For almost two months, I have been interning at Healthy Waltham (HW) promoting healthy eating and learning how nonprofits work. At the onset, my role was mainly teaching children about nutrition and how to cook healthy food; however, most of my time thus far has focused on the inner workings of nonprofit organizations.
Aside from cooking, I wanted to learn more about the community side of public health, nonprofits, and what my own interests are in these areas. I never knew how planning, organizing, or funding worked for nonprofits before this internship. Every organization is different, but just learning one arrangement provides some background for understanding other types. At a Strategic Planning meeting with HW’s board members and staff, I saw how many disciplines come together to not only run HW, but numerous other health-related organizations. There were people from the city counsel, a school principal, and a registered nurse just to name a few of the people involved. Even more surprising to me, many board members and staff present belong to other health-focused groups.
I never imagined how much effort is needed to persuade the public to eat their greens.
I am happy to have learned so much about nonprofits, but so far I am most satisfied with the recent tabling event the Waltham Farmer’s Market. The cooking and nutrition class at the Chill Zone is more challenging than I remember. Frankly, my first class was disheartening. After a couple of those classes, I was anxious about the tabling event. Talking to people, friends or strangers, is difficult to me. Encouraging others to eat healthy foods has proven to be extra challenging. Plus, my mentor Chef Reva would not be there. All of these factors together left me worried and restless about the simple act of tabling.
Luckily, the event turned out better than expected. We gave free samples of Moroccan chard salad topped with roasted chickpeas. Not only were all samples and English recipe cards distributed, but almost everyone said they enjoyed the salad! Speaking with others went smoothly, and help from the other interns and staff made the day really enjoyable. I cannot wait to analyze the data to see if chard sales changed or if the HW website received more traffic after the farmer’s market.
The most valuable skill I am developing here is group communication. Everyone says that communication skills are important, but I am now a believer. Knowing how to present ideas and instructions while keeping people engaged is necessary to accomplish any task. Group work with coworkers, some of whom work from various locations, adds a new challenge to traditional group dynamics.
The web of public health becomes clearer as I continue observing and working on various projects. I am unsure where I fit in the realm of public health, but I am looking forward to the rest of my time with HW. There is still much to do, and even more learn.
– Yuki Wiland ’15