The American Jewish World Service: A week of immense learning

Last week, I started interning in the New York office of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS). AJWS is a non-profit organization that, drawing on the Jewish commitment to justice, works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. One of the many things AJWS does is train key opinion leaders in the American Jewish community to advocate in support of U.S. policies that will improve the lives of people in the developing world. I was placed as an intern in the Experiential Education department, which, among other things, devises the curricula through which these leaders are trained. Right now, the team is most focused on a current fellowship of Rabbis which will be going on a ten-day trip to Kenya in August. In Kenya, the Rabbis will learn first-hand from grassroots activists in the area who are working to combat injustices against women, children, and the LGBT community. The trip is just a part of the program though – these Rabbis have spent six months with AJWS learning about advocacy and the issues Kenya faces. They will spend six more months continuing the learning process when they return, after which these Jewish leaders will be well-prepared to lead their communities to advocate for human rights.

I have several responsibilities as an intern, which include collecting art and poetry from Kenya to include in the curriculum; collating and organizing survey data; supporting recruitment for future programs; assisting in preparation of pre-departure emails and orientation calls; and assisting where necessary. AJWS has a meeting-heavy culture, so I have also been attending several meetings a day.

That's me holding the "I."
That’s me holding the “I.”

I found this internship through Brandeis’ B.Hired website. After sending in an application, I was interviewed twice and was then offered the internship. I was very excited, as I had previously been exposed to the work AJWS does, and I wanted to be a part of this movement for real change. Since starting my internship, I know I made the right choice. Everyone here has been remarkably friendly and welcoming. My general impression is that this is an open and comfortable environment filled with people who genuinely care about making a difference. In just one week, I have already learned so much about human rights issues around the world and best practices for dealing with these issues. I have been exposed to a new way of talking and thinking about such matters.

This summer, I expect to learn a great deal. I think I will develop the skills to better advocate for human rights and an end to poverty in the developing world. I also think I will learn how to thrive in an office environment, and how to network. I also hope to learn more about myself. As a rising senior, I expect that this internship will help me make decisions about my future after Brandeis.

– Jessi Puterman ’15

Author: Jessi Puterman

Jessica Puterman is a rising senior majoring in history and minoring in both Legal Studies and Near East and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. Jessi grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and she loves going home during winter break to catch some sun. At Brandeis, she is president of Eta Beta Rho Hebrew Honors society and secretary of Brandeis University Mock Trial. Jessi is also a Hebrew tutor at the Boston Jewish Education Program and will start working as an advisor at the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis. Last summer, Jessi interned through CLIP at the Orthodox Union, and it was during this internship that she became very interested in non-profit organizations. She is excited to continue pursuing this interest at her internship with the American Jewish World Service this summer.