Tag Archives: CELT

A Summer in Rwanda with Engineering World Health – Maddy Bishop-Van Horn

My name is Maddy Bishop-Van Horn and I am majoring in Biomedical Engineering (BME) with a minor in Mathematics. I found my internship through a Tulane BME alumni, who came and talked to Tulane’s Biomedical Engineering Society last fall about his experiences working in global healthcare.

Now for the exciting news: This summer, I will be living and working in Rwanda with an organization called Engineering World Health! Engineering World Health (EWH) is a non-profit organization that aims “to inspire, educate, and empower the biomedical engineering community to improve health care delivery in the developing world.” One of the ways EWH is accomplishing this mission is by sending engineering students and young professionals to developing countries to work in hospitals, repairing and installing medical equipment that might otherwise go unused.

On May 30th, I will begin the long, long plane ride to Kigali, Rwanda, where I will be living for the month of June. There, I will be trained in troubleshooting and maintenance of the available medical equipment with the available tools. I will also take language immersion classes in French and Rwanda’s native language, Kinyarwanda.

In July, I will be deployed with one other EWH volunteer to a small village (I don’t know which one yet) to live and work for the remainder of the summer. I will live in a homestay at night and take a public bus to the hospital to work under the supervision of a local biomedical engineering technician. At the hospital, I will have many responsibilities. I will take an inventory of all medical equipment, and then begin working to troubleshoot and repair broken but vital equipment. I will work with the local technician to translate user manuals from English to French and Kinyarwanda. I also hope to talk to doctors and nurses about the kind of equipment they wish they had and what would make their lives easier.

I have a lot of goals for this summer. I hope to make life-long friends. I hope to learn more about global health and where I, as a biomedical engineer, fit. I hope to repair equipment that can save lives, and I hope to challenge my own perspectives.

I am incredibly excited for this summer, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you. Next post will be from Kigali, Rwanda!

Until then,


My last days with Catholic Charities

My internship ended on July 31st, and already I have no idea what to do without my class! It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and even led me to pursue further internship opportunities with Catholic Charities’ Translation/Interpreting department in the fall.

The last day of class was very emotional for my students and me. We finished off the semester watching and discussing the Wes Anderson film “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and then we all played a slightly confusing yet still amusing game of Apples to Apples. My students all brought food from their home countries, including pad Thai, tacos, and pupusas (a dish native to El Salvador). I brought pizza, of course, a food very close to the American culinary heart.

My class was successful not only because I was able to eat amazing home-cooked foods, but because my students and I grew genuinely fond of each other. For instance, I have plans to attend a potluck with some of my students from Thailand and plans to tutor one of my Brazilian students and his wife in English this fall. What I loved best about the class was how familiar we all were with each other. My students often brought friends and family members to class, and on the last day there were several of my students’ children watching “Fantastic Mr. Fox” with us.

For me, the class was worthwhile both professionally and academically. I was able to practice my Portuguese, Spanish, and French language skills with my students and prepare for future language classes at Tulane. I was able to continue building my teaching skill set, learning how to teach students of varied language abilities and gather more teaching materials to take with me to Latin America when I graduate. But more than that, I was able to develop administrative and programming skills during my internship that I would not have been able to had I been merely an ESL teacher and not an administrative intern. I was given the task to set up a presentation about Adult Education classes in New Orleans, a task that was not easy to accomplish at first. When I first tried approaching language access/education groups in New Orleans, I didn’t get much of a response. After repeated efforts however, I was able to get in contact with a representative from Delgado Community College and bring him to our program site. Dozens of students attended the meeting and I was proud to find out that the Catholic Charities’ ESL program will continue bringing Delgado representatives to our program site because of my efforts.

I would like to reiterate how very beneficial this internship has been for me and how much I have learned through it. I know have more skills and ideas to bring back to Tulane and offer to prospective employers. If I had one piece of advice for future interns, not only with non-profits, it would be to be as proactive as possible and develop positions and responsibilities for themselves. No one will give you opportunities, you have to make them.

I would like to thank Dr. Thomas Allen and the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching for awarding me a summer internship grant and my colleagues at Catholic Charities for accepting me as an intern and making me feel so welcome this summer.

Learning to Teach: The beginning of my summer with Catholic Charities

Thanks to my CELT Summer Internship award, I was lucky enough to begin an internship this summer with Catholic Charities’ ESL department. I am a rising senior majoring in Spanish & Portuguese, Linguistics, and English who is interested in translation and second language instruction so I was excited to be given the opportunity to work with Catholic Charities. The Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans provides affordable and reliable English instruction and citizenship classes to our immigrant community, to students who come from Honduras, Vietnam, Brazil, Thailand and many other countries (these are just a few of the nationalities in my class!). I first learned about the Catholic Charities English as a Second Language program based out of Newcomb Hall through a service learning component of my Spanish 1020 class.

Beginning as a Teacher’s Aide, I discovered how much fun I had helping students learn English and I began teaching my own class as a sophomore, leading classes until the spring of my junior year. That year, the Latino Farmers Cooperative gave me the chance to learn about the organizational and administrative aspects of ESL programs when they took me on as a Language Exchange coordinator and then as a grant intern. My internship this summer with Catholic Charities represents a combination of my responsibilities as an ESL teacher and as a program coordinator. Over an intensive seven week program, I will lead a Level 2 ESL class as well as aid in program administration and coordinate informational presentations by local community members for the students.

It wasn’t until the first week of class that I formed a clear picture of what this internship would be. When I signed up for the internship, I was very excited to begin leading an ESL class again, especially because I was given the opportunity to teach a level I had never taught before. But I wanted to gain more experience in non-profit management by observing the program’s office manager and aiding her in her responsibilities. Fortunately, my internship supervisor understands what I want out of this internship, and asked me to help her during the program’s registration session during which I administered a survey to incoming students about potential new services Catholic Charities is developing. Experiences such as this help me learn vital professional skills such as communicating bilingually and helping to coordinate a complex event involving over 90 people. These skills could make me an appealing job candidate when I apply to non-profits in New Orleans when I graduate next year. Keeping these goals in mind, I am excited to continue working with Catholic Charities and learn to successfully coordinate my roles as instructor and program administrator over the course of this summer.

Thanks for reading!

That time I ran into John McCain in the Senate tunnels: Day 2 at CHS


My second day on the job at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security (CHS*), I was trying to find the Senate Judiciary hearing on constitutional amendment SJR 19, when I ran into former Republican presidential nominee and U.S. Senator from Arizona John McCain and the U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders. (In my starstruck hurry to document as unobtrusively as possible my first brush with power, I sort of disregarded any attempt to focus the camera… sorry!)John McCain

Afterwards, a fellow intern leaned in to tell me that I had done a great job being low-key in my paparazzi stunt, because he had just whipped his phone out and started snapping away, which unfortunately did far more to reconfirm my self-consciousness than validate my yuppiness.

I spent a lot of time this first week attending training/orientations/lectures since the House was out of session all this week– it gets pretty slow when the Members aren’t actually here. So far, I’ve had security and ethics training (mandatory for all congressional staff), staff-led tour training (I can now give tours of the Capitol!), and have gotten my official staff badge! So far at the office, the other four interns and I have been drafting briefs of reports, attending lectures, and running errands around the Hill to the Members’ offices, the hearing room, and the Capitol. My favorite activities so far are:Capitol

  • Learning about the recent presidential elections from the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
  • Finding out all the secret tricks and facts about the Capitol for tour training
  • Learning about all the bills ready for markup (this Wednesday) from the directors of each of the Homeland Security Subcommittees at our weekly staff meetings
  • Watching the House vote on a bill that originated in our committee
  • Seeing this everyday:

Some of the most interesting/surprising things I’ve found out so far are:

  • Congress really is hyper-polarized. Everything (e.g. seating, break rooms, committee staff, even pages) is divided so that Republicans have their own and Democrats have their own. The two do not mix.
  • If you look like you know where you’re going, people will assume that you know where you’re going. Even though you really have no clue.
  • “Networking” is a skeezy-sounding term for the very ordinary task of making friends with people, genuinely taking an interest in others, and helping them out when you can. For example, last summer, I was working at the Department of Commerce (DOC) in the International Trade Administration (ITA) when one of my friends asked me more about my internship because she thought it sounded really interesting. Last semester, I forwarded her contact info to my boss when another internship position became available, and now my friend has the job I had last summer. I learned about my current internship in a similar manner.
  • Capitol Police are some of the nicest and most helpful people you will ever meet.
  • *In Washington, something isn’t important until it has an acronym. Perhaps I’ll start signing my emails CVL?

That’s about all from the Hill for now! This week I’m hoping to continue learning abimage[2]out cybersecurity programs and chemical/biological weapons detection technologies in the subcommittee hearing tomorrow and the full committee markup on Wednesday. There’s also a Senate Judiciary hearing on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Wednesday that should also prove to be pretty interesting. Until then, just keep power walking!