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

My summer in Timor has come to an end.  I am happy to say that during my time at the Bairo Pite Clinic I did meet most of my learning goals.  I’ve talked in my previous posts about the DTS program and how rewarding it has been to see how a program is implemented almost from the very beginning.  I’m ecstatic to say that the program is up and running and is already reaping the rewards of all the hard work staff at the clinic have put into it.

The other facet of my internship at the BPC that helped me meet my learning goals, which I haven’t spoken about yet, is the clinical side of my experience.  Though I’ve always been interested in medicine and health care in general, I’ve never been certain about whether or not I want to actually practice medicine.  One of my hopes for this summer was that my time at the clinic would inform my future career choice and I am happy to say that it has done just that.   This summer I observed a number of fantastic doctors as well as medical students at work.  It’s admirable how dedicated they all are to trying to deliver the best care they can despite all the obvious obstacles they have to overcome on a day to day basis.  I learned a lot about the compassion and patience needed in order to be a good physician which I’m sure is a constant no matter what setting you’re in (developed vs developing country for example).  However, I also learned a lot about practicing medicine in a developing country where every step of obtaining health care is more challenging than it would be here in the United States. For example, the difficulty begins with accessing care in the first place, to obtaining a diagnosis, to actually having the resources to treat a condition once it has been diagnosed, to then completing treatment obtained.  I’ve seen and experienced myself how frustrating it is to have to fight for your patient to get an x-ray or a CT scan and to fail or to not be able to help a patient who is in such terrible condition because he/she did not have adequate access to care to begin with.  There were instances where it didn’t matter how much we wanted to help, we simply could not.  In the end you just do the best you can, which is what I saw the physicians and med students do at the clinic.

After this experience, I am more determined than ever to do the best I can in my studies in order to achieve my career goals and also to help PP1 grow and develop as a club.  After this internship I feel I want to gain more experience both in clinical medicine in the U.S and in other developing countries.  Perhaps I’ll look for an internship at a hospital or clinic and apply for health-related programs abroad for my upcoming gap year.  For anyone who may go to Timor to work in health care I would advise they pay close attention to the national health system there and why it is exactly that Timor is struggling with such low health outcomes in many different areas of health.  I think anyone in this field should at least consider an experience abroad that will help broaden your perspective of health care and help learn what makes one system more efficient than another.

All in all, my concept of social justice as it pertains to health care equity has been strongly reinforced.  We know health disparities are present within the U.S and other developed nations but they are less striking (though not less important) compared to global health disparities   I think that the most important thing to keep in mind in order to address this issue is that no life is more important than another.  As long as you believe that some people deserve better care than others, health disparities will continue to prevail.

This, is a short documentary filmed during my time at the clinic.  It does not adequately represent all of the work done at the clinic or go too much into the struggles within the Timorese health system as a whole but it does give an idea of some of the cases the BPC encounters.

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Receiving my farewell Tai from Dr. Dan

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One last picture of the clinic

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Hi everyone!

I hope your summers have been treating you well! Recently I have begun to work at AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, interning in for the director of Alumni and Community Engagement. Before I get too far into my experience this summer, it is best I outline my thoughts and goals going into this new workplace.

First of all, this is my first internship lasting over a month, and I am most looking forward to having the time and opportunity to become better acquainted with my work environment, including all of the people I will meet of the duration of the internship. I likewise hope to learn a lot about non-profit management, office culture, and work ethic from my co-workers and mentors.

Even further than that, I would venture to say, I am determined to also better understand the work of the organization as a whole. AVODAH has two programs running currently: the Service Corps and the Fellowship. The Service Corps is a post-college gap year program in which young Jewish adults engage in serious antipoverty work in four US cities. While working for separate organizations, the Corps members live together and learn about the Jewish ethical motivations for pursuing social justice. The Fellowship has brought in crowd of Jewish adults based in New York who are already working for antipoverty organizations and gives them the opportunity to get to know one another and similarly learn about social justice through a Jewish lens. I anticipate having the opportunity to meet some of these incredible AVODAH participants (which you’ll hear more about below). Through my department and daily tasks, I am interested in learning about the paths alumni take following completion of the program, and how much they bring their work into their adult lives and Jewish experiences. So far, I have done a lot of data organization to better reach our alumni.

The first exciting event to take place since I have started was the launch and success of the 48-hour flash-fundraising online #BeGenerous campaign. The idea was to ask alumni to be actively involved in funding alumni programming. In just that short period of time, the goal of reaching $10,000 was met, to our elation. Now we’re up to the “Thank You” notes for everyone’s tremendous efforts!

During my first week I had two very unique experiences that had me jump right into the work at hand. The first of which was an assignment to create a logic model for alumni programming, which will be included in a grant application in the near future. In the process of creating the chart, I had to outline the purposes and goals of the alumni network, as well as project statistics of what could be considered successful outcomes with respect to the goals. After only one full work day I had a pretty good idea of scope and aims of the program; namely to encourage alumni to get to know one another and bring the larger Jewish community into the world of antipoverty work and community organizing from a Jewish lens.

The second of these instances was on my third day, when I had the opportunity to go to an evening program for the Service Corps and Fellows, discussing faith-based community organizing. My supervisor and a representative of the Micah Institute facilitated a conversation regarding their own experiences in the Jewish and Christian communities, respectively, and addressed the questions of the audience. After the panel, I joined the smaller group discussions, focused how each of the participants planned on bring social justice and antipoverty work into the Jewish community. The diversity in Jewish background added much nuance to each of our answers, and I was honored to have the opportunity to get to know the corps members and fellows who were in my group. This was also valuable to my understanding of what the outgoing participants would like to see from AVODAH after completion of the program, and how we can better equip them to be leaders and teachers in the Jewish community who move their peers and constituents to work to alleviate the causes and effects of poverty in the US.

My supervisor claims that the most pressing question in the world of community organizing is “what keeps you up at night?” This, she believes, is the ultimate way to tap into the motivations and energies of a social justice activist. I’ll be honest and say that at this point, unlike many of the AVODAH participants, I don’t know enough about the causes and effects of poverty in the US for that to be what currently “keeps me up at night.” I would like for that to change, as I am learning more about the facts on the ground and the work that can be done to improve the situation in the United States.

I look forward to sharing more with you later this summer! Enjoy, and keep your eye out for my next post!

 

- Hannah Kober ’16

 

 

I finished my internship at United for a Fair Economy last week. I was working on my projects up until the last minutes (literally!) and on my last day I wrote a list of my projects and any next steps to be taken on each one.

In the final analysis, I ended up doing more than I expected to this summer, and learning a lot. In the last couple of weeks, I launched my donor survey (first via email blast to a certain segment, then another to another segment, and then made postcards to send to donors whose email addresses we did not have on file).

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I analyzed the results that had come in already, was able to determine a portrait of the average UFE donor (of those who had responded to the survey — of course there is response bias) and shared the conclusions with the UFE staff. I discussed what these results tell us about how we’re doing in terms of responsiveness to donors and what UFE can do to keep it up and improve in the future.

I got the Spanish versions of my blog post and brochure edited, approved and finalized. I also created a card to put into regular mail appeals requesting that people make bequests to UFE.

Finally, I had a meeting with Suzanna (my supervisor) to discuss the summer. I came to the conclusion that this has probably been my best internship yet. I felt supported, respected, and like I was learning almost the entire time. The staff was wonderful, friendly, and clearly passionate about their work. They even held a goodbye celebration for me, with ice cream and a card and gift (a baking cookbook because I told them that I love to bake!)

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I learned a ton about development, about inequality, about how people work towards social justice every day, and about how non-profits function. These are absolutely important lessons that I will carry with me in my future studies and career. I plan to go into the non-profit sector, and this experience has both solidified that choice and given me a lot of the tools and knowledge necessary to do so.

I wrote a review of this internship on the Brandeis Internship Exchange, and when asked to give advice to other students considering this internship, I wrote:

“This was probably my best internship yet (and that’s saying a lot). It’s not all fun and exciting all the time (what job/internship is?) but if you’re willing to do some boring database stuff for part of the time, it will be rewarding. It’s a great group of people and it was clear that they care about their interns’ growth and well-being. Try to learn quickly and work independently, but don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Talk to all the staff members and learn about what they do – it’s really interesting stuff! My biggest piece of advice is to be ambitious and choose at least one project that you DON’T completely know how to do, then learn how to do it (ask Suzanna for resources or find your own). This is the best way to learn a new skill or technique, and they will be understanding and supportive during the process.”

Thanks, UFE, for making my summer great!

Since I began at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office with Victim Services department, I have learned an extensive amount of information about the criminal justice system from the many different types of case that come into our office. I have the opportunity to meet with many victims and their families. It has been an eye opening experience to see the emotions of the victims. With victim services, the advocates are there to help the victims in every step they need during court, searching mental health treatments, and being the liaison with the assistant district attorney.

In court, especially with sensitives case such as homicides, domestic violence, and sexual assault, the victim is very vulnerable and it’s victim services job to provide the support. The advocates assist the victims with emotional support when a victim must testify, reliving relive the incident during a court proceeding. While seeing many court cases proceed, you realize that there is still a backlog in cases because most of them are from previous years. In San Francisco, this just demonstrates the increase of violence that has been occurring in the county.
There are many Latinos in the community and most of them do not speak English. I am always glad to assist them because it is very difficult for them to understand the criminal justice system. Many of them come in with information that is in English that is vital to their case, needing an explanation of the forms that are given to them. Some of them are undocumented immigrants who are terrified to speak about their incident because of the constant terror of being deported. Some of them who have been a victim of a violent crime have the option of applying for a U-visa but have to demonstrate that they were cooperative with law enforcement and during court.
I am most proud that I can answer many questions that our clients come in with and that I have been able to assist them. For example, I do intake interviews with victims without supervision, assist in filling out the California Victims of Violent Crimes application.  It is great that the advocates trust me to be able to explain the program and services to our clients as well as to help them with information they need because of the language barrier. It is great knowing that the clients appreciate us assisting them with basic services such as reading letter and  explaining the process of the application and the case.
I am building skills that I can take to further my interest in the legal system. I have learned from the advocates and assistant district attorneys the importance of communication within the justice system. Without having communication with one another in a work environment it is very challenging to have a resolution. For example, someone from the advocate team would talk with the victim to be their support, but the assistant district attorney would give the same person different information. This would confuse the victim and frustrate the common goal of providing assistance. I will be able to use this in academic life because while focusing in my classes I need to communicate with my professors and peers to be able to succeed. If I don’t then I will not be able to get the best grades that I can achieve. I will need their assistance to make sure that I fully comprehend the material. In my future career, I would like to communicate with my co-workers to share a common objective for all of us to thrive. Within the justice system, it is key to have communicated because it creates conflict and there is no resolution for those who have been affected. The main goal is for the victim to feel safe and supportive. The justice system is there to help the victim find a closure that will help them move forward.

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I cannot believe that my time at Lawyers for Children has flown by so quickly. As each week passed, I truly believe that I became more and more integrated in this incredible organization and felt so comfortable there. While I feel like I accomplished many things throughout my summer, my proudest accomplishment is the new children’s “give-and-go” library that I started for the office. At the beginning of my internship, my supervisor told me that one of her dreams was to create a literacy project within the organization, and more specifically, to help young mothers bring literacy home to their own children. While sometimes it may be hard to get teenagers to begin reading, it is always important to stress literacy with children from an early age. Oftentimes our clients did not have the specialized knowledge or tools to support fully their children’s burgeoning literacy skills, so it was incredibly important to my supervisor and myself that we help our clients help their families. Reading has always been a passion of mine, and I was more than happy to take on this task. Over the course of the summer, I was able to gain support for this project from my family, friends, and community members–and ultimately we collected over 2000 books. It was wonderful to me to not only have so much support from everyone, but also for me to get involved in a project that I felt so strongly about. Additionally, I was able to create a partnership for LFC with an amazing organization on Long Island called The Book Fairies. The “fairies” collect gently used and new books, organize them into age group/genre, and donate them back to those in need across the greater New York area. Now the clients at LFC will have access to wonderful books for a long time!

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I feel that I can use my experience this summer to not only further foster relationships with my coworkers and peers, but also use the incredible amount of knowledge that I have gained in my endeavors both as I enter my senior year at Brandeis and in my future. I am so fortunate to had been placed with an amazing supervisor who was always more than willing to teach me new skills or answer any question I may have had. As I move forward on the social work path, I want to learn more about one-on-one personal interactions, and possibly have the opportunity to interview clients on my own one day. I have greatly valued all of the interviews I sat in on, but I would love to get involved too! Additionally, this summer has taught me so much about social justice and the foster care system of New York City. I have learned how important it is for every individual, including children, to have a voice and have their wishes heard. Being a part of an advocacy group such as Lawyers for Children has shown me how vital these organizations are to the betterment and happiness of so many children.

For students interested in a social work internship or working at LFC (yay!) I would suggest finding a passion and sticking to it. I believe it is really important in social work to get involved in a specific task; whether that be a specific client base, a project you want to work on, or both! I loved being involved in the foster care system but also homing in on literacy. I think it is very important in this field of work so that you keep busy but also keep interested in the work you are doing.

This summer has certainly been an experimental test of my strength in the humanitarian aid world of work. Thanks to the WOW I have successfully been able to have an internship opportunity that expanded my horizons and opened my eyes to the bureaucracy and intensity of social work and humanitarian aid in NYC. My goals were thoroughly accomplished through the wide range of tasks I was set to do at ABC. 

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Everything from my tasks of referring children for early intervention education programs to doing child therapy with the kids helped me reach my learning goals for this internship. I would say that every task I had, even if it sounded as simple as getting a medical record for a child, taught me the hardships of working in and with public assistance groups. I learned what those dependent on public assistant programs have to go through in order to receive the services “our government provides to those in need.” It is no simple task to get a child in school, receive services for children with learning disorders, or get one’s monthly food stamp to buy food for their family. Learning how policies created on a city wide level effect those they are supposed to be helping was the most interesting aspect of my internship for me. I want to build off this experience at Brandeis by taking classes that teach me more about policy creation, implementing policies on a ground level, and discussing with professors the corruption that exists in US government. Beyond Brandeis I will hopefully continue to have my eyes opened to the world of policy making and humanitarian aid projects that help people in my community. It is amazing how much attention is often focused on international humanitarian aid efforts when there are thousands of people within 5 miles of my home in New York who need just as much aid and care, who are suffering from starvation and whose children have witnessed trauma and violence before the age of five and need counseling. 

For anyone interested in social work I would say ABC is the best place to intern. Social work is a balance, you must maintain self care and be effective in the office. As one of my co-workers said: if you don’t feel well yourself, you can’t help anyone else. 

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My ideas around social justice have most definitely been challenged. I have seen how difficult social justice is to accomplish in a world where organizations are run by money and public assistant groups make it difficult for anyone to accomplish anything quickly with the piles of paperwork required for even the most simplest of requests. I have learned that having connections in the world of social justice workers is vital because it helps get paperwork through the system faster and speed along the process of helping those receive aid who need it. I have also learned that although there are many people out there working for social justice, it is an exhaustive and draining task to bring about justice in today’s world. Although I already knew this, seeing how it effects people is quite depressing. Accomplishing social justice is still what I am going to work for in my future and this internship definitely helped brace me for the reality of working towards this goal. Dedication and passion are the two most vital attributes needed to accomplish social work. 

- Alex Hall ’15

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Sadly, my summer with American Jewish World Service has come to an end, but as I think back on my time with the organization, I cannot believe how much I have gained from this internship. Over the summer, I completed numerous large projects, including developing several lesson plans to teach and inspire American lay leaders to advocate for the developing world. One of the greatest lessons I learned at my internship is how to work collaboratively with people more experienced than I am. At first, I really struggled to speak up during meetings because I felt that what I had to say could not possibly be important. However, after much encouragement from my supervisor, I found my voice at team meetings. I realized that I was able to bring a new and unique opinion to the team, as I came in to meetings with a fresh pair of eyes. I gained self-confidence and made a better impression among my colleagues when I started speaking up. This is a skill I will bring back to Brandeis with me. This semester I am taking two classes with which I have no experience, and I know there will be people in those classes with more things to say than I have. Nonetheless, I will feel confident to speak up and share my opinions because I know that what I have to say is (usually) worthwhile.

This internship has opened up a lot of doors to new ideas for me. Now that I have completed the internship, I would like to learn more about the issues facing the developing world, and how they come about. I would also like to learn other ways people can get involved in helping out with these big issues without devoting their whole lives to solving them. I would strongly recommend interning at a nonprofit social justice organization, and especially AJWS. I would tell students planning to intern at a social justice nonprofit to be prepared for some feelings of helplessness – you will learn that there are so many issues that need fixing and there is no way that you can come in and fix them all. Just remember that you are there to help in whatever way you can – and that is enough! Also, be enthusiastic about any task you are given. Most organizations will need some very mundane things to be taken care of, like file-sorting or shredding or making copies. Hopefully this won’t be a big part of your internship, but it is important to take on these jobs with as much enthusiasm as the more interesting tasks. These are all important things that help the organization to run smoothly, and your taking them on means that more social justice can be achieved in the world. Also, your employers will notice if you have a positive attitude.

To students interning at AJWS specifically, I would recommend making time to get to know as many people in the organization as possible. I set up hour-long slots to meet with several of my colleagues, including department managers and vice presidents who were all more than happy to take time from their busy schedules to meet with me. I learned so much from these amazing individuals and forged strong relationships with some of them too.
AJWS has challenged by assumptions about social justice by showing me the importance of a human rights-based approach to development. Before the internship, I assumed that the biggest task facing the developing world was access to resources such as water, arable land and food. AJWS showed me that this kind of resource-based approach is not effective. In order to assist the developing world, we must focus on human rights, because no matter how many resources a country has, it is not helpful unless women and marginalized communities have access to those resources and are not being abused or persecuted. AJWS’s work to end violence against women, child marriage, and persecution of LGBTQ people has shown me what it really means to be a change-maker and reinforced my own passion to work for real change.

- Jessi Puterman ’15

My final days at ETE Camp and in Hinche were filled with last lessons, performances and emotional see-you-laters. After a full month of teaching and playing for hours a day, it was easy to become closely connected with the children. Despite the difficulty in language we learned about each others personalities, interests, temperaments and experiences. Many of the children adjusted so well to the language differences that they developed their own form of communication to interact with me and the other volunteers such as grabbing our arm and pointing to the vacant seat next to them at meal times or using the few English words they knew and the few Creole words they knew we knew to form a completed thought.

During the last week of camp, we spent class time and activity time gearing up for our three big closing activities: The parade around Hinche, The Alumni Show and the Closing Ceremony. The parade was an amazing experience and consisted of all the ETE campers, volunteers and alumni marching through the city singing the songs we had learned at the top of our lungs. The city dwellers were exposed to a small piece of what these people and kids wearing matching t-shirts had been up to for the last month. The lyrics of the songs consisted of a mixture of English and Creole and were both original melodies created by different volunteers as well as lyrics adapted to the melodies of songs such as “I Can”, “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Survivor”. The ETE Camp versions of these songs were “Mwen Konnen Kapab- I Know I Can”, “I Believe I Can Fly” and “I Am A Scholar.”. These songs as well as presentations of all that the students learned this year were all a part of the Closing Ceremony (as seen in the links above). The family members of many of the scholars came to watch them display their English, Leadership and Math skills through skits, songs and mini-lessons. This was truly a moving event that brought the feeling of a “proud mama” to my heart in seeing how much these students had developed their skills and how brave they were to stand on stage and perform the way they did. The students also came up individually to receive their ETE Camp graduation certificates, a moment that brought tears to our eyes. It was the perfect ending to an amazing month of seeing the accomplishments of 60 young leaders and scholars.

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Students receiving certificates from myself and the other volunteers during the Closing Ceremony.

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The 2014 ETE Campers proudly holding their certificates during the Closing Ceremony.

 

Coming home meant being shoved face first into the recognition of my comparative wealth and place of privilege. Even as a family who immigrated from Brazil with almost no money and spent most of our time in Brazil and the US financially struggling, I have to acknowledge that this is no longer where we stand due to the privileges and blessings living in the US has afforded us.

What this means is getting picked up at the airport in a relatively new, full functioning luxury SUV after communicating with my parents through our overly priced iPhones. The engine wasn’t roaring loudly and I did not fear that the car would breakdown. Their is A/C and heat in the car for a comfortable ride regardless of the weather outside (which happened to be about 65 degrees, a temperature that I consider cold after a month in 95 degree weather). Inside it I feel safe. The roads are not bumpy, they are smoothly paved. Dust and dirt are not flying into my face, hair and clothing. I do not feel nauseous from the ride home.

At home, I am greeted by a new, brand name watch and a Pandora charm titled, “The Journey of Life” to celebrate my return home. My dad shows me his new toy, a Bluetooth speaker for his phone that not even he fully understands how to use. I use the bathroom and I do not need to use a bucket of water to make the toilet flush. I take a shower and I do not fear that a cockroach will come out of the drain. I do not fear that the shower will stop because the rain water supply has been exhausted. I open my mouth and let the water in, I do not fear that it will make me sick. I do not fear that the lights will go out in the middle of my shower. The water is warm, I control the temperature I want to shower in instead of the steady stream of cold water I had showered under for the last month. 

I eat fresh homemade food left for me on the stove containing all the essential nutrients for my body. A colorful arrangement of vegetables, protein and grain. I brush my teeth. I do not need to find filtered water to do this but instead brush my teeth with faucet water for the first time in a month. I go to bed. It is a full size bed that I can sprawl out on either side of. It is warm, clean and incredibly comfortable and high enough that no unwelcome guests will crawl on me at night. I do not spray myself with bug-spray before bed since all the windows of the house have screens. There are no mosquitoes inside the house and if there were, they would be a slight nuisance but I would not fear that they are carrying illnesses such as Malaria or Chikungunya. 

Tomorrow I will unpack and do my laundry. I will not need to hand wash my clothes with limited water. I will not need to wait for sunshine to hang them up to dry. I will not be without clothes until they are done as I have I several clean options to change into while I wait for the machine to finish what is in many places, still the job of human hands.

In the fall I will return to my senior year at one of the best universities in the US and complete my nearly fully scholarship funded education. I do not fear that my school will get shut down or run out of vital resources. I will use fast pace and readily available internet and phone to make both my social and professional life much easier. I trust that my degree will add to my ability to grow socioeconomically and help to secure an even better life for myself and my family. My classroom is not too hot nor too cold. There are no illness carrying mosquitoes or flies to swat off as I learn or sleep or eat. The electricity and water does not frequently shut down. It is an excessively funded institution and a safe place to study and live. 

To say my life is “better” is a judgment call I neither agree with nor have any interest in making. To say my life is easier in many ways than what I experienced and witnessed for the last month would be accurate. To say that I am at a place of privilege over others that I do not deserve is the pure and troubling reality. I got to personally know and fall in love with over sixty beautiful, intelligent, loving and happy children who are at a systematic disadvantage from my own, despite my being an immigrant and a woman of color in the US. Logically, there is no reason why I should have these privileges and they should not. I am not a better person. I am not more intelligent, more beautiful, more loving, more in touch with God, more deserving of blessings, or more worthy. Essentially I am who they are and they are who I am. This privilege however is provided by one main, crucial factor; I am a beneficiary of the same system that has and continues to keep these and millions of other people in poverty and without many things we (probably anyone with access to this blog post) often take for granted. This acknowledgement doesn’t change the lives of anyone suffering from this system but it does remind us of who and where we are, not for the purposes of containing guilt but of realizing what each of our lives cost others. The course of action beyond that is an individual but crucial decision. 

This was my first but will not be my last trip to Hinche, Haiti and among volunteering, there are many ways to get involved with ETE Camp, simply because we can and because every child deserves the best chances to succeed in this world that they can get.

Since my last update, we had a Sao Joao (St.John) celebration. We ordered food for the festivities and had a coordinated square dance. It was organized by the department I am primarily interning with, and everyone participated, including management. A raffle was drawn, where one of the custodians won a ticket to that Sunday’s World Cup game, she was extremely delighted. Another major employee event was a conference call with all the regional offices, where the Director gave a report on the point at which the organization is, and all the changes that are taking place, so that everyone could understand the current strengths and weaknesses of the organization. It was interesting being part of that presentation and listening to the comments from people in other regions of the country.

I was then assigned to work with the organization’s Sponsorship department for a day to work on translations. There I translated letters from sponsors to the children who are part of World Vision Brazils ADPs (Area Development Program), ´A distinct geographical area where World Vision partners with local stakeholders to improve the well-being of children through multiple sector projects aimed at root causes of issues that negatively impact children.´. I also translated the Annual Progress Reports, mapping a child’s progress, in health, education, and extracurricular activities of the child to the sponsor. My work there exceeded a day, and I now help there every week for about 12 hours.

 

The numbers on the map show the locations of World Vision´s Area Development Projects in Brazil.

The numbers on the map show the locations of World Vision´s Area Development Programs (ADPs) in Brazil.

 

Doing this has had a profound impact on me, seeing the children’s photos and reading the progress which proves their fight for a better future, took my mind back to growing up in developing countries, Mozambique, Malawi and Swaziland. In these countries, I saw poverty everywhere. In rural areas, and in the urban areas where street children surrounded the city. Poverty was so prominent that people even became numb to its reality. As I read the  letters and reports that I translated, it was like getting to know the children and their circumstances. I found that things most take for granted, such as the act of sending a birthday card to a child is something so special to them. What has also impacted me is the dedication of the sponsors, who are everyday people. They have inspired me to realize that anyone can take part in being a positive change in this world, and we can all change lives in major ways. Working for an organization such as World Vision, which hopes to eradicate child poverty, has shown me the innocence that accompanies those in impoverished conditions. People don’t choose to be extremely poor, and children lack the opportunity to remove themselves from the poverty cycle.

In the department of Pessoas & Cultura, I usually perform day to day tasks such as filing and sorting through employee data that is submitted to the office.

During my internship, I have been seeing what my supervisors tasks are, which are ongoing because she deals with not only the planned systematic employee needs but also all the issues that occur on a day to day basis. For my internship, I had hoped to learn how human resources works in a new and different environment, and to immerse myself in a new cultural reality. With about 60 employees here, it has been great to learn from my colleagues about the organization, and having the opportunity to interact with newly appointed employees. I write weekly notes, which help me analyze my experiences and what I have learned.

At this point, I am mostly proud of being able to be integrated into the organization and of the relationships that I have had the pleasure of forming with employees and other interns. Forming relationships with people especially of different cultures is at the core of what I would like to do in whatever my future career may be, therefore, building on these interpersonal skills is very important to me. Nothing can substitute these experiences because I know I will be able to utilize what I have learned not only professionally, but personally.

The Logo for an Area Development Project in Brazil. ´Novo Sertão ´ which means New Sertão´  Sertão is a place in the North East of Brazil, but when translated it means Backyard or Outback.

The Logo for one of World Vision´s Area Development Program locations in Brazil. ´Novo Sertão ´ which means New Sertão
Sertão is a place in the North East of Brazil, but when translated it means Backyard or Outback.

- Linda Phiri ’16

 

The past eight weeks have gone by in a blur. Amidst a flurry of projects and public events, my internship was nothing short of an incredible experience. In the waning weeks of my time at NCL, I made visits to the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center as well as a NGO conference regarding consumer internet security and privacy. The visits and conferences greatly enhanced my understanding of the challenges and issues that ordinary people face on a daily basis in the field of internet privacy and the confidentiality of their personal information. In addition to the conferences, I also contributed to and edited a consumer Bill of Rights with regard to data security in the public arena. The project that my fellow interns and I completed has significantly improved my written skills as I learned to compose carefully-worded amendments for the Bill. The frequently-assigned research projects and reports have also helped me gain a deeper insight as to how public policy affects the general consumer population.

This internship has given me a very solid groundwork on policy research and analysis. I seek to integrate the skills I have developed and honed in the classroom when I return to Brandeis. I want to continue to build on those skills in the classroom. The research skills that I have developed will be extremely useful for writing papers in my courses because the majority of my classes will be writing and research-intensive. I believe that the research skills that I have acquired from this internship will also serve me very well in my professional endeavors as I seek to become an international lawyer in the future, a profession which requires well-developed writing skills.

 

Me at an NGO conference regarding the National Security Agency's practices of espionage on citizens.

Me at an NGO conference regarding the National Security Agency’s practices of espionage on citizens.

Working at the National Consumers League has given me a first taste of researching domestic policy and how it affects the general consumer population. I want to expand the scope of the research that I do to include international policy and law. Moving forward, I would like to gain experience in foreign policy analysis and research. In addition, I would like to work at an international organization so I can gain experience in the inner workings of international governance and law making. I believe that additional experience in the areas of international policy and governance would be extremely beneficial for my future career.

In my personal view, the National Consumers League’s work atmosphere is balanced and not too uptight . For those who are interested in working for the League, one piece of advice that I can give (which I learned from my supervisor on my first day) is to always ask all your questions before you start a project. This makes your work go much smoother and faster, and also makes the director’s life easier. In addition, making connections with your fellow colleagues is also very important. From my experience, the League’s staff are all extremely approachable and easy to talk to. Those interested in working at the League should take the opportunity to get to know all the staff. The field of consumer advocacy and public policy advocacy and analysis is a very stimulating field of work for those interested in policy analysis. Students who are interested in doing policy research and reaching out to policy makers will find working in this field  to be very fulfilling. It may seem to be difficult at times due to the fact that you’re trying to influence the upper echelon of the federal government, but I have also learned that advocacy groups are actually quite influential when it comes to affecting public policy; they reflect the public sentiment, which policy makers definitely take into account.

Me at the Panel on Industry Self-Regulation with regard to protecting consumers' sensitive personal data.

Me at the Panel on Industry Self-Regulation with regard to protecting consumers’ sensitive personal data.

After working at the League, I believe that my fundamental philosophy with regard to social justice has been dramatically reinforced. Through the research projects and papers that I completed, I have had the opportunity to examine the nuances of a plethora of policy fields including technology, health, and child labor policy. The work that I have done has shown me just how much ordinary consumers need advocacy groups. The research that the League and other consumer advocacy organizations do is critical in helping to create a more informed society. In addition, through the various projects that I completed, I have learned much about how to effectively advocate through writing. After learning from the League, I believe that I can become a more effective citizen by informing others about the effects of policy and its implications. I believe that pushing for collective action amongst the citizenry to influence government policy can be extremely influential. To be a more effective citizen of society, I need to let others know about the important issues that affect them. The time that I have spent at NCL has taught me much about the issues that pertain to ordinary citizens, and I plan to take the new knowledge and expertise that I have gained to make my friends, family, and community more knowledgeable about issues that affect their daily lives and well-being.

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