All posts by ktorpie

Introducing: My Summer at Mama Maji

Hello! My name is Kiera Torpie and I am a rising junior at Tulane. I study Linguistics, International Development, and I have a minor in French. Additionally, I write satire for the student-led journal, The Rival, sing for the jazz department, and I am a part of Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE), which is a mentorship program that informs middle school girls about sexual health and self love. This summer I will be interning at Mama Maji. The New Orleans based NGO seeks to empower women by incrementally funding their water projects until they are self-sustainable. The end product is women-led water businesses in Kenya, allowing women to sell water at a fraction of the price at which they otherwise would have to buy it. This summer I plan to enhance my (1) grant proposal skills, (2) NGO sensibility, (3) non-profit bilingualism, (4) time-management and (5) project management skills.

While I have experience applying for personal and club-related grants, I am excited to see how this larger-scale process relates to or departs from what I am used to. I realize that funding is the backbone of any non-profit work, so I believe this skill set will be extremely useful in my future ventures.

Additionally, it is important to work on my NGO sensibility if I ever see myself working internationally. Because most of my academic work is a critique of internationally development fieldwork, I look forward to observing how Mama Maji goes about accomplishing its mission.

It is also important that I become fluent in the language that is “non-profit jargon.” I realized I was behind in this skill set during my first meeting with my advisor, Brian, when I had no idea what the word “capacity building” meant. I had already written it down 13 times. Because so many of these words sound familiar, it is easy to believe you understand them. Part of my internship this summer will take listening closely and feeling comfortable asking questions when I don’t know the answers or am feeling lost. I’m excited to speak non-profit by the end of August.

Because my projects this summer have strict and cyclical deadlines, I will have to excel at time management. Admittedly, planning ahead is not something I totally enjoy devoting time to. However, this internship is an excellent opportunity to turn it into a habit.

 

Finally, I look forward to working with the project management team at Mama Maji. I have never worked in project management, so this will be an eye-opening experience. I will get to Skype with Maji Mama’s and see how they choose to organize their businesses. Additionally, I can take these interactions as supplemental research for a policy paper I wrote in the fall on water management in southeast Kenya.

 

In order to prepare for this internship, I have been meeting with my supervisor every Saturday for the past few months. During these meetings, I have been trained in media design and Mama Maji’s approach at applying for grants. I feel prepared for my projects, and can’t wait to see where this summer takes me!

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Mid-Point

Hey y’all!

Next week marks my last week here at the NVRDC and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned. I think I’ve actually touched each of my learning objectives. The first one, and perhaps most relevant to my project here, has been research. In order to create a virtual privacy guide I’ve spent hours doing research, figuring out what resources survivors can use if they’re being harassed online. My research has shown me that virtual crimes are an unpaved territory in a lot of ways. So, on top of my research for what victims can use to protect themselves, I’ve also researched laws that the NVRDC staff use to protect their clients in the court as well as the limitations law enforcement face when dealing with cyber-stalking and revenge porn. This is what my presentation was largely based on at last Friday’s staff meeting. In addition to this legal research, I’ve also become more acquainted with the law through my shadowing experiences This past week I got to watch a cross Civil Protection Order, which is when both clients file CPOs against one another. The week before that I watched another CPO trial and got to be part of what we described as a “woman sheild,” as the lawyer, case manager, other interns and I all surrounded the client in the hallway, the same hallway the perpetrator was standing in, while we waited to see the judge. It was an extremely enlightening experience because I got to see the impact a well-utilized justice system can have on the emotional health of a victim.. The client got her CPO and immediately her anxiety alleviated. It was so empowering. Through all of these experiences, the staff here has been really helpful explaining legal terms and procedures with me.While I’ve grown to appreciate the law in more ways  than I thought possible through this internship, I’m still not sure law school is for me. Regardless, I’ve become a true advocate for victim’s rights and the strong impact the law can have on the emotional health of a survivor. I recently finished my social media guide (3 formats: flow chart, packet, presentation) as well as an infographic that depicts a survivor’s reporting process timeline following sexual assault. I’m really proud of these projects because through my shadowing I’ve gotten to put faces to the issue. I can see, tangibly, the lives they will impact. Going back to my learning objectives, I’ve certainly had to practice self-starting. I love this environment because I feel like I’ve been given the perfect amount of responsibility: I don’t feel undervalued, but I also don’t feel overwhelmed. That is, when it comes to the format and organization of my guide, I’ve been given a tremendous amount of freedom. I’ve also been working on my fifth learning objective, self care, by trying new dinner recipes and going to yoga!

 

This internship has helped me develop as a female leader by allowing me enough responsibility to feel valuable. I’m also surrounded by phenomenal female leaders everyday. This office, with the exception of 2 incredible men, is all incredible women. That means constant female empowerment and positivity. A few days ago I was greeted by a “You Are Beautiful” sticker on my desk. If there’s one thing I’m definitely taking from this internship, it’s that I love working with other women. I’m especially inspired by the organization’s co-founder and co-executive, Bridgette Stumpf (pictured below at our cornhole fundraiser last saturday). Her ambitious magnetism is precisely the spirit of female leadership I seek to emulate someday.

 

There are many skills I see myself taking from this internship. Mostly, I’d say I’m taking the ability to be active in my compassion. As an extremely empathetic person, I’ve always been drawn to places and activities that allow me to utilize that compassion. This usually means listening to my Uber driver’s deepest secret or driving to my friends house at 3 A.M because her boyfriend broke up with her or donating all of my time to volunteer work. I never really saw myself finding that in a career, though. NVRDC has shown me that there are infinite ways to combine empathy and ambition and create something for the greater good. I’m extremely grateful for this.

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First Week Update!

My quick one-month internship at the Network for Victim Recovery started last week, and I’ve already learned so much! Here’s my first briefing (some tips and moments):

  1. First things first, don’t choose to break in a new pair of leather shoes on your first day at an internship. I learned this the hard way.
  2. On a lighter note, I’m finishing my project quicker than anyone anticipated. This gives me time to present the virtual privacy guide in multiple formats: presentation, packet, visual handout. Additionally, I’m taking my extra time to do more shadowing.
  3. On my first day, I got to go the the courthouse and watch a sexual assault trial. I’m so grateful this organization is giving me the opportunity to shadow lawyers even though I’m not technically a legal intern.
  4. Today I sat in as one of the staff attorneys prepped a witness with practice questions, granting me insight not only into the formal legal procedures, but the informal ones as well.
  5. While I’m becoming increasingly interested in this area of law and advocacy, I’m also recognizing the emotional impact this kind of job can have on staff. I think if I ever want to follow a career in victim advocacy I would have to stick to a pretty strict self-care regimen. So, naturally, I’ve taken up yoga!
  6. This morning I went to a presentation on an overview of what the Network for Victim Recovery does and learned more about the history of victims’ rights. With a broader understanding of the network my project is contributing to, I’m extremely motivated to create a guide with lasting impact while I’m here. My next challenge: presenting my work and convincing my coworkers of its alleged “lasting impact” at next Friday’s staff meeting. Wish me luck!

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Introducing: My Summer at the Network for Victim Recovery D.C.

Hi! My name is Kiera Torpie and I’m a freshman at Tulane studying International Development and Sociology. This summer, starting July 4th, I’ll be doing my internship at the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C.

I found this internship at the PLEN conference this past February for Women Unlocking Nonprofits. Following the conference, I reached out to one of the sexual assault panelists on Linkedin and was offered an intern position for the summer.

The Network for Victim Recovery is a nonprofit that empowers victims of crimes within our nation’s capital by addressing their specific needs, often including legal, mental health, security, and housing support. The staff provides victims with legal services, advocacy, and case management. My project is to create a social media guide for victims so they can take control over their virtual presences and eliminate any vulnerability that might arise due to a lack of virtual privacy.

I’m particularly interested in women’s advocacy. The Network for Victim Recovery has given me a perfect opportunity to advocate for women, as, according to their annual impact report, of 624 clients last year, 530 were female.

Because this is my first internship in a different city, I’m extremely excited to learn what it’s like to act as a professional! Here are my 5 specific learning goals:

  1. Research: I would like to learn more about the kind of research that occurs outside of the Howard Tilton data bases. I hope to be exposed to research that involves interviewing and on-site observations.
  2. Self-Starting: My position is a new and unique one to the organization, meaning that I will be defining it as I go. I’ve found that this experience is quite common within the nonprofit sector, and I think it will be valuable for me to learn how to take ownership of the end goal that has been assigned to me by achieving it in whatever way I see fit.
  3. “Servant” Leadership: Working on my own project within a nonprofit involves recognition that my productivity is for the welfare of others and not for my own personal benefit. I hope to get a better understanding of what this might feel like. Frankly, I’m extremely excited to devote myself selflessly to a cause I’m so passionate about.
  4. Professional Apparel: While this skill might seem simple, it is one that I’m concerned about developing. I’m prone to dress casually and feel comfortable doing so. I think having an internship at an established nonprofit will be the perfect opportunity for me to recognize what it means to dress professionally and why it’s so significant.
  5. Collaboration: While my project is largely independent, it’s extremely important that I develop the skill of collaboration so I can share ideas with and include my internship advisor as I go through my research process. I think this skill of exchanging ideas and brainstorming is extremely important in the nonprofit sector, as these organizations often must rely on their internal creativity to sustain themselves.
Most importantly, however, I look forward to fulfilling Newcomb’s mission of empowering women through education! A mission which I couldn’t have taken on without the wonderful programs and opportunities they’ve offered all year!
See you in July!