Everyone Deserves a Share: United for a Fair Economy

HomeMy internship this summer is with United for a Fair Economy, which works to raise awareness about economic equality and to move people into action in their own states and communities to counter the policies that continually widen the wealth gap. The organization has projects through which it works towards its goals

Racial Wealth Divide: tackling the racially determined economic gap

Responsible Wealth: Encouraging the wealthy members of American society to fight for equality

Popular Economics Education: giving other organisations the tools to understand economic policy and implications

Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative: advocating for fair and progressive tax policy

Estate and Federal Taxes:  tax fairness at the federal level

– One if the ways the UFE raises awareness about the inequality. (Source: UFE/Info-graphics)

A week before I started working with the group, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the organization’s mission and the projects that it engages in at a film screening at Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square, Cambridge.

Inequality for All stars former secretary of labor, Robert Reich, as he and his trusted mini cooper work tirelessly to fight economic inequality in America. He explains inequality, how we perceive it and its realities. The film highlights one major point:

that the top 1% of the American population holds more than a third of the country’s wealth and that this share is growing.

 A combination of wit and simplified everyday language helped the group gathered in the auditorium on a warm Tuesday night to understand how increasing economic inequality can negatively affect their livelihood, their health, their rights and their freedom. Not all of us hold a bachelor’s degree in Economics (I can at least speak for the 9 year old in attendance who understood enough to join in the conversation afterwards).

My First Week

I am one of three development interns at UFE. Our role is to help with the fundraising side of the organization, a role that is instrumental in keeping the wheels of the UFE well-greased.

–          I attended a staff meeting the first day I arrived. The first few minutes were spent acknowledging each member’s hard work and achievements during the previous week. This was a sign that the UFE is an empowering and supportive work environment where everyone is recognized for their contribution.

–          I was given a chance to identify projects I would be individually interested in, something I appreciate as an opportunity to show my skills and learn new things. I expect to have this kind of freedom for the rest of the summer.

–          I met two other Brandeis students who are also interns at UFE for the first time, which is always a pleasant experience.

–          I started working on projects almost immediately. Everyday, I learned something new, both about the organization and fund-raising in general. My supervisors give me the background and motivations behind every project and how they affect donations and donor retention.

–          The people at UFE immediately struck me as passionate about their cause. They are a diverse group with different skills that are valuable to the group. It will be interesting observing and learning what those are.

In this environment where everything seems to be happening at once, I expect to make some great relationships, learn many new skills and have the chance to contribute to a great cause.

Thanks for reading,

Pokuaa Adu ’14

P.S. Please take a look at all the links highlighted all over this post to learn more about the UFE, the film and other interesting things I have seen in the past week.

The People United: A Summer of Community Organizing

I started my internship in Miami at an organization called Interfaith Worker Justice, just a couple of days ago. IWJ is a non-profit dedicated to faith-based organizing around labor rights issues. These issues include fighting against wage theft, securing living wage or paid sick days for low-wage workers, ormaking sure that overtime wages are given to workers. In addition, my organization has also been voicing the urgency for an immigration reform for years, which is currently gaining momentum on a national scale with the upcoming Comprehensive Immigration Reform to be voted on in Congress.

The South Florida branch of Interfaith Worker Justice is very active in most of the areas that the national organization addresses across the state. During the first meeting I attended with representatives from unions and other community organizers, I had to pay very close attention to which cause they were talking about (since there were so many!). So far, I started organizing a phone-banking session for synagogue members who will be making phone calls urging voters to ask their Senator to support the immigration reform. This type of “organizing work” will be very common throughout my internship, as part of my responsibilities will be to engage religious communities and leaders in political activism. I will also be attending “actions” myself – protests and demonstrations fall under this category. On Friday I already attended my first protest as part of my internship, you can read about the reasons why people gathered to protest here.

Miami Herald journalist interviews activists at protest
Miami Herald journalist interviews activists at protest
IWJ Shirt, Quote from Isaiah
IWJ Shirt, Quote from Isaiah

However, my work also entails parts that don’t include shouting slogans and marching on the streets. The administrative part of my internship will be gathering email addresses of potential constituencies and organizing the mailing list of existing supporters. I will also be in contact with the board members, and potentially recruit new members to join the board.

I admit that I’ve had some mixed impressions about my internship initially. I’m really excited about the work that I’ll be doing, but I was expecting more structure. However, soon I realized I’d like to develop in this area, structuring my own time and managing my own projects without supervision is a skill I will need in life. Thus, one of my expectations for this summer is to learn to articulate clear goals for myself, and become a better time-manager. In addition, as I was sitting in on a few meetings and conference calls, looking perplexed, I concluded that I will need to do a lot of research on my own. Reading about state legislation and federal labor rights, stances of particular politicians, and problems of border security will be part of my daily job. Thus, I definitely expect to end the summer with some tangible knowledge on these issues!

Viktoria Bedo ’15

“Working There is Reward Enough”

“Hello? Hello Ladies?” We had finally made contact with Camilo, FIMRC’s Community Health Coordinator in Alajuelita, Costa Rica. This was one more reminder of how things we take for granted, like internet connectivity, pose a challenge for FIMRC’s remote locations around the globe. After six weeks interning at FIMRC Headquarters in Philadelphia, I am still amazed at how much I learn every day. This morning’s conversation between Camilo, Gauri (another Brandeis student intern) and me was no exception.

Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children, or FIMRC for short, provides healthcare and health education for mothers and children in under-served areas around the world.

“Hi Camilo, how are you?”

“I am very well ladies. It is so good to speak with you.” It became apparent that Camilo treats everyone with the utmost respect and care—not just us, but the patients he treats at the San Felipe Soup Kitchen in Costa Rica as well.

FIMRC Interns and Staff at HQ
FIMRC Interns and Staff at HQ

Camilo explained that his role at FIMRC is to provide health education to the Costa Rican residents and mostly Nicaraguan refugees who come through his doors. He teaches them about everything from nutrition to cancer to what to do in an environmental catastrophe. FIMRC puts a huge emphasis on health education, and in the past 6 weeks of interning I’ve come to understand why. The local residents at FIMRC’s seven project sites and other underserved areas around the world suffer from conditions caused by the lack of things we take for granted, like clean water and sanitation. Camilo teaches them basic concepts, such as the value of hand-washing, the food pyramid, and first aid. Prevention, especially in rural areas where the nearest hospital may be hundreds of kilometers away, is critical.

Camilo learns everything he can about his patients—their home situations, children, families, jobs, likes and dislikes—all before being able to treat them. The importance of building personal relationships with the people in the community was reinforced by my supervisor, Taylor, who said that the best way to have an impact is to let your guard down, be able to laugh at yourself and show people that you are invested in learning about them. Thus, a very valuable lesson I have learned from FIMRC is “seek first to understand.”

I asked Camilo how he makes health education fun. I mean, if you ask a child from the United States if they want to sit down and learn about Dengue prevention, they will probably respond with a confused look and an emphatic, “No!” Camilo countered that the people at San Felipe are always interested and engaged, because the living situation in Alajuelita is “very sad.” The people are poor. Many of them come to San Felipe for three meals a day. Some of the mothers are very young, and husbands do not always treat their wives well. So any small, kind gesture makes a difference. The women in Alajuelita know Camilo cares about them and their health, and that show of concern and respect makes the women and kids want to listen.

At FIMRC Headquarters the other interns and I have been engaged in many interesting and important projects for the organization—crunching data, creating surveys, doing cost analyses, and revising a fundraising packet. But it seems to me the victories in each of FIMRC’s sites, where FIMRC implements its mission, are achieved in a more humanistic way. Kindness and an open mind can mean the world to people, and this is a lesson I can apply in the future when I hopefully work abroad in healthcare… maybe even at a job like Camilo’s.

A mural painted by FIMRC volunteerson the wall of the FIMRC clinic in Alajuelita
A mural painted by FIMRC volunteers on the wall of the FIMRC clinic in Alajuelita

Camilo did an incredible job answering Gauri’s and my questions regarding his job and experiences in Costa Rica, but he seemed to have some difficulty formulating answers. Some feelings, experiences and situations just can’t be put into words. “You’ll understand when you get here. When are you coming?” he asked us. There seemed to be a slight miscommunication in that Gauri and I weren’t actually planning to travel to Costa Rica, as much as I wanted to. I feel that I’ve achieved my goal of learning so much about each of FIMRC’s sites by speaking with FIMRC staff, reading reports, and doing other research, but I’ve come to realize there is only so much I can learn secondhand. I will only truly understand the system once I experience it personally, which reinforces my desire to work abroad in public health someday.

I asked Camilo, “What’s the most rewarding part of your job?”

“My job…how do I say this in English…Seeing that every day people’s lives are improved. FIMRC means the world to them. When they smile, say thank you…they come with open arms and are so happy that FIMRC is here. …Having this work…they humanize you, and they really show you to be grateful for what you have. The kids will bring you small things like bread, or toys, or a smile, invite you into their homes. Working there is reward enough.”

To see Camilo take so much care in a community, while he himself is privileged just having obtained his law degree, was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had at FIMRC. It’s amazing to see someone do this kind of work, not for money, not to impress others, but because he genuinely cares about the well-being of these people and knows he can make their lives better.

A child enjoying an ice cream cone outside of the FIMRC clinic in Alajuelita
A child enjoying an ice cream cone outside of the FIMRC clinic in Alajuelita

I’m proud and pleased about how much I’ve learned and grown through my internship at FIMRC. Not only have I become comfortable in an office environment and forged amazing relationships with my peers, I’ve learned to see the big picture—that an open mind and heart can go a long way in enriching people’s lives. I believe I have found my purpose in life: to serve and to help those less fortunate than myself through healthcare. This internship is the first step in hopefully a long line of adventures and experiences working in healthcare abroad.

“Alright ladies take care, and see you soon.”

“Yes Camilo, we’ll see you soon,” Gauri and I joked…but part of me hoped we actually would.

-Erica Granor ’15

Week 1 at the Coalition on Human Needs: Complete!

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The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is a network of organizations sharing a similar mission: to help low-income people by advocating for human needs programs in Congress. CHN, focusing on a range of policy issues including health care, immigration, nutrition and education, facilitates the collaboration of its member organizations in two primary ways. First, CHN hosts a bi-weekly coalition meeting, the Friday Advocates’ Meeting, for representatives of the network’s member organizations. At these meetings, attendees summarize the current development of policy issues and build consensus on these issues. Second, CHN disseminates information to its member organizations and the general public through its website (http://www.chn.org/) and by emailing its network of over 60 thousand individuals across the nation. For example, its newsletter, the Human Needs Report, published every other Friday while Congress is in session, discusses national policy issues affecting the low-income population. The office is small, with a full-time staff of four women in addition to a seasonal consultant and me as the sole intern. CHN is located at 1120 Connecticut Avenue in Washington D.C. (a sixteen minute walk from where I am living!).

After only only four days, I am looking forward to the responsibility that will be delegated to me in this internship.  Each week, CHN publishes a Sequestration Impact Report, which highlights some specific effects that the sequestration cuts have had on certain cities and states.

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I wrote this week’s Sequestration Impact Report (http://www.chn.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Sequester-Impact-June-8dw2-Autosaved.pdf), which required compiling articles detailing the sequestration’s impact and writing short summaries of the stories. After Deborah Weinstein, the Executive Director of CHN, edited my report, it was published on the website, which was exciting. Many of the member organizations use the reports, and it’s very fulfilling to know that I contributed to this publication. On Thursday, I had lunch with my boss, CHN’s Communications Manager, Danica Johnson. The lunch was mostly designed to get to know each other, but we also set up a meeting for early next week to further discuss my internship goals and expectations.

As of now, I know I will be able to voice the specific area of work (either field work, lobbying, communications) and the policy issues that I would like to focus on. Danica also told me that if I’m interested in writing, I could potentially write an article for the Human Needs Report, which would require researching a policy issue (this is something I am eager to do!).

After just a week into my internship, I am confident that I will learn a great deal this summer. Because CHN is concerned with several policy areas, I will not only become well versed in each issue, but I will be able to see their unique overlap and mutual dependencies. In addition, I will observe the strategies that CHN uses to build agreement within its network on how to take action. I will also witness the sensitive and careful approach CHN must take when drafting its articles so as not to offend or infringe upon the missions of any of its many member organizations.

Last summer, I worked as an intern at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) in Washington, D.C., which crystallized my goal to establish my career in non-profit work. Throughout this academic year, I evaluated several organizations whose missions emphasized social action through political advocacy. Whereas FRAC was narrowly focused on the issue of hunger, CHN’s broader policy agenda has a greater appeal to me. Before being offered the internship, I was interviewed by Danica Johnson, CHN’s communications manager, who contacted my references and consulted with the CHN staff. I accepted her offer and geared up for a great summer!

– Zoe Richman ’15

My First Week at the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination

This summer, I am interning at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in Boston.  MCAD is the state’s main civil rights law enforcement agency.  Its mission is to eliminate discrimination in housing, education, and employment, as well as other areas.  The Commission accepts and investigates complaints of discrimination.  MCAD also performs outreach education to groups that may be likely to experience discrimination, and provides workplace-based training for employees and employers.  Here is a link to the Commission’s homepage, which provides information for employees, individuals, and employers about discrimination law.

MCAD

One of the conference rooms where we had housing discrimination training.

As an Outreach Intern, I will be working on the Commission’s SEED (Spreading Education to End Discrimination) project, which aims to provide information about civil rights to members of populations that are likely to experience discrimination.  For the next few weeks, my responsibilities will include contacting various community organizations that serve marginalized populations, and planning outreach programs with them.  As I begin to schedule these programs, I will travel to these sites to give informational presentations. This is a brief description of the intake process, for an individual who decides to file a complaint.

I found this internship through idealist.org.  I was looking for a job that combined advocacy, social justice, and the law, and this one seemed particularly intriguing.  I emailed the Director my resume, cover letter, and a writing sample, and she responded requesting an interview.  About a week after my interview, and after some dialogue between us, the Director emailed me offering the position.

My first week included four days of intensive training.  I learned a great deal about discrimination law, the complaint process at MCAD (from the initial complaint through the investigative hearings), and presentation skills.  While I received a lot of important information that I have to remember and understand, the training was very interesting, and will be useful when I inform others about their rights, and their ability to utilize the Commission in seeking justice.

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The pamphlets and handouts that we give to the participants during our presentations.

There are only three other undergraduates interning at the Commission, as well as several law school students.  I learned what brought each student to this opportunity as well as the particular roles and responsibilities of each position.

My expectations for this summer include improving my verbal presentation skills, and learning how to succinctly explain people’s civil rights in a way that is understandable for people of various backgrounds.  I also hope to expand my own knowledge and understanding of discrimination law.  Mostly, though, I want to leave the internship feeling that I have actually helped people more effectively stand up for their rights, and not feel powerless at the hands of discriminatory landowners or employers.

11,817 Miles Later

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The Bairo Pite Clinic (BPC) is a community health center founded after East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesia that left the nation’s health service infrastructure severely damaged. The BPC strives to provide primary health care to some of the poorest people in the world. Every day they serve over 300 patients from all over the country, and they are open until every patient is seen. The clinic is established and financed entirely by contributions and at times is aided by governmental and non-governmental organizations.

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Patients waiting to be seen at the Bairo Pite Clinic

At Brandeis, I am a member of the Project Plus One Student Chapter, which supports the Bairo Pite Clinic. Being involved in the club, I became familiar with the clinic and its efforts to empower the local community to provide healthcare for its members. I also met with a few Brandeis students who have volunteered at the clinic in the past with the organization and I wanted to get more involved by travelling to the clinic. I applied to the clinic through their application process and was invited to volunteer for the summer.

At the BPC, I participate in rounds every morning at 8:00 with Dr. Dan, the director of the clinic, Dr. Simon and other volunteer medical doctors and medical students to see the in-patients. I spend time with the volunteer doctors overseeing assignments and assisting with the application of treatments, making sure the appropriate medications are taken as prescribed and helping nurses take vital signs and record information. I facilitate in patient admittance, in recording patient history, and in communicating and relaying information between doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, and other staff members at the clinic.

After my first week of the internship, I am finding myself falling into a routine at the clinic. In the beginning, it was a bit disorienting trying to figure out the system of the clinic, locating which ward was what or where, and trying to help out in a capacity that I am able to. Now I find myself able to introduce and explain the clinic to new medical volunteers and understand some of my limitations and capabilities at the clinic. Every day I observe rounds in the morning and in the late afternoon. After rounds, the medical students are delegated tasks or follow-ups with patients. This week I was able to observe a few Ziehl-Neelson stains, which is a method to test patients for tuberculosis (a common illness in East Timor), a lumbar puncture, several electrocardiograms (EKGs), and diagnostic tests for malaria and Dengue fever. The medical students and doctors have been very kind and supportive, explaining many of these procedures to me and the results of these tests. I feel that just by being here for only a week so far, I have learned quite a bit.

For this summer, I want learn more about how health care in a developing country operates, and how it faces its problems, such as a limited supply of resources. Already by observing the doctors and the clinic, I am seeing the pieces to this puzzle. In addition, I hope to continue to observe and learn more medical procedures and medical techniques used at the clinic and be familiar with the tools used by these providers.

Alice Luu ’14

The Dove Foundation Week 1: Very Nice in Varanasi

Namaste from the exotic, hectic, sweltering, holy city of Varanasi, India! On my daily rickshaw ride to The Dove Foundation, the vibrant colors, smells, and sounds of Varanasi bombard my senses. The Dove Foundation, is the largest youth-led non-profit organization in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The foundation aims to provide quality healthcare and education, and to expand educational and employment opportunities to youth members of marginalized communities, with a high emphasis on urban slums. At 3 years old, the Dove has already established three programs including Project Arambh, which has received the 2010 MTV Staying Alive Foundation Award.  Project Arambh provides HIV/AIDS and reproductive health education to the low-caste community of bicycle rickshaw pullers in India. The Dove Foundation also runs two other programs: The Youth Education Program (2011), and the Community Involvement Program (2012).

I found the Dove Foundation through internship site leads posted on the Brandeis India Initiative website. I emailed Abhinav Singh, the listed Dove contact person, showing general interest in their organization over winter break.  I soon received an enthusiastic response that we might be able to work together.

As a Communication Intern for the Dove, I will help develop the organization’s online fundraising campaign; create a short promotional video about various programs sponsored by the organization that will be distributed on social media sites and webpages; facilitate programs for members of the marginalized communities that Dove assists; write and edit web content and brochures; and manage the Foundation’s social media sites.

When I first arrived at the Indian Medical Association Building, where Dove Foundation is based, I was thrilled to finally meet Abhinav Singh and Mohita Keshware, my two internship coordinators with whom I had been corresponding with since last winter.  Both introduced me to several other Dove volunteers, all less than 35 years old.  The youthful spirit and energy of the group of volunteers is contagious, and makes working for this organization much more fun. I’ve already picked up some interesting slang from my co-workers.

The first week, the Dove organized the World Blood Donation 2013 mega event.  My first day at work involved advertising the Dove Foundation’s blood donation campaign in Varanasi’s bustling IP Sigra Mall.  This was fantastic exposure.  I met up with other Dove volunteers, and learned several phrases in Hindi about the blood drive:

Didje to-fa dzindi ghee-ka: Donate blood, save a life!

Ya “Blood Donate” carne aye gha!:  Come Donate blood now!

Also… Apke sahg-nam kiya-he? : What is your name?

The following day, I visited a local ashram/ orphanage with Dove volunteers to create a skit for a street theater performance with the young children for The Dove Foundation’s World Blood Donation Day rally.  For this, I learned more lines in Hindi, and felt warmed by the bright faces of the young boys.

The rally was the most exciting part of my first week.  An open-backed van mounted with several large speakers pulled into our office parking lot for the rally event.  We decorated the van with vinyl posters and white and red balloons on all sides. The van blasted music as it drove towards the IP Sigra Mall, where  a large crowd gathered. After we performed our skit for a hundred or so pedestrians, the van drove to its second destination, the gates of Benares Hindu University, for a flash mob performance to promote World Blood Donation Day 2013.  A procession of motorcycles roared along the van’s path and volunteers holding signs followed the van as it reached the destination. As the van made frequent stops to announce its campaign to the community, volunteers distributed informational pamphlets and free coupons to a local restaurant.

Rallying for World Blood Donor’s Day 2013

At the gates of the university, loud music began to play and a group of fifteen dancers gathered behind the van.  The crowd circled around them, and the dance troupe broke out in a choreographed hip-hop piece. In addition to publicizing World Blood Donation Day, and passing out pamphlets, and acting in a Hindi skit at the rally, I also took pictures.

Overall, my first week at the Dove Foundation made me even more excited to be working for a group of energized creative individuals for the rest of my summer. I anticipate learning much about how non-profits function in non-western countries, in addition to understanding the conditions and issues facing the marginalized populations the Dove Foundation assists.

 

Preparing street theater skit for the rally

Check out my more frequently updated blog…more focused on cultural musings and interesting tidbits about my travels in India.

Aliza Gans ‘ 15

Life in the Middle of Osa’s Rainforests

¡Pura vida a todos! “Pura vida” literally means “pure life”, but what a wonderful sign it is that it is also a very common greeting here, unique to Costa Rica! It is actually more than just “hello”: it can also mean “goodbye”, “OK”, “cool”, “all right”, “I’m fine, thank you”, and a whole slew of other things! It is also true that everyone here is super nice and loves de-stressing, but before all this ad-libbing about Costa Rican life, here is the most important baseline information about my summer:

Osa Conservation (Conservación Osa) is a non-profit organization that protects and promotes the immense biodiversity on the Osa Peninsula: home to >50% of all of Costa Rica’s living species and therefore 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity (all of Costa Rica has 5%). The peninsula originated as a separate large island in the Pacific but merged with Central America about 2 million years ago, which explains Osa’s tremendous biodiversity. Living things are known to evolve faster on islands—a likelihood that resulted in a vast number of endemic species and very unique tropical ecosystems found nowhere else in our solar system. In short, Osa is truly and absolutely a stellar physical environment. Learn more about the organization HERE.

I live 24/7 at the Greg Gund Conservation Center: a research station situated in the middle of protected secondary rainforest, several of Osa Conservation’s reforestation plantations, and adjacent to Corcovado National Park. Despite living among jaguars, pumas, and ocelots, to my surprise everyone here sleeps very soundly with their doors and windows completely open. But actually to my surprise—I had no idea about this norm until after waking up from a nap my first afternoon upon arrival with my eyes wide open literally being able to see nothing—all I saw was black. Nothing at all like turning all of your house lights off—no. You open your eyes wide, wiggle them frantically all around, and can see NOTHING. I felt my way over to close all windows and doors and huddled in fetal position on my bed prepared to fight because my supervisor told me earlier that day that interns have come and left literally the next day because they could not stand the darkness or scary rainforest sounds at night. If I am going to learn to survive in the jungle, I need a flashlight ASAP. Thankfully, my supervisor stopped by a few minutes later, told me that there is no danger, and this jungle is now my home.

The research station is a tightly-knit community of local staff and researchers. I sleep 2 minutes away from where my supervisor does, which is great because we get to throw ideas back and forth often and get to know each other better. I believe this is somewhat how research life is; dreaming, eating, sleeping, and breathing what you love in pursuit of making the world a better place. I am super excited to be living it now.

I got this opportunity with the help of a former Brandeis student who was Osa Conservation’s General Manager until just recently. She came to speak to my ecology class last semester, we networked over coffee at Einstein’s, and we corresponded through e-mail to discuss project opportunities that lay at a crossroads between each of our interests before putting together our funding application.

I am working here on monitoring a 20-year-old reforestation plantation of Bombacopsis quinata regarding the amount of atmosphere-sequestered carbon that the area stores as a means of providing a model that can help further research about general trends in tropical-rainforest regeneration, the potential for tropical rainforests to serve as carbon sinks with which to mitigate climate change, and optimal parameters for future tropical-forest conservation projects (especially those in which Osa is involved). This survey will also include edge-effect and species-specific information so as to target more potential information about regenerating tropical rainforests. Here is a great guide for all carbon-measuring projects, and therefore the one I am using for this project: HERE. I have also served as translator for student groups led by local hiking guides.

During my first week here I met the majority of Osa’s staff and other researchers working with Osa, learned to navigate the “backyard” (AKA forest) where I will be working alone using a map and GPS, and worked on the experimental design aspect of the monitoring project, which involved days of staring at the computer learning how to work with completely new but immensely valuable GIS software, a key part of almost all environmental research. What takes years of learning curves I learned in about 2 days…my eyes hurt a little! My supervisor is very helpful conceptually but likes to be hand-off in the practical sense; a method which feels very conducive to learning and growth. Throughout this summer, I hope to learn much more about conducting reliable forestry research and ways through which to effectively communicate environmental-conservation news to audiences with weaker environmental consciences.

I will send love from Brandeis to all of the lizards, iguanas, snakes, toads, pelicans, monkeys, and scarlet-macaw couples I see!

Nick Medina ’14

A map of the rainforest patch  I am working with that I made using the GIS program I learned. I live in "Cerro Osa", ~800m along the blue trail from the plantation.
A map of the rainforest patch I am working with that I made using the GIS program I learned. I live in “Cerro Osa”, ~800m along the blue trail from the plantation.

 

A pregnant spider monkey hanging out at an Osa research station!
A pregnant spider monkey hanging out at an Osa research station!
My supervisor and I ready for work!
My supervisor and I ready for work!

Week One as a National Consumers League Intern

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This summer, I am interning at the National Consumers League in Washington, D.C. as a Louis D. Brandeis Social Justice WOW Fellow. As America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, NCL represents consumers and workers on issues including Internet fraud, child labor, and food safety. I discovered this internship through the Hiatt Career Center, and became immediately interested in NCL’s work in promoting international consumer protection and social justice. As a public policy intern, I primarily research public policies relating to consumer fraud. I will also be updating NCL’s websites, drafting content for NCL’s LifeSmarts competition, and helping coordinate meetings of the Alliance Against Fraud organization.

During the past week, I began my first extensive research project on senior fraud. By researching successful senior educational programs and individuals who have passionately argued for more online scam control, I learned about the numerous cases of financial scams specifically targeted at seniors. Although many cases are unreported, seniors are often victims of health care, insurance, telemarketing, Internet, and lottery scams. To gain more knowledge and different perspectives, I attended a roundtable discussion, where Google’s DC Public Policy Manager discussed the company’s interest in improving online safety and technology for older adults. Existing educational programs for online safety have benefited younger generations, but have yet to reach seniors who are more vulnerable to fraud.

U.S. House of Representative Marsha Blackburn
U.S. House of Representative Marsha Blackburn at
“All Eyes on Privacy: Transparency in the New Economy”

I also had the opportunity to attend All Eyes on Privacy: Transparency in the New Economy, an event hosted by Allstate, National Journal, and The Atlantic. Key speakers including U.S. House of Representative Marsha Blackburn and The Honorable Jon Leibowitz discussed their perspectives on the impact of technology and government collection of data on consumer privacy. While some panelists strictly argued that the collection of data was a violation of consumers right to privacy, others saw the government’s decision as a necessity for the protection of the country against potential threats and attacks. According to the Allstate and National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, the biggest risk associated with data collection was identity theft, one of the biggest concerns associated with senior fraud.

In addition to my research on senior Internet fraud and privacy, I am also studying the impact of high airline cancellation and change fees on consumers. In 2008, airlines began charging consumers to check bags in response to high fuel costs. Since then, airlines started charging consumers with fees on food, drinks, priority boarding, seating arrangements, and extra leg room. Some airlines have even created policies that require overweight passengers to purchase an additional seat. Recently, major airlines have increased ticket change fees from $150 to $200. Airlines are profiting immensely from these fees while consumers continue to struggle to meet the already high airline prices. The government has carried out the three-hour flight delay law to protect consumers from long delays, but has yet to find solutions or alternatives to rising fees.

I am impressed by NCL’s over 100 years of advocacy and the positive changes NCL has made in many lives. This past week has been a truly new experience attending conferences and events. Fellow interns and I had a wonderful time helping out at NCL’s Child Labor Awareness Film Event, where we revealed some of the brutal conditions children are forced to work under. Many children sacrifice their education in order to support their families. I was once again reminded of my responsibility to make efforts to eliminate child labor internationally. I strongly believe that every child deserves an education, and I am proud to say that I am part of an organization that provides opportunities and protection for underprivileged children, seniors, and consumers. For the next upcoming months, I desire to use my international experiences and leadership skills to learn how to accentuate the rights of consumers and workers using public policies by performing detailed and through research and gaining first hand experiences at hearings and conferences.

Fellow interns and I (middle) at the
Child Labor Awareness Film Event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exact Change: Working With The Oregon Bus Project

“Driving Votes. Driving Leaders. Driving Change.“

This is the motto of the non-profit organization I am working for this summer, The Oregon Bus Project.

The Bus Project was started in 2002 by a group of young Portland leaders in a bar who had a vision for local democracy. They were discontent with the status quo of politics, and decided that they wanted to turn things around by reinvigorating civic involvement among average citizens.  So they bought a bus, and recruited volunteers to make real political change and empower a new generation of democracy. They took the bus across the state, helped progressive thinkers win local elections, registered over 70,000 voters, and got thousands of people involved in the process.

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Two years later, in 2005, the organization created a political organizing and leadership development fellowship program called “PolitiCorps”. The 10 week, bootcamp-like fellowship, was designed to train young leaders who were ready to commit themselves full time to working in public service. It developed into a vigorous and effective program, with close to 85% of each year’s 24 fellows going on to work in the public-service sector after graduation.

Eight years later, the program is still going strong. As the field intern on staff, my responsibilities are to assist the Field Director with all of the off-site events and activities, to act as a mentor to the fellows once they arrive, and to implement and sustain a social-media plan for the program.

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Oregon Bus Project Reception

 

Over the past three weeks, we have been planning the educational curriculum, field training logistics, and program needs, to get ready for June 17th; the first day PolitiCorps 2013.

Instead of discussing my first week, I have decided to write my first entry on my first “phase” of my internship: Pre-Arrival Program Preparation.

I arrived to my internship to find the office space of The Bus in disarray. In the past year, the cost of rent had increased four-fold. This turned out to be a problem for our non-profit due to the fact that… we are a non-profit. Like many 501(c)3 organizations, The Bus Project operates on a fairly small budget. This year’s budget was especially low, due to the fact that net donations (the major source of funding) rise and fall cyclically with political election cycles. Due to the fact that 2013 is a relatively “unexciting” election year in Oregon and the nation, the budget this year is very small. This means that we’ve had to compensate for the 400% increase in cost of rent by consolidating the office into ¼ the space that it took up until now.In addition to getting rid of defunct equipment and furniture that we no longer needed, the individual offices turned into group work-pods (determined by department of the organization).

Although the consolidation of office space might sound unfortunate and less than desirable, the final product we ended up with was more efficient, social, and utilitarian. Everything had a place, and we were able to transform the office into an overall more effective center from which to plan, and eventually facilitate, the 2013 PolitiCorps program.

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In addition to office reconfiguration, my duties have been in securing food and supply donations from local businesses (to alleviate program costs), coordinating local events for the fellows to participate in over the next four weeks, and developing a field-safety seminar to deliver to the fellows during program orientation.

Over the next few weeks, in addition to continuously registering first-time voters all across the state, the program fellows will *democratically* decide which social-justice public interest organizations they would like to plan and deliver a campaign-plan for. They will work 7 days a week, for 13 hours a day, for 10 weeks. My job will be to help make sure they stay safe, sane, and on track.

Noah Litwer  ’15

PolitiCorps staff (Me on the far left)
PolitiCorps staff (I’m on the far left)

Fina House: Week 1

This summer I am interning at the YWCA Fina House in Lawrence, MA. The Fina House was opened in 2005 and houses low-income individuals, teen mothers, and homeless domestic violence survivors. The mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism and empower women.  Being an Hispanic woman myself I share this goal. Initially I heard about Fina House from a friend who had wanted to volunteer there. I contacted different members until I was finally able to discuss the idea of a potential internship with the co-director of Women’s Services. The process went smoothly, they had had other interns before, and I was more than willing to partake in this experience.

My employment officially began on June 10th. I will be working on two separate projects; one with the Family Counselor on the Child Advocacy Project (CAP) and the other with TPP (Teen Parenting Program). Part of the mission of the Child Advocacy Project is “to assist victims and their families to stabilize, initiate healing from trauma, and take steps to seek justice”. The children in the CAP are victims of sexual abuse or rape; there are 12 kids currently in the program. We are reaching out to collaborate with local programs to establish a recreational activity for the kids to get involved with. The Teen Parenting Program focuses on empowering young women through self-esteem/financial workshops to help them become economically/emotionally independent. I have been assigned to host workshops with the 8 young women twice a week. One day will be geared towards Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood (PAYA) and the other will be an active workshop in which we will focus on their health by doing physical activities.

All of this seemed quite overwhelming at first, but the staff at Fina have been extremely helpful and welcoming. On my first day on the job I went with a staff member to the YWCA in the nearby town of Haverhill. The staff member and another colleague were hosting a presentation on domestic violence. It was an eye opening experience witnessing the impact that their words had on the audience. One young female sitting in the crowd sobbed quietly. After the presentation, both YWCA employees went to the young girl and offered their services to help in whatever situation she might be going through.

My experience with Fina so far has been warm and positive; this week I will begin to instruct the TPP girls with the PAYA material. I chose to begin with Personal Care, Health, Social Skills, and Safety (the basics, and we can dive into the more difficult topics later on).

I feel very honored to be working with a group of determined, strong women helping other women become self sufficient and empowered. My career plans are to involve myself with non-profits and gain experience and knowledge on how to effectively provide the most help to individuals. Working at Fina House will be an important step in helping me accomplish my goals and I am sure that I will develop more goals throughout the summer.

Side View of Fina House
Side View of Fina House
The Mission of the YWCA & also Mine
The Mission of the YWCA & also mine

– Daniela Ayala ’15

Week One at the U.S. Attorney’s Office

D.O.J. Seal

Hi everyone!  This summer, I will be interning at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice; each state has at least one U.S. Attorney’s Office that investigates and prosecutes violations of federal statutes.  I am interning at the Eastern District New York Office on Long Island in the Criminal Division, which deals with the enforcement of federal criminal laws within the district.  As an intern at the office, my role is to work with Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Paralegal Specialists in trial preparation and various administrative assignments.

I also have my own projects including conducting legal research and drafting legal briefs.  Some of these things I had previously gained exposure to at my internship at the District Attorney’s Office in Suffolk County, Long Island last summer.  In fact, it was actually through a reference from my mentor at that internship that I discovered the position at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Go networking!

I should mention that if the descriptions of the work that I do at my internship sound vague or imprecise, it is not unintentional.   I was told at least a few hundred times during my orientation that I would be privy to sensitive information at the office that I could not discuss.  I am also unable to bring a camera into the federal building to take photographs of my work environment, so you may have to use your imagination.

Nevertheless, last Friday was orientation day.  All of the interns congregated in the office library (which unbeknownst to me at the time would become intern HQ for the summer).  We received packets of paperwork to sign and submit, watched informational and inspirational videos about our roles, and went on a tour of the building.  At the end of the day, each intern was assigned one Assistant U.S. Attorney and/or Paralegal Specialist to work with.  Out of the 30 or so interns, 27 were law students (which came as no surprise to me, since I was one of the only college students at my last legal internship, as well) who were paired with Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Criminal or Civil Division.  The three college interns, myself and two others, were paired with a Paralegal Specialist.

During my first two days, I had mainly administrative and office duties to perform such as scanning documents, organizing trial exhibits into binders, and copying documents for discovery.  I also had the opportunity to observe a jury trial in federal court, which was fascinating to watch since I had already seen hours of district court proceedings.  Over the last two days, I have been working alongside my Paralegal Specialist on drafting answers to complaints for civil cases (which my Paralegal Specialist assured me I would have to write for my Bar Exam so it’s good that I’m starting early!).  Once I master the format for drafting these answers, I can expect to do more work on preparing briefs on my own.

(Courtesy of http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/images/fullcourtroom.jpg)
(Courtesy of http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/images/fullcourtroom.jpg)

What has stood out about my internship to this point is that interns are trusted to complete vital tasks that not only benefit the office, but also the interns’ prospective legal careers.  In addition, more than any job or internship I’ve ever had, I’ve found that the interns are a very close-knit group.  All of us work together on the same two floors; we all eat lunch together, do research in the library – you’d be hard-pressed to find an intern at this office in a group of fewer than three.  And even though some of the other interns are as much as a decade older than me, some of the most educational moments I’ve had have been in conversations with them, which have provided me with a preview of law school, applying to work at law firms and the legal environment in general.  I am looking forward to the upcoming intern social events (we have a summer 5K run, a pizza party, and a softball game against the U.S. Marshals on the calendar), so I can continue to hear more of their stories.  Hopefully by my next blog post, I will have learned everyone’s names!

– Ricky Rosen ’14

First Week (back) in ParaDEIS

As a WOW fellow I am so happy to be joining a group of engaged, motivated and adventurous students. While this year’s WOW fellows span the globe from India to LA, South Africa to Vietnam, I have begun my summer work in more familiar ground: Waltham, Massachusetts. I am working in the Laboratory for Biological Health Psychology right here at Brandeis University. Though my surroundings are familiar, my experience thus far feels new and exciting. Waltham as a city has much more to offer than I realized: local cuisine (Lizzy’s Ice Cream? In a Pickle?!), a farmers market en plein air,  a beautiful bike path, an outstanding thrift shop, and there’s still more to find! I am living independently and looking forward to this opportunity to expand my self-reliance and personal initiative.

Health psychology is a fascinating new field, and I am particularly interested in it as I intend to pursue a career that promotes both psychological and physiological wellness. The Laboratory for Biological Health Psychology investigates how psychosocial states – such as anxiety, depression, acute stress and chronic stress – can affect our health, and the intracellular pathways that link these mental states to physical outcomes. I became interested in this lab while taking Health Psychology at Brandeis. I expressed my interest to my TA, and she put me in contact with the professor in charge. I began attending lab meetings, and was offered a position as a summer research assistant.

As a research assistant in this lab I am primarily working on a new, upcoming study known as Athletes and Stress. The lab team consists of one head professor, several Ph.D. and masters students, myself, and one other undergraduate research assistant. This team is inspiring, diverse, friendly, helpful and funny, and it is an enjoyable environment to work in. Athletes and Stress is a large and long-term project looking at differences in the emotional and biological stress response in student athletes, active non-athletes, and minimally active. The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which these three groups differ in their stress responses, and determine the potential contributing factors for these group differences.

My lab responsibilities are varied and will change over the course of the summer. While we await final project approval from the Institutional Review Board, I am being trained in the lab protocol and procedure, learning about equipment use, helping to set up and format the two-week take-home diary portion of the study, and doing literature search and review. Next week I will also be joining a subgroup within Athletes and Stress. This group of graduate students is working on writing papers from different angles relevant to the study. I will be helping find sources for their papers, peer-edit their work, and engage in frequent group discussions.

I will be concentrating on the diary portion of Athletes and Stress as I am being allowed to do an independent focus on data collected in the diary. For this independent portion I am doing lots of literature review.  If you’re interested in learning a bit more about how stress affects our health and the types of research being done in this area, check out this fantastic documentary on the work of Robert Sapolsky. Sapolsky is a neuroendocrinologist and professor at Stanford University, and a leading researcher in this field.

This summer I am looking forward to learning the many steps that go into conceptualizing, creating, and conducting a psychological study. Since I am joining in its preliminary stages, I have the chance to see how a research question is developed into a full-fledged study.  I hope to learn what sort of complications psychological researchers face and how we can overcome these obstacles. I also hope to learn what aspects of research ignite my interest and my personal challenges and strengths. I think this will be a summer of learning and growth, and I am excited to have begun!

– Clara Gray ’15

 

My First Week at American Jewish World Service

Hi everyone! I have just finished my first week of my internship at American Jewish World Service. AJWS is a nonprofit organization that seeks to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. That mission statement is a mouthful, which is why I was so interested to learn more about all of the work that AJWS does.  I first found out about the organization a few years ago, when my cousin went on a service trip with AJWS to Ghana.  When I saw the posting on Hiatt’s B.Hired website, I got very excited because I already knew about some of the great work AJWS was doing.  I immediately replied and made an effort to speak with my cousin about her experience with the organization before my interviews, so that I’d have a more thorough understanding of its work.

This is the logo for American Jewish World Service.
This is the logo for American Jewish World Service.

My internship is located at the AJWS New York office in Manhattan. I am working in the Development, with both the Donor Engagement and Major Gifts teams.  Both teams assign me projects and I have a series of meetings with members of each team over the course of the summer, so that I can learn about the work that they do and their roles in the organization.

Currently, I am working on a few projects. My main project right now is to assemble issue-based portfolios for donors who are particularly interested in one aspect of AJWS’s work. Each issue will get one portfolio, which will aggregate all of the information on that topic. The issues I’m currently working on are women/girls, LGBTI rights/sexual health and rights, natural resource rights, disaster response, and peace/conflict work. I have really enjoyed working on these issues, and I think it’s a great project to start with because it has really exposed me to a lot of information about the organization. To create a portfolio, I have to go through hundreds of publications to find the right information, presented the right way. Through this, I have learned a lot about AJWS’s grantee organizations in developing countries, the grassroots organizing they are doing, and the diverse ways these small but empowered groups can create change.

The cover of a publication included in the "Women and Girls" issue folder.
The cover of a publication included in the “Women and Girls” issue folder.

My other projects are not as large-scale, but are also teaching me a lot about nonprofit development. I am helping to organize a spreadsheet of possible venues for AJWS’s upcoming gala fundraiser by looking at what other large nonprofits are doing. Additionally, I am working to research and organize data on donors in specific areas so that when AJWS hosts events there, they are able to invite everyone who might want to be involved. For some geographic areas, I am researching the Jewish community to determine the major institutions and organizations there.

In addition to the work I’m assigned, I also have the opportunity to meet many important people in the organization. Our internship program is very comprehensive, and includes the opportunity to have lunch with the president of AJWS, Ruth Messenger, as well as other members of the executive board! Additionally, AJWS has a tradition called “Brown bags,” where everyone brings their lunches to a conference room to listen to a visiting grantee speak about his or her experience.  This week, a grantee from Haiti came to speak about his work organizing young law students to form a legal accompaniment service for those who need it the most. I found this fascinating and was really glad to have the opportunity to hear him speak.

My first week at AJWS has been really great. It is a fantastic working environment- everyone is incredibly friendly and considerate, and made me feel at home right away. I am enjoying the work I’m doing, and I feel that my supervisors are inclusive and making a strong effort to help me understand development and the goals of AJWS. Aside from meeting with various members of the two teams I’m working with, I also got to participate in a training called “Social Styles,” which taught me a lot about professional styles in the work place. The other interns and I all discussed our personality types and were trained in meeting people where they are, creating a more cohesive and understanding working environment for everyone. This summer, I expect to learn not only about development and fundraising (including improving technical skills like databases and excel), but also to learn a lot about teamwork and professionalism. This is my first 9-5 job and I’m loving it so far!

Learn more about AJWS:

AJWS Website

Global Voices: The AJWS Blog Site

– Shira Almeleh ’14

Day 10 Without a Tick Incident

This summer I am conducting environmental research under the guidance of Professor Eric Olson at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. The Heller School focuses on utilizing interdisciplinary research, with public engagement, to respond to an ever-changing society.

After several meetings with Professor Olson last semester, we created a project focusing on gathering baseline data of the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) nymph population within the town of Weston, Massachusetts. It is critical to collect this data now because Weston legalized deer hunting last July. One of the many justifications for this legislation was that by controlling the deer population, there should be a gradual decline in the tick population. Decreasing the tick population is important since this would reduce the instance of diseases like Lyme disease and Babesiosis.

In preparation for this research, Professor Olson and I traveled to the University of Rhode Island to meet with Dr. Thomas Mather, the Director of URI’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease and the TickEncounter Resource Center. Dr. Mather has been conducting tick based research and promoting tick-bite awareness for more than 20 years. His experience made him the ideal person to discuss our proposed research with. Beyond meeting with Professor Olson and me, Dr. Mather allowed us to be trained with the rest of his team. Under the guidance of Jason LaPorte, a research assistant at the TickEncounter Resource Center, Professor Olson and I were taught how to flag for ticks and how to keep the ticks that have been collected alive for later studies. This training has been invaluable and an incredible start to the summer.

Most people would think that field research would involve something like trekking through a tropical rainforest with huge backpacks of supplies. Or maybe, they think of a massive sailboat in the middle of the ocean with various pieces of large equipment for taking samples. I on the other hand, was shown that research could begin in a place as bizarre as a fabric store. Using these supplies, and the URI training, I was able to make the flags and vials for collecting ticks (see below).

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Through this research, I hope to prepare myself for a career in environmental research. I have completed several other field research projects, though none have been quite as extensive as this research. Completing a project that spans multiple months will help me confirm that field research is a realistic career. Furthermore, I plan on applying my lab knowledge by processing the ticks for the diseases mentioned above. The prevalence of tick-borne illness is commonly debated; by testing the ticks collected (more than 200 have been collected in less then a week of field work), I will be able to make a more accurate estimation of the prevalence of diseases within Weston.  By combining field and lab techniques, the research will be more comprehensive and thorough.

For more information on Weston’s Deer Management Program, please visit: bit.ly/14z1pAg

I hope everyone’s summer is off to a great start.

– Adam Krebs ’14

Finally!

The big, dusty blue and white striped tent that I’ve seen in so many pictures came into view as we drove up to the entrance of Tui Ni Duse Pre-School. Already from about two blocks away, beautiful smiles, inquisitive stares, and shy waves welcomed me to the squatter camp where the school is located in Epako, Namibia. The tent is the only unique marker that separates Tui Ni Duse from the hundreds of other tin house complexes and makeshift stick fences that populate the squatter camp. As I opened the car door and stepped into the bright sunshine, all eyes seemed to follow me—something I’d already grown accustomed to in my first few days in Namibia where people are mostly either white or black. For about the twelfth time in the past five days, I wish I had a shirt that reads, “I’m not Chinese…I’m Korean,” because of the somewhat negative attitudes towards Chinese people in Namibia, mostly due to the invasion of Chinese building or business projects during the past couple of years. But the curious eyes that stared at me soon turned into excited crescent smiles as they realized Teacher Daniel’s sister had finally arrived.

My first day at Tui Ni Duse was a day I had been anticipating for months! After hearing so much about it from my dad and my brother, who had visited before, and after spending half a semester researching the Namibian education system and similar schools in developing countries for a final project, I was itching to put all my academic knowledge to use. This summer internship at three Namibian schools—Tui Ni Duse, a private pre-school for street children and children who cannot afford to go to government schools; Gobabis Gymnasium School, a government approved private school; and a Namibian public primary school—would not only allow me to pursue my love of teaching in a setting that is close to my heart, but would also give me the opportunity to practice my recently discovered passion for anthropology.

Accordingly, my first week has been spent visiting all three schools, meeting with headmasters and working out my weekly schedule for the next seven weeks. Luckily, my sparse Afrikaans was not a problem as most people also speak English. However, I am glad to say that as a combined result of interest and necessity, my Afrikaans is rapidly improving. It has become crucial for me to learn Afrikaans to teach the children at Tui Ni Duse because they are bilingual in Afrikaans and Damara, their mother tongue which I can only hope to start to learn because of its various clicking sounds that most non-native speakers find challenging.

Of the three schools, I have only yet taught at Tui Ni Duse, where I have observed a need for clearer communication between teacher and students as well as between staff members. At most, the five-year-old school that started as a day care for the squatter camp community has only had three local teachers for its approximately 120 students. Together, the inconsistent attendance of both teachers and students and the low level of education among teachers have made it difficult for efficient education. In my two days at Tui Ni Duse, I have observed the “over-aged” class, which consists of about thirty students from ages 7 to 15 who are behind the state’s age-appropriate standards. Although I am still getting to know each student’s academic capability, I quickly realized that my lessons have to be taught in Afrikaans for the students to understand clearly. Furthermore, the lack of school supplies has led to some creative work on my part, making this challenge all the more exciting.

Despite the obstacles I face at Tui Ni Duse, I find that each hardship pushes me further to find ways to help these children learn and grow. Next week marks the beginning of my stabilized schedule, which is divided between the three schools. Hopefully, my observation and assistant teaching at the two government schools will give me a fuller experience of Namibia’s education system and will aid in my development for a stable and sustainable system at Tui Ni Duse.

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– Brontte Hwang ’15

My first week at AVODAH

 

This summer I am interning in AVODAH’s New York City office.  As explained on their website, AVODAH is a Hebrew word which encompasses spiritual, communal and work related “service”.  Upon it’s foundation in 1998, AVODAH became the first Jewish service corps. AVODAH corps members spend a year working at a placement site, building community, and learning about Judaism and social justice. AVODAH’s mission, reflected in corps members’ placement sites, is to strengthen the Jewish community’s fight against the causes and effects of poverty. AVODAH’s initial program took place in New York, and programs have now been launched in D.C., Chicago and New Orleans.

I am working with Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, Director for Alumni and Community Engagement. After a meaningful year in service, corps members are part of a life-long alumni network. Rabbi Ruskay facilitates this network and continues to provide alumni with opportunities to engage in the social justice community.  One of my favorite parts about my internship thus far is that I have a wide variety of jobs and responsibilities. I develop lesson plans for events and projects that provide alumni with the opportunity to network with each other and continue to address current issues regarding social injustices. I am also working with Rabbi Ruskay to improve the current resources available to alumni.

My first week at AVODAH was a great learning experience. The day I started working was a huge day for the New York office. It was the day of our annual Partners in Justice event, an evening where corps members, alumni, friends and supporters come together to celebrate successes and honor some of AVODAH’s extraordinary leaders and alumni.  I was very impressed—my first time meeting everyone at the organization was on one of their busiest days of the year, yet everyone went above and beyond their specific roles and the event came together beautifully.  They were especially welcoming to a new and nervous intern.

Gorgeous event set-up at the Prince George!
Gorgeous event set-up at the Prince George!
Goodies with a message.
Goodies with a message.

On my second day, I met with Rabbi Ruskay and we had a great discussion about the current state of the alumni program and the future program goals.  I was immediately excited about learning from someone who had so much experience and expertise. Throughout my first week, I especially appreciated the networking opportunities I had. On Tuesday, Rabbi Ruskay and I met with two staff members from the American Jewish World Service: a Senior Organizer and the Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement to discuss program successes and lessons learned with PresenTense, an organization that inspires young social entrepreneurs to invest in ideas that lead to a better future while strengthening their Jewish community.  We also met with the coordinator for the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, to plan the next steps for engaging AVODAH alumni in the campaign for Immigration legislation reform (a very current issue), which I have now taken on as a project with Rabbi Ruskay.

Heading into our eighth floor office!
Heading into our eighth floor office!

As I continue my work at AVODAH, I know I will continue learning exponentially about non-profit organizations and how to best engage social justice leaders with the larger community. When corps members finish their year in service, many of them want to stay involved in the world of social justice. Through working with Rabbi Ruskay on the alumni program, I hope to continue learning about many ways we can be a force for change and prevent social injustice. Regardless of where we are at in life, whether it is grad school, the work force, or already engaged in community service, each one of us can help fight poverty. I am so excited to continue learning at AVODAH.

How does AVODAH help build community? Inspiration from our Partners in Justice event.
How does AVODAH help build community? Inspiration from our Partners in Justice event.

– Sophie Brickman ’16

Bootcamp in Digital Video Technology

Welcome, everyone! First week has been very busy, full of new information, and to be honest, excitement on my part. I learned so much about digital technology this past week that I can’t believe it’s only been 5 days. Did you know Google can predict with 94% accuracy how well the next movie will do at the box office, based on the data it gathers from people’s Google searches? As the CEO described this internship, it is the summer boot camp in digital video distribution and monetization.

IRIS.TV is a start up tech company in downtown Los Angeles that specializes in the digital management, targeting, analysis, distribution and monetization of video content for publishers, advertisers and content owners. Using the latest advances in data science and content mapping, IRIS.TV adds each viewer’s distinct taste to a video’s advertising value. IRIS.TV personalizes content flow, indexes metadata, activates user behavior and more.

In other words, we work with software programs that are able to analyze data from consumers and use it to personalize their viewing experience. When people are recommended videos based on their viewing experience, they are more likely to watch more videos, spend more time online, and interact more with media. This is extremely valuable for advertisers, who pay a huge amount of money to place their ads on videos that are watched by the right people.

I found this internship through Hiatt’s CIC (Career and Internship Connections). When I saw the ad it seemed to be an interesting opportunity, even though I didn’t exactly understand what IRIS.TV did. All I remember seeing were a myriad of technical terms, that they work in the online video industry, and somehow “monetize” video content. Being a film, economics, and business major, this captured my attention and decided to apply. I was invited to an interview on January 8th in LA. I live in San Diego, thus it was a fairly short trip. I had a great interview with my supervisor, Lindsay. She is also a media/communications major, so we connected well. A week later, she offered me an internship.

To stay true to the ubiquitous use of data at my internship, I recorded various activities I did this past week. For example, I wrote down all the times I arrived/left my internship, and discovered that my first week I averaged 9.5 hours of work per day. This is a startup company and fortunately there is no shortage of work. More excitingly, unlike some past internships where work was just that, work, most things I do here are opportunities for me to learn about things I’m extremely interested in. Mostly I research competitor companies and create reports on their technologies. Also, I do the daily note, a daily email with most relevant tech articles of the day, and manage the company’s twitter page. Finally, I search for potential clients, companies who are seeking to optimize and monetize their content inventory.

Though these look like boring routine work, through my constant research I am learning a ton of information that is helping me understand the patterns that will decide where the entertainment and media industry are going. Also, through my research I realize how important and in-demand the IRIS.TV technology will be in the very near future. A few times I read current articles in the media that explained that it is most important for entertainment and media companies to improve their digital distribution and enhance their viewers’ online experience, which is exactly what IRIS.TV specializes in. It’s very exciting to be part of this company! This internship will undoubtedly influence my post-Brandeis plans. Maybe I will even work for IRIS.TV.

Finally, this week has exceeded my learning expectations. I have no idea what to expect for the rest of the summer, other than to continue learning, which is so much easier when I’m curious and excited about the subject.

– Paul Vancea ’14

IRIS.tv

IRIS.TV specializes in the distribution and monetization of digital content across all platforms
IRIS.TV specializes in the distribution and monetization of digital content across all platforms

First Week at PCDC

 

Today was my third day interning at the Parent-Child Development Center (PCDC), a program of Community Action, which provides daycare and many other social services to low-income families in Western Massachusetts.  The PCDC runs numerous Head Start and Early Head Start centers in the area which serve nearly 1,000 kids who otherwise would not have high-quality daycare and medical care.  The PCDC building that I am working in for the summer is located in Northampton, Massachusetts and houses both a daycare and many offices for PCDC employees, managers, and directors.

I was immediately interested in working for the PCDC when I read about it online during my internship hunt because it perfectly aligns with my past experiences working in Head Start daycares and my future academic and career goals of getting my Master’s in early intervention.  I also have always wanted to live in Northampton, so it seems the stars aligned on this one.

While I knew I would be working directly under the Manager of Data and Planning, I was unsure of and nervous about exactly what this internship would entail.  It turns out I should not have wasted my time worrying!  My supervisor (the manager of data and planning) is an amazing woman who spent hours orienting me and asking what I most want to accomplish and experience this summer and ensuring that I would be able to do all of those things.  She went above and beyond when she found out that I want to go into early intervention by offering to have me trained to do diagnostic screenings and possibly perform some screenings for their clientele later in the summer.  Everyone else I have met in the office has been incredibly welcoming, and many people mentioned that since the cubicle was reserved for “Avital data + planning intern,” everyone thought it was being reserved for a vital intern.  We had a good laugh about that.

Work-wise, these first few days have thus far mostly been spent researching all of the regulations that pertain to the PCDC and its services.  I’ve also spent a lot of time in my cubicle (which is quite spacious, actually, you can see it in the picture) figuring out how to use the new database that is being rolled out in July and which it seems I will spend lots of time on.  Having spent only a few hours in the office so far, it is already apparent what it really means to be passionate about your job and put everything into it no matter how much (or how little, as the case may be) money comes back to you in return, which is incredibly refreshing.

I had high hopes for this summer internship before, and now I can say for sure that I managed to find my dream job and I could not be more grateful.  I expect to learn a lot about the administrative side of childcare in addition to learning how to navigate public resources and social services.  Should be a great summer!

 

In my apartment for the summer getting ready to leave for my first day at the PCDC
In my apartment for the summer getting ready to leave for my first day at the PCDC
My cubicle at the PCDC office.
My cubicle at the PCDC office.

– Avital Sokolow Silverman ’14

What I learned my first week at Women’s Center for Wellness!

Women’s Center for Wellness (WCW) is a relatively small facility located in South Windsor, CT. WCW is part of a larger organization of health care providers called the Eastern Connecticut Health Network, or ECHN. The mission of WCW is to provide comprehensive health care to (primarily) women of all ages and backgrounds. The organization focuses specifically on services such as mammography, bone density analysis, breast ultrasound,

Patients get these goody bags filled with informational leaflets and chocolate after their mammogram.
Patients get these goody bags filled with informational leaflets and chocolate after their mammogram.

and digital breast biopsies. In addition to these services, WCW provides alternative care that focuses on holistic health and involves services such as diet counseling, massage therapy, yoga, and even acupuncture. The result is that WCW offers a holistic approach to managing women’s health.

My responsibility as an intern is to assist various departments with tasks that the faculty may not have time to perform when the facility is overwhelmed with patients. While many of these are clinical tasks, some are clerical. Though I will likely work within different specialties throughout the summer, this week I worked primarily with the radiology technicians. The technicians perform mammograms, bone density scans and ultrasounds. Part of my responsibility is to be a liaison between the technicians and the patients by preparing them for their procedure. I also ensure that the required paperwork is compiled so that the technicians may have all the necessary documentation prior to beginning the procedure. As my internship progresses, I will have more responsibilities, such as setting up examination rooms prior to a procedure.

For my own benefit, I have also personally observed some of these procedures so that I have a greater understanding of how the organization operates and how its services are meant to help people. Because this week was somewhat less busy, I also found myself doing some clerical tasks that are necessary to complete. However, even these tasks gave me insight on how the organization operates. For example, I had to create folders with various pamphlets and informational leaflets for Breast Care Collaborative. This is a program that helps work with patients after they have received a breast cancer diagnosis. The folders provide information from the Susan G. Komen Foundation that helps explain the next steps that the woman can take after being diagnosed. It has become clear to me that a large part of running an organization such as WCW is ensuring that patients have sufficient information to make educated decisions about their health.

I feel very fortunate to have found this internship. I began my search for an internship by looking for postings in my local hospitals and health care facilities. I quickly found that official postings were difficult to find. I decided to take a different approach and personally address the representatives of various facilities to find out whether they had unlisted internships. I even proposed that if such a position did not exist, that the organization may create an unpaid internship position so that I might work with them. Luckily, Women’s Center for Wellness accepts students for the summer as interns. My supervisor received my e-mail and invited me to become an intern after a short interview because it was clear that it was a good fit.

This summer I hope to really absorb a lot of information through this internship. I already feel like I have learned a lot, but I want to gain an in-depth understanding of not just the procedures that are performed at WCW, but also how the organization operates as a whole. I also hope to learn to be able to interact with patients, because that is a large part of being a health care provider. I have high hopes for the rest of the summer!

– Alex Zhakov ’14

First week at IDG

Welcome everyone!  I have just completed my first week at International Data Group Ventures Vietnam (IDG Vietnam). I arrived in Vietnam on May 22nd, and I have been slowly adjusting to the time zone. Despite the exhaustion from jetlag, I was still very excited about my upcoming internship.

IDG Ventures Vietnam is the first technology venture capital fund in Vietnam. Since 2004, IDG has been working with entrepreneurs to grow innovative and market-leading companies. The company currently has $100 million under management, with investments in over 40 companies in the information technology, media, telecom infrastructure and services, and consumer sectors.

Unlike many WOW fellows, I  have worked at IDG previously .  I spent two months in the summer after my freshman year as a research analyst. It was already a valuable experience, but I thought  that I could still gain more from working here. Luckily I maintained a good relationship with my supervisor, and he introduced me to the IDG internship program and suggested I apply.   After reviewing my application, the CEO interviewed me via phone. We discussed my interests in social networks, and how I would contribute to the organization’s goal to develop them more fully. The CEO offered me an unpaid internship on the spot.

My internship kicked off with an orientation at Mercure Hotel in Hanoi, where I got to meet IDG staff and other interns in the program. The IDG branch in Hanoi is relatively small, comprised of four partners and fifteen investment professionals. The friendliness of the partners and other members of the company really impressed me. The managing partner introduced me to the staff and provided me basic information about the operation of the company. I also met ten other interns, many of whom come from top universities in Vietnam and the United Stes. My teammate on my project is a senior at Mount Holyoke College, MA (small world). She seems great, and I am definitely looked forward to working on the project with her.

NHA_5924
Me during the orientation (bottom 2nd from left)

During the internship, I will primarily learn how to conduct market research on social networks in Vietnam. In the first week, my supervisor showed me how to collect and analyze empirical data about domestic and foreign markets, and write weekly reports for the company.  In the following weeks, I will learn how to build complicated charts about supply-demand and cost-revenue for social networking sites. I have learned some of these concepts at Brandeisl, and I want to see how it’s like to apply them in the real world settings.. I think the biggest challenge about this project will be  the technology aspect of establishin social networks. Since I don’t have a strong background in computer science, I will definitely have to consult my IT friends and other associates in the company.

Looking forward, after the summer, I really want to have a deeper understanding about venture capital in Vietnam and expand my networking contacts in the industry. Venture capital is playing its greater part in this country, and I really want to contribute my knowledge to its development.

-Nam Pham ’14

My First Week at The Walker School

This past week was my first full week working at The Walker School in Needham, MA.  The Walker School offers a range of special education and mental health services that provide intensive therapeutic and academic programs for children, adolescents, and their families.  The Walker Needham campus offers a variety of services, including an Intensive Residential Treatment Program, an Intensive Community-Based Acute Treatment Program, and a school and summer camp.  The programs are created for children ages 3 to 15 with severe emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities or with a history of past trauma, including sexual abuse or disrupted foster placements.  These programs provide therapeutic learning and living environments that help children to learn, grow, and heal and integrate successfully into society.

Logo
The Walker School Logo

As an intern in the Intensive Residential Treatment Program, I will participate as a member of a treatment team to meet the social, recreational, behavioral, and educational needs of children with severe emotional and behavioral difficulties and with histories of past trauma.  I will plan, implement, and participate in social and recreational activities, help to provide a safe and therapeutic milieu, and assist with the implementation of treatment protocols.  I will also co-lead activity-based groups for small numbers of children, work one-on-one with children toward improvement of academic skills, and facilitate developmentally appropriate and normalizing experiences for children, such as reading before bedtime.

I found my internship through a series of networking.  I am on the Board of Directors for the Brookline Teen Center and was part of a committee that interviewed prospective Executive Directors.  The person we hired was the Director of Residential Services at Walker.  After talking with the teen center’s new Executive Director about summer internship possibilities, I applied for a position at Walker because my passion and experience align with the goals of the organization.  I emailed the Director of Child Care Training and was interviewed by the Vice President of Operations.  I then observed a residential program to determine if it was a proper fit and decided Walker would be an extremely valuable learning experience for me.

My first week at Walker was both rewarding and difficult.  After spending only an hour going over Walker’s policies, I began working in my assigned residential program.  All of the staff were extremely friendly and my coworkers immediately welcomed me to their program, introduced me to all of the children, and put me straight to work.  Even after just one week, I can already tell that it will take the children a while to completely trust me, as many of them were previously hurt (either physically and/or emotionally) by adults in their lives.  While some children quickly accepted my presence, others were more resistant listening to my instructions or even talking to me or sitting next to me.  Regardless of these hesitations, my coworkers reassured me that, with time and the stability of my presence, the children will grow to trust me.

Walker_Entrance
The Main Entrance to The Walker School

This summer, I hope to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible out of my time at Walker.  Above all else, I want to learn, to the best of my ability, how to help children who have gone through difficult times.  I want to be a social worker for children  when I grow older, and I believe that Walker will provide me with extremely valuable knowledge and skills, such as how to make children who have experienced abuse feel comfortable and safe around you.  Once children feel they can trust you, they are then more likely to open up to you and the true healing can begin.

– Avi Cohen ’15

Challenging Corporate Abuse: Week 1

I am an intern at Corporate Accountability International, formerly known as Infact. It is a non-profit organization that is passionately driven by its mission is to stop corporate abuse of human rights, the environment, and any and all threats to the well-being of the public.  Corporate Accountability International uses strategic measures to pressure corporations through public support to cease dangerous practices.  I am working on their domestic water campaign to challenge corporate control of our water. The two umbrella campaigns within that are Think Outside The Bottle and Public Water Works.

I’m working on a project to support National Parks going bottled-water-free. I will also help to gather support for our organization and cause through methods such as petitions, which is what we did this past week. At the Cambridge River Festival, we obtained over 400 signatures for our Think Outside the Bottle petition, showing support for tap over bottled water, and our petition to urge McDonald’s to stop marketing to children.

This is a poster from our Food Campaign to challenge McDonald's by working to stop them from marketing to children with tactics such as their clown, Ronald McDonald.
Poster from the Value [the] Meal Campaign calling on Ronald McDonald to “retire” from his job marketing fast food to kids.

I found my internship both on Idealist.org as well as through the listserv of my job last summer with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. I was immediately struck by the human rights focus of the organization. I was also impressed with the extensive application and interview process, which first proved to me that the people of this organization are serious about what they do.

During all three interviews I took part in, I could see how passionate each and every employee was. It is clearly a cohesive group of individuals who work together to make real change happen in an organized and aggressive way. I see more and more proof of this every day I spend with them. In addition to everything I have already learned from all of the organized orientation presentations about every aspect of the organization, I have also begun to get to know a great group of 11 other fellow interns. I have already learned so much about the horrendous practices of transnational corporations, as well as the consequences of their environmental and human rights abuses on a national and global scale. Much of what I learned about corporate control of our water is summed up in this incredibly helpful video produced by Corporate Accountability International called“The Story of Bottled Water.”

This summer, I hope to learn more about the specific consequences of the privatization of water in the hands of enormous organizations that take water as a natural resource that is actually a human right, and bottle it up into a commodity to sell it back to us at thousands of times the cost we should be paying for it. I expect to learn more about this type of manufactured demand, and more about whether huge transnational corporations that are legally bound to make profits for their shareholders are inherently evil, or simply amoral. After meeting with my supervisor, I am also looking forward to becoming a much more effective campaign organizer with more experience organizing individual on a large scale and keeping track of everyone in the most efficient way possible.

–Kate Cohen ’14

 

 

The first week at China Sustainable Energy Program (CSEP)

I just finished the first week of my internship at the Beijing office of China Sustainable Energy Program (CSEP). CSEP is a non-profit organization, headquartered in Beijing, China. The main goal of CSEP is to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution in new and existing Chinese cities by promoting and implementing sustainable urbanization and transportation systems. These goals are achieved by working with national and municipal governments to establish pilot projects demonstrating the effectiveness of sustainable urban development in China and providing personnel training programs. The Beijing office aims to provide program management and funding to more than 40 regional projects around China. Technology support is provided by China Sustainable Transportation Center (CSTC). There are about 30 staff members in this office, and there are four interns helping for this summer. Most funding of CSEP comes from HP Inc.

My internship mainly consists of two parts. First, I will be tracking progress of the projects, conducting data entry and analysis, writing project evaluation reports, and translating some related materials. Second, I am very lucky to have a chance to join the Jinan Sustainable City Planning Project. We will analyze real residential energy use data gathered for the last three years and conduct some research for further project refinement.

I found this internship from “Earth Notes” sent by Prof. Laura Goldin. “Earth Notes” is a list of internship opportunities for students of environmental studies and other types of related social work. The summer internship in CSEP got my attention and interest immediately because of its location in China and because the energy field has always been an interest of mine. I sent them my resume and after a phone interview, I got this summer internship.

The first week of this internship has been interesting and a bit challenging. My supervisor and other colleagues are very friendly and helpful. They impressed me with their professionalism and problem solving skills from the first day I was there. My assigned jobs consist of both urgent and long-term projects. One urgent job is preparing a group of Chinese mayors before they travel to  the U.S. to learn about sustainable city planning next week.  We are now busy preparing schedules and translating papers for their trip. The long-term project is the Jinan Sustainable Planning Project, for which I will do research with another intern over the next two months. We have set goals and we will meet our supervisor on a weekly basis. This project is kind of challenging for me because it requires strong background knowledge in urban planning, but I feel like I am learning a lot and getting more and more familiar with this field as we work. The whole organization has a file sharing system accessible to interns for ongoing projects. This common file is very useful to me. I read a lot of reports, related academic papers, and background information about this organization.  I now have a much better understanding about how this non-profit organization works and how to combine theory with practice.

Finally, in terms my expectations about the internship, I hope to learn about sustainability in urban planning through reading both academic papers and reports from real projects. Second, I wish to work closely and network with my colleagues and become aware of more opportunities in the sustainability field, both in the United States and in China. Third, by conducting a research in a team environment, I hope to develop a better communication and problem solving skills, and to have a better understanding about cultural differences between the U.S and China in this field.

CSEP logo
The logo of CSEP
The view from the window near my desk (Beijing)
office
A very “green” office!

– Yifan Wang ’14

Starting at WATCH

This week was the beginning of my summer internship. Unlike most of the other WOW interns, my internship is located a short walk from Brandeis University. Right on Moody Street in Waltham, Massachusetts, lies the office of WATCH CDC. WATCH CDC is a non-profit (501c-3) established in 1988 committed to promoting fare, just, environmentally-healthy living conditions for the low income, immigrant community in Waltham through advocacy and community empowerment.  WATCH Housing Advocacy Clinic serves as the go-to place for the local community for housing issues such as evictions, rent assistance, tenant-landlord conflicts, and unsanitary living conditions. The clinic advocates are students trained in housing rights and equipped with knowledge on local sources for legal assistance, financial aid, and shelters. In addition, WATCH is involved in community organizing projects that build confidence and leadership skills within the Waltham community.

As an intern, I will be in charge of the housing clinic, in which I will help tenants resolve tenant-landlord conflicts, eviction proceedings, sub-standard housing conditions and other housing problems, as well as inform them of their housing rights, empowering them to be their own advocates. As part of my work at the clinic, I will be identifying tenants with leadership abilities and creating a network where they can effectively work together to address the communities housing needs. In addition, I will be building relationships with the community and connecting community members to ongoing community empowerment projects at WATCH.

I first got involved with WATCH’s Housing Advocacy clinic the 2012 fall semester when I joined Professor Laura Goldin’s practicum. As part of the practicum, we volunteered at the clinic throughout the semester.  After the semester, I was eager to continue my work at WATCH and Professor Goldin offered me a supervising position at the clinic, in which I had to organize, train, and mentor Brandeis student clinic advocates. This spring, Erica Schwartz, executive director of WATCH, offered me a full time internship for the summer, which I accepted enthusiastically.

During my first week at WATCH, I began to get accustomed to the everyday working environment of a small non-profit. Luckily, I already knew most of the staff from volunteering here throughout the year. WATCH had recently moved to a new address and I had to assemble a new office for myself – now I have my own desk, computer, and phone.  I met with Daria, my supervisor and the new WATCH executive director, and established short- and long-term goals for my internship. I finished following up with clients that called the office during the short transition between the semester and my summer internship, during which the clinic was closed. I also started working on a letter-writing project that we wish to integrate with the clinic. In this project, clients will be able to identify their ward councilor in the local government and send them personally tailored letters that advocate for a safer and more affordable housing.

photo

As part of my long-term goals, I wish to learn about the inner workings of a non-profit organization and specifically I wish to engage in community organizing around housing issues, which include advocating and lobbying for our local community. Extensively working with tenants, helping in cases from start to finish, and participating in community empowerment, would help me reach a new perspective and identify my career path within the public sector.

– Shimon Mazor ‘16

Helping from Halfway Across the World: My First Week at FIMRC Global Headquarters

Around the world, millions of children and mothers lack proper access to healthcare. Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve health “one child at a time” through a multifaceted approach; outpatient clinics, health education, and partnerships with IGOs and NGOs combine to address the comprehensive health needs of each population. Currently, FIMRC serves 9 specific communities in 7 under-served countries: Costa Rica, Uganda, India, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Peru.

A map of the 9 FIMRC project sites in the FIMRC office

This summer I am interning at the FIMRC Global Headquarters in Philadelphia, PA, working on administrative tasks involved in the coordination of FIMRC projects abroad. This is quite a different perspective from when I volunteered in Peru on a FIMRC trip last February. Organizing volunteer programs takes a lot of work! My current project is compiling statistics from each of the seven project sites. These statistics (which include measures like number of patients treated in FIMRC clinics per month and top causes of clinic visits and number of volunteers) will help us gauge the success of FIMRC’s global health initiatives.

Each health program is uniquely tailored to fit the needs of the community. In Peru, Dengue virus, malaria and other water-borne diseases are common, but they are also preventable. Volunteers give health education talks to children about sanitation and hygiene in order to promote knowledge and prevent disease. In Alajuelita, Costa Rica, the community’s needs are much different. Due to lack of clinical services, FIMRC built a rural health clinic in Alajuelita, and volunteers participate by staffing the clinic (taking measurements, assisting doctors and distributing medication). While their parents work, children age 2-5 in Kodaikanal, India, spend the day in crèches, which are like a combination school/daycare/health center. The children’s families survive on less than $1.50 a day, and as a result many children suffer from malnutrition and consequent illness. FIMRC helps by monitoring child health in the crèches, holding health education sessions for teacher and mothers, and has successfully implemented a dental hygiene campaign and supplemented the children’s diets with protein, like chickpeas and eggs. I was excited to learn that since FIMRC’s intervention, crèche attendance has increased… and the lack of attendance had been largely due to illness! Watch this awesome video (video credit: FIMRC) to experience the unique health needs of Limón, Nicaragua, and how FIMRC projects are helping.

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On our volunteer trip to Peru, Brandeis volunteers and I gave a hand-washing lesson to school age children at Albuergue La Esperanza Children’s Home. What great kids! Photo credit: Brandeis student Jessica Jaya

I learned about this internship opportunity through a friend and fellow Brandeis FIMRC chapter e-board member, who enthusiastically told me about her internship experiences at FIMRC Headquarters two summers ago. After applying and visiting HQ over winter break, I was offered an Ambassador position and gladly accepted!

Orientation was on Thursday, May 16. I was pretty anxious, but everyone—the CEO, my supervisor, the 3 other interns—are all super friendly, and my nerves were eased right away. There is even another intern from Brandeis! I’m excited to continue to get to know each of FIMRC’s project sites and understand the process of implementing a global health project, from initial research to the final product, execution of a successful and flourishing health program. In the future my ultimate goal is to work in international healthcare. Even though it has only been a week, my internship at FIMRC has provided me with invaluable insight on global health. I cannot wait to see what the weeks ahead bring.

-Erica Granor, ’15

First Week at CBHI

 

WOW Blog 1C       WOW Blog 1B

Massachusetts State House                           1 Ashburton Place

My internship is with the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) in Boston, MA. CBHI is a division of the department of Health and Human Services which is a branch of the Massachusetts State Government. This organization was founded in 2008 in response to the case of Rosie D v Patrick which stated that families with children on MassHealth deserve more standardized and transparent behavioral health screenings. The mission of this organization is to prevent inadequate behavioral health screenings, promote community based care, and help children be successful in all domains of their lives. My organization specifically works to develop and improve the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool. CANS is used by clinicians and psychiatrists as part of a comprehensive analysis when they meet with children struggling with behavioral health issues. CANS is a standardization tool that allows health care providers can properly screen and assess both the needs and the strengths of individual children, so that the proper treatment plan can be made. My organization helps to train health care providers to implement the CANS into their practice, improves the CANS technology so that it best meets the needs of both the clinician and the patient, and works to provide many resources that families on Mass Health can turn to for behavioral health services. In a nutshell, CBHI provides the training and support to health care providers so that they can provide the most responsive and accommodating care.

This is a link to the CBHI webpage

I will have various responsibilities within CBHI. I will attend meetings within the department as well as with health care supervisors to gain input on how to improve CANS and offer suggestions for training and screening development. One major task I will complete is the creation of an extensive list of all statewide training directors who provide Mass Health. This list will improve communication between our organization and those using our services so that training methods and materials will be more accessible and clear to those using CANS.

 

WOW Blog 1A

CBHI Logo

I found this internship with the help of Cynthia Tschampl who I met with in December. She directed me to a few internship postings that she was aware of, one of which was CBHI. In February I met with Deborah McDonagh from the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative. At the interview Deborah and I discussed my experience, duties of the internship, and each of our goals. Later in February, Deborah contacted me and told me that she would offer me the position.

In my first week I completed the CANS online training and took the certification test. I am now certified to provide CANS assessments. While I will not use this training because I am not a certified clinician, this training has helped me better understand what CBHI does and how CANS works. I also spent this past week attending meetings, one of which was with behavioral health providers in the Boston area. This meeting was both interesting and informative in helping me to better comprehend provider concerns, technological developments coming in the near future, and understand how collaborative work between many interests can work towards a common goal.

This is a link to a list of Newsletter archives that I read through this past week to better understand the CANS training program:

My impression is that everybody working to provide these improved behavioral health screenings is very dedicated. Everyone wants what is best for the children and their families. I believe that the projects I am assigned to are necessary and will be extremely useful in the future. This internship will teach me about policy making, the behavioral health system, and how to become an effective advocate. My hope is that the relationships I am developing now will continue years down the road when I go on to a future career with child advocacy and social work. Additionally, this internship will help me gain leadership skills, maintain professionalism, and develop meaningful connections. 

Elizabeth Chalfin, ’15

 

Image Citations:

1) https://www.google.com/search?q=ma+state+house&rlz=1C1TSNJ_enUS459US459&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=QuSaUbOBGuiV0AW7hoCwAw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=624#imgrc=ekzMF7cnYQRheM%3A%3BWWASVPK07-NXYM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252Fthumb%252F4%252F43%252FMass_statehouse_eb1.jpg%252F250px-Mass_statehouse_eb1.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FMassachusetts%3B250%3B193

2) https://www.google.com/search?q=i+ashburton+place+boston+ma&rlz=1C1TSNJ_enUS459US459&aq=f&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&authuser=0&ei=E-aaUbWFFMGh0QWzjYG4Bg&biw=1366&bih=624&sei=FeaaUfanNqW10QWDhoCQDQ#imgrc=yhznadyYRSi1xM%3A%3B58UpDUlKbzTptM%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.sec.state.ma.us%252Fpre%252Fpreloc%252Fmccormack.jpg%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.sec.state.ma.us%252Fpre%252Fpreloc%252Fpreloc.htm%3B250%3B375

3) https://www.google.com/search?q=cbhi&rlz=1C1TSNJ_enUS459US459&aq=f&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&authuser=0&ei=MeaaUbrSMOjw0gX2s4DwDw&biw=1366&bih=587&sei=M-aaUaTVJLOr0gW0-IGYCQ#imgrc=7_U2JvtpWmZ53M%3A%3BK7KL4YojzBnnaM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.communityserv.com%252Fimages%252Fcbhi.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.communityserv.com%252Fcbhi.html%3B166%3B100

 

 

Final weeks at Embassy Madrid

The last weeks of my internship at the Embassy went extremely well. At the American Citizen Services unit I took on the task of reorganizing the several bins for official forms that are handed out to clients, making it easier to locate desired forms and ultimately increasing the unit’s efficiency. I had the chance to attend a private meeting with a Spanish business entrepreneurial leader, which was probably one of the most interesting events during my time at the Embassy. I had the chance to experience the “cool” part of being a diplomat: having a driver taking me and the Consular Foreign Service Officer I was with to the meeting in an official diplomatic car, and personally representing the US in front of a prestigious Spanish business leader. But even more importantly, I learned that meeting with local contacts is absolutely key to understanding a country’s situation. This meeting gave us insight into what is really going on in the entrepreneurial scene in Spain, much more that any press article or blog post would. In addition, I learned how to integrate the content of an interview into an Embassy report, and to remember meeting themes and details without taking notes.

At the Economic Section, I continued work on the follow-up part of the 4th of July’s corporate fundraising project, and requested a new project that helped me incorporate some of my economics knowledge and develop new skills. The new project consisted of skimming through long and complex macroeconomic analyst reports on the Spanish economy, identifying the key points and aspects of those reports and summarizing the information in a concise macroeconomic fact sheet. The fact sheet would be for internal Embassy use, specifically to brief congressional delegations, senators, treasury delegations, and other Embassy visitors. The task was challenging, as I was skimming through piles of analyst reports with limited time and without an advanced knowledge of macroeconomics. However, I quickly got used to reading quickly, then going deeper into the readings when I identified a key aspect. My supervisors seemed very satisfied with the result, and I developed skills that I use now for school readings.

On my last week, I received an email from two of my supervisors about a “surprise” that would be taking place later that week. The surprise turned out to be an award from the Ambassador himself (see photo). I received a US Department of State Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding service.  The Ambassador gave me the certificate along with his personal token coin, a typical item that represents one’s department, unit, embassy, or any other agency of the federal government. I was extremely honored and excited to receive the award, and receiving compensation for my work was truly priceless.

I think I’ll never forget that last day at the Embassy: turning in my badge, saying goodbye to my friends and coworkers, and walking through the Embassy’s beautiful patio. The internship made me realize how much there is to a career in foreign policy, how it is possible to advance a country’s interests and cooperate internationally at the same time, and how hard US diplomats work to advance the Department of State’s mission. Big ideas like these are important to understanding the impact of one’s day-to-day work, and I look forward to incorporating these ideas and new skills into my future career – whatever it turns out to be.

Fin

Parisian cafés in color

I imagine that every final post on the WOW blog will be tinged with sadness. And it only makes sense. These internships that we’ve all taken part of have helped all of us grow as professionals, as adults, as human beings. If anything, we’ve discovered more about ourselves and perhaps even figured out what we’d like to do with the rest of our lives. The people we’ve met and the things that we’ve learned have changed us for good.

The final days of my internship were a whirlwind of activity. I’d never felt so busy during my stay. I was flying around making calls, desperately making checklists for the museum’s archives, choosing some works to present in one of the rooms, etc. It seemed that despite everything I did for the museum during my internship, there were always things on my desk that needed to be completed. Even with another intern working with me in the curation department, it was an incredibly trying time. I never did get to finish all my cataloguing on Gustave Charpentier. In the end, I had some assignments that I couldn’t possibly finish without working overtime for four more hours each night and regretfully left them for the next intern to deal with. The Musée de Montmartre’s work is never finished.

My final day in Paris was a sad ordeal as well. I spent it running around, saying goodbye to all of my new loved ones and friends, purchasing trinkets for family at home, and jotting down contact information from everyone I could. There were no tears, though I did sigh a lot thinking about how near my departure was. And as it always goes, as one part of your life ends, you start thinking about what lies ahead.

The internship was over. My time in Paris, a period of my life that feels like a slowly disappearing dream now, was over. And knowing myself, I would start forgetting some of the French that I learned, some of the names of my friends, some of the faces of my past. But what I learned from the internship and my time there will stay with me for a long time. I learned how to deal with a fast-paced work environment. I learned the value of a good day’s work and that a well-oiled team is the most important aspect of a successful operation. I learned more about the inner workings of a museum and the importance of celebrating, not just preserving the past. But I also learned patience, gratitude, and how better to deal with what life throws me. So in the end, I realize that I have achieved my goals that I set out to reach when applying for the World of Work funding. I believe I am more organized, more confident about what I would like to do after my undergraduate career at Brandeis, and more mature as a person.

The exhibition I had been so fervently working on has now started. “Autour du Chat Noir: Arts et Plaisirs à Montmartre 1880-1910” is now on display at the museum and I couldn’t even get to go to the opening. But I never like to keep loose ends. I know I will be back in Paris someday, and that exhibition will be the first thing to cross off my list.

The expo I will not get to see…

– Sujin Shin ’13

Reflections on a summer with the Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project

I had an amazing experience this summer interning with the Kenya Scholar Athlete Project. This summer was completely different from anything I have done before and I am extremely happy that I took a chance to try something new.

One of my primary goals for the summer was to improve my communication and language skills through my work as a teacher. I had no direct teaching experience before working with KenSAP so I had to learn on the job. Teaching students whose first language is not English made it particularly important to be clear during instruction. Many of the lessons I taught focused on grammar and writing which required me to improve my own understanding of the language. As a first language speaker it is easy to see a grammatical mistake and simply see that it is wrong and correct it. This is much more difficult to do when you have not had consistent access to English books. It was very important to explain the rules to the nuances of the language which was something that I have never really focused on. This experience undoubtedly improved my ability to communicate with others.

Living in a new place has augmented my interest in learning about cultures that are foreign to me. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this internship was getting to know my students extremely well over the summer. Outside of class we discussed cultural values and beliefs as we were particularly interested in each other’s lives. Having spent most of my life around people with fairly similar backgrounds it was great to hear about a culture that is entirely different from my own in some ways and extremely similar in others. Spending a summer abroad has increased my interest in travelling and potentially living somewhere new.

Teaching was much more enjoyable than I expected. Observing improvements from one assignment to the next was particularly gratifying. The students were very intelligent which made it easier for them to use the classes effectively. Seeing the improvement from the student’s essays at the beginning of the program to those at the end showed remarkable progress. From the first week to the last week the student’s improved their SAT scores by about 300 points on average. This data primarily shows how intelligent the student’s are, but it was also great personal feedback for me as a teacher.

 

This internship gave me a much more realistic outlook on the challenges that face an organization that seeks to improve social justice. I think I entered the summer with some reasonable expectations for the disparity between developed and emerging countries. This internship truly showed me how significant the difference is. The number of capable students who the program had to turn down showed me how many people never receive an opportunity. While I believe that KenSAP is an amazing program that provides an unbelievable chance for many deserving students, it was difficult to grasp how many people do not. This internship reinforced my conviction about supporting social justice because I developed an understanding of the number of capable people who just need a chance.

I think that entering this internship with an open mind and being patient allowed me to be successful in reaching my learning goals and enjoying the process. It was important to expect cultural differences to arise so they were not shocking when they actually occurred. I feel like I learned so much this summer and had an amazing time doing it.

-Alex Kramer ’13

Answering Questions with More Questions: Concluding my AJWS Internship

After spending some time reflecting on my experiences at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), it is clear that I not only got what I was looking for in my internship, but even more than I anticipated.  Although it was not entirely unexpected, I am humbled by the realization that I took more than I gave and am looking forward to building off my summer experience during my final year at Brandeis.

I knew from my first day that I would need to learn how to work in an office environment. At the beginning, this was the most challenging component of my experience.  I found the idea of sitting behind a computer at a desk from 9 am – 5 pm to be very intimidating, and was unsure if I could perform at my best under these circumstances.  However, after a few weeks, I developed skills and strategies to help me work effectively in a new environment. I also learned how to better be a team player, growing to feel a part of the communications department and understand the intricacies of a large organization. It was important for me to learn that I am able to adapt and be flexible.

In addition to adjusting to an office environment, I left AJWS with many new professional skills and important experiences. My job consisted mostly of working with social media and the press.  I was responsible for managing and updating AJWS’s twitter and facebook as well as research new social media platforms. I monitored the press for related coverage and developed lists of journalists and publications for AJWS to pitch its stories and campaigns. I also made two videos profiling AJWS grantees.  I now know how to edit videos, adapt my writing tone to fit an organization’s specific style guide, work with the media, and use social media strategically. I’ve also had exposure to branding initiatives, strategic plans and organizational changes. I will benefit immensely from all of these skills and experiences when I enter the workforce next year.

Although these concrete skills are important, I would not say that they were the most important take aways from my summer experience. I am most pleased that I learned how I can contribute to the global struggle to realize human rights, even from an office in midtown, New York City.

One of my main goals for my internship was to connect my academic interests and passion for human rights with professional skills. I’ve often struggled to determine how I can best use my skills, background, and place of privilege to make a difference on causes I believe in. Through my internship, I learned how even the smallest details and actions, from a twitter update to crafting the perfect language for a press release has a role to play in crating a more just world. Although I am not doing grass roots human rights work currently, by being a partner in the global struggle for justice and using my skills to amplify the voices of those on the front lines, I am make a positive contribution.  Although compared to the magnitude of the issues AJWS works to address through all of its work, my contributions are minimal, I take comfort in a saying from the Talmud, which is sort of a mantra at AJWS: “It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it.”

Like any good experience, my internship at AJWS left me with more questions than answers:

– Is communications the right field for me to work in to pursue my passion for global human rights?

– What are the ethical lines of telling other peoples’ stories through media?

– How can well-intended people from the West help the Global South while respecting culture, dignity and sustainability?

– How can I most effectively “sell” causes I care about?

– How can we integrate a human-rights approach to international development not only into actions, but how these actions are shared with others?

– What is the most effective way for me to make a difference? Grass-roots community organizing? Or working to sustain the powerful efforts of others through writing and communications?

Although I do not have the answers to these questions now, I am confident that I will continue to think about them and contextualize them during my last year at Brandeis and as I enter the “world of work” permanently. I am thankful that my WOW fellowship gave the support and financial means to have this experience and am looking forward to seeing how it connects to my future endeavors.  I’m excited to continue working with AJWS, whether through organizing a Global Hunger Shabbat at Brandeis, or participating in one of its service programs in the future.

 

Picking a Major, Following a Career

When I was in high school, I remembered debating for a really, really long time what I wanted to study in university. I knew what academic subjects I was particularly good at, what I was really, really bad at, and what subjects I found to be especially intriguing. I was good at history, a bit of a struggler in the sciences, and deeply passionate about what I now understand to be sociology. Beyond this, I had it stuck in my mind that what I majored in undergrad must directly relate to what career I ultimately would take on post-grad. Balancing a profound excitement for social justice and the glimmering hopes of my self-proclaimed tiger mom, my attempts at channeling all of these thoughts and opinions into some kind of major caused me to be more confused than before. I wanted to take these pieces and lend into some sort of study – a life path that would ultimately bring me somewhere that made me happy on all of these fronts.

 Chief Medical Officer for PIH, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, working one on one with a patient in rural Haiti. 

But I was ultimately able to come up with a formal version of a major. Whatsmore, I came up with a potential career plan that fit all of my key points. I hope to one day work as an OBGYN (obstetrician/gynecologist) for an NGO that does long term health infrastructure development in Southeast Asia. I knew the what, I knew the how, and in knowing that this was a direction that made me happy, I knew a bit of why. But my ‘why’ was solidified in working with Partners in Health, a health infrastructure NGO, this summer.

Partners in Health operates with the following as a long-form mission statement; “At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services.  Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.”

It was not until being faced by banners around the office that proudly served as daily reminders of this statement that I internalized the importance of long term health infrastructure. In the past, as I was formulating my future plans, I thought of working with organizations like Doctors without Borders; emergency medical relief programs. While Doctors without Borders certainly is an essential NGO, my heart finds more of a kinship with Partners in Health and their mission to structural development of healthcare infrastructure. With an organization like Doctors without Borders, crisis; be it war, a natural disaster, a civil conflict, or other emergency event, is required for a form of intervention. Once the crisis is nearly over Doctors without Borders tends to leave the area. I once read in a Doctors without Borders memory book “Hope in Hell” that some global posts are abandoned if the estimated time slated to complete the intervention surpasses a few years. It’s not a bad model. But to me, it feels that that short-term approach overlooks a crucial point – the crisis, whatever that might be, is often the boiling point for structural inequity within that nation. A natural disaster is so devastating because access to clean water was already so limited before it. War or civil conflict has such horrible, horrible consequences because of pre-existing structures of violence and unrest. Crisis is not the problem; it’s a consequence of a problem. In approaching healthcare with a full understanding and undertaking of structural violence, Partners in Health is different.

Patients under the care of Doctors without Borders, a crisis-prevention healthcare NGO.

Thinking about what I did this summer, and how that translates into what I want to do in the future, both in and beyond my career, I want to go back to what I ended up studying during my four years at Brandeis. I am currently a double major in Biology and International and Global Studies, making my way through the pre-health track. I’m also minoring in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, supplementing both my global and clinical perspective with these essential lenses. I think about the full education I received by being an undergraduate at Brandeis and how that has effected and shaped my perspective on health, healthcare access, and the global community. And I think back on the summer that I spent at Partners in Health, in many ways the intersection of all of my academic passions at Brandeis. From the three or so months I spent at the organization, I learned a lot about the why of my intended career choice; both why I wanted to pursue the career path I did and why it made sense in the larger context of the world. As I finish my undergraduate career up this May, and begin another academic journey into medical school, I hope that I might take with me lessons of true, sustainable development work and an even deeper dedication to healthcare for the poor.

 

A PIH project; the layout for the new Zanmi Lasante Hospital to be build in rural Haiti. 

“What I tell my students all the time is: you speak English, you have a passport, you have a responsibility to use those tools. Go see these places and talk about them. Write about them. Be an advocate. It’s a huge job, but the coolest thing ever is to change the world.”

– Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer of Partners in Health

See Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, Joia Mukherjee and many, many other amazing people speak this weekend at the Millennium Campus Conference!

An article by Joia Mukherjee, “Structural Violence, Poverty, and the AIDS Pandemic”

Learn more about Partners in Health in this “Global Journal” article.

– Sarah Van Buren ’13

 

Reverse culture shock and moving forward with Unite For Sight

One of my top reasons for choosing to volunteer at Kalinga Eye Hospital at Orissa was the pediatric ophthalmology services it offered. As an aspiring pediatrician, I was curious to learn more about how ophthalmology services were delivered to children, and how children and parents would evaluate the overall experience at the hospital. When I was given the tour of the hospital for the first time in India, I was surprised. Kalinga Eye Hospital had a room dedicated to children as a playing and a waiting room, yet it did not have appropriate toys or staff to work with children the room. Moreover, even when the children were sitting in the waiting area with their parents, no staff directed them to the children’s room. This underutilized room was beautifully painted in local cartoons and languages, and it had a separate door to the pediatric ophthalmologist’s office. It hosted a small plastic playground for children to go down the slide and ride the rocking horse. During my observation, however, I was baffled by how no staff took children patients to the doctor’s room through the directly connected door. Curious to understand the reasons for such underutilization of this playing room despite the high number of children patients, I’ve asked administrators, Director Samal, and paramedics. Their responses varied. The administrators were aware of the lack of attention to the children’s room, but as the hospital puts its priority on functions of the operating theatre and generation of sufficient revenue to sustain their humanitarian efforts, there was less emphasis on service quality in comparison to actual treatment. Moreover, there was no set protocol for children patients, so there was a big separation between treatment and service because it was culturally accepted that there was simply no need to incorporate service into children’s care. The paramedics explained that they simply do not have the money to staff the room and make best use of the room. So the room served as an accessory to the hospital, but not an integral part of the hospital experience for the intended user: the children.

The room is painted beautifully with local cartoons
We need new toys for children at the hospital! Exhibit A: the eyeless Mr. Rabbit

On one hot day at the hospital, I noticed two adorable boys sitting on the bench with other adults in the waiting room. Many minutes had passed, yet no one has suggested to them that they can go play in the children’s room. I nudged my dear friend and hospital paramedic, Trupti, to offer them a playing room while they waited for their turn to see the ophthalmologist. The boys lightened up at the paramedic’s good news and widened their eyes when the room light was turned on. There, my paramedic friend and I played with the children and watched the father smile at his boys’ smiles and laughter. A few paramedics passed by and watched us play with the children, and watched how happy and energetic the children were with a few toys and a simple welcoming gesture to the children’s eye care room.

A boy and his father playing in the children’s care room
A child patient at Kalinga Eye Hospital having fun while waiting
A child patient and the children’s eye care room

Watching these two children has inspired me to make another suggestion to the Kalinga Eye Hospital: why don’t we revamp the children’s room so that not only children can have a smooth, fun experience at the hospital, but can also increase patient satisfaction for both the child and the parents? Since this room has not been used for a very long time, it also motivated the paramedics to turn this place into a gem one day. After explaining my thoughts to Director Samal, he agreed to accept donations of environmentally friendly toys and story books for children from future volunteers from Unite For Sight instead of the required 600 eyeglasses (which are very difficult to fit into two suitcases along with other essential items). Moreover, a few paramedics have given me their word that with new supplies and toys, they will bring more children into this room and give them the vision that this hospital aims to provide for all generations. I left the place promising them that I will never forget about this experience at Kalinga Eye Hospital, and that I will continually serve as their ambassador in the United States and also in South Korea. I am happy to announce that I will be serving as Unite For Sight’s campus representative and am currently working to found a Unite for Sight chapter at Brandeis.

Prior to my trip to India, which would not have been possible without the generous support from World of Work, I was conflicted in choosing my career path: hospital administration/public health or becoming a doctor. I aimed to explore both aspects of health care in India, and I am so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had. I’ve conducted patient satisfaction surveys, brainstormed marketing strategies to sustain the hospital so that it can continue to provide services to the poor, and talked with the director of the hospital about health delivery and health disparities. Yet I did not feel as connected to those to whom I was reaching at outreach camps, ophthalmologist offices, and the hospital community. Encountering these children reaffirmed my decision to pursue attending medical school because I want to help children on a personal level. I’ve also developed a newfound interest in ophthalmology, because the joy and hope I witnessed when the patients restore their vision were so compelling and unforgettable.

The reverse culture shock I’ve experienced was none like any other culture shocks in the past. The average cost of cataract surgery at Kalinga Eye Hospital is $18, and it gave me a new perspective on my value system. $18 can mean a lot of things: four cups of coffee, a shirt, an eyeliner, and a surgery that saves lives. I will forever take this experience with me, and although my internship ended it really feels like a new beginning. I have a home in India to go back to one day, and it is time for me support the hospital’s initiatives and Unite For Sight’s objectives through my actions here in the states. If you would like to support me through Unite For Sight, please consider donating here, and if you would like to get more involved in other volunteer opportunities through Kalinga Eye Hospital and other sponsor organizations, please visit NYSASDRI website here . Thank you so much for reading!

-Gloria Park, ’13

MCAD–Third Blog Post

I can’t believe the summer is over, and my internship is complete. I’m so grateful that I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. I got along extremely well with my supervisor, who is a wonderful person, as well as my coworkers. We all worked together as a team and managed to help each other out whenever in need of support. I recall the first week of work when we listened to eight hours of lectures on discrimination laws in Massachusetts, the rights of citizens and immigrants, and the role of MCAD. I have learned a wealth of knowledge about the legal field this summer, and I believe I gained the most experience from working hands-on with the public and people of different races and backgrounds in and around the Greater Boston area.

This is a pic of the building where I worked, the building is called McCormack.

My internship challenged my ability to do public speaking. My first presentation, which was at Mount Ida College, was challenging because I was nervous and timid. I was new and did not know what to expect. I had the audience ask me random questions and although I did know the answers to most of them, I remembered right them down and ask my supervisor during the appropriate time. Fortunately, I learned plenty from the audience’s questions as well as my supervisor and coworkers. I’m happy to say that my learning goals were successfully accomplished.

My last presentation was my best one because I was very confident and not only that, but I was poised and spoke loudly and clearly. I embarked on the internship with the academic goal of applying knowledge from my Legal Studies courses at Brandeis but I felt at first that I lacked self-assurance. In the end of my final presentation, the audience clapped and thanked me for presenting. I received some generous compliments, and I plan to build off this experience at Brandeis by not only sharing my knowledge, but more importantly I plan to speak out in classes more than before. I can now say that I will no longer be reluctant to speak aloud in classrooms.

This is a picture of my coworkers at the MCAD. They are all awesome people.

Now that my internship at MCAD is complete, I want to move on to something more challenging and new. Although I’m very busy during the school year (with homework, varsity soccer, and the Brandeis Labor Coalition) I plan to find a job this summer in the business field. I want to see what both sides are like, and not that I have worked in a law firm I would really like to see what a business internship is like. I hope that in the business world, my concept of social justice continues to be reinforced by other good people who are out there to make a positive difference in this world.

Attached are two links related to the MCAD in case anyone was interested in reading a bit more information.

http://www.enterprisenews.com/topstories/x780624485/Massachusetts-Commission-Against-Discrimination-finds-lack-of-probable-cause-in-discrimination-complaint-by-former-West-Bridgewater-cop

http://www.mass.gov/mcad/

 

I want to give a huge Thanks to my supervisor Becky Shuster for teaching me so much in just a couple of weeks, and to the WOW committee for this wonderful opportunity, which would not have been possible without their support.

If anyone has any questions feel free to email me at Harold10@brandeis.edu.

Culminating my internship at CBRC

My summer at the Childhood Bilingualism Research Center was very fruitful; I accomplished all of my learning goals that I had set before beginning the internship. Time flew by as I worked on experiment design and data analysis, transcribed video files and learned how to use various programs and equipment at the Center. Additionally, I gained many new skills along the way that were beyond my expectations, such as learning how to use SPSS and the eye-tracker. Day by day, I became accustomed to the pace of working in academia alongside graduate students. All of these experiences will be useful for me in the future, academically and professionally.

I embarked on the internship with the academic goal of applying theoretical knowledge from my Brandeis courses to practical research. Originally only hoping to participate in experimental design, I actually got the chance to design an experiment from scratch. I created an interactive game studying trilingual children’s acquisition of spatial relations, making it fun for 4 to 6 year olds to participate in the study. In planning the experiment, I applied concepts from the language acquisition course I took this spring semester, and searched for relevant journal articles using databases introduced to me by a Brandeis professor. In my last week, I presented my ideas to the directors of the Center, Prof. Yip and Prof. Matthews, and all of the lab members.

Welcoming Dr. Gorter and Dr. Cenoz from University of the Basque Country, Spain

Throughout the internship, starting from the Conference in May, I met and chatted with many linguistics professors from around the world who came to visit the Center here in Hong Kong. It was eye-opening and refreshing to hear about the most recent studies about multilingual education and language policies across the globe. Like many others at the Center, I took pride that Hong Kong is becoming a vibrant academic meeting point where students and scholars come together to discuss the topic of multilingualism. I believe that this increased discourse will extend into the mainstream culture and encourage more parents to raise their children multilingually. Last year, CBRC collaborated with Radio Television Hong Kong to create a hour-long TV program promoting the positive outcomes of child multilingualism. This discussion has also been featured in an International Herald Tribune op-ed piece entitled “Cantonese, Please”.

Learning how to use the eye-tracker

For those who are interested in a research internship in linguistics, I really encourage you to connect with professors, in and out of Brandeis. Many of them are very keen to get to know undergraduates who are beginning a path in linguistics. Since there are so many sub-fields in linguistics, be sure to find a professor whose research interests align with your own. They may offer you an internship if you display passion for the subject and willingness to learn.

Dim sum with Prof. Yip, Prof. Matthews and Kenneth, visiting student from Harvard

During these past eight weeks, I gained valuable knowledge that will be important for me to have as I continue my studies in linguistics at Brandeis and explore possibilities for future research. I am so grateful to my supervisor and mentor Prof. Virginia Yip, without whom none of this would be possible and whose encouragement and guidance led me to challenge myself during the internship. Thank you to all of the lab members for introducing me to everything at the Center, showing me around the CUHK campus, and making sure I achieved all of my learning goals. Last but not least, thank you so much to the WOW committee for funding this very rewarding experience.

– Miriam Wong ’14

The Month that Changed My Life

I am almost completely at a loss for words when I try to describe all that has happened to me in the last third of my internship. To say it has changed my life is an understatement. Everything is different. But first I need to explain how I got here:

In my last three weeks with Bible Raps, I got to go “on tour.” Matt, Matan, and I went to four different camps in five days, all in the gorgeous northern PA mountains. As a “camp person” myself, I love experiencing the different cultures and embracing all the different modes of camp life. I also got into the groove of my job. I knew when to start handing out the packets at the concerts, which songs to film, and I even got to jump in on some songs. I also helped to run the workshop, working with kids on learning and writing. After driving 12 hours overnight from PA to GA, we were once again at Camp Ramah Darom, my home turf. But this time, I had a lot more to do. Almost all the workshops we put on that week I ran myself. I chose and complied the text to learn, ran the study, gave the explanation, helped the kids write, and walked them through the recording. My  favorite song from the week is about Nachshon, who according to tradition was the first to walk into the sea, causing God to part the waters.  Here is a short video of the song and the recording process!

I also finished up and performed my first original Bible Rap about the book of Ruth! It was so great being able to share it with all of the counselors and kids. With more work, it will hopefully be incorporated into the Bible Raps curriculum and appear on the next album! Here’s a video and a pdf of the Torah Rap-Map.

 

All throughout that week and once I was home, I spent most of my time making videos with the rap-maps of the songs in the curriculum for teachers to use. They aren’t public yet, but I hope to share those soon!

I had such an amazing experience with Bible Raps, especially traveling and running the workshops, that I’m in discussions with Matt to continue working with them! (more on this later.)

After a week at home I was off to Montclair New Jersey for the NewCAJE conference for Jewish education. It was an incredible week. I had the opportunity to perform my Jewish music for the first time and had such amazing responses.

 

Teachers want to use my music in their classrooms and bring me in for workshops. I received encouragement from new friends and musicians that I have loved an admired all my life. I was also able to represent Bible Raps, and ran a 2 hour presentation on their behalf to five incredibly engaged educators. I learned so much from them, and all five want to bring me in for workshops this year!

This is the jump-start to a year full of singing, writing, recording, and traveling. I have been so inspired and motivated from this summer. My advice to budding artists? Just do it. Stop waiting for some future time to make it happen. That time is right now.

– Eliana Light ’13

Two months in at the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge!

I’ve now been working at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge for more than two months and things have been going great!  I’m really starting to get into the flow of things here and feel that I’ve already learned a great deal.

One of the new experiences I’ve had in the past few weeks was the opportunity to see Olive Ridley sea turtle hatchlings during the day.  Sea turtles generally hatch at night when fewer predators are on the beach and without the hot sun that can hurt the sensitive hatchlings.  Sometimes, however, the hatchlings also emerge around sunrise and I was able to snap the picture below.  Seeing how small (fits in the palm of your hand!) and vulnerable the hatchlings are makes me think about how incredible it is that any of these little guys survive long enough to grow to 45 kg. (100 lb.) as adults.  For more information about sea turtles, including nesting and hatchling behavior, see this website.

A Olive Ridley sea turtle hatching making its way to sea at sunrise while people scare away dogs and vultures.

Although I’ve always thought I would enjoy studying biology in the field, this internship has reaffirmed my desire to pursue some sort of biological fieldwork in the future.  I am looking forward to applying some of these skills to my work in the Environmental Field Semester JBS program this fall.  My other goals for this internship are to learn about the local community and to improve my Spanish vocabulary. I have been able to make a great deal of progress towards these goals in a short period of time.

I am most proud of how well I’ve come to know the beach here at Ostional.  Before coming here, I didn’t think much about factors such as the tides, sand texture, vultures and feral animals or beach debris.  However, after being here for a few months, I have become increasingly aware of the many facets of the environment here.  Much of my work here entails leading groups of volunteers on nightly beach patrols in search of turtles.  In my first few weeks as a patrol leader, I struggled to orient myself on the beach at night.  Now that I’ve gained some experience, I can recognize many landmarks on the beach, even at night, and know where I am on the beach without having to check with a light.

On July 25th, the province of Guanacaste celebrated the Anniversary of Annexation into Costa Rica.  This region of Costa Rica  was part of Nicaragua until 1824, when it was annexed by Costa Rica.  This event is celebrated every year in the province with a huge festival including traditional dances and a rodeo.  I took this photo from the side of a bull ring in the city of Nicoya.  For more information about the Annexation of Guanacaste, visit this website.

Every July 25th the Anniversary of Guanacaste is celebrated with a rodeo.

Even though my future may or may not include sea turtles, the skills I’m building in my work here are definitely applicable to my future.  Most importantly, I’ve begun to understand what it takes to undertake science in a field setting.  When compared to a laboratory, there are simply so many factors which are beyond scientists’ control, including weather, feral animals, and interference by people.  Although work in the field has many challenges, I am excited to continue my internship at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge as I consider engaging in my own field investigations one day.

 

– Sarah Steele ’13

 

 

 

The End to an Amazing Journey

M.A.S.O’s Banner

It is so crazy to think that I have finally completed my internship with Massachusetts Survivors Outreach. This will have to go down as one of the hardest summers of my life because of the high expectations and short turn around time to get all the work done. I met so many incredible people this summer who I will continue to connect with even though we are all leaving back to school. Within the span of three months, M.A.S.O has taken huge strides. We have become a non profit organization, fundraised over $5,000, and even secured an office space in Quincy. M.A.S.O has gone from a small organization into a huge Non-Profit organization that is recognized by other organizations such as Dove.

The Interns at the State House

This experience will help me throughout my Brandeis career because M.A.S.O has showed me first hand how hard work can trump over all other factors. Brandeis has taught me to question all things, even how straight forward the concept and this has made my experience with M.A.S.O much more fulfilling. Combining these two life long lessons, I feel, is an ideal that people strive to learn but never get the chance to learn first hand but I have.

After completing this internship however, there is so much more I want to look into and learn. I want to become more familiar with the court proceeding process in all kinds of courts. Since I spent all my time in family court and working with victims of domestic violence, my experience with with diverse kinds of victims and proceedings is limited. I want to know how criminal and juvenile court proceeding work as well.  I also want to try and complete my research that I started with M.A.S.O on the Economic Strain Within the Family Court System and maybe even write a thesis. All of the knowledge that I have soaked-up through out the summer makes me want to write it all down. I guess all of these Brandeis courses have drilled that kind of process in my head so where I actually want to write a long paper. HA HA!

The best advice that I would give a perspective intern is to be open to new ideas and get as many jobs you can handle during your internship. It will make the experience so much more fulfilling at the end of it all. I was hired as the pre-health intern but I did not only do research. I worked with the Business and Law students and helped them out as much as I could and from that experience, I was able to utilize not only my pre-health knowledge but also work on other areas that I could be interested in.

One of the main things that I have learned this summer is that action, even for a good cause, starts with one person. Just because you do not have the big following or the recognition that you expected, you must keep moving forward. I did not understand the concept of good organizations that help fight for great causes failing before it gets started. No matter how good your cause, you must keep fighting for it even when you think everything is going to be okay.

– Johnny Wilson ’13

Summer Protests

My mid-point was a time of a turbulent renewal of the social justice protest movement that began in the summer of 2011. At this time, marches calling for social change, specifically for a socially-conscious governmental budget, were organized and highly attended.  At Shatil and on the street, there was a feeling of anticipation for another summer of social action.  I personally felt excited for Israel and the potential for change, and also about being so involved in the social justice world at a time of change and action. Reading organization-wide conversations about the movement participating in Shatil conferences at the Knesset made me feel meaningfully involved. I felt more than just the high of marching in a protest, I had the feeling of being part of something greater, that had large impact on Israeli society.  Shatil’s work with a variety of organizations, truly enables it to have strength in numbers and make meaningful contributions on a range of issues.

Above: Photograph at the one year anniversary of the social justice protest movement in Tel Aviv

One of my learning goals this summer was to learn about the spectrum of civil society organizations and movements in Israel. Through the emails, and renewal of the social justice protest movement, I was able to learn about a range of civil society actors and organizations. Beyond this, I began a new assignment to write short examples of work Shatil has done with various organizations. Through this task I was able to talk both with Shatil consultants and leaders of organizations about the work Shatil and the various organizations do.

One of the skills that I am building right now is writing skills.  Many of my responsibilities include writing, either writing for the newsletter (check out this week’s newsletter here) and writing reports for donors. Because of this, my writing abilities have greatly improved. Another skill I have improved is communication. Many of my responsibilities, including writing for the newsletter, updating a volunteer database (check out the database here) and writing case study examples, forced me to call and talk with a range of people. This has helped improve both my language skills, as most of the conversations were in Hebrew, and my communication skills. A skill that I have gained is translation. There have been a few opportunities for me to translate documents from Hebrew into English, which I have enjoyed greatly. Through this I discovered my own gratification from doing translations. These skills are skills that I hope to bring with me to whatever my future job will be.

I am most proud of participating in a Facilitative Leadership seminar. The two-day seminar was taught entirely in Hebrew (although I was also given English materials), and I am very happy that I was able to follow, participate and learn from the seminar. The seminar included the seven practices of facilitative leadership, below.

Seven Practices of Facilitative Leadership

Tamar Schneck ’13

Finishing Touches at the Katz Lab

The benefit to working at a Brandeis lab, or the burden depending on your personal philosophy, is literally seeing summer coming to a close. As the campus first became awash with upperclass volunteers (e.g., Orientation Leaders and the like), first-years soon followed, and all other returning students arriving over the past few days  show that summer has truly ended. As sad as this is, I look back on my summer experience with a sense of completeness. A large learning goal for my summer internship at the Katz Lab was to learn what it is like to be a research scientist, and by going into work everyday, running experiments, analyzing data, researching relevant literature, and writing up exciting results, I think that I have a better handle of what is entailed in the life of a professional researcher. Additionally I had the great fortune to present our findings at the Brandeis Division of Science Poster Session

 

Undergraduate Researchers at the Brandeis Division of Science Poster Session
Source: www.brandeis.edu/now/2012/august/scifest.html

 

The work that was completed this summer has laid the foundation for a great number of research projects and during the year I will be performing one as my senior thesis in neuroscience. I hope to take the skills and knowledge I’ve gained over this internship and use them to aid in my future research (both in my senior year and beyond). This is not to say, however, that I am well adept at performing at a professional level, and I can’t wait to continue these projects to learn more about the scientific process of creating an experiment and seeing its completion.

 

The Ideal Scientific Process
Source: media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/Science-Flow-Chart.jpg

 

To any interested students who want to see what research is like: try it! As an undergraduate it is difficult to have a sense of what the “real world” will be like in your 4 years, but luckily at Brandeis you can have a keen sense of what life is like as a researcher. There is no way that you will know unless you find a project to work on. Professors, though intimidating, are still people and a quick email or an in-person introduction may just be your way to get your foot in their door. Also, if you’re looking for outside funding, please don’t put on blinders to those sources which cater to all disciplines; if you can show how beneficial the internship is, then you are equally a strong, competitive candidate. Finally, once you have your position, show initiative and be driven to complete your project as you are going to need all of your ambition to get you through the rough patches that are omnipresent in science. If you do follow through and work hard, you will be well rewarded!

-Kevin Monk, ’13

After NCL

Since finishing my internship at the National Consumers League in Washington, D.C., I’ve had time to reflect on the amazing experience. One of my learning goals was simply to learn about the federal policy process. By attending congressional hearings and regulatory commission meetings, I had the opportunity to learn about this firsthand. In addition, I learned about a nonprofit’s role in federal policy. NCL influences many laws and federal regulations, and works with agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the FDA.  Before working with NCL, I did not realize the prevalence and importance of regulation for food, product safety, and the internet, among others. While groups such as NCL defends the need for most times of regulation that protects consumers, other groups and policy makers express concerns about the cost of implementation of such safety standards.

We attended a hearing at the House, which was broadcast on CSPAN 2

I had great opportunities to connect with NCL staff and network in D.C. I felt the staff was very warm and welcoming toward interns, and I had numerous opportunities to connect with leaders in consumer, labor, and policy fields.

Interns and staff with president of umbrella federation for labor unions, AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka

I also worked on my research and writing skills, and I am especially proud of my blog posts, such as this one, which have been published online on NCL’s website. As I learned about various issues that NCL works on, and the tools they use to progress their cause, my understanding of social justice has been reinforced and enhanced.

After interning at the National Consumers League, I want to learn more about labor issues and food safety. I would love to continue working on these issues at Brandeis and even in my career. In addition, I loved the experience of working with a progressive nonprofit, and that is also something I would like to pursue after graduation.

I would advise a student interested in interning at NCL to take advantage of every opportunity to attend hearings and events. They are extremely enriching, and unique to a D.C. internship. For students interning at a nonprofit, I think it’s important to find an organization or cause that matches your interests and passions. I also would advise anyone to connect with staff and seek out networking opportunities. I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity—it truly was amazing.

– Lili Gecker ’13

 

 

 

The Countdown & Completion of My Summer 2012 Internship

I have officially begun the countdown until I leave Israel, and although I will miss it dearly, I look forward to returning back to Brandeis. My most important learning goal this summer was to strengthen my skills in research, specifically clinical research. I was able to do this by contributing to two literature reviews on preventive interventions for dealing with violence and trauma. With the goal of eventually working toward my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, gaining this experience was crucial for my career development, and went much beyond my previous experience. I surpassed my original expectations because instead of doing one literature review, I ended up working on two. I was also given the opportunity to help out with a study on designing an intervention for building resilience for at-risk youth, the latter being one of the populations I eventually want to focus on as a psychologist. This has given me insight into cultures other than America and Israel, which was not exactly one of my original learning goals but nevertheless appreciated.

Photo Credit: Traumaweb.org

I am also learning more about evaluating the work of other psychologists, by observing my mentors here in real-time.

The work I have done at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma this summer will fuel the rest of my time at Brandeis. Specifically, it will put me in “research mode” as preparation for my Honor’s Thesis. It will also inform my academic work as I take courses in the areas I have researched this summer.

There is still a lot left to learn before I am prepared for the next step in my career. I want to gain more experience in research, which I will be able to do with my Honor’s Thesis this year; I also want do get more hands-on work with a clinical population, especially children, adolescents, first responders, and others affected by trauma. Whether working at a medical facility or with children in general, I know that to truly engage myself in this field, I must engage it at all levels, not just research.

For anyone interested in interning at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, I commend you for your decision to volunteer, and think you will have a blast. The Center does, however, get very busy with many projects. I would therefore advise interested students to research the Center’s work first, which can be viewed here. Once there, see if there is any program or type of work (i.e. research) that most interests you. Then contact one of the psychologists, someone in public affairs, or send them an e-mail. (Contact page located here). Keep trying if you do not hear back at first. And before you reach out, also think about one main project you can focus on. Every volunteer is required to contribute sometime to PR, but the rest can be decided by you and the staff members. While at the Center, I would definitely try to check out the various “Units” of the Center. You will learn not only about trauma and resilience, but all the different ways one can contribute through research, programs, therapy, marketing, and more.

Photo Credit: Traumaweb.org

– Rocky Reichman ’13

Finishing up at the Cambridge Public Health Department

It amazes me how quickly the summer can go by! I have thoroughly enjoyed being an intern in the Division of Epidemiology and Data Services at the Cambridge Public Health Department. In the past few weeks, I took some time off from working on the Cambridge neighborhood wellness index to work on two other projects: a health resource map and heart disease and stroke mapping project. These projects utilized the GIS mapping skills I gained in the previous weeks. I had a very productive meeting with staff from the Division of Community Health and Wellness, another division within the Cambridge Public Health Department, to discuss the health resource map. Much of our conversation circled back to the idea that to maintain good health, people need access to more than hospitals and health clinics; the food resources and recreation opportunities available to people are also important.

This internship has both challenged and helped shape my views of social justice in healthcare. By researching the social determinants of illness, I have learned a lot about how where we live shapes our habits and views on health. Although in many cases it is ultimately an individual’s responsibility to make healthy choices (i.e. choosing to snack on fruits and vegetables instead of junk food), the location in which a person has grown up has a huge impact on not only what choices a person makes regarding his or her health, but what options are available. In looking at the health resource map I drafted, I saw that certain areas of Cambridge seemed less accessible to some health services like hospitals and pharmacies. This observation got me thinking: are these areas lacking other resources? How does a lack of access to these services contribute to illness? I think that it is important to address the root of the problem to improve health equity.

Having completed my internship, I want to learn even more about epidemiology and public health research. The projects I worked on reinforced and broadened what I know about the connection between social factors and illness. As a Jerome A. Schiff Undergraduate Research Fellow, I am looking forward to incorporating what I learned this summer about health disparities into my research project on community gardens as primary prevention of childhood obesity. I have a greater appreciation for the ways in which the built environment fosters or discourages healthy living habits. This internship made it clear to me that I want to work in public health, and I am interested in learning more about epidemiology. Although I cannot take Intro to Epidemiology until senior year, I plan on learning as much as I can about epidemiology by reading about it. I think that the best way to learn is through experience, so my advice to anyone interested in a certain subject or field is to try it out! Ask questions, get to know the other people in the office, and give it your best. An internship is a great way to explore your interests and maybe get a better sense of what you want to do after Brandeis. I learned a lot about how social disparities influence health, and I will definitely apply what I learned this summer to my future studies.

– Jennifer Mandelbaum ’14

Centro Presente: Last Blog

This past Saturday was my last day at Centro Presente. These nine weeks went by so fast, I remember my first day like it was yesterday!!!!. As an intern in the Legal department, some of my responsibilities were to organize events to inform the immigrant community about the current issues that affect the community as well as to organize educational training on basic rights for undocumented immigrants. As time passed, I helped with administrative responsibilities such as doing translations of documents and assisting people when they came in into the office to receive assistance. With these responsibilities, I have the opportunity to gain knowledge in Latino immigrant community as well as how to organize events which I did not have any experience before. I learned that it takes a lot of time to prepare an event but it feels great when I see the outcomes at the end.

 

During my time at Centro, I also joined some of the protests that the Worker Rights Organizer from Centro Present, who along with allies of Centro organized pickets outside of restaurants that belong to employers who did not pay their workers what they worked for.  I am very happy that Centro is helping these workers to get the money that they have earned with their hard work.  I am very sad to know that these kinds of things happen in a country like United States where there are so many laws that protect workers. I think it may be because employers take advantages of employees that they may think that do not know their rights, thank god for organization like Centro that are paying attention to these cases and are doing their best to help workers against exploitation

 

 

 

As I finished my internship, I want to learn more about the issues that many immigrants are facing in the United States. I feel that my summer experience was only a glimpse of what the issues that many immigrants are facing in this country. I would like to gain more knowledge and be able to help more those whom I am able to help.

For students interest in an internship with my host organization, I advice them to get ready to learn a lot about the different issues that immigrants face in the United States. Be ready to meet different people as the Latino community is composed of many different people which make the experience even more worth experiencing.

As I return to Brandeis, I plan to join the Brandeis Immigrant Education Initiative, a recently created student-organized to create awareness on Brandeis campus about current immigration issues. I want to share my summer experience with my fellow-Brandeis people and give my ideas so that we can create more awareness and help the immigrant communities to fight for their rights. During this internship, I realized that there are a lot of injustices in this world and a lot has to be done to live in a more just place. I learned about the issues in many different perspective which made me realized that we need to work to get social justice.

– Ivonne Moreno ’13

 

All Good Things Must Come To an End

Prior to this summer I had never been outside of Massachusetts for any substantial period of time. For this reason, one of my goals for this summer was to broaden my horizons and experience some new things outside of my comfort zone. Spending the summer in New York City has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and it has opened my eyes to whole new world of possibilities. Before this summer I had been quite content to apply exclusively to law schools close to home in Boston but now I am considering New York schools, as well as schools in Chicago, Washington D.C and even Los Angeles.

Another goal that I had for this summer was to gain some firsthand exposure to how family court operates. By regularly attending court proceedings with my supervisor, I was able to observe how things work in an actual court of law and to pick the brains of the attorney’s with whom I interacted. In fact, my inquisitive nature actually made an impression on a few attorneys and a couple of my conversations led to impromptu lunches, which turned out to be great networking opportunities.

Flickr/Paul Lowry

I also wanted to apply the academic knowledge that I’ve gained at Brandeis to real-life and this internship granted me the opportunity to do just that. A great deal of sociological scholarship is devoted to how individual agents interact with social infrastructures. By interviewing clients and watching the lawyers advocate their wishes in the courtroom, I was able to witness this phenomenon in action. As a sociologist who subscribes to the tenets of conflict theory, I have always had a somewhat cynical outlook on “the system” but this internship has really altered my perspective. In stark contrast to the adversarial atmosphere that I experienced in criminal court, the collaborative and collegial atmosphere that pervaded family court gave me the distinct impression that everyone was genuinely invested in a common goal and that engendered a very pleasant and productive work environment. Seeing how passionate not only the professionals at LFC but the judges and opposing counsel truly were about helping these disadvantaged children was quite refreshing and has given me a less pessimistic view of “the system”.

I am nearing the end of my undergraduate experience and I have been fortunate to have had some amazing internships in both corporate and criminal law but interning at LFC this summer allowed me to foray into an avenue of the law that is of particular interest to me: family law. And while I still do not have a concrete vision of what type of law I ultimately want to pursue, I am certain that the experience I gained this summer will greatly facilitate my decision making process when the time comes to make what will be perhaps, the most important decision of my career.

The advice that I would give to anyone interested in interning at LFC or in the legal in general is to have an idea of what you want to get out of your internship and be assertive about making sure you get the most out of your experience. With that being said, I also think it’s good to keep an open mind and be willing to learn about things that you might otherwise have not experienced. Other than that, I would just say to cherish the opportunity and show your gratitude to Brandeis by representing them to the best of your ability.

– Aaron Bray ’13

The end of my internship at WATCH

My internship experience was incredibly positive. And I think that overall I had different challenges and feelings than a typical intern.  As the Housing Clinic intern, it was pretty much up to me to assist clients desperately in need of affordable, safe, and sanitary housing. This was a daunting, intense, and sometimes discouraging task. I had wonderful guidance and supervision, however it was up to me to meet and speak with clients. I did my best to utilize my resources (two of which are MassResources and MassLegalHelp), research new resources, and serve the clients to the best of my ability. There were clients who came in, however, and families I worked with, that sometimes I knew my work would ultimately not do much good. I served as an encouraging force, a safe person to talk to, and a resource for information that may or may not pan out.  This was a definite challenge to my somewhat idealist and young desire to build upon my personal concepts of social justice in attempts to better the community of Waltham, Massachusetts.

What I’ve learned through this is a lot about the small things. Knowing that I can’t fix all the problems that families come in with: struggling with immigration status, in need of work, all but completely homeless, struggling to feed their children. But I strove to start with the little things. Little things like food stamps, food pantries, soup kitchens, day centers, shelters. Although their living problems seem immense, the most success I found throughout my internship was in these little things, that in reality, provide success and do go a long way.  So although I was challenged daily, mentally and emotionally, and my previously idealist conceptions of social justice were challenged with too immense and real issues, they were affirmed through the small successes I had with all the clients I met with; their thanks, their empowerment and their small success little by little.  I just had to keep in mind, and continue to keep in mind, that since I am only one person, it is the small accomplishments that truly do make a difference.

It definitely helps to have previously volunteered in the clinic when starting this internship. It is an amazing opportunity and provides a great opportunity, however the work is intense and the responsibility plentiful. It helps to at least me familiar with the community resources so you can help each client efficiently and with the most appropriate resources. Another thing I learned was that people won’t always come in for housing problems. WATCH is known as a helpful resource and a place to seek help regardless of your immigration status. A lot of problems that did crop up dealt with immigration and the newly implemented Secure Communities. At WATCH we worked to inform all our members about Secure Communities and their rights when it comes to the police. Check out the two flyers I created for our community members!

– Molly Lortie ’13

Finishing up at FVLC

I’d imagine working permanently at a nonprofit can be tiresome, a thankless job where one finds oneself working 12-hour days for a single client. My supervisor seldom took time off for lunch, others snuck bites of sandwiches in between calls.

It’s definitely a hard job.

Nonetheless, at FVLC I noticed that when things got that rough, it would be the people whom you were surrounded by that got you through.

It would be the California sunshine on your walk to work the next day and the farmer’s market blueberries someone brought in to share with the office.

Perhaps most importantly, it would be the check-in call with that client the next day that really helps- when she says, “thanks”.

Interning at FVLC has taught me an incredible amount about the resiliency of people in the face of trauma. Many of our clients entered our office feeling disempowered, angry, hurt, bitter, and ultimately frustrated. Sometimes the staff felt the same way. The goal was for everyone to leave with the same feeling: you will get through it. This summer, it was my job to take the primary steps in ensuring our clients would make it through whatever rough situation they were experiencing.

Having now completed this experience, I don’t know much about where the future will take me other than that I want to continue in this vein of work. In the fall, I will be interning with Massachusetts Citizens for Children, where I will be facilitating trainings around the Boston area to adults regarding how to protect children from child sexual abuse. I will also be working with the organization as a whole on strategic planning, learning more about the gears that shift and propel the group as a whole. I am excited to continue to immerse myself in this world and, in doing so, potentially carve a place for myself after college.

I would definitely recommend interning at FVLC for anyone with an interest in this field. They provided a warm, caring environment that allowed me to learn in a tremendously productive manner. Here is an informational video that FVLC recently created that explains further what they do and how they aid survivors throughout the legal process.  Someone on staff was always available to lend an ear and an opinion. I would definitely recommend receiving your 40 hour domestic violence training prior to beginning the internship because it enabled me to really make the most of my time there. As mentioned in my first post, they did not waste any time in putting me to work because they trusted that I was already competent, which was very helpful.

Ultimately, I had a wonderful, enriching summer interning with FVLC and feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so.

Ashley Lynette, ’13

 

GIS Mapping at the Cambridge Public Health Department

The past few weeks of my internship have gone by quickly! It’s hard to believe I’m already at the halfway point. My internship in the Division of Epidemiology and Data Services at the Cambridge Public Health Department has given me the opportunity to begin to understand how social disparities affect community wellness through work on a neighborhood wellness index. By seeing how factors like cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality, obesity rate, green space, and walkability contribute to the health of a neighborhood, this project has reinforced what I have learned about the environment’s role in population health. When this data is overlaid with sociodemographic data, we will get a better sense of how social disparities affect community wellness. I’m proud of how the index is coming along, and I’m looking forward to learning how to map wellness indicators using the GIS program. Mapping the wellness index will take it from being a list of numbers and neighborhood wellness ratings to something more visual and dynamic. Although it has been challenging at times, I have enjoyed the process of starting with a project from scratch and seeing how it has evolved over several weeks.

In addition to the insight I have gained into chronic disease through the mapping project, this internship has given me an opportunity to see how a local public health department operates. Although much of the work I have done has been independent, the process of creating a neighborhood wellness index requires collaboration with colleagues in the Division of Epidemiology and Data Services, other divisions within the Cambridge Public Health Department, and other external partners in Cambridge. The collaborative aspect of public health doesn’t surprise me, given how interdisciplinary health is, but it wasn’t something I thought a lot about before starting this internship. The Division of Epidemiology and Data Services and the School Health program of the Cambridge Public Health Department share an office, so I have been able to see how they work together. The work I have done on this project and what I have learned about the other work of the Division has helped me gain a better understanding of what a public health department does and how public health data is collected, organized, and analyzed.

I have built a number of skills through this internship that I can transfer to academics and future career plans. The quantitative nature of this work will help me in my coursework at Brandeis by improving my data analysis skills. Brandeis social science courses tend to be qualitative, and this work will help me look at social factors in a more measurable way. A basic understanding of GIS software might be useful for courses at Brandeis, in graduate school, or in the workforce. I have also benefited from working in an office environment. Most of my other public health experience has involved hands-on field-based work, so this internship has taught me about working in an office and office etiquette. I’ve really enjoyed the first half of my internship, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the neighborhood wellness index goes in the second half.

 – Jennifer Mandelbaum ’14

Summer Ends and Fall Begins at NARAL!

I’m very excited because as my “summer” internship comes to a close I will continue working with NARAL as a fall intern! Working with this organization has been so incredible, I’m so excited to continue as the election heats up. Next week, Sept. 6th, is the primary followed by the general election on November 7th. Until then, NARAL is in full election mode, which will entail me spending all of my time on different campaigns.

After the election, we immediately jump into legislative mode preparing for the upcoming session, understanding our opponents’ proposed legislation, and beginning to work with allied organizations, local community leaders, and legislators themselves. I’m very excited for all that is upcoming in the next few months.

This summer has been an incredible experience for me. I think it’s really shed a lot of light onto my future career goals. I am certain that I want to be in the non-profit area. I have decided to postpone a graduate degree as most programs prefer candidates to work a few years in the field. This internship has allowed me the opportunity to speak with real role-models currently doing the things I see myself doing, and allow me to understand the paths, their advice, their experience, and their future aspirations.

While so far my experience with NARAL the connections I’ve made, and the things I have learned have been invaluable, I am just extremely excited to continue on and get different experience in the legislative field. I’m excited to transform from an intern whose main job was to focus on electoral politics and campaigning,  to an intern who gets to really delve into the legislative process. Therefore, I’m extremely excited to learn more about the other aspect of NARALs work.

One challenge of this summer was reconciling my ideas of justice with my ideas of politics. In my opinion, politicians think more about winning elections and less about sticking to their moral compasses.  This makes many of these politicians no less of wonderful, compassionate, dedicated and hardworking people with incredible intentions – but it does compromise the representation. Unfortunately, this is nationwide, both on small local scales and larger national scales. This idea that to win elections, games must be played – compromises the integrity of the system. When I’ve witnessed wonderful politicians have to vote against things that they believe in, or vice versa, solely for some political game, it really hurts as a constituent and someone who is working to get them elected. So in that sense, it has deflated my hope for politics as a vehicle for social justice.

Lastly, I want to mention a closing reflection from this summer. I am a young, energetic, enthusiastic and idealist 22 year old woman. Yet everyday something new happens, or I understand something better, or see a connection for the first time and realize how many problems there are in the world. Yet every day, I meet someone new working to fix them. So I guess the reflection is, that as dedicated as I am to this type of work I must remember that I am only one person, and that if I can change one small thing I’ve accomplished a lot. So I’m trying to narrow my scope and realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Check out this blog post I wrote for Naral!

– Becca Miller ’13

Sawadeeka!

Some time in mid July, as I was riding home from work through miles of rice patties catching the evening sun, it hit me that I would not be taking my students home with me. It was at that moment that I made my official and final decision that I would be returning to Sold, by whatever means possible, to continue my program. 

My realization of the success and importance of what I had been doing for these children came one night as I was sewing together their individual patches for an ’emotions quilt’ (each student received an emotions word that they had to express in shapes and colors on a patch of felt). For me, the quilt served as a piece of tangible evidence of the program’s success and the difference it appeared to be making in the way these children process the world in and around them. As I was piecing together patches of the quilt, I began piecing together my plans for the future.

In the short run, I plan to learn a lot more Thai, and take as many relevant art and psychology programs that my schedule will allow. A little while into the future I plan on looking for a masters program in expressive arts, and connecting art with self exploration and social justice. Not everyone is lucky enough to find work that makes them smile as they ride home at the end of the day, and I plan to take this experience and run with it as I try to find a similar and perhaps even more effective and rewarding experience in the future.

In terms of my advice for other students, I would strongly recommend pursuing your passions. If they don’t currently exist in in the ‘world of work’, find a way to make them fit. Carve a path for yourself if there isn’t one cut out in the world already. And from a logistical standpoint, give yourself plenty of time and rest for planning and contacting as many organizations as you can!

My ideas around social justice and developing a sense of the greater world and its needs were strongly influenced by my experience at Sold. The necessity to adjust the western view of the world that I’ve been granted was difficult but essential in relating to the children and forming meaningful connections. While many of the children’s stories were difficult to digest, it was also incredibly important to keep in mind the reality of their situations, and the possibilities and realistic limitations in terms of my abilities to impact their every day lives. The most important lesson I learned is the necessity to make a sustainable impact, not just swoop in, have fun and take off. That’s one of the main reasons that I will be returning to Sold- to forge the skills and thought processes necessary for the children to convert the activities of this summer into helpful, lasting practices to use in the future.

– Zoey Hart ’13

Finishing up the Summer at UFE

It’s hard to believe that the summer is already over! The last half of my summer in Boston was smooth sailing as I got more accustomed to the rhythm of life at UFE. By the end, I felt that I had achieved a healthy balance of challenge and basic understanding of how to get things done. In terms of accomplishing my goals set at the beginning of the summer, I am happy with the results. I set some broad goals, but also quite a few very specific goals having to do with gaining confidence in fundraising and donor relations. The more I observed and worked with members of the Development team, the more I grew to see “practice making perfect”. UFE’s current development team is full of wisdom and years of experience and I was really appreciative of their willingness to share their knowledge, and even take a couple steps back to explain basic procedures that were unfamiliar to me. As the summer progressed, I definitely saw a huge improvement in myself- it became much easier to jump on an assigned task because I spent less time clarifying questions and had the confidence to make decisions that I deemed appropriate.

Another goal of mine was to improve research skills, and I had many opportunities to look into ways that UFE could save on administrative costs- because a goal of any non-profit is to have administrative costs that are as low as possible to keep the majority of money headed towards the mission of the organization. The first research project I did was in my very first month and involved a cost-benefit analysis of what each individual state charges to become a charitable solicitor in that respective state. Some of the costs were extremely high, whereas others charged nothing at all. Having this list enables UFE to take advantage of all of the states that are free, and then look into which states are worth paying the “charitable solicitor fee”. This project required extensive research because there was no one easy place to get all of the information. It was certainly a good place to start though because it introduced me to a lot of issues that I would come to run into later on in the summer. As I did other projects throughout the summer, I had an easier time troubleshooting, making my skills much more efficient by the end of my time at UFE. There are even little tips that I came across which should be of use during the school year- especially within Microsoft Excel. Even though I have used Excel many times in the past, I learned many tricks this summer which will greatly increase speed and efficiency with any sort of data that I am trying to keep track of.

I am also quite happy with the strong connections that I made at UFE. Everyone was so approachable and eager to be of help not just throughout the summer, but even in offering to connect with Brandeis again in the future. Outside of the development office are many programs including popular education- and if I ever find myself in a class related to issues that UFE addresses (which I am sure I will here!) they have offered to come and speak to classes/groups here on campus. They have been a wonderful resource and I wouldn’t hesitate to call them in order to connect again in the future.

Having now completed the internship, I would like to check out other development offices- including Brandeis. With the experience at UFE, I think it would be interesting to compare and see the differences between how a college runs its fundraising mission with how a small non-profit sustains itself. To any student interested in an internship with this organization, I would suggest keeping a positive attitude and showing interest by asking questions. Everyone is more than happy to help, and as long as they can see you’re dedication and care for the organization, they will be glad to help you improve your own skills.

Overall, I have really seen how it is all about the passion. When people can tell that you care about what you are trying to raise money for, it makes others care as well. It puts meaning and emotion behind the difficult task of asking for money, because especially at UFE (though I am sure most other places as well), you can see that fundraisers are in the field because they truly care about the mission and want to see positive social change. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work with such a close-knit staff because it was helpful in getting a full grasp on the underlying issues of economic inequalities with plague our current system. I am happy to say that I share their vision of, “shaping society into one where prosperity is better shared, where there is genuine equality of opportunity, where the power of concentrated money and corporations neither dominates the economy nor dictates the content of mass culture”. It is an issue that has potential to be fixed once their is a greater overall understanding of the basic roots of the problem. This comes from education and discussions among family and friends because with greater understanding, comes more persistence and desire and to remedy the situation. I have included a couple info graphics that I think do a nice job of summing of the uneven distribution of wealth in picture format- I way that I personally find very helpful in understanding some of these more confusing topics:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, while I have walked away from this summer internship with a wealth of knowledge related to fundraising and development, I have also broadened my own personal knowledge from progressive taxes, to facts regarding the 99% vs 1%. It was a pleasure working with such a dedicated staff and I will walk away with so many life lessons beyond anything that can be taught in a classroom. Here’s to a great summer of 2012!

– Gwen Teutsch ’13

SCAMP: Science Camp and Marine Programs (The End)

SCAMPers during bird week getting the opportunity to meet injured birds of prey at a wildlife rehabilitation hospital in York, ME. Here is an injured Peregrine Falcon that was hit by a car and cannot fly properly.

Going into this summer, I had never done anything like this.  I had never been a camp counselor, I had never worked in a team setting for an entire summer, and I had never been responsible for teaching coastal ecology and biodiversity to young students.  It was an experiment.  Much like the science experiments I am used to performing, I didn’t know what my final results or conclusions would be.  But that’s why you attempt the experiment in the first place.

My learning goals for working at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center were as follows:  I wanted to learn more about the ecology, marine biology, and environment of the New England area.  I wanted to be able to use all of the science that I have learned at college and apply it to real life situations outside of the classroom.  I loved the idea of myself promoting the preservation of our environment, as it has always been a cause that is close to my heart.  Finally, I aspired to use my creativity to come up with exciting and interactive activities to inspire the kids to care about marine science!

I am teaching SCAMPers about shark anatomy. This was an interactive game that I developed myself!

I believe that all of my learning goals were accomplished.  As a trained naturalist of coastal ecology, I can lead tours and school programs through the tide pools by myself, which is really rewarding! I know that most people my age could not say the same.  I  promoted and expressed my love for environmental conservation and taught children through my own creative methods.  We were able to bring the animals and outdoors to the children–whether it was in our backyard, at the tide pools, on a whale watch, at the butterfly garden, in the salt marsh, or in a wildlife rehabilitation center.  We taught the children so much about wildlife without ever lecturing to them.  We explored outside, we played games, we created fun and interactive stations, all while learning!  From stations on sharks to the food chain to puppet playhouses, not only did I get to teach the kids something that I am passionate about, I got to teach it entirely my way!  For example, during young scientists, the camp for older kids (9-12) called Young Scientists, I chose to adapt science experiments I performed in high school and even college but made them age appropriate.  We even guided the campers to create a real scientific hypothesis and helped them gather the necessary data to create a real scientific poster.  Considering this was the first summer that this special week of camp existed, I’d say we left our mark on this summer camp program forever as the inaugural session was a great success!

The Young Scientists presented their research posters to parents and Joppa staff. They developed their own experiments and gathered their own data from tide pools in Beverly and Plum Island.

 

I will build on this experience during the rest of my time at Brandeis, specifically with my last year of coordinating a Waltham Group program named LaCE (Language and Cultural Enrichment).  I will use what I learned this summer to create awesome activities for the middle school children I work with, handle the kids with a new sense of patience, discipline the children effectively and appropriately, enhance the training of volunteers, and be able to think like a kid (so they can get the most out of the program).  On the long term, I will use this experience because environmental science is something I am still interested in pursuing, but most importantly, I learned how to work in a team environment.  Working with different people from different backgrounds with varied strengths and weaknesses is a great challenge.  However, after many team building exercises and sufficient time working together, I believe that the summer camp interns formed a great chemistry.  By the end of the summer, we were a true team.  During one of our team exercises, we even had to discuss who we thought would be playing drums, singing vocals, playing bass, or playing guitar, as if we were a real band!

Having completed this internship, I really love the Mass Audubon Society and their efforts to promote environmental conservation!  We already agreed that I would come volunteer for them during school breaks to lead school programs and continue my opportunity to continue educating the public of the local wildlife.

For a student interested in my internship at this organization or in this field, I would advise that they are very patient with children and that they have a strong enthusiasm for both education and wildlife.  Also, be prepared for different types of children!  The campers’ desire to be part of the program and their background knowledge vary but every camper needs to be treated equally.  For the more disciplined and driven campers that really want to learn, it is very rewarding to work with them and make sure they get a lot out of the program.  Similarly, for the kids who may have trouble getting adjusted to camp-life, it is equally as rewarding just to teach them something or make them appreciate camp by the end of the week!

At Joppa Flats, campers are able to explore…right in the back yard! Our education center is located on a salt marsh that is perfect for bird and insect watching!

If you want to see the rest of the pictures from this summer, check out the Facebook page!

-Matthew Eames ’13

 

 

 

Completing My NBC News Internship

I have completed my summer internship at NBC News in Washington, D.C.

As an investigative intern, my responsibilities included researching stories and observing the NBC News investigative unit in the Washington Bureau, as well as, absorbing all aspects of the network news environment. From sitting in the studio for MSNBC broadcasts to standing outside the Supreme Court when the healthcare decision was announced, I tried to take advantage of my time at NBC News by talking to people who worked in the bureau, and experiencing as much as possible in Washington, D.C.  I outlined many of these accomplishments in my Midpoint post.

I am especially proud of a particular research assignment that will hopefully be aired on NBC Nightly News in the next few weeks.  It was a great opportunity to be involved in an important and timely topic.  I was given the task of researching a lead on a story, and after digging into the subject matter, I was convinced there was a possibility for a spot.  I pitched the idea to the Senior Investigative Correspondent for NBC News and her investigative producer, who agreed there was something there.  They pitched the idea to Nightly.  I then compiled a list of prospective interviews, including experts on the subject matter, victims, and the people responsible. I assisted interviewing those people in preliminary phone interviews, helping to decide who might be a good candidate for an on-camera appearance. I also found out about an event that NBC News decided to cover because of its potential for producing strong sound bites in the spot.

Source: http://tvpressfeed.com/2012/01/the-nbc-news-gop-debate-draws-a-crowd-on-january-23/

Being involved in a piece that will hopefully make TV was exciting and a great learning experience which built upon all different aspects of what I had been learning throughout the summer.  I wish my internship had been longer so I could have seen the story through all the stages of its production.  Now that my internship is complete, I feel that I have gained valuable knowledge of in-depth reporting and producing.

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/27/nbc-london-olympics-2012-streaming-tv-3d/

I want to build off this experience at Brandeis by continuing to learn as much as possible about politics, economics, and international studies through my liberal arts education.  As an aspiring reporter/producer, a broad liberal arts education is valuable because I need to know about a variety of subject matters, how governments, institutions, and people work, and, overall, to be able to think about and understand the news.

Outside Brandeis, I think the most helpful way to gain an understanding of how this industry works is to be immersed in it, and I hope I have more opportunities to work in a news environment in the future.  I would advise another student interested in an internship at NBC News or another organization in the industry to be proactive and enthusiastic.  If you really want to learn about the field and find it inspiring, most people, many of whom also started out as interns, are happy to teach.

 

– Abigail Kagan ’13

The End of a Meaningful Summer

I had an incredibly meaningful and informative summer thanks to my internship experience, and I already miss all of the colleagues and guests that I worked with during my time at St. Francis House. Because I learned so much from and so enjoyed my work this summer, I am now planning to continue work in the social service arena by applying to graduate schools of social work. At the beginning of the summer I was hoping that my internship experience would help focus my career search, and, sure enough, I was exposed to a career that I wish to pursue in the future. The work I completed in my final weeks solidified this career interest after I interacted with more guests and shadowed social workers.

In addition to gaining exposure to services that St. Francis House offers that I had not observed earlier in the summer, the second half of my internship involved a great deal of interesting meetings and off-site trips. The meetings that I attended with my supervisor included meeting a representative for Spare Change News (part of the Cambridge Homeless Empowerment Project), a professor from Northeastern, a woman who teaches people to make their own shoes, and individuals in the Massachusetts Treatment Center. These experiences taught me a great deal about networking and collaboration in a professional setting. The meetings also expanded my understanding of homelessness and the challenges that people who are homeless face, and my knowledge about the criminal justice system was also deepened by the direct, unique experience of meeting with individuals at the Massachusetts Treatment Center.

I also helped organize a free legal clinic for criminal cases, and setting up appointments for guests taught me a great deal about how the criminal justice system both furthers and prevents what I conceptualize as “justice.” My views of social justice were challenged this summer in that I now see people less as “criminals” and “victims” and more as simply individuals. Working with people who had been incarcerated demonstrated for me how complex criminal actions are, and I began to examine the ways the media and dominant discourse often present issues of criminality.

Meeting with homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals taught me about social justice in a way that built upon my learning at Brandeis but was much fuller due to the face-to-face and “real world” experiences I had interacting with these issues. In the fall I will be taking several courses that discuss social justice issues, issues including poverty, evidence in the criminal justice system, and alternative methods of handling conflict. I think that taking these courses will be a perfect way for me to continue my education on these issues, and I imagine that these courses will be more meaningful after my experiences this summer. If I end up in graduate school for social work, I will also be able to learn much more about these subjects both inside and outside of the classroom, and I look forward to expanding my knowledge on topics of criminal justice, homelessness, poverty, and the distribution of social services.

For anyone interested in a similar internship, I would suggest taking advantage of all that a host organization has to offer. St. Francis House in particular is a large non-profit with a variety of services and programs occurring simultaneously, and it was very helpful to me to learn about and observe the different services offered within the building. I gained a much more complete view of homelessness after spending time on different floors of the building. Meetings, both inside and outside of the building, taught me a great deal about how non-profits are run and how people in different organizations connect to best serve people. Therefore, taking advantage of these meetings and hearing the perspectives of many different people, whether in the lunchroom or outside of the building, is very enlightening. Interacting with guests was the part of my experience that was the most moving and educational for me, and I suggest that future interns take time to get to know the wide variety of people that enter the St. Francis House building. I had an incredible internship experience and look forward to continued work in the social service sector in the future.

– Sarah Schneider ’13

Leaving Kiev: Final Blog Post with the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine

I would not have thought that eight weeks could have gone by so quickly.

I think the experience went above and beyond in fulfilling the learning goals I set at the beginning. Everything, from my tasks in the office to living in Kiev, contributed toward fulfilling those goals. One such goal was to gain professional experience. I was, and still am, interested in working for the U.S. government in some capacity, preferably doing something involving nuclear issues and Eastern Europe, and this internship was excellent. It gave me the opportunity to work for a State Department program and meet U.S. government officials. Through talking with colleagues, I learned how different working for the U.S. government was from working for a Ukrainian government organization, in terms of transparency.

Another of my learning goals was to learn about Eastern Europe. I talked to colleagues at lunch about all sorts of things from Russia’s meddling in the Crimea to the large amount of corruption in the Kiev’s city government. I sampled borsht and vareniki (dumplings) and salo (the national dish, which is pretty much lard), which are cornerstones of Ukrainian cuisine. I had the opportunity to practice speaking Russian, but at work my colleagues spoke very impressive English, so there were no communication problems. Having the opportunity to travel to Moldova offered a unique chance to travel to another former Soviet republic and to learn about Transnistria (Moldova’s eastern territory has declared its independence, but no country recognizes it). This is an excellent Economist article about Transnistria and other similar conflict zones in former Soviet republics.  I ended the summer with a much deeper understanding of Ukrainian culture and politics. I won’t forget the excellent summer I spent there or the kindness of the friends I made. Ukraine in the world today

The summer has helped to further cement my interests in nonproliferation and the former Soviet Union, and I hope to continue to interweave those interests with my studies at Brandeis and future internships and jobs. To someone with similar interests, I would say, be willing to take risks.  If you are really interested in certain issues, find an organization that deals with them and contact the organization. Even if there is not internship program, inquire about a possible internship. There are a lot of other people interested in international relations-related careers, so I think it is important to build up an impressive and unique resume, something to make you stand out.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend the summer in Ukraine. I returned to the US with so many stories and experiences that I will always treasure.

Jennifer Ginsburg, ’14

Last Days at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic

My internship at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital ended with a four-hour program named Fun Day on Friday, August 10th 2012. As a Biology and HSSP major, my main academic goal was to apply my knowledge from the classroom to a clinical setting by interacting with patients and various health care professionals. Every morning I walked into the clinic with an open mind and a positive attitude. The first thing I did was check the schedule of appointments for the day. When patients arrived, sometimes I helped the nurses with triaging the patients, such as taking their height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure. Most of time I looked over patients’ family and medical history, calculated their body mass index, and plotted the data on the growth chart to monitor their development. I also examined patients’ dietary and physical activity level with the dietitian in order to conduct nutritional counseling. From observing the clinic staff’s interaction with the patient and participating in medical case discussion following each patient’s visit, I learned that obesity is a complicated illness with many factors. By collecting and analyzing surveys, data, and organizing the program Fun Day 2012, I realized that while it is important to educate the child about the importance of balanced nutrition and portion size, it is more essential to encourage his family members to provide physical and mentor support, and to foster a positive environment at home for healthy eating and weight loss. Additionally I learned that childhood obesity does not only result in medical comorbidities, overweight or obese children are often victims of bullying at school, which may further cause these children to develop emotional eating, low self-confidence, and even depression. This creates a vicious cycle that sustains the childhood obesity epidemic.

Fun Day 2012 – Bike riding with the Bluegrass Cycling Club
Fun Day 2012 – How to pack a budget-friendly, well-balanced lunch for school

My summer at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic has fulfilled my learning goals and exceeded my expectations. I will return to Brandeis with a new perspective on health and illnesses. I will further reflect upon my experience in the HSSP89 Internship Analysis course. In the future, I would like to continue learning about obesity and related illnesses and possibly take courses on nutrition and dietetics. After seeing how I, as merely an undergraduate student, can contribute in making a difference in people’s lifestyles, I became even more enthusiastic and motivated  to pursue a career in healthcare and medical practice. During the entire course of my internship, I felt like I was a piece of a puzzle that fit right in. I can picture myself working in a clinical or hospital setting, shuffling in and out of examination rooms, or sitting at a desk making the ideal treatment plans for my patients.

Group picture with the clinic staff and a volunteer

I would recommend this internship at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital at the University of Kentucky (UK). UK is a large yet structured organization that houses many different departments. There are countless opportunities available. The student would just need to do his research to target the department of interest and actively contact the appropriate offices. For students who are interested in an internship in the healthcare industry, I would advise them to keep an open mind. Every patient is different, and every case is unique. As long as your interest lies there, you will never be bored working in the field of healthcare. – Yan Chu, ’13

Happy Ending of My Summer Internship

My summer internship at Asia Tea Co., Ltd was a wonderful experience. I finished my internship by accompanying the CEO and the production manager on another business trip to Northern provinces. The management philosophy is that in order to truly understand tea production you need to visit  tea hills and factories often.  In only two days, we visited eighteen tea factories across four provinces to negotiate tea prices and buy materials. We only had a break after midnight and went back to work at 7 o’clock in the morning. During the trip, I learned much more about how to negotiate business deals and handle stressful situations. The most memorable moment was when we waited for a ferry to cross the beautiful Hau River at 10 pm to meet a business partner. Besides the ferry drivers, we were the only three people on the ferry. I knew that the CEO wanted me to understand that a good manager really understands all aspects of the business.  The trip was very enlightening and I consider it the capstone of the internship program.

An article about the Ngoc Lap factory, one of the factories that Asia Tea Co., Ltd owns.

Taken at the Ngoc Lap tea factory. The workers are drying out tea leaves, so that they could make raw materials, from which they produce the final tea products.

My summer internship helped me realize my strengths and weaknesses. Thanks to data analysis assignments and market research projects, I am now more confident in my quantitative ability and broad knowledge about the world. However, I realized that I need to expand my industry knowledge base and improve my negotiation skills if I want to become a CEO in the future. Therefore, I look forward to taking some graduate-level business classes at Brandeis and hope to intern at a consulting firm next summer. Experience as a management consultant will improve my analytic and management skills and better my chance of getting into a MBA program. Thanks to the internship, I also understand the importance of the relationship between the government and companies. Since Asia Tea Co., Ltd always strives to contribute to the development of national agriculture, it receives support and subsidies from the government. The subsidies play an important role in shaping the company’s business policies.  I want to learn more about economic policies and their impact on the economy at Brandeis.

My boss is testing the quality of tea materials at the Lien Son-Nghia Lo tea factory in the province of Yen Bai.

 The Vietnamese tea industry is undergoing a new direction in development.

I really enjoyed my internship at Asia Tea Co., Ltd this summer. I hope other Brandeis students could achieve amazing internships during their time at college. For people who have never got an internship before, I have an advice: “Be bold.” We are usually afraid of failure, so that we sometimes do not apply to the top opportunities. However, if we try hard enough, we can succeed. To intern in Vietnam, you certainly need to know some Vietnamese. But you can intern in the tea industry in almost every country, including the United States. In order to get the internship, you must be passionate about agriculture and tea in particular. If you can demonstrate your passion to the interviewers, your chance of getting the internship is much higher. If you have any question regarding my internship or the tea industry in Vietnam, feel free to email me at dt1308@brandeis.edu. I look forward to sharing my experience with other Brandeis students.

– Duc Tran ’13

Wrapping up at The Center for Ethics and Advocacy in Healthcare, Techny, IL

I had a fantastic experience at The Center for Ethics and Advocacy in Techny Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago. It was a big risk to fly across the country and intern at a nonprofit I’d previously never heard of and in a town I’d also never heard of. Luckily, it turned out to be a life changing summer and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

There were things I learned at The Center that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. For instance, working in the office every day helped me learn the day-to-day tasks that needed to be done in the morning and then in the afternoon, when we left. Checking the mail, email, banking account balances, printing articles we needed for the next day, and using the scanner and photocopier are just a few of the many daily tasks we interns learned to do, very quickly. In other words, I know how the office operates and what the employees have to do to keep it running. Since I know how this nonprofit operates, I’ll have a better idea of how others might operate if I decide to go into the world of nonprofit management. Some of the same skills will be required and what I’ll already have experience from this internship which will help me navigate the new job.

During my internship at The Center, I also learned how to communicate effectively with my fellow coworkers, complete my assignments on time under tight deadlines, and compose myself professionally at all times. This experience will help me at Brandeis and beyond, for instance, when I work in the Admissions office and at my (future!) job after graduation. One cannot have enough experience working in a professional setting because it will always come in handy.

After this internship, I want to continue learning about the current healthcare system in the United States and how the newly upheld Affordable Care Act will affect not only other American’s lives, but my life as well. I want to explore how this new law will change America’s health system – for the better or worse – and how people will react to this change. The future is wide open and it’ll be exciting to see where it takes us!

If someone were seeking advice about my internship, I would say the following. Do it if you’re interested in the following topics: local healthcare, global healthcare, healthcare ethics, bioethics, social work in a medical setting, nonprofit management, or patient advocacy. If any of these topics resonated, I would definitely suggest applying for this particular internship. Also, the prospective intern must be willing to work in a small office. Working in the nonprofit world is hard but very rewarding. The current economic climate is not the best right now, hence many nonprofits, especially small ones, are penny pinching, which is stressful; however, the work is very rewarding and I can see how the work I did helped the nonprofit stay in existence, a very special takeaway.

This internship opened up my eyes to how much everyday people suffer these days when a medical catastrophe strikes and they cannot afford health insurance. I’ve talked with these individuals myself. I grew up completely blind to the healthcare costs my parents incurred because luckily we have insurance from my dad’s job. Hearing people’s stories and struggling to help them find a solution was a growth experience and taught me to never take anything for granted – including good health.  If I end up working for a nonprofit, I might get a few raised eyebrows because of the presupposed pay rate, but what I’d be doing at the nonprofit I would be immensely proud of. I would be proud to advertise myself as a nonprofit worker because the one I would work for would align with my own interests, passions and philosophies. I would be making visible change in the community and be very happy doing it.

 

 

Here is a link to a Chicago Health Poverty Law Center. We talked with one of the lawyers who is very well-known in the Chicago area for helping people with lower incomes and their healthcare rights: http://povertylaw.org/index.php?q=advocacy/health/

At the internship, I also learned a lot about free clinics in the Chicago area and how important they are in helping people who have no health insurance. Community Health is the largest free clinic in the Chicago area! http://www.communityhealth.org/

– Emily Breitbart ’13

Halfway Point at The Center for Ethics and Advocacy in Healthcare

A wide variety of speakers have visited The Center for Ethics and Advocacy in Healthcare because they want to educate the next generation of young people, specifically about what is going on in our healthcare system. All of the speakers deeply respect the Director of my internship, along with the internship’s mission, for they present usually every year and never ask for compensation. This speaks to the quality of the internship program I am in.
One day, a school nurse came and talked with us about healthcare in the elementary school she worked at. I learned that 1 out of 3 students in her school visited her – in one year. Calling parents, filling out paperwork and nurturing 33% of her school’s population is quite a demand. I learned that widespread sickness endures because not enough is being done to help prevent diseases from spreading. Childhood obesity and bullying are on the rise, and the disparity in wealth in her town is obvious.
From speaking with a Nursing Home Administrator, I learned that nursing homes around the country are suffering badly. The recent cuts in healthcare are the main culprit, along with the lack of resources coming from the government. It’s also hard for many nursing home residents to pay the monthly fee nowadays, which make nursing homes hard to afford for them. Meanwhile, in today’s culture, fewer and fewer people want to live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities because they prefer to stay at home or move in with family. This is becoming the trend around the country.
I learned from a community activist that the poor are the ones who are suffering the most when it comes to healthcare cuts, and they suggest what we should be doing is coming together as a community and pitching in to help those in need. Volunteering at local clinics, donating food and clothing to the local shelters and planting trees and flowers around neighborhoods are all things community members should think about doing.


Those were just three experiences I’ve had at my internship. There are many more I could talk about but I think this gives you a good idea of what I’ve been learning about. Healthcare is becoming more and more a community issue.
We’ve also met with Quentin Young of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, the Director of The Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation – a woman who wants to incorporate religious and spiritual habits into hospitals, a biology professor who teaches her students about natural medicine and the process of harvesting plants and transforming them into synthetic medicines, and a couple of other directors from other local non profit agencies who also want to work on a grass roots level to help their communities be healthy and stay healthy. It’s been a wonderful experience getting to listen to all of these intelligent, passionate and highly respected people – who all hail from the Chicago area.
Here’s a link to an article from Time Magazine about selling one’s bone marrow.  It’s something we talked about in one of our in-services. Read more to learn more.

This is a link to a very helpful video which breaks down what you should expect from the newly upheld Affordable Care Act.
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How am I progressing on my goals I outlined in my WOW Scholarship Application?
Academically: I have without a doubt learned immense amounts about bioethical issues and how to talk about them with other people. This experience has given me insights I never would have gained otherwise. Through talking with the Director about how she goes about resolving tough medical problems with patients (a word she hates because it implies a power hierarchy) I have learned how she deals with the issues and how she helps people overcome their own problems. In addition, I now have a better idea as to how to help others when they are conflicted.
Professionally: I have also been exposed to a nonprofit work environment which fights for social justice in and around its community. With this experience under my belt, I will be a better candidate for a nonprofit administrator position, if I choose to pursue that path in the future.
Personally: This internship has taught me that I need to identify what my true, honest values are. From this internship, I’ve learned that values shape our opinions. Once I realize my values, I will be able to take the next step and gain insight into possible career paths.

 

 

Of what am I most proud? Why?
I am proud of myself for delving in and learning about the Healthcare scene, on both the local and national levels – because now that I have so much more knowledge about healthcare in today’s world, I am now responsible for keeping up with the issues and standing my ground. Having this knowledge now puts pressure on me to act and fight for what I believe is right.
How am I building skills in this internship?
This internship has in practice made me a better listener and analyst of information. At all times, I have to be able to listen to whomever is speaking (the other interns, the director, a speaker), synthesize what they’re saying, and transform this information into knowledge. My listening and analyzing skills are enhancing because those are the skills I’m utilizing everyday.
I’m also learning how to function in a nonprofit setting – how to communicate professionally, work independently, ask questions, etc. People operate differently in different environments, and now that I’ve had experience working at a nonprofit, I know how this nonprofit operates day to day.
All of these skills will help me in the future, for I will be a better candidate if I choose to apply to jobs in the nonprofit sector, but also, I will be a better candidate for any job having had ample experience listening and analyzing information. Having had the chance to improve my listening and analyzing skills, I will be a better thinker, reader and speaker after this experience.

 

– Emily Breitbart ’13

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from Paraguay

My proudest moment of my experience this summer with La Fundación Paraguaya took place during the last few days of my internship. During this time the organization asks each intern to give a final presentation to co-workers and supervisors that requires reflecting on experiences and sharing challenges faced and insights learned. For me, I was excited to present as, in general, I embrace reflecting and the way in which my perspective broadens and deepens with each experience. I’ve found this type of thought so valuable, in fact, that I journaled my thoughts consistently throughout the 9 weeks that I was there. Interestingly, however, it was a story told about me by my supervisor that allowed me to see I had overlooked my proudest accomplishment.

My presentation brought up many ideas that certainly had great value.  For example, I spoke about having gained a better understanding of the workings of a non-profit organization and the challenges faced in social justice work. I spoke about honing my Spanish skills, and absorbing the culture of the people and country of Paraguay. Yet after presenting, I remember my supervisor, Guillermo, asking to share a story with the rest of the group. He said, “I remember one of the first days Brandon was in the office and we went to help a class carry out their business plan at one of the high schools. During these sessions, the students are constantly asking questions, speaking quickly, using specific vocabulary—it was obviously a difficult task for Brandon, but at that time I was with him to help out. When we returned to the office, I expressed to Brandon that, if he were up to it, I’d like him to travel alone to the high schools and work with the students alone. At first, he expressed doubts, saying ‘I don’t know, Guille, I don’t know if I speak well enough—if I will be able to understand their questions well enough and explain some of these concepts.’  At that point, we had decided I would accompany him again. Yet, just a few hours later before the end of the day he approached me and, with a new confidence, said ‘I’d like to go on Friday if you don’t mind.’”

 

One of the “companies” I worked with, here with the student managers.

The reason that I bring up this story is that, while I focused on goals I had outlined in my World of Work application as my accomplishments, which are certainly important, I realized that I had overlooked the decision that made all of these goals attainable, which was finding the courage to be vulnerable and step outside of my comfort zone. In listening to the story, it had become so transparent to me how much this risk of making mistakes and being in a new environment scared me, and hearing it told by my supervisor while knowing I had overcome this obstacle is truly an accomplishment that holds much value to me. The effect of this fundamental decision made my other goals possible; that is, opting to work with the students alone meant that I did not have anyone other than myself to rely on for understanding and answering complex concepts, and therefore helped me fortify my confidence and skill with Spanish. Furthermore, this decision put me one-on-one with students and allowed me to feel as though I was making a tangible, positive difference in their lives. For me, having had great opportunities such as attending Brandeis, was so rewarding as I felt that I was giving back after being given so much.

Speaking with one of the students at a Paraguayan national commerce event called “La Expo”

As I return to Brandeis, I am excited to continue to speak Spanish and have plans to attend “Charlamos” meetings; a club on campus devoted to speaking Spanish and celebrating Hispanic culture. A Brandeis’ student run club called English Language Learning Initiative is another great opportunity to involve myself in volunteer work that will expand my cultural perspective.  Additionally, I believe I enter this academic year with a greater appreciation of other cultures and look to attend the many cultural celebrations that Brandeis hosts each semester. Above all, however, I hope to continue to find the confidence to step out of my comfort zone, as I have come to realize how much one learns about himself through doing so. Lastly, I would like to say thank you so much to Brandeis and the WOW committee for offering such an enriching experience to their students.  Opportunities like this make Brandeis such a special institution.

Brandon Frank ’12

 

Final Post from the State’s Attorney’s Office

 

I cannot believe how quickly this summer flew by. I remember my first day walking into the office unsure of myself, and what would come of the summer. Right away the advocates were extremely friendly and excited to work with me. Ending the summer with them taking me out to lunch showed me just how far I had come since that first day. I learned so much about the role of not only the advocates, but also of everybody else in the office.  I went into the summer hoping to learn more about the criminal justice system and whether or not I wanted to pursue a professional career in law.  Through restitution work and monitoring court proceedings I learned an immense amount about how the criminal justice system worked. I now understand the roles of the prosecutors, defense attorneys, and victim’s advocates. My supervisor would ask me to watch the court proceedings to see what the sentence was for certain defendants. By taking notes I learned about the court procedure and the sentencing that might follow certain charges. Although, there might have been a slight pattern, I mostly learned that each case is different and could result in a different outcome.

I learned a lot from this internship, but know there is much more to learn about the legal system. I have never taken any classes before on this subject, but plan on taking as many legal courses as I can in my last year at Brandeis. This internship has also solidified my plan to go to law school in a few years. Through immersion of the criminal system, I also discovered that I do not particularly like the criminal system and much prefer civil court.  I was able to observe family court once a week and felt as though that is where I would love to be able to help.  Right after college, I would love to work in a family law practice, and learn more about civil law and really be able to compare that with what I learned this past summer.

 

Home to the Interns

 

I learned a lot about the criminal system as well as myself and I would suggest this experience to any other student who wants to learn more about the victims advocate role within the criminal justice system or the legal system in general.  I was unsure about what I wanted to pursue for my professional career, but this summer taught me a lot about the daily work in this field.  The Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office holds some of the friendliest people and they are always eager for interns.  I learned the most from this internship by always putting myself out there and willing to help in any way that I could.  I also asked the advocates questions about their work and the attorneys in the office were also eager to answer any questions I might have had.  Another amazing aspect to this internship was the accessibility to the courtrooms.  Any student interested in criminal law should pursue an internship at a states attorney’s office because they will learn so much about the criminal process.  As long as questions are asked and initiatives are taken to observe interesting proceedings, than students interested in this type of internship will gain the most out of this experience. (State’s Attorney’s Offices in Vermont)

 

Court House

Every day I discover I learned more and more from this internship.  I learned a great deal about social justice and saw first hand its use within the criminal justice system.  My concept of social justice was certainly challenged through observing the different sentences that criminals would receive.  Defendants did not all go straight to jail or have to pay a large fine. Some defendants left the court with only community service and counseling.  In some cases this felt adequate, but others where it was a repeated offense or one that greatly affected a victim, it felt unfair.  Although the court system challenged social justice in a way, I also discovered that there are many different avenues to fight for social justice. These avenues allow for many different people to make changes at all levels, ranging from personal to global.  When I observed family court, I met a woman who worked at a domestic violence organization and fought for social justice at a more personal level with the victims.  (Domestic Violence Organization). This discovery has inspired me to fight for social justice at this level and work with women who need support of all kinds.  Social justice is certainly something that I want to fight for and I know that whichever professional path I end up taking, it will follow one of social justice.

 

Ending at the Conflict Kitchen

With my internship at the Conflict Kitchen completed, I have been reflecting on all that I learned. The research I completed for the Cuba iteration as well as the upcoming countries required me to integrate my academic knowledge into dialoguing with customers at the take-out window. Through this, I also came to a fuller understanding of the concepts I have learned in my classes at Brandeis. The Conflict Kitchen also held a Cuban Date Night for their final event of the summer, featuring dinner, a showing of the Buena Vista Social Club, and salsa dancing. Working as the on-site coordinator for this event forced me to develop my event-planning skills, further supporting my learning goals for this internship.

The Poster for Conflict Kitchen’s educational event for the Cuba iteration

Coming out of this experience, I certainly want to continue seeking cross-cultural experiences and learning about peacebuilding and the arts. However, this internship did not merely reaffirm my interest but also helped me to discern my specific interests more fully. The concept of the Conflict Kitchen can both use the arts and culture to humanize demonized populations and give voice to minority communities in the United States who have been marginalized due to the demonization of their home culture. After interning with the Conflict Kitchen, l feel that I want to pursue a vocation that utilizes the arts and culture to give voice to minority and marginalized communities.

The recommended adult reading list I developed that is available at the Conflict Kitchen take-out window

I would advise a student working at the Conflict Kitchen to not be afraid to take initiative. My idea to collaborate with the local library and develop reading lists of Cuban literature became the most rewarding part of my internship and the project that taught me the most. To a student doing similar work, I would recommend that every experience or exchange lead to reflection. I found that using arts and culture for peace and rehumanization is fascinating and there are a multitude of large questions to which everyone has a different answer. I learned much more from constantly reflecting on these issues than if I had simply focused on my tasks without looking at the wider picture.

The wider perspective that comes from reflection also helped me to more clearly envision the goal of peacebuilding and the arts and the details necessary for cross-cultural education. In one encounter this summer, I was shocked when someone found the project exploitative.  While I think that the person had made a snap judgment without truly understanding the project, the statement certainly made me reflect. I believe firmly that rehumanization of demonized populations is essential to the establishment of a just society. However, I also feel that this internship taught me that when working to rehumanize cultures and peoples it is essential to be aware of the danger of exploitation of these people and their culture.  I think to avoid this, it is important to constantly be aware of the power dynamics at play, work directly with the community in question, and to focus on the goal of education.

“Sabuthik Acchi” (Everything will be okay)

Dear friends, my trip to India has been most memorable and unforgettable. Upon completion of my experience as a Unite For Sight volunteer at Kalinga Eye Hospital in India, the later half of my internship consists of creating a video film that captures the essence of volunteering at Kalinga Eye Hospital for my organization. I have been meeting with my faculty advisor, professor Laura Lorenz, to discuss how to make a compelling, powerful film to best describe my experience in India. I am currently developing a story board to effectively share my thoughts, and I just wanted to share a few memoirs that refreshed my memory through the raw footages.

As a Unite For Sight volunteer, one of my tasks is to observe cataract surgeries that my organization has sponsored through outreach camps. Inside the operating theatre, there are numerous activities that take place prior to the surgeries. Essentially, the camp patients are screened for free cataract surgeries at these camps and then are brought back to the hospital on the bus (under the sizzling weather and 3-hour long ride). After an hour of settling in, the female paramedics escort the camp patients to wait in line and perform local anesthesia on their eyes. Unlike the paying patients however, the camp’s patients do not receive pre-operative counseling due to the time constraint and therefore, are often very frightened by the surgeries themselves. Although everyone undergoes the cataract surgery and understands the sight-opening results of the sponsored surgeries, very little patients actually understand the details regarding the operation and what kind of processes are being done to their eyes. With little comprehension and almost no prior knowledge or experience with this type of surgery (or the eye hospitals in general), many patients, the majority of which are elderly, tremble in fear and desperately pray to their gods before the surgery.

With many patients to receive cataract surgeries in one day, the paramedics usually direct one or two patients to sit along the wall inside the operating room. Could you picture yourself, an elderly woman who has received very little education and is about to receive the first cataract surgery, sitting right across from the operating table, on which a patient is strapped down? Although one cannot see the details of the surgery from where patients would be sitting, this view seems to usually startle the patients even more, as they begin to frantically pray or completely freeze. Watching the patients and seemingly clueless paramedics and surgeons, I realized that I was experiencing a culture shock that I did not anticipate: compared to the “customer-is-king” mentality of the United States, such is not the norm at the hospitals in India. The situation also heightened the disparity between the paying and nonpaying patients, as the paying patients not only received higher quality operations, but also had gone through preoperative and post-operative counseling. Not knowing how to react, for the remainder of my first operation observation I remained silent. I tried to think about how to communicate to my paramedic friends the idea of why the hospital should try to make the camp patients feel comfortable with not only the surgery, but also with health care and hospitals in general.

One day, I asked a paramedic working in the OR how to say ‘everything will be okay’ in Oriya. After learning how to pronounce the phrase correctly, I held the hands of a trembling elderly patient and told her the words: ‘Sabuthik Acchi.’ However, the outcome was not what I had expected (the warm and fuzzy kind), because the patient was not able to hear me with the anesthesia and cotton swabs in her ears. And even if they heard me, I could not understand what they were saying in response to my encouragement. Learning that this was a job for the paramedics who speak the native language, I gave a powerpoint presentation regarding patient treatment that emphasized patient comfort, satisfaction, and future recommendations to other friends and family. With the help of the senior paramedic, Shanti, the words of my presentation were translated so that all paramedics could understand and discuss their perspectives, and we had lots of fun as I acted out the role of an elderly woman in the OR during the role simulation. And I was tremendously moved when during the next surgery observation, I noticed the loving, caring side of the paramedics when they directed the patients to the operation room.

I am writing about this experience because it has taught me a few things about volunteering overseas: first of all, there are still some things that you can feel past the language barrier, that make volunteering in foreign countries so heartwarming and compelling. I could never forget the smiles that I saw after the surgery and the gentle acknowledgement of the patients when they recognized me as a hospital volunteer. I could never forget the stories they shared with me during the interview, such as their fears of surgery, what they want to see the most when their sights are restored, the hopes upon regaining the control of their own lives, and the financial struggles that they will have to overcome for their spouse and family. But instead of focusing this post on what I did or what I have received out of the volunteering, I want to highlight how humbling it is to be a volunteer who can do very little on her own, but with the help of others and collaboration can achieve a lot for the community. There was nothing significant that I was able to do in the hospital setting where I lacked the technical expertise, the medical knowledge, and the ability to directly communicate with patients. I worked as the active observer. What I had hoped to do, I can only so do with the help of hospital staff and paramedics, and even so after spending a small amount of time with them, I will never know if my efforts were long-lasting. It is rather a privilege that they take the time to understand where I am from and listen to what I have to say, because I am a foreigner unaccustomed to their local traditions and dynamics. And I believe that the most important task of volunteering overseas is to respect the local customs and cultures and let them be the protagonists of their community. I am writing to describe my journey as I have seen, but this is really my take on the story of the Oriya people and how the Kalinga Eye Hospital aspires to provide affordable eye healthcare to the poor and neglected in the rural state of India. I will continue to play the role of a supporter and will share their perspectives and passions with my local people as they did with mine. With this thought in mind, I hope to amplify their humanitarian efforts of Kalinga Eye Hospital and Unite For Sight, and stimulate my peers to consider becoming part of this movement through my story and the resultant video film.

 

If anyone is curious about a video film taken by a previous Unite For Sight volunteer about Kalinga Eye Hospital paramedics, please click here. Also, please click here if you are interested in learning more about volunteering as a Unite For Sight Volunteer at Kalinga Eye Hospital. Thank you for reading!

– Gloria Park ’13

Ending at the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab

Ending at the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab

It’s hard to believe that my summer internship at the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab is over. I learned so much and really enjoyed working at the lab, so time seemed to fly! I feel as though nearly all of the tasks that I completed were relevant to my learning goals, because they gave me the opportunity to learn about the different aspects of psychology research. I wanted to see the daily tasks associated with running and publishing a study, and the variety of things I did offered that to me.  I found this most basic chart of the tasks of research:

Source: ckbooks.com

Even though some tasks were not the most exhilarating, they reflect the reality of the field. Spending hours entering and coding data is simply par for the course. However, if I had to pick a few tasks that taught me the most, I would choose that of running participants through the entire study protocol, and attending weekly lab meetings. I ran approximately 15-20 participants through our study, and I feel that this is where I really came to understand why the study was designed as it was. Rather than simply coding the participants’ answers to our various questionnaires, I understood what their different answers and scores meant. This was especially helpful when working with our eye-tracking data, which could have been hard to understand if I had not worked to calibrate participants and run them through the various video-watching tasks of the study.

 

The summer 2012 LedLab team!

 The weekly lab meetings were an important learning opportunity for me, because they gave me the chance to talk to people working on other studies, and learn about their protocol and findings. It is easy to get “tunnel vision” when you are working on the same study day in and day out, and speaking with others working on different but related research helped to bring my understanding back to the “big picture.” Please check out this link to the most recent lab meeting article: http://spl.stanford.edu/pdfs/2001%20Current%20Directions%20in%20Psychological%20Science%20-%20Emo.%20Reg.%20in%20Adulthood%20Timing%20.pdf.

To build off of what I learned this summer, I plan to explore my own research interests more. Now that I have some background and understanding in the way that research in the field works, it is time to figure out the particular questions that I want to explore through research. I think that Dr. Isaacowitz’s work on emotional development throughout the lifespan is incredibly interesting and important, but I also hope to take on opportunities in other arenas of research. Dr. Isaacowitz also let me know how important independent research experience is for graduate school applications, so now is the time to start thinking about these big questions.

For other students interested in an internship in the field of psychology research, I would advise them to try working in different labs. If you have never worked in a lab before, how can you really know what your research interests are? What you learn in class is really different than what you do in the lab. Just check out this webpage from the American Psychological Association to get sense of how varied the field is! (http://www.apa.org/topics/) Also, even if you find that your personal research questions are different than those of the lab you’re working in, you will gain valuable knowledge and skills that are universal in psychology research! – Leah Igdalsky, ’13

Completing my Internship with UNITE FOR SIGHT in Ghana…

52 days have come and gone. I have interned with three of the five Unite For Sight partner clinics (North Western, Save the Nation, Crystal) in four regions of Ghana (Greater Accra, Central, Volta, Western). My experiences in the field have only been trumped by the relationships and networks I have developed with my fellow citizens. As a refresher, my overarching learning goal for this summer was to engage my HSSP background and coursework through hands-on experiences in the field of public health. And I accomplished this feat as a member of each clinic’s outreach team. I was able to engage my academic training in the life and social sciences experientially, by curiously conducting visual acuity screenings, inquisitively observing the eye examinations of the physicians and nurses, and happily distributing eyeglasses alongside the dispensing optician. I asked hundreds of questions with the intent to better understand the role of public health in the local health infrastructure.

The man who turned a simple dream into an unmistakable reality; one of the most inspiring individuals I have ever met. Introducing the founder and medical director of Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic: Dr. Baah.

 

I will build off this experience much like I build off every experience, with honest reflection and deep admiration. I am fortunate to have completed an experience like this prior to graduation because I now have the opportunity to further ground my experiential learning inside the classroom. I can take my global health experience and continue to cultivate it, both in theory and in practice. After Brandeis, I will have the foundation needed to transform this experience from a summer internship into an expensive hobby or, better yet, a career.

I realize that learning is a lifelong pursuit. For the time being, I want to continue to further my own understanding of public health and social justice. These two buzzwords are often spoken but rarely defined, so it’s important that I continue to hone in on what each means to me. I’ve also developed a slight interest in philanthropy and fundraising. I just began to get my feet wet while fundraising for the surgeries I would observe abroad, so it would be great to learn more about fundraising and effective ways of doing it. I’ll take on as much as my full plate of classes and extracurricular activities allows me to. However, what will always remain a staple of my life will be my service to others.

The advice I would give to a student interested in either an internship at UFS or an internship in the field of public/global health are one in the same. I can’t state enough how important it is to be flexible, especially when working with members of a different culture. In my internship, and presumably with all other internships, I did not always do what I was most excited to do. However, I was flexible with the clinics and displayed an attitude reminiscent of that of a true team player. Eventually, an opportunity presented itself in which I was able to mix it up and try something new, which will reap huge dividends going forward. Also, be honest with yourself, be open-minded, be bold, and be optimistic. A winning attitude indicates success before any “competition” has even begun.

My ideals of social justice have been thoroughly reinforced. About a week-and-a-half in, I had one day where I was a little grumpy as I boarded the STNSC van for outreach. I kept thinking about how tired I was, how hungry I was, how dirty I was…and then I froze. I stopped thinking about all of my problems and started thinking about why I was in Ghana in the first place. I thought long and hard. And then I realized that I wasn’t in Ghana for me. Granted, I always wanted to put my best self forward, but I realized that I was in Ghana to help distribute quality eye care to the local populations. And when I wrapped my brain around this thought, I felt something change. The sun opened up. The greens grew a couple shades brighter. The potholes in the road ceased to throw me here and there. All the “pain” I was dealing with disappeared. Instantaneously, another day on the job became an epiphany of purpose. For that moment, everything in the world was right.

I say this, not to be dramatic, but to express what I’ve learned. It was a wonderful responsibility and an extraordinary privilege to serve as a change agent on behalf of Brandeis University, and I am forever indebted for this experience.

Thank you so much for the opportunity!

Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic’s Vision/Mission Statement: Social justice at its best!

 

Also, please keep in mind that the fight is not over! Preventable blindness continues to plague the eyes of millions in our world. I am gladly continuing to fundraise with the hope of creating more success stories like the dozens I saw earlier this summer. 100% of my fundraising efforts will provide surgeries for patients living in extreme poverty, and your help would be greatly appreciated by myself, Unite For Sight, and all of the patients who would receive eye care due to your efforts. Please take a look at my fundraising page for more information and, if you can, give what you can:

https://maestropay.com/uniteforsight/volunteers/ref/300103e13c734fc8a2604dbfa271ccb4

Overall an enriching experience!

 

While writing my mid-point blog post, I had just begun my fieldwork on the Hmong people. Now that I have completed my internship, so much has happened that I would love to share. While the Plymouth fieldwork certainly included the challenge of approaching people with questions, talking to Hmong people greatly expanded this challenge. As a result, I became a much more confident researcher and person overall. I learned so much about the Hmong culture and language, and met so many interesting people; each with their own stories and backgrounds.

The most important breakthrough, which my professor was very excited about, was my finding Flats Mentor Farm, where multiple Hmong families farm for themselves and their families as well as  sell produce at local farmer’s markets. After speaking with the woman who manages the farm, she felt as if I would be respectful of the farmers and she gave me permission to come to the farm to speak with the Hmong farmers. This was very interesting because most farmers were first generation Hmong people who came from Laos or Thailand 10-20 years ago. They provided me with valuable information on the differences between home and living in America, and it was interesting to hear their views on living in the US.  They also told me how they felt about their children growing up here, and how it has affected their culture. I made sure to visit the farmer’s markets weekly where they sold food, so that I could continue to build on the relationships.

Flats Mentor Farm logo…They do not allow pictures as they like to keep private.
One of the many farmer’s markets I went to

Besides finding the farm, I also reached out to people through organizations such as the United Hmong of Massachusetts and even through Facebook. I attained a number of interviews this way, most of which were recorded. It was often tricky to balance respect with getting information about the culture, but I felt as if I learned how to do this pretty well. I always made sure that the person felt comfortable and to let them know that if they didn’t want to answer a specific question that was completely fine. In the end, it always seemed like they wanted to share their culture with me, because they realize that people in the US don’t even know much about them. I was even invited to a lunch on the last day of my internship, which was a number of Hmong people meeting, many for the first time, who had found each other on Facebook. I felt included and it was nice to know that they appreciated my interest in their culture, rather than felt offended by my questions or lack of knowledge.

Knowing that I’m going back to Brandeis in only a few weeks, I am excited to share this experience with others and to continue to grow from it. I am planning on taking multiple Linguistics classes, and to build more on my Linguistic knowledge, as up to this point I’ve focused more on Anthropology. At one point during my Hmong fieldwork, researchers were trying to finish up the first project at Dartmouth, and they asked me if I could complete a large amount of acoustic analysis. This came during a very busy week for me and they were very understanding when I explained that I wasn’t sure if I could complete all of what they asked of me. However, during the small amount of free time that I had, I sat down and did it all! My professor was extremely pleased and appreciative, and my work really helped them to finish up in time. I felt as if I was a great help to the project, and while doing the analysis I realized that my technical skills had really improved. I hope to build on this at Brandeis in my Linguistics coursework.

Even though I have completed my internship, I plan to attend the Hmong New Year festival in the fall, as multiple people have invited me. This relationship with the Hmong has become a long-term interest for me, not just something I work on for one summer. I have built connections that will last longer too, many of which are valuable connections not just for myself but my professor, as well. If someone continues this project as an intern at Dartmouth, I would just advise him or her to work hard and really go with any connections they find. I found many of my informants through other people I had already met, but in the beginning especially, I had to do a lot of research to find the organizations or people. It was certainly an internship where I had to discipline myself, but this has only added value to my experience and shown me that I can in fact work through the challenges I face. In terms of the field, it is also one that includes a lot of self-discipline, especially when finding informants to interview. During the first part of the internship, learning and performing acoustic analysis can be tedious but is well worth it when you realize that you added data to a real research project. This has been such an enriching summer, so if you are someone who feels like you can motivate yourself to work hard and are excited to meet people and learn about a new culture, I say go for it! _ Alex Patch ’14

Midpoint Check-In from UNITE FOR SIGHT in Ghana

The midpoint of my internship with Unite For Sight finds me just shy of four weeks in Ghana. Since beginning my internship twenty-six days ago, I have completed my rotation with Northwestern Eye Centre, completed my first rotation with Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic in Twifo Praso (Central Region), met the supervising ophthalmologist and medical director of Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic, and observed the STNSC staff perform life-changing cataract and pterygium surgeries. I am now starting my second rotation with Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic in Denu of the Volta Region.

Introducing the outreach team’s best friend: the Sight Mobile!

 

 

Professional & Pink…who knew Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic had such bold style?

 

I am happy to say that I am making great progress with my defined learning goals. My overarching learning goal was to engage my HSSP background and coursework through hands-on experiences in the field of public health. As a Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow, I have been blessed with the privilege of working with the most basic level of the local eye clinics: the outreach team. Everyday, I am on the ground with the team of optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, dispensing opticians, and local volunteers locating patients in need of quality eye care. I am constantly taking notes on what I see, reflecting on the ins and outs of the local health infrastructure, and developing strategies to improve the implementation and administration of our global health practices.

At this stage of my stay, I am most proud of my patience. I pride myself on being a very patient person, but I was still concerned with how challenging the language barrier would be, especially in a medical setting. English is the official language of Ghana, but it definitely isn’t the most widely spoken tongue amongst the populations I work with. Still, I realized my proficiency in Twi, the most prominent language amongst my regions, could only get better. So I practiced the phrases that I knew, learned several new ones, tried really hard to perfect the Ghanaian intonations, and leaned on my team too many times to count. A month in, I was able to conduct an entire visual acuity screening in Twi, an accomplishment that only bolstered my confidence going forward!

The academic skills I’m building are quite evident from my work within the internship. However, I feel that I am building life skills more than anything else. I’m starting from scratch and learning to immerse myself within an entirely different culture. I’m learning a new language, learning about new foods, learning new social cues and norms…I’m learning to be humbled. I’m building skills in teamwork, dream work, and the open mind. My skill set will be a testament to how amazingly beautiful the human spirit can be. I’m a cliché: living life to the fullest. And I am so honored to be performing justice work with an amazing group of health professionals for a nation that inspires me to want to be a better person each and every day.

 

To lean more about Dr. Baah, the founder and medical director of Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic, please select the link below:

http://www.uniteforsight.org/volunteer-abroad/ghana/villages-preparation/baah-history 

 

To learn more about the importance of sustainable development in eye care, please select the link below:

http://www.uniteforsight.org/what-we-do/sustainable-development 

Saying Goodbye to SJDS

It seems a bit surreal to be writing this last blog post from here in my kitchen, a place that seems so far removed from all that I experienced during these past two months.  Reflecting on this summer, it was my last week at the SJDS Bilioteca that sums up perfectly how far I came over the course of this internship.  During that last week, a group of us drove up to Ameya – a small, impoverished community outside of Chinandega in northern Nicaragua for a missions trip.  The SJDS library, with the help of the community’s sister church in Colorado, have helped build both a library and a vocational school in Ameya whose resources offer a significant improvement in the types of educational opportunities available to both adults and children of the community.  During this trip, I worked with both the young adults from the vocational school as well as younger children offering various art workshops and activities throughout our four-day stay.

Everyone on our trip had different roles throughout the week and I was responsible for organizing and running all of the activities for the children.  We decorated headbands as a sewing activity for the vocational school, made visual autobiographies, and on the last day used sponge painting to make a mural.  These children so rarely get the opportunity to express themselves artistically, which made my work in providing art projects for them even more rewarding. Additionally, throughout the entire week, I was also acting as a bridge between the community members and the Colorado church members, many of whom did not speak Spanish.  It was my first time really translating and I loved it.  One day, a mother and her daughter wanted to teach the children how to make paper flowers and so while she explained in English I translated into Spanish so that the children would be able to follow her instructions.  Moments such as this or others when individuals, Nicaraguans or Americans, would come up to me asking if I could help translate for them comprised some of my favorite memories from the week.  To have reached the point in my Spanish where I am able to help others communicate with one another and form connections by utilizing my burgeoning language skills proved to be a real stepping-stone.

Returning to Brandeis, I’ll continue taking Spanish classes and getting ready for my spring semester abroad in Bolivia.  While I’m sure that trip will offer a completely new host of challenges and experiences from what I’ve been exposed to this summer, the experience I now have living on my own in a foreign country will I’m sure work to my advantage.  Studying abroad in Bolivia, I plan on exploring even further the issue of social change through my specific interest in the field of education.  Yet, on an even broader scope, I see both of these trips as only the beginning in what I predict will be a long love affair with both the Spanish language and the diverse cultures, countries, and people of both South and Central America.

To any interested students, my advice is be prepared to be both flexible and independent.  An internship at the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca can offer a wonderful experience for growth, and the library is always open to having new volunteers but anticipate a large amount of independence.  Most volunteers come down with at least a rough idea of what they want to do and while the library staff are more than willing to help you achieve that goal it is very clearly your project.  That being said, when dealing with a completely new culture you also have to be willing to be flexible.  Things may not often go as you had originally planned but just remember that often these experiences provide a lesson within themselves and that it’s okay if your plans change along the way.

Working at the library this summer I was able to observe various local, national, and international organizations dedicated to social justice work.  Seeing the various models used by different organizations reinforced my opinion that in order to truly achieve community advancement groups must utilize the resources, people, and ideas that already exist within the community.  Often, even with the best intentions, groups that fail to understand the culture and people with whom they are trying to help end up doing more harm than good.  This summer was valuable in that not only did it offer the opportunity for personal growth but I also was able to observe what other individuals and organizations were working to achieve within Nicaragua.

– Abigail Simon ’14

Completing Internship

As discussed in my most recent blog post, there are many tasks and accomplishments from this summer that have supported my learning goals. My academic goal for the summer was to gain knowledge on how to create social change after participating in a service corps. After reading and updating many of the alumni biographies, I recognize that many alums continue working with organizations that are dedicated to social justice. My career goal was to learn how to utilize certain aspects of the service corp and apply to social entrepreneurship. After scanning an article about social entrepreneurship, I gained a stronger understanding of the complexities of social entrepreneurship. I am more confident in presenting my ideas and realize the importance of detail and organization in any given task. I will use these skills during the rest of my time at Brandeis and beyond. I also learned that there are many other jobs that would also fit my interests. I am now more open to learning about other careers geared toward creating social change.

After having completed my internship I want to learn more about working with philanthropists. Since I worked in an organization that focuses on domestic issues, I would like to expand my knowledge on how international organizations work and create change. I want to take on an international experience. My advice to a student interested in an internship at AVODAH would be to understand that one can learn so much from the smallest of tasks. In this industry and field it is important to understand the amount of time, energy, and commitment required to work in the non-profit world.

My concept of social justice has been both reinforced and altered. I’ve always understood the importance of social justice and social change in the world, but never knew the strong connection it has with Jewish values. I’ve learned that in order to be an effective problem solver one needs to truly stand up and push for what they believe in. This is not the end of my involvement with AVODAH, as I will be helping them with recruitment throughout the year. 

 – Danielle Mizrachi ’15

Diving into the Nonprofit World: Midpoint at the Chinese Progressive Association

At this point, I am past the half way mark in my internship at the Chinese Progressive Association and time is going by really fast. In the past few weeks, I’ve become immersed in the issues facing Chinatown residents on a daily basis such as the redistricting that is happening within the community and the changes in immigration and undocumented immigrant policies like the recent Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration policy S.B. 1070 that are relevant to the demographic here in Chinatown. But besides learning about the issues, I believe I’ve grasped the  importance of the Chinese Progressive Association within the context of the Asian American community. In the beginning, I found it harder to connect these struggles with real people and faces, but by actually being within the nonprofit, I see more and more how CPA is necessary for these individuals and how it is an integral part of their lives. People come to CPA for many different reasons–to get help translating something from English to Chinese, to have someone help them file a complaint against an employer or landlord that is treating them unfairly, to socialize, to organize together, etc.

By researching about the Chinatown library that was demolished more than fifty years ago as well as the more recent efforts of the community to create a new library, I’m building a bridge between the past and present in terms of Boston Chinatown’s history. I’m also refining my ability to research and understand the complexities that come with creating a sustainable, public recreation center that I had never truly considered before. Though having a public library is something often taken for granted, in reality there are many aspects to think about before you start constructing anything. You need an area accessible to both pedestrians and cars, funding sources, cooperation and collaboration between politicians and residents, a concrete vision that is agreed upon by all, and several other aspects. In fact, the task is still so daunting that for now a reading room has been created in place of a full scale library; see more information here: http://www.chinatownlantern.org/.

Reading Room in Chinatown (Photo by Kelly Li)

 

 

Simply by seeing all the detailed planning happening around me and sitting in on staff meetings, I have gained not only a better insight into the inner functioning of a nonprofit, specifically CPA, but also the mindset and thought that is behind the actions taken.

Besides changing the way I think, I’ve helped write articles for CPA’s newsletter and helped edit the articles, which ties into my interest in English and writing. This is an experience that I haven’t had before, for which I am grateful. Similarly, seeing how different ethnic cultures interact within CPA, reinforces my interest in International and Global Studies, because I consider IGS a study that involves understanding the range of diverse thinking that occurs between countries.

These skills will definitely be important in the future, on campus and throughout my experiences beyond Brandeis. Learning about the local politics of Boston and how they affect myself and others gives me more insight into the struggles people are facing daily, which is important in this diverse world. Knowing how to plan and analyze data will help when I conduct research and when I am in a leadership position.

I was recently fortunate to participate in a lobby day related to the REAL Bill at the Massachusetts State House, a bill created to give workers who work through temporary employment agencies the right to know who exactly they are working for and the amount they are being paid with greater transparency.  Although my district legislator was not able to meet with me directly, I was glad to pass on the information to one of his aides.

At the Massachusetts State House (Photo by Kelly Li)

I hope to continue learning as much as I can before my internship comes to an end, best of luck to everyone else in the coming weeks!