Midway but still learning

 

The Musée de Montmartre and its climbing vines

My first month in the Musée de Montmartre is not what I expected it to be. Not that something which doesn’t meet your expectations is a bad thing. People assume that if something doesn’t fulfill or exceed your projected assumptions or fantasies, then it’s a disappointment, a failure, something that you regret pursuing in the end. But what this first month in the Musée has taught me is that although pipe dreams are what might have launched you into your adventures into the wild, blue yonder, it is what you make of your own reality that is a thousand times more fulfilling.

 

I’m sure people are wondering what these silly pipe dreams of mine were before they were given a sharp blow in the head by reality and stomped unceremoniously into the blackening cracks between the ancient cobblestones of Montmartre. I’m almost embarrassed to admit them—they seem so silly now. I imagined myself floating around the musée with a done up bun and a clipboard, gently caressing the edges of a print by the timeless Toulouse-Lautrec with white gloves. I wanted to be in the halls of the musée and arrange the paintings and prints on the walls according to my own vision. I also wanted to drink absinthe in a smoky room and make my acquaintance with Green Fairy but that would have been during my time outside of the musée.

 

But no. I realized that curating a museum requires an infinite amount of patience, an immutable will that can’t be daunted by an amount of work the size of Montmartre itself, and a particularly acute interest in the era you are working on. I have been translating dozens of documents from French into English and, more nerve rackingly, from English into French. I have been consulting editors and publishing companies for the upcoming catalogue of our exposition “Autour du Chat Noir: Arts et Plaisirs à Montmartre 1880-1910” and it’s been an high-speed volley of phone calls, emails, and running around for confirmations. I’m creating an exhaustive list of all museums who would be interested in the exhibition in Paris and the United States and their curators for invitations to the opening gala. Lastly, and most exhaustingly, I have been waist-deep in the affairs of a certain Gustave Charpentier, a musician and composer of 19th century France who was a seminal figure of the cabarets and dance halls of Montmartre during that era. His family’s donation of his papers and personal affairs is extremely interesting and as disorganized. I’ve been painfully organizing every single piece of the donation into a digital format.

 

And yet, everything about this internship is making me feel as if I’m making a difference and that might be what I’m most proud of. This work is absolutely necessary for the smooth running of the museum and the good of the archives. I had said that one of my goals for this summer had been to improve on my study skills and be more concentrated on one task at a time; I’ve certainly had a lot of practice in this certain area during my time here. I feel myself changing, being more focused on the task at hand and being more precise with my time. They sound rather mundane, but they’re invaluable skills.

 

I might have mislead the reader in the beginning, implying that I have had some sort of epiphany-like discovery of self, that my realization that my world is what I make of it was a chapter that I have already written. But I see it more as a change in philosophy, a hazy projection of my coming time at the museum and a hope for the future. I won’t be so pretentious as to call it a prediction, but I think that this new germ in me will grow into something significant and beautiful, nourished by French wine and a little time amongst hardworking lovers of art.

And maybe a tiny tourist train

Nuclear Accidents, Moldova, and Elton John: My Summer so far with the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine

It’s hard to believe that the summer is half-way over. I have been having a fantastic time, and I feel like I’m really doing something, which, I guess, is the hallmark of a good internship.

Finding the STCU was a home-run for me. I’m interested in the post-Cold War world and nuclear issues (from nuclear weapon security to non-proliferation to nuclear energy), and spending the summer in Kiev working at the STCU covers all of that. From talking to colleagues about East European politics to sitting in on meetings with weapons experts to traveling through Transnistria, I have learned so much.

A big focus of my department at the STCU at the moment is collecting proposals from CIS scientists for suggested projects to mitigate the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. It makes a lot of sense that Japan would contact Ukraine and other former Soviet Republics for such advice. If you just suffered the second worst nuclear accident in history, who else would you call but the country that suffered the worst? The Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986 was the world’s worst nuclear accident, covering over a million hectares of Eurasia with radiation. Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Georgia were hit the hardest, and so the scientists from those countries have several decades of experience in the monitoring and rehabilitation of contaminated lands. It’s been very interesting for me to read the proposals, and I’m learning a lot about cleaning up after nuclear accidents.

A few weeks ago I attended the STCU Governing Board meeting in Moldova. In addition to it being a chance to travel to a new country, it was an incredible opportunity to talk to U.S. government officials who are working in careers I am interested in. At the final dinner, I somehow ended up sitting next to a State Department official who followed a similar career path to the one that I wish to take, and next to her was the STCU Executive Director, who had worked for the State Department for 30 years. He had been an ambassador in Eastern Europe in the eighties and nineties and had some neat Cold War stories. I spent an incredible evening talking to them about working for the government and in the Foreign Service.

I think something that I am most proud of is the fact that I have friends in Kiev now. There have been lunches at work where we have laughed so much that the STCU director told us having that much fun at work was not allowed. We spent an amazing night twenty feet from Elton John, Queen, and Adam Lambert in Independence Square at the concert that concluded the Euro2012. The people I have met have been so great, and my summer would have been very different without them.

I take the metro to work every day, and in the beginning of the summer I would go to great lengths to make sure I had something to hold onto, as the metro is very crowded during rush hour. But now I don’t need to hold on to anything, and that ties into the fact that I think one of the greatest things I will gain from this summer will be confidence. I was scared at the beginning and felt very self-conscious walking around Kiev, but now that fear is gone. I think I’ll be able to walk into my next internship or job with a certain degree of self-assurance, with the mindset that I successfully spent eight weeks in Kiev and I’m ready for anything now. – Jennifer Ginsburg ’14

Something’s Cooking at the Katz Lab

At the beginning of the summer I began work on an exciting project in the Katz lab at BrandeisUniversityon a specific aspect of taste memory. For the sake of brevity it’ll suffice to say that the project is looking at a well-founded behavior in rodents in which the animals learn that a taste is “safe” over the course of a few days  (interested in knowing more? Click here!). Recently it has been suggested by data in the lab that this behavior can show itself in a faster time course if the behavior is measured using different techniques. At the beginning of summer I began collecting data to verify the claims of the past study, and had figured that this would be a quick task and that by this time I would have started on the next leg of the project. Like many things in life, however, science does not work on the timescale that you expect. We are now halfway through my internship and we are very close, just now, to being confident in the presence of this behavior. But don’t take that as a complaint; even though the timing has showed itself to be longer than expected, I am very proud to know that with the data I gathered and the additional analysis we are on the precipice of finishing and submitting my first data paper. Also, life in the lab has been incredibly enjoyable and very, very rewarding.

Whenever I’m not working with data at my desk, I am getting hands-on experience by shadowing my co-workers to learn and perfect certain techniques that will greatly assist me when it comes time to manage my own project.  These techniques, it should be noted, are incredibly important to my future career plans as the skills I am currently learning are easily transferable to post-college studies and work. Additionally with certain techniques it is difficult to tell if I have actually improved, but I have noticed that I am asking for less confirmation and help as my hands and mind become steadier. It’s impossible to explain the immense amount of gratitude I feel to my labmates as they have walked me through virtually every step with a smile. Because of the experience I’ve had so far, I feel very confident and excited to proceed to the next step of my project.

Here’s an example slice of a brain – the large gash on the right side is the tract made by the stainless steel cannula used to directly infuse pharmaceuticals into the brain.

 

It goes without saying that the atmosphere in the lab is incredibly conducive to learning; each person is willing to help one another in times of need. Recently, a post-doctoral fellow needed help finishing up the final parts of her project before she left the country. Virtually everyone in lab spent their free time helping to make sure that things were completed. As the thought of graduate school and additional research work weigh on my mind, it is a relief to know that a lab can not only exist but thrive with this sort of group mentality.

 

A small sampling of Katz Lab scientists

As we go into the latter half of summer, my days will likely be filled with similar activities as the first half. There are still many techniques to learn and perfect, and as the elusive behavior becomes more and more apparent there will come the next step of writing and submitting the final manuscript. Additionally, with the stronger evidence that the behavior exists, I will be presenting a poster at the Brandeis Summer Science Poster Session in early August. The technical skills I have gained and the knowledge I’ve learned about the research process are both goals that I had wanted to obtain during my internship. With these learning goals already started, there is little doubt in my mind that the next half of my internship will be just as rewarding, if not more so, than the first. – Kevin Monk  ‘ 13

 

SCAMP: Science Camp And Marine Programs (Part I)

Why go to camp, when you can go to SCAMP??  Although this is the chorus to our camp song, it also poses a great question. Why would you go to a normal, run-of-the-mill day camp when you can come exploring the world of science with SCAMP (Science Camp And Marine Programs) at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats.  As one of the program’s counselors and coordinators, I am fortunate that some children seek to find the answer throughout their summers.

Being in my position, the answer is as clear as a tide pool on a nice summer day: SCAMP is awesome!  Where else can you walk through a muddy salt marsh up to your waist? Cruise down the Merrimack river looking at salt marshes?  Crawl through amazing tide pools and touch live animals? Take an adventure on a whale watch? Or even visit a butterfly garden?  As you may have guessed by now, the only answer is SCAMP!

SCAMP is a camp that is composed of hands-on science, live animals, fun games, and craft projects for children aged 6-9. Each four-day session is a fun-filled learning adventure created to increase awareness and inspire stewardship of the natural world.  Also, a child can attend either one or multiple camp sessions, depending on their scientific interests!  This year, we have the following weekly themes: salt marshes, the rocky shore and tide pools, oceans, insects, and birds.

The kids making their own tide pool animals from recyclables!

So far, we have only completed two of the SCAMP weeks (salt marshes and rocky shore) but they have been so much fun for both the counselors and campers!  As a summer camp intern, we have to plan the entire camp schedule and come up with the creative games/activities to keep the kids’ attention on a daily basis (harder than it seems!).  I really love how all of the interns are completely responsible for choosing what constitutes a day at camp.  This is where being a diverse group of college interns really comes into play.  For example, I can use my passion for theater and improv to help the kids make their own puppet shows using puppets we made earlier in the day.  The first week, we made paper horseshoe crab puppets and for week two, we made tide pool animal puppets from recyclables!  The kids are so creative that they can write and act out a play, and the results are rather adorable to watch!  The puppet plays have been so successful already that they will be a weekly activity at SCAMP for this summer and into the future.  It’s amazing how quickly the interns’ ideas are accepted and implemented into the immediate curriculum of SCAMP!

SCAMPers performing their plays with their personalized tide pool animals made from recyclables

 

The most convenient aspects of having a marine science camp at Joppa Flats are its useful location and features.  The Joppa Flats Education Center is complete with a children’s education room, a 110-gallon interactive touch tank, and a bird viewing room that overlooks a beautiful salt marsh of the Merrimack River.  Additionally, the Joppa Flats Education Center is located at the gateway to one of the country’s most productive year-round wildlife viewing areas, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and the Plum Island estuary.

So far, the campers have just loved their experience with SCAMP.  Although it is mostly fun games/activities, we also make sure to have educational stations and we always have a science lesson behind our games!  Most of my planning time is dedicated to finding the best way to learn while having fun; I love thinking of classic fun games (obstacle courses, relay races, tag, rock-paper-scissors) but building them upon a new, scientific foundation.  Another great aspect of SCAMP is that all of the cool arts and crafts we make are taken home by the campers!  Finally, the great staff-camper ratio lets us all get to know every camper on a personal basis.  This is great because we have options for all the campers so they can all participate in certain activities that fit their personal interests!

There is also a new, one-week program for older children (10-12) called Young Scientists.  This is the first year in which this program is being held, but we’re very excited to start!  This in-depth program is meant to let the kids become actual naturalists and develop an individual project or research question, and spend time in two tide pools (Plum Island and Beverly) to gather two separate data sets.

But what is the real answer why kids should spend their summers at SCAMP?  Well, it has to be our camp mascots, Piper and Pippen, the piping plover chicks (of course, they are stuffed animals).  Each day, two campers take home both Piper and Pippen and can write or draw what they did with the birds in their own journals.  From tanning on the beach to lounging by the pool to watching jeopardy, these birds get to have awesome summers with the campers that display excellent behavior throughout the day!  Piping plovers are federally threatened birds that are protected on Plum Island’s critical habitat at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

Although I’m a leader of SCAMP, I absolutely love participating in the activities we create.  I think we do such a great job at planning because we are really just kids at heart (we know what’s fun!).  I’m very excited to continue to meet new kids every week and I just hope that I inspire them to never stop loving the natural world.  For me, that’s something that always continues to grow, even as I get older.

Personally, I have found out that my favorite part of the day is teaching the kids something new.   As leaders, we frequently choose our own mini lesson plans and create a 10-minute station on anything we want!  For example, during camp today (ocean week) I led a discussion on shark anatomy.  It was so fun to teach them something that I am very knowledgeable and passionate about.  I love having the ability to educate them and also let them be a participating audience.  The ability to create a lesson in which my audience is interacting and thus having fun is something that I have greatly improved upon this summer.  I am very proud of the fact that I am an effective educator of biology to both college sophomores (as I am a bio lab TA) and to a 6-year old.  Although the difficulty of biology is vastly different, I approach teaching the two age groups the exact same way; keep the science simple, relatable, and fun.  If I am being silly, enthusiastic, and clearly having a fun time teaching then I guarantee that my students will take something valuable out of my lesson.  As a science student myself, only the teachers that are able to make science fun have had a positive influence on my education.  If I am to be an inspirational science professor someday, then mastering this ability is something that I need to always be working on.

Matthew Eames ’13

SCAMP field trip to tide pools at Rye Beach, NH

LIKE us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MassAudubonJoppaFlats

Midpoint at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic

It is hard to believe that I am already at the midpoint of my internship. My learning goals were to become familiar working in a healthcare setting, to apply my knowledge and further learn about health and illnesses, and to promote a healthy lifestyle through this hands-on experience. I have met an incredible group of people, including healthcare professionals, patients, and families. I am fulfilling the goals I set for myself, and everyday I learn something new.

Life-size food models used for dietary counseling

In addition to the daily tasks of monitoring patients’ development on growth charts, viewing patients’ medical and family history, and assisting in conducting dietary and physical activity counseling, I also performed quite a few exciting tasks. I helped conduct mail-out surveys for patients and families. The survey includes questions that could be very helpful for the Clinic staff members to assess how the they are doing in terms of educating and treating the patients. We would like to see not merely changes in statistics such as patients’ weight and body mass index (BMI), but also improvements in their diet and physical activity. I also designed posters for an upcoming event, BMI Fun Day 2012, which is an interactive four-hour program provided to our patients in a specific age group. The program consists of bike riding activities from a non-profit organization the Bluegrass Cycling Club, how to prepare a food budget, well-balanced meals for school from Culinary Arts students from Sullivan University, and family-oriented team building activities. I am very excited for this program. It will be the BMI Clinic’s first program outside of the hospital, and it will provide opportunities for children and their parents’ to interact with Clinic staff and other healthcare professionals on a more personal level.

BMI Clinic dietitian’s typical lunch – beets, tomatoes with cottage cheese; full of proteins and fiber!

I am monitoring my growth by keeping a daily journal of what I do everyday and recording thoughts and reflection at the end of the day.  I am working with my supervisor on a daily basis, so I discuss with her any questions and ideas that I have. Other clinic staff also check in with me to see how I am doing. I am the most proud of the tasks that I take on outside of the responsibilities that I was originally assigned. I enjoyed doing extra work for the clinic as much as I can, such as making posters for the program, designing pamphlets for the dietitian, and compiling and analyzing data. I feel very accomplished for making every little contribution to the clinic and to the population who are suffering from obesity and other related health problems. So far it has been a pleasure working here. Besides increasing my academic and professional knowledge, I made great connections at the Clinic and at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital at large. I feel like I really fit in here. I can definitely see myself working in a healthcare setting in the near future. – Yan Chu ’13

4th of July at the Embassy in Madrid

A lot has happened during these past weeks. In the Economic Section, I finally finished working on a fundraising project I was helping manage for the Embassy’s annual 4th of July party. The project was a huge success. We raised more that what we needed to cover the party’s expenses. The remaining funds will be used for the Embassy’s Election Night celebration in November. The party was also a huge success. Over 3,500 people attended, and there was live music, performances, and a lot of good food and drinks! The nicest moment of the party was when a combined group of U.S. and Spanish Marines presented both countries’ flags to the Ambassador and his wife.

Photo: US Embassy Madrid

 

Now that the project is finished, I have been assigned new and exciting tasks like writing meeting briefs for the Ambassador and writing reports about economic laws. Meeting briefs are used to orient the Ambassador and give him relevant background and context before an official meeting, informing him about the person and organization. To compose the briefs, I go through press articles, official websites, and use other information resources to research the individual. I have also been working on copyright and intellectual property legislation issues, researching and writing reports for the Embassy’s deputy economic counselor about American and Spanish laws, and cooperation in the field between the countries.

 

Photo: US Embassy Madrid

Last week, I transitioned from the Visa unit to the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit in the Consulate. A lot of the work in ACS is related to law. I am in charge of the emergency telephone line, which is the line that Americans can call if they find themselves in distress. The purpose of the calls are very varied and interesting, and require me to respond in a quick and effective manner, and know a lot about Embassy resources and Spanish law. It has been my responsibility to follow up with a variety of agencies, such as the police or international law organizations, all the while keeping clients up-dated about their inquiries.

Time is going by so fast – I can’t believe I only have one month left! Feel free to ask any questions about my work, the Embassy in general, Spain, or anything else!

– Ivan Ponieman ’13

Greetings from the American Islamic Congress!

Hi Everyone – This summer I am interning at the American Islamic Congress’ (AIC) Boston Office. AIC defines itself as a civic minded organization, dedicated to building interfaith and interethnic understanding, as well as supporting and fostering civil and human rights. While the main office is in DC, they have a strong Boston office and cultural center, as well as bureaus in Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq.

I am working as the Arts and Culture Program Assistant. This summer, my main responsibility is to spearhead and co-lead the project development of a traveling art exhibit for the AIC scheduled to be launched in 2014. Our aim is to bring 6 – 8 Muslim artists to up to 6 cities on the east coast. We are inspired by the idea of cultural advocacy, (i.e., using arts to make a difference) and letting art counter stereotypes that people have of each other. Our hope is to have a diverse selection of strong artists from the Muslim world who can talk about relevant issues facing them and their communities such as fundamentalism, immigration, gender rights, and democracy. We hope to generate a cross-cultural conversation that allows and fosters positive engagement amongst societies. With this exhibit, we also want to have films and concerts, as well as outreach to high schools, in order to have a significant, 3-dimensional impact. I am involved with helping draft the concept, prospecting for fundraising, engaging partners, networking, coordinating outreach, and planning educational programming, amongst other responsibilities.

My other job is to be the curator for the cultural/gallery space in Boston. I was an Assistant Curator for AIC in Spring 2012 (which is how I got this Summer internship) and this summer allows me to be more engaged with the artists, as well as plan an exciting array of art and cultural exhibits (film and music) exhibits for the 2012 – 2013 year.

My first week has been pretty exciting. I definitely felt like I walked with a purpose my first day in. The location of the internship, at 38 Newbury Street, surrounded by glamour, adds not only the aura of a ‘legit’ operation, but also pressure – because you are competing with so much around you for an audience. As a Muslim-American organization, how can we try to be relevant and have a strong alternative, progressive Muslim voice? I think that is the big issue that this organization is grappling with.

For this summer, I am working with a couple of people in the office but my supervisor is Andrea Dettore, Development Associate – she is a great lover of music and arts programming and is going to guide me through the process of fundraising, and network and partner building for the traveling exhibit.  The final concept will be the result of our joint conversations and expertise.

On Thursday, I was involved in co-curating the most exciting exhibit so far! AIC is partnering with Discover Roxbury, an organization dedicated to the promotion of culture of Roxbury, to feature five American artists of color, who traveled to Egypt before the Arab Spring, and have been inspired by it. Please find pictures for it below!

I co-curated this show with two workers at Discover Roxbury. This was the first time I ever co-curated an exhibit, and this was definitely a learning experience because there were some strong ideas being bounced around and some clashes, but all in all our result was great!

I really hope this summer will allow me to develop skills that I do not currently possess in the field of planning. As an Art/Art History major, theoretically I know about art in general, but I don’t know much about business plans, marketing, and outreach/fundraising. I would love to combine my love of art and knowledge of contemporary Muslim art, and learn how to be successful in this field of cultural management.

Additionally – I would love to find a progressive Muslim voice that is advocating for strong change, and be able to find my own space within it with my multiple identities.

Until the next time we connect,

Khuda Hafiz (May god protect you)

Abdul Aziz Sohail ’13

Moving from New England dialects to Hmong fieldwork

A lot has happened since my last blog entry. Besides working on more acoustic analysis, I made two trips down to Plymouth, New Hampshire to do some of my own interviews. I went with one of the Dartmouth students who I had met before.  He was very helpful in explaining exactly how he does the interviews, and we did the first one together. Then, I stayed at the bakery where we had set up, and he went off to other local spots where he thought he could get useful interviews. It was good for me to step out of my usual comfort zone and ask people who came in if they would be willing to be interviewed. I asked if they had grown up and lived most of their lives in the area, since that was what we were looking for.  If they answered “yes”, I told them a little about the project and asked if they had 8-10 minutes of time for an interview. I was lucky to receive mostly positive responses, and got about 10 interviews on my own within the two days. During the interview, I had them read a word list, reading passage, and sentences, followed by questions on whether they believed there is a New Hampshire or New England dialect. These interviews will be analyzed just like I have been analyzing previously conducted interviews, with Praat. An interesting thing I noticed when finding people to interview was that some people looked scary.  Yet,  I decided to approach them anyway, and they turned out to be the nicest ones. Among the various lessons I have learned, one is the typical, “don’t judge a book by its cover”! I have also refined my interviewing skills based upon this lesson.

The second day I went to interview people, I met a woman who had studied linguistics and who was very interested in the project. I gave her the Dartmouth professor’s business card, and she proceeded to contact him offering to help with the project, which he was very excited about! He appreciated my personable attitude and said that he believed I would do great on the Hmong project, as it seemed like I was very approachable. I felt proud that I could be such a help to the project, and the interviews made me feel as if I was a valuable component; more so than when I was simply doing analysis from home.

During the remainder of my time at home, the professor also gave me books to look through about the Hmong. I had previously read Anne Fadiman’s book, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” but besides that, did not know much about the community. I have already learned a lot more about them simply through the books. A lot of the material talked about the fact that many Hmong who now live in America feel as if Americans do not understand their culture, and misinterpret many cultural rituals and traditions. One thing I have noticed when reading these books is that it is much easier for me to retain the information when I am studying it for my own use, rather than simply for a test in class. I am excited to learn even more as I actually begin to interview the Hmong people.

“The Mong Oral Tradition” – A few of the books that the Dartmouth professor has provided me with.

 

I just got to Massachusetts yesterday, where I will be spending the remainder of my internship. Before I left, I stopped at Dartmouth to speak with the professor about what exactly I will be doing during my time here, since the work is mostly on my own. He suggested I contact the Brandeis student again who did Hmong field work a few years ago. He also gave me all of her previous Hmong contacts, notes and interviews. I have already contacted her and she told me which places she was most successful, most of which were in Providence, RI, though also one park where she met a lot of Hmong people in Fitchburg, MA. Otherwise, I should begin by researching online to find Hmong organizations in the area, as it very well may have changed a bit since the previous Brandeis student carried out fieldwork here. Once I start conducting interviews, they will include cultural questions as well as certain components that will allow the interviewees to speak Hmong, which we can analyze later to find interesting linguistic elements within the language.

I am nervous because I feel even more on my own now than before, but the professor is more than helpful in answering any questions, and I feel as if I am well prepared. He will check in with me every week to make sure I am doing well with the research, and he will either visit me here at some point, or I will make a trip back to speak with him and possibly even do some more of the New England dialect field work. And whenever I am not busy with Hmong work, there is always more acoustic analysis to be done! The professor has assured me that even if I do not make a life-changing discovery, making more Hmong contacts in the area and carrying out some interviews will be very helpful to him. And personally, I have already learned so much that I know this internship has been and will continue to be beneficial to me! I am learning skills both that I can use in life, and more specific skills that I can use for future linguistics work. Although I am about half way through, I am only beginning this part of the internship, and even though I am nervous I am also so excited to see what will happen!

Me working in my new room! Trying to beat the heat…

– Alexandra Patch ’14

Researching Cantonese-English-Mandarin Language Acquisition

More than halfway into my internship, I have been making good progress on my learning goals for the summer at the Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre. In order to monitor my growth and make sure that I am absorbing as much knowledge as possible here, I have been keeping track of my completed tasks and constantly asking the graduate students at the Center for feedback and comments.

At the moment, I am transcribing video recordings for the Hong Kong Bilingual Child Language Corpus. The corpus is a database of bilingual Cantonese-English child speech recordings, in audio and video formats. I use the linguistic software called CLAN to transcribe and mark down specific features that appear in the child’s speech. For example, an important feature to note is code-switching, which is when the child switches from language to another, in this case from Cantonese to English or vice versa. Moreover, we not only transcribe the speech production of the child subject, but just as importantly, the production of the adults who speak to the child, or in other words, the child’s language input. We can achieve a more complete understanding of the target child’s language attainment by examining both her linguistic input and output.

Transcribing target child Yarona’s (mainly) English conversation — click to expand!

Another project I have been working on is the Mandarin Receptive Vocabulary Test for Hong Kong Children. One of my goals for the summer was to conduct experiments that look at children’s acquisition of vocabulary and sentences to better understand how teachers and curriculum can provide more effective language education for children. My responsibility was to compile the results and calculated the scores of each child who took the MRVT. The test is given to children aged 4-6 to assess their acquisition of Mandarin, a second or third language after Cantonese and English for most children in Hong Kong. In the test, children hear a word spoken in Mandarin and are asked to point to the corresponding picture. Only one out of the four pictures is correct and the other options are carefully selected distractors. There is always one other picture that is similar sounding, and one that is similar in meaning. The results tell us how children are most likely to make mistakes, and indicate areas that parents and teachers can improve upon. Working on this project gave me a lot of insight into my long-term goal which is to pursue a career incorporating linguistics into education, so that children can be exposed to various languages at an early age to become global citizens when they grow up. They will be able to communicate with many people, yet also have a native language that reminds them of their heritage.

Sample question in the MRVT: which picture shows xiang1 jiao1?

Concurrently with the other projects, I am currently working to design a computer-based experiment to study the referential strategy of spatial relations. It is extremely challenging and I get a great deal of independence in researching and designing how the experiment will be set up and run. It requires a lot of creative thinking and research. I am learning about the scientific method and research process. Working at CBRC, I have gained skills that will be essential for me in the future. Specifically, I have gained skills in transcription, and am working at a much faster pace than when I first started.

– Miriam Wong ’14

Halfway through my time with Bible Raps!

As part of my internship with Bible Raps I had the opportunity to spend a week at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton GA, where I once was a camper and counselor myself. Although I have worked for Bible Raps before and since, and will be embarking on the second leg of my “camp tour” next week, I think my experience at camp Ramah Darom best represents my internship so far.

I had two main goals when I began this summer: 1) Get hands-on experience with the day to day tasks of a Jewish musician and a nonprofit organization (both of which I hope to be a part of someday), and 2) Run workshops, perform, and write. In other words, I wanted both the clerical and the creative; at camp I did both. I used constant contact to begin putting together a newsletter, edited, formatted and copied lyrics (like this Torah Rap Map to the rap “Jonah:”

and reached out online to the kids we had performed for.  I also helped with the workshops themselves, including working with the older kids in camp to write songs for their color war, which was a great throw-back for me. (The songs needed to involve their color, theme, region of the world, and be easy enough for everyone to sing, and incorporate Jewish texts, and if this wasn’t difficult enough, be completely in Hebrew. Yikes!). In the workshops, students learn a Jewish text, as well as the basics of writing a rap. (Videos from past workshops can be found here.) Students then split into groups to either make a beat with Matan or write with Matt and I to help. I loved seeing the campers faces after they laid down their tracks: beaming with pride, not just at what they had accomplished, but what they had learned. And I have learned so much; helping someone write is very difficult. There’s a thin line between giving suggestions and putting words in someone’s mouth, and most of these kids have had very little rapping experience. I worked on walking that line and keeping the ball rolling, while making sure the kids owned their work. Matt’s a pro at it, and is helping me improve as well.

I have a few proud moments from this week, some professional and some personal. When Matt handed over the reins to me to lead a workshop myself, I was a bit nervous but felt confident that I knew the ropes, and I did. I was certainly not perfect, and Matt and I went over what I could have done better. But working directly with the campers and facilitating such a unique experience was very rewarding. Later in the week, one of the older campers who we had worked with for color war said to me, “Don’t tell the other guys but you’re my favorite Bible Rapper.”  I smiled and we laughed, but it really meant a lot. This is more than a job, more than an incredible opportunity. For this summer at least, I am a Bible Rapper. I may not be a rapper yet, but I’m part of this amazing team that does so much good and brings so much learning to the world. That’s what I’m the most proud of.

P.S. Here is a video of Matt and Matan performing for some enthusiastic fourth graders!

– Eliana Light ’13

The Temporal Center of My Time at the Trauma Center

It’s been about a month since I first started my internship at the trauma center, and since then I have been exposed to many activities that have allowed me to work on my goals for this summer. Academically, I started the summer knowing I needed more experience doing clinical research in order to properly prepare myself for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology later on. I have been able to measure my progress through the number of studies I have found, analyzed and included in my literature. So far this number has climbed to over 100 articles, and I am sure it will climb higher over the next few weeks.

The trauma center has given me opportunity to interact with professionals across the trauma field, from psychologists to fellow volunteers, to people working the public relations front. I am learning a lot about each of these sectors and how they interact to form a complete organization aimed at preventing, treating, and building resilience to trauma. I have tracked my progress in this area by the amount and length of interactions I have had with the various professionals at the Center.

My personal goals are probably the area where I have met with the most success so far. With such kind people, I see more and more why I love my time at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma alone. For example, last week we held a fund raiser and I was assigned the role of “camera guy.” I knew a little about film, thanks to a class offered at Brandeis University, but I still had trouble with the technology. The ICTP staff’s response was immediate, and they offered not only help but feedback that was constructive and positive. They also drove me part-way back home, even though we finished our day’s work after 10:00 P.M. that night.

 

Photo Credit: Amos Nachoum

I think I am most proud of the fact that I have come to a place that affords me not only the type of career I want to have, but the type of individual I want to be: professional yet humble, conservative with evidence yet open-minded to creative ideas for trauma interventions. I have worked and wished for years for a place where I could find even one of these. Now that I have both, I feel that a serene sense of balance has taken over.

My work at the trauma center has helped me build new skills in storytelling through video, helped me improve my Hebrew, allowed me to work on research skills, honed my filming skills originally learned at at a class at Brandeis, and has bolstered my ability to pitch ideas. My improved Hebrew will also help me with my coursework, as I intend on taking at least one Hebrew course in addition to the amount required. My film skills will help me secure other ways of helping out at future events of the trauma center, and will also help me in searching for jobs that require a variety of skills. Lastly, to build a career in research, or even to give myself a voice in any campus, being able to effectively pitch and communicate my ideas will be an invaluable skill.

 

Photo Credit: Amos Nachoum

– Rocky Reichman ’13

Week 1 at the Jewish Eco Seminars

Shalom from Jerusalem! I am just about to finish my first week of interning for the Jewish Eco Seminars and so far it has been a fantastic experience!

The Jewish Eco Seminars engages the Jewish community by educating people about the powerful outcomes of combining ecological innovation, Jewish values, and modern Israel. The organization reaches people in Israel, as well as North and South America. It is one of the branches of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, which works to foster dialogue between the religious leaders and communities in Jerusalem on the topic of environmental issues. The Jewish Eco Seminars provides a great deal of opportunities and information. They offer many programs and trips ranging from exploring Israeli organic farming and learning about the country’s water problems to learning how to build with mud and much more!

Jewish Eco Seminars is based out of a small office (converted apartment) in the Nachlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem – less than a 5 minute walk from the Machane Yehuda Shuk (open market – see photo)! Most of the work that I have been doing this week is inside the office, though, occasionally some of the work involves going out a bit.

At the beginning of the week I was given the option of many possible tasks to work on. They ranged from publicity to research to video editing and more. I chose to spend my week focusing on fundraising because it was something that I’d never experienced before. This week I have been researching potential donors and providing my supervisor with information about them. I look for information such as where people and foundations already donate their money and what their interests are, and from this determine whether I think we may have a connection. Next, we get in touch with the groups who seem interesting and set up a time to meet with them. Before each meeting, we do more research on the group or person so that we will have a complete background knowledge of their previous actions in order to connect on a higher level and better understand them. I have learned so much just in this one week! Next week I plan on continuing some of the fundraising work and also exploring more projects!

On a different note, two years ago, the Jewish Eco Seminars was founded by PresenTense, an organization that helps Jewish innovators to use “their ideas and energy to revitalize the established Jewish community.” I came across Jewish Eco Seminars while speaking with a friend who is involved with PresenTense. I emailed the director expressing interest in interning with them and after a meeting/interview we realized that we were a great match for each other. After college I hope to become a Jewish environmental educator so I quickly realized that this internship would be great for me to gain experience in my field!

If this sounds interesting to you, feel free to like the Jewish Eco Seminars on facebook!

In addition, I’d like to share with you a great video that the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development released last week in conjunction with the Rio+20 UN Earth Summit. Click here to watch One Home!

– Ariana Berlin ’14

First Weeks at Ostional Wildlife Refuge

Greetings from Ostional National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica!  I’ve been working here for a few weeks and it’s been a great experience so far.  The Refuge is located in the small town of Ostional, on the northwestern Pacific coast of the country.  This protected area was created in 1983 by the Costa Rican government to preserve a major nesting site of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).  I found out about this project by emailing a supervisor in charge of the Guanacaste Conservation Area, who put me in touch with one of the researchers in charge of the work in Ostional, who offered me the opportunity to be an intern for the summer here.

The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle is distributed worldwide in tropical areas and Ostional is the largest nesting area for this species of sea turtle in Costa Rica.  The Olive Ridley is famous for the phenomenon of mass nesting, called arribadas, although two other species of sea turtles, the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles, also nest here.  The refuge spans 18 kilometers (11 miles) of coastline, extending 200 meters (700 feet) onto land, and 6 kilometers (3 nautical miles) out to sea.

Sunset at Ostional Wildlife Refuge

The majority of my work takes place at night, when the turtles come up on the beach to nest.  To get an idea of what a nesting turtle does, here is a video produced by WWF.  Along with other staff members, I lead groups of volunteers on nightly beach patrols to find nesting turtles and record their location and size, the number of eggs they lay, the size of the nest, the time it takes for the turtle to lay the eggs, among other data.  Finally, we tag the turtle so that we can keep track of her, if she comes back to nest in Ostional.  During the day, we excavate and exhume nests to examine the eggs and determine how many turtles hatched from each nest and what stage of development the unhatched eggs reached before death.  Additionally, we perform a weekly beach clean up and coordinate hiking trips for the volunteers who come to the refuge.  Most of the volunteers do not speak Spanish and many of the workers do not speak English, so my duties include quite a bit of translation.  In my free time, I give English lessons to several of the staff members and their children, as well as enjoy the beautiful beach.

A turtle returning to the ocean during a recent arribada

My first week here consisted mainly of training and getting to know the staff here at Ostional Wildlife Refuge.  I spent about a week being taught how to lead groups on the turtle patrols and about all of the procedures in place here.  I also had a lot of time to get to know the staff here at the refuge.  About a dozen or so people are working here at any given time, including researchers, park rangers, research assistants, and the cook, in addition to the constantly rotating groups of volunteers.  I hope to continue to learn a great deal this summer from the staff here at the refuge.  Most of them have lived in Ostional their whole lives and have a lot to teach me.  I’m also hoping to witness a large arribada as the rainy season continues.  The organization I’m working with is vital to the conservation efforts of this sea turtle species, and I’m looking forward to continuing my work here.

– Sarah Steele ’13

My First Week at NBC News Washington Bureau

I am interning in the investigative department of NBC News in the Washington Bureau.  I will be observing and assisting a group of three producers and two on-air correspondents who create content for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, MSNBC, and the Today show.  I first became interested in investigative journalism through my job at Brandeis as a researcher on the Justice Brandeis Innocence Project at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.  I discovered I have a real passion for digging and exposing injustices, and wanted to immerse myself in the field.  This is why I chose to “study abroad” in Washington, D.C. last semester on the Washington Semester Program, an intensive journalism seminar program through American University.  It provided the perfect opportunity to become fully engaged in all forms of journalism, and allowed me to hear about the possibilities of a career in journalism from many prominent reporters.

I decided to stay in Washington for the summer and continue to explore my interest in investigative journalism.  I applied to the internship program at the NBC News Washington Bureau by sending a cover letter and resume directly to one of NBC’s investigative correspondents, who forwarded my information to an investigative producer.  I interviewed, completed a written test, and was lucky enough to secure an internship.

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838587/

My first week has mainly consisted of orientation, tours, and meeting the people who I will be working with this summer.  It took a while for me to familiarize myself with the computer system, especially one of the programs NBC uses called I-News.  I-News is basically an information sharing network which has everything from incoming feeds on breaking news, to scripts for upcoming segments of Nightly News, to lists of what will be covered by the Washington Bureau each day.  As an intern, I have the opportunity observe a lot of the news covered by the Washington Bureau, including congressional hearings, tapings, and press conferences.  All of these opportunities can be found by searching through I-News, which is why I wanted to understand the program right away.

My main responsibilities as an intern include observing the investigative team and researching.  In just my first week, I’ve researched a possible lead for an investigative piece and observed the editing of a breaking news spot for Nightly News on the John Edwards trial verdict.  The verdict came close to air time, so there was not much time for the spot to be put together.  It was exciting to watch the editing process and observe the decisions which a producer must make under a tight deadline.  I am looking forward to more opportunities throughout the summer to learn from experienced producers and correspondents about investigative journalism, and to be part of the excitement of NBC’s Washington Bureau.

Source: http://blog.signalnoise.com/2008/07/17/television-logos-nbc/

– Abigail Kagan ’13

My First Week at the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab

(Image source)

I began work this week at the Lifespan Emotional Development (LEDLab) at Northeastern University. This psychology lab is headed by Principal Investigator Derek Isaacowitz, a researcher and professor who worked at Brandeis before Northeastern. I chose to spend my summer with this lab because I had wanted to get involved in Professor Isaacowitz’s research on emotion and attention across the lifespan since he was my instructor for Social Psychology during my freshman year. I actually interviewed for a position as a Research Assistant (RA) with this lab while it was still at Brandeis, but had to defer joining for a semester because of prior commitments. I thought I had missed my chance to join the lab when it moved to Northeastern in January 2012. Lucky for me, support from WOW made it possible for me to have my chance to be an RA this summer.

The LEDLab investigates “the links between attention and emotion throughout the adult lifespan…how individuals of different ages manage their emotions, and what role attention plays in emotion regulation and maintenance of well-being” (lab website). In order to study the way that adults of different ages attend to information and how that relates to the emotions that they experience, we make use of an eye tracker. which continuously tracks where a person’s gaze is across the screen. This lets us to know what a person focuses on: is is the emotional expressions on people’s faces or is it irrelevant details of the scene which allow a person to avoid facing emotional content? Believe it or not, this varies among ages. In order to better understand what eye tracking is really like, here is a photo of my lab manager and P.I. using the equipment.

(Image source)

You might wonder why knowing this type of information matters. However, understanding how people relate to emotional content has important practical uses for society. For example, the study I am working on is looking at how people of different ages (younger adults, middle adults and older adults) process health-relevant information differently if the focus is on emotions or information. Professor Isaacowtiz published on this topic in article called “Looking, Feeling and Doing: Are There Age Differences in Attention, Mood and Behavioral Responses to Skin Cancer Information” in the journal Health Psychology earlier this year. I will not go into detail on the findings, since they are a bit complicated to explain here, but they did find a difference in the way older and younger people processed information that was important to their health and well-being. This knowledge is important in knowing how to reach out to people in the most effective manner to protect their health.

My expectations for learning this summer relate to both the particular skill set that I hope to gain, and knowledge about myself and my future career goals. The particular skill set I think I will learn is the nitty-gritty details of psychology research: running human subjects, coding and entering data, analyzing data, and discussing findings. For myself, I think that this summer will help me figure out which path I want to take with psychology: will I want to focus on research, or clinical work? By gaining a deeper understanding of what research really entails, I will be able to make a more informed choice for my future.

– Leah Igdalsky ’14

RECENT STUDY: MASS AUDUBON’S JOPPA FLATS CONFIRMS STARFISH NOW “EXTINCT”… INTERNS LEFT IN CONFUSION

Mass Audubon at Joppa Flats

At every team meeting (where we set our team goals) at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats, we create news headlines that describe the recent weeks’ events.  I felt it was rather appropriate to start off my blog with a similar headline.  A starfish? A what? I don’t know what that is.  One of the first things I learned at Joppa Flats is that we call them by their real name—a sea star.  Contrary to urban legend, a starfish is actually not a fish.

Speaking of sea stars, we find these creatures daily in the tide pools at the Sandy Point State Reservation at Plum Island. In only two weeks at work, I have taken multiple school groups out to the nationally protected wildlife refuge in hopes of discovering amazing organisms in their natural habitat.  From kindergarten to high school, hundreds of children come to Joppa Flats daily to learn, discover, and explore.  As an intern for the Audubon Society, it is my job to facilitate this learning and exploration of these young scientists to help them make their own scientific discoveries.

The mission of the Massachusetts Audubon Society is one that I am very proud to uphold this summer.  We dedicate ourselves to protecting the nature of Massachusetts for both people and wildlife.  The wildlife sanctuary at Joppa Flats provides families with clean places for relaxation and recreation, a beautiful backdrop for birding from an observation deck, and a change to learn about the wildlife of the nearby Plum Island (with it’s own marine life touch tanks).  In addition to being the largest conservation organization in New England and being a strong advocator for environmental policies, Mass Audubon provides education programs.  The summer camps provide children with the opportunity to explore and connect with the natural world while developing their interests for the outdoors.

As a summer camp intern, I will be responsible for teaching children aged 6-12 on environmental awareness, conservation, coastal habitats, and local animals.  I will be developing fun science projects using live animals, interactive crafts, and games.  This is such a great opportunity because the kids are able to appreciate science with hands-on activities and obtain a valuable education outside of the classroom!

Even though I am in a teaching position, I am finding that I am learning so many valuable skills.  I also know that I’m going to continue to learn so much about the ecology, marine biology, and the natural world of the New England coast.  I’m already beginning to warn my friends and family that they will never want to go to the beach with me again as I’m sure I’ll never stop blabbering with my extensive knowledge of the local ecology.  In addition to science, I am learning so much about the other interns and even learning plenty about myself along the way.

Not only do I care for the natural environment, my favorite part of the job here at Joppa is the work environment!  Marine biology has always been something that I have loved. I have never been around such a great group of people who also have this passion (and are willing to have conversations with me about it)!  In addition to just being cool and fascinating individuals, the other 8 interns all bring something valuable to our team.  We are all from different schools from several states, have a wide diversity of majors and academic interests, all do a wide variety of sports and clubs, and have a varied taste in music (yes, some of the interns even listen to country music all the time!).  Yet, although we are all unique, we all have the same passion for the environment, education, and science!  Not only are the interns awesome, the summer camp directors/teacher-naturalists that we work with are very welcoming, supportive, insightful, and ENTHUSIASTIC.  They send the interns daily emails explaining how great of a job we are doing, are always accepting new ideas from us, and immediately trusted us with so much responsibility with leading school programs.  My employers lead by example: their enthusiasm and passion for the job is evident throughout the day and it definitely influences my own work ethic.  A perfect example of their characters is that even though they have a very tight budget, they made us write down what gifts they could buy us for $0.25, $0.50, $1, and $5 if we ever need a gift to cheer us up.  It’s nice to have people care about me and truly appreciate all of my hard work.

Most importantly, there are other people my age that live every week like it’s shark week! YES! This internship and my fellow interns are really making me realize that marine biology and education are right career paths for me.  I wouldn’t be realizing this had it not been for Mass Audubon.  I’m very excited to continue to grow this summer and find out more about my love for the marine world and the amazing organization that I am so proud to work for.

Also: LIKE Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center Facebook Page

Matt Eames and Cam Jenkins discuss the safety and discoveries of the tide pools for the school field trip!
Tidepool at Joppa Flats

– Matt Eames ’13

First weeks at the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine

I am interning this summer in Kiev with the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU). The STCU is a State Department program that helps weapons experts from countries of the former Soviet Union to find peaceful employment so they don’t sell their knowledge to unfavorable parties (terrorists, rogue nations). It’s part of a larger State Department program to reduce the threats that have outlived the Cold War.

I am double majoring in Political Science and Russian Studies, and I’m especially interested in nuclear issues, counter-terrorism, and diplomacy, so working at the STCU is perfect. During the school year I knew I wanted to do something involving those issues, and in researching State Department non-proliferation programs I found the STCU. I wrote to the Board of Directors inquiring about an internship, and received a favorable response.

So far my internship has gone quite well. Everyone at the office is very nice. I like the work that I am doing. So far I’m researching funding opportunities (grants, mostly) for Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS: a loose confederation of the countries that formed the Soviet Union) scientists. In the near future I will be presenting to scientists on possible funding opportunities, working with scientists on filling out research proposals, and co-editing STCU publications. I will also be traveling to Moldova next week to attend the STCU Board Meeting. That will be a really neat opportunity, as there will be representatives from the US State Department and Department of Energy, from the Canadian government, and from the European Union there to access the STCU’s work. I’m very excited not only to visit Moldova but also for the opportunity to speak to the US government officials.

The whole summer thus far, from living in Kiev to working at the STCU, has been a fantastic learning experience and a most excellent adventure.  Before, when I thought of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD scientists, I primarily thought of nuclear weapons and physics. But, now I realize, as the term “WMD” refers to chemical and biological weapons as well, the scientists the STCU works with come from a much broader range of scientific disciplines. I’ve also learned a great deal about the grant process. Most of the American charitable foundations, like the Gates Foundation or the Packard Foundation, only give grants to US citizens, something I did not realize before. Just being in the office and chatting to colleagues at lunch-time has also been so interesting.

It’s been a lot of fun for me to explore the city. I love history, and Kiev is full of it. One can walk past a church from the 11th century, an imposing, cement example of Soviet architecture, a McDonalds, and a statue of Cossacks galloping by to defend the city, all on the same block.  To compound the adventure, the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, or Euro 2012 as it’s more colloquially known, is taking place in Poland and Ukraine this year. This is a special moment of Ukraine, as it’s the first time a former Soviet republic has hosted a European football championship. The incredible enthusiasm displayed by fans (and really the whole city), is quite something.

This National Geographic article vividly describes the dangers should WMDs fall into the wrong hands (and mentions the work the STCU does and the dangers it tries to prevent).

– Jennifer Ginsberg ’14

My First Week in the Tea Industry

By this time, I have completed almost two weeks of my internship at the Asia Tea Company Limited. Asia Tea Co., Ltd. is a leading tea manufacturer and exporter in Vietnam, after three months of searching for internships in the tea industry. Asia Tea Co., Ltd. processes and produces fresh tea buds as well as high-quality black tea—the most popular type of tea sold in the world. It exports over 7,000 tons of tea each year to more than twenty nations in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. It owns numerous tea plants and factories in the highland region of Vietnam, and employs thousands of workers. The company is unique among Vietnamese tea corporations because it not only aims at making high profits, but also strives to promote Vietnamese tea culture abroad and foster the domestic tea industry.

Asia Tea Co., Ltd. is on the seventeenth floor of the second building from the left.

I spent about three months last year, from October to December, searching for an internship in the Vietnamese tea industry over the summer. Fortunately, last November, I came across the website of Asia Tea Co., Ltd. In December, I submitted my resume for a summer internship position as a Market Analyst. After reviewing my application, the CEO interviewed me via phone. We discussed my interests in economics and tea, and how I would contribute to the company. Several days later, the CEO offered me an internship.

As a Market Analyst at Asia Tea Co., Ltd., I will collect and analyze empirical data about foreign markets, and write weekly reports for the company. I will also build complicated charts about supply-demand and cost-revenue. In the modern business world, quantitative methods and computer skills are extremely important. I hope to master statistical and econometric techniques as well as advanced software applications such as STATA, Excel, and XLSTAT-PRO after the summer. I also want to learn to negotiate contracts in a professional way under the supervision of the CEO.

On the first day of my internship at the company, I was both excited and worried. I did not know how everything would go and how people would think about me. But the friendliness of the CEO and other members of the company impressed me. Everything went so well. The CEO introduced me to the staff and provided me basic information about the operation of the company. During the first two weeks, I primarily learned to use computer software programs, and to collect and analyze empirical data about foreign markets. On the following week, I would work on the project of analyzing a foreign market the CEO chooses.

After the first weeks at the company, I have learned a great deal about the tea industry and the methods of analyzing empirical data in the real world. After the summer, I want to have a deeper understanding of the tea industry in Vietnam, expand my networking contacts in the industry, and learn more about the art of management. In the future, I hope that I can contribute to the development of the Vietnamese tea industry.

– Duc Tran ’13

A Week in the Musée de Montmartre

I’ve always envied my little sister who, from eight years of age, knew she wanted to study Nefertiti and the ancient Egyptian culture. She’s now is in college, pursuing an archaeology degree. She speaks Arabic and can read hieroglyphs. And she’s dead set on this. I’m not built like my sister. She’s confident about her skills, knows what she wants, and how to get it. For me, my talents and interests lie all over the place. When March rolled around, I was anxious. I’d never had an internship before: who would want me? What I did know is that I love the arts and humanities, and this ultimately led me to an internship at the Musée de Montmartre.

The Eiffel Tower at the end of the day

I had been studying in Paris for an entire academic year, and during that time I took an art history class focusing on French art in the past two centuries. The professor was incredible, animated and devoted to her subject, and her enthusiasm floated like a bright yellow miasma around her perfectly coiffed bob. She helped me realize that I had become attached to art history: it played into all of my interests and skills.

So, I asked my professor if she knew of any art galleries or perhaps even museums that might like an intern for the summer. And what do you know? It turns out she’s the curator for the Musée de Montmartre (as if she wasn’t awesome enough already) and said she’d be glad to have me work for her.

So, today concludes a hectic first week with the Musée de Montmartre and my head is turning from everything that I’ve encountered. Right now, we are in the process of preparing the future exhibition “Autour du Chat Noir à Montmartre, Arts et Plaisirs 1880-1910” which will take place from the Sept 13, 2012 to January 13, 2013. The exhibition will focus around the importance of the Chat Noir (or Black Cat) which was a famous cabaret in the heart of Montmartre frequented by many famous artists and intellectuals during this golden age of Paris.

Moulin de la Galette, a cabaret in the heart of Montmartre

The museum’s goal is to showcase and celebrate the incredible body of work that flourished in area of Montmartre, especially in the 19th century when Paris was the center of the art world. They call it “The Old Montmartre.” My professor (now my internship director) and I spent some time getting acquainted with the history of this artists’ district, which is located just a stone’s throw from the famous Sacré Coeur church that overlooks Paris. I’ve also gone into the reserves to take a look at the daunting tasks I will have to tackle soon. At the moment, my duties include frantic translation of press documents and creation of reports for the Museum (without these, the museum can’t borrow any works of art!). But, in the coming weeks I will be personally handling and cataloguing works of art, two-hundred year old newspapers, and posters made by Toulouse-Lautrec and Steinlen. I’ll also be researching for future exhibitions, helping with the museology of exhibits, organizing the trades and lending works of art to other museums in the world, and even working on future museum catalogs! My supervisor is really serious about the mission of the museum, to educate the public about the wonderful works produced by Parisian artists during the heyday of Montmartre’s artistic period. And, as usual, I feel her enthusiasm resonating with me.

My premier goal this summer is to center myself and discover what it is I would like to do after Brandeis. As a student with only a vague idea of what the future holds for her, the atmosphere of the museum is bound to help me see if a career in museum work is for me. I have an incredible director who is one of the most driven and fantastic women I’ve ever met. I’m surrounded by the colorful history of Montmartre. And I’m looking forward to working in an area of Paris that sparked the creative powers of hundreds of people; hopefully I’ll be able to profit from that, too.

– Sujin Shin ’13

The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma: Week One

My first week in Israel brought with it a hot environment outside, but a warm one inside my internship site. The staff at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma are some of most humble, kind, and compassionate people I have ever met.  And, being from Brandeis, this is saying a lot!

The mission of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma is multifold. Besides offering direct treatment to survivors of trauma, they also implement programs to help individuals and communities build psychological resilience in the face of great trauma. Based in Jerusalem, Israel, the Center’s work extends across the globe. Within Israel, they work with an array of survivors, from survivors of terrorist attacks to medics and soldiers who served in elite combat units. Outside Israel, they help implement programs for children as well as adults survivors, including countries such as Haiti and the United States following Hurricane Katrina. On top of all this, a large part of what they do involves researching intervention strategies.

As an intern at the Center, my primary responsibility is to assist with research in the Child & Adolescence Clinical Services Unit. I am working on my own research project as well as on a special YouTube video the Center is creating. In addition, I also assist with PR activities.

droplet

The process of securing my internship was straightforward. I had worked at the Center before, and was still in touch with my former supervisor. After corresponding via e-mail for a few weeks, we worked out a plan for a main project and supplemental work I could do for this summer. After that, it was only a matter of staying focused on my goals and securing funding. Thanks to WOW, I am here now, doing exactly what I hoped to be doing.

My first week involved very little turbulence. I struggled a bit with jet lag and had to fight to stay awake on at least one afternoon, however my passion for this type of work (and dousing my face with a little cold water) literally washed my fatigue away. Getting a grasp on my Hebrew has been challenging, but day by day I become more comfortable with the language.

The summer has already proved to be an exciting one, and I am still only in its first stretches. I expect to increase my research experience this summer, but also to gain new experiences in combining media with psychology and meeting other volunteers at the Center. Also important, I hope to correspond with several people in the Center, and learn more about this type of profession, psychology in Israel, and what my career options are for the future.

My Resilience Workbook

– Rocky Reichman ’13

Week 1 at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic

It has been almost two weeks since I started into my internship at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Kentucky Children’s Hospital is an integral part of the University of Kentucky (UK) HealthCare, located in the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, KY. For those of you who may not know, BMI stands for Body Mass Index. The Pediatric High BMI Clinic at UK serves children between the ages of 2 and 18 years who are overweight or obese with a BMI of above the 85th percentile for their age and sex.

University of Kentucky

I spent almost the entire winter break searching for an internship over the summer. I did research on my own and made phone calls and wrote emails to various health-related organizations. Luckily I was informed about the Pediatric High BMI Clinic by a family friend who knows of my interests.. At the end of the winter break, I had the opportunity to meet with the director of the clinic. After discussing my previous related experience and my enthusiastic interests in healthcare, she kindly offered me a summer internship.

Kentucky Children's Hospital logo

My main responsibilities are divided into two parts. I will spend most of my time in the clinic working directly with patients by calculating and recording the anthropometric measurements and by taking surveys from patients and families regarding dietary and physical activity history, past medical history and family history. Under the supervision of the director, I will also assist the work of the clinical staff member and learn the ethics of working in a clinical setting. In addition to working in the clinic, I will also participate in projects, such as creating and maintaining a database for the patients seen at the clinic, and conducting surveys with patients to follow up on their progress after their visits.

The truth is that I was very excited and also a little intimated walking into the clinic on my first day. To my relief, the clinical staff was very friendly and helpful. The physician, nurse coordinator, and registered dietitian each gave me an introduction and a training session. On the first day, I primarily worked with the nurse coordinator. I learned to take accurate height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure measurements on patients. After sending the patients and their families to their examination room, I calculated their BMI values and plotted their weight, stature, and BMI on growth charts, and prepared all of the documents for the physican’s evaluation. From the growth chart the physician can easily compare the patient’s growth to national percentiles and to observe the patient’s growth by age.

Growth chart for girls 2 to 18 years of age

On the following days, I took turns working with the dietitian and the physician. The dietitian shared and discussed with me the patients’ diets and physical activity. Depending on the patient’s condition, the dietitian varied her methods in interacting with the patients. I assisted her in counseling the patients and their families about importance of healthy nutrition and exercise. In several instances, we demonstrated a healthy balanced meal with visual props that resembled real food. While I was working alongside the physician, I observed that she focused more on the patients’ medical problems that accompany their overweight or obese status. I learned more about the comorbidities of obesity such as hypertension, sleep apnea, joint and feet problems.

I feel like I have already learned a lot at the clinic from directly working with patients and healthcare professionals. I am excited to do more hands-on work as I become more familiar with the routine at the clinic. I also look forward to starting on the data analysis and survey projects outside of the clinic. I hope that I can put my knowledge from statistical and science courses at Brandeis to good use. With more understanding of childhood obesity, I hope that I can contribute to fighting this epidemic, one small step at a time.

– Yan Chu ’13

Week One with The Bible Raps Project

When people ask me what I’m doing this summer, I always smile, shake my head, and laugh a little. Not because I don’t want to tell them, but because it’s kind of hard to explain.  A few people have even asked, “So you’re going around the country to wrap Bibles? Like at bookstores?” It’s a logical thing to assume when I say “I’m touring with Bible Raps this summer.”

The Bible Raps Project is a unique teaching tool that uses rap to engage students in Torah stories and Jewish values. It was founded by Matt Barr in 2007, when he found he could get his Hebrew school students excited about learning by rapping with them. Bible Raps has two main components: a song Toolkit and workshops. Matt created a Toolkit revolving around songs that he has written. (Listen to an example from an upcoming album. Each song has a “rap-map” showing how specific lines connect to passages in the Torah and midrashim (commentary). Hundreds of teachers currently use the Toolkit in their classrooms.

Bible Raps also travels around the world creating original raps with students of all ages. Students learn a few Jewish texts about a core topic and then split into groups to write. They then record their song, which is professionally mixed, and film an accompanying video.  In the end they can be proud of the work of art they created.  Students are able to take ownership of their history and pride in their community by rapping the words they have written.  I saw this model at work when I was a counselor at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, GA. In this video, it’s clear to see how excited these girls are. (I was there for the outdoor performance, it was awesome! )

As education coordinator on Hillel Board, I was able to bring Bible Raps to Brandeis for a weekend. They taught about the Toolkit, did some concerts, and then hosted a Brandeis workshop about Tu B’shvat, the “birthday” of the trees. We had so much fun writing and recording, and what we made is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!  In the middle of it all, I went up to Matt and said, half-jokingly, “Do you need an intern this summer?” To my surprise, he said yes, and after a few months of emails and phone calls, here I am!

Last week I spent a few days at Matt’s home in Philadelphia. Bible Raps doesn’t have a physical office space, but we decided it would be productive to have some in-person training before we take off for the summer. I had no idea that so much goes in to this project: grant writing, managing contacts, fundraising, booking tours, as well as writing and recording, and I got a crash course in all of those things. I learned how to use a Tascam pocket recorder that will be on the road with us.

I also helped begin a “how-to” guide for running the workshop, which will be turned into a fully-fledged user’s manual over the summer.  My other responsibilities this summer include working on a fundraising campaign for the new album, helping with grant writing, and documenting the tour. In two weeks we head out on the road to our first stop at my old camp, Ramah Darom, where we’ll have a whole week of workshopping, performing, and writing. See you from the road!

– Eliana Light ’13

American Diplomacy in Madrid

My name is Ivan and I am a rising junior majoring in Economics and International & Global Studies. This summer I am interning for the United States Department of State Foreign Service at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain. The Foreign Service carries out American foreign policy around the world. Its mission is to promote peace, development, and democracy abroad for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.

I have wanted to intern for the Foreign Service since I was a senior in high school, when I learned about the internship opportunity through the Department of State website. When the application period opened last November, I worked closely with career counselors at Hiatt to make sure that my application reflected strong candidacy. I applied to the internship online and was offered a position in December upon receiving security clearance. After completing extensive paperwork and being interviewed by federal investigators, I successfully received my security clearance and a final offer during early March. The Embassy in Madrid is divided into five different sections: management, economic, political, public affairs, and consular. I am working at the consular and economic sections.

The consular section is divided in the Visas unit and the American Citizen Services unit (ACS). Visas is in charge of processing both immigrant and non-immigrant visas for foreign nationals who wish to travel to the United States. ACS takes care of American citizens in Spain, from processing new passports to going on prison visits and handling abduction cases. I am currently working in Visas assisting consuls in processing an average of 200 daily visa requests. I work with the general public receiving cases, entering passport data, and taking fingerprints.

The economic section works mainly with the Spanish government to handle the current economic crisis, but also works on issues of energy, sustainability, economic development, and elaborates reports on the economy that are later sent to Washington. I am currently working on a fundraising project for the Embassy’s annual 4th of July party. This is the largest and most important event of the Embassy, with around 3,000 attendees ranging from World War II veterans to Spanish government officials and foreign diplomats. I work with an Economic Officer soliciting financial support from both American and Spanish businesses. I organize and update all information using a spreadsheet and personally speak with business executives on behalf of the Embassy about the event and financial support. I also contribute to the daily economic press report that is sent back to the U.S. by reading articles from local newspapers and summarizing them.


So far, my experience at the Embassy has been absolutely wonderful. During the first week, I met with officers from all around the Embassy. These meetings, which ranged from health unit personnel to diplomatic security special agents, were a great opportunity to ask a lot of questions and to understand the bigger picture of how the Embassy carries out its mission. All officers are very nice and approachable, and they really make an effort to integrate interns and answer all of our questions. I had the chance to meet with the chiefs of the Visa and ACS units, the Deputy Chief of Mission, the Consul General, and many other very experienced officers who were highly interesting to talk to. It was also especially interesting talking to the General Services officer, who explained how housing for U.S. diplomats is arranged. With regards to work, I was fully integrated into the staff and was working in a fairly independent manner. I feel I have already gained a lot of valuable and insider knowledge about the Foreign Service and American diplomacy in general. I have also improved my multitasking, data analysis, communication, and customer service skills. Hopefully, I will have a deep understanding of the mission and dynamics of the U.S. Foreign Service and a clear view of what a career as a Foreign Service Officer is like by the end of the internship. I will network across every Section of the Embassy to better understand its functioning and its overall mission in Spain, and will continue to develop my work skills.

Feel free to ask any questions about the Embassy, the Foreign Service, Spain, or anything else!

– Ivan Ponieman ’14

 

Exploring the “linguistic genius” of bilingual children: Week 1 at CBRC

I began my internship at the Childhood Bilingualism Research Center (CBRC) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong a few weeks ago. The Center is one of the only institutes in the world dedicated to studying Cantonese-English and Cantonese-Mandarin bilingual children. The Center’s mission is to research bilingual and multilingual Hong Kong children and to use its findings to spread local awareness about multilingualism’s positive outcomes. Working at CBRC, I will be mostly assisting with research experiments, in data collection and analysis, and transcribing Cantonese, English and Mandarin speech data from video recordings.

Inventory check
Creating an inventory of all the video and audio files in the corpus database

After learning about the research of Prof. Virginia Yip, director of CBRC, for my Ling 190b “Heritage Language Experience” final project last spring, I was inspired by her work and contacted her through email to arrange a visit to the Center. During my visit, Prof. Yip and her graduate students introduced me to their current projects, including corpus-based studies and psycholinguistic experiments. The grad students even conducted an informal interview with me, since I was also once a bilingual child just like the young subjects of their studies. I knew right away that CBRC would be the perfect internship site for me this summer, and Prof. Yip kindly offered me the position after we discussed specific tasks and objectives.

On May 15-16, as a pre-internship experience, I attended the Conference on Bilingualism and Comparative Linguistics, where I listened to eye-opening lectures and talked with professors and graduate students from around the world. The most fascinating presentation was by Prof. Patricia Kuhl, who showed us neuroimaging scans of a baby language learner’s brain, in her keynote speech entitled “The linguistic genius of bilingual babies.” The Conference culminated with a dialogue on sound change between Prof. William Labov and Prof. William Wang, an unprecedented and special occasion. It was an extremely intellectually-engaging two days, learning from so many scholars in this particular subfield of linguistics who play pivotal roles in advancing research.

Listening to Prof. William Wang discuss his theories on language evolution

One of my main goals of the internship is to apply theoretical knowledge I gained from Brandeis linguistics courses to practical research done at the Center. I will soon be analyzing data for a study looking at the syntax of bilingual children’s Mandarin speech. Moreover, to prepare for the transcription tasks, I have been familiarizing myself with standard notations and CLAN, the software that I will be using. The transcriptions will go into the CHILDES corpus, an online multimedia database that makes linguistic data openly available to all scholars wishing to study Hong Kong bilingual children. It is a resource I have also been using for my linguistics courses. My time so far at CBRC has been very fulfilling and I look forward to learning and accomplishing even more as the summer progresses.

– Miriam Wong ’14

The Start of a Tasty Internship at Brandeis University

A bowl of fanesca Source:www.schullo.com.ec

In the Latin American country of Ecuador, during semana santa or Holy Week, everyone eats the creamy soup, fanesca. Fanesca is an old Spanish word that literally means mixture and its significance is apparent if you try the hearty soup made of every grain in the kitchen, peanut butter, cheese, and white fish (and that doesn’t cover the small food items you add as garnishes later). At first, you might find yourself being slightly ill-at-ease by the thick consistency as the cream-based liquid coats your taste buds and the slightly fishy overtones mix with the peanutty aroma. It’s difficult to notice that there are beans and quinoa mixed in as you reluctantly finish the first bowl. The next days give rise to more fanesca and over the course of the week you find yourself enjoying the soup more and asking for seconds (maybe even thirds): congratulations! You’ve experienced the behavioral phenomenon called the attenuation of neophobia. Neophobia being, literally, a fear of the new and its decrease over the course of days has been studied as a model of learning and memory. Recently, however, research from the Katz lab at Brandeis University has shown that there is another version of this attenuation that occurs over the course of twenty to thirty minutes. This recent discovery will form the basis of my internship this summer.

Source: colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com

The Katz lab at Brandeis University has a history of using a seemingly simple neural system (i.e. the chemical senses system) to reveal more about neural activity, systems interactions, and behavioral processes. It is a research laboratory in Waltham, MA that uses rats as a model organism for these systems. The lab is under the direction of Professor Donald Katz and has ten members ranging from post-doctorate fellows to undergraduates. As mentioned above, my internship will require that I perform a new and exciting experiment regarding the recently described behavior; the project is, in essence, to inject a chemical compound directly into the brain blocking the often-seen attenuation and determining if there is any effect on the more rapid, and less understood, attenuation. Eventually, I will be responsible for analyzing the data which will shed more light on this mysterious aspect of taste memory. This data may also serve as a foundation for future research that has clinical implications because the same circuitry has been implicated in anxiety disorders.

I have known about the Katz lab since I started my education at Brandeis with Professor Katz as my academic adviser. Sophomore year I gained a better understanding of the work done in the lab, at which time my interest grew. Starting in my junior year I worked in the lab part-time, and during this time I worked on a former post-doctorate fellow’s project that was used to describe the rapid attenuation. From this, Professor Katz and I designed the new project that forms the basis of my internship.

Though I just started on Monday, June 4th work is already under way. My project entails many technical skills and this first week I have not only observed those techniques in action, but also tried my hand at a few. The other undergraduate researchers, post-doctorate fellows and Professor Katz, himself, are all incredibly helpful and the overall attitude in the lab is that of helpfulness and camaraderie. I remember this feeling when I first started working in the lab and am sure that it will remain throughout the summer.

– Kevin Monk ’13

 

My first week at Dartmouth!

It’s been a little over a week since I began my internship, but there’s been so much going on that I only have time now to sit down and write this blog. So far, my internship has been great, and is definitely meeting my expectations. The first day, I actually had to do an online training called CITI, or the “Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative,” because I’ll be working with human subjects. It took multiple hours, but now I’m proud to say I’m CITI certified! The next day, I went to Dartmouth to meet my supervisor, a professor of Linguistics. The plan was for me to work on two of his projects;  carrying out field work in New England, as well as working from home or at the phonetics lab on acoustic analysis.  We had corresponded previously by email and phone, and it was very exciting to meet him. Since then, I’ve gone two more times, one to see the seniors’ linguistic thesis presentations, and once because my responsibilities include checking up with my supervisor once a week. At the thesis presentations, I met linguistic students at Dartmouth with whom I will be working on the New England dialect project. This project includes traveling around New Hampshire and Vermont and interviewing people in order to listen to their dialects. The students were really nice, and I’m excited to travel with them! I’m glad that I will be able to interact with other people my age, because at first I thought that it might all be on my own.

Dartmouth during my first visit!

In the phonetics lab I have started the acoustic analysis of people’s dialects from both Vermont and New Hampshire from previous fieldwork recordings.  I use software called “Praat” to analyze speech. Right now I’m focusing specifically on vowels and whether or not people pronounce “r’s” in words (this is called “Rhoticity”). I record the data in Excel, and use another program called “StatPlus” to analyze it further.  I have already learned so many valuable linguistic skills, and I am excited to learn even more! This screenshot is an example of the work I’ve been doing. The red dots are called “formants,” and I record the Hz of the two bottom ones, which become F1 and F2. Charted, this can be compared to standard English, and can determine whether a person’s dialect is different from standard English.

Screenshot of "Praat"...analyzing the vowel in "law"

Later on in the summer I will move to the Boston area to carry out fieldwork with Hmong, an Asian ethnic group, many of whom have immigrated to the US. This will be exciting for me, as I have read about them in my courses at Brandeis. My supervisor has given me books to read about their culture, and I’m looking forward to learning more through these accounts.  I found this internship through the “Brandeis Internship Exchange,” as someone had done Hmong work with the same professor three years ago. This sparked my interest, and I decided to contact the professor to see if he had any need of an intern at this point. He was very excited to hear from me, and after corresponding about my preparedness through coursework at Brandeis, and his available projects, we decided on the two projects that seemed to fit me best.

At the beginning of my internship I was worried that I would be working alone. However, my supervisor is very helpful discussing expectations during our weekly meetings. I set daily goals for myself and I am able to do the amount of work he expects me to do. I am excited to continue this internship, and I really can’t believe how much I’ve learned already. So far, I’d actually say it has exceeded my expectations. I feel like I can only learn more from this point on, and this is really showing me that linguistics is a field I would like to pursue!

– Alexandra Patch ’14