Category Archives: Summer 2014

Reflecting on July

The first month of working in my social work internships has definitely been a transformative experience. Here’s a little re-cap of my experiences so far with these different organizations.

 

Tulane Parenting Education Program:

  • How are you progressing on your defined leaning goals?

Having defined learning goals for the Parenting Education Program has really helped shape what my experiences have been. I feel like I’ve gained a lot of different perspectives from those working in the different facets of therapy and intervention. I’ve gained a more in-depth understanding of what different types of graduate degrees in psychology can do in terms of what different services each allows you to provide. I have realized that I’m definitely more interested in pursuing an LCSW program, as opposed to a PhD or PsyD, because of my interest in clinical work. Also, I’ve learned about how to administer different forms of psychological assessment to children, such as the Crowell Task,  which is something I’ve really enjoyed.

  •  How are you monitoring your growth (i.e. how do you know you are learning)?

Each week, all of the interns here have been having meetings with our supervisor where we discuss topics like career development and advancements in the field of intervention and assessment that have been really enriching my time here. These meetings have been a really great opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been learning each week and have allowed me to see my internship in the larger context of a career.

  • Of what are you most proud right now? Why?
Julie Larrieu
Dr. Larrieu

One of my favorite moments here so far was working with Dr. Julie Larrieu in analyzing video tape of a still face procedure administered in our office. I watched the video with her and was able to offer my interpretation of the assessment and hear her critique as well as assist with the clinical write up for the client’s file. She has really helped me develop the language used in clinical reporting and it was really exciting to receive positive feedback for my first attempt. It certainly was a moment where I felt like I have really learned a lot with the program.

  • How are you building skills as a result of this internship? How will they be transferable (to academics, future career plans, on/off campus involvement, etc.)?

Working with T-PEP has made me feel very confident that this is the type of work I want to pursue for my career. In terms of skills, I have learned a great deal on how to administer psychological assessments, how to view parent-child interactions from a clinical and diagnostically focused perspective, and how to manage reporting the work being in the program to the agencies (the Department of Child and Family Services) that contract us.

 

 

Metropolitan Center for Women and Children​:

  • How are you progressing on your defined leaning goals?

The best part of working at Metro has been becoming more familiar with the elements of abusive relationships as well as how to identify the warning signs and respond proactively. I am exposed every day to the survivors of violence and feel like I’ve gained a lot of experience helping this population and catering to their specific set of needs.

  •  How are you monitoring your growth (i.e. how do you know you are learning)?

I’ve been able to reflect on the different skill sets and situations with my supervisor, Smitha Paul, as well as the center’s Child Advocate, Brittney Puyau, throughout my experience here which has really helped me be able to articulate my work at Metro.

  • Of what are you most proud right now? Why?

While working with Smitha, I took my first domestic violence crisis call on our hotline, which while being completely nerve wracking, was really exciting. I was able to fully respond to the survivor’s story as well as make my first call sheet report which felt like a huge step toward working with clients on my own. Also, I created a computer system to help with the center’s grant reporting process that I’m excited to pitch to our director.

  • How are you building skills as a result of this internship? How will they be transferable (to academics, future career plans, on/off campus involvement, etc.)?

A lot of my time with Metro has been assisting with day-to-day operations in the non-profit sector. I feel like this experience is one that is easily transferred to other non-profit work, in any field. Also, working with the existing technology of an organization in order to create more efficient data communication is a skill that could be utilized in any company or group.

Donation management is a huge part of my day at Metro.

 

Dr. O’Brien’s Social Psychology Lab:

  • How are you progressing on your defined leaning goals?

Working in the lab has definitely given me the most hands on experience in terms of data management and running experiment. I’m about half way done with my first project in the lab which has increased my understanding of data and statistical analysis. Also, I’ve been able to run three participants on my own in an ongoing experiment in the lab, which has been very exciting.

  •  How are you monitoring your growth (i.e. how do you know you are learning)?

By nature of working continuously on a single project, I can see my progress as the summer goes on.  It’s really great to see how my work builds on itself as I continue working with my current data set.

  • Of what are you most proud right now? Why?

Running participants by myself was a really awesome experience because I felt like I was directly contributing to a project that is a lot larger than myself. It was exciting to realized that data I directly collected will be most likely used in published research regarding stigma.

  • How are you building skills as a result of this internship? How will they be transferable (to academics, future career plans, on/off campus involvement, etc.)?

Again, hands-on experience here I think is the key component of this internship. Having worked in a lab setting, I feel more qualified as someone who can consume and critique research articles than someone who has not. Also, I feel that data management skills are useful in most professional settings in order to promote efficient use of information.

 

 

 

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The End of My Time at Eden

As I reflect back on my time on Eden House, it almost seems like fate that my last two weeks I was assigned greater responsibilities that greatly supported my first two goals. My direct supervisor and our office manager/ volunteer coordinator, Helen, was going out of town for two weeks and I was moved to her desk and got a crash course in the basics of her job. A big part of this ended up being donation coordination, which helped me better understand how Eden House uses community resources. I quickly realized that just because we were a nonprofit didn’t mean we needed or could accept all the donations people graciously offered us. It ran counterintuitive to my (and what I suspect many people’s) vision of donating: you realize some somewhat expensive possession is no longer useful, you envision the vast improvement it will make on the lives of the people the nonprofit serves, and you donate with the expectation of receiving gratitude and a pat on the back. In reality, the nice bookshelves you want to drop off may not have a space in our house or storage unit or may not be used in the way you imagined, as many of our residents have limited literacy skills (NOTE: this is just a made-up example to illustrate my point, bookshelves are actually on Eden House’s wish list right now). Though I set out to learn how a nonprofit uses community partners to maximize its capabilities, I ended up also learning how to be strategic about what is offered. Everyone coming to us with donations had our best interests at heart and I learned how to say no while still being gracious and appreciative. I also became adept at coordinating between our Executive Director, who had to approve all big-ticket items, and the donors, who often had strict timelines to get the items out.

 

In addition, I also got to try my hand at managing personnel. I was the go-to for the residents driving schedules, and I had to marshal the various interns and volunteer drivers so that each of our ladies got to and from their destination on time. This included working on the residents’ communication skills and my own patience, as sometimes one of the ladies would forget to tell me about an appointment and I would be left scrambling. Though I felt frustrated at the time, it was valuable experience thinking on my feet and recognizing that when working with other people miscommunication is bound to occur. I also worked on my delegation skills with the other interns and worked hard to strike a balance of authority while still being encouraging (this was tricky because we were the same age and I was in a temporary position).

 

I think both of these new skills will help me greatly in my future endeavors. Most immediately, in my continuation with Eden House as a fall intern. I just couldn’t leave quite yet and the connections I’ve made with various partners at EH will help me better understand our resources and provide improved suggestions when we’re brainstorming. More broadly, I think my improved interpersonal skills are a valuable asset as I head out to the job market. How to work with other people who you may disagree with or have a different viewpoint from isn’t something that’s directly taught in class, but it’s a skill that’s required almost across the board in the job market.

 

After working at Eden House I think I would really like to get into the research side of the effects of sex work. There is so little hard data on the link between sex trafficking and prostitution, in the U.S. it is very often considered one and the same. And anecdotal evidence, both from the news and Eden House’s own residents, tends to support this. But I have also read articles of women choosing to work in the sex trade and being satisfied with their decision. The whole debate is wrapped up in gender politics, in ways that I didn’t previously realize. On the side are advocates who say all sex work is inherently degrading to women and no woman could then consciously choose it; if she does seem to choose it it’s only because she has a history of trauma and doesn’t realize she deserves better. On the other hand (the more historical though thankfully shrinking) view is that female sex workers are immoral and dirty and should be locked up by the government, not helped by it. In all this rhetoric the voices of the actual women involved are suppressed. I think it would be very beneficial to get out in the field and interview women in sex work at all different levels to try and get a clearer picture of what is really happening and how they can best be served.

 

All in all, my time at Eden House has been extremely beneficial and I leave knowing I have gained so much valuable knowledge and skills. My advice to future Tulane interns is to look for organizations/ internships that let you work on something you’re passionate about, regardless if it doesn’t fit directly with your major. You gain a new perspective and experiences outside what you already have!

Sequencing Suzanne- Signing Off

Another goodbye to Boston. * sigh * It was an absolutely wonderful summer made even better by my lab mates. I was able to accomplish most of my goals this summer, including strengthening my understanding of DNA sequencing, practicing new protocols, and speaking with Dr. Hillary Eaton at the Office of Research and Technology Ventures about creating a career with science and economics backgrounds.

Working for CCGD has helped me confirm my choice to work in the health sector; however, I am still undecided in what capacity. It was helpful to listen to the ambitions of my fellow lab mates and how they planned to use their backgrounds as laboratory technicians in their future careers. Some were applying to Ph.D. programs and medical school, while others were hoping to move up in the non-profit sector or enter the industry. I have spent most of my time at Tulane trying to explore many options and many fields without focusing on anything specific. Working with such driven individuals has shown me the value of choosing one path and one goal and using all of one’s energy to move towards it. The reward for finally accomplishing a dream can only come when one realizes what that dream actually is.

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I could write a book on everything I learned while at CCGD, but as no one really likes to skim over cliché advice, I’ll condense my novel to a few of my favorite survival schemes:

  • Ask as many questions as possible and volunteer for every task, no matter how menial. Every bit of effort contributes to the functionality of the lab. Even defrosting freezers taught me a thing or two about the DNA I was organizing.
  • Scientists are humans too. They value eager learners and hard workers. They are always there to offer wisdom, advice, and help carrying sequencing kits and samples up and down four floors.
  • Embrace feeling uncomfortable with a task; it means you are about to learn something new.
  • Be nice to the administrators; they determine how smoothly your day will flow.
  • The best teachers come in the most unlikely places and are the ones that answer the questions you didn’t even thing of asking.
  • At any age, there is nothing more uplifting than someone asking you to sit with them at lunch on your first day; pay it forward whenever possible.
  • Don’t hold dry ice with your bare hands.

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Thank you CCGD for two fantastic summers and for teaching me so much about life, happiness, and the love of a Shaw’s cake in the middle of the week.

Until next time,

Suzanne

Final reflection

Summer is sadly coming to a close, so I thought I’d write a few reflections about my time working with Dr. McKinney this summer. I’m thinking about the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the summer, and I feel confident in saying that I’ve met all of them. Our trip to Jennings contributed most to reaching these goals. I gained experience as a researcher specifically by helping write the survey and participating in the fieldwork itself. Even a job as simple as going through Google Maps to write down house numbers gave me insight into what it’s like to do research as a sociologist. In terms of my career goals, my work this summer gave me an opportunity to really think about what I want to do with my degree if I continue with sociology. I’m still not totally sure, but this summer will definitely help because research is a big part of sociology. Now that I’ve completed my internship, I’d like to refine my research ideas for the Newcomb Scholars program. I have a few ideas, but this gave me perspective on how data is actually collected. With this new perspective, I can now think about research ideas that are actually doable. For anyone who is interested in getting involved with a research project, my advice would be to think about what classes interest you the most, and then begin a conversation with that professor. If you like the professor, then just ask their research.

blogphoto
Here’s a photo of Dr. McKinney and me.

My ideas about social justice have definitely changed over the course of the summer. I’d always heard about large corporations taking advantage of people, but I’d never seen the direct effects myself. Seeing the superfund site itself and talking with the people who live close by changed my perspective. It’s easy to think about complicated issues in a black in white way; the corporation takes advantage of rural people who hate them for doing it. But it gets more complicated when some of the rural people actually enjoyed the presence of the employees from the corporation and don’t have much concern for their water quality. In order to be a more effective change agent, I think it’s important to understand these grey areas and integrate them into a plan of action.

Wrapping up at Mama Maji

This week ended my short, yet meaningful, time working with Mama Maji. I have taken away what felt like years of experience in just two months.

One of my learning objectives was to strengthen my community outreach skills by gaining more experience with public education and public speaking, and I feel this was something I absolutely was able to accomplish. A lot of my time was spent doing outreach about the organization and their new on-campus club not only to my own networks at Tulane, but to new departments, groups, and individuals who had not previously had any kind of relationship with Mama Maji. While it was not one of my goals, I ended up also learning a great deal about my own community at Tulane, the resources that are available within it, and what kinds of things some of my amazing peers are working on. These are things I will certainly be leveraging in the future. On the public speaking end, I was given excellent one-on-one training from my supervisor who really took the time to help me improve and to challenge myself. I think my speaking skills have definitely improved and I feel much more confident to use this ability in my classes, at future jobs, and just when advocating for my own endeavors.

I also wrote in my objectives that I would like to learn the most effective ways to increase both financial support and awareness for a certain cause, and to ensure that this responsiveness is sustained. The last task of my internship was to launch and complete an online fundraising campaign for the next water kiosk that Mama Maji will be building in Kenya, but before I did that, I was given valuable advice on the best ways to successfully fundraise. My supervisor, Brian, really emphasized the importance of self reflection and digging deep to discover my own motivation for doing this before I could even begin to think about motivating others to become involved—let alone donate their money! He helped me craft my personal story as well as the project narrative, which I then used on my Indiegogo campaign. I know I achieved this objective because my campaign has only been live for 48 hours and I am only $115 away from my $500 goal. I now feel comfortable enough with the process to be able to fundraise in the future.

Another goal I had for my time with Mama Maji was to learn more about the global water crisis, and be able to educate others about it as well. This might be the only objective that I’m not 100% certain I have achieved. I definitely know much more about this issue than I did when I began, but I would have definitely loved to learn more about the operational specificities in terms of the actual water kiosks that Mama Maji helped create. I know I could, however, at least on a very basic level, be able to engage someone in conversation about the gendered issue of water. This is also not the end of my work with Mama Maji, as I will be an active member of their Catalyst Club on campus, so I am sure they will help me continue my education about the water crisis.

Catalyst Cocktails!

Perhaps the most rewarding part of my experience at Mama Maji had to do with my fourth objective, which was to connect with female change makers within the New Orleans community, and to help them connect with women abroad. On my first day, I learned the exciting news that I would be working alongside two brilliant women who were part of the Young African Leadership Initiative. Soon after, I was introduced to three other amazing young women who are part of the Mama Maji team. Towards the end of my internship, I had the task of doing outreach in order to recruit two campus coordinators for the fall. Through that process, I got to connect with even more amazing female leaders, many of whom I will be working with in the future! Each and every person I met as a part of this internship has taught me something invaluable and has inspired me to continue to build this network of remarkable, ambitious women who not only want to see change happen, but be a part of it. The greatest thing about Mama Maji in my opinion is their emphasis on empowering women, so issues of gender and social justice were ever present in my learning journey.

Finally, I was able to gain important skills vital to a career in the non-profit sector of international development. I plan to build off of these lessons in the very near future and take them with me into every single professional setting that I find myself in. I’ve learned that making an impact is not an unattainable goal for people my age, and that our positions as students can even amplify this effect. I have also gotten to experience first hand the way a new organization operates, as well as what it take to make said organization successful and sustainable.

While my internship was brief, I really think I was able to help the growth of Mama Maji through my own work. I would (and will!) recommend that other students work with Mama Maji. They are a young organization with and amazing vision and a commitment to the success of each individual they work with—and it will absolutely be a positive experience if you want to work hard and make it one.

Reflections on an incredible summer in Fort Portal

After 7 weeks in Uganda, I am back in the United States trying to digest everything that happened this summer. This experience challenged me in so many different ways; academically, socially, culturally and even physically. It is a bit overwhelming to try and synthesize everything while readjusting to life in America. I have learned so much in the past two months, and above all else I have learned that there will ALWAYS be more to learn.

Going in to the summer, I knew that working in a girl’s health education program in Uganda would teach me so much about gender inequalities and how they vary based on different cultural contexts. And of course, it did. The girls I worked with this summer were only about 12-15 years old. These young girls had to face challenges that I couldn’t imagine dealing with in my entire life. In their essays on early pregnancy they talked about how many young girls would become pregnant after getting raped, and then be chased out of their homes for bringing shame to their families. In our discussion of why it is often harder for girls to finish primary school than it is for boys, many of them said that when parents can’t pay for all their children’s school fees they will pay for the boys to go to school, while the girls will have to stay home. Others said that if one or both of a girl’s parents die, she will have to take care of her younger siblings, cook, clean, and basically head the household, so she would not be able to go to school. These are just a few of the dozens of challenges girls face in completing their education, and even though I was aware of many of these issues, it was so emotionally difficult to discuss them these girls.

What I didn’t really expect was how much I would learn about the role of gender in the field of global health. I plan to work in global public health, which means that in my early career that will spend a lot of time outside of the US. This summer made me realize that each new country I work in will mean getting accustomed to a new set of gender-related issues, stereotypes and expectations that are at play in the field and in the workplace. Whether you’re from Massachusetts, Louisiana or Fort Portal, Uganda, you grow up learning to treat men and women in a very specific way. While there are certain rights that should be universally respected, the way that genders interact in everyday life is much less black and white. While these differences can be incredibly frustrating at times, it is important to remember that the only way to change these attitudes is by setting a good example of what a powerful woman looks like, and understanding that it will take time for attitudes towards genders to change.

My biggest piece of advice I would give to other students interested in interning with the Kasiisi Project, or in any non-profit in the developing world, is that you need to be incredibly flexible and incredibly patient. Meetings are less likely to go as planned if you don’t have reliable power. Events are less likely to start on time if you have a much less reliable transportation system. People are less likely to show up to everything they say they will if there are much higher rates of illnesses that would prevent them from doing so (while a sick day in the US could me the snuffles, a sick day in Uganda could mean malaria). There are so many more obstacles to deal with when you are working in a developing nation. It is important to set high goals, but it is also important to be patient with the fact that things will not get done as quickly as you want them too, or as quickly as they would in the United States.

I really enjoyed working with the women’s health program of the Kasiisi Project and I do plan to continue supporting this organization however I can. I am the president of Tulane International Society and I have been discussing a potential collaboration between Kasiisi and TIS with other exec board members. The goal of TIS is to bring awareness of international issues to Tulane’s campus, and because we are a Newcomb organization, we generally focus on women’s issues around the world. Whether through fundraising or even just presenting on the organization, I hope that TIS members will be interested in promoting this organization. The goals of these two organizations are so complimentary, and I think this collaboration would be beneficial for both.

Overall, I benefitted from this experience in a thousand different ways, many of which I didn’t really expect. From helping me cement my career goals, to making me more confident travelling alone in Africa, to allowing me to make connections with people in my field from all over the world, this summer has definitely moved me forward along my career path. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to do something like this, and so grateful for the Newcomb College Institute for making it possible! Newcomb has been such a supportive resource during my first two years at Tulane, and I am excited to continue to be an active member of the Newcomb community for my next two years. Thank you Newcomb, thank you Kasiisi, and thank you to whoever is reading!

Girls of Kiko Primary School preparing for the Women's Empowerment Music Dance and Drama Competition
Girls of Kiko Primary School preparing for the Women’s Empowerment Music Dance and Drama Competition
Sara dressed as Rebecca Kadaga, the first female Speaker of Parliament in Uganda
Sara dressed as Rebecca Kadaga, the first female Speaker of Parliament in Uganda
My co-workers and I at the end of the Women's Empowerment MDD Competition. Thank you NCI!
My co-workers and I at the end of the Women’s Empowerment MDD Competition. Thank you NCI!

A Great Summer at NORAPC

Hey All!

Can’t believe my summer interning at New Orleans Regions AIDS Planning Council (NORAPC) is coming to an end. This internship has been a really valuable learning experience. Below are some of my final reflections. However, first I’d like to thank the NORAPC staff, Planning Council and Community Partners for allowing me to learn from them this summer, and for their commitment to bettering their community. You all rock! Thanks for everything that you do!

Discuss specific tasks and accomplishments from this summer that support the learning goals and objectives you set at the beginning of the summer. 

My internship began at a perfect starting point: preparation for NORAPC’s annual Priority Setting Session (PSS).  In preparation for this important event, I assisted NORAPC’s Health Planner in creating guiding packets. These packets were filled with epidemiological data on the local demographic of the disease, the reported disease related needs of the affected community, and how well the services that are offered are meeting those needs. All this data provided me with a crash course on the impact of HIV/AIDS in the New Orleans area as well as the local infrastructure in place addressing the disease. This process also gave me a real-world look into how surveys and data are utilized to make health decisions.

Participating in the PSS enhanced my understanding of the population and their needs. Attending meetings and interacting with the council and community members who visited the NORAPC office deepened my appreciation and understanding of cultural competency and its importance in health care.

Next, I worked to prepare packets for the Resource and Allocation Setting Session (RASS). At this session council members decide the funding amounts for each priority area ranked at the PSS. From packet preparation and data analysis I learned so much about the various avenues of health funding and the effect the Affordable Care Act may have on the funding landscape.  Additionally, at the RASS there were many representatives from the Office of Health Policy and AIDS Funding present. It was interesting to hear their insights. This opportunity gave me more understanding into the health policy and the planning process in New Orleans.

This summer I have had the opportunity to work towards all of my goals. However, I wouldn’t say any were “completed”, but that’s okay. HIV/AIDS is a complex and multifaceted issue that is continuously changing. My understanding is just the tip of the iceberg of this complicated issue. It is clear, however, that things are improving. More people are getting tested. More people are accessing care. More people are staying in care.  And with the Affordable Care Act, more people are becoming insured. It is going to be a long road, but we are headed in the right direction. I look forward to continue learning about HIV/AIDS and contributing towards reaching an AIDS-Free Generation.

What advice would you give to a student interested in an internship at your host organization? In this industry/field?

Absolutely do it! I firmly believe that public health is best learned outside of the classroom. I have found that working with community first-hand and encountering the successes and challenges of public health directly is so much more powerful and educational than reading about it in a textbook. I would highly recommend all public health students to latch onto organizations they are interested in and learn about what the real world of public health is all about.

Additionally, for anyone interested in learning more about HIV/AIDS a NORAPC internship is the way to go. NORAPC brings together people from all facets of the disease response ranging from affected individuals to service providers to primary health care leaders. I have had the opportunity to learn about HIV/AIDS in New Orleans from so many different perspectives. It has given me great insight into all the players that are involved in addressing public health issues.

What have you learned about becoming a more effective problem solver/change agent/citizen?

One of the greatest lessons I will take away from this internship is that the community members I met possesses a wealth of knowledge. They know the problems in their community: that lack of affordable housing makes it difficult to stay in care, that the community needs more mental health services, and many more.  Any interventions that fail to take advantage of these local troves of knowledge are ignoring a huge community asset. Nobody knows the problems of the community better than the members of the community. Health funders would be wise to trust local expertise more often when it comes to health interventions.

Thanks for reading!

Maggie

Final Post from Mexico. Sniff Sniff.

My experience interning at SOMA was most valuable in that it helped clarify what I want and want I don’t want in a future career. This knowledge will certainly serve me at the remainder of my time at Tulane and also influence the trajectory of my professional and perhaps personal life. First of all, this summer I realized that the visual art scene is not a sphere of life in which I want to work or live. This realization, however, strengthened rather than undermined the lessons I learned working at SOMA.  I firmly believe in the value of knowing what you don’t want, and I think it was worth going to Mexico to make this realization alone. Of course, I learned many other worthwhile lessons about what I do want as well, lessons that expand past just the eye-opening experience of living in a different country. Through working at SOMA I have come to better appreciate the impact of creative solutions and art in all fields of work. I realized that I’m more interested in incorporating artistic ideas in spheres that are not strictly dedicated to art than I am in the “art scene.”

After completing my internship with SOMA, I am interested in returning to Mexico and learning more about this culturally rich and diverse country of which I only got to know a sliver. And of course, I have more drive now than ever to go live in another Spanish speaking country and learn the unique nuances of the language.

If I were to give advice to a potential SOMA intern, I would say that the experience is what you make of it. A plethora of lessons and diverse experiences are available to you through SOMA, but it is up to you to take initiative and pursue them. If you choose to only do the tasks assigned to you, that’s your prerogative, but in this organization you have the freedom to define your own working experience and you will learn far more if you do. Carla (your potential supervisor) is extremely receptive to feedback, so if you have an idea pertaining to anything at SOMA, tell her, make it your own project, and she will be happy to guide you through it. Given SOMA’s fluid structure, there are plentiful opportunities for you to make your mark and take a real hand in improving the organization and summer program. This freedom Carla gives you to initiate your own ideas will teach you be responsive to your environment, trust your gut, and take yourself and your impressions seriously.

I’m not sure that SOMA itself changed my philosophies or ideal around gender. Women hold all of the upper-tiered positions at SOMA, and men hold the lower-tiered positions. To contrast that, however, every single one of the visiting lecturers were men. Not one woman came to speak in the two months I was at SOMA. There is certainly food for thought in these dynamics, but what I thought about more through the lens of gender was Mexican society, where machismo and chivalry are both very much alive and are two sides to one coin. I noticed I was permitted certain privileges for being a woman. For example, some man would always offer me his seat on the metro even though it is quite evident that I am young and healthy and capable of standing for three stops. While (most of the time) I do not doubt that these chivalrous men had good intentions, it did make me slightly uncomfortable, and I am still marinating on the gendered significance of these interactions. Speaking of the metro, during rush hour, there are separate metro cars allotted exclusively to women and children. There are even police officers making sure no men get on these cars. Again, while there are surely good intentions behind this, namely to keep women safe, where are we if we need segregated metro cars? Put within the context of the brutal femenicides that have been occurring in the northern city Ciudad Juarez since 1993, I find this segregation unsettling. I would be fascinated to do in depth research on gender relations in Mexico. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to take a stab at some of the questions I developed in the woman writers in Latin America class I am taking this coming semester.

As discussed in my previous blog posts, every day at SOMA presented a unique and fluid set of tasks and challenges. Consequently, I learned to solve problems as they came, think on my feet, and trust myself. The diversity of my experience at SOMA, a theme I have emphasized throughout my posts, helped me build confidence in my ability to address a constantly changing landscape of challenges. What’s more, the art lectures I attended at SOMA taught me to approach challenges with a supple mind, and to look for solutions where one might not typically think to look.

I had an amazing time in Mexico with SOMA, I truly feel like a different person, and I would recommend this experience to anyone who might be interested in Mexican culture, practicing Spanish, the visual art industry, or the craft of eating tacos.

Here I am at the top of the the Pyramid of the Sun, the tallest pyramid in the pre-Colombian city Teotihuacan.  Gotta love the medium of photography for not visually translating how hard I was panting from climbing all those steps!

teotijuacan

Thanks for reading,

Cora

Last Post

 

I have now come to the end of a wonderful internship at The Arts Club of Chicago. On my last day the guest lecturer was the head of the French Pastry School of Chicago, so I got to celebrate with some delicious macaroons! However, I am taking away a lot more from this internship than just great memories such as that one. During a final staff meeting before the Club’s annual two-week closure the director asked me to sum up what I had been working on all summer, and it was a great opportunity for me to reflect upon the work I did for the club. I can honestly say that I think all of the research I did at the Newberry and the organization done in the office will help the Club as they prepare for their 100th anniversary.

Something I have discussed a lot in my earlier posts is the exposure I received to the contemporary art world, and I still think this is the most important thing I am taking away from my internship. The contemporary art market is extremely intimidating, and I feel like this internship was a useful introduction. I look forward to examining contemporary art using the knowledge I have gained at the Arts Club. Specifically this semester I am extremely excited to attend the Prospect New Orleans art exhibition being held downtown. It is events like these that I need to be attending to expose myself to how art is being displayed and marketed in non-museum settings.

My advice to anyone pursuing internships in the arts is not to be intimidated by the competitiveness of the field. No one denies that museum internships are hard to come by, but my internship at the Arts Club is a perfect example of how great experiences can be found at less obvious institutions. In many ways I think working with a smaller staff allowed me to gain more information about what tasks different careers require, which will be invaluable later on when I decide whether I want to become a curator or take another path. Overall I am so glad I found this internship, and it has made me much more confident in my pursuit of a career in the arts.

Finishing Up With Covenant House Headquarters

I was dreading my last week with Covenant House. I had a great time interning with them and I did not want it to end! As people say, all good things must come to an end. So here are a few of my final thoughts…

Throughout the summer I was given a variety of tasks to work on – financial statements, credit card reports, database reports, researching human trafficking, etc. Completing all the tasks I was given allowed me to better understand how the corporate side of a non-profit operates. My supervisors gave me a task and always started off by explaining the purpose. I was able to understand how my work would assist the organization and how all the different departments played a part in allowing the office and Covenant House to run.

By creating online database reports I learned how to use their current software – Efforts to Outcome. I also put together excel spread sheets – several for a telemarketing project and several for my work with Faith Community (their one year service program). I never felt too comfortable using technology and computers other than Microsoft Word. My confidence in using other programs has increased tremendously! I not only became more comfortable with using Excel, but ETO made me realize I have the skills and ability to figure out other software programs.

My last goal was to learn about a new population and let me tell you I learned a lot about homeless youth. However, I also learned about another new population – human trafficking victims. For Covenant House’s ACT campaign another intern and I created a report on human trafficking. Through this report I learned who is considered a victim of trafficking (legal definitions), services that are offered to them, current government efforts to combat trafficking, and a history of this issue. I have a lot more to learn but it opened my eyes to the issue of human trafficking and all the people the system exploits.

The type of work done by Covenant House staff is the type of work I hope to continue after I graduate. I still need to figure out more specifics, for example what role I would like to have, the population I would like to work with, etc. But I really enjoyed working with a large non-profit and I would like to continue working in the non-profit world professionally. If I have time this coming year I would also like to volunteer at the Covenant House in New Orleans. I’m curious to see what it is like and how it differs from the New York shelter.

While I want to see more of Covenant House I am also curious to see what a career in social work would look like when working for the government and learn more about direct care careers. I would also like to learn more about policies and programs. A lot of the kids at CH have gone through the foster care system and I am also interested to learn more about it.

Throughout my time with Covenant House I found myself paying a lot of attention to the different positions individuals had and connecting that with gender. Covenant House was the first place where I saw first-hand powerful successful women in the workplace. Some of these women were nurses and lawyers (and had other careers) before coming to Covenant House. They currently work with technology, development, legal advocacy and more. It was powerful being able to hear their experiences, work alongside them, and see the results of their efforts. I never really had role models before, but these women gave me motivation that I could be that successful in the workforce one day. When I think of where I hope future Hallie will be, I think now think of them.

My biggest piece of advice is be ready and willing to take on any project or task that is given to you. No matter how small or trivial that task may be find something to take away from it. One task I had was to call donors and invite them to take a tour of Covenant House New York. Talking on the phone terrifies me! I was nervous and scared I would stumble over my words. By the end of making phone calls I had gained confidence and practice. I understand that making those phone calls keeps a connection between Covenant House and its donors which keeps beds in the buildings, food in the dining room, and medical services in the health center. It wasn’t a glamorous task, but it forced me to practice a skill I always avoided.

I learned a lot during my time with Covenant House but there are two things about problem solving that really stand out to me. The first is that when one is working with a vulnerable population you can’t make decisions for the person, nor can you force them to make certain decisions. At Covenant House youth sometimes leave several times before succeeding in the program. The youth may return to drug abuse, to their pimps, or to other influences that could harm their well-being. At the very beginning of the summer I learned that the youth can leave when they want. I found myself thinking, why does no one stop them? It was hard but also important to understand that it’s part of the process.

Something else that is important to not just know but truly understand and accept is that there are many issues in society and they are huge. One person, one organization cannot solve any single social issue or help an entire population of people. Covenant House New York has around 300 beds and Covenant House has shelters in 21 cities. There are so many more children not receiving assistance and sleeping on the streets. I think that can be said about many nonprofit organizations – their services assist a great number of people, but there are still many more people out there in need. When I would think about the population at large and all the kids not receiving Covenant House services I forgot about the 300 kids in New York, the 75 kids in Michigan, and the 112 kids in New Orleans that are served every night. Thinking about the big issue is not bad, but it’s important to focus on the power and resources that you have and putting those to use.