My First Week at AJWS

Goals for the Summer

This summer I intend on taking up all of the opportunities I am offered during my time at American Jewish World Services (AJWS) in terms of work, nonprofit organizations, and myself in order to accomplish my goals for my future career, academic journey, as well as my personal goals for the summer.

In terms of my career, this summer through the internship I hope to learn as much as I can about how a successful nonprofit organization functions. Through my experience at Brandeis in furthering good causes, I have encountered a lot of politics involved. I am looking forward to seeing how such a remarkable and successful organization such as AJWS deals with the politics of furthering good causes and how it organizes itself to be successful. I also hope to get to know the employees at AJWS to hear how they ended up getting involved and their stories, both for networking and for personal causes.

For my academic journey, I hope to learn more about specific human rights causes and which ones in particular I might hope to further pursue. I hope to learn more about “experiential education” and programming. I aim to apply what I have learned in my classes dealing with anthropology, conflict, dialogue, and Judaism to the work I do at AJWS.

My personal goals for this summer align with the others as I hope to make the most out of the opportunity to work for these incredible causes with inspiring people. I hope to explore my particular interests and the ways I prefer to work, and to get to know the fascinating people who are dedicated to the work that AJWS does.

 

My Work So Far

This first week interning at the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has been absolutely incredible! The mission of AJWS is: “Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. Rooted in our mission, AJWS was founded in 1985 by American Jews who wanted to join together as global citizens to help some of the poorest and most oppressed people around the globe. Today, AJWS is the only Jewish organization dedicated solely to ending poverty and promoting human rights in the developing world.” (ajws.org). I am working in the New York office in the Office of the President Intern position, where my supervisor is the executive assistant to the president of the organization.

There have been so many fascinating parts, and also many surprises.

Some interesting parts were sitting in on an executive board meeting where I learned all about the ways that AJWS forms their goals and how they plan to accomplish them. The main goal of AJWS is to help marginalized people in the developing world realize their human rights. There are different subject areas that AJWS works in within the developing world: civil and political rights, land and water rights, and sexual health rights. AJWS also deals with disaster relief. I have had a wonderful opportunity to sit in on many meetings with the organization, as well as converse with Ruth Messinger, the president of AJWS, about her work. Also, on June 10th, I attended something called an “All-Staff” which was a staff retreat for all of the workers for AJWS in the United States. We discussed how much of the “J” (Jewish) should be involved in the organization, as well as many other interesting topics.

My work has included a lot of administrative work such as writing out dictations, reading a lot of articles/Dvrei Torah to find topics/quotes of relevance/interest, and other tasks of organization that will help move the flow of AJWS along. I have loved the reading and learning as well as sitting in on meetings and getting to meet with executive board members.

I have been surprised a few times throughout this first experience. The first day, Ruth Messinger, the president of the organization, paid my fellow Office of the President intern and me an unexpected visit, surprising me. Also, the organization is going through some structural changes, so the staff are in an interesting emotional place. These experiences have taught me a lot about how to maintain oneself in a professional setting. I have also been experiencing living in a big city for the first time as well as living by myself for the first time.

The start of my internship has been inspiring and I have learned so much so far. I look forward to the rest of the summer!

At the "All-Staff" retreat, each table was tasked with using random art materials to demonstrate what the "Jewish" aspect of the organization is.
At the “All-Staff” retreat, each table was tasked with using random art materials to demonstrate what the “Jewish” aspect of the organization is.
This is my office area where I work every day.
This is my office area where I work every day.

 

-Gabi Hersch ’17

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