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2016 Longwoods Fellows

Tina Al-khersan, BA International Studies; BA Arabic, Armenian, Persian, Turkish, and Islamic Studies ‘17
Design for Global Health
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

I spent the summer working in the College of Engineering, designing a prototype to help healthcare providers in Ethiopia remove subcutaneous contraceptive implants. The country has a shortage of high-level healthcare workers, so they have begun training women who have graduated tenth grade; the training lasts one year. As of now, they have only trained these women to insert the subcutaneous implants and not to remove them because removal is typically more difficult. This experience was extremely beneficial for me because I want to go into global health work. Being able to travel to Ethiopia and conduct interviews with healthcare providers was a phenomenal experience that taught me a lot about myself, specifically how I function as a professional employee in a global setting. Overall, the PICS funding contributed greatly to my project because it paid for a part of my ticket to and from Ethiopia. Without the money, I would not have been able to partake in the internship. Thank you for providing me with the means to have an incredible and truly life-changing experience abroad. 

Jasmine Bell, BA International Studies; BA Spanish ‘17
Caring for Orphans with UBELONG
Cusco, Peru

My international internship experience was beyond incredible. I was initially very nervous about because I had never been out of the country for that long of a time— especially a country where I was not that familiar with the language. However, I took the initiative to step out of my comfort zone and spend seven weeks of my summer in Cusco. The people I encountered in our program were some of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life. I lived with people from all around the world and learned more about myself than I would ever imagine. My position involved working at a boys’ orphanage which was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was one of the only women at the orphanage and at many times it was difficult. However, through the difficulty I was able to find strength.

Casey Chmura, BS International Studies ‘18
LightBridge International

Poipet, Cambodia

This summer, I spent the month of June working in a small village near Poipet, Cambodia. The village rests on a former minefield, and its inhabitants are subject to a vicious cycle of poverty perpetrated by the genocide of the 1970s and a lack of governmental involvement in the lives of the impoverished. I interned at LightBridge International, and my focus was conducting a village census in order to develop the framework for a clean water project in the village. I also helped to lead a group of eight LightBridge interns, each of whom was focused on a specific project in the village. It is the story of the individual that sticks with me, motivates me, and pushes me to pursue what I otherwise may not. Many thanks to the Longwoods Fellowship, specifically Dr. William Siegel and Ms. Margaret Swaine, for their generous contribution, which allowed this internship to be realized. I am so grateful to have been able to have such an enriching experience abroad, and I would not have been able to complete this internship without their scholarship. Thank you for your investment in me, my education, and this university.

Emma Hays, BA International Studies; BBA Business Administration ‘18
Cultural Enterprise Development with UBELONG

Cusco, Peru

This summer I spent three months in Cusco, Peru, working for an NGO that supports remote communities located in the mountains above the Sacred Valley. The experience, both professional and intercultural, was invaluable, and I am deeply grateful to PICS for providing the funding that allowed the trip to happen. Some of the most memorable experiences I had occurred in the highland communities where the organization focused its operations. These communities are very remote and located at altitudes of over 4,000 meters, where an outsider would contract severe altitude sickness if not accustomed to high altitudes. The members of the community rarely venture to the towns and villages below and have little experience with foreigners. The children in the communities were very shy around us because they had had such little interaction with outsiders. This presented unique challenges when we coordinated medical and dental campaigns in the communities, but it was even more satisfying to be able to get these people the help they needed since we had to work so hard to do it. I learned even cultural differences that seem vast and insurmountable can be bridged by patience and understanding.  As a business student, working in the non-profit world was new for me, but I have really come to appreciate the dedication and perseverance that non-profit workers bring to their work. 

Sarah Hudnall, BA International Studies; BA Political Science ‘17
HEC Paris - Business School

Paris, France

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the HEC Paris business school in Paris, France.  I lived on the campus in Jouy-en-Josas, a small town outside of Paris, for nearly two months. During my time abroad, I had so many memorable and incredible experiences that I will value for the rest of my live. The PICS funding I received greatly contributed to my experience, and I am so grateful to have benefited from the University of Michigan’s incredible programs. I worked at HEC Paris with four other interns: one from the University of Michigan and three from Princeton University. We worked together to help run the summer school program, which was a relatively new program for HEC. Students applied to participate in the rigorous summer school for a two-week session, taking class for nearly six hours a day to earn a course credit. As interns, we were responsible for communicating with professors, helping students with problems they may encounter, and doing most of the administrative work behind the scenes.  It was incredibly stressful at times, but also very fun. 

Edith Jiang, BA International Studies; BA Economics; minor, Art and Design ‘18
POLIN - Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Warsaw, Poland

This past summer I interned at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland. I worked on the Artist-in-Residence program in the Adult Education department, which is a program that invites artists from around the world to stay in Warsaw for a three-week residency and develop art projects regarding Polish-Jewish identity. The main part of my job involved helping to select the artists for the upcoming residency program, communicating with them about logistics and planning, helping them find historical sources in the museum’s exhibit and curatorial staff, conducting online research to help them develop their projects, and even scouting locations for their films. The other part of my job was helping out in some of the other events and programs the museum hosted, such as the Jewish Cultural Heritage Conference and the Asylum Arts Foundation collaboration. Without the PICS grant, I probably would have turned down the internship, and I would never have been able to gain the eye-opening experiences that led me to understand myself and other parts of the world a little better.

Brianne Recker, BA International Studies; BA Spanish; minor, Moral & Political Philosophy ‘16
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, US Consulate

Barcelona, Spain

My internship was completed at the United States Consulate in Barcelona, Spain, with the help of the Longwoods Fellowship. It was an eight-week internship, and I served as the intern for the consular section of the consulate. My duties in the consular section mainly focused on American Citizen Services. The main task was assisting in processing and producing emergency passport replacements. In addition, I helped to provide other services, such as passport renewals, reports of birth abroad, notarial services, and services to American citizens in distress. Additionally, I made a couple of prison visits, visited an American child who is in a foster home in Spain, and assisted on some death cases. I also assisted with some of the work of the Public Diplomacy team at the Consulate. The other intern and I gave a presentation about the United States at a local NGO that provides rehabilitation services to victims of serious head trauma injuries. One of the highlights of my summer was the opportunity to be the note taker for a roundtable discussion between Supreme Court Justice Alito, Justice Ginsburg, former Justice Stevens, and members of the Catalonian legal community. I had the opportunity to meet the Justices, and even have a one-on-one conversation with Justice Ginsburg, who happens to be one of my greatest role models. I served on a special mission in Seville, Spain, for the Presidential visit in July. Because the President did not end up coming to Seville, I was transferred down to the naval base in Rota, Spain, where I acted as an interpreter for Secret Service Agents and members of White House press. This experience was especially memorable for me, and I still can’t believe what incredible timing I had with my internship this summer. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this experience, and I could not have done it without the help of the funding that this grant provided. I cannot express my gratitude enough to Dr. William Siegel and Ms. Margaret Swaine for establishing this fellowship that has provided me with one of the most rewarding and formative experiences of my life to date.

Amber Talaski, BA International Studies; BA Communication; BA History ‘17
Cheerful Hearts Foundation with UBELONG

Accra, Ghana

For nine weeks this summer, I served as a public health volunteer/intern for Cheerful Hearts Foundation in Kasoa, Ghana. It was a deeply enriching experience, and I am incredibly grateful for the support offered by the Longwoods Fellowship. This opportunity not only allowed me to see firsthand how small NGOs operate and overcome challenges, but also to observe the topics covered throughout the International Studies major in the real world. In addition, the experience solidified my interest in women’s health advocacy and education, and I am intent on pursuing an MA in Public Health. I also have the opportunity to return to Ghana next year for a community health research position. As a public health intern, I assisted in educational presentations, data collection and processing, and planning for upcoming health fellowships. After lots of research in the communities, Cheerful Hearts Foundation has identified three major areas of health concerns for children: sanitation/prevention of diseases, nutrition, and sexual health. My particular area of interest and study led the organization to have me aid mostly with the sexual and reproductive health rights. In all, my summer in Ghana was everything I could have wanted it to be. I was able to narrow down exactly what I want to do in the future and practically applied course concepts I have been learning over the years as a PICS major. In addition, I met some of the most influential people in my life and had an altogether enriching experience. Undoubtedly, the funding from PICS allowed this summer to happen. I want to extend my gratitude again for the opportunity and all of the great guidance and resources from the PICS community.

Emily Thibeau, BA International Studies; BA Near Eastern Studies;
minor, Asian Languages and Culture ‘17
Consular Section, United States Consulate
Shanghai, China

I would like to acknowledge Dr. William Siegel and Ms. Margaret Swaine for providing funding for my summer internship through the Longwoods Fellowship. During the month of August, I interned at the United States Consulate in Shanghai through an internship at the Department of State. I was honored to be accepted as an intern for the Department of State, but the internship was unpaid and travel and living expenses abroad might have been prohibitively expensive had it not been for the funding provided by the Program in International and Comparative Studies. The funding provided really made my entire experience possible. As part of my internship, I learned more about the essential functions that the Department of State performs abroad and how a Consulate is run. As part of the Consular Information Unit, I drafted official communications between the Consulate and Congressional offices and responded to inquiries from the public. The work I engaged in while with the Fraud Prevention Unit was conducting research on possible patterns in visa fraud that could be used in formulating visa policy for the United States Government in China. I learned United States Consulates that issue visas are the “front line” in preventing human trafficking rings from trafficking people into the United States through visa fraud. After learning about human trafficking at the University of Michigan, I felt honored to be able to contribute to the prevention of human trafficking. I worked in American Citizen Services updating internal information databases and formulating a standard operating procedure for updating the database in the future. While working in American Citizen Services, I learned about the services that the United States Government provides to US Citizens abroad such as negotiating repatriation loans, issuing birth certificates, and processing passport renewals. I also was able to interact with the Chinese public through collecting biometric information for visa applications. I learned some Chinese for my internship in order to work with the public. It was amazing and very humbling to be a part of the work conducted by the US Consulate in Shanghai during my internship.

Michelle Vosters, BA International Studies; BA Classical Archaeology ‘17
Canadian Parliament
, with Francois Choquette, representative of Quebec; Ottawa Internship Program
Ottawa, Canada

This past summer, I had the great opportunity to work for Francois Choquette, an MP representing Drummond as a member of the New Democratic Party. From the first day, I was fully immersed in the chaotic world of politics. It wasn’t unusual to see crowds gathered in the city on my way in each day; Parliament Hill was constantly bustling with activity ranging from standard dignitary visits to demonstrations featuring cows and tractor parades. As lively as it was outside, the inner workings of Parliament were more so. One day I would be researching a bill my MP was working on, and the next day I was reading a one-hundred-fifty-page reports by the Treasury Bureau! I will never forget the day my supervisor greeted me with three piles of reports, each one foot tall. Despite the challenge, I greatly appreciated the trust my office placed in my fellow interns and I. The respect with which I was treated and the genuine faith they had in my work encouraged me to explore the topics being discussed in further detail. The majority of my time was spent conducting research on official language and environmental-related subjects, both of which I enjoyed immensely. It is difficult to put into words just how great this internship has impacted me. I grew as a student, a person, and as a professional. I will forever cherish the time I spent in Canada and the memories I made with the people I met there.