Recipient of Social Justice WOW

The author of this post received a Louis D. Brandeis Social Justice WOW Fellowship. Learn more:

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.


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.

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.


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.


One of Akshaya Patra’s 24 centralized kitchens
Photo source:

Akshaya Patra vehicles about to deliver containers of food
Photo source:


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.



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.

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.


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.


The Office Building where I worked – Source:

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.


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,


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


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,

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.



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:

About interning at Lawyers For Children:

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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.


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.


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.


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

My experience this summer in Jerusalem does not solely revolve around the work I am doing with Kids4Peace. Rather, the work I am doing with Kids4Peace adds to my overall experience of working within the conflict. The difference between last summer, where I worked at a camp in Jerusalem for Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, and this summer, is that I am engaging and working with peers of a variety of backgrounds, nationalities, and religions every day. Last summer, I worked for an Arab-Jewish camp, but all of my colleagues, including the camp directors, were largely American Jews. At Kids4Peace, half of my colleagues are Israeli and half are Palestinian. I am learning just as much, if not more, from these colleagues, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as I am learning about how an NGO operates.

Effectively, my work at Kids4Peace has taught me how to rely on others when working with a group, to be flexible, and to work with and talk to people who come from different backgrounds. I am not only working within the conflict but living every minute with it on my mind. As an intern for Kids4Peace, my job is not only to work for Kids4Peace directly, but to practice what I have learned as a person who is living in Jerusalem and engaging with Israeli and Palestinian society. Thus, my work environment is not just at the Kids4Peace office but everywhere I go in this region.

My experience has been complicated and difficult because the conflict is inescapable here. In Jerusalem, I can feel the tension. The air is tense and the looks I get from people who do not look like me, a secular white woman, reminds me how segregated and intolerant this city is. When I go to Tel Aviv, it is much better, but that is mainly because many people in Tel Aviv are Jewish, secular, and liberal. Their city is not divided in the way Jerusalem is. But, when I go to Tel Aviv, I still cannot escape this conflict and the impression that my Palestinian colleagues at Kids4Peace have left on me because I remember when I am there that they do not have same rights and freedom of movement. Everyday on the way to and from work, they must cross through checkpoints that are basically life-size metal cages. There, they are treated inhumanely. They must get permits to step foot in Israel proper, and they can only cross into Israel at 6am and come back at 11 pm. They are living in an air prison, and I have a hard time going about my daily life with my rights and privileges without thinking about the freedom that my Palestinian colleagues do not have. In a sense, working within the conflict through peace building is a full time job: there are no breaks.

One of the most important things I have learned about peace programs in Israel and Palestine, such as Kids4Peace, is that they are only successful because they are aimed at youth (and youths’ parents) who are already tolerant and willing to encounter the “other.” As someone who would like to see peace in this region along with a peaceful resolution to this conflict, I would like to figure out how to reach those who are not already in support of dialogue and a peace process.

As an aspiring leader in the American education system, I am thinking about how to apply what I have learned this summer to my future career. One of the biggest issues in American society right now is the opportunity gap between race and class. I am beginning to consider how to bring students from different backgrounds to learn together in order to narrow this gap. However, I keep getting stuck in the same way that I have been here in Jerusalem, about how to bring those who are unwilling. However, I know that my experience this summer with Kids4Peace will supply me with the tools I will need in the future to figure out how to solve these problems.



Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Kids4Peace participants playing a game at camp


Kids4Peace logo: church, mosque, synagogue

-Leah Susman ’18

It is hard to put into words just how inspiring my time at the Rhode Island Foundation has been.  I have been able to meet and expand upon all of my defined learning goals.  Coming into the Foundation, my goals were to be able to apply my classroom knowledge of philanthropy, network with professionals and sharpen my research and analytical skills.  This summer, I assisted the Foundation in researching a variety of grant opportunities.  Applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy was necessary for this task, because I was required to use a number of search engines such as Guidestar, www.grants .gov and the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance.  The research was time consuming and I was able to sharpen my analytical skills by quickly reading through and summarizing large amounts of information.  Also, throughout the entire process, I was able to interact with a variety of professionals within the Foundation and learn workplace conduct from them.  I continuously received positive feedback from these professionals and my supervisor.  At the end of my internship, I am confident in my newly acquired skills.

Working at the Rhode Island Foundation has shown me that I would like to work for or with a foundation at some point in my career.  One of the reasons why I enjoyed working at the Foundation so much, is that it is an interactive organization.  I was able to either meet or work with people from all departments of the Foundation.  Because a variety of skills are required to smoothly operate the Foundation, I could use my business degree to work in the finance department, apply my social justice and social policy minor to the development department, or even become a professional advisor if I decide pursue a J.D. in the future.  I also learned that while my work doing research was fulfilling, some of my most enjoyable experiences were actually presenting my research, or participating in a meeting or brainstorming session.  I learned that because of my personality, I like to be in front of people and take the lead in presenting and delivering information.

If I were to give advice to future students in an internship at the Rhode Island Foundation, I would tell them not to be anxious about their experience.  I found the team I was working with was extremely supportive and willing to accommodate my interests and learning goals.  Naturally, there was an expectation to work and act professionally, but there was not an overwhelming pressure to do everything perfectly.  The Foundation is not going to put interns in a position where the work is over their head.  The research I did was challenging at times and time consuming, but it was rewarding to know my work was making an impact, even in a small way.  The advice I would give to someone working in the nonprofit field is that persistence and teamwork is key.  In fact, the first thing I saw coming into the Foundation in the morning was a powerful sign that hangs above the stairs that lead to my office.  The sign reads, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.  In the nonprofit world, there are discouragements and people who will say no, but it is up to us, this small team of committed citizens, to be positive and persistent so that we can change the world.


The sign with quote by Margaret Mead

This summer I am most proud of the fact that I was able to complete all of the assigned projects that were given to me and I did not commit any major mistakes or errors that needed to be fixed.  I had a little bit of experience with nonprofit work prior to joining the Foundation through my classroom experience, but I was still nervous that it would take more work for my supervisor to train me than I would be giving back.  However, I am proud to say that the opposite turned out to be true.  I was able to work efficiently and finish all of my assigned projects.  I am truly going to miss the people who make the Rhode Island Foundation the powerful organization that it is and the opportunities that the Foundation has awarded me.  Hopefully, I will be able to keep in touch with the Foundation and one day give back to the work that it does.



The beautiful upstairs of the Rhode Island Foundation


-Lauren Nadeau 17’

During my eight weeks at AIDS Action Committee (AAC), I was able to learn and grow immensely from my interactions with coworkers and our clients. I am proud to say that at AAC I was able to meet all of my learning goals that I defined at the beginning of my internship. An academic goal that I had was to be able to use information that I had learned in my public health classes to further examine the health disparities that clients at AAC faced. Through the “Getting to Zero” training series that AAC facilitated, I was able to learn more about the root causes of HIV/AIDS not only through a scientific model, but also through a public health lens that focused on social, psychological, political, and economical perspectives of the disease.


Artwork in AAC’s entrance lobby

A personal goal I had was to learn more about real estate and the housing market. Learning the housing search terminology and the procedures for obtaining property information was the most challenging, but also the most rewarding part of my internship. Towards the end of my internship, I worked on a draft for a “Housing Search Guide” that would be able to help guide future interns and employees in AAC’s housing program. Creating this guide was a rewarding experience because I had the chance to collaborate with my coworkers to create something that would benefit future AAC employees: people who all share the common goal of being social justice advocates for those living with HIV/AIDS. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work in the housing department, as I was able to see first-hand how large the need is for access to safe and affordable housing and how acquiring this housing can drastically improve quality of life, especially for those who are sick.

Additionally, a career goal I had was to learn how to best educate and advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. Attending the “Getting to Zero” training and helping to facilitate housing search groups provided insight on some of the most pertinent needs of AAC’s clients. One video that I watched during the training was HIV: The Goal of Undetectable, which highlighted the mechanism of how HIV acts in the body and helped me better understand how HIV treatment works. The videos and brochures presented to us during trainings were informative, engaging, and simplified enough for people of various educational backgrounds to understand. For additional information on HIV/AIDS that I used as part of my trainings, click here.

Brochure from one of the "Getting to Zero" trainings on Young Adults and HIV/AIDS.

Brochure from one of the “Getting to Zero” trainings on Young Adults and HIV/AIDS.

Working at AAC helped me to clarify my career goals, as I was able to see a wide range of services that AAC provides. Though I worked at AAC’s Boston site, I had the chance to visit Youth on Fire, which is AAC’s program in Cambridge that helps homeless youth, and I also worked at AAC’s Cambridge site in Central Square, where I got to visit the Needle Exchange Program that focuses on harm reduction for intravenous drug users. By seeing such a wide range of services and being able to engage and relate to such diverse groups of people, I relieved that my interests in public health are indeed very broad. The one commonality between my experiences is that I learned that advocacy is a field that I am definitely interested in gaining more work experience in, and that I want to pursue further opportunities in HIV/AIDS and public health.


One bit of advice I would give to a student interested in interning at AAC is to take advantage of the wide range of services provided here and try to experience different parts of the organization even if they are outside of the department that you are working in. This was crucial for me, and as a result, I was able to network with a wider range of people who still shared so many common interests with me. Another piece of advice would be to keep an open mind. I had a few misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and harm reduction at the start of my internship and some of the educational outlets that AAC provided me with were able to shift my understanding of different concepts and allowed me to view topics such as HIV/AIDS treatment, sexuality and contraception, drug use, and other harm reduction topics in a new light. I encourage students interested in learning more about HIV/AIDS to use internships as an educational tool by and taking advantage of hands-on opportunities to learn from diverse groups of people.


Picture in AIDS Action Committee hallway.


Ngobitak Ndiwane, ’16

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The work environment that I am in has proved to be fluid, fast-paced, and unpredictable. About two weeks ago, my supervisor notified my intern cohort that she would be leaving our organization to take on a new position elsewhere. Wow! Her departure was certainly unexpected and shocking. Another employee in the office is now overseeing my internship program, which has been somewhat of a difficult transition so far. While I am still enjoying my internship, it has been challenging to get used to the different leadership style of my new boss. However, I think that once the entire office gets acclimated to having one less employee, everything will smooth back out. The work environment has also proven to be fast-paced given the nature of the state legislature. Our office is always on its toes since we have to react quickly to the new bills, vetoes, and other actions carried out by the legislature. The most recent example of this occurred this past Tuesday, when Governor Baker made a line item veto to the new state budget plan in which he cut $600,000 for family planning. Our organization had to respond immediately to this upsetting news, which meant shifting our priorities at the last minute. Instead of focusing on creating testimony for our next legislative hearing, we had to strategize a mini-campaign to respond to the Governor’s disconcerting actions. Despite the stress that comes along with the nature of politics, I find the fast pace to also be really exciting.

The most exciting part of my summer so far occurred this past week, when I had the opportunity to testify in front of the Joint Committee on Financial Services in the state house for one of NARAL’s bills regarding confidential health care. I read an anonymous personal story that was submitted to NARAL that related to the bill that was being heard before the legislature. This is a picture of me testifying before the legislature.

Bill Hearing 1

(Picture taken by NARAL intern)

This next picture was taken the same day, but at a separate hearing for pay equity and pregnant workers’ equity.

Bill Hearing 2

(Picture taken by NARAL intern)

You can also find information on the bills that were heard with these links.


Life in the working world comes with a lot of freedom and responsibility that I do not have in university life. I like being in the city, where there is a lot of excitement and movement, as opposed to the sheltered atmosphere of campus. I have also come to value the feeling of returning home after a day at the office and having no more work to do. During the academic year, I always feel as if there is more work to be done. I think that the physical separation from the office to my house back in Waltham also creates a psychological barrier between work and free time. On the other hand, constantly being on campus makes it harder to separate the two.

This internship experience has forced me to adapt to change, which is something I have always struggled with. The skills that I am building as a result of the transition in my office, which are hard to put a name on in the moment, will definitely come in useful in the future. I am learning to be more flexible and patient when facing situations that are not ideal. I am also learning how to advocate for my needs, as I have had the opportunity to express to my new boss how this transition has affected me personally. I think that this summer has been transformative to say the least, and I am looking forward to returning back to campus this fall with the new skills I have developed from this internship.

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Photo by TuckerGurl inc.

Photo by TuckerGurl inc.

After hearing Ava DuVernay speak about diversity in media at the Essence Festival and seeing a diverse number of independent filmmakers in and out of our office, I am proud to be a summer intern for an organization that is about making filmmaking and community media accessible for all members of society. At its core, NOVAC is about giving the citizens of New Orleans access to channels of communication so they can tell their personal narratives. NOVAC provides the tools necessary for digital storytelling to its local community by forming workforce training programs, digital storytelling camps, filmmaker workshops, and free conferences.

Since late June, my responsibilities includes designing logos for non-profit organizations, creating slideshows and short videos for NOVAC and taking notes in meetings with NOVAC affiliates. But lately everyone at NOVAC has been trying to spread awareness about the detrimental effects of the HB 289 Bill that just passed through the Louisiana state legislature. The HB 289 Bill caps tax incentives at 180 million dollars for film production companies. This bill would increase unemployment and displace film professionals out of their profession because film studios would rather produce films in areas that do not cap tax incentives, like Atlanta. The HBO/Cinemax Quarry Internship program was an amazing opportunity that provide 15 individuals with an internship based on their interests, but now their industry worthy skills may be under utilized because of the the HB 289 Bill. NOVAC’s workforce training workshops are economic opportunities for local residents. After New Orleanians complete our training programs, they gain access to jobs in the film industry through our job referral program and they can use their newly acquired skills to gain social mobility but the HB 289 Bill may hinder that.

Despite worrying about the effects of the HB 289 Bill, NOVAC has been preoccupied with New Orleans youth! Earlier this month, I checked in with parents to confirmed their children’s spot in NOVAC’s Youth Digital Storytelling Summer Camp. These young aspiring filmmakers spent one week creating a PSA about the harmful effects of smoking. From creating their own props to adding the credits, our campers had a say in the creative process and in deciding what issue they wanted to tackle with their video. Through digital storytelling, these students were able to disseminate a powerful message about the effects of smoking, and here at NOVAC we think it is imperative that community members, young and old, learn how to use mediums of communication to inform citizens about social justice issues. After all, in 1972, when NOVAC was founded, one of their aims was to use videos to spread awareness about poverty in New Orleans. Now, NOVAC provides outlets for New Orleans youth to tackle issues of domestic violence, drug abuse, homelessness, abuse, and other issues they are passionate about.

I’ve worked closely with Clark Prep High School rising senior Bernisha Hooker since she joined NOVAC as a summer intern. The city of New Orleans offers an internship program for teenagers in New Orleans, however most of these internships do not correlate with the students’ future career aspirations. Through a special program called Youth Force, Bernisha was placed at an internship site that matches her career interests: photography and filmmaking. Bernisha and I work side by side and I aid her with her duties. Since she is a New Orleanian, I thought it would be interesting to hear about her experience with Hurricane Katrina, especially since this year is the 10th anniversary. I interviewed and recorded her story for NOVAC Project 10. Project 10 is a digital storytelling initiative from NOVAC and the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Representatives from local community organizations and New Orleans citizens tell us their stories about one of the most devastating events in America. The project has taught me about documentary and social justice filmmaking as well as the non-exciting part of filmmaking: planning and working with people’s schedules. There are ALWAYS last minute changes and you have to adapt accordingly. In college, you are aware of deadlines and you usually have enough time to prepare for assignments and projects. I’m realizing in the independent filmmaking world, you just always have to be ready for the next opportunity, especially when working on documentaries based on people volunteering their time to help you with your work.

My awesome radical bosses!

My awesome radical bosses!

My internship is providing me with the technical skills necessary for documentary filmmaking and community media. Since I have been in New Orleans, I’ve met state senators, representatives from the Urban League New Orleans Chapter, independent filmmakers and creative problem-solvers. Meeting these people emphasized the importance of teamwork and collaborative practices. As a college student, I am use to working solo, aside from the dreaded group project, and I like working by myself because I make all the decisions and I do not have to work with people’s schedules. However, this summer I was brought into projects, so I could add my own vision and my mentors have pushed me to think critically about the work I am doing, whether it is editing my logo designs or finding an issue to tackle for my final project. Working with other talented individuals makes my work better and I am excited to engage with more community members for my final video project on Gentrification in the Upper Ninth Ward New Orleans!

Karen Seymour ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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At the midpoint of my internship at the Social Innovation Forum, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for five weeks. There has never been a slow moment at the Social Innovation Forum. Though I do not have much experience at other offices, my impression is that my office environment is exceptionally friendly, kind, and passionate. Since it is a nonprofit, it attracts people who care deeply about making a positive change in the world. I’ve heard from friends who have worked at direct service nonprofits that the work is extremely rewarding, but it can be emotionally draining because you interact with individuals in great need of help on a daily basis. This feedback has always made me hesitant to seek out nonprofit internships, but since the Social Innovation Forum is not a direct service nonprofit, I get to learn about the incredible innovative work happening in the nonprofit field from a happy office environment where people don’t seem to mind going the extra mile.

The SIF Social Innovator Showcase attracts 300 Boston area business leaders, funders, and individual philanthropists

The SIF Social Innovator Showcase attracts 300 Boston area business leaders, funders, and individual philanthropists

I am constantly learning new skills that I have no doubt can be transferred to different jobs and projects in the future. For instance, two of my biggest projects are market scans and outreach, which involve research and phone skills, respectively. My classes, as well as many jobs, require some level of research skills, so I have no doubt that the hours I spend researching at this internship will help me build the skills for future success. Additionally, I have become extremely comfortable on the phone. Like many Millennials, I make much fewer phone calls than previous generations, but this internship has made me well versed in phone etiquette, a skill that will make me a competitive candidate for future jobs that may require phoning skills.
Working a nine-to-five job is very different from student life. I think I will return to school with a greater appreciation of my free time. During the school year it always feels like there is more to be done, and when I spend a Saturday hanging out without being productive, I feel like I’ve wasted the day. However, now that I’m working at an internship, I can go home on Friday and not have any responsibilities until Monday morning. At the same time, I spend a much longer time working than I do on my schoolwork on the typical day, and by the time my commute is over there’s very little time left for myself at the end of the day. Balancing work with other responsibilities is certainly teaching me how precious my free time is. Working life certainly has its pros and cons, but I’m glad that this internship is giving me a good idea of what full-time employment is like as I prepare to graduate from Brandeis. I am looking forward to more good things to come in the second half of my internship.

Emma Farber, ’16

Since joining the Kids4Peace family, I have grown in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Kids4Peace is an interfaith youth movement for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Israeli and Palestinian youth. Last summer, I worked at Project Harmony Israel, an integrated Arab-Jewish day camp hosted at the Hand in Hand Bilingual School in Jerusalem. Since working there to provide a space for Arab and Jewish youth to play and just be kids in the midst of the Gaza War, I knew I had to come back and continue doing the work I had begun. In leaving Jerusalem last summer, I felt guilty that I had the privilege to leave this conflict whereas my Arab and Jewish campers could in no way escape it. I am glad I made the choice to continue this effort through an internship position with Kids4Peace based in East Jerusalem.

My favorite part about my work here is that my colleagues are both Israeli and Palestinian whereas last year, I worked only with other Americans. It is exciting and interesting for me to learn about what life is like for my Israeli and Palestinian coworkers who are living within this conflict and also doing work in it. I think am learning the most from them.  Before coming here and after my summer here last year, I thought I had a good idea for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but since speaking with my colleagues, I have learned about the complexities of approaching a peaceful end to this war. Through their experiences, I am gaining a perspective on the situation in Israel/Palestine that I would not have understood otherwise without this dialogue.

horizontal-logo-transparent1-300x71Other than learning about the big picture of the work I am doing through my colleagues, I am gaining an incredible understanding of how an NGO is run. Since the staff is so small, I have been given many great opportunities to do real purposeful and meaningful work. For example, I am working with the director of Kids4Peace on creating a platform for Israeli and Palestinian youth to search for integration, coexistence, or interfaith programs that fit their interests. In addition, I have designed a budget for one of the overnight camps that Kids4Peace runs, allocating grants from USAID, the US Consulate, and the European Union. Most excitingly, I got to write a letter to Natalie Portman, who is one of Kids4Peace’s biggest donors!

As an intern at Kids4Peace, I have learned to stay on top of all of my responsibilities because I know that my boss is not constantly checking up on me. Rather, she expects me to do the work I am assigned without holding my hand. I know this will help me in the future when I become a professional. I am also learning about how to work in a diverse environment. It is an interesting experience to fulfill my duties as an intern alongside half my colleagues who are observing Ramadan. I have become much more sensitive to people’s backgrounds and the way that their personal lives play a role in their job performance. In the future, I would like to go into education policy and my motive is to desegregate the American public school system and narrow the achievement gap. Lofty goal, yes. However, if I want to do this type of work in the future, it will be an important skill for me to understand how to work with people who come from different backgrounds from mine.



-Leah Susman, ’18


My first month in Bangalore has brought a host of opportunities for personal and professional growth. As I mentioned in my first blog post, my primary responsibility is to visit government schools that receive the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal in order to collect testimony about the impact that the mid-day meal has on students, teachers, and school administrators.

I collect this information via one-to-one interviews, often translated from English to Kannada, and then Kannada back to English. With support from the Foundation, I have been able to collect a reasonably representative sample of testimony of school children from several communities in Bangalore.

Collecting testimony has been a practical application of the fieldwork necessary for much of the work produced in social science research. I’m lucky to be able to practice a modified version of fieldwork, with a lot of support from the people around me. After finishing my time at Brandeis, I would like to pursue graduate study in anthropology. I have India in mind as a place I would like to explore further, so the exposure I’m getting this summer will be helpful to me during future trips.

Being an intern at such a large transnational NGO, like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, has helped me understand some of the challenges of operating an NGO in conjunction with a government mandated program. I am also learning about the opportunities, and difficulties, that fundraising across continents may pose.

During my time at Brandeis, I have been introduced to the ethics of international (and domestic) development. I have been fortunate to receive a strong academic background in some of the ethical considerations that circulate in academic circles. My internship is supplementing theoretical arguments that I have been exposed to—most of which are very critical of the development industry—with exposure to the challenges of running a social welfare program, initiated by the government, on a scale necessary to accommodate India’s large population.

In the last month, I have been reading Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?written by Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m finding that much of Dr. King’s commentary is directly relevant to my time as an intern at Akshaya Patra. Dr. King rhetorically asks, “How responsible am I for the well-being of my fellows?” (1968:86). He then responds, “To ignore evil is to become an accomplice in it” (1968:86).

The effect, however small, that the actions in my adult life will have in swaying our collective consciousness towards justice—or towards further harm—remains to be seen. For now, I have been very lucky to sit with, and bear witness to, the stories of people in India who we do not regularly hear from. I hope that, in my working life, I’ll be able to remember and honor the stories I have been exposed to this summer. My internship is renewing my commitment to following Dr. King’s leadership, and his assertion that it is in our best interest to actively engage in creating humane, fair, and just living conditions for all members of our societies.

-Shane Weitzman ’16


Government Urdu High School, DJ Halli

Government Urdu High School, DJ Halli

(A school I visited to collect testimony.)


school 1

Government Lower Primary School, Kattugollahalli

(A school I visited to collect testimony.)


To learn more about the mid-day meal scheme in India, please see:


(Government of India website for mid-day meal scheme)


(Explanation of mid-day meal scheme by Government of India)


One week into my internship at Project Harmony Israel I have been engaging with a lot of introductory and new logistical components of the more content-rich work I will be doing in a week or so. Project Harmony Israel is focused on the individual:

“All curricula are tailored to meet individual developmental, behavioral and linguistic needs, and couched in the principles of universal youth development. We believe that by creating a safe integrated space for children to share experiences, our campers are able to build organic, lasting relationships–on their own terms.

In order to achieve these programmatic goals we offer a wide variety of daily activities, including fine arts, music, athletics, team building, community gardening, American Sign Language, and English games. We go on weekly field trips and also host guest teachers to lead week-long workshops. Every summer we also host a community event in which we invite families, friends and community members to join us in celebrating our campers’ remarkable achievements.”

I’m still getting used to the commute and the work environment in Israel; it is all very casual. A number of times I have been sure that I have strict deadlines and then things end up being very flexible; the timeline here is entirely different here and the friendliness and collaborative work environment only adds to that feeling of accommodation and appropriate informality.

Most of my time has been spent developing a lesson plan. As an arts specialist I have been trying to think of the best ways to combine the efforts of normalization in a way that brings meaning to the fact that there are people engaged in this project and camp who come from such varying narratives. I’ve primarily been developing a portrait unit directed towards the goal of seeing and experiencing one another as full people. In my lesson plan I have considered comparing fast-paced portraiture as well as longer sessions wherein which two people take turns doing portraits of each other. The goal of this is to really get to know the faces and the (visual) experience of another person in a very personal way. As a supplemental component of the unit I hope for campers to conduct short interviews with the person they are drawing and to then use one phrase or quote from that interview as the title for the portrait or as an accompanying linguistic element to the visual experience of the portraits. I feel like there is something very inspiring about taking the time with another to notice the details of their being.

I have yet to work directly with other staff members, as they arrive on Sunday and we enter formal training for one week together prior to the camp’s start. I can’t wait to get to know those other staff members and experience this with them. So much more is in store! Meanwhile, here’s some photos of the space I’m working in at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem.


First photo: The Max Rayne Hand in Hand School

Second photo: A communal staff brainstorm on the process of how to have the greatest impacts on campers

It’s hard to believe the summer is half over. I have learned so many valuable things so far at United for a Fair Economy (UFE). One of my goals this summer was to learn more about the behind-the-scenes at a small non-profit organization. Even in such a short time, I have gained an understanding of how UFE operates. I’ve learned what goes into a budget, how to frame a development plan, and what different types of communications are used.  I also attended a website building meeting to determine who visits our website, what they are looking for, and what content is essential for us.


My beautiful walk to work in downtown Boston

One particular skill I am building is my writing. UFE talks about being “donor centric,” which means writing from the viewpoint of the donor. In broader terms, I am working to understand other perspectives. I have been able to apply the writing skills I learned in school in a new and creative way. I have to think carefully about the wording of everything I write, improving my writing for both academic work and future jobs.

The work I am most proud of at this point is a three-email appeal I helped write that was sent to donors. They were designed to get donors excited about the direction UFE is headed, and to let them know what their money does and why it is important that they support our work.

More abstractly, I’ve learned that non-profit work is complicated. From the development perspective, the organization never really knows how much money will be given, or how successful what we are doing is. For example, UFE sends multiple appeals each year. Sometimes, more money is donated than others. It is hard to know what about the appeal worked- the writing, content, design, timing, or something else. However, this money is necessary to fund the many worthwhile projects UFE hopes to take on, so I’ve learned that you just keep going and do the best you can.

In addition, working in the real world has been different from academic life because it isn’t planned. In my classes, the professor has a plan of what he or she will teach and provides a syllabus. As a student, I know what I am going to learn and when I will be tested. On the other hand, in my internship, I find out what I am doing each day based on what is happening. The future is unknown to everyone; there are plans and objectives, but any number of things could change them. Furthermore, at school, I am only accountable to myself and my own success. I do as well as I can in classes for myself. At a non-profit, I am doing all this work for and with others as well. I am accountable to the organization and the people the organization is helping.

This internship is helping me build skills for school and the future. I’m learning to ask questions, help with as much as I can, stay organized and motivated, and develop relationships. I look forward to the second half of the summer.

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Here at the American Jewish World Service New York Office, everybody has an exceedingly impressive positive attitude. I say “exceedingly impressive” because every day the staff members here are grappling with social justice issues around the globe that make life extremely difficult for some people. In addition, because of the nonprofit nature of the organization, the only way they are able to help these issues is with the help of donors, and so the work here is constantly appealing to peoples’ sense of morality. I would think that with all of these difficult realizations, to persevere for these causes and for peoples’ lack of immediate willingness to help sometimes, the work would get discouraging. The attitude of the staff at AJWS, however, truly reflects the opposite. The work environment is very energetic and very friendly. Everyone is inspired and hardworking, intelligent with a good story to tell of how they decided to work for this organization.

Even out of the workplace, I have noticed an effort to reach out with us as interns to get to know us as individuals and people. There are many opportunities to do activities around New York as suggested by the staff- some relevant to AJWS and some not.

The World of Work really does differ from university/academic life drastically- although this may partially be due to the fact that I grew up in a smaller suburban type of area, then went to Brandeis which is on a campus, and then was placed in the large city of New York to live on my own for the first time.

In the World of Work, as I work in an office in New York, the hours are 9am to 5pm with an hour lunch break. This is very different from university life, as my schedules of classes since I have been at Brandeis have really had many breaks throughout the day that sometimes even amounted to three hours at a time.

Also, in the office, we (my co-intern and I) have our own space to work all day, so while we are usually scheduled in meetings, we always return to our spot afterwards to complete our work, which is very different from university life, as people complete their work in all different areas. Because you are working in the same office space on a common mission with others every day, your working relationships are closer than I would say of people who simply have the same class as you.

I stand between two of the five total interns in the AJWS New York office.

I stand between two of the five total interns in the AJWS New York office.

Although, as an intern, I am not in a really high position with a heavy amount of very crucial work for the organizations with hard deadlines, I can imagine that the work in a nonprofit organization is far different from the work we experience as students. There are decisions that matter more, so meetings and planning are more important. Trying to get others involved in what you are doing is a huge component of the work world, similar to how clubs want students to get involved, but at much higher stakes so the process in trying is far more thoughtful.

I am building many skills as a result of this internship from as little as learning what is appropriate behavior and dress in a work environment to as big as learning how to conduct research in a professional setting. I have met and had the privilege and opportunity to get to know many upper-staff and learned about the way that their paths have all led them to their jobs now, and what they see as their trajectory for the future. It has helped me realize how my path in finding a career may be more of lattice than ladder route. Many of the conversations I have had with upper-staff have been about struggles I have experienced in my extracurricular leadership roles and how to proceed, and I received a lot of good advice that I intend on taking back to campus. In addition, I have been exposed to many more nonprofit organizations, programs, and issues around the globe and nation so I can take my knowledge and put it to good use in my academic career and in my life in general.

My co-intern and I used this AJWS image in our presentation to the group of high school students to educate them on Early Child Marriage.

My co-intern and I used this AJWS image in our presentation to the group of high school students to educate them on Early Child Marriage.

Recently, I was able, with my co-intern and supervisor, to present about AJWS to a group of high school students. I learned how to inform people of ways to get involved through the presentation- to be interactive, and provide some good programming in this informational type of presentation. We showed them exactly how to get involved on the AJWS website, and included AJWS made graphics. It was an incredible experience, with the ability to answer questions and learn from how my supervisor, Joshua, and Executive Vice President, Robert Bank, answers [sometimes very difficult] questions posed by the high school students.


-Gabi Hersch ’17

Sa kap fet!  At this point of my internship I have reached the Island of Hispaniola, and made my travels throughout Haiti from Port-au-Prince, where I landed, to Hinche where ETE Camp is held. We, five other teachers and I, have been holding sessions of ETE Camp for a week now and all I can say is that I am loving this experience. My new environment is only new to me in technical ways while the ambiance of my surrounding is all too familiar. I have been to the Caribbean many times and have spent weeks in my family’s countries of Guyana and Grenada. The familiarity of the food, culture, and day-to-day life of Hinche, Haiti is one that makes me feel close to home. It is not that hard to adjust although there are many inconveniences. The power is consistently inconsistent and makes it slightly harder to be comfortable in the sweltering summer heat and to get important things done by email. My work in ETE Camp, as a leader in the English class, and outside of it, as a Hinche community member, both involve the same levels of enthusiasm, attention, and participation from me, which I appreciate a lot. I feel fully immersed in this experience.

Port-au-Prince: The Have's and the Have not's

Port-au-Prince: The Have’s and the Have not’s

The world of work differs so much from academic/university life. Firstly, no one here cares about my grades, clubs, or the authors that I could name drop. People, to simply put it, care that I can do the tasks in front of me. Shaina Gilbert, the director of the camp, cares that I can bring to fruition all of the public health workshops that we discussed. Ms. Jessica, my teaching partner cares that I can effectively co-lead lessons in english with her. The students of ETE Camp care that I know what I am talking about and that I am there to help them be better leaders. The list goes on and on. I am not saying however that my academic transcript is insignificant or my resumé and mental stock of literary scholars is useless, because it is important. I am just noting how refreshing it is to take the skill I’ve learned from my academics like quantitative reasoning, flexibility, and quick-thinking and use them in an everyday setting of a classroom. The spontaneity of the students, ages 10-17, makes everyday, although planned through the curriculum, very much a series of surprises.

Education programs in Haiti article

 I’ve had recent discussions in my education group’s forum about this article and the complications of it being written by a white man and the tone that presents education as a luxury instead of as a right. That being said I am still including the article to continue the conversation of education’s meaning and how, as a community, we can do better to educate one another.

I am gaining a lot from working for ETE Camp. I am developing my teaching skills that include the ability to be charismatic and command the attention of others, improving my diction, and expanding my confidence in what I know, amongst other things. My ability to asses forms of nonverbal communication and look for context clues has sky-rocketed because I do not speak any Kreyol. The thing I enjoy about being an English teacher is that while the kids are learning English I am learning Kreyol and somehow we are able to meet in the middle and have this bond.

Some of the unbelievable students of the GREEN GROUP!

Some of the unbelievable students of the GREEN GROUP!

At this point in the camp the 60 day time students and the approximately 60 alumni kids make their way throughout the school between the hours of 7:30am and 6:00pm. The fact that we are seeing, most-likely, over 120 students a day is mind-blowing to me because I’ve gotten to know them personally in such a short amount of time. They all laugh at my Kreyol and I take their photos and teach them English. My public health projects just started and have been a hit so far, as we tackle positive self-esteem. I think I am getting a feel for what I want to do career-wise, which I appreciate a lot. In all honesty I can talk about ETE camp and Hinche all day but I think this will do for now. Bon soir!

ETE Camp blog

Zari Havercome, ’16

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It is weird for me to think that I am halfway through my internship, and yet by the same token that I still have so much time left. When I first entered AVODAH five weeks ago I was excited by all that I would learn and the opportunities I would have, and I certainly have gained a lot from this experience. I had the opportunity to work at a fundraiser that was attended by more than 200 people, and learned how to mingle with extremely influential members of the Jewish Service community.   11407160_10204301021381322_3430737214322635737_n


I have also been able to learn about software tools such as Salesforce, which holds current, alumni, and staff contact information, as well as records of phone calls and donations made by these members. The skills that I have gained this summer are extremely valuable. However, I mentioned in my last post that this summer was going to be a trial for me on whether my passions sided more with community service or with theater, and I believe I have discovered my answer (although it may change 100 more times between now and when I graduate).  AVODAH is a wonderful organization, and I want to make that clear before I continue, but I have come to realize that my interest and passions lie more with theater. However, I am really thankful to have given this opportunity to discover this passion, and also to spend a summer in such a wonderful city. Internships are an opportunity to explore career prospects and this experience has better aligned me with my preferred path.  In the future, I foresee myself supporting a non-profit in more of a volunteer capacity.

Again, this should not dissuade anyone from applying here because I think AVODAH is wonderful, and I have loved and been inspired by everyone I’ve met. In fact, it is a testament to AVODAH that I enjoy coming into work every day.  There is no denying that it is a noble endeavor to work in a social justice field, and the feeling you get from helping others is unmatched. However, if there is something that you really love doing and you can find a profession in it, then you have to follow your heart. At the end of the day, I want to go into the theater after I graduate because it excites me in a way that no other field does. I am glad that I took this summer to test out working in a non-profit, because it taught me to go for what I really love moving forward, but also to make sure that I do not forget my love of service.

– Jessica Star ’17



This summer, I am a Political Organizing Intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts (NARAL PCM). NARAL PCM is a nonprofit, pro-choice organization and affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America. The organization’s mission is to develop and sustain a grassroots constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices. NARAL is committed to expanding abortion access and ensuring that all women can exercise their right to comprehensive and unbiased reproductive healthcare information. In addition, NARAL advocates for comprehensive sex education and for a woman’s right to a safe and health pregnancy if she decides to carry her pregnancy to term.

As a Political Organizing Intern, I am assisting with NARAL PCM’s legislative and organizing efforts. NARAL PCM has endorsed five bills being put to vote in the current legislative session in the state. The majority of my duties have to do with constituent outreach in regards to these bills. My intern cohort and I must find creative ways to show the legislature that these bills are important to a large percentage of their constituents. One strategy that we frequently use to do so is by collecting signatures. Another effective strategy we use to generate support around these bills is through testimony. It is crucial to present these testimonies, both written and oral, at legislative hearings. NARAL PCM has found that stories play an extremely important role in the legislative process because they provide a personal aspect to the proposed legislation, which enables politicians to see how their decisions on our bills will directly affect the lives of their constituents.

Finding stories can often be difficult, which is why our Political Organizing team must be strategic and creative. We must be sure to always mention that we are looking for stories at any event, petition signing, etc. We also make sure to utilize our social media presence to ask for stories. This also means posting on our personal accounts so that we can tap into the largest network possible. However, these strategies are not as extensive as we would like them to be. When dealing with reproductive health, people often tend to hold back on disclosing personal information and are reluctant to share their stories, which is something we respect but also struggle with at NARAL. Some bills are harder to collect stories for than others, while some may apply more to a specific community than it does to others.

My overarching goal for this summer is to improve my communication skills. This position requires me to be in close contact with politicians and constituents and will help me in becoming more proficient in communicating with others. I hope to become more confident in making asks of politicians and constituents for their support of NARAL’s efforts. I also hope to become more skilled at making cases for support of NARAL’s mission to those who are unfamiliar with the organization and the pro-choice movement. I care deeply about NARAL’s mission, and I hope that I can connect to others and have them feel the same way too.

Here is our Pro-Choice legislation for this session:

Here is the Anti-Choice Legislation that we are opposing:

NARAL Interns at the Boston Pride Parade

Menstrual Health Conference

*this post was originally published on June 14, 2015.

– Ari Keigan ’18

Interning for a non-profit organization whose mission I am very passionate about has made me really think about what kind of work I want to do in the future. I know that I want to do something international and service-oriented, but have not yet figured out what it is that I want to do. Because work is a large part of most peoples’ lives and takes much of our time, I want my work to be meaningful both to myself and to others. What can I do that will add meaning to my life? And, what will I find self-fulfilling?

The organization that I am interning at is located in downtown Seattle. The organization so far is small (and young). There are three permanent staff members, three part-time staff members, and 6 – 8 interns. As we all share one office space and work in close proximity to each other, it can be slightly chaotic at times. However, the space makes it possible for us to easily talk to one another and keep track of what everyone else is doing.



It feels good being in an international and service-oriented environment and to be able to have contact with some of the students whose lives we are impacting. The organization has just finished hosting a three-week summer language and leadership camp, and has sent two groups of students to China. I am currently compiling a Study Abroad Booklet for the students who will be traveling to Morocco in August.

How Speaking Multiple Languages Benefits the Brain


Working at a non-profit organization has made me realize how our academic lives at Brandeis tend to be self-oriented. When we are in school, the focus is entirely on us; the person who benefits most from every book we read is oneself; the person who benefits most from every essay we write is oneself. In sum, we do not work for others, but for ourselves.

At OneWorld Now!, the attention is entirely on the success of the organization and the success of the students whom we serve. Thus, each task we are given is not necessarily aimed at enhancing our knowledge in one discipline or another or improving our critical language skills. Though I enjoy working at OneWorld Now!, some of the tasks I am asked to do are not as exciting as others. This has allowed me, however, to develop skills that will help me no matter the job market. Interning at OneWorld Now! has taught me how to conduct myself in a professional manner, strengthened my problem-solving skills, and my ability to think on my feet. It has also taught me when to ask for help and how to pick up work from where someone else has left off.


In conclusion, I really appreciate being in a culturally sensitive environment that is not too stressful and living in a city that is so diverse. I am very grateful that I am honestly able to say that I find my work at OneWorld Now! to be both enjoyable and meaningful.

– Honore Cole ’17

Despite getting settled in a little more at VocaliD, my excitement about being here this summer hasn’t changed. It continues to be an interdisciplinary, dynamic environment, and though my central roles haven’t changed much, the details and everyday tasks vary from day to day, making it an always-interesting place to be. For a few weeks now, I have also been joined by another summer intern. The two of us work closely on some tasks and separately on others.

Our crowdfunding campaign ended its initial phase this week, marking a critical point for both the company and my summer. The campaign was largely a success, raising nearly twice as much as the initial goal, bringing in troves of new customers, and solidifying the coming timeline for VocaliD.

The current campaign status, showing our funding percentage.

For most of July, I’ll be doing more or less the same work as before, but applied towards the fulfillment of “perks” bought by customers on Indiegogo.

This week and next, we have a special visitor. Samantha Grimaldo was among the earliest recipients of a VocaliD voice, and an important pioneer in bringing the technology to market. We’re working with her to become more comfortable using her device to speak in public spaces, and documenting the process for a short video piece. Sam, who has much to say, made a few contributions to a new Tumblr page we’ve put up. In the future, the page will become an important place for people like Sam, who can feel very alone, to connect with other users of augmentative communication and share information about having and using a voice from VocaliD. In fact, most of the recipients of pre-orders during our campaign have been children or teenagers. The opportunity for somebody still young to be able to speak with their own voice is a wonderful thing to witness, and part of VocaliD’s service is that as your voice changes with age, the custom voice is updated to match these changes and always sound like you. Most of our past and current customers are young children, and that seems to be the demographic VocaliD most immediately affects. Hopefully the Tumblr page will allow for the sort of connecting between these young people that we hope.

In working on marketing-related things, such as drafting and sending email campaigns, I’ve become privy to just how many businesses today use email marketing as their main method of customer relations. We’ve been using Mailchimp, for example, and now I look at all of my email subscriptions and notice just how many companies use Mailchimp.

Mailchimp's ubiquitous email footer, common in emails we probably all subscribe to.

Email marketing is a staple today, especially for small businesses, and a great thing to have experience with, no matter what sort of business I may find myself in.

As someone who has worked a variety of jobs since early high school, I tend to think not of how work differs from university life, but more the other way around. In studying Linguistics and being exposed to academic publishing and field research, that always seems the more magical, less accessible, somewhat intimidating world that undergrads seem to mean when they talk about the “real world.” Even more daunting is the prospect of leading a life as a composer, which inherently involves connection with the academic world (and a good amount of financial struggle), and can be called “work” only in the loosest sense of the word.

Then again, that sort of thinking only reminds me that there aren’t really any such boundaries. My “world of work” this summer has been at a tech startup with a social mission, driven by donations from interested, generous people, and founded by a professor who underwent something of a STEM learning epiphany after some uplifting research findings. It blurs the lines between business and academia, something I often wish would happen to more of my university peers, and something I predict more of in the future business world.

-David Stiefel ’16

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At my midpoint working at the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center, I feel confident that the organization is getting more focused and stable to do the work they do more effectively. After a board training from Interfaith Worker Justice (the national organization through which I was placed at my internship site) we know what IWJC is, what it could/should be in the near future, and how to get there. Because of that, the board is able to actively take those steps and we now officially have our first members. I am enjoying being in a new city and a different part of the United States and being able to experience the differences in the culture of the Midwest. Beyond the work at the Worker Justice Center, many board members are involved in other social justice and labor groups, and therefore, I have had the opportunity to attend meetings from groups such as Indiana Moral Mondays, Indiana Central Labor Council, and Jobs with Justice.


The first IWJC members taking their membership pledge.

The first IWJC members taking their membership pledge.

The World of Work is very different than my academic life, mostly because I am working more independently than I do at school, since IWCJ is currently not a staffed organization. However, the interactions that I have are with people with more varying life experiences. At Brandeis most of my interactions are with people of a similar age in a similar stage of their lives. Here I am working with people from many different ways of life and I am able to learn from them. I am learning about social issues similar to the way I am learning about them at Brandeis. Here I get to meet groups of people affected by the same issues and see how they work together to fight it. In addition to learning about what is going wrong, I also see people take action to improve their situation and I can take part in the actions as well.

4th of July party preperations

4th of July party preparations


As a result of this internship I am learning how to work independently and keep myself motivated, even when I am by myself. I am also learning how to be more open and talk to people I don’t know and how to listen to people with very different stories. Being able to work more independently and motivated without constant supervision is very important for me both in an academic setting and in the future. So is the ability to be more open and talk to people. I am usually shy and having to go out and talk to people helps me get over that. This will hopefully help me to be more comfortable talking to people I don’t know in the future, which is helpful in any situation.

– Tamar Lyssy ’16

It is hard to believe that I’m already past the half-way point of my summer here at the Harvard Semitic Museum. Since my last post, I’ve spent many mornings walking through Cambridge and admiring its tidy gardens and historic homes, and then settling in the museum’s basement, where the collection is housed. Over the past months, I have handled and archived ancient materials- mostly from the sites of Nuzi and Tel el-Keleifeh, and am now working to complete another project- organizing, inventorying, and archiving the museum’s collection of work produced by Theresa Goell, a female archaeologist who worked in the late 1940s through the early 1970s.

Goell was a truly groundbreaking archaeologist, as it was not common for women to lead digs in the 20th century, especially in the Middle East (she dug several sites in Turkey). She commanded so much respect that there are stories of her mediating disputes between government officials and local tribal leaders, in order to acquire the proper permits to excavate. I recently completed work on materials produced at a dig she led at the city of Samsat, a site just off of the Euphrates River. Shortly after the dig, the site was permanently flooded as a result of the building of the Atatürk Dam, leaving Goell’s records even more relevant.

Photo Credit: “Atatürk Dam” by Bernard Gagnon. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

My experience going through artifacts has been satisfying on an emotional and intellectual level. It is truly moving to hold an artifact produced and used by humans living thousands of years ago. One particularly moving moment for me was when I picked up a ceramic figurine of a woman, from a site near modern Eilat in Israel. The figurine was likely a representation of a goddess, or a young girl’s doll. Either way, this figurine was of immense importance to its owner, and I felt a connection to that individual through our shared experience of holding the figurine. Working with these ancient artifacts, I was constantly reminded of the daily lives of ancient Near Eastern people, and to the unique experience of each person and each culture.

A similar clay figurine, but this one is from the collection of the Jewish Museum.           Photo Credit: The Jewish Museum New York, via Wikimedia Commons

It has also been enlightening to steadily work through the Goell materials. I have developed an intimate familiarity with her and her team’s archaeological records, and have gained a great understanding of the process of how excavations are conducted, and the centrality of record keeping to an excavation’s success. As my supervisor put it, being an archaeologist is 90% archival work.

My work at the museum has given me greater perspective on life in the Ancient Near East, and also the many ways in which to study it. I’ve worked with ancient artifacts, modern excavation materials, and I recently met with a museum team that is creating a 3D model of Giza based off of archaeological records (a neat video demonstration is here). I will come back to Brandeis with a broader perspective of the field, but also with more technical archaeological and historical knowledge.

It is difficult to imagine that I have already reached the halfway point for my internship at Legal Outreach, Inc., time has gone by so quickly. Since the Summer Law Institute (SLI) began during the end of June, my two co-coordinators, our 28 students, and I have embarked on a valuable and exciting educational journey.  Check out this great video about our program!

When the Institute began, the significance of all of the work that my colleagues and I had been doing suddenly became realized since it was being put into action. We were all a bit nervous on the first day, especially since it was our first time actually teaching and handling a classroom full of teenagers. However, after seeing how enthusiastic and bright our students were, we realized that we were not alone on this endeavor. Since the first day, our mission to educate and encourage our students has continuously inspired our efforts.

I give an academic skills lesson every Tuesday, and my first one was on study skills. I had rehearsed this one previously with my supervisors and colleagues, but I was unsure about how our students would react, especially since this was only the second day of SLI. Fortunately, the lesson went well and the students seemed interested in learning about new ways to study and its importance.

Teaching these students, listening to lessons, and above all, becoming responsible for twenty-eight young adults has taught me a tremendous amount about the value of education. Being in the shoes of a teacher has allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for the work of teachers, as I now understand much better how much time and dedication is required both inside and outside of school hours.

Lesson at SLI

Lesson at SLI

Through my responsibilities, I have also been able to develop many of the skills I wanted to prior to beginning this internship. For example, I have further developed my organizational skills to complete the variety of tasks and duties with efficiency. I have also been able to strengthen my communication and public speaking skills, since that is essential to be a good teacher and lead a classroom. Most importantly, I believe that so far, through my experiences in this internship and by being surrounded in a legally-charged atmosphere, I have become more interested in pursuing law in the future. Interacting with and learning from inspiring attorneys and legal professionals has given me the opportunity to learn more about the profession and to explore my own passions and interests.

Moreover, one of the most rewarding aspects of this internship so far has been the opportunity to mentor students and learn from them at the same time. Many of them are so intelligent and inquisitive, and their questions often lead us to wonder and think in ways we did not previously. This is notable not only in the classroom, but also on our exciting field trips, such as our first one to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) last week. This experience has certainly taught me that in any working process, including teaching, there is both giving and receiving.

SLI Students at Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Field Trip

– Aditi Shah ’17

Working at the Rose Art Museum over the summer has been a considerably different experience than being here during the school year, which is when I learn about the logistics of keeping a museum’s doors open. Recently I got to see what the process of de-installing an exhibition looks like. Currently I am getting a glimpse into what planning one entails, as my work is being done in relation to the museum planning a reimagining of a historical exhibition of Louise Nevelson’s work.


Detail of the empty Fineberg Gallery, which will soon be full of artwork again.

A fair bit of my time at the beginning of this internship went into researching the immersive installation created by Nevelson at the Rose in ‘67, which I am recreating virtually. I also spent quite a bit of time on measuring the space so I can faithfully reconstruct what it looked like. Later I began modeling some of the sculptures and thinking about 3D printing them at the Maker Lab, which is located in the library. There I talked to other enthusiastic students/makers who loved the idea of making art museums more accessible via new technology. A current worker at the Maker Lab became really interested in this project and is joining me in continuing to work on this project over the next semester.

So far we have worked on putting together everything we have of the space and of the sculptures into a game engine called Unreal. From this engine one can export the virtual environment to an Oculus Rift, which allows the user to experience the environment as if they are physically in it.

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Maker Lab worker wearing the Oculus Rift and a computer screen showing what he is seeing.

Unreal Second ImageDetail of Lower Rose Gallery with two works by Louise Nevelson. On the left Totality Dark, 1962, courtesy of Pace Gallery, NY, and The Tropical Gardens on the right, 1967, courtesy of Grey Gallery, NY.

Talking to museum staff about recreating the exhibit has also been incredibly encouraging. Everyone has been passionate about museum accessibility and has been helpful when it came time to do more art historical research and to think about questions of copyright of images.

Aside from the major difference of not having homework and classes to go to, this summer has so far been a really optimistic glimpse into the World of Work. Being surrounded by interesting people who are enthusiastic about museum accessibility and new technology has been great. Furthermore, getting a chance to delve into an area of work and focus on something I am really interested in has been phenomenal and I feel like I am learning a lot.

In that line of thought, I am indeed exploring more deeply ideas and technology that I studied in 3D Animation class. I’m spending quite a bit of time learning new things and problem solving sometimes on my own and sometimes with colleagues. These skills feel like they are going to be essential to my professional development because no matter how much any of us learns in college we will need to think on our feet and learn new things as we go along.

– Daniela Dimitrova ’16






I just finished up my sixth week interning at Lawyers For Children in NYC! Where has the time gone? I knew this internship would be incredibly eye opening and enriching, but I never expected it to be this much so this quickly. I have learned so much in so little time that I am left eager to acquire even more knowledge in the time I have left in New York City.

Here is a recent article from the Wall Street Journal touching on few of the many issues with New York’s Foster Care system today:

First off, living in New York City is an adventure in itself. There’s always so much going on and so much to see. Traveling by subway is an adventure in itself; I never get bored of the slam poetry performances, magic tricks and soul singers! My workplace is situated in the heart of Chinatown and I am also just a short walk from Broadway (which is full of shops and restaurants) and Little Italy! I am living in midtown Manhattan right near Penn Station, which is also a very bustling area. My apartment is very close to the Hudson River Parkway, which is where I complete most of my morning runs! I’ve been able to explore Central Park and West Manhattan while on longer runs over the weekend, which has been a nice break after the long workweek!central park photo

(a picture I took in central park during an evening run)

   I’ve been incredibly busy at Lawyers For Children. Working everyday from 9:30-5 is quite an adjustment from the college where there are often long breaks throughout the day in between classes. Everyday is different as a forensic social work intern at LFC, which keeps things exciting. I have traveled to all five boroughs in New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island) visiting clients and participating in meetings. I’m so fortunate to have an internship that allows me to get to know the city I’m living in while at work!

As I mentioned, I’ve learned so much at Lawyers For Children already despite only having been there six weeks. Before beginning this internship, I knew that the foster care system does not always provide children with the love, support, and resources that they need and that as a result many children in foster care endure many more hardships than those living in loving families, but I never imagined the extent of those hardships could be as profound as what I’ve seen thus far. Through my work at Lawyers For Children, I’ve learned to view every situation with a fresh set of eyes because the context of these children’s histories can impact their lives in so many ways. It’s important not to make assumptions about a child based on their behavior or by who they are ‘on paper,’ (as they say) because there is always a reason they act and feel the way they do. Before assuming anything at all, it is important to listen.

This is also true in the classroom. When engaging in social, political, economic or any sort of debate, it is important to understand why the person feels a certain way instead of judging them for feeling differently on an issue than you. Sometimes understanding why can even change your point of view!

LFC logoAbove is LFC’s logo/slogan. Taken from

Here is a link to a few videos of LFC clients describing some of their experiences in foster care and how LFC has helped them.

This is also a very important skill to possess as a social worker or attorney. To develop a relationship with your client, you must understand where they are coming from and why they have certain goals instead of trying to impose your own ideas on them; otherwise it is nearly impossible to develop a constructive, successful relationship from which both parties can benefit! I’m hopeful that I will obtain many more skills as this internship progresses and I am eager to share those with you all at the end of the summer!






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One of the most exciting parts of being an Artistic Director Assistant at The O’Neill is that I get to work on three different types of theater works. For the past month, I have been in rehearsals for the National Music Theater Conference (NMTC). Three new musicals have been read, re-written, and re-written again during that time: Slaughterhouse Five by Jed Feuer and Adele Ahronheim, We Live in Cairo by Daneil and Patrick Lazour, and ZM (Zombie Musical) by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis.

21988_10153580120124879_2762399042020474046_nThe pieces, although wildly different from one another, completely changed how I think about the structure of musicals. While I used to view many musical theater conventions as convenient, tired traditions, I have come to realize their importance. For example, something that came up throughout the conference was the use of musical buttons on the end of songs. A button is the musical phrase that marks a definitive ending to the song. This is the moment where the actors freeze and the audience claps. Before coming to The O’Neill, this moment felt self-indulgent to me, but I now realize just how important it is. It tells the audience that the moment is over, that the plot is advancing, and gives them a moment to digest everything they just heard and saw before moving on. If this momentary break doesn’t happen, the audience grows restless.

While working with artistic director Paulette Haupt, I have also learned about the administrative side of theater and the process of choosing, funding, and building new works. I had the opportunity to listen in on confidential mentor meetings where professionals gave writers their thoughts and advice on their musical. I began to understand how musicals get on their feet and where they go after The O’Neill. I learned about how artistic staffs work together to create new material. Although I have had many hands-on opportunities to act, write, direct, etc. at Brandeis, the development process was unfamiliar to me. Working with a team of professionals on a new play is a balancing act and a lot of hard work. Working on staged readings is a huge job opportunity for young theater artists, and this experience certainly gives me the preparation I need to work collaboratively in a professional environment.

Smile! A picture of me, Artistic Director Paulette Haupt, and my co-intern Maia Nelles-Sagar.

Smile! Artistic Director Paulette Haupt, my co-intern Maia Nelles-Sagar, and me after the final event of NMTC.

Over these four weeks I have met and worked with new and established artists alike. I have been able to speak with and observe some of the most accomplished music theater artists in the country. Luckily, I feel incredibly welcomed not only by The O’Neill, but the theater community at large. The environment here is giving me a good sense of how to network and thrive in “The Real World.” I’ve learned new tactics and techniques for making theater that I will carry with me through my final year at Brandeis and beyond. During my last month at The O’Neill, I will be reading stage directions for one of the National Playwrights Conference pieces, Nomad Motel by Carla Ching, and working with Artistic Director John McDaniel on the Cabaret Conference.

– Rachel Liff ’16


The best part of my commute every morning. Photo: Soul of America

The best part of my commute every morning.
Photo: Soul of America

While I’ve held steady employment since I was 14 years old, working at the New England Innocence Project this summer has been the first time in my life I have genuinely looked forward to work each and every day. As much as I love being on campus, I could certainly get used to commuting to Boston everyday, walking across the downtown area, and spending time in an office overlooking the Common. However, as much as I enjoy the scenery of downtown Boston, I enjoy NEIP not simply because of the location, but because it’s a place where I am proud of the work I do, and confident in my ability to contribute.

This week marked the arrival of the next intake intern, Freda, who will serve in my position throughout the fall and winter months after I have left NEIP. The task has been given to me to the train Freda and in doing so I now recognize how much there is to learn about the intake position. I’ll be responsible for familiarizing Freda with many of the nearly 4000 applicants that NEIP has been working with since its inception, spreading extensive knowledge about our past and present cases. In addition, I’ll need to show her how the organization functions, by instilling in her an understanding of the online databases, the system of physical files, and the interactions between directors, attorneys, volunteers, and interns. To be effective, I’ll have to transfer to her many of the skills that I have learned from NEIP over the last month, in becoming a better communicator, a more patient individual, and a more organized worker.


One of my favorite co-workers, Bishop.

By speaking with attorneys on a daily basis, I have learned to communicate more effectively, sounding at times more like a seasoned attorney than an intake intern – to the point where I’ve been called “Attorney Jacobson” more than once. Through experience and repetition, I have become more confident and more helpful when speaking to inmates and applicants as I am better able to answer their questions, predict their responses, and provide guidance throughout our screening process. In becoming a better communicator, I expect it to pay dividends whether I am engaging in discussion in the classroom, or working behind the counter at Einsteins.

In learning the essence of patience, I have become more accommodating and more responsive in my exchanges with the family members of inmates. While I’ve often avoided conflict throughout my life, I no longer fear potentially argumentative interaction with applicants, and instead I look forward to trying to achieve conciliation through patient dialogue. While this newfound patience will undoubtedly benefit my personal life, it should also improve my ability to work with others in an academic setting.

By serving in a position that requires many hats, I have become more organized in my work. One minute, I might be performing drafting a Case Review Committee Memo for an applicant such as Clarence Spivey, the next I might be brainstorming ideas for how to improve our screening process, and the next I might be gathering statistics for a grant, such as the Bloodsworth. Without effective time management, and physical and mental organization, I would struggle to keep up. This should hopefully make me a better studier, and a more productive employee.

It saddens me to recognize that I’ll soon be done at NEIP, but I intend to make the most out of my last month here.

Daniel Jacobson, ’16

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Enter the dog days of summer. Enter the hours spent bobbing and weaving around the Massachusetts State House, enter meetings with organizational endorsers of a campaign to increase state-funding for an important welfare program, enter beautiful walks through Cambridge and Somerville. Enter Sandman (*que Mariano Rivera’s entrance into the ballgame*). The midway point of my internship at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless is here.

Night time view of the Massachusetts State House

Night time view of the Massachusetts State House

When I decided that I wanted to continue interning at Mass Coalition over the summer (I am fortunate enough to have been with the organization since this past January) I had a few goals in mind. I wanted to learn how to manage a successful policy campaign. Check. I wanted to learn what it takes to be a good community organizer. Check. I wanted to learn what life is like spending extended amounts of time at the State House. Check. Crossing these aspirations off my to-do list was incredibly rewarding. But there’s more.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the benefits I’ve reaped from living in Waltham over the summer. Specifically, interning so close to campus enabled quite a few valuable opportunities to present themselves. I won the opportunity to meet with Waltham’s State Representative Tom Stanley with the help of my mentor, Brandeis’ Director of Community Service Lucas Malo. Through this meeting I was introduced to a few consulting operatives who help manage local Massachusetts elections, and it was they who offered me an opportunity in the fall to do what I love and help create a database to identify the characteristics of the average voter that supports their clients. It is an exciting project and I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the opportunity to work on it had I not been interning in proximity to Brandeis. Other benefits to remaining on campus over the summer include: taking professors out to lunch, seeking out Waltham’s hidden gems, teasing out ideas for a senior thesis with advisors, receiving ample support from Hiatt for truly anything that I need their assistance with, and taking the time to walk all the way from Waltham to Cambridge along the Charles River Reservoir Trail – something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to explore during the semester. Seeking experiences in other parts of the world and the country are valuable and important, but, simply put, life ain’t too shabby in Waltham over the summer. I mean it.

Charles River at night, with the Cambridge bike path on the left side of roadway

Charles River at night, with the Cambridge bike path on the left side of roadway

Aside from the traveling across the State that I pursue in my spare time, I do quite a bit for my internship too. Presently I’m visiting organizations that have endorsed the Coalition’s campaign to increase funding for EAEDC, a Massachusetts program that supports elders, children, and those who are disabled and are unable to afford their living expenses. Most organizations that have endorsed our campaign include nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state. I visited two of these organizations a few weeks ago; Lynn Economic Opportunity (LEO) serves those who experience poverty in Lynn, and Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services provides stable living for the elderly. The purposes of these meetings are to educate organizations on exactly what the legislation would accomplish and how organizations can contribute to our campaign. Typically endorsers are willing to distribute postcards to be signed by colleagues and clients addressed to legislators, write a letter to the editor in support of the campaign, sign and distribute online convio-action letters, and in some cases, are willing to help the Coalition collect testimony to show legislators why what we are working on is so important.

Heading into these meetings, truth be told, I wasn’t confident about leading them. I wasn’t certain of what to talk about and when. I reached out to one of my supervisors and she agreed that I shadow her on one of these meetings prior to me leading a few on my own. The plan worked to perfection. As I watched my supervisor lead one meeting I figured out how to do the same; what stories to tell, what actions we want to focus on, and ironing out the details to follow up and ensure that progress be made. I walked away from this experience with an understanding of just how important it is to ask for help when needed. It certainly paid off.

The more time that I’ve spent at Mass Coalition the more I have discovered areas in which the organization could improve upon its resources available for the talented community organizers it employs. At the beginning of the summer I set a new goal for myself: create a new tool that will allow Mass Coalition staff to reach out to and solicit more participants for its policy campaigns. That tool came in the form of a database that I created which includes university-affiliated clubs in Massachusetts that address topics of homelessness, poverty, and justice. Not only will it allow the Coalition to garner more support for its campaigns and programs in the future, but it will hopefully inspire the leaders from these clubs to join forces and address homelessness together more cohesively. I look forward to speaking with my colleagues in the future about how they were able to use this tool to strengthen the policy campaigns that they work so hard on.

It’s been a rewarding summer so far. I’ve learned a lot about community organizing and how I see myself using the skills and experiences that I’ve gained throughout this internship in a professional setting. I love politics. Good politics requires good community organizing. I will, no doubt, use what I’ve learned to pursue a career in political consulting. Until that pursuit begins in full, however, feel free to reach out to me and ask me about my experience interning at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. Until next time. – Max Parish

PS. One of my supervisors from Mass Coalition, Lois Ferraresso, will definitely be reading this blog. How do I know? Because it is her job to read every subject matter on the internet that includes “Mass Coalition” in its content. With this knowledge in mind, I want to thank you, Lois, for being a helpful supervisor but even more so a wonderful friend. I am so grateful to have you in the office to make me laugh, talk college hoops, and keep me awake when the air conditioner is set too high and my fan isn’t enough. Looking forward to creating more memories with you.

Max Parish, ’16

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For the first time in my life, I have joined the traditional workforce. In the past, I have done remote work, put in much sweat and tears into working at an overnight camp, and have worked part time jobs, but never have been exposed to this type of consistency in an office environment. I am now amongst the throng of suburbanites who, every day, flood the Metra and commute into the city- I am a member of the 9-5 commuting community. I always assumed I wouldn’t enjoy this type of stationary work, but so far I feel quite comfortable and happy with my job and work environment.

Image taken by the Chicago Tribune

Commuters leaving the Metra during an early morning rush

The people who work at ICAAP, 13 staff in all, are quite open and friendly. Every morning at 8:59, after pushing open the warehouse door, I can expect several “hello’s”, or relaxed smiles from the early risers. My work experience has been largely different from my academic life. The largest adjustment for me cognitively was having to train my brain to focus for longer periods at a time. In school, I would have a smattering of classes throughout the day, and my schedule would necessitate multiple walking breaks as I navigated the campus. Additionally, the learning process here is much more informal than at school. My “teachers” have never been trained to teach, so they explain concepts to me through their passion and experiences. They tend to have more of an experiential approach to my learning, especially because their job is not to teach me, but to use me as an aid to their work.

This style of learning has been simultaneously exciting and frustrating for me. At the beginning of a new task, when I don’t quite understand the framework of the work I am supposed to be doing, I exist in a state of constant searching; one that both invigorates me and leaves me at the end of each day feeling unsure. However, when I break through into understanding, which I have been able to do thus far in each task, the feeling is beyond enticing, and beyond anything I have felt at school being ‘spoon fed’ my learning (if you will). This internship is teaching me tangible skills, such as grant writing, research, utilizing community tools, improved communication skills, how to exist and present myself in different work cultures, and how to best focus myself for the duration of a work day. However, beyond that, it is teaching me how to adapt, and self-teach in efficient and tangible ways in a workforce. I am constantly striving to find the balance between asking for help from my very busy supervisors, and using immersive experience (just plowing through my confusion in combination with very intimate google counseling), to get the work done.

Currently, I am in the middle of writing and researching a grant, and was just given responsibility of our social media accounts. (Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!) Curious as to how to use social media as a business? This has been my guide. This being the first grant I have worked on, I am still trying to put myself in the framework of how to write a grant, from the targeted language they use to the type of data that works best. I don’t think I could have honed these skills in a classroom, but they are skills that I will use the rest of my academic and career life, and hopefully will be able to utilize in my personal life as well.

Elizabeth Villano, ’16


My first official twitter posts!

My first official twitter posts!

Elizabeth Villano, ’16

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As I am finishing up my sixth week interning for the Omaha Farmer’s Market, I wonder where the time has gone. Working with the market to conduct an economic impact study and improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has seemed to consume life lately. SNAP at the Omaha Farmers’ Markets is gaining more attention every week, in fact it made the front page of the money section of the Omaha World Herald last week. And this weekend I begin to get more hands-on with the impact study when I conduct a population count of the markets at Aksarben Village and the Old Market. Seeing the progress I have made toward achieving my goals in the workplace has been more of a rewarding experience than I expected.


Link to the the Original Article

The last few weeks have been markedly different than my life at Brandeis; working with people from a variety of age groups or having to commute to work seem like some obvious differences. A not so obvious aspect that I have noticed recently is the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. While being a student does involve working with peers and helping others,  the results are not often as visible and can sometimes be discouraging. With this internship however, I’ve found being part of an organization that seeks to improve the lives of others and doing work that affects more than just yourself to be a motivating factor in my day to day activities.

One aspect of my work that has been not that different from my academic life is the amount of research I have done so far. A lot of my time has been consumed by reading market evaluations and conversing with other markets about SNAP via email, which in turn has made me well-informed about SNAP and the methods other markets have used to make it successful. It has not been just research and emails, however. There have been obstacles that I have learned to overcome, most prominently with the Economic Impact Study portion of my internship. The study was initially going to be conducted by collecting revenue data from businesses local to the markets and compare them to similar businesses that did not have a Farmer’s Market. While it seemed like a good plan on paper, I quickly found out that businesses are not too keen on giving out that kind of information. This forced me to find an alternative way of measuring the economic impact of the markets, so I decided to get the data from the market customers rather than the businesses. This led me to, which provided me with the tools to accomplish the impact study using non-intrusive and efficient methods. While I did not anticipate this sort of dilemma in my internship, it has prepared me to deal with unforeseen consequences that I will face in my career after Brandeis.

– Luke Bredensteiner


As I approach the half way point of my internship at PFLAG National, I can’t believe how fast it has gone by. So much has happened since I began my internship in June: I’ve written 3 issues of our national policy newsletter Policy Mattersthree other amazing interns have joined me in the office with all of us working together to accomplish some serious LGBT advocacy; I’ve attended more events than I can count at places like the White House, various federal agencies, and a range of NGO’s; Pride Month ended; and oh yeah of course, MARRIAGE EQUALITY!!!

Hundreds of people gathered at the Supreme Court on June 26th waiting anxiously for the ultimately monumental decision handed down on marriage equality.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Supreme Court on June 26th waiting anxiously for the ultimately monumental decision handed down on marriage equality.

Having the opportunity to witness the historic SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges decision in action was incredible and to be honest, almost unbelievable. During the decision days, the entire office waited on the edge of our seats anxiously watching SCOTUSblog. When the decision came down on Friday June 26th at 10 in the morning, everyone in the office cheered and many of us interns went over to the Supreme Court to join hundreds of others in celebration. But although the marriage decision was a success, at PFLAG we also wanted to make clear that the fight for LGBT rights was in no way over.

“While we celebrate today’s victory, we are dedicated to continuing and redoubling our advocacy work to secure legislation that explicitly protects people who are LGBTQ from discrimination in the workplace, in their homes, in their schools and in their communities. Now is the time to expand federal law–law which already protects people from discrimination based on race, sex, age, ethnicity, disability, and religion–to include explicit protection from discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” – PFLAG Marriage Equality statement

Taking advantage of the White House while I was there for a Big Table discussion with Valerie Jarrett about the Obama Administration's LGBT priorities for the remainder of his term.

Taking advantage of the White House while there for a Big Table discussion with Valerie Jarrett about the Obama Administration’s LGBT priorities for the remainder of his term.


But in respect to things other than marriage equality, in this past month I have already surpassed all of my initial expectations and goals. By working on Policy Matters as well as various other policy-related PFLAG publications, I have not only learned so much about LGBT advocacy and policy, but also have become up to date on all LGBT current events. Similarly, by attending White House briefings, and working directly on LGBT federal legislation and advocacy, I have truly learned and received first-hand perspective on the political process and all of the research and preparatory work that goes into policy work behind-the-scenes. Finally, by attending countless events and having my supervisor Diego introduce me to more people than I can remember, I have had the opportunity to meet and form important connections with influential figures in the field of LGBTQ advocacy from across the country.

An exciting July 4th in our nation's capital while on our nation's Capitol.

An exciting July 4th in our nation’s capital while on our nation’s Capitol.


All of these skills, experiences, and connections will prove valuable in the future. I am doing all I can to take in and take advantage of every opportunity offered to me while here in DC and while working at PFLAG National. It has been such a beyond marvelous month so far, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for the month ahead.

– Aliya Bean ’16


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Washington, D.C. is an amazing place to be for the summer, despite the humid heat and the high density of 20-somethings. This summer has been a particularly exciting time to be in D.C.: I’ve shaken Bernie Sanders‘ hand at a press conference, celebrated at the Supreme Court on the day of the marriage equality decision, watched a live taping of my boss speaking at FOX News, and met the 2014 Noble Peace Prize winner on the National Mall. I also ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung, who you may recognize from the anti-tobacco campaign that comedian/TV host John Oliver introduced on his show, before heading to a briefing on health care. While not at work, I’ve been kayaking the Potomac, attending intern networking events, and performing or watching improv comedy at various theaters. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement and I am sad that I am already halfway done with my internship.

Lobby at the Fox News headquarters in DC, where my boss spoke about the benefits of the new "female viagra" drug

The lobby in the Fox News headquarters in DC, where my boss spoke about the benefits of the new “female viagra” drug

I ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung on the Metro while headed to a health care briefing

I ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung on the Metro while heading to a health care briefing last week

Working at the National Consumer’s League is similar to being at Brandeis. If you’re like me, what some might describe as the “typical Brandeis student”, you’re passionate about a variety of social justice issues and you’re always busy at some meeting or event. My colleagues and I at NCL are interested in fighting for every issue you can think of regarding consumers and workers, from product safety regulations to bans on child labor. We attend events and meetings every week dedicated to solving these issues and we talk with policymakers and industry leaders about what they can do. I now know much more about consumer and worker issues and feel passionately about making people aware of these issues and solving them. While Brandeisians aren’t exactly lobbying Congress on a weekly basis, they’re always doing something to make change, whether it will affect our campus or the greater good. I hope to bring the same energy I’ve gained from working on various projects at NCL back to the clubs I’m involved with at Brandeis and look for new clubs to join that align with my new-found passions and growing skill set.

At the Consumer Product Safety Commission hearing in Bethesda, MD, where I learned about regulations for laundry detergent pods, table saws and ionization smoke alarms

At the Consumer Product Safety Commission hearing in Bethesda, MD, where I learned about regulations for laundry detergent pods, table saws and ionization smoke alarms

I write blogs, articles, and press releases on behalf of NCL, and although they are much shorter than the papers I write at Brandeis, they often require a similar amount of in-depth research. Since my start at NCL, my writing and research skills have improved. My co-workers and supervisor have offered me advice on writing and given me additional work to help me practice these skills.

I have also been writing questions for NCL’s program LifeSmarts, which is a consumer education competition for middle and high school students to help them develop consumer and marketplace skills. While researching a variety of topics that relate to health, technology, the environment, worker rights, and personal finance, I have become a smarter and more responsible consumer. I now know more about my rights and responsibilities when I enter the workforce and how to manage my finances. NCL has another program called Script Your Future that has taught me about managing medicine and various health issues.

For my next four weeks in DC, I hope to learn even more that will help me navigate my future, including but not limited to surviving the heat here. I hope that the work I’m doing and the people I’m meeting in the capital and at National Consumers League will be a part of that future because it is hard to imagine leaving both behind in August.

– Rebecca Groner ’17

El Pancillo statue which stands in the historic center of Quito

Working in the hospital for the last four weeks has been an incredibly fulfilling and engaging experience. Additionally this experience has illuminated the underpinnings of a foreign health care system first hand. From 7am-12p.m I assist the nurses, doctors, and patients to  the best of my ability in order to help the day run easier and quicker. The medical culture in Quito is quite different than that of the States- there is a much more relaxed and calm aura, even in the emergency rooms, female doctors and nurses spend full days in heels, and there is often many patients in a consultation room. Beyond these small observations, however, the desire to improve and get up to speed with western medicine is evident and exciting to watch. All of the doctors and nurses I have assisted have been warm, inviting-and love explaining everything they do in a way that I can understand. Life in Quito has also been very interesting. Ecuadorian culture has been wonderful to be a part of and observe-as it is heavily tied to family, Catholicism, and salsa dancing which serve as channels to meet locals. The history of Quito and Ecuador as a whole is also fascinating and the more I learn, the more I have come to understand the evolution and reasonings of the health care system here.

imageI have also had the chance to connect with many volunteers in the hospital from around the world. It has been really interesting to hear about their countries’ healthcare system in contrast to that of Ecuador. Given the opportunity to converse with healthcare professionals and learn hands-on has been an experience completely different from studying at Brandeis. I have gained many medical skills such as taking blood, stitching, and taking vital signs which are skills that I would not attain until later in medical school. I have also learned that 80% of Ecuadorians use the universal healthcare system, which is supplied by the government. Unfortunately, there are not enough hospitals to support the demand. Consequently, often the hospital I work at and others in Ecuador tend to be in hysteria, with as many people jammed into the waiting rooms as possible. A great article that discusses these issues can be found here. As the United States moves toward universal healthcare, I think it will be important to recognize the weaknesses of other universal healthcare plans to know how to structure and improve it. If you are interested in a quick synopsis of the healthcare system in Ecuador, PubMed does a great job.

San Francisco Plaza- Historical Center

San Francisco Plaza- Historical Center

A skill that I have gained and am continuing to work on is my ability to communicate in Spanish to the patients, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. More than becoming well versed in Spanish medical terminology, I have been more confident in approaching doctors and nurses and asking them about their experience and what they do. Finding the confidence to follow my curiosity in a very different culture is something that I was afraid I would be unable to do. I look forward to continue pursuing my curiosity academically, as a future healthcare professional, and as a visitor in a foreign country.

– Paulina Kuzmin ’17

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Everything began to pick up at work as the summer progressed. For those who are familiar with the Supreme Court, you may know that many major decisions come down over the summer–specifically in mid to late June. June 29 was the last day the Supreme Court delivered decisions for this term. At Alliance for Justice, we focus on the Supreme Court and emphasize its importance and potential impact on our daily lives. Thus, we followed a few specific cases, including King v. Burwell (which determined the fate of the Affordable Care Act), Obergefell v. Hodges (which focused on same-sex marriage) and Glossip v. Gross (which was to determine whether or not a particular substance could be used in lethal injections used for the death penalty), just to name a few. We focused social media campaigns and press releases on the potential impact of these court cases, and the results once the decisions were released.

Friday, June 26 was one of the more exciting experiences in our work following the Court. On this day, Obergefell v. Hodges was released, and it was decided that same-sex marriage should, in fact, be legal in all 50 states. Not only was Alliance for Justice hoping that this would be the result, but we also took action and went down to the Court to wait for the decision to be released. This is an image of my view from that day:



I was standing by the Court steps–along with activists from across the country–when the decision was released. This is just an image to try to convey how many people were at the Court awaiting the decision:


It is so thrilling to see when our work pays off, and for so many to understand what we do here at Alliance for Justice. This decision has a profound impact on people’s lives, and AFJ wants to make sure people recognize that. We want people to understand that the #CourtsMatter, and that who is sitting on the bench can determine whether or not your rights are protected. That is why we launch campaigns regarding judicial appointees and upcoming cases.

In addition to our other campaigns, AFJ always launches a year-long campaign. We are in the process working on a new campaign, for which a video will be released. The current campaign, which started last year, focuses on forced arbitration. The campaign, called “Lost in the Fine print,” discusses how companies take advantage of consumers and employees by inserting forced arbitration clauses that are convoluted, hidden and not always understood.

Here is a pamphlet from the last campaign:

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I am excited to begin working on this new campaign.

– Marissa Ditkowsky ’16


RI Foundation 1


As I reflect on my midpoint at the Rhode Island Foundation, I am aware that I have experienced many positive emotions in and out of my workplace environment.  I enjoy going to work at the Foundation so much so, that I come in before the time I am supposed to arrive everyday.  I like to be in an environment filled with people who are passionate about the work they do.  It encourages me and gives me hope that I will one day find a job that I can be equally as passionate about.  My overall impression about the workplace is that the work can be challenging and tedious, but every detail counts.  Life moves fast and it takes energy, skill and passion to make the work go by smoothly.

Rhode Island Foundation 2

The world of work is different from university life in that you are not measured on your performance by grades, or how much you have memorized for a test.  Instead, you are measured on how well you can work with members on a team and alleviate some of the pressures and challenges team members face.  Academic work is oftentimes individualistic.  However, I have realized that in the real world, you have to know how to talk, interact and learn from one another across a company, or in my case, a foundation.  I know that this can be a challenge for many workplaces; however, at the Rhode Island Foundation, everyone tries to make time for one another so that communication stays open.  I feel very well supported in this type of environment and because of the great teamwork and cross-departmental collaboration, I have been fortunate to meet and work with a large network of people.

The skills that I am learning in my internship are extremely valuable for me.  I am learning how to analyze and read through large amounts of information, and then summarize it in order to present my findings to my supervisor.  I am also applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy and scanning broad search engines, such as, to do effective research for the Foundation.  The research I am doing is time consuming and I am required to search many key-word combinations to find grants for which the Foundation can apply.  It would be impractical to spend a lengthy amount of time on any one source so I have to find the information that I need quickly and then move on.  I am now confident in my ability to be able to continue to use my skills to help the Foundation, as I have been receiving positive feedback from my supervisor.




-Lauren Nadeau ‘2017

Week one of my internship at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has concluded, and so far, my experience has been stellar.

Before elaborating about my experience thus far, I will highlight MCAD’s mission and my role this summer.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is a government agency dedicated to eliminating and preventing discrimination, and educating citizens of the Commonwealth regarding their rights and duties under anti-discrimination statues (MCAD website). If individuals feel as if they have been wrongfully discriminated against, they can file a complaint through MCAD. Within MCAD, I am working as a SEED Outreach Intern; essentially, I contact organizations that serve individuals that are likely to experience discrimination and ask if MCAD can host a presentation at their organization. My colleague and I then conduct the presentation which runs from one to two hours and goes over the protections that people have against discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing.

My first four days kicked off with training for all the interns, aimed at teaching us the relevant aspects of Massachusetts law (151B).  The training was an illuminating experience.  I did not know the protections against discrimination were so expansive or that Massachusetts has become a leading state in the fight against discrimination – which I elaborate more on in my next blog post.

So far, my experience as an MCAD intern has exceeded my expectations. The work is very engaging, and my supervisor has done a great job of training us and preparing us for the work that we will be doing this summer. She also does a wonderful job of fostering a healthy work environment and building a strong sense of team among all the outreach interns. We have the opportunity to attend “brown bag lunches,” where staff members at  MCAD talk about certain topics over lunch. The first session discussed disability discrimination and was led by a subject matter expert who gave insights about the daily workings on an array of issues. In additions to structured trainings and talks, we are also given the opportunity to observe proceedings at MCAD. I have already had a chance to observed a conciliation hearing which gave me a chance to experience the law in a more practical setting.

The bulk of our outreach presentations are scheduled for July, so right now my biggest efforts are focused on outreach so I can schedule presentations with organizations.  In my next post, I look forward to providing more updates – including details on my experiences on the presentations.

All in all, I am very excited to be working here and I am off to a great start!


– Si Chan ’16



The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides a mid-day meal every school day to approximately 1.4 million Indian youths, is the largest provider of mid-day meals in the world. This summer, my main responsibility is to interview parents, teachers, headmasters, and, when appropriate, the general public, in order to gain insights into the ways in which a daily mid-day meal motivates families to send their children—and especially their daughters—to school for longer periods of time. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has two primary and interrelated goals. First, the Foundation seeks to supply children to with a mid-day meal to incentivize participation in government schools and, consequently, to help alleviate child labor and slavery. Often times, children attending government schools are forced to drop out of school to work menial and often dangerous jobs to provide supplementary income to their families. Since the children are fed during the school day, it often becomes possible for them to attend school, rather than working to pay for their own mid-day meal.

Every day, I will visit three government schools and interview children ranging in age from seven to sixteen years old. I will interview nine children per day. In addition, over the course of the summer, I will interview several former mid-day meal beneficiaries who have received scholarships towards the cost of their post-secondary education. I will use these interviews to write a series of “case studies” for the Foundation. These “case studies” may be circulated internally within Akshaya Patra, or may be displayed on the Foundation’s website with the hope of motivating potential donors to support the Foundation by qualitatively demonstrating the “impact” of the mid-day meal program.

Akshaya Patra is far from the only NGO to supply a mid-day meal to Indian youths. The Foundation receives half of its funding through the Indian government due to a federal mandate and national scheme that required that every child enrolled in an Indian government school is entitled to a mid-day meal. Since Akshaya Patra’s Bangalore headquarters raises approximately 40 percent of the necessary operating costs, funders that give in the United States account for only ten percent of the overall expenses. This differentiates Akshaya Patra from many other transnational NGOs. Because all of the food production—and the vast majority of the fundraising—come from Indian sources, the Foundation it is much more likely to remain sustainable in the communities that it serves.

Since the Foundation has asked me to write about “success” stories in order to demonstrate “impact,” I have proposed a senior thesis topic that explore the relationship between “success”—as defined by the informants—and caste/class status. More specifically, I have proposed to write about how notions of “success” are used by transnational NGOs, like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, as a means to motive foreign donors—primarily from the United States and western Europe—to support their work. I will engage with issued of “modernity” and “progress” as a way to interpret what “counts” as “success”—for the Indian students, for the transnational NGOs, and for the foreign philanthropic audience.  I’m hopeful that this work, which will be informed by the interviews I conduct this summer, will also be helpful to the Akshaya Patra Foundation. I’m looking forward to sending a copy of my findings.

I have the wonderful opporunity to stay at the ISKCON temple complex while I am in Bangalore. Akshaya Patra is affiliated with the ISKCON temple through A. C. Bhaktivdanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the ISKCON.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s website in India can be found here. In addition, the USA Akshaya Patra website can be found here.

ISKCON Bangalore’s website can be found here.


ISKCON Bangalore temple complex

(photo source:

AP Kitchen

One of Akshaya Patra’s 24 kitchens across ten states in India

(photo source:


-Shane Weitzman ’16

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It’s hard to believe that I am already at the half way mark of my internship experience with AIDS Action Committee (AAC). During these four weeks, I have had the opportunity to learn more about some of the barriers facing access to affordable housing. My position requires me to make calls to property managers and landlords to inquire about whether they have affordable housing units available for rent for people of low-income. After making the calls, I update AAC’s online database and hard-copy files so that our clients can have the most up to date information about the affordable housing options that are available when they start to fill out applications. Despite this seemingly simply routine, there are significant systematic barriers that block access to affordable housing for those who are poor.

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AIDS Action Committee is affiliated with Fenway Health in Boston. Photo taken from

The wait list for many affordable housing units are often over 2 years long and it is very rare to find a complex that does not have a wait list. Despite how overwhelmingly difficult it is to find affordable housing, many property managers discriminate against poorer individuals seeking housing. Though many luxury apartment complexes have affordable units available, this type of housing is often times not listed on their websites or other advertisements due to stigma. Working at AAC has enlightened me on a wide range of social inequalities and health disparities and has made me want to become a better advocate for those who are sick and living in poverty.


First floor of AAC.

At AAC, they are currently holding a bi-weekly training workshop series called “Getting to Zero”, in which staff members are trained on different topics related to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment so that we can learn how to better advocate for our clients. After attending one of these meetings, I was able to gain knowledge on how to help people living with HIV/AIDS stick to their treatment plans and learn about some alternative treatment methods if people are not responding well to their medication or forgetting to take their medication. Though my main work at AAC is not in direct service to people living with HIV/AIDS, the training was extremely informative and allowed me to gain better insight on AAC’s mission. I am looking forward to attending more “Getting to Zero” meetings and I am especially excited to view the HIV/AIDS advocacy documentary “How To Survive A Plague” in one of our upcoming trainings.

This week, I had the opportunity to visit Youth on Fire, a program of AAC located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA that serves as a drop-in center for homeless and street-involved youth ages 14-24. Youth on Fire aims to respond to the basic and urgent needs of homeless young adults at the highest risk of communicable diseases and victimization. It was a rewarding experience to get to connect with the youth there and just hang out and get to know them better. At AAC I have gotten to interact with a demographic of people that is definitely different from what I would encounter in a typical college academic environment. I am hopeful that I will take the advocacy skills I learn at AAC with me back to campus and use them in the future as a public health provider.

-Ngobitak Ndiwane ’16

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This summer, I am the development intern at United for a Fair Economy (UFE). UFE is based in Boston, MA. Its mission is to challenge the concentration of wealth and power in the United States. UFE works to close the wage gap, advocating for jobs with living wages, progressive taxes, and a government that works for the common good. In addition, much of UFE’s work promotes equal opportunity for people who have been marginalized in our society for reasons including race, class, gender, and national origin. Projects include popular economics trainings, collaboration with other organizations to support grassroots campaigns for tax fairness, and materials to bring attention to important issues. UFE’s website is in both English and Spanish, as is all of the materials it produces and the events it hosts. UFE maintains that democracy must embody these components of equality.

blog post 1 ufe

As the development intern, I assist with fundraising and donor communications. My responsibilities include research, donor appeals, and informational material preparation. By helping to raise money, I will contribute to UFE’s important mission. I found out about this internship through Brandeis University’s community service department. UFE partners with the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis to hire one intern each summer as part of the social justice WOW program.

Overall, I enjoyed my first week at UFE. I learned a lot about what the organization and each branch does. I read previous intern’s projects and talked to the staff. I also began forming relationships with staff and board members. Everyone involved is very committed to their work and UFE’s mission as a whole. Their dedication is exciting and I look forward to working with and learning from all of them.  One of UFE’s most striking resources is, “11 Things the Wealthiest Americans Can Buy for the U.S.”.


Also this week, I completed my first project, an information and statistics sheet to be handed out at UFE’s board meeting. In doing this, I learned how to use the database in which UFE stores all information about donors and communications. I used the information in this database and Excel spreadsheets to assemble statistics on UFE’s individual giving and online giving over the past few years. I then researched data on philanthropy in the United States, and created a summary for the board.

In my time at UFE, I hope to gain professional, non-profit experience. I would like to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at a non-profit organization, or small organization in general. This being my first internship, I would also like to gain experience with the skills required to be successful in the real world, like time management, organization, and communication skills. In addition, I hope to apply what I have learned in school, including an understanding of economics and writing skills. Also, I want to utilize other more abstract strengths I have honed in school, including hard work, dedication, and a desire to learn. Lastly, I hope to develop relationships with my coworkers at UFE. This internship is an opportunity to meet some amazing people and  I am excited to learn and grow this summer in this position.

– Rebecca Epstein ’18

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I have officially completed my first week of my summer internship at the Community Day Center of Waltham. As the only day center in the metrowest area, the Community Day Center of Waltham provides a safe, warm environment for people who are homeless or otherwise needing of the resources provided by the center. Approximately 700 people are serviced each year, facing complex challenges such as physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence, physical disabilities, mental illnesses, poverty, homelessness, joblessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and legal issues. The day center offers these people a concrete support system, offering them services such as the Internet, phones, advocacy, referrals, healthcare, legal counsel, housing referrals, and job search assistance. By offering these services, the Day Center enables these individuals to become more independent and productive. Having worked with the Day Center sophomore year, I have become more comfortable working with this population and am learning much about their experiences and stories, allowing me to better understand the complexity of societal barriers and societal standings. My growing familiarity with this population allows my perspective on the Waltham community and in general, homeless communities, to expand. The development of this perspective will give me the greater knowledge needed to accurately assess and refer the people that live in this community.

Me editing and uploading the Day Center's intake form

image2 Editing and uploading intake forms

At the Day Center, I have a range of responsibilities. I am a part of the Day Center team, meaning I help out with day-to-day tasks like help serving food for lunch, cleanup at the end of the day, and other tasks to ensure each day at the Day Center runs smoothly. Primarily I will be working on a health survey that over the past year, I wrote and implemented with the help of some Brandeis volunteers. I just completed our 100th survey and will soon begin the process of compiling and distributing that information. I will be writing a piece about the process of creating and implementing the survey. This summer, I will be collaborating with the Executive Director of the Community Day Center of Waltham to create a media strategy to share the results of the survey, identify stakeholders, reach out to community groups to give presentations, and coordinate these presentations. Aside from the health survey, I will be working on improving the Day Center’s efficiency and data collection by uploading intake forms, guest satisfaction surveys and other forms online. Additionally, I will continue to help with case management and support for the guests.

My goals for learning this summer include case management training and administration to assess individuals at the center,  implementation and publication of the health survey, and continued learning about the societal barriers and struggles of this population. To achieve these, I will fully engage myself in the work I do, commit time and focus to fully understand the necessary protocols in order to properly assess and refer individuals, and create professional yet personal relationships. To learn about the societal barriers and struggles of this population, I will create an open-minded and comfortable, yet professional environment for people to feel safe approaching me to talk about personal issues, or to seek help. So far, I have successfully been able to create this safe space for many individuals. I have learned a lot over the past few weeks and I look forward to the coming month.

Community Day Center of Waltham

Here is an article detailing some of what we do at the Day Center

– Diana Langberg ’17


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Goals for the Summer

This summer I intend on taking up all of the opportunities I am offered during my time at American Jewish World Services (AJWS) in terms of work, nonprofit organizations, and myself in order to accomplish my goals for my future career, academic journey, as well as my personal goals for the summer.

In terms of my career, this summer through the internship I hope to learn as much as I can about how a successful nonprofit organization functions. Through my experience at Brandeis in furthering good causes, I have encountered a lot of politics involved. I am looking forward to seeing how such a remarkable and successful organization such as AJWS deals with the politics of furthering good causes and how it organizes itself to be successful. I also hope to get to know the employees at AJWS to hear how they ended up getting involved and their stories, both for networking and for personal causes.

For my academic journey, I hope to learn more about specific human rights causes and which ones in particular I might hope to further pursue. I hope to learn more about “experiential education” and programming. I aim to apply what I have learned in my classes dealing with anthropology, conflict, dialogue, and Judaism to the work I do at AJWS.

My personal goals for this summer align with the others as I hope to make the most out of the opportunity to work for these incredible causes with inspiring people. I hope to explore my particular interests and the ways I prefer to work, and to get to know the fascinating people who are dedicated to the work that AJWS does.


My Work So Far

This first week interning at the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has been absolutely incredible! The mission of AJWS is: “Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. Rooted in our mission, AJWS was founded in 1985 by American Jews who wanted to join together as global citizens to help some of the poorest and most oppressed people around the globe. Today, AJWS is the only Jewish organization dedicated solely to ending poverty and promoting human rights in the developing world.” ( I am working in the New York office in the Office of the President Intern position, where my supervisor is the executive assistant to the president of the organization.

There have been so many fascinating parts, and also many surprises.

Some interesting parts were sitting in on an executive board meeting where I learned all about the ways that AJWS forms their goals and how they plan to accomplish them. The main goal of AJWS is to help marginalized people in the developing world realize their human rights. There are different subject areas that AJWS works in within the developing world: civil and political rights, land and water rights, and sexual health rights. AJWS also deals with disaster relief. I have had a wonderful opportunity to sit in on many meetings with the organization, as well as converse with Ruth Messinger, the president of AJWS, about her work. Also, on June 10th, I attended something called an “All-Staff” which was a staff retreat for all of the workers for AJWS in the United States. We discussed how much of the “J” (Jewish) should be involved in the organization, as well as many other interesting topics.

My work has included a lot of administrative work such as writing out dictations, reading a lot of articles/Dvrei Torah to find topics/quotes of relevance/interest, and other tasks of organization that will help move the flow of AJWS along. I have loved the reading and learning as well as sitting in on meetings and getting to meet with executive board members.

I have been surprised a few times throughout this first experience. The first day, Ruth Messinger, the president of the organization, paid my fellow Office of the President intern and me an unexpected visit, surprising me. Also, the organization is going through some structural changes, so the staff are in an interesting emotional place. These experiences have taught me a lot about how to maintain oneself in a professional setting. I have also been experiencing living in a big city for the first time as well as living by myself for the first time.

The start of my internship has been inspiring and I have learned so much so far. I look forward to the rest of the summer!

At the "All-Staff" retreat, each table was tasked with using random art materials to demonstrate what the "Jewish" aspect of the organization is.

At the “All-Staff” retreat, each table was tasked with using random art materials to demonstrate what the “Jewish” aspect of the organization is.

This is my office area where I work every day.

This is my office area where I work every day.


-Gabi Hersch ’17

My First Week in Indianapolis has already come to an end. Last Friday, after a three day organizing training with Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) in Chicago I arrived at my work site in Indianapolis. Here I am working with one of IWJ’s affiliate organizations, the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center (IWJC). This week was an exciting one, not just for me, but also for IWJC as an organization. IWJC was established about a year ago, and this week they were officially approved for a 501c3, as an affiliate for IWJ.  They also learned that they received their first grant this week as well. As a new member of the team, I could really feel the excitement that brought.

The IWJC is a non-profit organization working to help low-wage workers come together to organize as well as provide them with resources and trainings such as “Know Your Rights at Work.” They are working on campaigns with taxi drivers and 1099 misclassification, including work against wage theft and much more. So far IWJC has been running solely on volunteer work, they are therefore not able to hold regular walk-in hours for them to advise people but that is hopefully going to change soon.

My tasks include reaching out to the community to let more people know about the center. I will also be helping with the campaign to organize taxi drivers who are meeting at the IWJC. Further I am helping to advertise for our Fourth of July Justice Jam event. My work will impact the organization because it will hopefully help it grow. By letting more people and organizations know about the work that IWJC is doing and the services they are offering they will be able to assist more people. By reaching out to other community centers, we also want to create a local referral list for people who come to us with issues that do not fall into the areas of work that IWJC focuses on.

My goals for this summer are to develop organizing skills. I have already been able to learn more theory during the IWJ intern training and am now starting to put it into action. One of the most important things is to build relationships, which I will hopefully start doing soon. I also hope to gain a better understanding of specific workers rights’ issues and how to fight them. I have also already been able to learn more, for example about the problems taxi drivers face in Indianapolis.

Taxi Drivers meeting at IWJC

Taxi Drivers meeting at IWJC

As a sociology major, this internship directly relates to my studies of inequality, social movements in the United States. Being a part of an actual movement will help me understand the work that goes into these changes and it will let me understand how the theory is put into practice. My career and academic goals are very closely related to my personal goals because I wish to work towards a more just and equal society. I believe that this internship will help me see inequality fist hand and help me act against it.

– Tamar Lyssy ’16

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This past Friday marks the end of my first very busy, very exciting, and quite enthralling week of work at PFLAG National!

For those of you who don’t know, PFLAG is a national non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to both LGBTQ people as well as their parents, families, friends and allies. They have hundreds of thousands of members across the country and regional chapters in every state. PFLAG is the largest LGBTQ family and ally organization in the United States. Its mission is to support LGBTQ people, their friends and families, educate people on LGBTQ discrimination and the unique struggles LGBTQ people face, and finally, advocate on the local, state, and federal level to change attitudes and create laws that achieve equality for LGBTQ individuals.

Sounds pretty awesome right!

Well I have the immense pleasure to work under the Director of Policy, Diego Sanchez, as the Legislative and Policy Intern. Not only is Diego brilliant, motivated and passionate about LGBTQ issues, but he also has a long and intricate history of working in policy on both the state and federal level. Diego and the entire PFLAG office have been more than welcoming to me, and have immediately accepted me as one of their own.

(The Capitol building)

Doing things at The Capitol building!

Every day of work for me is different, so there is not really a “typical day.” However, my more regular responsibilities include writing up our biweekly policy newsletter Policy Matters, researching and organizing LGBTQ related legislative bills so that we can lobby them on Capitol Hill and among other LGBTQ organizations and constituencies, updating our national advocacy toolkit and policy guide One Voice, writing articles for our biannual newsletter PFLAGPole, and finally doing some social media and website updates.

Even though I have a range of really interesting and engaging in-office responsibilities, I also get to do a lot of work outside the PFLAG office. Almost every day Diego invites me to an event, a bill hearing, a planning meeting, or a conference with a legislator. Through all of these out-of-office experiences, I truly have the opportunity to not only observe but participate in the policy and legislative process. Just this past week I attended a White House Big Table meeting on the upcoming Supreme Court cases, a USDA Transgender Panel (where Diego spoke) and lunch in honor of Pride Month, a Voting Rights Act rally planning meeting with a coalition of other NGO’s, and finally, a conference with a Senator regarding an upcoming LGBTQ-related bill.


Who knew I would get to go to the White House on my second day of work!

I couldn’t have asked for more out of an internship and it’s only been one week! There are a lot of exciting things ahead especially with DC Pride this weekend and the Supreme Court releasing their decision on marriage equality in late June. Both DC and PFLAG have immediately captured my interest, my enthusiasm, and my passion for change. And so I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer, my work, and this city will bring!

-Aliya Bean




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