Stuck at Home, My Mind Still Swirling


Sitting under a tall oak tree in my back yard, sipping a Diet Coke while typing this blog post, Varanasi, India already seems like years ago. I’m finding it difficult to be at the intersection of three different worlds: the past couple months in India, now being home in suburban Connecticut with my family, and my junior year at Brandeis which is approaching in two short weeks.  I am already struggling with maintaining an immediate sense of what I have experienced in India since the culture shock of being home is beginning to wear off.  Thankfully, I am still in the middle of some projects for the Dove Foundation, which keeps me tied to the people I’ve met and places I’ve been.  Here is a draft of a video I am now in the process of editing for Project Aarambh, a program that provides HIV/AIDS and reproductive health education to the low-caste community of bicycle rickshaw pullers in India.

In addition to being a WOW fellow, I am also a Brandeis-India Initiative fellow.  The Brandeis-India Initiative selects students to develop projects that build ties between Brandeis and India. It’s still a fairly new fellowship at Brandeis, so I encourage 2013 WOW fellows to apply for next year. For my project, I plan to screen the video I am making for The Dove Foundation’s Project Aarambh.  I will invite an audience of students, faculty, and other members of the Brandeis community to increase awareness of the challenges rickshaw pullers face.  I hope this event encourages donors to give, and other Brandeis students to intern for the Dove Foundation.  I also hope to continue developing my video editing and graphic design skills in future internships, independent projects, and school assignments.

I don’t know when my next trip to India will be, however, my internship has given me an idea to connect different non-profits with a similar mission throughout the world.   I think it would be a great idea to partner the Dove Foundation with another youth-led public health organization in the U.S…somewhat like an ambassadorship, either in-person or via Internet tools/social media. This will create a cross-cultural network and support system for similar NGOs to give each other advice, collaborate on various programs, and spread their message to a different audience.   It’s a very abstract vision right now, but I’m thinking of ways to actualize it during my remaining time at Brandeis.

While I am still new to working for the non-profit field, my first piece of advice for any students interested in an internship in this area would be to communicate.  Make sure both you and your employer are clear on what the expectations are for your internship.  I was not commuting to an office for my internship, so emails and phone calls were essentially how I would get things done with my supervisors.  Also, be considerate.  If you are interning for a youth-led non-profit, most staff members have other preoccupations in addition to working for the non-profit such as other internships, jobs, studying for Masters and PhDs, etc. Do not overcrowd their inboxes with emails or their phones with text messages at ungodly hours.  If what you are doing is important to your employer he/she will get back to you at the right time. Mostly, have fun—It makes work enjoyable, and if you have a sense of humor, you might even make friends with your co-workers.  Some of the best memories I have from my internship are going shopping with my boss for Indian clothes, and driving to a water park with one of my co-workers on a sweltering Saturday.

As this is my last blog post, it’s been a pleasure and honor being part of the WOW 2013 community.  It was very interesting to read this blog and compare the various experiences each fellow had. I look forward to seeing the WOWs back on campus and hearing all the incredible stories you have to tell about your internships.




Aliza Gans ’15



3 thoughts on “Stuck at Home, My Mind Still Swirling”

  1. Hi Aliza,
    Your video is really well done! The way that Project Aarambh merges an everyday activity of Indian life (rickshaw pulling/riding) with health education is so creative. I was wondering, is there an incentive for rickshaw pullers to work with Project Aarambh? I think it would be neat for rickshaw workers to maybe receive better living accommodations in exchange for being peer educators. I didn’t know about the marginalization of rickshaw pullers or the Brandeis-India Initiative before reading your post- thanks for bringing those to my attention. Sounds like you did awesome work with the Dove Foundation and that your internship had a big impact on you. Great post and congrats on completing your internship!
    -Erica Granor

  2. Hi Aliza,

    Congratulations on completing your internship! It sounds like it was an incredible experience and it seems as though you’re bringing a lot of it back with you to campus. I went to India last summer with the Brandeis-India Initiative as well and think that screening the Project Aarambh video is a great project! Please spread the word on the details of your screening once you have them set because I would certainly be interested in supporting this project. Also, I really love your idea about the cross-cultural network of NGOs – its certainly a great mission that could lead to the improvement of NGO infrastructure all over the world. Congrats again!


  3. Aliza, while you say that you are new to the non-profit world, it sounds like you have some really innovative ideas to move The Dove Foundation forward, even only having worked with them for a summer! Pooling together resources is one of the simplest fundamental ways of granting more capacities to resource-lacking NGOs, and building capacity is a top priority for any healthy-minded NGO. I just need to say that you truly amaze me as such an energetic leader wherever you go–this world really needs you and others alike! Your video is also awesome and is a great tool to teach others about what is going on in your organization’s community. I wish you only the best of luck with whatever you do and I will see you around campus!

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