Muraho, nitwa Maddy (Hello, my name is Maddy)

Hello from Butare, Rwanda! My time working in Rwanda with Engineering World Health has reached it’s half-way point.

It is hard to put the things that I have learned into words because every day is full of things that I have never experienced—every moment I learn something new. I spent the first month of my time in Rwanda taking classes in Biomedical equipment repair, French, and the native Kinyarwanda language. Here’s a sampling of Kinyarwanda:

Muraho hello

Murakoze thank you

Mwaramutse good morning

Amahoro peace

Komera stay strong

I know enough Kinyarwanda to greet people, talk about family, buy things, and find my way around—enough to survive here. I can tell my accent is getting better because occasionally Rwandans will start chattering away to me. At the same time, this shows me how much more I have to learn.

I worked alongside some Biomedical Equipment Technician (BMET) students at their school in Kigali, Rwanda. Their program is very focused on training technicians, where the Biomedical Engineering program at Tulane focuses more on equipment design and understanding of theory. The students that I worked with were very, very smart. I think it’s a shame that they do not have the design training that I have. They understand the problems that developing hospitals face better than I will and would be well suited to design solutions given the resources.

This month, I am working at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare (CHUB), a large teaching hospital in Huye, Rwanda.

Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare

Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare

CHUB is a fairly advanced hospital for the developing world, but it is very different from any hospital that you would find in the United States. The pace of work is much slower, which is good and bad. I like the slow pace because I have time to talk to doctors and nurses about their work and their lives. Rwandans are very friendly; what Americans my consider intrusive questions are very common. People I’ve just met often ask me if I’m married and am I catholic. It definitely took some getting used to.

My partner, Carisse, and I have spent a lot of time updating an inventory to be used by Engineering World Health and the hospital itself. Today we took inventory of a storage closet. It was packed full of mostly working equipment that is not needed because CHUB recently received a donation from the CDC of a bunch of new equipment. Carisse and I are trying to figure out a way to redistribute this unneeded equipment to other hospitals in Rwanda that could benefit from it. On Friday we will meet with the hospital director to talk about our ideas. We will also ask him if there are any secondary projects around the hospital that he would like us to work on while we are here.

The daunting storage room at CHUB

The daunting storage room at CHUB

This internship has definitely improved my troubleshooting skills and my confidence in my technical abilities. One of my first days at CHUB, my partner and I worked with a local technician to trouble shoot an ophthalmoscope that was not working. We determined that the problem was in the power supply, and that someone had switched the live and neutral electrical leads. We whipped out our soldering iron and heat shrink tubing and quickly fixed the problem. Of course, not all repairs are as simple.

This experience has shaped me and surprised me in many ways. Rwanda is a pretty wonderful place to live, and it is developing very quickly. There are beautiful paved roads (much nicer than New Orleans’ roads!), getting access to phone and internet is probably easier and definitely cheaper than in the US, and cold bucket showers really aren’t so bad. Plus, monkeys hang out at the hospital. (!!!)

My evening commute

Friends along my evening commute

I’m already starting to get sad about leaving this beautiful, beautiful place that has taught me so much.

Learning Not To Teach Heteronormativity & Stuff

 

 

**PREACH**

**PREACH**

I can’t believe it’s already July. So many things have happened since I arrived in New Jersey in May. My training with the Masakhane Center is complete, and I’ve started co-facilitating workshops. I’m also working on a few video projects for the Center, one on pregnancy and one on pornography (to be used in training and in our workshops).

My main goal for this internship was to gain some hands-on experience in the realm of public health, and I’ve hit that goal pretty head on. I facilitate one workshop a week (which will soon be three workshops a week) on a whole host of topics: pregnancy, pregnancy options, safer sex, gender identity 101, sexual orientation 101, and healthy & unhealthy relationships – just to name a few. I’m currently working at Newark Renaissance House, which is an addiction treatment center for teens. I work exclusively with young men – and their energy and enthusiasm is infectious. I’ve been having a wonderful time getting to know my kids and their personalities. Lesson planning is much more rewarding when I feel like I’m able to tailor our activities to their specific needs. When I start facilitating workshops with middle school groups, I will have an all boy group and an all girl group. I’m excited to observe the differences in energy, attitude, etc. with either gender (since I’ve only worked with men so far).

I learn everyday working with the Masakhane Center. Not only am I now much more comfortable talking about STIs and the stages of pregnancy, I’m also more confident in my ability to teach. While I was initially nervous to facilitate, my experiences thus far have been so positive I look forward to it each week. My teaching skill set has vastly expanded since coming to the Masakhane Center. Teaching is an invaluable skill that I feel will help me academically and professionally.

Working with the Masakhane Center has challenged many of my preconceived notions about sexuality, gender, and the way we talk about identity politics – which wasn’t something that I expected. It’s been an eye-opening experience, because in a lot of ways I thought I was progressive and understanding already. However, being an ally and teaching in a way that isn’t heteronormative has been difficult but also rewarding. I hope to carry this newfound understanding and open-mindedness throughout the rest of my life.

Masakhane Summer 2015 Interns feeling united!!

Masakhane Summer 2015 Interns feeling united!!

Comms/Advocacy Internship

Hey y’all!

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted- my account keeps locking me out. In fact, this is my second time today writing this very post… which I’m hoping and praying will publish this time.

I’ve been working 8 am or 8:30 am to 5 or 6 pm every day and eating my lunches at my desk. Working in comms is crazy. I was originally assigned to two accounts, which means that I do work and go to meetings for two accounts. I love going to meetings because I get to find out the “why” behind the work I do, which is really important for me motivationally. The people I work with are really wonderful and very accomplished in their fields- they come from all over, comms wise.

I also have been lucky enough to be designated the comms/advocacy crossover intern. I think I want to work in Advocacy after graduation, so this is wonderful. I got assigned to a third account which is more policy-focused, and I’m learning so much from working on the account. It’s definitely a little crazy trying to get all three account’s deliverables out the door, but it’s also really good to always be busy.

Being in DC is amazing. I have been able to meet many of my favorite Tulane alumni, hang out with some of my friends from school, and go to networking events up the wazoo. I recently spoke at the Pew Center about sexual assault, and now I am meeting up with a lot of people in town who work on the same issues. Tonight, in fact, I’m meeting with some people from the It’s On Us campaign (which you may recognize from campus!). I’m very excited to be surrounded by other people trying to make change.

Anyways, that’s all for now. I’m again sorry for my lateness in posting- tech doesn’t always comply, if you’ve noticed.

Thank you,

Court

Learning Legalese- Jean

So far my legal projects at Fund 17 are going great. I applied for legal assistance through the Pro Bono Project, and our application was accepted. Now we are just waiting to be matched with a lawyer. I am almost finished creating a legal resource for entrepreneurs, which will also double as a teaching material for Fund 17’s future fellows.

The area of my internship that is proving to be difficult is impact assessment. I first had to research it and try to learn the impact assessment best practices for micro-finance nonprofits. This is still an area where I need to improve. I surveyed two out of our three clients and the surveys went well. They both seemed to have benefited from working with us.

I’ve been trying to figure out our 501c3 application for the past few days, and have been frequenting the IRS website, something I wouldn’t normally do. The application is pretty hard to understand. The instructions alone for Form 1023, which has to be completed before you can begin the actual 501c3, are more than 10 pages long. Luckily, a lawyer contacted us about helping us with the application. The meeting is on Monday, and I hope she can give us some guidance because this is really complex material, and you don’t want to make any mistakes when it comes to the IRS!

I think that right now, I am most proud of the legal document that I have been creating. I’ve found some really informative, reliable resources online that I think will help entrepreneurs a lot. I also am happy to have found potential pro bono legal assistance within the first week, because I had just assumed that it would be much harder to find. I think that this internship is teaching me the complexity of different areas of the law. I’m learning tax law and business law. Because a lot of my work is self-directed, I’m learning the importance of being self-motivated. This is the most hands-on work I’ve ever done and it will directly affect people’s livelihoods, so I’m glad that I’m also learning about accountability.

First week with The Nature Conservancy ✓ – Sarah Haensly

Hey!

I’ve had a great last week at my internship, so I can’t wait to see what will come next! For this specific project that I am working on, called Washington Coast Works, I’m actually doing the majority of my work at the Pinchot office in downtown Seattle. At Pinchot there is the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (CIE), a program that provides entrepreneurship and enterprise support to people in underserved communities. Because CIE specializes in something very similar to what the Nature Conservancy (TNC) project is working for, TNC provides the funding and support to CIE to head the Washington Coast Works project. I hope that all made sense!

Anyways, I’m mainly working at the Pinchot office downtown where I’m primarily working with just one guy, Mike, who has been putting so much time and energy into this project. Because Mike has been doing so much of the project on his own so far, he is very appreciate of the help.

For this first week Mike has just been giving me a full rundown of the project so far. I read the entire USDA grant proposal that he had submitted to gain money to fund the project, as well as all of the applications that have been submitted from people who have ideas for businesses. There are a lot of other forms and files that I’ve been reading as well, in order to familiarize myself with the entire project. It’s all super interesting! Our next steps are to choose the ten participants and two alternates for the competition.

I had a great first impression of the job! Although I’m not really working much with anyone else in the office, they have all been very welcoming and helpful. The whole building is a really interesting space and ideas kind of just flow freely between the organizations that are housed in it. I’ll definitely try to take more pictures.

I’ve learned a ton so far as well. I think that through this internship I’ll learn a lot about small business start-ups, as well as sustainability in businesses. What’s amazing about this internship is that because I’m only working with a few people I actually have some sort of a say – something that I didn’t expect. Before I arrived Mike and Eric, the partner at TNC, had drafted up a list of participants for the competition. I disagreed with two of those that they had chosen, and they actually switched them out with the ones that I had supported.

I’m excited to see how the rest of the internship goes after a great first week!

Getting slapped in the face with UNHCR knowledge -Kayla

I’m in the middle of week five at my internship with UNHCR. As I described it to one of my friends, I feel like I’m getting slapped in the face with knowledge every single day that I am here. I have learned so much about the UN system, humanitarian logistics, and international communications in the past five weeks, and I can’t believe I’m already halfway done.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the importance of confidentiality and carefully monitoring any and all information put out by the UNHCR. At the beginning of the summer, I would have said that everything about UNHCR should be completely open and transparent. However, being here has allowed me to see how confidentiality and self-censorship within the UN can be vital for the safety of refugees and humanitarian workers in the field. It is incredibly complicated to run an organization across so many countries, and it involves dealing with many conflicting governments, individuals, and cultural norms. Unfortunately, I can’t really provide specific examples because of the exact confidentiality I’m trying to defend. However, as I continue to study international humanitarian work at Tulane, I feel I will better understand decision making in terms of information sharing at the international level.

Though I have had an array of projects in my time here, the ones I have enjoyed most were research based. Not only did I learn more about humanitarian management through these projects, but I also got to improve upon my ability to present information in a clear and concise manner. For example, I was recently asked to come up with talking points for a press briefing on cash assistance programs for Syrian refugees in Jordan. It was interesting for me to learn more about this type of assistance, and in which contexts these programs are feasible. It also gave me a chance to improve my writing and communications skills in presenting the most important information in the most concise way possible.

I am glad to be working in communications because I believe skills in communications and writing will be applicable to all aspect of my academic and professional life. This ranges from my academic writing, to my position with the Tulane Center for Global Education, and even to job applications. I feel incredibly lucky to be here and I’m excited to see what the rest of the summer holds.

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Suited up for my first day of work

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Ok fine… I actually work NEXT TO the building with all the flags

the hills are alive

Jura Mountains in France with fellow interns

 

Taking a Bite out of the Big Apple

Now that I’ve had some time to settle in to New York City, all I can say is that this is one of the most incredible cities I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It is vibrant, dynamic, and surprisingly beautiful. While I’ve seen a few rats in the subway, I’ve also seen gorgeous skylines, intricate facades, and lovely parks.

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The view from my apartment window

Life here goes by quickly – I can’t believe I’m almost halfway done– but I am appreciating the ability to explore New York slowly, and get a taste of the different neighborhoods, all with a very distinct flavor (and now that I can navigate the subway, I can actually go places, instead of wandering around for hours on foot). I could wax poetic about this city for hours, but it’s one of those places that you have to visit to appreciate.

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The city that never sleeps is just as beautiful at night

One of the greatest perks about spending the summer in New York is the proximity to young professionals and recent college graduates. Don’t believe it when people say that networking is hard: I have been blown away by how friendly and helpful the majority of people are when I reach out to them. I also cannot emphasize enough how useful it is to get real, honest answers to questions about life after graduation. Informational interviews have helped me decide what career I want to pursue, while I still have time to change my mind. I’ve also met some amazing people who I genuinely want to stay in contact with.

I recommend going to the Alumni Crawfish Boil, as it was a lot of fun and I got to eat some mudbugs.

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Mmmmm crawfish.

In addition to everything I’ve been learning in my free time, I’ve had a great time at my internship so far. Success Academy Charter Schools is one of those rare non-profits that is operated like a for-profit company; they are results-oriented and performance driven.

It is organized like an imaginary web: the network office is the central hub, with each of the 32 schools branching out from the network. Curricula, practices, and personnel are shared across schools. If a person or a process needs improvement anywhere in the network, management figures out a way to make it more efficient, with the ultimate focus on the kids (who are referred to as scholars). As a result of this insatiable desire to improve, Success Academies have proven, well, successful.

Although the model is controversial, I have never seen a more respectful, mature, and curious group of second graders than when I visited Success Academy Union Square a few weeks ago. They were all sharp as a tack, and each one could definitely beat me handily in chess (which is a daily part of the curriculum). I was impressed.

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Success Academy scholars excel at chess – they even go to national tournaments

 

 

I feel exceptionally grateful to have the opportunity to intern with Success. I get to spend every day with engaged, dedicated people who are passionate about their work. It’s a very close-knit community, motivated by the desire to make a difference in education reform. I genuinely like my supervisors and my fellow interns, and I enjoy the work that I have been doing. Granted, it has been a lot of Excel work, but it has definitely improved my knowledge of spreadsheets and shortcuts.

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Goofing around on my lunch break with Autumn, another Success intern and Tulane student

Beyond the tables with literally hundreds of rows, I have been fortunate enough to work on some interesting projects. I read municipal bond proposals to raise money for a teacher training institute; proofread the business expense policy handbook; and attended meetings with auditors to improve internal controls. Since Success receives public funding (albeit at a lower rate than district public schools), they are subject to substantial government oversight, so we have been working a lot on preparing our budgets for approval. I am learning a lot about corporate finance and the charter school model in general, and I’m also improving less tangible skills, like time management and punctuality.

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Am I professional yet?

I am greatly enjoying my first foray into the real world. Stay tuned for more updates!

Off to a Great Start at Fund 17 – Jean

I just finished the first full week of my internship at Fund 17. It has been going great so far! I met with Haley, Fund 17’s director the week before to discuss my projects for the summer. She asked all the interns what they would like the focus of their internship to be, and I liked being able to personalize the internship to my preferences. I told her I wanted to focus on legal issues, so we decided that my responsibilities as the legal intern would be to prepare for our 501c3 application, look for pro bono legal assistance, assess Fund 17’s legal needs, and compile information on small business licensing laws. I think this will be a new, stimulating area to study. Another one of my responsibilities is to learn about impact assessment best practices, and to conduct client satisfaction surveys, which I think will be more of a challenge. I created a client satisfaction survey earlier this year to learn about entrepreneur’s satisfaction with Fund 17, and after some editing from Haley, I was finally able to give the survey to an entrepreneur, Anna. Fund 17’s guidance benefitted her business, and I’m happy I got some concrete evidence of our effectiveness. I’m excited to do the rest of the surveys next week and see what the results are. Hopefully they are as successful as Anna’s.

Fund 17 is almost ready to launch its crowdfunding campaign to raise money for its budget for the first year of operation. Check it out here. I’m excited about an upcoming training we will have about New Orleans geography. I don’t know a lot about the history and topography of neighborhoods in the city, which will be led by another intern. Having this knowledge is important for me as an intern and as a resident of New Orleans. So far the internship is going great and I hope that my projects progress as quickly and successfully in the future as they have been this past week!

The Doctor is In – Kristine

For the past two weeks I’ve spent my days in the ER, General Internal Medicine, and Neurology departments at UMC learning how to examine patients, discern pathologies, and execute protocols when a new patient is admitted to the hospital or visiting the office. Although I’ve seen a dense variety of diseases, the majority of cases are of liver cirrohsis, due to prevalent excessive alcohol consumption and Asian people’s increased risk for Hepatitis B. I’ve begun to recognize its tell-tale signs – englarged and hardened belly, reddening of the edges of the palms, “spidery” or star-like red marks on the chest, and sometimes jaundice. My favorite moments are when I can examine the patients myself. My mentors guide me in asking about the patient’s history and lifestyle, looking for visual clues, testing reflexes and pain, feeling for abnormal shapes/growths, and distinguishing between normal and abnormal sounds of the body. Learning the basics of clinical examinations and being able to recognize the most common pathologies in Vietnam were my two top goals when beginning this internship; I look forward to practicing these skills every day. I feel more confident examining a patient now, and although I usually can not make a diagnosis, I can acquire plenty of information on the patient- and this is the first crucial step. To my own surprise, I’ve also been trained to do ultrasounds and take blood for testing. There is, as I expected, a special satisfaction in helping a person improve their welfare, even if I only play the smallest part. It’s this that I am most proud of.

I hope it is not too long before I will be performing these procedures on my own.

Week One with the ICMHD – Angelica Nahalka

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Entrance to ICMHD

I have concluded my first week as an intern at the International Centre for Migration, Health, and Development extremely excited to be spending the next two months taking advantage of the amazing opportunities Geneva has to offer. At the ICMHD, I will be creating research reports on projects the organization is currently undertaking. My first assignment is to create a literature review of rare cancer research, as the ICMHD is looking to become involved in a related project.

In terms of the environment at the ICMHD, the organization is located in a house right outside Geneva (complete with balconies perfect for enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having). I have met much of the ICMHD staff and was pleasantly surprised by their friendliness and the pleasant atmosphere at the office. Stretches of time spent researching are broken with long lunches where everyone gathers to eat a home-cooked meal prepared by an ICMHD staff member. I have found these lunches excellent opportunities to ask questions and learn about the experiences of those at the ICMHD, many of whom have been extensively involved with organizations such as the UN and WHO.

Intern workspace

Intern workspace

In my spare time, I am putting together a journal club presentation, which involves describing the findings, methods etc. of research published in an academic journal, which is followed by a discussion of the article. The journal club is a new fixture at the ICMHD, and my presentation will be the first to take place. I am going to present an article describing research conducted on the connections between gender, environment and migration in communities located in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan.

Outside my internship, I have many opportunities to interact with other interns working at the many NGOs and intergovernmental organizations of Geneva. A group called the Geneva Interns Association organizes hikes and nights out for interns, and most people I have met at my hostel, located in Geneva’s old town are also interns. Meeting so many new people reminds me a bit of the fist few weeks of freshman year, this time in addition to “what’s your name, where are you from?” is almost always tacked on, “where are you interning?”

Talking to other interns gives me a new perspective on entering fields like public health and politics, and working for NGOs in the international arena. Much of what my fellow interns have to say is heavy with disillusionment regarding the work of the UN, WHO and the countless NGOs based in Geneva. While everyone is thrilled with the professional opportunities of interning in this city (and the chance to literally frolic in the French Prealps, as I did last weekend), we are beginning to understand the immense work chipping away at the global humanitarian crises requires, and that these agencies are not the solve-all entities we wish they were.

From making connections with the various intergovernmental organizations and nonprofits, to visiting chocolate factories and hiking, my time here is going to shape up to be the best entrance into professional life I could ask for. Even if everything I hear isn’t positive, I came here looking to better understand the complexities of humanitarian work so I can one day have the skills to aid in these efforts. I am immensely excited and grateful to spend the next two months working towards achieving this goal.

View of Geneva from Mt. Salève

View of Geneva from Mt. Salève

One of the many drinking water-quality fountains located throughout city

One of the many fountains spouting —eau potable- (drinking water), located throughout city