Saying Goodbye to the Women’s Center for Wellness

Although it seems as though my first day as an intern was just yesterday, in reality I have already completed 9 weeks at Women’s Center for Wellness! It is truly unreal to think about how quickly my time here flew by. On my first day, I was very shy and somewhat overwhelmed by the new environment. In fact, it seemed as though everyone was speaking another language – there were so many medical terms and abbreviations flying around that I had to wonder how I would ever understand what was going on around me.  Well, as it turned out, my wonderful mentors soon helped me learn all about breast health, anatomy, and the systems in place that ensure women get the best care possible. To me, this was one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship; I am glad that I was able to learn so much about women’s health in such a short time. For example, I learned how to read the radiologist’s reports and decipher the corresponding BI-RADS codes to gain valuable insight into a patient’s case. I also feel as though I’ve learned how to quickly make a connection with a patient, so that they have a pleasant experience getting their mammogram. Because so many patients dread going in to see a doctor, I think learning how to provide the best personal experience possible will serve me well in my future as a medical professional.

This experience has taught me so much, and I hope to use my new knowledge to educate people about the misconceptions surrounding breast health, anatomy, and mammograms. It turns out that there is a lot of misinformation or questionable information surrounding these topics. With my first-hand experience, perhaps I can take an active role in Brandeis’s student activities by joining a club that can help me spread awareness.

Now that I have learned so much in this field, I would really like to continue working in women’s health. Although my time at Women’s Center for Wellness taught me a lot, I’m sure I have much more to learn. For example, I would love to learn more about how radiologists spot worrisome inconsistencies on patient’s mammograms, especially when the area of interest may be no more than a pinprick in size. It constantly amazes me that they can save someone’s life simply by looking very closely at an image. I am also eager to begin researching a related topic that has piqued my interest. I was recently informed that in 2009 the United States Preventative Task Force issued a statement claiming women should begin getting their yearly mammograms at age 50, not 40. There has been much disagreement and criticism surrounding this statement, and it has caused a decline in women under 50 getting mammograms. Unfortunately, Connecticut has the second highest rate of breast cancer in the country, so this relatively new statement may be hurting women who are walking around with undiagnosed breast cancer. This fall, I plan on performing in-depth research on this issue, and I’m sure I will learn even more about breast health in the process.

If I were to give a student seeking an internship at this organization any advice, I would tell them to be open to and actively seek out new perspectives and opportunities. I think my experience was enhanced by the fact that I tried to get to know as many people in my organization as possible, regardless of occupation. I quickly found that every position, no matter how far out of my range of interests it seemed at first, helped me develop a better idea of how a medical organization functions, what problems it encounters, and what solutions are sought. This is information that can help anyone in the medical field be a better, more valuable worker regardless of the area of specialization. Furthermore, anyone working in this field must always remember that the focus is on the patient, and therefore it is important to be as kind, compassionate, and smiling as possible. I believe that this advice can really be applied to any facility in the industry. No matter how you happen to be feeling that day, someone is relying on you to make their experience pleasant! A positive attitude is truly a great asset in this field, and I think I did a good job of conveying my positive attitude as an intern. While I am sad to be leaving the Women’s Center so soon, I feel proud to have met so many amazing people and am glad that I have had a lasting impact on them, as well!

Concluding Thoughts

As my internship comes to a close, I really cannot believe that it is over. This was by far one of the best internship experiences that I have had. This summer gave me the opportunity to take all my past academic and work experiences and blend them into the career that worked for me.

Toward the middle to end of my internship I really learned about the art of blogging with Word Press. I scanned the internet for up and coming innovations in the sustainability world and wrote about them for LAGI’s blog. This was a really wonderful opportunity for me to see the new amazing inventions coming from engineers, artists, and architects and I loved being all the more educated about this business. My blogs have since been published to the internet and can be found here.

My dedication to LAGI’s Twitter and Facebook accounts had an overall large impact and increase in LAGI’s social media reach. During the first week of my internship LAGI had around 450 Twitter followers—they currently now have 668 followers (that’s over 215 followers added!) and the Facebook likes went from about 1,100 to 1,219 (over 115 added!). As someone who didn’t even have a Twitter account about a year ago, I cannot believe how much I adapted to the platform—it  has become very intuitive—and I also learned so much more about the importance and impact of social media from my experience at LAGI.

During the denouement of my internship, me and my supervisor discussed the future of LAGI in the form of a 3-year plan. We brainstormed what LAGI would need to satisfy to bring its major projects for the near future into fruition. I couldn’t believe how much LAGI had to juggle in the coming 3 years: my supervisor already knew the locations of LAGI’s future sustainability competitions, and my supervisor is already flying to Copenhagen for LAGI’s 2014 competition in the fall. They also had a handful of local projects going on, including ongoing collaborations with both national and Pittsburgh-based artists to revitalize low income urban towns. It was a privilege for me to see the planning and components that go into the progression of an organization—and it taught me how important it is to be organized and to stay on top of the game at all times in order to not only manifest one’s own goals, but to maintain positive professional relationships with business partners (this last component can make or break a project–in most cases).

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Image courtesy of LAGI at www.lagi.org

If I were to pick a major lesson that this summer’s internship taught me, it would be to never sacrifice your dreams just because you, or others around you, may think it’s not feasible to pursue your chosen field. This could be from the job’s societal stereotype/prestige, the starting salary it yields, and so on. My supervisor told me that most people start non-profits because they love the work they do—money is not the initial motivation to begin non-profit work. And to be honest, the supervisor that I had this summer was the happiest and most motivated supervisor that I have ever worked for. It is hard sometimes to defy the wants of others in order to pursue your own dream, but I really believe that if one is willing to put in some extra effort or time, the sense of satisfaction that it gives is worth it in the end.

I really did not want to leave my internship, it so resonated with my career interests and I knew that I wanted to pursue this field in my present and future. That’s why I was thrilled when my supervisor offered that I could help her with the planning of a major project happening next summer throughout the year, meaning that I could still be connected to this world of work even though I would be in a different state. This really makes me grateful for the internet—I can’t imagine correspondence without it!

I am so happy that this will be the field I pursue–both academically (through Brandeis’ IGS and Environmental Studies programs) and work-related through my internships and employment opportunities. It makes me very excited as I anticipate a very rewarding future ahead!

I want to thank my supervisors, Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry, for offering their guidance, wisdom, and this wonderful internship experience.

I also want to thank the Hiatt Career Center, and the WOW Program, for giving me consistent assistance if I had questions, for providing me the funding to pursue this opportunity, and for adding the enriching component of an online blog so I could organize my insights and see the fruition of my peers’.

Thank you very much! I wish everyone a wonderful, and productive, remainder to their internship experiences!

sustainable landscapes

 

–Karrah Beck ’15

How Times (and Scarlet Macaws, Hummingbirds, and Toucans) Fly By at UTC/GMT -6 hours!

Fer de Lance: one of the deadliest snakes of the region! Surprising encounter after a peaceful weekend afternoon of fishing.
Fer de Lance: one of the deadliest snakes of the region! A surprising encounter after a peaceful weekend afternoon of fishing.
Bombacopsis quinata: our daily spiky field companion...the project site is an entire 20-year-old in-grown plantation.
Bombacopsis quinata: our daily spiky field companion…the project site is an entire 20-year-old in-grown plantation of it.

 

“¡Pura vida!” again from a piece of conserved Osa rainforest! New wildlife I’ve observed: many scarlet macaw pairs, a bicolored coral snake (the most deadly snake of the region), 2 deadly Fer-de-lances (the third-deadliest snake of the region), a boa at the beach, a 3-toed sloth neighbor, several toucans, a tamandua anteater, and many toad and froggy evening visitors!

As I reflect on my summer goals with Osa Conservation with daily journal entries (as per advice from Adrian Forsyth: Osa Conservation Secretary, co-founder of Osa Conservation, president of Amazon Conservation Association, vice-president of Blue Moon Fund programs, and renown natural history writer), I realize that some of them have been met, others in the process, and others have pleasantly hit me hard without notice.

Environmental science research: I entered with a general goal of learning more about how to conduct professional-level environmental research, and I knew it would be the easiest goal to reach this summer given the nature of my work. I believe I have up to this point surpassed this by designing a carbon-monitoring system from scratch using literature review, so that the project design complies with many of the most up-to-date recommendations from the international carbon-research community and will serve as creditable and practical data for Osa Conservation’s land regeneration and reforestation projects in the near future. It has been and continues to be a blast going into the field everyday and getting pretty close to being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Local environmental advocacy: To respond to a very helpful comment I received on my first blog post, I am doing my entire internship here at Osa in Spanish, including speaking with my Costa Rican supervisor. It is tremendous practice and further helps me learn the lingo and vocabulary associated with nature and the environment so I can better communicate with the people surrounding me here. As of now, I have gotten the chance to explain my project and advocate carbon to other interns and the international Board of Directors in English and the workers and staff—with whom I interact most of the time—in Spanish. As a result of my own initiative, I am in the middle of contributing a bilingual post titled “¿Por qué carbono?” (Why Carbon?) to Osa Conservation’s public online blog (found HERE), which will update local and international readers on my thoughts and experiences here so far. I am also scheduling and will be practicing a general talk about Osa Conservation that is often and will be given at nearby farms and hotels in Puerto Jiménez for the same purpose on a smaller but more important scale. I hope to continue taking advantage of the ways that Osa Conservation promotes their organization and conservation as much as I can, especially touching on climate change. Costa Rica wonderfully seems to inherently value conservation, but I have heard no talk about climate change since I have been here. Climate change is the primary reason for tracking and paying attention to carbon, but perhaps motivations for monitoring carbon here may be more economic. Either way, I will be sure to address this in my blog post…and maybe the Princeton intern who recently told my supervisor, a staff member, and an intern that I am no less than obsessed with carbon.

Envisioning for a non-profit: I have been fortunate enough to live where the Executive Director—a former employee of Conservation International—lives on his days off from meetings and errands in San José. In this time I have regularly sat in on his conversations with guests and have listened to him describe Osa Conservation’s current projects and his plans for the new piece of land that was purchased 2 weeks ago with grants from funders like the Blue Moon Foundation and a loan: restored-forest and sapling monitoring, invasive species removal, active planting and experimental reforestation, building a school for organic and sustainable agriculture for local farmers, and a great deal others. Many of these projects are joint efforts with other highly relevant and quality environmental institutions like EARTH University: a wonderful university focused specifically on agricultural sciences (website HERE). By integrating myself fully in Osa’s professional and philosophical atmosphere, I have very fortunately learned a great deal about what it takes to move a non-profit forward and into which aspects of conservation to mentally branch in today’s modern environmentalist world. This axis of learning has been a beautiful one on which I hope to turn for the rest of my life.

Right now, I am probably most proud of 2 things: having learned to differentiate among many local plant families and genera, and my ability to coordinate a 4-person field-research team on 2 different projects in both English and Spanish everyday. An Earth and Environmental Sciences professor from Lehigh University actually has a somewhat similar project monitoring the survival rates of common local reforestation plant species in the same 20-hectare lot on which my project lies. Every summer (or winter, here) he sends 3 students to work on this project. However, for maximum efficiency managing all other 15+ land-stewardship projects, my supervisor asked me to take responsibility for completing both projects. As it turns out, this was a great idea. I am building my leadership and organizational skills, we are moving faster than ever on both projects, and everyone has more field buddies with whom to learn, laugh, and sing!

The research, networking, and advocacy skills that I am building by interning with Osa Conservation are undoubtedly super relevant and easily transferrable to my pursuit of environmental academia, career plans in environmental research and conservation, and on-campus involvements with groups like SEA.

Sending good vibes back to EST and every other time zone around the world!

Nick Medina ’14

A helmeted iguana (Corytophanes cristatus): another surprise to our tree-measuring adventures!
A helmeted iguana (Corytophanes cristatus): another surprise to our tree-measuring adventures!
Our energy levels after a long day in the field!
Our energy levels after a long day in the field!

Six Weeks Later: Hitting A Home Run at My Internship

Federal Court Building, Central Islip, NY (http://aedesign.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/court-1.jpg)

The past six weeks have flown by!  It feels like my program just started, yet, this time next month, everyone will be back at their respective colleges or law schools and the program will be over.  I almost wish that I could slow time down (for some parts of the internship; I am in no hurry to slow down the copy machine- it is slow enough as it is!) because I am really enjoying my time at the US Attorney’s Office – except for the part where I have to wear a suit to work everyday in 95 degree heat!

Before the summer began, my primary goal was to prepare myself for an entry-level position in the legal field when I graduate next year — that’s the goal of any internship I suppose: job preparation.  And while I have gained exposure to legal motions and briefs, and drafted several responses myself, most of the learning that I will take away from this experience will be from observing the Assistant US Attorneys and their routines.  From the outside looking in, being a lawyer calls to mind images of attorneys  experiencing thrilling arguments with their opposing counsel in a courtroom and feeling the euphoria of having their objection sustained – people expect attorneys to spend most of their time standing in front of a jury, and dazzling them with their rhetoric, like on TV shows such as CSI.  In reality, though, what I’ve found is that most of the attorneys I work with spend 90 percent of their time behind their desk preparing for cases that may never make it to trial.

Nevertheless, the office keeps its interns busy — half of the time I enter the office in the morning expecting to work on one project, and finish the day not having done a thing for that project because I was assigned three other priority cases to work on.  Lucky for me, we record all of our assignments on a daily log, which serves as a helpful reminder for what projects we’ve finished and what we still need to do.

I split my time between researching cases in the library, organizing exhibits for trial into binders and boxes in the office and observing or assisting trials in courtrooms.

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Researching cases in the library; one of my fellow interns gave me his old LSAT book (on my right) to help me prepare for the exam when I take it in the fall!

So far, the most fun that I’ve had has been getting to know my fellow interns, most of whom have taken me under their wing and given me tons of advice for law school.  I’m going to miss our lunchtime arguments about which superhero movie series was the best or which team will win the World Series this year.  Just this afternoon, we all played softball against the clerk’s office — it was the Assistant US Attorneys and their paralegals and interns against the judges, court martials and their interns.  Unfortunately, we didn’t stand a chance – nobody expected that federal judges could hit 300 foot fly balls!

As one last note: something that I’ve learned about the legal field in the last six weeks is that detail matters.  If the font on the cover page of the exhibit binders is not the same size for all 4 sets, they need to be redone; you need to cite the jurisdiction for any case that you include in a legal brief, not just the name and the year; and most of all, always remind your superiors to “shake it off” after they strike out at the plate.

– Ricky Rosen ’14

Midpoint Reflection

My internship has been going well. I have grown accustomed to the working environment and my coworkers, and my work processes have begun to speed up. With a reminder from the WOW advisor, I just realized that this is already the midpoint of my internship, how time flies! It took me some days to get into this “working beat”, so now I want to cherish the time left, keeping this “beat”, and contributing as much as possible in the second half of my internship.

The Jinan urban planning projects I had been previously working on got delayed due to some political reasons. I feel it is a pity that we cannot continue this project since we have done a lot of research on papers, reports, and international examples. Then I was assigned to the Beijing urban planning and transportation group. We have regular meetings with Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning & Design to discuss transportation policy every two weeks. Our organization provided the government technology and policy support, and our goal is to assist the government to write a new Beijing Transportation Guide. Three other interns and I are working on one chapter of the guide called “International Transportation Examples.” I am mainly researching the transportation of the following cities: Hong Kong, Portland, Los Angeles, and Copenhagen. I learned a lot in this research process, both from how successful transportation projects in those cities have guided people to live a lower carbon life and how unsuccessful urban planning can result in inconvenient transportation to citizens. Also once the roads and the transportation systems are built, it is very hard to change it later on. So the best way would be doing the right things from the very beginning. I read a lot of papers and reports in the past three weeks, both about real policy and academic theories, and I realize how different they are and how hard it is to make theories a reality by making policy and working in the real world.

This project is a perfect match to my academic learning goal. It enhances my research abilities through reading many papers and reports and summarizing them for government use. Reading is the easy part!  However, it sometimes gets ambiguous which parts of the material are related to my research topic and which parts I should just ignore. This project trained me to find the key points among tons of materials in a short time, and this will also help me build stronger academic reading and writing skills, and at the same time, will be good preparation for graduate school in the future.

Second, the “International Transportation Examples” chapter we are working on will be discussed in our following meetings with Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design, which makes me feel proud that I am doing a “real” project and that my research results will directly reach policy makers, and hopefully contribute to the Beijing Transportation Guideline. I am proud that my supervisor is very satisfied with the Hong Kong transportation report I just finished; he said it is a very mature report and it could be used directly in the Beijing Transportation Guideline. He also used my report as a good example for other interns. Through writing reports for government, I realized how important it is to strictly follow the structure requirement and rules. Details such as words count, type setting, and page design, if done incorrectly, can all lead to the need for revision.

Third, from this internship, I did not only gain working and research experience, but also expanded my network and learned about how an NGO works in China. I think a successful NGO in China needs to maintain a good relationship with the government because we need their support and approval to get projects done. Many of my friendly colleagues are experts in different fields, such as transportation, urban planning, LEAP modeling, statistics, computer science, etc. Also, I am very lucky to be in the same office with the program director, who is in charge of hiring new staff and conducting interviews. Sometimes she evaluates candidates and shares with me what characteristics of candidates she is looking for. For example, she weighs candidates’ working experience, the ability to get work done, and responsibility more than whether their major and degree match the position. And she prefers candidates who are willing to be devoted to work without excuses to those who have many “personal” requirements and whose personality stands out too much or does not fit the organization culture. It really opened my eyes and influenced me about what kind of staff is preferable from the boss’s view.

In the second half of my internship, I hope I can do more research and have a better understanding about the relationship between urban planning, transportation and low carbon city construction. Since I also have strong interest in analyzing data, I hope that I can diversify my working fields and join other groups which will focus on data analysis and do more technical work so that I can gain both research and technical working experience from this internship. Again, thanks for the support from WOW to make this great opportunity come true to me.

– Yifan Wang ’14

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This is my office table, where I did most of my research.
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Our action plan is on the wall of our meeting room, very clear to both staffs and visitors

Halfway through my internship

At this point, I have completed six weeks of my internship with IDG Ventures Vietnam. This has been a long journey, and I feel grateful for this opportunity. I am privileged to work for one of the top venture capital companies in Vietnam and have learned so much from this internship. People at work are very friendly and understanding: they made me feel comfortable and offered me helpful advice on the job. My research about how better to incorporate social networking into our business model is nearly complete. I have developed a comprehensive understanding of social network sites in the world, their business drivers, revenue models, cost structure, and organizational framework. My business writing skill has improved a lot, and I have nearly mastered XLSTAT-PRO and STATA for data researching purposes. My supervisor frequently checks in on me and provides critical feedback on my work so that I learn as much as I can from my job. He was pleased with my progress and confident that I would finish this research before the end of my internship period.

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IDG building located in the centre of Hanoi capital

Last week I had a chance to join on a CEO meeting with Vat Gia, a small IDG portfolio company that has been growing tremendously over the last few years. Although it was just founded two years ago, Vat Gia has emerged as one of the leading online marketplaces in Vietnam. Its mission is to follow eBay’s model, with much attention and resources on providing pleasing purchasing environment platforms  for buyers and sellers. During the meeting, my manager requested updates from the company’s CEO, assessed the working condition and reviewed the annual goals. As the administrative assistant, I took notes and wrote a memo of the meeting afterward. Based on my notes and analysis, the CEO will have more ideas about future contact and potential next steps with this portfolio company. I really enjoyed the trip because I was exposed to a real business situation and learn about professional etiquette and communication techniques. I also told the start-up CEO about my research and he was very excited and willing to help me improve the research. After the trip, I grew a few good contacts in the technology industry.

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Vat Gia web interface, similar to eBay

Besides working on the research and joining business meetings, my daily tasks also consist of assisting IDG analysts and associates with handling phone calls, scheduling meetings, and organizing electronic files. You might say these seem like boring tasks that no intern likes to do during any internship; however, by doing this, I have greatly enhanced my communication skills in the office. Although I have heard about this a lot, knowing how to communicate with other employees and managers is highly critical in today’s work environment. When I come back to Brandeis in the Fall, I will fully utilize these skills to network with alumni and reach out to potential employers during full-time job recruiting season. Besides, familiarizing with work environment also allows me to quickly adjust to a new workplace and deal with pressure in the work environment.

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I look forward to finishing up my internship and please let me know which part of my internship you want to know more about! I hope you all are having a great summer before returning to campus in the Fall!

Looking to the Future: Sustainability and Green Energy

Now that I am at the midpoint of my internship, I am sure that I want to pursue sustainability and green energy in my future career. I have seen how valuable this discipline is, and how much it is needed on a national and international scale.

From the start of my internship until now, I have been researching for the follow-up publication of LAGI’s [Land Art Generator Initiative] Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies (linked here is LAGI’s already published guide). Through this research, I have learned not only about the many renewable energy projects that are currently happening across the world, but so too I have studied the art of grant writing, and the process of finding and applying for grants. With the application of these funds, LAGI and similar non-profits have helped multiple communities save money with energy management, make towns cleaner and healthier to live in through the implementation of green technologies, and have added additional comfort and beauty to urban surroundings. With the experience I have gained, I have begun learning about how I can help the world in tangible ways through the use of visuality and environmentalism. Growing up wanting to pursue the arts, I was often told that specializing in any career related to the creative process was a waste of my time and money. Going into art was never something that my inner circle wanted for me–mostly because they wanted me to be financially secure. But I now have seen, firsthand, how useful, important, and present art is in our daily lives.

One aspect that I have noticed is that design and visuality influence the happiness and overall mental health of workers, especially those who spend the entirety of their days enclosed in small offices. During my time working in a cubicle, I remember feeling so isolated from the outside. I would’ve given anything to have seen the blue of the sky or the green vitality of the trees and grass from my tiny office window; many of my coworkers felt the same. I have realized that even though some businesses need to conduct work in offices, that doesn’t mean that their employees need to be isolated and withdrawn from nature. Quite the contrary, a recent trip I took to the Phipps Conservatory proved that cubicles don’t have to be disconnected at all.

flowers

The Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA has recently constructed a revolutionary green building that creates more energy than it uses, saving energy for the city of Pittsburgh as a whole. This building is called the Center for Sustainable Landscapes. Its entire office space utilizes natural sunlight from glass windows; the internal temperature is stabilized from the condition of the outside heat, and plants are placed in nearly every corner of the building, adding another source of life to the indoor space. I have never felt so comfortable in an office space; this building was also generating energy for other Pittsburghians, too. I was truly amazed.

The skills that I have learned in my current internship have laid the groundwork for developing more advanced research skills for non-profits who utilize grant writing, and if I happen to work for a company engaged in international business, I can also mention that I have first hand experience understanding the difficulties the company faces going green (such as funding and grants, managing public space vs. private space rights, navigating internal politics, or overcoming the NIMBY point-of-view (Not In My Backyard: those who are opposed to renewable structures because they take up too much of the natural landscape).

This internship experience has helped me in decide what graduate degrees to consider and what additional minor/major I want to declare. By going into environmental studies and green energy, not only is this field of work helping societal and global concerns, but it is also fascinating and gets right to the heart of urban maintenance and development.

With this career I have the possibility of seeing the fruits of my labors, and seeing the people that I am helping through making their lives more convenient and healthy.

 

me at work
–Karrah Beck ’15

Observe, Learn, and then Create!

Working

Hi everyone! Hopefully all of you are enjoying your summer and internship as I am.
The past 4 weeks have been more about learning and observing the new workplace and technology. I am becoming  increasingly comfortable with my co-workers; we spend more time together, and have longer conversations. Because I am better able to understand our technology, I have the ability to ask more interesting questions, which create substantial conversations. This differs from the beginning, because then, I used to almost always ask descriptive questions, such as, what does this mean? and how does this work?. That didn’t allow for much conversation.

This is the cover page I made with Photoshop for our Online Video Industry overview.

Through the daily work I am doing here I am improving my research, presentation, and networking skills, which will certainly be helpful in school, and future activities. I know I improving because my research is more specific to the needs of the staff. After 4 weeks I had plenty of opportunities to learn what they look for and care about, so I am able to tailor my research reports accordingly. I am learning how to filter the information and decide what is most important spending time on. I am becoming more fluent when speaking about most online video technology. Also, I am able to better understand the industry news, and as proof, I am becoming very good at writing weekly reports, based on the industry news.
Though doing all these tasks may sound boring, it’s actually very exciting because I have the opportunity to make the blueprint. For example, there wasn’t an official weekly report, so I took the initiative to create a template, with a front-page cover. It’s motivating when you know everyone in the company, and outside the company (partners, allies) will see your work. It makes you feel part of the company.
However, I think the most important skill I am improving is being comfortable learning a completely new business/industry than the ones I have been taught in college. I consider myself lucky that I have the opportunity to study and work within the industry of big data analytics, and the online video players, because I am learning it will become one of the most important industries that will power all businesses.
While doing work for IRIS.TV, I often read technology news articles who advise all media and entertainment companies that the 2 most necessary things they need to do are 1) to acquire more content, and 2) work on improving the viewers’ experience, which is exactly what IRIS.TV does through its analytics and recommendation programs. It’s very exciting to be part of a company that is one of the leading forces of an industry that is only now starting to mature. It makes me feel like the opportunities are endless.
In conclusion, if the first 4 weeks have been about observing and learning, I plan to make the next 4-5 weeks about taking the initiative and creating. I am most proud of my progress in studying and understanding the technologies employed by our company, and that of our competitors. I can finally begin to understand our company’s strategy and why our CEO takes certain decisions. I believe that in time, if I keep observing, I will also be able to make viable strategies that will lead to our company’s success. It’s time to be more proactive and create!

Paul Vancea ’14

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My fellow Interns and the Platform Developer
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The workplace with some of my co-workers

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research centers.  The Institute’s mission is to educate young scientists by integrating them into the research world.  Their Feinberg Graduate School hosts approximately 1,000 graduate students each year from around the world.  The Institute’s labs are wide ranging in the sciences, with scientists working on projects including combating heart disease, cancer, and world hunger.  The Institute also conducts programs for elementary and high school students to work alongside scientists and learn about science careers.  The Weizmann Institute of Science fosters creative collaboration, intellectual curiosity, and equal opportunities in scientific research.

The Weizmann Institute of Science - www.weizmann.ac.il
The Weizmann Institute of Science – www.weizmann.ac.il

During my summer internship at the Weizmann Institute of Science, I will work in the Segal Neuroscience Laboratory, alongside Dr. Menahem Segal as well as his graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.  The work in Dr. Segal’s laboratory is focused on the neuronal basis of long-term memory in the brain.  This work relates to investigating decay of memory systems in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and mental retardation.  I will assist with several studies investigating the cellular basis of neural plasticity.  I will use live imaging of cultured neurons in a confocal microscope, transfect various plasmids into neurons and test the effects on cell morphology.  I will help assess the results of the studies using various imaging and analysis methods.

During my first week, I learned to use the confocal microscope in order to assess neuronal firing patterns. This microscope has a tiny laser that continually scans the cultured neurons, so I can watch neurons firing in real-time. Once I became acquainted with the microscope and its accompanying computer system, Dr. Segal set me up with Dr. Fisher, a visiting professor, to begin tests on a drug that could be used to reverse the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Fisher believes his drug can target amyloid plaques, tau hyperphosphrylation, and mitochondrial death.

Check out this great video to understand how these cause Alzheimer’s Disease: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjgBnx1jVIU.

We apply the drug to hippocampus neurons from mice, and observe any changes in firing patterns. Each time the neurons on the screen light up, Dr. Fisher and I jump in our seats, excited to witness this amazing molecular event. With so much unknown about the workings of the brain, it is incredible to be able to watch the most basic principle of the nervous system at work.

An abstract summarizing Dr. Fisher’s can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15989509.

Working on the Confocal Microscope in the Segal Laboratory
Working on the Confocal Microscope in the Segal Laboratory

Dr. Fisher has developed hundreds of drugs in his career, with one currently in use for treatment of Sjögren’s syndrome.  While working with the confocal microscope one day, I asked him about the process of designing a drug, testing it in laboratories, and eventually bringing it into clinical trials. Though lab research can often seem like a tedious endeavor, following a drug from discovery of its molecular mechanisms through clinical success must be an incredible experience.

My goal this summer is to have an active role in the Segal laboratory and find a way to make a difference in these experiments, ultimately improving quality of life for people with Alzeimer’s disease.

– Shoshana Weiner ’14

Finding Artistic Power at LAGI

Hello Everyone! This was my first week working at the Land Art Generator Initiative [LAGI], and already I have learned so much about urban processes and the teamwork required in making urban spaces healthy and successful. A city is really a living, breathing organism. It is shaped by the inhabitants, growing and changing with the times and through the culture of the area. For some, it is a place where good times can be found through public musuems, parks, restaurants, and entertainment. For others, like those who work at LAGI, it is a place of endless possibility where opportunities to support the livelihood of social justice can be found through creative and inventive means.

LAGI

LAGI is located in Pittsburgh, PA in an urban town called Lawrenceville. I’ve known about LAGI since last year, and was able to secure a position for this summer. I found LAGI through searching the internet, as I knew that I was interested in both art and urban development–and LAGI offers the best of both.

Upon first receiving this internship, I knew that LAGI worked to aid energy consumption and the beautification of cities (including those in Copenhagen, Dubai, New York, and Pittsburgh) but there was also more to their business that I had missed. A huge part of LAGI’s work is holding competitions where artists, architects, and engineers are encouraged to collaborate on building artistic and functional energy efficient structures. Though these collaborations are for potential projects and winning does not guarantee that the rendered plans will be constructed, these collaborations are creating something very powerful. They encourage creativity and inspire teams to be imaginative when they are not permitted to so otherwise. My supervisor, Elizabeth Monoian, shared that the competitions they hold give participants a creative freedom, for in their normal day-to-day responsibilities they normally are too busy with client obligations to utilize their more unique approaches to architectural design. She stated that the art form she has seen being born, as a result of collaboration between disciplines, is rapidly developing and may change the face of art as we know it.

This type of art practice, comes from the methods of Land Art or Eco-Art. This discipline has a wide range, but it can either use the natural world as a material, or speak about environmental issues through creative expression. At first I thought that all projects of Land Art would be healthy and conducive to the environment, but Elizabeth told me that this was not the case. Land Art can be as equally destructive to the natural world as it can be helpful. That is why when entering LAGI’s competitions, the pieces submitted must be helpful to the environment, and not cut down trees or damage the environment to come to fruition.

I was unaware of this practice of art.   Throughout my artistic education, I learned about aesthetic mediums (paint, pencils, pastels) and the various types of canvases I could use, or the wonders of digital manipulation and graphics. Land Art so speaks to me on a personal level, because it gives art a purpose it has never really been assigned before. It makes art useful in everyday life and current global issues, which is exactly what I’ve been struggling to find in my career. As an interdisplinary major (IGS) with an undeclared minor (I really think its going to be environmental studies now), I really did not have a great idea of where I would end up. All I knew was that I was a social justice advocate who loved the arts since birth.  I wanted to make that a reality in my adult life. Now, happily, I think that that dream will be possible.

During the first two days of my internship, I researched grants that LAGI could apply for, and  looked for current “happenings” of the surrounding communities and possible future reconstructions. I am very happy that next week I will begin to learn the art of grant writing, which will be a useful skill when I start looking for careers post-college.

The last day of my first work week I helped set up an art gallery opening in mid-June. One of the exhibits is LAGI’s work, and there are other land artists featured as well. From abstract pieces to city planning architectural sketches, everything surrounding the gallery was pro-environment and pro-urbanism, and I felt very much at home.

 

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I am very excited to see where this internship will take me as LAGI furthers their creative powers and efforts. I am so happy to just be learning about this relatively unknown art form, and I seem to be finding myself as I reawaken, and respect, the creative artist within me.

 

–Karrah Beck ’15

 

 

A Day in the Life (of an Intern!)

I have officially spent five weeks interning at Women’s Center for Wellness, which means I’m a little over halfway done! It’s amazing to think how quickly my time here has flown by. I have had so many interesting learning experiences during my short time here. I’ve observed a stereotactic biopsy, a breast ultrasound, mammograms, and worked closely with our resident nurse practitioner, who provides preventative care for under-insured or uninsured women in the Connecticut area. I love meeting new patients and knowing that I am helping in whatever way I can to ensure they maintain or improve their health. When I submitted my WOW application, I had one reasonable but very important goal to attain during my internship: I wanted to learn how to confidently interact with patients, which is a skill that is vastly underrated by many healthcare providers. No matter how skilled a healthcare provider is, a patient will never be satisfied if they feel that they weren’t treated well. So for the past five weeks, I have worked hard to learn how to interact with patients in a way that is professional and informative, yet also comforting and personal. I feel that this is a skill that will help me throughout my career, and I think I’ve made a lot of progress on this goal. At the beginning of my internship, I was quite shy, but now I am confidently working with patients. Although it is not entirely scientific, I can usually gauge my growth in this area by how easily I can accomplish certain tasks, such as accommodating a patient with special needs. At this point, working with patients has become almost second nature to me!

The work station – lots of monitors and notes!

I am also learning a lot about the field I am in (specifically breast health and imaging) and the way my organization operates. I think one of the most telling signs that I am becoming a valuable part of the organization is when I am able to help a radiology technician figure out what happened with a particular patient or how a case was resolved. I am proud of this because it shows me that I can integrate all the things I’ve learned here in a way that helps both the patient and the technicians, rather than only understanding bits and pieces of what goes on around me. It’s very exciting to know that I am learning more and more as I gradually become immersed in the organization.

Checking to see if any patients have arrived

 

I hope that my increased awareness of the biology behind breast cancer will help me in my academic career where it pertains to hard science. Seeing cancer firsthand is much different than reading about it in textbooks, because I get to see all the other ways it can affect an individual. I am also lucky to have a firsthand perspective of the American health care system and how it can affect an organization such as Women’s Center for Wellness. I feel that I am supplementing what I learned in my HSSP courses with real-life experience. I am also slowly gaining the skills to be a successful health care provider by learning how to interact with patients and seeing how various procedures are performed.  Now, I can only hope that my remaining few weeks with Women’s Center for Wellness will be just as educational as the first five!

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 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

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

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

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.

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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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Midpoint at NBC News

I can’t believe my time at NBC News this summer is almost over.  Over the past weeks, I have learned more about this business than would have been possible from a textbook or class lecture.  By taking advantage of all NBC and Washington, DC has to offer, I’ve had a chance to see history unfolding and meet a few of my heroes along the way.

I started this internship with the goal of learning the skills necessary to become an investigative journalist – researching, digging, writing, looking at information from new angles, and ultimately producing a piece.  Those expectations have definitely been met.  I have also had the opportunity to learn about additional aspects of the overall news and broadcasting environment; not only have I achieved my initial goals but I have gotten the inside view of some of the ways a news story is   developed.  What makes a topic meaningful and what is its impact?  I now understand that there is a tremendous amount of thought and diligence that moves a story from idea to completion.

My main tasks include researching for spots produced by the investigative group based in D.C., as well as, looking into possible leads for future investigations.  On any given day, I may be locating contact information for possible interview subjects, and speaking with them to hear their stories, sifting through government and court documents, identifying voting records, searching historical newspaper archives, and exploring other news entities and blogs to see what the next story could be. I incorporate all the different methods of navigating Google and databases like Lexis Nexis, Factiva, Proquest, Pacer, etc., that I’ve learned, and now look at them with an investigative mindset.

I’ve also been able to experience the commercial television broadcast atmosphere.  This has exposed me to the many different aspects of what goes on in network news.  I’ve had a chance to listen in on discussions about which spots will appear on Nightly News through the daily conference call between the Washington, New York, and all the other bureaus, and seen changes in the rundown as news breaks over the course of the day.  I’ve sat in the control room as Nightly aired, which provided an opportunity to observe all the different aspects that go into a smooth broadcast.  Seeing which spots appear on Nightly has honed my news judgment about what stories are important to share, along with the public wants and needs to hear.

Aside from experiencing the production side of Nightly News, I have also seen some MSNBC entities working, which has shown me a different side of news broadcasting.  I was able to sit in on Chris Matthews’ prep for his show, and was in the studio with Rachel Maddow when she visited D.C.  I went to the Capitol with an NBC Politics reporter, and was in the press gallery to watch voting when a particular piece of legislation I had been researching all summer was finally presented on the Senate floor.

I’ve also had the opportunity to attend several events where I was able to see and hear from some of the most important figures in American politics, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, and, also most importantly, Ben Affleck!

In the downtime between assisting the investigative team and attending events in D.C., I’ve also been working on my own piece with another intern to be posted on NBCNews.com.  We wrote our own script and are using footage my partner shot from her trip to Israel, we are going to cut the piece ourselves.  This opportunity is an incredible chance to use what I have learned to produce and publish my own piece.

Being in Washington, D.C. during this election season has also given me the opportunity to be part of the excitement that builds in the months preceding a presidential election.  I was outside the Supreme Court building when the health care decision was announced.  It was exciting to be there during the historic moment, surrounded by people who were so passionate about the issue, and seeing the reactions and reporting styles of all different media entities absorbing the news.

Outside the Supreme Court, June 28, 2012   GlobalPost: http://www.globalpost.com/photo/5709810/supreme-court-health-care-decision-reactions-june-28-2012

Another significant moment for me was hearing Bob Woodward speak at the Newsuem during the week of the 40th anniversary of Watergate.  As an aspiring investigative journalist, the development of the Watergate story has been an inspiration.  Hearing Mr. Woodward speak, and even getting to shake his hand, was an incredible experience.  It just added spark to my interest in the field that, as Mr. Woodward said, provides the “first rough draft of history.”

Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein and Robert Redford as Bob Woodward uncovering the details of the Watergate scandal in the classic film
http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2010/09/all-presidents-men.html

I’m proud of this laundry list of what are just some of my recent experiences, mostly because I took initiative and made them happen myself.  I did not wait around for people to give me work to do, or ideas for events to attend, but actively looked for these opportunities.  I wanted to learn from my internship and feel secure that I have.  By asking questions and absorbing everything I could from NBC’s experienced and knowledgeable professionals, I obtained skills that will be help me succeed in my future academic and professional goals.

 

– Abigail Kagan ’13

Midway but still learning

 

The Musée de Montmartre and its climbing vines

My first month in the Musée de Montmartre is not what I expected it to be. Not that something which doesn’t meet your expectations is a bad thing. People assume that if something doesn’t fulfill or exceed your projected assumptions or fantasies, then it’s a disappointment, a failure, something that you regret pursuing in the end. But what this first month in the Musée has taught me is that although pipe dreams are what might have launched you into your adventures into the wild, blue yonder, it is what you make of your own reality that is a thousand times more fulfilling.

 

I’m sure people are wondering what these silly pipe dreams of mine were before they were given a sharp blow in the head by reality and stomped unceremoniously into the blackening cracks between the ancient cobblestones of Montmartre. I’m almost embarrassed to admit them—they seem so silly now. I imagined myself floating around the musée with a done up bun and a clipboard, gently caressing the edges of a print by the timeless Toulouse-Lautrec with white gloves. I wanted to be in the halls of the musée and arrange the paintings and prints on the walls according to my own vision. I also wanted to drink absinthe in a smoky room and make my acquaintance with Green Fairy but that would have been during my time outside of the musée.

 

But no. I realized that curating a museum requires an infinite amount of patience, an immutable will that can’t be daunted by an amount of work the size of Montmartre itself, and a particularly acute interest in the era you are working on. I have been translating dozens of documents from French into English and, more nerve rackingly, from English into French. I have been consulting editors and publishing companies for the upcoming catalogue of our exposition “Autour du Chat Noir: Arts et Plaisirs à Montmartre 1880-1910” and it’s been an high-speed volley of phone calls, emails, and running around for confirmations. I’m creating an exhaustive list of all museums who would be interested in the exhibition in Paris and the United States and their curators for invitations to the opening gala. Lastly, and most exhaustingly, I have been waist-deep in the affairs of a certain Gustave Charpentier, a musician and composer of 19th century France who was a seminal figure of the cabarets and dance halls of Montmartre during that era. His family’s donation of his papers and personal affairs is extremely interesting and as disorganized. I’ve been painfully organizing every single piece of the donation into a digital format.

 

And yet, everything about this internship is making me feel as if I’m making a difference and that might be what I’m most proud of. This work is absolutely necessary for the smooth running of the museum and the good of the archives. I had said that one of my goals for this summer had been to improve on my study skills and be more concentrated on one task at a time; I’ve certainly had a lot of practice in this certain area during my time here. I feel myself changing, being more focused on the task at hand and being more precise with my time. They sound rather mundane, but they’re invaluable skills.

 

I might have mislead the reader in the beginning, implying that I have had some sort of epiphany-like discovery of self, that my realization that my world is what I make of it was a chapter that I have already written. But I see it more as a change in philosophy, a hazy projection of my coming time at the museum and a hope for the future. I won’t be so pretentious as to call it a prediction, but I think that this new germ in me will grow into something significant and beautiful, nourished by French wine and a little time amongst hardworking lovers of art.

And maybe a tiny tourist train

Nuclear Accidents, Moldova, and Elton John: My Summer so far with the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine

It’s hard to believe that the summer is half-way over. I have been having a fantastic time, and I feel like I’m really doing something, which, I guess, is the hallmark of a good internship.

Finding the STCU was a home-run for me. I’m interested in the post-Cold War world and nuclear issues (from nuclear weapon security to non-proliferation to nuclear energy), and spending the summer in Kiev working at the STCU covers all of that. From talking to colleagues about East European politics to sitting in on meetings with weapons experts to traveling through Transnistria, I have learned so much.

A big focus of my department at the STCU at the moment is collecting proposals from CIS scientists for suggested projects to mitigate the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. It makes a lot of sense that Japan would contact Ukraine and other former Soviet Republics for such advice. If you just suffered the second worst nuclear accident in history, who else would you call but the country that suffered the worst? The Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986 was the world’s worst nuclear accident, covering over a million hectares of Eurasia with radiation. Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Georgia were hit the hardest, and so the scientists from those countries have several decades of experience in the monitoring and rehabilitation of contaminated lands. It’s been very interesting for me to read the proposals, and I’m learning a lot about cleaning up after nuclear accidents.

A few weeks ago I attended the STCU Governing Board meeting in Moldova. In addition to it being a chance to travel to a new country, it was an incredible opportunity to talk to U.S. government officials who are working in careers I am interested in. At the final dinner, I somehow ended up sitting next to a State Department official who followed a similar career path to the one that I wish to take, and next to her was the STCU Executive Director, who had worked for the State Department for 30 years. He had been an ambassador in Eastern Europe in the eighties and nineties and had some neat Cold War stories. I spent an incredible evening talking to them about working for the government and in the Foreign Service.

I think something that I am most proud of is the fact that I have friends in Kiev now. There have been lunches at work where we have laughed so much that the STCU director told us having that much fun at work was not allowed. We spent an amazing night twenty feet from Elton John, Queen, and Adam Lambert in Independence Square at the concert that concluded the Euro2012. The people I have met have been so great, and my summer would have been very different without them.

I take the metro to work every day, and in the beginning of the summer I would go to great lengths to make sure I had something to hold onto, as the metro is very crowded during rush hour. But now I don’t need to hold on to anything, and that ties into the fact that I think one of the greatest things I will gain from this summer will be confidence. I was scared at the beginning and felt very self-conscious walking around Kiev, but now that fear is gone. I think I’ll be able to walk into my next internship or job with a certain degree of self-assurance, with the mindset that I successfully spent eight weeks in Kiev and I’m ready for anything now. – Jennifer Ginsburg ’14

Something’s Cooking at the Katz Lab

At the beginning of the summer I began work on an exciting project in the Katz lab at BrandeisUniversityon a specific aspect of taste memory. For the sake of brevity it’ll suffice to say that the project is looking at a well-founded behavior in rodents in which the animals learn that a taste is “safe” over the course of a few days  (interested in knowing more? Click here!). Recently it has been suggested by data in the lab that this behavior can show itself in a faster time course if the behavior is measured using different techniques. At the beginning of summer I began collecting data to verify the claims of the past study, and had figured that this would be a quick task and that by this time I would have started on the next leg of the project. Like many things in life, however, science does not work on the timescale that you expect. We are now halfway through my internship and we are very close, just now, to being confident in the presence of this behavior. But don’t take that as a complaint; even though the timing has showed itself to be longer than expected, I am very proud to know that with the data I gathered and the additional analysis we are on the precipice of finishing and submitting my first data paper. Also, life in the lab has been incredibly enjoyable and very, very rewarding.

Whenever I’m not working with data at my desk, I am getting hands-on experience by shadowing my co-workers to learn and perfect certain techniques that will greatly assist me when it comes time to manage my own project.  These techniques, it should be noted, are incredibly important to my future career plans as the skills I am currently learning are easily transferable to post-college studies and work. Additionally with certain techniques it is difficult to tell if I have actually improved, but I have noticed that I am asking for less confirmation and help as my hands and mind become steadier. It’s impossible to explain the immense amount of gratitude I feel to my labmates as they have walked me through virtually every step with a smile. Because of the experience I’ve had so far, I feel very confident and excited to proceed to the next step of my project.

Here’s an example slice of a brain – the large gash on the right side is the tract made by the stainless steel cannula used to directly infuse pharmaceuticals into the brain.

 

It goes without saying that the atmosphere in the lab is incredibly conducive to learning; each person is willing to help one another in times of need. Recently, a post-doctoral fellow needed help finishing up the final parts of her project before she left the country. Virtually everyone in lab spent their free time helping to make sure that things were completed. As the thought of graduate school and additional research work weigh on my mind, it is a relief to know that a lab can not only exist but thrive with this sort of group mentality.

 

A small sampling of Katz Lab scientists

As we go into the latter half of summer, my days will likely be filled with similar activities as the first half. There are still many techniques to learn and perfect, and as the elusive behavior becomes more and more apparent there will come the next step of writing and submitting the final manuscript. Additionally, with the stronger evidence that the behavior exists, I will be presenting a poster at the Brandeis Summer Science Poster Session in early August. The technical skills I have gained and the knowledge I’ve learned about the research process are both goals that I had wanted to obtain during my internship. With these learning goals already started, there is little doubt in my mind that the next half of my internship will be just as rewarding, if not more so, than the first. – Kevin Monk  ‘ 13

 

SCAMP: Science Camp And Marine Programs (Part I)

Why go to camp, when you can go to SCAMP??  Although this is the chorus to our camp song, it also poses a great question. Why would you go to a normal, run-of-the-mill day camp when you can come exploring the world of science with SCAMP (Science Camp And Marine Programs) at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats.  As one of the program’s counselors and coordinators, I am fortunate that some children seek to find the answer throughout their summers.

Being in my position, the answer is as clear as a tide pool on a nice summer day: SCAMP is awesome!  Where else can you walk through a muddy salt marsh up to your waist? Cruise down the Merrimack river looking at salt marshes?  Crawl through amazing tide pools and touch live animals? Take an adventure on a whale watch? Or even visit a butterfly garden?  As you may have guessed by now, the only answer is SCAMP!

SCAMP is a camp that is composed of hands-on science, live animals, fun games, and craft projects for children aged 6-9. Each four-day session is a fun-filled learning adventure created to increase awareness and inspire stewardship of the natural world.  Also, a child can attend either one or multiple camp sessions, depending on their scientific interests!  This year, we have the following weekly themes: salt marshes, the rocky shore and tide pools, oceans, insects, and birds.

The kids making their own tide pool animals from recyclables!

So far, we have only completed two of the SCAMP weeks (salt marshes and rocky shore) but they have been so much fun for both the counselors and campers!  As a summer camp intern, we have to plan the entire camp schedule and come up with the creative games/activities to keep the kids’ attention on a daily basis (harder than it seems!).  I really love how all of the interns are completely responsible for choosing what constitutes a day at camp.  This is where being a diverse group of college interns really comes into play.  For example, I can use my passion for theater and improv to help the kids make their own puppet shows using puppets we made earlier in the day.  The first week, we made paper horseshoe crab puppets and for week two, we made tide pool animal puppets from recyclables!  The kids are so creative that they can write and act out a play, and the results are rather adorable to watch!  The puppet plays have been so successful already that they will be a weekly activity at SCAMP for this summer and into the future.  It’s amazing how quickly the interns’ ideas are accepted and implemented into the immediate curriculum of SCAMP!

SCAMPers performing their plays with their personalized tide pool animals made from recyclables

 

The most convenient aspects of having a marine science camp at Joppa Flats are its useful location and features.  The Joppa Flats Education Center is complete with a children’s education room, a 110-gallon interactive touch tank, and a bird viewing room that overlooks a beautiful salt marsh of the Merrimack River.  Additionally, the Joppa Flats Education Center is located at the gateway to one of the country’s most productive year-round wildlife viewing areas, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and the Plum Island estuary.

So far, the campers have just loved their experience with SCAMP.  Although it is mostly fun games/activities, we also make sure to have educational stations and we always have a science lesson behind our games!  Most of my planning time is dedicated to finding the best way to learn while having fun; I love thinking of classic fun games (obstacle courses, relay races, tag, rock-paper-scissors) but building them upon a new, scientific foundation.  Another great aspect of SCAMP is that all of the cool arts and crafts we make are taken home by the campers!  Finally, the great staff-camper ratio lets us all get to know every camper on a personal basis.  This is great because we have options for all the campers so they can all participate in certain activities that fit their personal interests!

There is also a new, one-week program for older children (10-12) called Young Scientists.  This is the first year in which this program is being held, but we’re very excited to start!  This in-depth program is meant to let the kids become actual naturalists and develop an individual project or research question, and spend time in two tide pools (Plum Island and Beverly) to gather two separate data sets.

But what is the real answer why kids should spend their summers at SCAMP?  Well, it has to be our camp mascots, Piper and Pippen, the piping plover chicks (of course, they are stuffed animals).  Each day, two campers take home both Piper and Pippen and can write or draw what they did with the birds in their own journals.  From tanning on the beach to lounging by the pool to watching jeopardy, these birds get to have awesome summers with the campers that display excellent behavior throughout the day!  Piping plovers are federally threatened birds that are protected on Plum Island’s critical habitat at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

Although I’m a leader of SCAMP, I absolutely love participating in the activities we create.  I think we do such a great job at planning because we are really just kids at heart (we know what’s fun!).  I’m very excited to continue to meet new kids every week and I just hope that I inspire them to never stop loving the natural world.  For me, that’s something that always continues to grow, even as I get older.

Personally, I have found out that my favorite part of the day is teaching the kids something new.   As leaders, we frequently choose our own mini lesson plans and create a 10-minute station on anything we want!  For example, during camp today (ocean week) I led a discussion on shark anatomy.  It was so fun to teach them something that I am very knowledgeable and passionate about.  I love having the ability to educate them and also let them be a participating audience.  The ability to create a lesson in which my audience is interacting and thus having fun is something that I have greatly improved upon this summer.  I am very proud of the fact that I am an effective educator of biology to both college sophomores (as I am a bio lab TA) and to a 6-year old.  Although the difficulty of biology is vastly different, I approach teaching the two age groups the exact same way; keep the science simple, relatable, and fun.  If I am being silly, enthusiastic, and clearly having a fun time teaching then I guarantee that my students will take something valuable out of my lesson.  As a science student myself, only the teachers that are able to make science fun have had a positive influence on my education.  If I am to be an inspirational science professor someday, then mastering this ability is something that I need to always be working on.

Matthew Eames ’13

SCAMP field trip to tide pools at Rye Beach, NH

LIKE us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MassAudubonJoppaFlats

Midpoint at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic

It is hard to believe that I am already at the midpoint of my internship. My learning goals were to become familiar working in a healthcare setting, to apply my knowledge and further learn about health and illnesses, and to promote a healthy lifestyle through this hands-on experience. I have met an incredible group of people, including healthcare professionals, patients, and families. I am fulfilling the goals I set for myself, and everyday I learn something new.

Life-size food models used for dietary counseling

In addition to the daily tasks of monitoring patients’ development on growth charts, viewing patients’ medical and family history, and assisting in conducting dietary and physical activity counseling, I also performed quite a few exciting tasks. I helped conduct mail-out surveys for patients and families. The survey includes questions that could be very helpful for the Clinic staff members to assess how the they are doing in terms of educating and treating the patients. We would like to see not merely changes in statistics such as patients’ weight and body mass index (BMI), but also improvements in their diet and physical activity. I also designed posters for an upcoming event, BMI Fun Day 2012, which is an interactive four-hour program provided to our patients in a specific age group. The program consists of bike riding activities from a non-profit organization the Bluegrass Cycling Club, how to prepare a food budget, well-balanced meals for school from Culinary Arts students from Sullivan University, and family-oriented team building activities. I am very excited for this program. It will be the BMI Clinic’s first program outside of the hospital, and it will provide opportunities for children and their parents’ to interact with Clinic staff and other healthcare professionals on a more personal level.

BMI Clinic dietitian’s typical lunch – beets, tomatoes with cottage cheese; full of proteins and fiber!

I am monitoring my growth by keeping a daily journal of what I do everyday and recording thoughts and reflection at the end of the day.  I am working with my supervisor on a daily basis, so I discuss with her any questions and ideas that I have. Other clinic staff also check in with me to see how I am doing. I am the most proud of the tasks that I take on outside of the responsibilities that I was originally assigned. I enjoyed doing extra work for the clinic as much as I can, such as making posters for the program, designing pamphlets for the dietitian, and compiling and analyzing data. I feel very accomplished for making every little contribution to the clinic and to the population who are suffering from obesity and other related health problems. So far it has been a pleasure working here. Besides increasing my academic and professional knowledge, I made great connections at the Clinic and at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital at large. I feel like I really fit in here. I can definitely see myself working in a healthcare setting in the near future. – Yan Chu ’13

4th of July at the Embassy in Madrid

A lot has happened during these past weeks. In the Economic Section, I finally finished working on a fundraising project I was helping manage for the Embassy’s annual 4th of July party. The project was a huge success. We raised more that what we needed to cover the party’s expenses. The remaining funds will be used for the Embassy’s Election Night celebration in November. The party was also a huge success. Over 3,500 people attended, and there was live music, performances, and a lot of good food and drinks! The nicest moment of the party was when a combined group of U.S. and Spanish Marines presented both countries’ flags to the Ambassador and his wife.

Photo: US Embassy Madrid

 

Now that the project is finished, I have been assigned new and exciting tasks like writing meeting briefs for the Ambassador and writing reports about economic laws. Meeting briefs are used to orient the Ambassador and give him relevant background and context before an official meeting, informing him about the person and organization. To compose the briefs, I go through press articles, official websites, and use other information resources to research the individual. I have also been working on copyright and intellectual property legislation issues, researching and writing reports for the Embassy’s deputy economic counselor about American and Spanish laws, and cooperation in the field between the countries.

 

Photo: US Embassy Madrid

Last week, I transitioned from the Visa unit to the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit in the Consulate. A lot of the work in ACS is related to law. I am in charge of the emergency telephone line, which is the line that Americans can call if they find themselves in distress. The purpose of the calls are very varied and interesting, and require me to respond in a quick and effective manner, and know a lot about Embassy resources and Spanish law. It has been my responsibility to follow up with a variety of agencies, such as the police or international law organizations, all the while keeping clients up-dated about their inquiries.

Time is going by so fast – I can’t believe I only have one month left! Feel free to ask any questions about my work, the Embassy in general, Spain, or anything else!

– Ivan Ponieman ’13

Greetings from the American Islamic Congress!

Hi Everyone – This summer I am interning at the American Islamic Congress’ (AIC) Boston Office. AIC defines itself as a civic minded organization, dedicated to building interfaith and interethnic understanding, as well as supporting and fostering civil and human rights. While the main office is in DC, they have a strong Boston office and cultural center, as well as bureaus in Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq.

I am working as the Arts and Culture Program Assistant. This summer, my main responsibility is to spearhead and co-lead the project development of a traveling art exhibit for the AIC scheduled to be launched in 2014. Our aim is to bring 6 – 8 Muslim artists to up to 6 cities on the east coast. We are inspired by the idea of cultural advocacy, (i.e., using arts to make a difference) and letting art counter stereotypes that people have of each other. Our hope is to have a diverse selection of strong artists from the Muslim world who can talk about relevant issues facing them and their communities such as fundamentalism, immigration, gender rights, and democracy. We hope to generate a cross-cultural conversation that allows and fosters positive engagement amongst societies. With this exhibit, we also want to have films and concerts, as well as outreach to high schools, in order to have a significant, 3-dimensional impact. I am involved with helping draft the concept, prospecting for fundraising, engaging partners, networking, coordinating outreach, and planning educational programming, amongst other responsibilities.

My other job is to be the curator for the cultural/gallery space in Boston. I was an Assistant Curator for AIC in Spring 2012 (which is how I got this Summer internship) and this summer allows me to be more engaged with the artists, as well as plan an exciting array of art and cultural exhibits (film and music) exhibits for the 2012 – 2013 year.

My first week has been pretty exciting. I definitely felt like I walked with a purpose my first day in. The location of the internship, at 38 Newbury Street, surrounded by glamour, adds not only the aura of a ‘legit’ operation, but also pressure – because you are competing with so much around you for an audience. As a Muslim-American organization, how can we try to be relevant and have a strong alternative, progressive Muslim voice? I think that is the big issue that this organization is grappling with.

For this summer, I am working with a couple of people in the office but my supervisor is Andrea Dettore, Development Associate – she is a great lover of music and arts programming and is going to guide me through the process of fundraising, and network and partner building for the traveling exhibit.  The final concept will be the result of our joint conversations and expertise.

On Thursday, I was involved in co-curating the most exciting exhibit so far! AIC is partnering with Discover Roxbury, an organization dedicated to the promotion of culture of Roxbury, to feature five American artists of color, who traveled to Egypt before the Arab Spring, and have been inspired by it. Please find pictures for it below!

I co-curated this show with two workers at Discover Roxbury. This was the first time I ever co-curated an exhibit, and this was definitely a learning experience because there were some strong ideas being bounced around and some clashes, but all in all our result was great!

I really hope this summer will allow me to develop skills that I do not currently possess in the field of planning. As an Art/Art History major, theoretically I know about art in general, but I don’t know much about business plans, marketing, and outreach/fundraising. I would love to combine my love of art and knowledge of contemporary Muslim art, and learn how to be successful in this field of cultural management.

Additionally – I would love to find a progressive Muslim voice that is advocating for strong change, and be able to find my own space within it with my multiple identities.

Until the next time we connect,

Khuda Hafiz (May god protect you)

Abdul Aziz Sohail ’13

Moving from New England dialects to Hmong fieldwork

A lot has happened since my last blog entry. Besides working on more acoustic analysis, I made two trips down to Plymouth, New Hampshire to do some of my own interviews. I went with one of the Dartmouth students who I had met before.  He was very helpful in explaining exactly how he does the interviews, and we did the first one together. Then, I stayed at the bakery where we had set up, and he went off to other local spots where he thought he could get useful interviews. It was good for me to step out of my usual comfort zone and ask people who came in if they would be willing to be interviewed. I asked if they had grown up and lived most of their lives in the area, since that was what we were looking for.  If they answered “yes”, I told them a little about the project and asked if they had 8-10 minutes of time for an interview. I was lucky to receive mostly positive responses, and got about 10 interviews on my own within the two days. During the interview, I had them read a word list, reading passage, and sentences, followed by questions on whether they believed there is a New Hampshire or New England dialect. These interviews will be analyzed just like I have been analyzing previously conducted interviews, with Praat. An interesting thing I noticed when finding people to interview was that some people looked scary.  Yet,  I decided to approach them anyway, and they turned out to be the nicest ones. Among the various lessons I have learned, one is the typical, “don’t judge a book by its cover”! I have also refined my interviewing skills based upon this lesson.

The second day I went to interview people, I met a woman who had studied linguistics and who was very interested in the project. I gave her the Dartmouth professor’s business card, and she proceeded to contact him offering to help with the project, which he was very excited about! He appreciated my personable attitude and said that he believed I would do great on the Hmong project, as it seemed like I was very approachable. I felt proud that I could be such a help to the project, and the interviews made me feel as if I was a valuable component; more so than when I was simply doing analysis from home.

During the remainder of my time at home, the professor also gave me books to look through about the Hmong. I had previously read Anne Fadiman’s book, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” but besides that, did not know much about the community. I have already learned a lot more about them simply through the books. A lot of the material talked about the fact that many Hmong who now live in America feel as if Americans do not understand their culture, and misinterpret many cultural rituals and traditions. One thing I have noticed when reading these books is that it is much easier for me to retain the information when I am studying it for my own use, rather than simply for a test in class. I am excited to learn even more as I actually begin to interview the Hmong people.

“The Mong Oral Tradition” – A few of the books that the Dartmouth professor has provided me with.

 

I just got to Massachusetts yesterday, where I will be spending the remainder of my internship. Before I left, I stopped at Dartmouth to speak with the professor about what exactly I will be doing during my time here, since the work is mostly on my own. He suggested I contact the Brandeis student again who did Hmong field work a few years ago. He also gave me all of her previous Hmong contacts, notes and interviews. I have already contacted her and she told me which places she was most successful, most of which were in Providence, RI, though also one park where she met a lot of Hmong people in Fitchburg, MA. Otherwise, I should begin by researching online to find Hmong organizations in the area, as it very well may have changed a bit since the previous Brandeis student carried out fieldwork here. Once I start conducting interviews, they will include cultural questions as well as certain components that will allow the interviewees to speak Hmong, which we can analyze later to find interesting linguistic elements within the language.

I am nervous because I feel even more on my own now than before, but the professor is more than helpful in answering any questions, and I feel as if I am well prepared. He will check in with me every week to make sure I am doing well with the research, and he will either visit me here at some point, or I will make a trip back to speak with him and possibly even do some more of the New England dialect field work. And whenever I am not busy with Hmong work, there is always more acoustic analysis to be done! The professor has assured me that even if I do not make a life-changing discovery, making more Hmong contacts in the area and carrying out some interviews will be very helpful to him. And personally, I have already learned so much that I know this internship has been and will continue to be beneficial to me! I am learning skills both that I can use in life, and more specific skills that I can use for future linguistics work. Although I am about half way through, I am only beginning this part of the internship, and even though I am nervous I am also so excited to see what will happen!

Me working in my new room! Trying to beat the heat…

– Alexandra Patch ’14

Researching Cantonese-English-Mandarin Language Acquisition

More than halfway into my internship, I have been making good progress on my learning goals for the summer at the Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre. In order to monitor my growth and make sure that I am absorbing as much knowledge as possible here, I have been keeping track of my completed tasks and constantly asking the graduate students at the Center for feedback and comments.

At the moment, I am transcribing video recordings for the Hong Kong Bilingual Child Language Corpus. The corpus is a database of bilingual Cantonese-English child speech recordings, in audio and video formats. I use the linguistic software called CLAN to transcribe and mark down specific features that appear in the child’s speech. For example, an important feature to note is code-switching, which is when the child switches from language to another, in this case from Cantonese to English or vice versa. Moreover, we not only transcribe the speech production of the child subject, but just as importantly, the production of the adults who speak to the child, or in other words, the child’s language input. We can achieve a more complete understanding of the target child’s language attainment by examining both her linguistic input and output.

Transcribing target child Yarona’s (mainly) English conversation — click to expand!

Another project I have been working on is the Mandarin Receptive Vocabulary Test for Hong Kong Children. One of my goals for the summer was to conduct experiments that look at children’s acquisition of vocabulary and sentences to better understand how teachers and curriculum can provide more effective language education for children. My responsibility was to compile the results and calculated the scores of each child who took the MRVT. The test is given to children aged 4-6 to assess their acquisition of Mandarin, a second or third language after Cantonese and English for most children in Hong Kong. In the test, children hear a word spoken in Mandarin and are asked to point to the corresponding picture. Only one out of the four pictures is correct and the other options are carefully selected distractors. There is always one other picture that is similar sounding, and one that is similar in meaning. The results tell us how children are most likely to make mistakes, and indicate areas that parents and teachers can improve upon. Working on this project gave me a lot of insight into my long-term goal which is to pursue a career incorporating linguistics into education, so that children can be exposed to various languages at an early age to become global citizens when they grow up. They will be able to communicate with many people, yet also have a native language that reminds them of their heritage.

Sample question in the MRVT: which picture shows xiang1 jiao1?

Concurrently with the other projects, I am currently working to design a computer-based experiment to study the referential strategy of spatial relations. It is extremely challenging and I get a great deal of independence in researching and designing how the experiment will be set up and run. It requires a lot of creative thinking and research. I am learning about the scientific method and research process. Working at CBRC, I have gained skills that will be essential for me in the future. Specifically, I have gained skills in transcription, and am working at a much faster pace than when I first started.

– Miriam Wong ’14

Halfway through my time with Bible Raps!

As part of my internship with Bible Raps I had the opportunity to spend a week at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton GA, where I once was a camper and counselor myself. Although I have worked for Bible Raps before and since, and will be embarking on the second leg of my “camp tour” next week, I think my experience at camp Ramah Darom best represents my internship so far.

I had two main goals when I began this summer: 1) Get hands-on experience with the day to day tasks of a Jewish musician and a nonprofit organization (both of which I hope to be a part of someday), and 2) Run workshops, perform, and write. In other words, I wanted both the clerical and the creative; at camp I did both. I used constant contact to begin putting together a newsletter, edited, formatted and copied lyrics (like this Torah Rap Map to the rap “Jonah:”

and reached out online to the kids we had performed for.  I also helped with the workshops themselves, including working with the older kids in camp to write songs for their color war, which was a great throw-back for me. (The songs needed to involve their color, theme, region of the world, and be easy enough for everyone to sing, and incorporate Jewish texts, and if this wasn’t difficult enough, be completely in Hebrew. Yikes!). In the workshops, students learn a Jewish text, as well as the basics of writing a rap. (Videos from past workshops can be found here.) Students then split into groups to either make a beat with Matan or write with Matt and I to help. I loved seeing the campers faces after they laid down their tracks: beaming with pride, not just at what they had accomplished, but what they had learned. And I have learned so much; helping someone write is very difficult. There’s a thin line between giving suggestions and putting words in someone’s mouth, and most of these kids have had very little rapping experience. I worked on walking that line and keeping the ball rolling, while making sure the kids owned their work. Matt’s a pro at it, and is helping me improve as well.

I have a few proud moments from this week, some professional and some personal. When Matt handed over the reins to me to lead a workshop myself, I was a bit nervous but felt confident that I knew the ropes, and I did. I was certainly not perfect, and Matt and I went over what I could have done better. But working directly with the campers and facilitating such a unique experience was very rewarding. Later in the week, one of the older campers who we had worked with for color war said to me, “Don’t tell the other guys but you’re my favorite Bible Rapper.”  I smiled and we laughed, but it really meant a lot. This is more than a job, more than an incredible opportunity. For this summer at least, I am a Bible Rapper. I may not be a rapper yet, but I’m part of this amazing team that does so much good and brings so much learning to the world. That’s what I’m the most proud of.

P.S. Here is a video of Matt and Matan performing for some enthusiastic fourth graders!

– Eliana Light ’13

The Temporal Center of My Time at the Trauma Center

It’s been about a month since I first started my internship at the trauma center, and since then I have been exposed to many activities that have allowed me to work on my goals for this summer. Academically, I started the summer knowing I needed more experience doing clinical research in order to properly prepare myself for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology later on. I have been able to measure my progress through the number of studies I have found, analyzed and included in my literature. So far this number has climbed to over 100 articles, and I am sure it will climb higher over the next few weeks.

The trauma center has given me opportunity to interact with professionals across the trauma field, from psychologists to fellow volunteers, to people working the public relations front. I am learning a lot about each of these sectors and how they interact to form a complete organization aimed at preventing, treating, and building resilience to trauma. I have tracked my progress in this area by the amount and length of interactions I have had with the various professionals at the Center.

My personal goals are probably the area where I have met with the most success so far. With such kind people, I see more and more why I love my time at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma alone. For example, last week we held a fund raiser and I was assigned the role of “camera guy.” I knew a little about film, thanks to a class offered at Brandeis University, but I still had trouble with the technology. The ICTP staff’s response was immediate, and they offered not only help but feedback that was constructive and positive. They also drove me part-way back home, even though we finished our day’s work after 10:00 P.M. that night.

 

Photo Credit: Amos Nachoum

I think I am most proud of the fact that I have come to a place that affords me not only the type of career I want to have, but the type of individual I want to be: professional yet humble, conservative with evidence yet open-minded to creative ideas for trauma interventions. I have worked and wished for years for a place where I could find even one of these. Now that I have both, I feel that a serene sense of balance has taken over.

My work at the trauma center has helped me build new skills in storytelling through video, helped me improve my Hebrew, allowed me to work on research skills, honed my filming skills originally learned at at a class at Brandeis, and has bolstered my ability to pitch ideas. My improved Hebrew will also help me with my coursework, as I intend on taking at least one Hebrew course in addition to the amount required. My film skills will help me secure other ways of helping out at future events of the trauma center, and will also help me in searching for jobs that require a variety of skills. Lastly, to build a career in research, or even to give myself a voice in any campus, being able to effectively pitch and communicate my ideas will be an invaluable skill.

 

Photo Credit: Amos Nachoum

– Rocky Reichman ’13

Week 1 at the Jewish Eco Seminars

Shalom from Jerusalem! I am just about to finish my first week of interning for the Jewish Eco Seminars and so far it has been a fantastic experience!

The Jewish Eco Seminars engages the Jewish community by educating people about the powerful outcomes of combining ecological innovation, Jewish values, and modern Israel. The organization reaches people in Israel, as well as North and South America. It is one of the branches of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, which works to foster dialogue between the religious leaders and communities in Jerusalem on the topic of environmental issues. The Jewish Eco Seminars provides a great deal of opportunities and information. They offer many programs and trips ranging from exploring Israeli organic farming and learning about the country’s water problems to learning how to build with mud and much more!

Jewish Eco Seminars is based out of a small office (converted apartment) in the Nachlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem – less than a 5 minute walk from the Machane Yehuda Shuk (open market – see photo)! Most of the work that I have been doing this week is inside the office, though, occasionally some of the work involves going out a bit.

At the beginning of the week I was given the option of many possible tasks to work on. They ranged from publicity to research to video editing and more. I chose to spend my week focusing on fundraising because it was something that I’d never experienced before. This week I have been researching potential donors and providing my supervisor with information about them. I look for information such as where people and foundations already donate their money and what their interests are, and from this determine whether I think we may have a connection. Next, we get in touch with the groups who seem interesting and set up a time to meet with them. Before each meeting, we do more research on the group or person so that we will have a complete background knowledge of their previous actions in order to connect on a higher level and better understand them. I have learned so much just in this one week! Next week I plan on continuing some of the fundraising work and also exploring more projects!

On a different note, two years ago, the Jewish Eco Seminars was founded by PresenTense, an organization that helps Jewish innovators to use “their ideas and energy to revitalize the established Jewish community.” I came across Jewish Eco Seminars while speaking with a friend who is involved with PresenTense. I emailed the director expressing interest in interning with them and after a meeting/interview we realized that we were a great match for each other. After college I hope to become a Jewish environmental educator so I quickly realized that this internship would be great for me to gain experience in my field!

If this sounds interesting to you, feel free to like the Jewish Eco Seminars on facebook!

In addition, I’d like to share with you a great video that the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development released last week in conjunction with the Rio+20 UN Earth Summit. Click here to watch One Home!

– Ariana Berlin ’14

First Weeks at Ostional Wildlife Refuge

Greetings from Ostional National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica!  I’ve been working here for a few weeks and it’s been a great experience so far.  The Refuge is located in the small town of Ostional, on the northwestern Pacific coast of the country.  This protected area was created in 1983 by the Costa Rican government to preserve a major nesting site of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).  I found out about this project by emailing a supervisor in charge of the Guanacaste Conservation Area, who put me in touch with one of the researchers in charge of the work in Ostional, who offered me the opportunity to be an intern for the summer here.

The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle is distributed worldwide in tropical areas and Ostional is the largest nesting area for this species of sea turtle in Costa Rica.  The Olive Ridley is famous for the phenomenon of mass nesting, called arribadas, although two other species of sea turtles, the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles, also nest here.  The refuge spans 18 kilometers (11 miles) of coastline, extending 200 meters (700 feet) onto land, and 6 kilometers (3 nautical miles) out to sea.

Sunset at Ostional Wildlife Refuge

The majority of my work takes place at night, when the turtles come up on the beach to nest.  To get an idea of what a nesting turtle does, here is a video produced by WWF.  Along with other staff members, I lead groups of volunteers on nightly beach patrols to find nesting turtles and record their location and size, the number of eggs they lay, the size of the nest, the time it takes for the turtle to lay the eggs, among other data.  Finally, we tag the turtle so that we can keep track of her, if she comes back to nest in Ostional.  During the day, we excavate and exhume nests to examine the eggs and determine how many turtles hatched from each nest and what stage of development the unhatched eggs reached before death.  Additionally, we perform a weekly beach clean up and coordinate hiking trips for the volunteers who come to the refuge.  Most of the volunteers do not speak Spanish and many of the workers do not speak English, so my duties include quite a bit of translation.  In my free time, I give English lessons to several of the staff members and their children, as well as enjoy the beautiful beach.

A turtle returning to the ocean during a recent arribada

My first week here consisted mainly of training and getting to know the staff here at Ostional Wildlife Refuge.  I spent about a week being taught how to lead groups on the turtle patrols and about all of the procedures in place here.  I also had a lot of time to get to know the staff here at the refuge.  About a dozen or so people are working here at any given time, including researchers, park rangers, research assistants, and the cook, in addition to the constantly rotating groups of volunteers.  I hope to continue to learn a great deal this summer from the staff here at the refuge.  Most of them have lived in Ostional their whole lives and have a lot to teach me.  I’m also hoping to witness a large arribada as the rainy season continues.  The organization I’m working with is vital to the conservation efforts of this sea turtle species, and I’m looking forward to continuing my work here.

– Sarah Steele ’13

My First Week at NBC News Washington Bureau

I am interning in the investigative department of NBC News in the Washington Bureau.  I will be observing and assisting a group of three producers and two on-air correspondents who create content for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, MSNBC, and the Today show.  I first became interested in investigative journalism through my job at Brandeis as a researcher on the Justice Brandeis Innocence Project at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.  I discovered I have a real passion for digging and exposing injustices, and wanted to immerse myself in the field.  This is why I chose to “study abroad” in Washington, D.C. last semester on the Washington Semester Program, an intensive journalism seminar program through American University.  It provided the perfect opportunity to become fully engaged in all forms of journalism, and allowed me to hear about the possibilities of a career in journalism from many prominent reporters.

I decided to stay in Washington for the summer and continue to explore my interest in investigative journalism.  I applied to the internship program at the NBC News Washington Bureau by sending a cover letter and resume directly to one of NBC’s investigative correspondents, who forwarded my information to an investigative producer.  I interviewed, completed a written test, and was lucky enough to secure an internship.

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838587/

My first week has mainly consisted of orientation, tours, and meeting the people who I will be working with this summer.  It took a while for me to familiarize myself with the computer system, especially one of the programs NBC uses called I-News.  I-News is basically an information sharing network which has everything from incoming feeds on breaking news, to scripts for upcoming segments of Nightly News, to lists of what will be covered by the Washington Bureau each day.  As an intern, I have the opportunity observe a lot of the news covered by the Washington Bureau, including congressional hearings, tapings, and press conferences.  All of these opportunities can be found by searching through I-News, which is why I wanted to understand the program right away.

My main responsibilities as an intern include observing the investigative team and researching.  In just my first week, I’ve researched a possible lead for an investigative piece and observed the editing of a breaking news spot for Nightly News on the John Edwards trial verdict.  The verdict came close to air time, so there was not much time for the spot to be put together.  It was exciting to watch the editing process and observe the decisions which a producer must make under a tight deadline.  I am looking forward to more opportunities throughout the summer to learn from experienced producers and correspondents about investigative journalism, and to be part of the excitement of NBC’s Washington Bureau.

Source: http://blog.signalnoise.com/2008/07/17/television-logos-nbc/

– Abigail Kagan ’13

My First Week at the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab

(Image source)

I began work this week at the Lifespan Emotional Development (LEDLab) at Northeastern University. This psychology lab is headed by Principal Investigator Derek Isaacowitz, a researcher and professor who worked at Brandeis before Northeastern. I chose to spend my summer with this lab because I had wanted to get involved in Professor Isaacowitz’s research on emotion and attention across the lifespan since he was my instructor for Social Psychology during my freshman year. I actually interviewed for a position as a Research Assistant (RA) with this lab while it was still at Brandeis, but had to defer joining for a semester because of prior commitments. I thought I had missed my chance to join the lab when it moved to Northeastern in January 2012. Lucky for me, support from WOW made it possible for me to have my chance to be an RA this summer.

The LEDLab investigates “the links between attention and emotion throughout the adult lifespan…how individuals of different ages manage their emotions, and what role attention plays in emotion regulation and maintenance of well-being” (lab website). In order to study the way that adults of different ages attend to information and how that relates to the emotions that they experience, we make use of an eye tracker. which continuously tracks where a person’s gaze is across the screen. This lets us to know what a person focuses on: is is the emotional expressions on people’s faces or is it irrelevant details of the scene which allow a person to avoid facing emotional content? Believe it or not, this varies among ages. In order to better understand what eye tracking is really like, here is a photo of my lab manager and P.I. using the equipment.

(Image source)

You might wonder why knowing this type of information matters. However, understanding how people relate to emotional content has important practical uses for society. For example, the study I am working on is looking at how people of different ages (younger adults, middle adults and older adults) process health-relevant information differently if the focus is on emotions or information. Professor Isaacowtiz published on this topic in article called “Looking, Feeling and Doing: Are There Age Differences in Attention, Mood and Behavioral Responses to Skin Cancer Information” in the journal Health Psychology earlier this year. I will not go into detail on the findings, since they are a bit complicated to explain here, but they did find a difference in the way older and younger people processed information that was important to their health and well-being. This knowledge is important in knowing how to reach out to people in the most effective manner to protect their health.

My expectations for learning this summer relate to both the particular skill set that I hope to gain, and knowledge about myself and my future career goals. The particular skill set I think I will learn is the nitty-gritty details of psychology research: running human subjects, coding and entering data, analyzing data, and discussing findings. For myself, I think that this summer will help me figure out which path I want to take with psychology: will I want to focus on research, or clinical work? By gaining a deeper understanding of what research really entails, I will be able to make a more informed choice for my future.

– Leah Igdalsky ’14

RECENT STUDY: MASS AUDUBON’S JOPPA FLATS CONFIRMS STARFISH NOW “EXTINCT”… INTERNS LEFT IN CONFUSION

Mass Audubon at Joppa Flats

At every team meeting (where we set our team goals) at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats, we create news headlines that describe the recent weeks’ events.  I felt it was rather appropriate to start off my blog with a similar headline.  A starfish? A what? I don’t know what that is.  One of the first things I learned at Joppa Flats is that we call them by their real name—a sea star.  Contrary to urban legend, a starfish is actually not a fish.

Speaking of sea stars, we find these creatures daily in the tide pools at the Sandy Point State Reservation at Plum Island. In only two weeks at work, I have taken multiple school groups out to the nationally protected wildlife refuge in hopes of discovering amazing organisms in their natural habitat.  From kindergarten to high school, hundreds of children come to Joppa Flats daily to learn, discover, and explore.  As an intern for the Audubon Society, it is my job to facilitate this learning and exploration of these young scientists to help them make their own scientific discoveries.

The mission of the Massachusetts Audubon Society is one that I am very proud to uphold this summer.  We dedicate ourselves to protecting the nature of Massachusetts for both people and wildlife.  The wildlife sanctuary at Joppa Flats provides families with clean places for relaxation and recreation, a beautiful backdrop for birding from an observation deck, and a change to learn about the wildlife of the nearby Plum Island (with it’s own marine life touch tanks).  In addition to being the largest conservation organization in New England and being a strong advocator for environmental policies, Mass Audubon provides education programs.  The summer camps provide children with the opportunity to explore and connect with the natural world while developing their interests for the outdoors.

As a summer camp intern, I will be responsible for teaching children aged 6-12 on environmental awareness, conservation, coastal habitats, and local animals.  I will be developing fun science projects using live animals, interactive crafts, and games.  This is such a great opportunity because the kids are able to appreciate science with hands-on activities and obtain a valuable education outside of the classroom!

Even though I am in a teaching position, I am finding that I am learning so many valuable skills.  I also know that I’m going to continue to learn so much about the ecology, marine biology, and the natural world of the New England coast.  I’m already beginning to warn my friends and family that they will never want to go to the beach with me again as I’m sure I’ll never stop blabbering with my extensive knowledge of the local ecology.  In addition to science, I am learning so much about the other interns and even learning plenty about myself along the way.

Not only do I care for the natural environment, my favorite part of the job here at Joppa is the work environment!  Marine biology has always been something that I have loved. I have never been around such a great group of people who also have this passion (and are willing to have conversations with me about it)!  In addition to just being cool and fascinating individuals, the other 8 interns all bring something valuable to our team.  We are all from different schools from several states, have a wide diversity of majors and academic interests, all do a wide variety of sports and clubs, and have a varied taste in music (yes, some of the interns even listen to country music all the time!).  Yet, although we are all unique, we all have the same passion for the environment, education, and science!  Not only are the interns awesome, the summer camp directors/teacher-naturalists that we work with are very welcoming, supportive, insightful, and ENTHUSIASTIC.  They send the interns daily emails explaining how great of a job we are doing, are always accepting new ideas from us, and immediately trusted us with so much responsibility with leading school programs.  My employers lead by example: their enthusiasm and passion for the job is evident throughout the day and it definitely influences my own work ethic.  A perfect example of their characters is that even though they have a very tight budget, they made us write down what gifts they could buy us for $0.25, $0.50, $1, and $5 if we ever need a gift to cheer us up.  It’s nice to have people care about me and truly appreciate all of my hard work.

Most importantly, there are other people my age that live every week like it’s shark week! YES! This internship and my fellow interns are really making me realize that marine biology and education are right career paths for me.  I wouldn’t be realizing this had it not been for Mass Audubon.  I’m very excited to continue to grow this summer and find out more about my love for the marine world and the amazing organization that I am so proud to work for.

Also: LIKE Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center Facebook Page

Matt Eames and Cam Jenkins discuss the safety and discoveries of the tide pools for the school field trip!
Tidepool at Joppa Flats

– Matt Eames ’13

First weeks at the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine

I am interning this summer in Kiev with the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU). The STCU is a State Department program that helps weapons experts from countries of the former Soviet Union to find peaceful employment so they don’t sell their knowledge to unfavorable parties (terrorists, rogue nations). It’s part of a larger State Department program to reduce the threats that have outlived the Cold War.

I am double majoring in Political Science and Russian Studies, and I’m especially interested in nuclear issues, counter-terrorism, and diplomacy, so working at the STCU is perfect. During the school year I knew I wanted to do something involving those issues, and in researching State Department non-proliferation programs I found the STCU. I wrote to the Board of Directors inquiring about an internship, and received a favorable response.

So far my internship has gone quite well. Everyone at the office is very nice. I like the work that I am doing. So far I’m researching funding opportunities (grants, mostly) for Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS: a loose confederation of the countries that formed the Soviet Union) scientists. In the near future I will be presenting to scientists on possible funding opportunities, working with scientists on filling out research proposals, and co-editing STCU publications. I will also be traveling to Moldova next week to attend the STCU Board Meeting. That will be a really neat opportunity, as there will be representatives from the US State Department and Department of Energy, from the Canadian government, and from the European Union there to access the STCU’s work. I’m very excited not only to visit Moldova but also for the opportunity to speak to the US government officials.

The whole summer thus far, from living in Kiev to working at the STCU, has been a fantastic learning experience and a most excellent adventure.  Before, when I thought of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD scientists, I primarily thought of nuclear weapons and physics. But, now I realize, as the term “WMD” refers to chemical and biological weapons as well, the scientists the STCU works with come from a much broader range of scientific disciplines. I’ve also learned a great deal about the grant process. Most of the American charitable foundations, like the Gates Foundation or the Packard Foundation, only give grants to US citizens, something I did not realize before. Just being in the office and chatting to colleagues at lunch-time has also been so interesting.

It’s been a lot of fun for me to explore the city. I love history, and Kiev is full of it. One can walk past a church from the 11th century, an imposing, cement example of Soviet architecture, a McDonalds, and a statue of Cossacks galloping by to defend the city, all on the same block.  To compound the adventure, the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, or Euro 2012 as it’s more colloquially known, is taking place in Poland and Ukraine this year. This is a special moment of Ukraine, as it’s the first time a former Soviet republic has hosted a European football championship. The incredible enthusiasm displayed by fans (and really the whole city), is quite something.

This National Geographic article vividly describes the dangers should WMDs fall into the wrong hands (and mentions the work the STCU does and the dangers it tries to prevent).

– Jennifer Ginsberg ’14

My First Week in the Tea Industry

By this time, I have completed almost two weeks of my internship at the Asia Tea Company Limited. Asia Tea Co., Ltd. is a leading tea manufacturer and exporter in Vietnam, after three months of searching for internships in the tea industry. Asia Tea Co., Ltd. processes and produces fresh tea buds as well as high-quality black tea—the most popular type of tea sold in the world. It exports over 7,000 tons of tea each year to more than twenty nations in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. It owns numerous tea plants and factories in the highland region of Vietnam, and employs thousands of workers. The company is unique among Vietnamese tea corporations because it not only aims at making high profits, but also strives to promote Vietnamese tea culture abroad and foster the domestic tea industry.

Asia Tea Co., Ltd. is on the seventeenth floor of the second building from the left.

I spent about three months last year, from October to December, searching for an internship in the Vietnamese tea industry over the summer. Fortunately, last November, I came across the website of Asia Tea Co., Ltd. In December, I submitted my resume for a summer internship position as a Market Analyst. After reviewing my application, the CEO interviewed me via phone. We discussed my interests in economics and tea, and how I would contribute to the company. Several days later, the CEO offered me an internship.

As a Market Analyst at Asia Tea Co., Ltd., I will collect and analyze empirical data about foreign markets, and write weekly reports for the company. I will also build complicated charts about supply-demand and cost-revenue. In the modern business world, quantitative methods and computer skills are extremely important. I hope to master statistical and econometric techniques as well as advanced software applications such as STATA, Excel, and XLSTAT-PRO after the summer. I also want to learn to negotiate contracts in a professional way under the supervision of the CEO.

On the first day of my internship at the company, I was both excited and worried. I did not know how everything would go and how people would think about me. But the friendliness of the CEO and other members of the company impressed me. Everything went so well. The CEO introduced me to the staff and provided me basic information about the operation of the company. During the first two weeks, I primarily learned to use computer software programs, and to collect and analyze empirical data about foreign markets. On the following week, I would work on the project of analyzing a foreign market the CEO chooses.

After the first weeks at the company, I have learned a great deal about the tea industry and the methods of analyzing empirical data in the real world. After the summer, I want to have a deeper understanding of the tea industry in Vietnam, expand my networking contacts in the industry, and learn more about the art of management. In the future, I hope that I can contribute to the development of the Vietnamese tea industry.

– Duc Tran ’13

A Week in the Musée de Montmartre

I’ve always envied my little sister who, from eight years of age, knew she wanted to study Nefertiti and the ancient Egyptian culture. She’s now is in college, pursuing an archaeology degree. She speaks Arabic and can read hieroglyphs. And she’s dead set on this. I’m not built like my sister. She’s confident about her skills, knows what she wants, and how to get it. For me, my talents and interests lie all over the place. When March rolled around, I was anxious. I’d never had an internship before: who would want me? What I did know is that I love the arts and humanities, and this ultimately led me to an internship at the Musée de Montmartre.

The Eiffel Tower at the end of the day

I had been studying in Paris for an entire academic year, and during that time I took an art history class focusing on French art in the past two centuries. The professor was incredible, animated and devoted to her subject, and her enthusiasm floated like a bright yellow miasma around her perfectly coiffed bob. She helped me realize that I had become attached to art history: it played into all of my interests and skills.

So, I asked my professor if she knew of any art galleries or perhaps even museums that might like an intern for the summer. And what do you know? It turns out she’s the curator for the Musée de Montmartre (as if she wasn’t awesome enough already) and said she’d be glad to have me work for her.

So, today concludes a hectic first week with the Musée de Montmartre and my head is turning from everything that I’ve encountered. Right now, we are in the process of preparing the future exhibition “Autour du Chat Noir à Montmartre, Arts et Plaisirs 1880-1910” which will take place from the Sept 13, 2012 to January 13, 2013. The exhibition will focus around the importance of the Chat Noir (or Black Cat) which was a famous cabaret in the heart of Montmartre frequented by many famous artists and intellectuals during this golden age of Paris.

Moulin de la Galette, a cabaret in the heart of Montmartre

The museum’s goal is to showcase and celebrate the incredible body of work that flourished in area of Montmartre, especially in the 19th century when Paris was the center of the art world. They call it “The Old Montmartre.” My professor (now my internship director) and I spent some time getting acquainted with the history of this artists’ district, which is located just a stone’s throw from the famous Sacré Coeur church that overlooks Paris. I’ve also gone into the reserves to take a look at the daunting tasks I will have to tackle soon. At the moment, my duties include frantic translation of press documents and creation of reports for the Museum (without these, the museum can’t borrow any works of art!). But, in the coming weeks I will be personally handling and cataloguing works of art, two-hundred year old newspapers, and posters made by Toulouse-Lautrec and Steinlen. I’ll also be researching for future exhibitions, helping with the museology of exhibits, organizing the trades and lending works of art to other museums in the world, and even working on future museum catalogs! My supervisor is really serious about the mission of the museum, to educate the public about the wonderful works produced by Parisian artists during the heyday of Montmartre’s artistic period. And, as usual, I feel her enthusiasm resonating with me.

My premier goal this summer is to center myself and discover what it is I would like to do after Brandeis. As a student with only a vague idea of what the future holds for her, the atmosphere of the museum is bound to help me see if a career in museum work is for me. I have an incredible director who is one of the most driven and fantastic women I’ve ever met. I’m surrounded by the colorful history of Montmartre. And I’m looking forward to working in an area of Paris that sparked the creative powers of hundreds of people; hopefully I’ll be able to profit from that, too.

– Sujin Shin ’13

The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma: Week One

My first week in Israel brought with it a hot environment outside, but a warm one inside my internship site. The staff at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma are some of most humble, kind, and compassionate people I have ever met.  And, being from Brandeis, this is saying a lot!

The mission of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma is multifold. Besides offering direct treatment to survivors of trauma, they also implement programs to help individuals and communities build psychological resilience in the face of great trauma. Based in Jerusalem, Israel, the Center’s work extends across the globe. Within Israel, they work with an array of survivors, from survivors of terrorist attacks to medics and soldiers who served in elite combat units. Outside Israel, they help implement programs for children as well as adults survivors, including countries such as Haiti and the United States following Hurricane Katrina. On top of all this, a large part of what they do involves researching intervention strategies.

As an intern at the Center, my primary responsibility is to assist with research in the Child & Adolescence Clinical Services Unit. I am working on my own research project as well as on a special YouTube video the Center is creating. In addition, I also assist with PR activities.

droplet

The process of securing my internship was straightforward. I had worked at the Center before, and was still in touch with my former supervisor. After corresponding via e-mail for a few weeks, we worked out a plan for a main project and supplemental work I could do for this summer. After that, it was only a matter of staying focused on my goals and securing funding. Thanks to WOW, I am here now, doing exactly what I hoped to be doing.

My first week involved very little turbulence. I struggled a bit with jet lag and had to fight to stay awake on at least one afternoon, however my passion for this type of work (and dousing my face with a little cold water) literally washed my fatigue away. Getting a grasp on my Hebrew has been challenging, but day by day I become more comfortable with the language.

The summer has already proved to be an exciting one, and I am still only in its first stretches. I expect to increase my research experience this summer, but also to gain new experiences in combining media with psychology and meeting other volunteers at the Center. Also important, I hope to correspond with several people in the Center, and learn more about this type of profession, psychology in Israel, and what my career options are for the future.

My Resilience Workbook

– Rocky Reichman ’13

Week 1 at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic

It has been almost two weeks since I started into my internship at the Pediatric High BMI Clinic at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Kentucky Children’s Hospital is an integral part of the University of Kentucky (UK) HealthCare, located in the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, KY. For those of you who may not know, BMI stands for Body Mass Index. The Pediatric High BMI Clinic at UK serves children between the ages of 2 and 18 years who are overweight or obese with a BMI of above the 85th percentile for their age and sex.

University of Kentucky

I spent almost the entire winter break searching for an internship over the summer. I did research on my own and made phone calls and wrote emails to various health-related organizations. Luckily I was informed about the Pediatric High BMI Clinic by a family friend who knows of my interests.. At the end of the winter break, I had the opportunity to meet with the director of the clinic. After discussing my previous related experience and my enthusiastic interests in healthcare, she kindly offered me a summer internship.

Kentucky Children's Hospital logo

My main responsibilities are divided into two parts. I will spend most of my time in the clinic working directly with patients by calculating and recording the anthropometric measurements and by taking surveys from patients and families regarding dietary and physical activity history, past medical history and family history. Under the supervision of the director, I will also assist the work of the clinical staff member and learn the ethics of working in a clinical setting. In addition to working in the clinic, I will also participate in projects, such as creating and maintaining a database for the patients seen at the clinic, and conducting surveys with patients to follow up on their progress after their visits.

The truth is that I was very excited and also a little intimated walking into the clinic on my first day. To my relief, the clinical staff was very friendly and helpful. The physician, nurse coordinator, and registered dietitian each gave me an introduction and a training session. On the first day, I primarily worked with the nurse coordinator. I learned to take accurate height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure measurements on patients. After sending the patients and their families to their examination room, I calculated their BMI values and plotted their weight, stature, and BMI on growth charts, and prepared all of the documents for the physican’s evaluation. From the growth chart the physician can easily compare the patient’s growth to national percentiles and to observe the patient’s growth by age.

Growth chart for girls 2 to 18 years of age

On the following days, I took turns working with the dietitian and the physician. The dietitian shared and discussed with me the patients’ diets and physical activity. Depending on the patient’s condition, the dietitian varied her methods in interacting with the patients. I assisted her in counseling the patients and their families about importance of healthy nutrition and exercise. In several instances, we demonstrated a healthy balanced meal with visual props that resembled real food. While I was working alongside the physician, I observed that she focused more on the patients’ medical problems that accompany their overweight or obese status. I learned more about the comorbidities of obesity such as hypertension, sleep apnea, joint and feet problems.

I feel like I have already learned a lot at the clinic from directly working with patients and healthcare professionals. I am excited to do more hands-on work as I become more familiar with the routine at the clinic. I also look forward to starting on the data analysis and survey projects outside of the clinic. I hope that I can put my knowledge from statistical and science courses at Brandeis to good use. With more understanding of childhood obesity, I hope that I can contribute to fighting this epidemic, one small step at a time.

– Yan Chu ’13

Week One with The Bible Raps Project

When people ask me what I’m doing this summer, I always smile, shake my head, and laugh a little. Not because I don’t want to tell them, but because it’s kind of hard to explain.  A few people have even asked, “So you’re going around the country to wrap Bibles? Like at bookstores?” It’s a logical thing to assume when I say “I’m touring with Bible Raps this summer.”

The Bible Raps Project is a unique teaching tool that uses rap to engage students in Torah stories and Jewish values. It was founded by Matt Barr in 2007, when he found he could get his Hebrew school students excited about learning by rapping with them. Bible Raps has two main components: a song Toolkit and workshops. Matt created a Toolkit revolving around songs that he has written. (Listen to an example from an upcoming album. Each song has a “rap-map” showing how specific lines connect to passages in the Torah and midrashim (commentary). Hundreds of teachers currently use the Toolkit in their classrooms.

Bible Raps also travels around the world creating original raps with students of all ages. Students learn a few Jewish texts about a core topic and then split into groups to write. They then record their song, which is professionally mixed, and film an accompanying video.  In the end they can be proud of the work of art they created.  Students are able to take ownership of their history and pride in their community by rapping the words they have written.  I saw this model at work when I was a counselor at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, GA. In this video, it’s clear to see how excited these girls are. (I was there for the outdoor performance, it was awesome! )

As education coordinator on Hillel Board, I was able to bring Bible Raps to Brandeis for a weekend. They taught about the Toolkit, did some concerts, and then hosted a Brandeis workshop about Tu B’shvat, the “birthday” of the trees. We had so much fun writing and recording, and what we made is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!  In the middle of it all, I went up to Matt and said, half-jokingly, “Do you need an intern this summer?” To my surprise, he said yes, and after a few months of emails and phone calls, here I am!

Last week I spent a few days at Matt’s home in Philadelphia. Bible Raps doesn’t have a physical office space, but we decided it would be productive to have some in-person training before we take off for the summer. I had no idea that so much goes in to this project: grant writing, managing contacts, fundraising, booking tours, as well as writing and recording, and I got a crash course in all of those things. I learned how to use a Tascam pocket recorder that will be on the road with us.

I also helped begin a “how-to” guide for running the workshop, which will be turned into a fully-fledged user’s manual over the summer.  My other responsibilities this summer include working on a fundraising campaign for the new album, helping with grant writing, and documenting the tour. In two weeks we head out on the road to our first stop at my old camp, Ramah Darom, where we’ll have a whole week of workshopping, performing, and writing. See you from the road!

– Eliana Light ’13

American Diplomacy in Madrid

My name is Ivan and I am a rising junior majoring in Economics and International & Global Studies. This summer I am interning for the United States Department of State Foreign Service at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain. The Foreign Service carries out American foreign policy around the world. Its mission is to promote peace, development, and democracy abroad for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.

I have wanted to intern for the Foreign Service since I was a senior in high school, when I learned about the internship opportunity through the Department of State website. When the application period opened last November, I worked closely with career counselors at Hiatt to make sure that my application reflected strong candidacy. I applied to the internship online and was offered a position in December upon receiving security clearance. After completing extensive paperwork and being interviewed by federal investigators, I successfully received my security clearance and a final offer during early March. The Embassy in Madrid is divided into five different sections: management, economic, political, public affairs, and consular. I am working at the consular and economic sections.

The consular section is divided in the Visas unit and the American Citizen Services unit (ACS). Visas is in charge of processing both immigrant and non-immigrant visas for foreign nationals who wish to travel to the United States. ACS takes care of American citizens in Spain, from processing new passports to going on prison visits and handling abduction cases. I am currently working in Visas assisting consuls in processing an average of 200 daily visa requests. I work with the general public receiving cases, entering passport data, and taking fingerprints.

The economic section works mainly with the Spanish government to handle the current economic crisis, but also works on issues of energy, sustainability, economic development, and elaborates reports on the economy that are later sent to Washington. I am currently working on a fundraising project for the Embassy’s annual 4th of July party. This is the largest and most important event of the Embassy, with around 3,000 attendees ranging from World War II veterans to Spanish government officials and foreign diplomats. I work with an Economic Officer soliciting financial support from both American and Spanish businesses. I organize and update all information using a spreadsheet and personally speak with business executives on behalf of the Embassy about the event and financial support. I also contribute to the daily economic press report that is sent back to the U.S. by reading articles from local newspapers and summarizing them.


So far, my experience at the Embassy has been absolutely wonderful. During the first week, I met with officers from all around the Embassy. These meetings, which ranged from health unit personnel to diplomatic security special agents, were a great opportunity to ask a lot of questions and to understand the bigger picture of how the Embassy carries out its mission. All officers are very nice and approachable, and they really make an effort to integrate interns and answer all of our questions. I had the chance to meet with the chiefs of the Visa and ACS units, the Deputy Chief of Mission, the Consul General, and many other very experienced officers who were highly interesting to talk to. It was also especially interesting talking to the General Services officer, who explained how housing for U.S. diplomats is arranged. With regards to work, I was fully integrated into the staff and was working in a fairly independent manner. I feel I have already gained a lot of valuable and insider knowledge about the Foreign Service and American diplomacy in general. I have also improved my multitasking, data analysis, communication, and customer service skills. Hopefully, I will have a deep understanding of the mission and dynamics of the U.S. Foreign Service and a clear view of what a career as a Foreign Service Officer is like by the end of the internship. I will network across every Section of the Embassy to better understand its functioning and its overall mission in Spain, and will continue to develop my work skills.

Feel free to ask any questions about the Embassy, the Foreign Service, Spain, or anything else!

– Ivan Ponieman ’14

 

Exploring the “linguistic genius” of bilingual children: Week 1 at CBRC

I began my internship at the Childhood Bilingualism Research Center (CBRC) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong a few weeks ago. The Center is one of the only institutes in the world dedicated to studying Cantonese-English and Cantonese-Mandarin bilingual children. The Center’s mission is to research bilingual and multilingual Hong Kong children and to use its findings to spread local awareness about multilingualism’s positive outcomes. Working at CBRC, I will be mostly assisting with research experiments, in data collection and analysis, and transcribing Cantonese, English and Mandarin speech data from video recordings.

Inventory check
Creating an inventory of all the video and audio files in the corpus database

After learning about the research of Prof. Virginia Yip, director of CBRC, for my Ling 190b “Heritage Language Experience” final project last spring, I was inspired by her work and contacted her through email to arrange a visit to the Center. During my visit, Prof. Yip and her graduate students introduced me to their current projects, including corpus-based studies and psycholinguistic experiments. The grad students even conducted an informal interview with me, since I was also once a bilingual child just like the young subjects of their studies. I knew right away that CBRC would be the perfect internship site for me this summer, and Prof. Yip kindly offered me the position after we discussed specific tasks and objectives.

On May 15-16, as a pre-internship experience, I attended the Conference on Bilingualism and Comparative Linguistics, where I listened to eye-opening lectures and talked with professors and graduate students from around the world. The most fascinating presentation was by Prof. Patricia Kuhl, who showed us neuroimaging scans of a baby language learner’s brain, in her keynote speech entitled “The linguistic genius of bilingual babies.” The Conference culminated with a dialogue on sound change between Prof. William Labov and Prof. William Wang, an unprecedented and special occasion. It was an extremely intellectually-engaging two days, learning from so many scholars in this particular subfield of linguistics who play pivotal roles in advancing research.

Listening to Prof. William Wang discuss his theories on language evolution

One of my main goals of the internship is to apply theoretical knowledge I gained from Brandeis linguistics courses to practical research done at the Center. I will soon be analyzing data for a study looking at the syntax of bilingual children’s Mandarin speech. Moreover, to prepare for the transcription tasks, I have been familiarizing myself with standard notations and CLAN, the software that I will be using. The transcriptions will go into the CHILDES corpus, an online multimedia database that makes linguistic data openly available to all scholars wishing to study Hong Kong bilingual children. It is a resource I have also been using for my linguistics courses. My time so far at CBRC has been very fulfilling and I look forward to learning and accomplishing even more as the summer progresses.

– Miriam Wong ’14

The Start of a Tasty Internship at Brandeis University

A bowl of fanesca Source:www.schullo.com.ec

In the Latin American country of Ecuador, during semana santa or Holy Week, everyone eats the creamy soup, fanesca. Fanesca is an old Spanish word that literally means mixture and its significance is apparent if you try the hearty soup made of every grain in the kitchen, peanut butter, cheese, and white fish (and that doesn’t cover the small food items you add as garnishes later). At first, you might find yourself being slightly ill-at-ease by the thick consistency as the cream-based liquid coats your taste buds and the slightly fishy overtones mix with the peanutty aroma. It’s difficult to notice that there are beans and quinoa mixed in as you reluctantly finish the first bowl. The next days give rise to more fanesca and over the course of the week you find yourself enjoying the soup more and asking for seconds (maybe even thirds): congratulations! You’ve experienced the behavioral phenomenon called the attenuation of neophobia. Neophobia being, literally, a fear of the new and its decrease over the course of days has been studied as a model of learning and memory. Recently, however, research from the Katz lab at Brandeis University has shown that there is another version of this attenuation that occurs over the course of twenty to thirty minutes. This recent discovery will form the basis of my internship this summer.

Source: colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com

The Katz lab at Brandeis University has a history of using a seemingly simple neural system (i.e. the chemical senses system) to reveal more about neural activity, systems interactions, and behavioral processes. It is a research laboratory in Waltham, MA that uses rats as a model organism for these systems. The lab is under the direction of Professor Donald Katz and has ten members ranging from post-doctorate fellows to undergraduates. As mentioned above, my internship will require that I perform a new and exciting experiment regarding the recently described behavior; the project is, in essence, to inject a chemical compound directly into the brain blocking the often-seen attenuation and determining if there is any effect on the more rapid, and less understood, attenuation. Eventually, I will be responsible for analyzing the data which will shed more light on this mysterious aspect of taste memory. This data may also serve as a foundation for future research that has clinical implications because the same circuitry has been implicated in anxiety disorders.

I have known about the Katz lab since I started my education at Brandeis with Professor Katz as my academic adviser. Sophomore year I gained a better understanding of the work done in the lab, at which time my interest grew. Starting in my junior year I worked in the lab part-time, and during this time I worked on a former post-doctorate fellow’s project that was used to describe the rapid attenuation. From this, Professor Katz and I designed the new project that forms the basis of my internship.

Though I just started on Monday, June 4th work is already under way. My project entails many technical skills and this first week I have not only observed those techniques in action, but also tried my hand at a few. The other undergraduate researchers, post-doctorate fellows and Professor Katz, himself, are all incredibly helpful and the overall attitude in the lab is that of helpfulness and camaraderie. I remember this feeling when I first started working in the lab and am sure that it will remain throughout the summer.

– Kevin Monk ’13

 

My first week at Dartmouth!

It’s been a little over a week since I began my internship, but there’s been so much going on that I only have time now to sit down and write this blog. So far, my internship has been great, and is definitely meeting my expectations. The first day, I actually had to do an online training called CITI, or the “Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative,” because I’ll be working with human subjects. It took multiple hours, but now I’m proud to say I’m CITI certified! The next day, I went to Dartmouth to meet my supervisor, a professor of Linguistics. The plan was for me to work on two of his projects;  carrying out field work in New England, as well as working from home or at the phonetics lab on acoustic analysis.  We had corresponded previously by email and phone, and it was very exciting to meet him. Since then, I’ve gone two more times, one to see the seniors’ linguistic thesis presentations, and once because my responsibilities include checking up with my supervisor once a week. At the thesis presentations, I met linguistic students at Dartmouth with whom I will be working on the New England dialect project. This project includes traveling around New Hampshire and Vermont and interviewing people in order to listen to their dialects. The students were really nice, and I’m excited to travel with them! I’m glad that I will be able to interact with other people my age, because at first I thought that it might all be on my own.

Dartmouth during my first visit!

In the phonetics lab I have started the acoustic analysis of people’s dialects from both Vermont and New Hampshire from previous fieldwork recordings.  I use software called “Praat” to analyze speech. Right now I’m focusing specifically on vowels and whether or not people pronounce “r’s” in words (this is called “Rhoticity”). I record the data in Excel, and use another program called “StatPlus” to analyze it further.  I have already learned so many valuable linguistic skills, and I am excited to learn even more! This screenshot is an example of the work I’ve been doing. The red dots are called “formants,” and I record the Hz of the two bottom ones, which become F1 and F2. Charted, this can be compared to standard English, and can determine whether a person’s dialect is different from standard English.

Screenshot of "Praat"...analyzing the vowel in "law"

Later on in the summer I will move to the Boston area to carry out fieldwork with Hmong, an Asian ethnic group, many of whom have immigrated to the US. This will be exciting for me, as I have read about them in my courses at Brandeis. My supervisor has given me books to read about their culture, and I’m looking forward to learning more through these accounts.  I found this internship through the “Brandeis Internship Exchange,” as someone had done Hmong work with the same professor three years ago. This sparked my interest, and I decided to contact the professor to see if he had any need of an intern at this point. He was very excited to hear from me, and after corresponding about my preparedness through coursework at Brandeis, and his available projects, we decided on the two projects that seemed to fit me best.

At the beginning of my internship I was worried that I would be working alone. However, my supervisor is very helpful discussing expectations during our weekly meetings. I set daily goals for myself and I am able to do the amount of work he expects me to do. I am excited to continue this internship, and I really can’t believe how much I’ve learned already. So far, I’d actually say it has exceeded my expectations. I feel like I can only learn more from this point on, and this is really showing me that linguistics is a field I would like to pursue!

– Alexandra Patch ’14