely coworkers: Nick, Jamie, Angela, Catherine, and Eric.

My lovely coworkers: Nick, Jamie, Angela, Catherine, and Eric.

Entering my summer with NEIP, my goals were three pronged: 1) gain a more robust understanding of the criminal justice system; 2) acquire some of the required skills of an attorney; and 3) positively impact those who have witnessed the pain of wrongful convictions. By and large, I can honestly say that I have achieved my goals.

In an academic sense, I have learned a significant deal about the criminal justice system on the local, and national level primarily through the reading of trial transcripts, and working with trial and appellate attorneys on the state and federal level.

In a professional sense, while my goal of learning the necessary skills to be an effective attorney was lofty, I do believe I made progress towards that goal. Through NEIP, I learned how to more effective communicator by discussing legal matters with clients, co-workers, and attorneys on a daily basis. Additionally, I was given the chance to engage in legal writing, working on “Post-CRC” Memos that concisely summarize an applicant’s case in order for the organization to determine whether NEIP should choose to represent them. While I would’ve liked to receive further experience in legal writing, the nature of the NEIP organizational structure primarily delegated that task to the legal interns. Nonetheless, I can confidently say that as an intake intern, I received a unique opportunity to learn and grow from a legal environment that few others get the chance to be immersed in at such an early stage in my professional career.

Lastly, in a personal sense, I have provided support and consolation to those who have witnessed immense pain at the hands of wrongful convictions. I have worked with inmates and their families to guide them through our case process and ensure them that as an organization we are there for them. The gratitude that I have received from inmates –many of whom have wrongfully spent decades behind bars—has brought me satisfaction that has been thus far unparalleled in my life, and in turn, I am incredibly proud of the work I have done at NEIP.

As I turn towards the future, NEIP has undoubtedly solidified my interest in the law. While I entered this summer certain of a passion for legal advocacy, and a potential career in public interest law, NEIP has directed me towards an interest in criminal law, in particular, defending individuals without the means to appoint sufficient legal representation. Witnessing the plight of low-income individuals that often culminates in legal troubles has instilled within me a passion for aiding those of less fortunate means. While I may be uncertain as to where I may turn with the legal profession, I am now convinced that law is the proper path for me.

For any student looking to understand the dynamics of the criminal justice system, NEIP would make a great internship for you. At NEIP, interns get the opportunity to form connections with inmates, attorneys, and police departments, working in conjunction to remediate the inadequacies of the criminal justice system. At NEIP, real progress is not an abstract goal, but a tangible thing that can be measured. For those passionate about assisting the least fortunate members of our society, while ensuring that every individual is treated fairly under the law, NEIP would be an incredible organization to work for.

 

Daniel Jacobson ’16

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Before I began my internship with OneWorld Now!, I hoped to gain insights into non-profit management, program management, and international education. I also hoped to foster students’ commitment to language learning and study abroad. Now, that I have completed my internship, I believe that I accomplished all of the above.

Throughout my internship with OneWorld Now!, I carried out a variety of tasks. I worked on compiling Study Abroad Booklets (one for a group going to China and one for a group going to Morocco), which included students’ flight itineraries, daily itineraries, insurance information, medical forms, and passport/visa copies. Compiling these booklets was rewarding because I felt as though I was contributing to students’ successful study abroad experiences. In addition to the Booklets, I created a Chaperone Guide with another intern. The Guide’s purpose was to help study abroad chaperones support students while abroad and discussed such topics as culture shock, group dynamics, safety, and physical and mental health. This project required me to draw upon my own language learning and study abroad experiences and gave me an opportunity to pass down some of what I have learned to others.

A part of the work I have done with OneWorld Now! has also been administrative (emailing students and parents, scanning, copying, printing, filing, mailing letters, taking inventories of office supplies, and filling out check request forms). I also took photos during the organization’s Summer Language and Leadership Camp, networking events, and guest speaker presentations. Being able to take photos and also to utilize my Chinese language skills were unexpected, but I feel as though this contributed to my experience in a very positive way.

Impact Hub - the building where OneWorld Now! is located.

What I have enjoyed most about my work with the organization is seeing how it has impacted students’ language learning and/or study abroad success and how excited and dedicated many of the students are to their education through the organization. It has been really rewarding observing, in-person, how OneWorld Now! has helped transform students’ lives. Students who were once hesitant to talk in class are more willing to do so, as the organization’s programs have given many a greater sense of self-confidence and an expanded comfort zone. In addition, learning a new language has introduced and given students a wide range of study abroad opportunities.

Something that I really appreciate about the organization is how its mission (to promote cultural awareness and understanding, as well as global leadership through language learning and study abroad) is so embedded in its “innermost parts.” Though the organization could easily split up its Arabic and Chinese programs, it does not, as it is dedicated to promoting the study of critical languages in general. Therefore, those who work for the organization do not work for the instruction of just one language, but both of them. And, students who study Arabic do not only meet other Arabic language learners, but also Chinese language learners.

Interning at the organization also made me realize that its mission does not only extend to its students, but also to its staff. One of my most memorable experiences with OneWorld Now! was attending a networking event, during which I met college students from all over the Middle East and North Africa. It was really amazing being surrounded by students who came from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria. This experience has given me a greater appreciation and interest in the Arabic language and the cultures of Arabic-speaking people. The event also reminded me of a sociology course I took at Brandeis called “Deconstructing War, Building Peace,” in which we talked about how deconstructing war and building peace begins at the individual level through compassionate listening.

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-diplomats-languages-2015-8

After having interned with OneWorld Now!, I can definitely see myself working for a non-profit organization in the future. Working at the organization has made me realize how much I value challenge and the opportunity to be creative. Like the work I did at OneWorld Now!, I want what I do in the future to be service and international oriented.

Being an intern at OneWorld Now! has reminded me how important it is to ask questions and to take initiative. An intern can work at an organization without fully understanding the nuts and bolts that make it run successfully. But, in order to get the most out of an internship experience, it is useful to look at the tasks one is given and to try to understand how they will impact the organization and others. Instead of waiting to be invited, INVITE YOURSELF! For me, this meant asking to take notes at staff meetings to learn more about non-profit management and asking questions to better understand the context of the work I was assigned.

As OneWorld Now! is only just over a decade old, I hope to see it grow in the number of languages it teaches and the number of people it impacts. The organization already plans to add Korean (another critical language) to the languages it provides instruction for. As the demography of the United States is rapidly changing, I want to see more American students gain a greater sense of cultural awareness and make an effort to involve themselves in important global issues.

 

I would like to start off by saying thank you. Thank you for giving me the funding I needed in order to make this summer a possibility. I would have never been able to work halfway around the world if it were not for the WOW grant, and I am forever grateful that Brandeis offers its students opportunities like this to help enable valuable work experiences like the one I had.

This summer was a complicated, but it was a summer of growth. As I mentioned in my last post, working within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a fulltime job… and by that, I mean twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. As the intern for Kids4Peace in Jerusalem, I learned an incredible amount about the conflict, religion, how to work with people who come from different backgrounds, and what I want in the workplace as a professional.

Before I started working at Kids4Peace this summer, I hoped to bring what I learned about integration in Israel and Palestine back to America. As an education major, I feel that it is within the education system’s reach to narrow the achievement gap by integrating the public school system. By no means did I want to create a career out of working within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That was mainly because I thought that it would be pretty depressing work. However, after this summer, I am beginning to be more open to working for a peace building organization between Israelis and Palestinians. At Brandeis, I am the coordinator of the Brandeis-Al Quds Student Dialogue Initiative and the vice president of J Street U. I feel very passionately about bringing peace to Israel and Palestine and seeing the Jewish values I was raised with reflected in the Jewish state. It did not occur to me that a career in the peace building was a possibility until I started working within it. I always felt that it is a job that is too unstable for me, but now I cannot imagine myself doing any other work than in this field. When I was not at the Kids4Peace office, I spent my free time organizing steps toward reestablishing the Brandeis-Al Quds student dialogue initiative and in meetings in Jerusalem and the West Bank with J Street U. I completely immersed myself in the conflict because as a Jew, I feel it is my role to do everything in my power to make the Jewish state the best it can be, allowing Palestinians equal and human rights, and ending the occupation. This summer, I truly lived my work. How can I not continue something I am so passionate about?

And then I go back to where I started: this work is too depressing to make it my career. By the end of the summer, I was excited to go home so I could escape the stress and tension in Jerusalem’s mixed city. Admitting that makes me feel selfish because I know that Israelis and Palestinians have no choice: this is their reality. So, I am keeping my options open. The past two summers, I worked with Israelis and Palestinians. The test will be trying out a different kind of career next summer to be able to tell if peace building really is my calling, or if another career path is more fulfilling.

I would encourage anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, non-profits, or NGOs to apply to intern for Kids4Peace. The best part about working there was the community. Kids4Peace is a family. All my colleagues this summer knew everything about each other’s families and personal lives, and they were always so supportive of one another both in and out of the workplace. Experiencing that these past couple months helped me realize how important a community within my work is when I am a professional. Working for an NGO/non-profit helped me realize how much change a small group of people can make. It really opened my eyes and excites me about the possibility of working for an NGO or non-profit in the future. The main piece of advice I would give someone working in activism, conflict, or peace building, is to take care of yourself. It is so easy to get wrapped up in a mix between our work and our own personal activism (because a peace builder practices their values). This summer, I got very overwhelmed because of the things I saw on my time off, including IDF soldiers shooting rubber bullets at Palestinians and Palestinians throwing burning furniture at IDF soldiers at Qalandiya checkpoint. I learned that it was important to give myself a break so I could be productive as both a Kids4Peace employee and an activist working in my own self-interest.

Before this summer, I had never had concrete dialogue with a Palestinian peer. While I have worked with Palestinian children in the past, working alongside Palestinian adults is an entirely different story. I had this opportunity at Kids4Peace and through the Brandeis-Al Quds Student Dialogue Initiative. After befriending Palestinians, I felt a sense of trust for the “other” that I had never thought I would feel. This newfound trust allowed my to visit the West Bank on my own (with just a friend and me) and let the experience take me. Never in a million years could I have imagined doing something like this on my own. I am proud of my ability to break down the barriers between me, a Jew, and “them.” Palestinians. This summer, I truly lived the values the Kids4Peace practices, and that is what I am most proud of.

-Leah Susman ’18

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Kids4Peace campers learning about sustainability at Kibbutz Lotan. The back of their shirts say “peace” in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

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Kids4Peace campers (Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Israelis and Palestinians) exploring spirituality together at the sand dunes in the Arava desert in Israel.

My summer internship at the Community Day Center of Waltham has greatly helped me clarify my career interests. I knew that whatever job I did I would want to work with people, but at the same time recognized the many ways bigger-picture things get done through policy reform and research. I was willing to consider working in policy reform and research, if it was going to make a real difference.  However, after working at the Community Day Center of Waltham, I realized that working with people directly was something I want to do, whether it is in a position that provides therapy or social work.  I greatly enjoy direct service and would not want to give up. In an ideal world, I would like to be able to do some kind of work working with people while also conducting research or policy reform.

Me holding up the drawing one of my clients made for me.


Me holding up the drawing one of my clients made for me.

My work has also taught me a lot about myself. Because there is only one other staff member besides my supervisor and I, there were many opportunities for me to take leadership roles. As I became more comfortable with the population and they began to appreciate and respect me, I found myself taking increased initiative in the workplace. I was able to control the floor on my own, and found myself to be stronger and more confident with my capabilities to do my work now and in my future professional endeavors. I really stepped-up and surprised myself in with the initiative I took, which ended up creating a much more meaningful and enriching work experience.

For a student interested in an internship at my host organization as well as this industry/field, it is important to go into it with an open-mind and open-heart, wanting to help and having the drive to do what it takes to get the job done. Emotionally, working in this field can be both uplifting and draining, so it important to maintain a level-headed perspective on things, appreciate small successes.  Remind yourself that even your showing up to support this population is incredibly important, as you are supporting an incredibly marginalized population where in many cases, you are their only advocate and support system.

This summer I am most proud of the role I played in some big and many small successes guests achieved. My biggest accomplishment was one particular relationship I created with one of the guests. We mutually gained each other’s trust and worked together.  Because of the strong bond created, I went the extra-mile, driving him to apartment visits and interviews, calling his family and services as needed, filling out applications, and discussing his personal goings-on. By going the extra-mile and advocating for him, I was able to get him into an apartment. This was a big success that has set him up in a stable position, allowing for him to  focus on growth in other parts of his life.

Relevant articles:

Successes at the Community Day Center of Waltham

Addresses the Emotional Toll of Being a Social Worker

-Diana Langberg ’17

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Wow, did summer fly by. I spent the last few days at ICAAP reflecting upon everything I had learned, both small and large. I feel as though, most important to my personal, career, and academic life, I fulfilled my goal of learning about childhood trauma and its implications on society. While I still have much more to learn, it’s a teaching that permeates into  how I view my classes, my relationships, and how I want to make a difference in the future. My academic goals guided my career goals significantly, as I now feel as though I have a better grasp of the path I want my career to take. While my vision for the future is far from solidified, I definitely feel as though I have a better understanding of what I am looking for in terms of work environment for the future. For starters, the work atmosphere at ICAAP is a great fit for my type of learning style. It revolved largely around autonomous work, and self-initiatives, which is perfect for me. When I am first assigned a task, I like to immerse myself in noise-cancelling headphones, and just be solitary in my understanding of the task. However, ICAAP also encourages collaboration and discussions, which helps provide a dynamic work environment that largely revolves around solitary work, but encourages mutuality. In future jobs, this is the balance I will look for to best fit my own learning style. My third goal is networking, which I partially fulfilled, but is definitely something I need to work on. Oftentimes I would become so immersed in a conversation with one person, that a room would clear out before I had a chance to follow up with additional people. I networked well within the ICAAP realm, however, wish that I had networked more extensively outside of our organization.

To any student looking to intern at ICAAP: Do it. Do it especially with the staff in the ECD realm. I feel so incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by such a strong and open group of women. If you are looking to intern in public health realms in general, beware that experiences vary quite dramatically within each organization. Even ICAAP, which is part of  a national organization, has drastically different work environments in each. When you are interviewing, make sure you know what the work environment will be like, whether they will give you fulfilling work, and whether they will challenge you. There are a lot of great articles that talk about how to assess if you will be satisfied in a job, like this one! Also, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and advice.

My proudest moment of the summer was giving my final presentation to a group of 40 professionals introducing them to the realm of childhood trauma. My fellow intern and I were so unbelievably nervous, especially because we followed up one of the best public speakers I’ve ever heard. After we finished, we knew we did a great job, which was only reinforced by professionals we had met and our bosses.

Presenting at the Governor State University on childhood trauma

Presenting at Governor State University on childhood trauma

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This past Thursday, I finished my time as account services and social media intern for Small Army and Small Army For A Cause. So it’s safe to say the end has been very bittersweet for me as it is never easy to say goodbye to a place I genuinely enjoyed being a part of. I already miss being a part of the Small Army team and being able to work with all of my coworkers there. I will especially miss all of the .gifs and memes exchanged in the office email chains. That being said, the end has really made I appreciate all of the experiences I’ve made along the way. Every experience has taught me many valuable lessons and created new opportunities. Through these new lessons and opportunities, I can thankfully say that I transformed from a student who originally felt like I was not for ready for life after college into one who can now comfortably say I feel confident for life in the workforce.

 

Since my last blog post, these last few weeks have flown by. My responsibilities at Small Army slowly transitioned into focusing solely on the Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser. As most of the planning had been completed, I focused mainly on customer service, social media, and scheduling our emails. For customer service I worked to finalize commitment from beneficiaries, handle orders from the Bald Shop, and to answer questions from participants. One of the things I’m most proud of was securing Lowell General Hospital Team Walk for CancerCare as one of the beneficiaries of the fundraisers. It was exciting to be one of the major contributors behind bringing on board such a large and successful non-profit foundation, especially since it is located 10 minutes from my hometown of Dracut. As for the social media and email scheduling my assignments were to run the Be Bold, Be Bald! Facebook event page and to use our email marketing service provider MailChimp to schedule every email we had written to be sent out leading up to the event. In the last few days, I had two exit interviews with different Small Army coworkers. They were very helpful and were perfectly representative of Small Army’s goal to make each intern have as worthwhile an experience as possible. I hope my exit interviews will help Small Army make future internship experiences even better than mine.

 

I would like to end by giving many thanks to all at the Small Army team and by listing the top 15 lessons I learned as an intern there. I will be forever grateful for having the opportunity to spend this summer as a Small Army intern and I am thankful to them for making this such an invaluable experience.

Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly – YouTube

Thank you Small Army. (This is a Foo Fighters reference for KC Cole in the media department)

 

 15 things I learned this summer:

  • Be Nice to everyone: You never know where your life will take you
  • Smile: Smiling is contagious and has a positive impact on the workplace.
  • Be Organized: Take notes, keep a to-do list, create a calendar for deadlines and meetings.
  • Network, Network, Network: Attend company outings and strike up conversations with other people at the event. You never know whom you will meet.
  • Understand that you are not perfect: You are going to make mistakes. However, what is important is what you learn from the mistakes and how you use them to make better decisions in the future.
  • Have confidence, but stay humble: Confidence can be very rewarding, but it is important to stay humble and to understand what crosses the line.
  • Keep Learning: Whether it’s new technology, research techniques, or job skills, the more you know, the more of an asset you are.
  • Find a role model(s): Learn what they have done and continue to do in order to be successful.
  • Understand how tasks get done: How does a project start and what is the process to complete it?
  • Understand and Meet deadlines: Completing work when it is due will solidify coworkers’ trust in you. If you ever find yourself in a situation in which you cannot meet a deadline, it is important to take responsibility to effectively communicate that information to your team. Being aware of the situation will allow the team to adapt more effectively.
  • Take on extra tasks, but do not overcommit: Helping coworkers complete projects is great, but if you overcommit on projects it will be difficult to meet deadlines.
  • Call people on the phone: If email is not successful, pick up the phone and talk. Phone calls allow you to give a personal touch.
  • Make the most out of every job: You never know what you will learn. Even the most monotonous jobs can have hidden benefits.

– James Machado ’16

It’s officially been a week since I finished my internship with the Omaha Farmers Market. While I am looking forward to returning to Brandeis, I will miss all of the people I worked with over the course of the last couple of months. I worked with people from a variety of different backgrounds, from Health Department workers to local farmers; the people I met this summer really expanded my horizons. Without the help of these people I would not have been able to accomplish the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of my internship.

First among those goals was my intention to improve myself academically and learn more about how local farmers impact their local economies. I set about accomplishing this goal by surveying market customers on-site at the market as well as through an alternative online survey. On these surveys I asked about the customer’s spending tendencies and some demographic information. I also gathered information from the market vendors about their experience with the Farmers Market. From the data I collected interviewing market customers and vendors I was able to generate a report using Market Umbrella’s Sticky Economic Evaluation Device. Annually the Omaha Farmers Market has an impact of over $23 million between its two locations. The results, while not unexpected, were certainly welcomed by the higher ups.

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Overview of the Aksarben Village market – Source: Me

This leads in to my career goal for the summer, which was to apply the knowledge I had gained at Brandeis in the real world. I worked with a couple of professors from the Economics Department at the University of Nebraska Omaha; they were helpful in organizing the Economic Impact Study and I was able to complete it on time with great results. I was able to use the economic knowledge I learned at Brandeis to produce a professional study that the Omaha Farmers Market will use when they are applying for grants.

My final and possibly most important goal was one I set for myself and that was to improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the Omaha Farmers Market. Originally, this was supposed to be just researching different methods to improve the program and apply them to the market. However, as projects often do, this grew to include more than just research papers, talking to other markets and SNAP. I spent many hours working to improve awareness of one of our smaller, lesser known markets. The Omaha Farmers Market works with the Charles Drew Health Center to put on a small market for six weeks during prime market season. This market is different because a majority of the transactions involve WIC checks. This program (Women, Infants, and Children) is a special supplemental nutrition program which provides federal grants for low income women and children. The vendors at this market do not really make a profit due to the structure of this particular supplement program, but they are committed to providing fresh, local produce to an area that does not typically have access to produce. In recent years, the attendance at this market has declined, which was most likely a result of lack of promotion. As part of my internship I went around to local churches and community centers, as well as most of the WIC clinics in Omaha. I created flyers for the various facilities to hand out to their clients to bring more awareness of the market at the Charles Drew Health Center. This small market even got attention from the local news station on opening day – Link. Also, as a result of my study, the Omaha Farmers Market extended their SNAP match program for an additional two months to benefit more users.

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The Office Building where I worked – Source: http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/45865/300-South-19th-Street-Omaha-NE/

I do not know if this position will be available in the near future, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in economics or even event management. It does involve a lot of early mornings on the weekends and a general knowledge of Supplemental Nutrition programs. It is a great position to learn how market vendors and people can come together and impact their local communities for the better. While there is still plenty to do at the Omaha Farmers Market my time is unfortunately over, I just hope the work I did will continue to benefit the Market for years to come.

 

-Luke Bredensteiner ’17

Social Justice WOW Recipient

It is bittersweet to be leaving Project Harmony Israel, to be leaving Jerusalem, the children and staff I have come to know, this country. In many ways I have met my summer internship goals of developing language proficiency in Hebrew, developing my leadership and conflict resolution skills within a work setting, and making memories/forming personal relationships with those who are different from me and learn how to allow that alternative perspective to enlighten my own. However, meeting these goals came in largely different forms than I expected, and some of them evolved because of that. For instance, developing language proficiency in Hebrew became more centered on becoming proficient in certain conversational settings regarding art and food as well as a proficiency in deeper understanding the politics of language in Jerusalem. So, while I did not become more proficient in my Hebrew at large, I became very good at buying groceries, haggling for bargains, naming colors and explaining art projects, and most importantly I became aware of the politics of language (Arabic v. English v. Hebrew) in Jerusalem. Developing my leadership and conflict resolution skills within a work setting came from taking on an authoritarian position, delegating tasks, and creating a cohesive vision and then following through with it even when schedules had to be re-arranged and staffing changed. Part of developing my leadership and solving conflicts in the classroom also meant learning to strike a balance between having fun and maintaining clear boundaries. This balanced allowed for natural memory making because I was more focused on forming personal relationships rather than constantly having to prove my authority. Making memories and creating bonds with my campers and some volunteers for Project Harmony gave me a lot to think about regarding Palestinian rights, identity politics, and the need for A-political (or normalized) environments as complimentary spaces for youth in Israel. I learned from my conversations with campers as young as 10 and as old as 15 that contact is the first step towards recognition, which is the way towards relationships and, ultimately, respect.

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Project Harmony Israel’s Identity Flag sits behind Israel’s President Ruvi Rivlin at a press conference.

My internship with Project Harmony Israel has undoubtedly solidified my interest in working in Israel and for the betterment of the state through person-to-person interactions. I think it has also given me a deeper understanding of where my observational skills, leadership skills, and cross-cultural curiosity are best utilized. I certainly learned that I am more flexible than I imagined, that I can manage my time well and think of projects at the last minute, and that I am capable of both working alone and as a team to build a positive educational environment for both Jews and Arabs. I think this ties into what I am most proud of looking back on my work. I am so so proud of the children I came to know and the space I created with them. Together, we completed over ten projects, including an identity flag mural that was presented to Israel’s President Ruvi Rivlin.

 

I am also very proud to have been a part of an organization that encourages dialogue, and to have been a witness to the incredible kinds of conversations that occurred at this camp, including the sharing of other peace organizations and being present for a Jewish boy’s first time experiencing an integrated environment and making an Arab friend. There was actually mention of Ori’s experience in the Hand in Hand Newsletter, which you can read here. I will quote it briefly though,

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Campers Yarden and Basel carry the mural into President Revlon’s home.

“How is it that my kids don’t like Arabs? I’ve always taught them that we are all equal, but somehow my 11 year old thinks all Arabs are bad – how does that happen?

I sent Ori to Project Harmony this summer because I thought it would be good for him. He was scared at the beginning, but the staff at camp was warm and supportive, and he opened up and started playing sports with the other kids. After a few weeks in camp, he came home and told me: “You know what, Ima, you were right. My Arab friends are really cool, and I can learn from them, maybe they can come over?” That was everything for me. I know change doesn’t happen overnight, but this was a start. I told him that my granparents and my father spoke Arabic, and as an Iraqi Jew, the language is part of our heritage too. You can’t judge people by their religion or ethnicity. Being part of Hand in Hand is about really understanding and living the equality I believe in.”

This is a community that gives to each other and I am so proud and grateful to have been and to continue to be a part of its work.

-Risa Dunbar ’17

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It has been an incredible time in Ecuador which makes this an even more difficult time saying good-bye to everyone at the hospital, friends I have made, and the country itself. The privilege I have had to learn, work, and observe the healthcare system is truly humbling and I feel so grateful to return back to the United States safe and healthy.

I walked int11931685_10206815787186424_485108242_no my internship at Hospital Pablo Arturo Suarez pretty unsure of what to expect. Luckily, I realized I had a great amount of freedom and many opportunities to converse with healthcare professionals and patients everyday while performing my expected duties. A pretty big goal this summer was to learn Spanish medical terminology because I personally find it critical to be able to communicate effectively in another language as a doctor in our healthcare system. I found that over the course of the summer my knowledge expanded exponentially as I could keep conversations which conveyed medical information with patients.

Another goal which I accomplished which was inspired by the class called American Healthcare at Brandeis was to observe and compare and contrast the different health care systems. Keeping this goal in mind really helped me shape the conversations I had with my mentors and doctors at the hospital. I also learned a lot about how culture differences can really impact medical differences such as in the difference in privacy practices in Ecuador (which is very loose) compared to those of America (more strict). Although there were many differences that raised a red flag, the healthcare system was incredibly effective and is catching up to the west every day. As well, the cost of medical care is incomparably cheaper. If you go to this link, you can read how much cheaper it is to get basic procedures done which changes the quality of living you can have.

This experience has certainly helped me reaffirm by desire to pursue medicine as a career. Even more than reaffirm this passion, it has made me realize the privilege I have had growing up in the States and the great healthcare I’ve been able to receive. I realize more each day how important it is to give to those who don’t have access to healthcare the agency because of the tremendous impacts it can have on a persons quality of life. I know in the future I want to purse nonprofit/ volunteer opportunities here in America or other places in the world where this is a severe problem. By doing this, I know I want to expand my knowledge in public health and really focus on preventative/ holistic measures as mean of solution.

Mitad del Mundo--or the equator!

Mitad del Mundo–or the equator!

I would recommend anyone with an open mind, a passion for the medical field, and an ability to be flexible to volunteer at this hospital in Ecuador. Many times in order to get a fulfilled day it was up to me to take initiative and engage. A lot of succeeding and feeling accomplished each day came from a personal motivation to make the most of it. A personal goal/ reason for coming to Ecuador was to explore my own heritage and culture. I am half hispanic and immersing myself in Spanish and Latin culture was really wonderful for me to self-identify with. The ability to challenge myself with spending a summer in an unknown country and handle different mishaps along the way is by far what I am most proud of. As a whole, I would recommend anyone to travel and explore the country Ecuador–and even according to NBC News, it is possibly the best place to retire!

– Paulina Kuzmin ’17

After learning about AJWS from my Near Eastern & Judaic Studies listserv, I understood that its mission to realize human rights and end poverty in the Global South so resonates with my values and aspirations. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be an Office of the President Intern, and while I knew I would learn a lot, what I have learned far exceeded my expectations- meeting my learning goals and beyond. From my third day at the internship in attending the All-Staff and getting to know the staff members here, I found that there is so much to learn and be inspired by all of the people involved in this mission. I have discovered the paths that people have taken that brought them to this organization. Many of them have histories in activism, social work, and many of them have also been involved with Jewish life in some form. They all have been inspired, they all are extremely passionate about the work that AJWS does, and all of their experiences are so valuable for me to hear about because the atmosphere in the office is one of such enthusiasm and hope that I would love to work in a similar setting one day.

I have thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on meetings with Ruth, hearing how she presents AJWS and the mission to all different audiences. Her ability to constantly appeal to people’s sense of morality is amazing. Having the ability to speak with her on topics such as the concept of “voluntourism” and whether or not can you always respectfully disagree has been incredibly meaningful for me (after hearing a radio show by Eboo Patel). In these conversations, I learned about the difficult decision of whether service trips for college students was truly a part of the mission- while they did accomplish a lot, the trips were designed to benefit the participants more than the people in the developing world who are trying to realize human rights, as AJWS vows to help them do. In talking about respectfully disagreeing, Ruth mentioned a plethora of helpful life tips that she learned as a politician. While there are some issues you should stand up for, if you are trying to work with a person or need that person to accomplish a given task, sometimes it is best to put your differences aside.

Throughout my meetings with other staff members, I also loved learning about navigating decision making in this organization, whether it be whether to fund an organization or not, when to pull out of a country or program, how to present a provocative concept such as sex worker’s rights, or how to create a strategy while maintaining the bottom up, grassrooted approach. I have learned how to research in a professional setting through briefings and reading many articles and dvrei tzedek. I have worked on organizing the ORG system and Ruth’s “Public Appearance” excel sheet, as I mentioned earler. I have also brainstormed with Rachel, my co-intern, a way to bring AJWS to college campuses, we presented them to Joshua and Ruth, so now we hope to implement our ideas this fall. Joshua has taught me so much about working with people in a professional setting as well as organization within a nonprofit. He taught me so much about presentation and how impactful it is, and has given Rachel and me so many wonderful assignments, and is always an encouraging and fun supervisor. This summer at AJWS has been one of immense growth for me, from learning how to be a professional and how a nonprofit works, to learning how to live in Manhattan completely on my own for the first time.

Before this internship, I predicted my career path to be as a college professor. This internship has shown me another world, however, that I definitely would not be closed off to working in in the future. Each day I felt energized by the positive work environment, the driven and enthusiastic atmosphere of people who love and strongly believe in what they are doing. They are making a difference in many lives, and I grew to be passionate about the organization, their causes, as well as the incredible staff who work there.

In terms of learning about myself, I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses, how I feel about working inside an office, and where my interests and passions lie. It was a great opportunity to learn how to complete different tasks (such as research, writing, etc.) in a professional setting.

The American Jewish World Service is an extremely special place and a very fun place to hold an internship. My advice for those interested in an internship at AJWS or at a nonprofit in general would be to really take up all of the opportunities offered. Go to human rights movies with your supervisor if he/she offers, ask a lot of questions (at appropriate times, of course), try to get to know staff members and ask them about how they got to be where they are today. What did they study? What do they love about their job? What is the most challenging? I think while working at a desk all day can be challenging for college students who are used to a much lighter and more flexible schedule, it gives you a great opportunity to read the news, read stories relevant to your organization, and if possible, be creative in what you present in your own work to help the organization. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had this summer with this internship! It has been a truly amazing experience.

-Gabi Hersch ’17

Rachel, my co-intern and I, pose with our supervisor, Joshua, for a quick picture at his desk.

Rachel, my co-intern and I, pose with our supervisor, Joshua, for a quick picture at his desk.

President of American Jewish World Service, Ruth Messinger, tweets about her interns on our last day of the internship.

President of American Jewish World Service, Ruth Messinger, tweets about her interns on our last day of the internship.

After completing my internship at the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center (IWJC) I learned a lot about the labor movement and some more about what it means to organize both in unions and in other labor organizations. I wish I were able to take a more active role in the organizing efforts, but it was difficult to find a place in an organization without staff, especially because they are still figuring out the exact tactics they want to pursue themselves.

However, I was interested in the work that I was able to do. I know that I want to work for an organization with the goals of activism and organizing, trying to assist people in their quest for justice rather then helping them and seeing themselves as the savior of others. However, I am not sure if labor is the right direction for me, it is very important work but I am not sure if it’s my passion.

The Interfaith Worker Justice internship program can be very good, and I heard from interns that went to other affiliate organizations and had a great time. It was challenging working at an organization that was not staffed. If any students end up interning for an organization that does not have any staff, make sure that your expectations and the site’s expectations are both clear from the onset. I did not do that and I think it was a mistake. I would tell students interested in working in the labor movement to pay attention to the inter-organizational and union politics. I found it very interesting to see how groups that are trying to achieve the same things (or at least claiming to) are not necessarily able to because they are focused on other things.

Me and 2 other IWJ interns at the debriefing in Chicago

Me and 2 other IWJ interns at the debriefing in Chicago

I am most proud of being able to contribute to the organization even though I had very little structure. I am also proud of the religious ally training that I created and led. It was challenging to create something independently, but I was able to facilitate a conversation about different religions and the importance of understanding and respecting other peoples’ practices when working together. We had a conversation that would probably not have occurred in a different setting, and those of us who attended all enjoyed it and learned something that evening.

The beautiful view of Indianapolis very close to the Worker Justice Center

The beautiful view of Indianapolis very close to the Worker Justice Center

– Tamar Lyssy ’17

I cannot believe my summer in Washington, D.C. at the Alliance for Justice is over. It went by so unbelievably quickly! I could not have asked for a more incredible experience. I learned so much, primarily due to the accepting atmosphere and the constant encouragement of my mentors. My co-interns were equally wonderful–passionate, driven and intelligent. I was also able to make a number of connections outside of my organization through networking events and in dealing with them on behalf of AFJ.

I spent my last several days at the Alliance for Justice assisting with a transition in staff. This work included compiling instructions for everyday tasks and ensuring everything that needed to be completed was, in fact, completed.

I also had the opportunity to compile strategies for reaching an expanded number of target audiences for our upcoming campaign. I focused on organization outreach and social media. I discussed how to focus the issues in a way that personalizes the campaign for a number of diverse audiences, the potential obstacles in reaching these audiences and how to overcome these obstacles. The campaign will focus on Harris v. Quinn and the upcoming Friedrichs case as an angle to discuss workers’ rights, and the importance of allowing unions to organize. I am excited to see their short film when it is finally released, and hope to continue my involvement with the Alliance for Justice. It is a truly amazing organization that does vastly important work. If you are not familiar with the Alliance for Justice, I urge you to visit their website to learn more.

If you want to get a glimpse at what the AFJ stands for, take this quiz: “Who Said It: Justice Scalia or a right-wing extremist?” Feel free to share it on social media! This is one of AFJ’s posts that has gained a lot of traction in the last several weeks.

My final week at AFJ was not without some fun and getting my last hoorah in D.C. I had the opportunity to attend the Beach Exhibition at the National Buildings Museum. The ball pit was difficult to maneuver through, but fun nonetheless!

Beach Exhibition Marissa Ditkowsky

National Buildings Museum Beach Exhibition

I was also able to attend a SlutWalk. These walks focus on the idea that it is never the fault of a sexual assault survivor, nor does clothing choice does not indicate consent. It was an incredibly empowering experience, and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of strong individuals–men and women alike–who are survivors or stand with survivors of sexual assault.

Marissa Ditkowsky

SlutWalk D.C. Marissa Ditkowsky

 

This summer definitely helped me to solidify my passions and understand what I want to do and where I want to be in the future. I wish everyone that I worked with at the Alliance for Justice the best of luck in their future endeavors, and thank them again for their patience and encouragement. I hope to see AFJ continue to do what it does best in the future.

– Marissa Ditkowsky ’16

love-big-data

I am sitting in my cubicle. It’s hot. The air conditioner is on very low because certain un-named colleagues like to keep it that way. I bring a small fan to the office, positioning it right next to my face, setting it on high to take full advantage of its gift of cool air. Today it is the only thing that keeps me awake. It’s 1pm and I already have that “2:30pm” feeling. But I am lucky – I have a good task to match my afternoon drowsiness. My supervisor needs me to compile a list of zip codes that comprise each Massachusetts legislator’s district, in addition to researching how many participants of the state’s Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC) program there were in each district in 2013. It’s a good task to have at the moment, because it only requires repetition by calling many numbers asking for the same information. The task is not as simple as conducting a quick google search; only the legislative offices have access to the precise zip codes of each district, and I need to dig deep into the computer system’s files before I discover a record of EAEDC participants. I spend the day calling approximately 50 offices. Most aides that I talk to can recite the zip codes off the top of their heads, but some put me in hold for 20 minutes (I enjoy the State House’s on-hold music so it wasn’t a bad experience by any means), a few scold me for wasting their time, and two offices could not identify which Boston zip codes their districts occupy. Such is life working in politics. I enjoy it.

I spend most of my day collecting this data. A lot of people would find this project to be menial and only that. But you’ve likely heard the following statement over-and-over again somewhere recently: we live in an era of big data. What makes this era so exciting, you ask? Put simply, we use data to make better, more impactful decisions. For this particular project, gathering these zip codes and piecing them together with the number of postcards we send to each district (postcards being a classic advocacy tool used to empower the public to communicate with their legislators). This information allows us to best choose which zip codes we need to dedicate more energy and resources to in order to enhance the likelihood that our policy campaigns are successful. This prospect may not seem all too exciting, especially when making call after call to gather data. But it is meaningful, and I do appreciate it.

I truly care about addressing homelessness. Facebook friends of mine may even have the perception that it is “my issue,” or “THE” issue that I am passionate about. I can’t blame them. But do not be fooled; I care very much for addressing sexual violence, ridding our culture of the patriarchy, eliminating white supremacy, pursuing environmental justice, etc., in addition to addressing homelessness. I want more. I want to address as many topics of injustice as I can. This is precisely why I have made it a career goal of mine to help progressive lawmakers get elected to office so that they can address the breadth of these issues. Not everyone gets to be the next President of the United States, or the next Governor of Massachusetts; not everyone gets to be the Executive Director of a nonprofit agency or the Chief Lobbyist; hard work is required of a support system to ensure that these positions are attained and are successful at what they seek to accomplish. I want to be a part of that process, and I want to take advantage of voter data to do it.

My internship at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless was great because I was given the opportunity to fulfill meaningful responsibilities while learning a ton about careers in advocacy, what it takes to organize a successful advocacy campaign, and how to manage relationships with lawmakers. As someone who has completed unrewarding and menial internships in the past, I recommend interning at the Coalition. It is the sort of organization where you can step right in and make as much of an impact as you choose to; where you can dedicate as much time as you wish and receive a commensurate amount of growth and learning in return. If I were to re-do my first few months at the Coalition, I would work more proactively on new projects and find ways to make an impact on my own instead of solely relying on the instructions from my supervisors. The truth is that they are too busy, as most internship supervisors likely are, to always be supervising. If you have the time, it may be beneficial for you to show initiative and work on a project of your own, in addition to working on what you are assigned, in order to gain the most out of your experience and maximize the support that you provide to the organization that you intern for. The Coalition offers the sort of welcoming environment that lends an ear to these projects and new ideas coming from interns. That is why I tout it so highly.

If you are interested in learning more about the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, careers in advocacy, topics of homelessness, or my own experience interning, please feel free to reach out to me via e-mail, shpilman@brandeis.edu.

Max Parish, ’16

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I can’t believe my summer at Lawyers For Children has come to an end! Working with foster care youth in New York City has been an eye-opening experience. Before I started the internship, I aspired to learn more about the interaction between law and social work and what sort of balance between the two produces the best results when working with underprivileged populations. Working at LFC taught me how important it is for Foster Care attorneys and social workers to work collaboratively with one another.

After attending several meetings for clients with several different agencies and organizations present, I noticed that LFC provides a comforting presence in every child’s life that other governmental agencies and nonprofits do not. This is because the fundamental element of LFC’s philosophy is that each child has an attorney and a social worker that work together as their advocates.

Although other organizations and agencies work hard to provide youth with the services they need, they often do not develop as in-depth relationships with the youth because they only see the child’s situation from one perspective. Other nonprofits serving foster care youth assign a social worker to as little as 15% of their cases. LFC recognizes that every child, regardless of the ‘severity’ of their situation, needs a social worker because social workers have different skills than attorneys and can provide a unique perspective on their case and how to best serve the child.
IMG_5031My career goal was to gain experience in a legal/social work setting that advocates for human rights and social policy. I gained more ‘social work’ than ‘legal’ experience at LFC after working alongside a social worker all summer, but I did get to observe clients’ cases in court which gave me insight and a diverse perspective on how the legal side works.

This internship has definitely solidified my desire to work as an advocate in the public interest field, but I am unsure as whether I’d like to fulfill that role as an attorney or social worker. I did learn that I enjoy being out in the field more than I do sitting at a desk which directs me toward the field of social work.

A personal goal for this summer was to gain a better understanding of the social issues the foster-care population in large cities like New York City faces. Sadly, these issues were much more prevalent than I could have imagined. The greatest issue that caused me the most frustration is the stigmas foster care youth face, whether in school, the community or among agency workers whose job it is to help them.

I highly recommend Lawyers For Children as an internship destination, whether it be the legal or social work side. The internship gives interns the opportunity to see the various tasks each side is responsible for which can help solidify a future career path. I would also advise anyone interested in social work and human rights to consider an internship at Lawyers For Children because it exposes interns to the dire human rights issues that often go unnoticed in their own communities.

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intern workroom

This summer I am most proud of helping clients realize their potential when it comes to applying for jobs or brainstorming future academic goals. Unfortunately many foster care youth are not viewed as capable of achieving the kind of goals the rest of us may have and they themselves start to believe that stigma. I learned that consistent support and affirmation goes a long way.

Lawyers For Children’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LawyersForChildren

About interning at Lawyers For Children: http://www.lawyersforchildren.org/internships

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Preparing Lunch for the GuestsWorking at the Community Day Center of Waltham this summer has been an incredibly moving and emotionally intense experience. At this point, I have developed such strong relationships with many of our guests. These relationships have taught me a lot about separating my emotions towards the circumstantial work I do from the objective work I have to accomplish. I have learned to set boundaries as a professional while still maintaining an approachable demeanor, that way I can both relate to and create a comfortable environment for the guests as well as professionally address the problem(s) at hand.

In the office, it is easier for me to maintain a professional standing in the eyes’ of the guests. For me, emotional dilemmas arise when I bump into them around town and see the reality of their challenging circumstances first hand. It is hard for me to grapple with and go on with my day-to-day activities, because, I often struggle to separate my work life from my personal life. I am a compassionate counselor and a dedicated, hard worker but the circumstances and the environment poses a emotional dilemma for me. This emotional dilemma manifests itself when I take unrealistic or unreasonable measures to try to make a permanent fix to people’s lives when it is a highly unlikely outcome. It is my job to help with the services provided at the Day Center. To conduct further work outside the Day Center would be my choosing but also could post significant liability and moral issues. For this reason, I choose very carefully and after much thought before going the extra mile and also receive approval from my supervisor before proceeding.

Day Center LogoThis work opportunity has greatly differed from university/academic life in that I have received such intense hands-on experience that a classroom setting could never provide me with. It is through this kind of experience that I have begun to master the interpersonal, organizational, and diagnostic skills necessary to be an effective case worker and have become well-acquainted with the specific services and resources that we provide and refer throughout the Metrowest area.

The biggest skill I have further developed as a result of this internship is interpersonal skills. Working with people from all different backgrounds with a wide range of circumstances and needs, I have learned about how multi-dimensional we are as people. Addressing situations that are often accompanied with complex circumstances has taught me about problem solving, troubleshooting, and many of the things to consider when assessing an individual’s well-being. For future career plans I have thought of potentially being a medical social worker, working with health care policy and reform, an occupational therapist, a cognitive behavioral therapist, or a clinical psychologist. This experience has given me a good basis that harnesses my capabilities to work with people and make a difference in whatever field I pursue. I also plan to continue to work at the Day Center throughout the year and bring what I continue to learn to the classroom setting as well as share my experiences with my peers. Hands-on experience like this alongside a classroom education prepares me to make real contributions to society and continue to make a permanent impact on peoples’ lives.

Community Day Center Facebook Page

Social Worker Duties and Responsibilities

 

 

Ariel paints a rock from the garden at camp

Ariel paints a rock from the garden at camp-part of the purpose of this project was to take the symbol of rocks (often associated with violence during the 2nd Intifada) and transform them into symbols of creation.

I am imminently feeling the speed of time here in Israel working at Project Harmony. Each day begins early, at 6:40 AM. The commute is over a half hour on a bus that never comes when it says it will (this can mean up to a half hour early, or over an hour late). Because of this chaos I arrive very early and often spend a lot of my time waiting for the bus; as I wait, though, I have time to be present at my stop across from the downtown shuk (market) or to reflect on my experiences here in Israel.

Some of the things I think about are how:
This place is a beautiful mess (which fits with my internship and role as an Art’s Specialist at Project Harmony Israel). Time is a suggestion here, food is a priority, and there is no consistency. Some days I have 40 kids to look after, and others I have 12. Most of the children who behaved the day prior will be ill behaved the next. Nothing is for certain here, and I have come to love that more and more each day. At first I was so troubled by feeling out of control, but living and working here has taught me that being out of control does not mean that what I am doing or working towards isn’t meaningful or effective, it’s just dysfunctional along the way. I think this is an invaluable lesson that is applicable in my personal, academic, and occupation-related life.

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Identity flag mural in the works

I have learned part of this lesson from the various children I work with, and with whom I spend upwards of five hours a day. The children at Project Harmony Israel are rambunctious, and culturally dramatically different from the American children I have worked with in the past. I feel myself living out cross-cultural encounters like the ones I read about in my Anthropology classes, but I also find myself witnessing them. For instance, in one conversation I was explaining a project very slowly in English to a young Jewish girl who then turned to her friend and translated everything I had just said into Arabic. Moments like these, where I feel like the children teach each other, are the most special and meaningful part of this experience working here. My approach towards cross-cultural understanding was fostered academically at Brandeis in my Anthropology classes, but my approach and application has been tested and developed by these specific instances and interactions.

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Plaster hands and mask-making then used for theatre productions at camp

This week marks the close of my internship at the Harvard Semitic Museum.

I came, I saw, I archived. I also learned a lot.

I came to the museum hoping to gain greater context and appreciation for my studies of Near Eastern history, through interactions with the museum’s collection of artifacts. I was excited at the prospect of handling tablets, pottery, and other artifacts from thousands of years ago. To my surprise, I have done just that, and more. This summer at the Semitic Museum has given me an even greater intimacy with artifacts than had I expected, and I have been amazed by the level of trust and responsibility the museum staff gave to its interns.

This is the second floor of a full-scale model of an Ancient Israelite house. The display mixes artifacts (pottery) and replicas (food). Photo credit: Semitic Museum, via Tumblr

In addition to handling artifacts, I’ve learned a lot about archaeology, geography, and general Near Eastern history. I now know about ancient sites like Nuzi, Tell el-Kheleifeh, Nemrud Dagh. Only months ago, those names would have been foreign to me.

And while I’ve had previous curatorial experience, this internship immersed me in the collections-management side of museums. The Semitic Museum is a small museum, with long-term exhibits, so most of its efforts are put towards its collection rather than planning new exhibits. Still, being in a small museum gave me access to almost every part of the museum process. I would recommend interning in a small museum to anybody interested in museum careers, as you really get to see all aspects of the museum’s operations, and work directly with the entire museum staff.

My time at the Semitic Museum has certainly solidified my interest in continuing my study of the Ancient Near East, and particularly its languages. I hope to return one day and read from the cuneiform tablets that I held this summer! At the same time, the internship has reaffirmed my interest in curatorial and collections work, and I will certainly look for more ways to stay involved in museum work.

A shirt with “Harvard” written in four ancient Semitic scripts. Photo credit: Noam Cohen

Of my varied projects at the museum, I am most proud of my archiving of Theresa Goell’s archaeological records. The materials- mostly maps, plans, and sketches- came to the museum roughly sorted and rolled into boxes. After spending two months sorting and organizing the identifiable materials, I moved on to the last box- the unidentified papers. Using my knowledge of the different sites Goell worked on, I was able to identify nearly all of the previously unidentifiable maps and plans. This was a particularly proud moment for me, as it was tangible evidence of the familiarity I gained with Goell’s work.

Semitic languages (from which the museum gets its name) are defined by their triliteral root system. The three letter root Š-L-M, which can mean ‘whole’ and ‘peace,’ is used both as a greeting and farewell in several Semitic languages (such as shalom- the Š is pronounced as a ‘sh’-  and salaam), arising from exchanges of wishes for good health.

So, ŠLM.

–Noam Cohen ’16

I completed my internship at United for a Fair Economy (UFE) today. It’s hard to believe the summer is already over. I learned a lot from this internship and I’m proud of the work that I did.

The project I most enjoyed was interviewing and writing a blog post about another intern, Shirley Pryce. Shirley is the president of the Jamaica Household Workers’ Association which advocates for domestic workers’ rights. Against all odds, Shirley established this organization and is doing essential work. She told me how her time at UFE made her think about organizing in a different way and about her plans to share her insights back home. It was challenging to condense Shirley’s powerful story into a blog post that was both concise and engaging. In the end, this blog post was the first way I saw my writing skills that I learned in school be effective in the real world.

Furthermore, the way Shirley talked about UFE and how meaningful her experience here was made me think about my own. My internship has unquestionably influenced my beliefs about inequality and social justice. I’ve been exposed to striking numbers showing the income gap, racial wealth gap, and so much more in the U.S. One of my coworkers told me that, although everyone has a different analysis of these numbers and different ideas of what to do to change them, the numbers are still the same. Hearing my coworkers, politicians, and even my friends debate policy and inequality and talk about how to fix it has motivated me to work for change as well. I am not yet sure whose, if anyone’s, solutions I agree with yet, but my internship at UFE has truly made me question our country’s current unfairness. Now, the idea of social justice seems much more complex. I know that as I learn more and gain more experience, my understanding of fairness and responsibility will continue to be challenged and grow more intricate.

Suzanna, my supervisor, and I on my last day.

Suzanna, my supervisor, and I on my last day.

My last project this summer was to write a Letter of Inquiry to a foundation for a project grant. I learned what language to use in grant writing and how it is different from writing to an individual donor. The biggest challenge was to present UFE’s work in a way that fits with the foundation’s guidelines. In general this summer, I had the opportunity to build my writing skills outside the classroom. I gained experience being more concise, getting my point across and connecting with my audience, all of which are important skills that will be useful in classes and in future careers.

Overall, I learned a lot about the working world and being in an office every day. UFE is a small organization, so I got to be a part of a team of people constantly working together. Everyone has the same goal, but often different opinions about how to achieve it. I saw what it means to really talk through ideas and share insights. As a part of this team, I experienced how important it is to ask questions, communicate effectively, and be on top of what needs to get done. Being in the development office, I also learned a lot about how nonprofits fundraise and then have to decide how to best spend the money to make the biggest impact.

If I were to give another student advice about working at my internship, it would be that everyone is working towards the same mission. Of course, people sometimes have opposing suggestions and opinions. But, in the end, everyone wants a better, fairer place to live.

 

As the summer progresses, I have moved onto the second phase of my internship at Supportive Living Incorporated. I am helping conduct a qualitative research project about the exercise program I was helping facilitate. This has given me an excellent chance to reflect on the on-site work I did as a fitness trainer, and put the program into a public health policy perspective.

The process of conducting qualitative research has been a fascinating, because in my studies thus far I have only taken classes about quantitative research. Quantitative research uses statistical and mathematical techniques to analyze observable facts. The central question of most quantitative research is “how can I use mathematics to give statistical significance to a quantifiable change. The gold standard of clinical quantitative research is of course the randomized controlled trial, which I had been taught to trust above all else.

In my current internship, I have begun to see the flaws in relying too heavily on one type of research. Due to a number of complex sociological factors, it is essentially impossible to randomize and control a large enough sample size of adults with brain injuries to do quantitative research on the exercise program. What our team can do, however, is conduct interviews asking participants and their families to share their thoughts and opinions on the program. Using these opinions themselves as our data, we can then look for the patterns in people’s experiences, and use these patterns to analyze the effectiveness of the program, and ultimately look for ways to improve the program.

As an intern, it is my job to transcribe and “code” the interviews. Transcription means listening to recordings of the interviews and typing them out on a word processor to create a hard copy. “Coding” is way of labeling and organizing bits of conversations from the transcripts. Similar quotes can be collected from multiple interviews, or a researcher can see how many times a particular topic was brought up in a single interview. You can also tag important pieces from an interview so a researcher can easily access the exact quote they need at a later point in time. You can see what a coded transcript looks like here.

Doing research in this way is much more productive for the purposes of Supportive Living Incorporated than a randomized controlled trial would be. A randomized controlled trial could only tell us about the size of a specific change in a strictly defined, predetermined aspect of our client’s fitness. Qualitative research allows us to work in reverse. We can gather all of our data, and then decide what questions are important to ask and look into further. Additionally, we can look to current literature being written about brain injury across the country and even internationally to see if the patterns we are seeing have been seen before, and what other clinics have done in similar situations.

My research advisor has given me the freedom to look into the research questions of my own choosing. I’ve chosen to focus on four aspects that I heard participants talk about repeatedly in the interviews that I transcribed and coded. The four aspects of brain injury I’ve been researching are:

  • Body Image/Self Perception of people with brain injuries
  • Depression and Suicide Risk for People with Brain Injuries
  • Traditional Physical Therapy for Brain Injury and its Effectiveness
  • Social Benefits of the Exercise Program

Reading through interviews and finding quotes about these topics has been a really interesting experience. The research I’m doing will be used in a forthcoming article about brain injury rehabilitation to be published in a scientific journal. I feel incredibly lucky to be involved with such a meaningful project and can’t wait to see where my research will lead me.

 

Here’s a video made about the exercise program with me in it!

Julia Doucett ’16

 

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Bon jou!  As I am writing this blog I am preparing myself to return to the States. I most definitely reached the goals that I have set for myself. I am able to reflect on them with the blogs I’ve written for the WOW Social Justice website as well as the ETE Camp blog website. The goals that I made were very broad and vague because this is my first time being involved with something like this, so essentially my goal was to learn as much as I could. I learned a lot about the importance of having efficient teaching skills and financial literacy. Ideas of cultural relativism were things that I learned about in school that gave me a mindset to truly appreciate my environment. Although my family is from the Caribbean and South America,  Haiti is different because it is the poorest nation on this side of the world. It suffered from extreme political corruption that has lend to the poor maintenance of both the country and the people, but it has a history of being the first liberated country in the Caribbean. It has been heart wrenching to move through the shanty towns and see the one bedroom homes made of dirt and aluminum with an exceptional view; a view that you know someone from your home would pay millions of dollars to have. I have never had such a clear visual of the Have’s and the Have Not’s than when I move throughout cities in Haiti. The levels of classism that exist are so different from the ones I am all too familiar with living in Brooklyn, New York. My goals have only changed in a more immediate sense because I am now aware of the importance of educating myself more about the politics and culture of the developing nations that I aim to work in and their interactions with the developed world, from the colonizing and abusive history, to the recent reparations and aids distributed.

Here is the ETE Camp staff for the summer of 2015

Here is the ETE Camp staff for the summer of 2015

 

I’ve learned so much about myself working for Empowerment through Education Camp this summer. My knowledge of Haiti’s history and cultural evolution has expanded tremendously, as well. I know a lot of Kreyol and French now, which is exciting. I have developed a confidence in myself that I thought I had already, but I realized there is a different sense of self-assurance a person has when they are in a familiar circumstance than an unfamiliar one. Although I worked in Italy last summer, my role was more of an assistant or junior counselor than a solitary facilitator and I was equipped with 2 years of having studied the language. I am extremely proud of myself for keeping up, which was impressive to my peers who know the languages of Haiti, and also pushing myself to find that sense of self-assuredness that can propel myself forward to one day become a leader in public and global health forums.

Here I’ve provided a link to The Haitian Internet Newsletter to give readers the opportunity to look into Haitian news written by their own and a link to read some more updates about how the program went at ETE Camp Blog.

I would advise anyone interested in an internship working with Empowerment through Education Camp to be either very open-minded or very aware of what your limits are, or both. The evident displays of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and bare existence could be very troubling to see and become acclimated to for a month. On the other hand however, the fun, joy, beauty, and serenity that can be found in a place like Hinche, Haiti can very much outweigh the negatives. I personally have seen how the luxuries of running water, constant electricity, internet access, and air conditioning are things that I can essentially live without; but not everyone is like that, which is okay. Any job in fields of public health and human rights can be emotionally and physically taxing in a way that it is better to know if you can handle before you start something rather than after. The purpose of these careers are to be helpful to which ever community you are in or working with, so the only way to be able to do that is to give them your all. Passion and drive are important elements to becoming a leader in this field because seeing and knowing of the injustices are enough for you to help make things better in any way you can.

The beautiful faces that I have had the privilege of seeing for the last few weeks. Not only have I been able to spread my knowledge, but I have been able to learn so much about myself from them as well. Thank you timoun (children)!

The beautiful faces that I have had the privilege of seeing for the last few weeks. Not only have I been able to spread my knowledge, but I have been able to learn so much about myself from them as well. Thank you timoun (children)!

 

I am most proud of my Polaroid Self-Esteem Project. I gave every student a small journal, a pen, and a polaroid of themselves to promote self confidence, self-expression, and positive body image. The students loved getting their photos taken and having an immediate copy to put in their journals. I held this project around week two and they learned the vocabulary words mentioned and were told to bring their journals every day. There were a few prompt questions to guide them in using the journal and by the end of the camp the journals were filled with aspirations of careers, goals for self-improvement, positive personality traits lists, songs, drawings, raps, stories, etc. My project was a huge success and for that I am extremely proud! Au revoir!

Zari Havercome ’16

It is unbelievably hard to say goodbye to these incredible kids. I will miss their humor, excitement, and hopefulness. It has been an honor to know you.

It is unbelievably hard to say goodbye to these incredible kids. I will miss their humor, excitement, and hopefulness. It has been an honor to know you.

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As I sit at home watching Netflix and packing for Brandeis, I find myself missing the fast-paced DC lifestyle and the stream of exciting projects at NCL. Even though I never thought I’d like sitting in a cubicle, I miss diving into various projects in my little space. I learned that I like to work with and get to know many people within the workplace, which was made easy at such a small organization. While reminiscing about my summer, I have reflected on how much I have learned during my internship from everyone I worked with and from the projects I worked on at NCL.

My cubicle, with a poster that roughly translates to "Yes, we can!"

My cubicle, with a poster that roughly translates to say “Yes, we can!”

I now have many new interests within the field of health advocacy, since I’ve met lots of people working at various agencies, companies, and non-profits that promote public health. I learned about women’s health from some of the meetings I attended and I would be interested in working somewhere dedicated to this group. While improving the website for the NCL’s national medication adherence program and attending FDA hearings, my interest in working on drug education or drug policy piqued. NCL opened my mind up to a host of potential career paths related to social justice advocacy and public health.

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NCL’s Executive Director took the interns out on a museum day trip

I developed a deeper understanding of the health policy environment and of the current issues facing consumers in the U.S. I had the opportunity to attend briefings to hear from experts about topics I am interested in, such as drug safety and the ACA, and to learn about topics I knew nothing about beforehand. There is a lot to stay on top of in Congress but working at NCL kept me on my feet, learning firsthand about bills each week. I enjoyed analyzing the implications of new policies for consumers and writing blogs about policies that should be enacted to combat consumer issues. I gained new knowledge while researching for my blog posts covering birth control costs and life insurance. The most rewarding project I worked on was for my supervisor for her appearance at the United Mine Worker Association conference. I wrote a brief about the coal industry and the environment and wrote a paragraph for her speech about some of the work we had done together.

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One of my co-workers presented the charts I worked on to display facts about consumer choices in the health insurance marketplace

I would advise students interested in interning at NCL to learn about the organization’s impressive history and find out what parts of the organization relate to their interests. I expected to participate in more lobbying with NCL but the summer is a slow time in Congress and it is difficult to get meetings with representatives and senators. My first week, I sat in on a meeting about a bill with a Congressional staffer, my supervisor, and another NCL staffer. Unfortunately that was the only time I saw lobbying take place but I learned that everything NCL did, from our blog posts to our attendance at press conferences, was a form of advocacy. Sometimes I would be writing a blog post and wondering how it could make a difference in the lives of others, something I aimed to do when I applied to this social justice oriented internship. When I visited the Newseum this summer, I realized that journalism is one of the best ways to make an impact and aid in solving issues. Although I wouldn’t call myself a journalist, my research and writing skills have improved at NCL and I plan to use them for my further advocacy efforts and in the career I end up choosing.

My co-interns at a consumer advocate party sponsored by the Committee on Energy and Commerce

My co-interns at a consumer advocate party sponsored by the Committee on Energy and Commerce

While House of Cards and West Wing are fun to watch on Netflix, there is nothing quite like living and working in DC for 8 exhilarating weeks. I am grateful to have had this opportunity through WOW and NCL. Thank you for reading my blog and keeping up with the work I’ve been doing this summer!

– Rebecca Groner ’17

This summer has been a whirlwind of adventure to say the least, and I have enjoyed everyone minute of it. It was weird saying goodbye to the cubicle that I had worked in for the past 11 weeks, and to all of my amazing coworkers and friends that I was introduced to along the way. 

I know that I mentioned in my last post that I had discovered that working in the non-profit sector was more of a hobby than a profession for me, and although it was true I am still so grateful for my opportunity with AVODAH this summer. My first day in the office, I came in with no experience working in an office, and brought with me only a notepad and a pen. Now I am leaving with a confidence I never had before about this style of work. My main goal with this internship was to figure out how to work in an office setting, and whether working in the non-profit world was something that I wanted to pursue, and I think I was successful with both targets. My career interests have altered since I first arrived at AVODAH, but that was part of the reason I explored this internship experience in the first place. To figure out if a girl wants to work in the Theater, first you have to take her out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think what I have learned the most from this experience is to not be afraid to try different professions, and take innovative opportunities because you never know where they may lead. For me, spending a summer New York City exploring both the non-profit world by day, and the theater world by night helped reaffirm my passions for the two, and helped lead me into a professional direction for the future. I truthfully was nervous when I received my internship with AVODAH for the summer, but I am so thankful that I seized this job because I know I have grown from it in a way that I probably would not have by staying in Philadelphia. If anyone reading this is interested in working for AVODAH for the summer, my recommendation is to apply! This is coming from someone who learned she does not even want to work in this field, but this summer was unforgettable. The people you will meet throughout the company are so kind and intelligent, and also it is an opportunity to explore a new place or field summer, so to me applying here is a no-brainer. I am truly shocked by all AVODAH, and New York City has taught me over these past 11 weeks. From meeting volunteers who moved me, to seeing shows on discount that inspired me. Never be afraid to take a chance on a wonderful position, you may just be surprised at what it will teach you.

– Jessica Star ’17

This summer has been eventful, exciting, busy, and most of all, rewarding. As an intern with Legal Outreach’s Summer Law Institute, I have grown tremendously both professionally and personally. It has been a rewarding experience because I was able to become a role model for twenty-five students. Seeing them grow and progress into young professionals was wonderful, as it helped me feel as though my duties and work led to tangible and beneficial results that helped improve the lives of young people. It is difficult to believe that 10 weeks have passed by so quickly. I will deeply miss many of the friends and amazing people I met during this internship.

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Prior to beginning my internship, my learning goals included strengthening myself academically, personally, and professionally. Academically, I wanted to develop better writing, editing, and researching skills. Since a large part of my responsibilities included drafting and sending invitations, thank you letters, and other types of correspondence, those target skills were strengthened since I was required to employ them quickly. It also allowed me to practice writing professionally, which is certainly a useful skill.

My personal learning goals included developing stronger communication skills, particularly with younger people, and public speaking skills. I was able to do so throughout the course of my internship due to another major part of my duties, which were teaching and interacting with diverse personalities. By teaching one lesson a week during the Summer Law Institute, I was able to develop stronger teaching and public speaking skills as I took command of the classroom and in fact even taught our students a class on public speaking. I also further developed my communication skills, as I sometimes had to interact with different personalities. For the most part, everyone I communicated with, particularly our guest speakers and generous volunteers, were absolutely fantastic and a pleasure to work with. However, through the few times that I had to have somewhat difficult conversations, I learned to develop and use patience as a key skill in communication, one that I believe I previously was not as strong in. As a result of my interactions, I believe each one of them was valuable and helped me become a better communicator in different types of situations.

Professionally, in terms of my career goals, this internship has been extremely valuable and significant. Prior to beginning, I wanted to learn from this experience whether or not law is what I would like to pursue. I especially wanted to learn more about the practice of law and what it is like to be an attorney. Through my work experience, I was able to interact and work closely with various attorneys. My supervisors, whom I worked closely with and learned a great deal from, are attorneys who practice non-traditionally as leaders of a non-profit agency. Most of our guest speakers during the Institute are attorneys who practice traditionally at law firms and they represented different fields and practice areas, which I found fascinating and very helpful. Through this internship, I was also able to visit a law firm for the first time and get a sense of the environment and what it is like. I also was able to visit important courthouses in New York City and meet very important and prominent judges. My interactions and experiences have helped me better understand what being an attorney is about, what it takes, and most importantly, why it matters and what it means to me. For this reason alone, I find this entire experience invaluable.

In addition to the above mentioned goals, I also did something I did not really think about or expect–I made friends with my colleagues. My two co-coordinators at my Institute became good friends of mine, as did my fellow interns. Working closely and keeping good relations taught me that having solid and friendly working relationships are central to making any workplace run smoothly.

Want to know more?  Check out this video or read SLI’s 2015 newsletter – a summary and celebration of the Institute.

– Aditi Shah ’17

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