Lello Guluma, internship: Ethiopia
Amy Rose Silverman Fellow
From May through August 2016, I interned in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the Organization for Development in Action (ODA). ODA is an integrated development organization dedicated to improving lives of the poor through facilitating the implementation of initiatives and programs run by the community. Some of my primary duties included attending to assignments related to funding, consulting in the future direction of the organization, and creating reports and graphics. I was able to visit Fiche in North Shewa, one of the towns ODA works in.
During this visit, I was able to see some exchanges between an expert in the region’s ecology and biology and the local program manager. The expert advised the manager on reaching a greater potato output for local farmers in the area. Other experiences included assignments around the Oromia region highlands to learn about local farming and agriculture, and how new farmers utilize the community to facilitate empowerment through income generation. I learned many things from my time abroad, but the biggest lesson I learned was how important a role politics play in development work.
The current political tension in Ethiopia is quite palpable—particularly in the days since I have left. I had some understanding about the ethnic tension between Oromo people and Tigrays as well as Oromo people and Amharas. I learned not only how difficult it can be to simply want to help others, but also the struggles people have been facing on the ground during this time in Ethiopian political history. Working for this organization was an incredible opportunity. However, there became a point in time where I was not given constructive work related to the organization, and was sent on assignment outside of Addis Ababa instead. While these assignments allowed to me to better understand the context of farming and community empowerment on a large scale in Oromia (which is actually useful to the organization), I wondered why I was not getting specific assignments at the time from
ODA. This moment was teachable because I learned and accepted flexibility and adaptability in regards to the work in ODA. Those two traits are incredibly important when doing global work because things will never go as planned. Without the Rose Silverman Internship Fellowship I would not have had the means to travel to Ethiopia or the flexibility to travel within the country at large related to the internship. I am incredibly grateful to have been awarded the fellowship and am incredibly thankful to Ms. Amy Rose Silverman for her contributions to the Program in International and Comparative Studies for making this fund available for students to learn and work all over the world.
Kathleen Guytingco, internship: the Philippines
Amy Rose Silverman Fellow
When I received funding from the Amy Rose fellowship through the PICS Summer Research and Internship grant, I was ecstatic to experience the Philippines on my own. Before I entered my summer fellowship, apart from my academic knowledge of the country, I really didn't know much at all about the local issues and events there until I got to experience the country this summer. Before this summer, my experience with the Philippines was a basic reel of “highlights”: family, food, and tourism. Knowing that it was a developing nation looming over my head, despite the struggles, there was still a homeland that I loved and yearned to strengthen my connection to. Experiencing the country separate from my family removed me from being insulated from the sometimes “dirty truths” of the Philippines, and it gave me new insight on the types of outlooks I should use when learning about the nation and its current issues.
Kaya Collaborative is a unique program, as it is an internship, a fellowship, and immersion trip all in one. Targeted at Filipino North Americans, they bring youth of the Filipino Diaspora to the Philippines to learn about the changes happening in the social sector by immersing them in internships with various organizations three times a week. I learned about Filipino politics, environmental justice, efforts to protect indigenous tribes, human centered design, and traffic infrastructure and efforts to remedy traffic congestion in Philippine cities.
My specific internship placement was with the Kythe Foundation, a child life program that offers psychosocial support for children with chronic illnesses. I rotated as a volunteer at one of five government hospitals in which Kythe has centers. In addition, I also aided the founder of the organization, Girlie Lorenzo, in the strides she is making in mental health. In addition to the volunteering I accomplished at the hospitals, I also did research on various mental health and health systems in Cuba, Thailand, and the U.K. Later, I contributed the findings of this research to patient advocacy directors. Reflecting on this summer, I'm currently realizing how wide of a reach I have and figuring out how I can leverage my influence. I straddle two nations, two cultures; never quite feeling like I fully belong in either one.
This summer was learning about the history beyond my past, familiarizing myself with the environment and the current issues facing the Philippines, and discovering how much incredible potential and opportunity the future has in store for the Philippines, its widespread diaspora all over the world, and my own personal journey. Never have I felt so capable and empowered by such a group of people. I thank Ms. Amy Rose, PICS, other donors to my personal fundraising campaign, and Kaya Collaborative for supporting me to have an experience so incomprehensibly enlightening and enriching.
Edith Jiang, internship: 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 all over the world to stay in Warsaw 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.
Going into this internship, I didn’t really know what to expect. I am not a history major, and I don’t plan on working at a museum after I graduate. However, for many reasons, this internship came to be one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had. For one thing, I learned a lot about myself and what I personally require in a work environment—I found myself really enjoying being at work every day because I could immerse myself in tasks that I knew I could do, and do well.
I also learned to adapt to life in a new, unfamiliar country that is radically different from everything that I am. Poland is overwhelmingly non-diverse, socially conservative, and extremely Catholic, whereas I am Asian, socially liberal, and a borderline atheist, not to mention the fact that I don’t speak Polish. However, despite all the reasons for me and Poland not to get along, I learned that the human spirit is amazingly adaptable and that having an open mind allows people to see beyond the differences and recognize that they are only surface deep. By the end of my stay, I felt like I had adopted Poland as a third nationality, even cheering for “my” national team in the Euro Cup. This was definitely helped by the relationships that I had both at work and outside of work. Most of the time, I was either with a fellow foreign friend who could share my sense of confusion and adventure or a Polish friend who could help demystify a few things for me.
One of my favorite memories was attending the Warsaw Gay Pride Parade. I had an amazing time marching through the streets with my friends, waving our rainbow flags high among all the other colorful flags. I was also pleasantly surprised by the turnout; every direction that you looked, there seemed to be no end to the parade. Warsaw is one of Poland’s biggest and most liberal cities, but Catholicism is still very prevalent and I was initially worried about a potentially violent backlash during the march. Thankfully, there was none and we marched proudly past monuments of Communist power, past Catholic churches, on streets built on the ashes of Nazi intolerance. Together with the grant from the Weiser Center, the funding that I received from PICS made it possible for me to fund my flight, housing, and food during my internship, as well as several weekend-trips to different cities in the country that enabled me to understand Poland beyond Warsaw alone. 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.
Jacob Lockleldge, internship and research: Uganda
Amy Rose Silverman Fellow
This summer I worked with the Refugee Law Project (RLP) in Mbarara, Uganda. My position with RLP’s Access to Justice Programme was divided into two roles: intern and research associate. As an intern, I accomplished basic office duties like taking client testimonies and the analysis of research reports. As a research associate, I identified an issue worthy of study, compiled a research proposal, applied for approval with various bodies, and then conducted a brief study. My study focused on the ability of refugees within the nearby Nakivale settlement to both access and use various forms of technology. The most valuable lesson I took from this trip was the importance of fundamental human rights. Some people might forget that issues as basic as education and the right to personal physical security are rights granted to every human being regardless of race, gender, or migrant status.
Thanks to the generous funding donated by Ms. Amy Rose Silverman in the form of a PICS Summer Internship Grant, I have garnered an enormous respect for the promotion of basic human freedoms, as well as the ability to facilitate the implementation of an education program that would help secure these freedoms for nearly 100,000 refugees in southwest Uganda. Development comes in many forms, thank you for helping me come to see many of them.
Casey Chmura, internship: Cambodia
This summer, I spent the month of June working in a small village near Poi Pet, 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 nation’s impoverished. I was an intern for an organization called 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.
Each day, I visited homes with LightBridge volunteers. We’d approach each home with the traditional Khmer (Cambodian) greeting: hands together and a slight bow. We would describe our relationship to LightBridge and the purpose of the census and then ask if the adults in the home would be willing to answer our questions. Because of the relationship that LightBridge has cultivated in its time there, only one home requested that we did not ask our questions during our month there.
The information gathered will be extremely valuable in developing access to clean water in the village, but for me, one of the most significant aspects of the trip was the ability to meet with people in their homes and speak to them. Each home brought a new set of stories that opened my eyes to the reality of life in a developing nation: different than my life, but unexpectedly similar in so many ways. To learn the stories of and build relationships with those affected by rural poverty confirmed my decision to pursue a future in medicine in developing nations.
My team spent each morning in the village schoolyard, where many of the children from nearby homes congregated. The school children receive lunch or dinner (depending on if they attend a morning or afternoon class), and most of their younger siblings come to the school area during mealtime in order to share their bowl of food. One of the young boys, Te, came every day. When we arrived, he had a sinus infection that was so severe it drained out of his ears. The smell of sickness clung to the areas where he stood, and it was recognizable from feet away. Te’s situation remains with me because an infection that would be easily cared for the U.S. may now have a permanent impact on his health, particularly his ability to hear correctly.
It is the story of the individual that sticks with me, that motivates me, that pushes me to pursue what I otherwise may not. Many thanks to the Longwood Fellowship Program, specifically Dr. William Siegel and Ms. Margaret Swaine, for their generous contributions 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.