Monthly Archives: August 2014

My internship with the Democratic Coordinated Campaign was a really amazing experience. I learned so much in such a short time and I’m really proud to say that I’m going to continue learning. My Regional Field Director offered me a full time position as the field organizer for my part of the state and I happily accepted. I’ll definitely miss Tulane for the fall semester, but I’m also incredibly excited about this career opportunity.

Hard at work! (And making an appearance on the campaign blog )

Hard at work! (And making an appearance on the campaign blog )

As I was hoping to, I learned a lot about careers in politics, especially because I am beginning one! I feel very comfortable with talking to any strangers, getting yelled at on the phone, and planning events for the campaign. I would advise anybody who would like to work with a campaign to just sign up to volunteer and work really hard. A career in campaigns is all about networking. At training, they joked about us being able to throw our resumes out the window now, but it really is true. Almost everyone I’ve talked to on the campaign got the job because they had worked with someone in the past. It’s just really important to work hard and do a good job in any situation because your coworkers could look to hire you in the future.

My favorite part of my internship, and now my job, is that I feel like I’m actually making a difference. I really am committed to electing Senator Mark Warner and Norm Mosher and that makes all the work worthwhile. I really hope that my efforts will help the voter turnout in a midterm election.

Going back to Tulane, I’m excited to build off the experience that I’m having. I plan on declaring a double major in Communications, because that’s the side of campaigning that interests me the most. My goal is to work with a political communications team in my next internship. The future is still very unclear for me, but I’d love to work on another campaign in the future, even if I have to finish school first!

A Wonderful Summer

My final weeks at The Family Institute were the perfect culmination of a summer’s hard work. Ironically, I actually miss my once dreaded daily commute to and from Evanston in Chicago rush-hour traffic. Even more, I miss the work I was doing, the knowledge I was attaining, and the people I had the pleasure to work with.

During my final two weeks at The Family Institute, I was able to attend a graduate level course in marriage and family therapy, presented my literature review on the impacts of parental war deployment on child outcomes, began work on an independent project regarding how spousal communication style impacts war-time resiliency, and celebrated the summer’s accomplishments through a farewell ceremony.

The Family Institute offers graduate programs in Counseling Psychology as well as Marital and Family Therapy. I was lucky to attend a second-level marriage and family therapy course about group therapy. Specifically, the instructor addressed how to be an effective group therapist and run a group therapy session efficiently. The experience was interesting not only for the subject matter, but also helped me delineate my own career aspirations. I garnered a greater understanding for the populations marital and family therapists often serve, and the presenting problems of these clients. I left the course confident in my desire to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

As mentioned above, I also began formulating my own independent research project based upon literature I read while conducting my assigned literature review. Fortunately, my mentor at The Family Institute, Dr. Knobloch-Fedders, agreed to work with me from a distance. Therefore, I will be conducting research analysis at Tulane during my junior year, using data that was originally collected and stored back in Evanston. My project is on the impact of parental communication style on resiliency. In particular, whether the way in which spousal reports of communication can be a predictive factor in PTSD diagnosis. My goal is to present any significant findings on a poster at a psychology conference of my choosing in the coming year.

My final day in Evanston comprised of sharing memories from a great summer. As each intern shared his or her favorite experiences, I fully realized my gratitude for the wonderful opportunity I was presented with. I know The Family Institute will always be a home to me, and I look forward to my next psychological adventure!

Challenges and Opportunities in Building the Hardware to Change the World

Two weeks into the internship, and we’re packing up a 15 passenger van with 2 tons of steel, 13 people, and enough food and equipment for a week of camping. We’re driving to Wisconsin to lead our first workshop on the CEB Press at Mid State Technical College, and showcasing it at the renewable energy fair. We’ve all finished out module instructionals and have received some elementary training on welding. Here we go.

A lot as gone on since I arrived, and we’re all pretty well versed in the rhythms of doing intensive collaborative work. A few days before we left, I had a long talk with Catarina Mota, an Open Source Pioneer who works with OSE, about her most recent research on the changing landscape of technology, hardware, and democracy across the world. We discussed how there is a growing discourse around the need to find some means of democratizing technology, and that this is a widely agreed upon sentiment in many academic spheres. But, as Catarina pointed out, very few people are talking about DOING as a means of democratizing. Some people will suggest shifting policies, others want a means of community control, but who is talking about democratizing technology by crowd sourcing it? This helped give me some perspective on the impact Open Source Ecology is having on the world. They are the leading organization in Open Source Hardware, and they are doing their work on a global scale. More importantly, they are living proof that this model of open collaboration is viable and achievable even when you are collaboration is often spatially limited (you need to be in the same place at the same time to build a machine together, unlike collaborative computer coding or information compilation).

But still, I wonder about the challenges we face on the way. I write as if their model is flawless and efficient, but it is far from it. We met many of these challenges in the past few weeks. It turns out modular is not necessarily as clean and easy as I suggested. There are tons of tiny design flaws that are not realized until after the machine is built, there are many different formats of designing and building that are not necessarily aligned with one another. There are many questions around the kind of efficiency that we want (sure, we can build an entire house in a day, but shouldn’t we allow it to take more time so we can anticipate some of the structural problems before putting it all together?).

And what about the challenges of people working together? There is a type of diversity strongly present at OSE—that of geography, perspective, life goals, and nationalities, but there is also a degree of homogeneity present as well. The majority of people here identifies as White, Straight, come from middle class backgrounds, attended college, and so on. Being at OSE is a privilege in itself; to take time of work, pay money to work here, have access to information and knowledge necessary to be a valuable asset to the team. I wonder just how Open Source we can be. When we say that anyone can access and use this technology, what we are really saying is that anyone who knows about this project with the time, care, and knowledge necessary to engage with it, can access it.

In my darkest thoughts, I wonder if this is hardware really for the people, or if it is another form of collaboration meant only for the educated and privileged enclaves of individuals across the world. Are we building viable alternatives or building a self-help network?

I also wonder a lot about how people react to the kind of project that OSE is: intensive, built on sweat and powered by vision, deep radical potential, and so on. I think people, especially young progressive college students, have a set of expectations in their mind about how this kind of work is supposed to pan out. People don’t expect reality to smack them in the face: this is really hard work. Lots of hours, lots of crises, no 5-star hotel accommodations. It gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The septic system might not have enough diffusers, the pump might be broken, and the weather might kill all of your tomato plants. You have to deal. Be calm under pressure. It’s not that bad. I’ve learned that many people are not ready for this. We make plans and want to stick to them (but you know what they say… the Universe laughs in your face when you make plans). I should say that I’ve spent many years in thought about this, about how people react to these situations, and why I think they do, and what I have to say about it (with a lot of boring personal backstory to how I got here), but I suppose that I am simply trying to establish that there are a multitude of challenges on many different levels that we face.

But these are the dark thoughts. OSE is creating something powerfully imaginative and dangerously impactful and I am most proud that I have the privilege to be a part of it. This work is, after all, what I want to spend my life doing!

Sam Kiyomi

Open Source Ecology: Taking Back Our Means of Production

In the great state of MO there is a little town called Maysville. Maysville is a farming town, acres of corn and soy surround the small central Missouri town. About a mile outside of the city limits, off a little gravel road is a 30-acre compound. The entrance has a small sign: “Open Source Ecology” stenciled on to a piece of plywood. There are little huts made of mud, a few houses made of compressed earth bricks, and a workshop with several of every power tool you could imagine. Inside of a small silo out back is 10 tons of steel. Steel is like tomatoes: $1/lb. Big 4″ steel square tubing with holes cut every 2″ makes the building blocks for life-sized erector set machines. Along with engines and pumps they are put together in different ways to make tractors, trenchers, hay bailers, brick presses, and tillers, which are lined up in a row behind an old beaten-down workshop. There are no vegetables growing, but 2 acres of land has been freshly rowed up; we’re going to plant them. We stay inside a small hackerspace/dormitory called the HabLab. In the small hacker space we are greeted by young people from all over the world. An Alaskan fisherman, a Grad student from Rio de Janerio, a financer from Miami who just sold his condo and quit his job to start a new open-source life, a genius construction worker from Canada, and undergraduate students from all over the country. We’re all here for the same reason: to build the Global Village Construction Set. Open Source Ecology came up with the GVCS four years ago. Fifty different machines that are believed to be the necessary components for a small-scale sustainable civilization to exist: wind turbines, tractors, tillers, 3D printers, CNC torch tables, Induction furnaces, welders, brick presses, and so on. Now they are journeying on the long process of designing and fabricating each one of them to meet industry standards of performance with their own unique standards: 1. It has to be cheap—each of their machines costs a fraction of the cost from proprietary makers. Industrial scale bulldozers cost about $250,000, they expect to be able to build one for $30,000. 2. Modular–each machine is broken down into several modules. These are independently functioning devices that, when put together on a proper interface, form whole machines. This allows them tons of flexibility in the building procedures, allows them to design and build machines in a fraction of the time it would normally take, and allows them to mix and match modules from different machines to produce new ones. Say we have a machine we want to design and build. So we break it down into 10 different modules. Now each person takes a module and designs it on their computer in parallel, cutting the time it takes to design in half. Now the same people, using their CAD files, build each module, cutting the time it takes to build in half again. All you have to do is connect each module at the end, and you have a machine! 2. Life-Time Design—rejecting practices of planned obsolescence, they build their machines meant to last for a lifetime. They use quick connect hydraulic hoses (easily detachable and moveable), they use universal parts that are easy to find and cheap to buy anywhere, each facet of the machine is easily accessible and replaceable. 3. DIY– If anyone has the necessary tools and space, they ought to be able to build these machines without any prior experience or knowledge. They are working to dispel the black magic around engineering. Detailed videos and instructions help anyone build their own machine 4. Open Source– All documentation is put up online free for anyone to replicate, reuse, or make their own derivatives off of. No patents, just collaboration. Anyone can contribute, anyone can participate, anyone can use. They want to democratize hardware and technology and they want a collaborative global effort to make it happen. I think one of the essential questions at hand in their work is HOW can we put the means of production into the hands of the people, HOW can we make it easier for us to get basic human needs met in an affordable and globally replicable fashion. I stress the ‘how,’ because I believe that it is a central premise to the organization; how can we make this happen? I found out about Open Source Ecology through my work at an Urban Farm in New Orleans. A documentary team from Los Angeles stopped by our project two years ago and told us they wanted to film a doc on what it takes to ignite The Spark in people to actualize viable alternative ways of life and living (like taking the red pill and disassembling The Matrix). The documentary was about us and OSE. The film crew wanted the two projects to meet, so last year a bunch of my coworkers went up to Missouri and built a tractor in 3 days and drove it back down to New Orleans (I had to stay for class >:| ). We’ve been using the LifeTrac for over a year. I was helping Marcin, the founder of the project, with some recruiting throughout the school year, and I felt like it was finally high time to get up there. In the first few days we got quickly oriented, catching up to the fast paced collaborative dialogue and action. There was tons of work to do. In a couple of weeks, we were to drive up to Wisconsin to lead a workshop on building the CEB Press machine, build it, then showcase it at the renewable energy fair. So we had to learn fast. We spent most of the morning working on detailed instructionals for the Brick Press. The machine has about 12 functioning modules, so we each took one and developed instructions independently. You can check out mine here: Main Cylinder (not finished, always a work in progress, but you’ll catch the drift). We had to learn how to weld, the basics of hydraulic mechanization, and a few other things to make it all work. The second half of the day, we were on the ground doing hands-on work. Tons of work to do: the soffits still needed to be put on the building we were staying in, scrap metal needed to be organized, machines needed to be deconstructed, irrigation needed to be laid out. Never any shortage of work. As for my learning goals, this is what I set myself for my month-long trip 1. To be able to understand and articulate the challenges of and opportunities for democratizing technology and hardware. 2. Basic hands-on training in welding, metal work, engineering, carpentry. 3. Gain experience with this particular model of collaborative work. 4. I’m not sure exactly what to call this goal– I want to grow with the zen habit of mind of working with people and working with machinery (See Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for the inspiration). 5. Set up relationships to bring the OSE connection to New Orleans. (Seriously, I think a lot of people, especially the TU SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE *COUGHCOUGH* would really be excited with the possibilities I’ve encountered. See more on the Microhouse as an example).


Next post coming shortly!


Sam Kiyomi

Conclusion of my internship at Mobile Baykeeper

Hey guys! I’m also in disbelief that my internship with Mobile Baykeeper has already come to an end this summer. It was a fantastic opportunity and experience that has benefited me tremendously, and I am so excited about the knowledge and experience I have gained throughout this summer.

Specific tasks and accomplishments from my internship that have supported my learning goals, as mentioned in my previous post, have included researching and compiling a word document of city strategies and approaches for achieving sustainability as a city, and also my involvement in organized cleanup events throughout the city of mobile. When I first set off to begin my internship, my learning expectations and goals included bettering my skills at researching, brainstorming, gaining public support through education, and implementing my plan in a successful manner. Through my research and the cleanup events, I feel as though I accomplished each of these, while leaving the last one up to the staff at Mobile Baykeeper to carry out for me now that I’m no longer there! Through my research of effective environmental strategies and programs found in cities within the U.S., I have expanded my knowledge of sustainable city planning significantly. I have also experienced firsthand what it takes to effectively educate the public about environmental issues and their mitigation through the educational cleanup events I helped with throughout the summer.

I will build off this experience during the rest of my time at Tulane and beyond in many ways. Firstly, as I mentioned in my previous post, this experience solidified my determination and desire to spend the rest of my life helping cities, states, and countries become more sustainable and environmentally healthy. It’s amazing to me that after spending three months working at Mobile Baykeeper, it only makes me crave the opportunity to do similar work even more. This craving motivates me tremendously going into my first semester as a USG senator. I will be within the Student Life committee working specifically on environmental issues and mitigation on Tulane’s campus, and will use the knowledge and experience I gained during my time at Mobile Baykeeper to work hard at making Tulane one of the most sustainable universities within the U.S. My time at Mobile Baykeeper will also give me more knowledge, understanding, and perspective in my environmental studies courses this year (I’m a poli sci and environmental studies double major), and allow me to think back and remember which city strategies would help mitigate each environmental issue we discuss/learn about.

After completing my internship, I now want to focus solely on the mitigation of environmental issues from the government’s perspective. After working at Mobile Baykeeper, one of the things that became most apparent to me was the importance of government action in truly creating a sustainable future. Without the necessary government action, accomplishing our environmental goals will be very, very difficult. Therefore, the next internship experience I would like to have is one within any level of government (city, state, or federal), working to implement the strategies I researched this past summer.

Advice I would give to a student interested in an internship with Mobile Baykeeper would be the following:

1) Ask as many questions as you can. The staff members at Mobile Baykeeper are always very busy, understandably, so they are usually very focused on their next task at hand. If you ask questions, they are more than willing to answer them. This helped me learn tremendously!

Advice I would give to a student interested in this industry/field would be:

1) Be patient! Making progress on mitigating environmental issues takes a ton of patience and time. Unfortunately, opposition will always be present when attempting to make positive change, especially when it clashes with monetary interests, but if you continue to work hard at educating those around you about the importance of sustainability and its many benefits (and creating an effective way to accomplish your environmental goals) you will succeed!

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for a fantastic summer and this wonderful opportunity. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your blogs and keeping up with your incredible experiences tremendously, and I’m so excited that each of us had such a wonderful learning experience this summer. I cannot thank CELT and Mr. Thomas enough for giving me this opportunity, and I hope that, now and in the future, I can help these great people as much as they helped me this summer.


Thanks again, I can’t wait to see all of you at the celebration soon!

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!



goodbye Moxie

Having completed my summer at Moxie, I am now left to reflect on the amazing experience I had and the immense growth I experienced and witness throughout the six weeks. The following areas are all tied for most improved:


1.) Confidence in the classroom. This was a big one, both for the girls and myself. I really had to tune in to my own intuition to cater to girls’ needs and bring them out of their shells. Some girls were strong oral and visual learners, some were better with written assessments, and some simply needed additional individual attention. I can say that, by the end of the program, I had 100% active participation in my classes – a massive increase from week 1.

2.) Academic growth. On the second-to-last day at Moxie, the girls took the diagnostic that they were given week 1 of the program. Not only did the majority of girls show improvement in at least one of the two subjects (math and science), but also the efforts displayed by each girl had increased. Girls were attempting to do difficult problems instead of skipping them or giving up.

3.) Improved personal relationships. The hardest part of leaving Moxie was saying goodbye to the girls. By the end, I had formed unique relationships with most of them, even girls that I never expected to bond with. Like saying goodbye to any friend, it was sad and difficult, but also contained the extra weight of not knowing if/when I will see these girls again, and of the uncertainty about what will become of them.


Through Moxie, I experienced firsthand many of the issues that plague the New Orleans public school system, such as poverty, inconsistent attendance and inadequate resources. Having worked in New Orleans public schools in the past, and hoping to continue that work, I would like to really focus in on those specific problems. I believe that the system must be fixed from within, and addressing these issues can pave the way for a public school system in which parents can be proud to enroll their children.


To a future Moxie intern, my main piece of advice would be to really take the time to get to know each and every one of the girls. Spend one-on-one time with them, ask them about their weekends and home lives, and take advantage of your free periods to just observe them. You will end up with more than pupils – you will have new friends and babies.


To an aspiring teacher, my advice is to STAY ON TOP OF YOUR LESSON PLANS. DO NOT GET BEHIND. You will regret it. Also, survey your students at all opportunities. Get feedback on what they like and dislike and on your performance. Make sure to align your teachings with the appropriate grade level standards for your state. Last, but certainly not least, implement different teaching strategies and tactics for different students – really cater to the individual as much as possible.


To a student hoping to enter the nonprofit sector, my advice is to be flexible – especially with a start-up. There will be kinks of all kinds. Go with the flow, have back-up plans and be ready to improvise if necessary. Get creative – enlist the help of friends, family, etc. if you need additional resources.


Overall, Moxie taught me that despite being born into rough circumstances, everyone is not their circumstance. By addressing issues such as poverty, violence and abuse at a young age, we can help young people rise above these hardships. Children must grow up learning that they have the ability to go to college and be successful regardless of what they come from.

Final Post

This summer has been so busy – I really enjoyed my nine weeks at Innocence Project New Orleans. I have completed all of the learning objectives that I formulated at the beginning of the summer. I will miss working with such a great organization, the staff, and my fellow interns. I feel much more confident in my ability to contribute to issues about which I am passionate. My research and writing skills have improved, as well as my capacity to work full-time in an office environment. I am now comfortable with legal settings such as courtrooms, prisons, and legal offices. I was able to finish several major projects, giving me a sense of accomplishment at the end of my internship.

From this experience, I will be able to approach the rest of my time at Tulane with a more critical eye towards the criminal justice system and societal structures in general. I hope to find another legal internship before I graduate that can help me to build upon my experience at IPNO. This internship also gave me a clearer view of law school and my options following law school. I would also like to investigate restrictions on the enrollment of convicted felons in public housing and limitations on the voting rights of those who were incarcerated. I would also be interested in interning with some government entity to see that facet of public interest work.

For a student interested in interning at IPNO, I would recommend that they be open-minded about cases and experiences – it can be difficult to read about crimes or meet with people who have experienced horrible oppression. It is also important for interns to take initiative in their work. I think it would be helpful for anyone interning in this field to read current literature on relevant issues and be aware of news about the criminal justice system.

My ideas of social justice have been challenged – I realize now that public interest work is much more complicated than it initially appears. Good intentions can lead to negative outcomes, and our criminal justice system is not clear-cut. I have learned that to be an effective change agent I need to be confident in my abilities to act, but also able to integrate the views of others into my approaches.

A Sad Goodbye


This shot from our first day was posted all around the office on Thursday. Going to miss my intern class!

This shot from our first day was posted all around the office on Thursday. Going to miss my intern class!

Thursday was the last day of my internship with AmeriCares. As I walked around the office saying my goodbyes, I was surprised at just how sad I was to go. I had truly immersed myself as part of this organization. It is a bittersweet end. I am leaving, but not without a new perspective, new friends, and new work experience.

I had updated more than 50 contacts for their emergency response appeals, I had complied research on six new sources for fundraising in the online gaming sphere, and I had written acknowledgements and analyzed third-party giving sites, it really was a comprehensive product of what development does in a nonprofit organization. I was also able to dip my toes into communications in designing marketing materials for AmeriCares Student Ambassador Program.

The opportunities to address my goals came naturally. The program strongly encouraged networking, and I was able to exchange information with not two employees but more than ten. Networking also pushed me to work on my communication skills and think about where I want to go next after completing this internship. I was really interested in what communications and multi-media were working on so those were two areas where I reached out the most. As I began working on research and updating contacts, developing organization methods and finding the best way of extracting information, was critical to making deadlines and prioritizing my schedule.

Some of my biggest takeaways were communication skills, researching and reporting techniques, and an understanding of how a nonprofit operates. This knowledge will help me in the future as I decide what field of work I want to explore and pursuing and securing a position in that field. If I do decide that nonprofit work is for me, I have a much better grasp of what that entails. Although AmeriCares operates much like any organization, there are certain differences. There is careful mind to budget, and how budgets, reports, and press releases contribute to nonprofit ratings and public appearance. It appeared that the approval process for external communications was much stricter for reasons of public perception as well, in addition to regular company policy, copyrights, and messaging consistency.

I would definitely encourage anyone to pursue work in not only the nonprofit sector, but also global health or emergency response. The work is extremely important and fulfilling, and it also attracts a certain type of person. Everyone at the organization is so caring and dedicated to what they do– they know that working harder means helping more people. For my first internship I could not have worked with a better group, everyone was willing to take time to welcome me and make sure my questions were answered.

Working at AmeriCares has changed how I look at disasters and global health issues. I watch the news and I read the paper, but it’s so different when you talk directly with people who have witnessed disaster first hand, and especially disasters that don’t even make it to the media headlines. Just this week we had a meeting with two directors from partner organizations who work in Sierra Leone and Liberia who came to speak about the Ebola crisis in Africa. These health care workers quite literally put their lives in danger to help people. They are clearly exhausted and weary from the horrors they’ve seen, but they continue to fight and do not let statistics break their spirit. These people inspire me make change and confront global issues, because it is clear from talking to them that one person can make a difference.

Getting the opportunity to talk with people who work on the frontlines is part of what has made my internship experience so meaningful. I had the chance not to read about disasters or programs, but talk with the people who witnessed disasters and initiated programs. Through pictures and reports I got to see the faces of children and families consumed with emotion whether it was joy or devastation. The stories were real and it proved to me that there is a human touch to everything AmeriCares does.