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

Hello everybody! Hope your summers are still incredible and refreshing, and you’re gearing up for the upcoming semester (which for me, as a new CA, is actually right around the corner). My time at AVODAH has really changed its course since I have arrived. In my first post, I outlined a flash-fundraising campaign and my exposure to non-profit management, but now my experience has been centered around alumni outreach and programming from more of an educational standpoint.

During the third week of my internship, my supervisor began to teach a morning class as part of the List College (the joint program of Columbia University and The Jewish Theological Seminary) pre-college program, “JUSTCity.” This program gathered 18 high school upperclassmen to discuss issues of social justice and inequality in New York City through a Jewish lens. My supervisor’s daily sessions provided a Jewish textual context for exploring and aiming to solve these issues, as well as an open space to dabble with personal experiences and inexperience with antipoverty work and current events. I primarily functioned as the TA of the class, giving a hand to my supervisor and interjecting relevant information pertaining to areas about which I know a thing or two. These 16-18 year-old kids engaged in a remarkably thoughtful, sophisticated discussion about racial, economic, and environmental justice, as well as the escalation in Israel and Gaza. The conversation that struck me most followed their reading of excerpts from “A Case for Reparations” by Tanahisi Coates, an article featured in The Atlantic hashing out an unprecedentedly non-radical approach to reparations for Blacks in America. Admittedly, aside from all I learned from simply sitting and listening, it was also great to see my cousin who was a participant in the program. No worries, everyone- I made sufficient plugs for Brandeis with this group of college-searching kids.

Following this two-week stint, I have been spending much of my time managing the alumni database, and transferring bios of alumni from a large spreadsheet into the new online system. Since I haven’t really met very many alumni, I’m glad I can at least take this route to learn about them and what they did after the program. I even found someone who really is very similar to myself, and am planning on contacting this person to as how she got to her current job! I did not expect bio-transferring to be a networking opportunity!

I am under the impression that my internship will comprise a similar set of tasks for the duration of the summer, and that I will be exposed to a greater arsenal of Jewish texts on issues of social justice, that I will interact with more alumni material, and that I will get to know my co-workers better.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to updating you at the conclusion of the program.

Hannah Kober

It’s been a very eventful couple of weeks for the TB department at the Bairo Pite Clinic.  The TB team and I have been working to create training materials for our 4 new health care workers who will be carrying out the Doorstep Treatment Support (DTS) program.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the DTS program aims to increase adherence and completion of TB treatment for those with active TB and to provide preventative treatment for children under 5.  I have learned so much about program implementation; how difficult it is to translate an idea onto paper and then into a practical setting, and then how time consuming it is to translate all this from English to Tetun.

One of my goals for this summer was to apply what I have learned in the classroom as an HSSP student in a more practical manner, particularly as it pertains to implementation of community health projects.  First, the needs of the community had to be gaged.  Given the high incidence of TB in Timor, it was clear that there is a need to reduce the incidence and prevalence of TB by identifying those with TB more efficiently,  by increasing adherence to TB treatment, and by trying to deliver more preventative treatment (http://www.who.int/countries/tls/en/).  Then, the clinic had to determine what resources, in the form of money, facilities, and human capital were available for the program.  Foreign grants were obtained and 4 new workers were hired for the program.  Once we knew the program had proper support we began creating materials for a 6 day training for the new workers.  My colleagues and I created scripts and videos, scenarios for role play, and other written and verbal activities for the two days of training that pertained to effective communication. Learning points included recognizing verbal and non-verbal signs, and active listening through paraphrasing, summarizing and reflection (http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/nonverbal-communication.html).  We collaborated with many wonderful Timorese volunteers who were willing to act in the videos, translate the work we had done and then deliver a lot of the materials in Tetun.  Working as a group was essential for the success of the training and it was also a great opportunity to build new friendships.

IMG_2684

Ready…set…roll!

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned through all of this is that if you want anything to be successful you must be able to keep the big picture in mind while being extremely detail oriented.  Every little detail matters and you must try to go the extra mile with every assignment you are handed.  I am very proud of myself and my colleagues, particularly our ring leader, Paul, and all the hard work we have put into our work.  We have been forced to do things we have never done before that have taught us to be more resourceful and also to draw from each other’s skill sets. I hope to take back everything I’m learning here related to teamwork, planning and program implementation to PP1 so that we can grow together as a club and organization.

IMG_7833

A few members of the TB team

Kathelyn Rivera, 15

Tags: , , , ,

It’s 5pm and I’m standing at the head of a conference table in a downtown Boston law firm. In the room are lawyers, injured workers, and advocates. Another intern and myself are about to facilitate a bilingual meeting. Everyone in the room is older and mostly everyone is male. Our supervisor coaxed the attendees to the meeting, now it was left to up us to gain their respect and insight.

Untitled

The purpose of the meeting was to determine the substance of our report on the workers’ compensation system. We are seeking a balanced perspective of a complicated and convoluted system that treats participants unequally. During my time at the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health I’ve met with lawyers, doctors, advocates, and low-wage workers. Each interview has its own flavor and end goal, revealing a different view of the workers’ compensation system.

Everyone believes the system is broken. Everyone believes it isn’t them.

I feel my confidence grow after each one-on-one and group meeting. I and the other intern prepare and debrief after each interview to hone our approach. I’ve learned to employ open-ended questions and to not shy away from critical ones. We’ve also come to recognize the importance of language and setting to gain the trust of both professionals and laborers. We’ve developed relationships and fought to demonstrate that we are knowledgeable and determined, despite the generally disparaging and transient connotations of being an intern. With each connection we make, I know I am gaining valuable professional tools for my future career.

A major goal at the beginning of the summer was to meaningfully contribute to my community. MassCOSH has successfully advocated for several pieces of legislation that benefit injured workers. Most recently, they were part of successful campaigns to raise the minimum wage in Massachusetts and to increase burial allowances for workers killed on the job. Next, MassCOSH intends to pursue changes in the workers’ compensation system to ensure low-wage and non-English speaking workers can equally access their rights. Our report will inform what specific changes MassCOSH lobbies for. Having seen the organization’s previous policy successes I know my report is a meaningful piece of the process rather than something that will be put in a drawer come September.

Untitled1

Compiling a report for MassCOSH has led to more practical skills than I could have imagined. Knowing this report is a serious document that will precipitate greater change makes even the hours researching in front a computer fulfilling. In the short run, I’m looking forward to our next step of passing around the draft to receive feedback from various contributors. In the long run, I’m looking forward to a radical overhaul of Massachusetts’ workers compensation system.

- Mia Katan ‘15

Six weeks after my first blog post, my job at NARAL has swelled to encompass a new set of managerial responsibilities. In addition to doing substantive work – helping my supervisor brainstorm creative field operations, draft LTEs, and strategize political campaigns – I now manage a team of nine interns, and am responsible for distributing them to our four-plus priority campaigns. This task is surprisingly complicated; I have to take into account more variables than I initially thought when I began drafting my interns’ schedules. On a daily basis, I have to consider whether or not the interns have a car, whether or not the campaigns are accessible by public transportation, etc. Last week, I finally managed the interns’ schedules such that they are traveling to work on each of our priority campaigns at least once a week.

I embarked upon my journey this summer hoping to learn how to effectively negotiate varying relationships in the workplace. Many of my interns are graduate students, and I was initially worried that I would not be respected in my supervisor role, given the age differential. However, through conversations with my supervisor and other members of the staff, I have learned how to act and how to speak so as to seem an older, more confident supervisor. In my first few weeks here, I would apologize to my interns for making strict demands. Now, three months in, I have gained my footing and have realized that, although my interns may be older than I am, my three years of experience in this field has given me the qualifications I need to be an effective worker and supervisor. I have learned to unapologetically set high expectations. During one-on-one conversations and midpoint check-ins with my interns, I make sure that I am offering strong, constructive feedback. In the office, during meetings, I am firm and assertive. During lunch breaks, walks to the T, and coffee runs, I allow my more informal, personable side to show through; I inquire about the interns’ weekends, offer tricks of the trade, and share a bit about myself. By balancing the “friendly” and “professional” moments in and out of the office, I am able to command the respect I need while also showing my team that I am approachable and understanding.

Throughout the summer, my work has included holding one-on-one meetings with community leaders and lobby meetings with elected officials. I have met with a variety of elected officials on the Public Health Committee in support of our Healthy Youth Bill (which would implement comprehensive sex education in public schools). Armed with research and statistics, I quickly learned in my lobby meetings that elected officials will only fully support a bill if the bill will directly improve the lives of those in their district.

Similarly, my one-on-one recruitment meetings with community leaders have shown me that, while organizations are willing to coalesce, they will only do so if the impact on their clients is tangible. I recently had a one on one with a staff member from an organization that raises low-income women of color out of poverty by providing jobs training, peer mentorship, and professional development services. Only when I explained the impact of Crisis Pregnancy Centers on communities of color specifically was I able to garner her support for our initiatives.

Through these meetings, I have grown to understand that true coalition and relationship building must be founded on reciprocity. Organizations like NARAL are too pressed for time to engage heavily in an initiative that does not cater directly to their membership. In future lobbying and meeting efforts, I will be sure to come armed with facts, data, and anecdotes that directly address the constituencies of those I meet with, be they geographic districts or a certain demographic of people.

I am consistently amazed by the amount of organization and attention to detail my job requires.  Serving at NARAL in this capacity has increased my managerial abilities tenfold. I have grown to feel comfortable delegating tasks to my intern team, although some are older and more experienced than me. The staff has been exceptional in their eagerness to accommodate my needs and treat me as one of their own. I sit in on staff meetings, assist in building strategy and blueprinting campaigns, and am privy to exclusive conversations among the Political, Communications, and Field teams.

More than anything, this internship has given me an in-depth look at the machinations of the political non-profit sector. Though I previously worked at NARAL for a year, I have never understood the extent to which fundraising and membership building are critical to the maintenance of a non-profit. Sometimes I become disenchanted by the reality that a significant proportion – if not a majority – of NARAL’s work is dedicated to maintaining the structures that already exist instead of directly propelling forth a pro-choice agenda. In this field, progress comes more slowly than I expected, and victories are few and far between. I often find myself wondering if the political non-profit venue is the most effective means of pursuing electoral and legislative success.

This doubt is bolstered by the hyper-partisan nature of the choice debate. Upon accepting my summer internship, I stated, “I hope to use my duties at NARAL…. to learn how the organization makes the pro-choice debate less partisan using creative messaging and framing.” Interestingly, my experience at NARAL has taught me quite the opposite. NARAL is a non-partisan organization, but our political inclinations are clear in the work we do. As the choice debate has become more polarized in light of the Supreme Court rulings in the Hobby Lobby and Buffer Zone cases, Republicans that we had once considered allies have begun to vote against our bills in the state house. We cannot endorse legislators with an anti-choice record, so although the staff does not want to endorse electeds along party lines, we find ourselves doing just that. Nonetheless, I am still searching for ways to make the debate less partisan in my conversations with others. I hope that continuing to work here, and having one-on-one conversations with community leaders and stakeholders more often, will teach me how.

It has been two weeks since I arrived in Hinche, Haiti and began my experience at ETE Camp. These two weeks have been filled to the brim with new experiences and lessons learned. The first week was one of adjustments. The heat here is unlike what I have experienced anywhere else. Even after living in the northeast of Brazil for six months. Although I prefer the heat to any other weather, it took my body some time to adjust to the constant heat of the Caribbean sun especially during the day or on long car rides. Food and mosquitoes have been another adjustment. Hinche is a small town a two hour drive through the mountains from Port-au-Prince and is calm and laid back. Our first interaction with the students was Opening Day when over 100 parents and children came to try to take part in this free and educational opportunity. We registered and met the 60 children that I would be working with and learning from the next month.

IMG_4685

Myself and the other volunteers walking to Opening Day.

From 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Monday- Friday nothing, including the mosquitos or the heat, matters besides the 60 wonderful, intelligent, creative, loving and energetic ETE camp scholars. A day in the life consists of Morning Motivation, breakfast, teaching three classes, lunch and an afternoon activity. There are four subjects being taught in one day: Math, Science, English Writing and Leadership and each teaching pair is off for one period. I have been co-teaching English Writing, and I have never met such eager to learn children who are so excited to be in school. They are always doing the best they can to learn as much as possible. Once in a while there are discipline issues to take care of as with any children but for the most part they are extremely well-behaved. The daily chorus of “Good Morning, Miss Amanda” has proven to always make me smile, as have the moments during meal times when the children sing their prayers in unison or someone grabs my arm and asks me to sit next to them.

IMG_5062

The language barrier was another adjustment as I spoke no Creole and only some children spoke a couple of words in English. We have however come to an understanding and a rhythm of how to communicate without words or with the few we know of one another’s language. Both I and the students learn new vocabulary each day through interactions and in English class with Daily Words. In many instances words are not even needed to communicate as every child knows what a stern look means when they have done something wrong or what a smile and a sticker means when they have successfully completed a task. Through this they are also learning how to communicate with all people through a common language we all speak that doesn’t include words. Theses exchanges and their classes are contributing greatly to their growth into the leaders of Haiti and of the world that they all have an incredible potential to be.

Amanda Pereira ’15

The most advantageous aspect of interning at MCAD is how much interns are able to observe and become directly involved in the process. Throughout the course of our internships, we are scheduled to attend an investigative conference, a mediation conference, and an appeals hearing. These opportunities have allowed to me progress through my defined learning goals. Not only do I get a chance to read dozens of different cases, but I also get to see how different processes and steps work. During the mediation conference, I got to see a complainant and a respondent settle on a monetary amount after the complainant’s case was found by MCAD to have probable cause of discrimination. While I cannot go into great detail about the cases or the conferences, it has been great to get a chance to observe and ask the mediators and attorneys questions afterwards. Everyone is very willing to help and explain how the organization deals with differing situations. I am becoming more and more familiar with discrimination law, both on the state and federal level, just from my work with cases as I am usually the first person to see a case when it is sent to the housing department.

My goals for this internship included not only learning about discrimination law, but also figuring out if I am interested in pursuing a career in this area.   I already know that I want to go to law school and that I am interested in civil rights, but I wanted to see if I liked both working in anti-discrimination law and working for the state. As far as working for the state, I have found it a bit difficult to deal with the bureaucracy in general but admire the work that is done. I am learning that working for the state means being connected to different state and federal organizations as well. For example, when MCAD takes a housing case, we also have to file with HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development). This means entering the case both into our system and HUD’s system (TEAPOTS), then waiting for approval. As the case goes on, there are tons of different steps that have to be taken. This allows the case to be reviewed by different organizations such as HUD and the BFHC (Boston Fair Housing Commission).Department_of_Housing_and_Urban_Development[1]

As far as working with anti-discrimination law, it still may be something I am interested in pursuing, but not at the state level. Cases tend to take an extremely long time just to be investigated because of how many cases each investigator is assigned to. I also want to be able to do other types of law and litigation along with anti-discrimination law.
Despite some reservations, I still find the internship to be enjoyable. Because there are so many interns, I have gotten a chance to become very close with some of them and we have lunch and go out all the time. I also feel that because I am in the housing department which is smaller, I have had to work harder to adjust and learn how to do things. This was difficult at first, but now I see it as a new skill (thinking on my feet) that I have had to develop as a result. This is something I believe will help me greatly in future internships and jobs. I also am honing skills in my attention to detail. At MCAD, it is crucial that everything be entered correctly. Even in intake, if we do something wrong when writing the complaint, often we cannot just change it but have to go through an amendment process because we are working with legal documents. This has taught me to be extremely cautious with my work, especially when people’s cases can be effected by the complaint I write for them.

Finally, I am most proud of the work I have been able to do on intake. As I mentioned in my first post, I am on intake for one full day a week and have to see clients and write complaints for them. First, the attorneys who review the complaints I write give me great feedback and have told me that my complaints are very well written. Also, I am especially proud of one of the complaints I wrote. The complaint went to the housing department so I got to enter it in and one of the best investigators took the case. She has scheduled an investigative conference in August so that I will be able to attend. I think the case is very strong for the complainant and I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

 

It’s been an exciting summer, to say the least.

During my first week I jumped right into action at MataHari, a Boston-based women’s social justice nonprofit organizing to end gender-based violence and exploitation.  The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights passed the Massachusetts Senate only a few weeks prior, and the Bill was on the slate for the MA House of Representatives the following week.  The excitement and energy in the office was huge.  MataHari had been organizing for the past four year with several other groups like the Massachusetts Domestic Workers’ Coalition on the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights to reach a vote in MA State congress.  Additionally, International Domestic Workers’ Day was the following Monday (June 16th) which added an extra layer of pressure to the big event.

In the midst of all the excitement, I began my work the Hacker in Residence Intern by developing a plan for MataHari’s new website, hoping for a timely launch near the prospective passage of the DWBoR.  I worked closely with my supervisor to discuss the essence of MataHari, the target audience, and other aspects necessary for developing a solid sitemap for a new website.  We both began to layout design suggestions as I looked into developing the requisite code for creating features to meet what we determined to be MataHari’s specific needs, a process during which I started to greatly improve my project planning skills, client communication skills, and technical (design and coding) skills – which are all part of my career and classroom goals I planned to hone this summer.  Perhaps the most invigorating part of this process, though, was talking with my supervisor Monique about what MataHari’s members (many of whom are domestic workers, caregivers, and women of color) were looking for in a site, what resources and information they wanted to see, and what their vision was for the organization.  One of the most enriching aspects of this work, and this internship in general, is just the ability to ask questions – of my supervisor, of other interns, and of community members – and to learn their thoughts on different social justice issues, such as the integration of community organizing, advocacy and legislation – and how they best see the intersectionality addressed in the realm of technology.

My enthusiasm and enrichment only grew the second week when we held the International Domestic Workers’ Day Celebration at the MataHari office.  As the interns and small staff prepared for the evening celebration, I began to learn a lot about our different working and communication styles – an aspect of having coworkers I hadn’t had to think so carefully about before.  It was a great learning experience, though, as throughout the late afternoon we started to communicate more effectively what we did and didn’t need in terms of instruction and organization.

I was in charge of the Karaoke, which according to my supervisor was to be the focal point of the celebration!  I was fairly nervous setting up the equipment and the technical details as I prepared to DJ in front of a crowded room of our sister organizations as well as community members and domestic workers whom I had not yet met!  As the other interns and I ushered folks into the room, I sat down and began to take requests.  Monique, our supervisor, told all the interns that as part of our “initiation” we had to sing!  While she said so jokingly, she did make the point that putting ourselves out there did help create a safer space for everyone to put themselves out there — and that “leadership” is, partially, reliant on demonstration, creating comfort for all other parties to step up and feel safe, and then stepping back as parties begin to feel confident in that space.

Karaoke was a true blast.  My fellow intern Chrystal and I sang the Spanglish version of “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan and David Bisbal, and the room went wild.  MataHari members, caregivers, and children sprung up waving their hands back and forth, people sang along with us, and the energy among us was amazing.  Next, person by person and group by group people came up to me to request songs, and there was something beautiful about each performance.

While we were focused on celebrating International Domestic Workers’ Day and the passage of the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in Congress, we also laughed, danced and sang together as a community, and that was when I saw the real power in the work we do.

 

 

- Emmy Calloway, 2015

 

I have been at my internship with the Greater Valley Area Health Education Center (GVAHEC) for just over a month, and it is incredibly gratifying to reflect on how much I have already accomplished.  I have taught four weeks of classes at the Maricopa Integrated Health Systems’ (MIHS) Family Learning Centers, helped implement a new program at GVAHEC that provides children with free meals, and also conducted data extraction and analysis for all individuals that came to GVAHEC within the last couple months.

The classes I have taught at MIHS clinics covered a range of public health and safety topics including Fire Safety, Firework Safety, Germs & Handwashing, and Bike Safety.  Next week I will be teaching a class on Sun Safety.  In addition to expanding my range of topics, I was given the responsibility to develop the curriculum and lesson plans for this next class on my own, from the ground up.  I am excited to see my hard work in action!  Most days, we have about 10 kids at each class, but every location is different, with different demographics and children of different ages.  Developing a curriculum for children aged 0-14 is difficult because of the large age range, but it has already been extremely rewarding.

On the campus of GVAHEC, we have begun working with Kids Cafe, a national movement to help give anyone under 18 free, healthy meals.  You can learn more about Kids Cafe here.  GVAHEC runs Kids Cafe on Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00-12:45, and on Wednesday nights from 5:30-6:15.  It is an amazing feeling to be able to hand a child a Kids Cafe package and to know that I am helping to feed a child that would otherwise go without a meal.  My fellow interns and I are leading this program.  In just a few weeks we have fed hundreds of children. Nothing has felt better than knowing I am improving the health of these kids.

A typical Kids Cafe meal. Last Wednesday, we gave out 75 meals in one night!

A typical Kids Cafe meal. Last Wednesday, we gave out 75 meals in one night!

My boss was out of town last week, so my fellow interns and I buckled down and did some intense paper work. When an individual comes into the center, they fill out a face sheet with demographic information and the resources they need.  We extracted this data into excel documents and analyzed the results.  This was a truly eye-opening experience.  For example, we discovered that in May 2014 only 3% of people that came through the center were ineligible for the Working Poor Tax Credit.  In other words, 97% of the people we help are living in poverty.  Crunching numbers and assessing data is vital to our work.  I personally learned about the full range of work and services we provide, and by assessing our efforts we yielded results that can now be used to receive more grant funding and to validate how much GVAHEC is doing.

I cannot choose just one thing I am proud of this summer.  Everything I am doing helped me confirm how much I truly want a future in Public Health, as well as how badly systemic changes are needed to improve the health of the individuals and communities we serve.  It is truly a great feeling to finally be comfortable in my work and to work alongside people who share my passion for service and change (and even to pig out sometimes with my fellow interns).  I also have the opportunity to meet regularly with my supervisor to discuss my work and expectations for the week ahead.  It is a little sad knowing I will be leaving GVAHEC in a few short weeks, but I am thrilled that I still have a lot to do before then!

One of my fellow interns, my supervisor and I collaborating (with snacks!)

One of my fellow interns, my supervisor and I collaborating (with snacks!)

 

 

I’m a little more than 50% done with my summer internship and I can’t believe how fast time has flown by! This summer has already been incredibly educational and I’ve had chances to develop myself professionally and personally. Knowing that I only have 5 and a half weeks left makes me even more motivated to make the absolute most out of the learning experiences I’ve had.

So far, the Consortium has given me the chance to expand my research skills, improve my work ethic and meet a few really interesting people! I am currently working on an extremely extensive research project on Gender and Environmental Security. I inherited over 100 PDFs on the topic and my job is to make sure the entire database is organized into subtopics and to further expand it with up-to-date scholarly materials. Once this is done, I will write an annotated bibliography in which every document has a proper citation and notes! While this task sounds pretty daunting, I can’t wait to be able to say that I am quite familiar with a really important topic and that I’ve organized all this information in an accessible way for those who may need it – namely NGOs all over the world that will hopefully apply scholarly information to their grassroots organizing.

On top of this research project, I am also dealing with a few documents that contain very specific UN language and topics, such as country background reports. Being part of the NGO Working Group on Women, we create materials that are to be used as reference for all other NGOs in the group. This mostly means updating documents reflecting the UN’s progress in applying resolution 1325 to a variety of countries, in a variety of settings such as post-conflict.

While all of this seems like a lot to balance every day, work life has been made easier by the wonderful group of fellow interns I’ve been lucky enough to meet. With only 3 paid staff members, the Consortium runs almost solely on interns. Due to the nature of our organization, we mostly end up being female rising seniors from excellent Universities all over the country, all interested in NGO work, research and gender analysis. I didn’t think I could find that many people interested in all of these things!

For the second half of my time at the Consortium, I hope to continue to develop relationships and skills. Most importantly, I look forward to tying this learning experience to time I have left at Brandeis, developing a senior thesis topic, preparing to apply to grad school, jobs, etc! Let’s hope it doesn’t fly by way too fast because it has truly been a wonderful summer!

photo (2)

This is my view from the place I spend the most time in – The UMass Boston Campus Center.

 

Tags: , , , ,

As the mid point of my internship is here I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. Looking back on my goals outlined in my application for the WOW Grant it is amazing to see how this internship has allowed me to reach my goals and inspired new ones for the next half of the summer. I hoped to expand my knowledge on housing and education inequality in New York City and I most certainly have done that. I have, and continue to, reach my goal to understand how policies created by the mayor and New York Government effect people on a day to day basis. I have also been able to accomplish learning about social work degrees and grad school options through conversations I have had with my co-workers. I can tell I have learned a lot on the issues at hand because in the first couple of weeks at work I would have to research a lot of the resources discussed daily between social workers and now I can participate and even suggest using certain tools in my discussions with the social workers based on research I have already done.  I have learned exactly how much the NYC system creates a sometimes tedious process for many families to receive the needs they request due to the piles of paperwork I have helped them fill out simply to receive benefits and home services. I have also become much quicker at navigating the New York City government resources website and compiled resources for the social workers to use in a Resource Guide on our shared hard drive in the office.

 

Example of a resource tool for our clients on staying safe from the Family Justice Center flyers

Example of a resource tool for our clients on staying safe from the Family Justice Center flyers

I am most proud of my idea for ABC to become partners with corporations to receive donations of goods our families need. One of the things many New Yorkers take for granted in the hot summer is the fact that when they go home they get to be in the AC. Many of our clients live without AC in small apartments, over crowded with many family members. Another large donation request we have is for baby items, leading me to do research on baby stores the generate donations from overstock or returned goods. We will hopefully become partners with corporations before my time at ABC is over so that I can personally handle the paperwork and applications needed to go forward with this proposal. I am most proud of this research project because I feel it is something that will last after I have to leave, and could be a long term solution to many of our clients requests. For example, the organization Good360 creates year long contracts between NGOs and the providers.

I am building skills to conduct quick research and find contact information that is normally hidden on websites in order to contact people personally when trying to access information for a client. This is a good tool to have in future jobs as finding personal contacts when dealing with large organizations is often a tricky task. I have also become extremely self aware of my limits on how much trauma I can listen to in one day, and also of practicing self care – a very useful tool in social work and humanitarian aid jobs. Balancing aiding others while taking care of one’s own mental and physical state is a vital skill.  I now know how I affected I can be by secondhand trauma stories and how not to get overly emotionally attached to clients, while caring for them at the same time. Through the research I am doing on corporate partnerships, I am also learning how to write grant applications – a skill I know I will need in future jobs and on my own grad school applications. Overall I feel like everything I have done from research to self-learning will aid me in the future as I have learned a lot about myself through this internship and the kind of work I am / am not interested in pursuing.

 

The colorful school hallways on the lower floors of the building are lovely to walk through when stressed at work!

The colorful school hallways on the lower floors of the building are lovely to walk through when stressed at work!

- Alex Hall

Tags: , , ,

« Older entries

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)