A Postcard From: Xinyan Wang ’18

Name: Xinyan Wang
Class Year: 2018
Major: French Literature and Francophone Studies
Hometown: Tianjin, China

Internship Placement: Supportive Housing Network of NY/Fresh Films
Job Title: Internship with the Chief Digital Officer
Location: New York, N.Y.

I helped to prepare and participated in one of the largest annual conferences that the Supportive Housing Network holds in the year three days into my internship. This experience was both challenging and exciting. I assisted Sarah, my supervisor and also the Chief Digital Officer at Network, to communicate with the AV team that assisted and recorded our conference, solved some technical problems on the day of conference, and uploaded the recordings of all the conferences to the YouTube Channel of the Network. After the conference, I helped offering and taking down the suggestions to restructure the official website of the Network, and update the website every day.

For Sarah’s documentary project, I did some research for her shooting later this year in China. She is making a documentary on Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) so I did my research on relevant doctors studying FMT in China and possible social media platforms that the film team could look for Chinese patients that are taking FMT.

The reason that I applied to this internship is that I felt it is THE perfect choice for me. I have deep passion in filmmaking and film studies and I’ve taken a documentary course at Haverford which aroused my interest in documentary films. In addition, I am also passionate about nonprofit organizations. I volunteered in an educational nonprofit organization last summer and the experience was memorable. Therefore, when I saw this opportunity, which is a combination of the two things that I’m passionate about, I knew that this is exactly what I’ve been looking for as an internship.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship is my supervisor! She is such a gorgeous person! I feel so lucky and grateful to have her as my supervisor. I learn from her every single day and I mean it. I not only learn how to do the technical things in my work from her, but more importantly, I learn how to communicate with people, how to be organized, and how to navigate between jobs and family. She values my opinion in every decision she made. She not only engages me in her work at Supportive Housing Network and her documentary project, but she also encourages and supports my independent project. Under her support, I started my independent short film project during my internship and got much valuable advice from her. She is an honorable, strong woman.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

I got a deeper understanding of the topic of Sarah’s documentary, a microbiological one, after doing researche for her. I’d never learned about Fecal Microbiota Transplant before and microbiology has never been this close to me. Helping Sarah recruiting patients online through social media platforms, I learned about the experiences of some of the patients and how something I barely knew about had such great impact on their and their children’s lives. This experience is shocking for me.

Another thing I’ve never thought that I would start thinking about after my internship with Sarah is my attitude about my life. Under the protection and support of my parents, I never ever imagined my without them, or in a new family. Getting to know Sarah’s family made me start considering myself as an individual that will have my own life independent of my previous family. What kind of life I want to live? What are some expectations I have for my future family? I started to wonder about these questions. These are absolutely things I should keep ruminating as my life goes and I can’t tell right now what my final decision would be.

 

A Postcard From: Isabella Nugent ’18

Name: Isabella Nugent
Class Year: 2018
Major: International Studies
Hometown: Green Brook, N.J.

Internship Placement: The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Job Title: Archival Research Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

Over the course of the summer, I conducted archival research to inform the curation/renovation of the Penn Museum’s African galleries. Under the leadership of advisory curator Dr. Monique Scott, I worked within a team of three Bryn Mawr students/alumni to conduct visitor research studies and investigate how “Africa” has been historically represented in the Penn Museum and in similar institutions.

However, the bulk of my time has been spent assisting the head curator, Dr. Tufuku Zuberi, gather provenance information for the objects intended for the future exhibition. Dr. Zuberi has a bold vision for the renovated galleries and intends to explore the complicated provenance of the collection. Together, our team dug through the Penn Museum’s archives to establish how the objects in the African galleries arrived at the museum with a focus on uncovering their colonial histories. We traced objects back from their creation and saw how they traded hands from the artist to dealers, tourists, ethnographers, and military leaders through letters, receipts, and photographs. I can’t reveal too much about our findings as the exhibition is still being developed, but I am extremely excited for Dr. Zuberi’s vision and to see the gallery opening.

Why did you apply for this internship?

When I was part of the Dalun-BiCo Summer Action Research Fellowship the summer after my freshman year, part of our experience included a visit to the African galleries in the Penn Museum. I was deeply disturbed by the language and presentation of objects in the “Imagine Africa” exhibit as it seemed to treat the continent of Africa as an exotic monolith. When I heard of the opportunity to work under Dr. Monique Scott to conduct research for the renovated galleries, I leapt at the opportunity. I wanted to be part of the team that would radically change the exhibit. Overall, I am extremely grateful for Museum Studies Program for the incredible experience I had working at the Penn Museum this summer.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

I loved so many aspects about this internship, from getting to learn from the wonderful Monique Scott to the loveliness of the other interns to the pure fun of being in a museum all day. However, what I appreciated most was being able to work with incredible archival materials. Just the feeling of being able to piece a complicated story together was such a fun and revealing experience and I never got over the shock of being able to hold such an important letter or photo in my own hands. This experience fueled my love for history and my belief in the importance of archival work.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?


I did not expect to this internship to be as hands-on as it was and I was pleasantly surprised. At other internships, interns are delegated menial tasks and learn little from their experience. This was not the case for us. We communicated directly with the head curator and we were entrusted with important research responsibilities. I was able to work with invaluable archival materials and I was given so much support every step of the way. This level of trust and freedom is what makes this internship experience stand out from every other.

A Postcard From: Tara Wadhwani ’18

Name: Tara Wadhwani
Class Year: 2018
Major: Political Science, French
Hometown: Pune, India

Internship Placement: The Nationalities Service Center
Job Title: Resettlement and Community Integration Intern
Location: Philadelphia

My role at the nationalities Service Center has been versatile, and I get to work on a really diverse variety of projects.

I started out mostly planning events that The Nationalities Service Center (NSC) was hosting, including a press conference in honor of World Refugee Day, as well as a World Refugee Day festival which took place in the City Hall courtyard. I’ve also been involved in client airport pickups and home visits, where we pick newly arrived refugees up from the airport and take them to their new apartments. I’ve also been doing a lot of French interpretations to help our clients communicate with their case managers, and vice versa.

My most consistent project has been working to gather resources for LGBT+ refugees, and helping to lay the foundations of a weekly support group for this community, who are among the most vulnerable clients at NSC.

I applied to this internship because I saw it as an opportunity to explore the ways in which nonprofits can work to address the needs of their diverse client-base, taking into account the different identities and intersections of identity using their services.

I was really fortunate that the coordinators of Summer of Service were in contact with my supervisor and knew my interests well enough to be able to connect me with her. Summer of Service was a great support system for me, and it was nice having Ellie and Vippy as a resource while I was stressed about finding a placement. I also really liked that NSC is located in Center City Philadelphia, and I got to know and explore the city much more than I ever had before, despite the fact that I am going into my senior year.

The biggest challenge I have faced at my internship is remaining culturally conscious and competent while spending time with the clients, especially during the LGBT+ support group. Because the populations NSC works with are often survivors of torture, human trafficking, and other trauma-inducing experiences, I aimed to listen intently, offer support, while still maintaining professional boundaries. Also, when discussing LGBT+ specific issues, I tried my best to refrain from imposing my own culturally specific understanding of these issues, and be open to the clients’ individual perspectives

A Postcard From: Meghna Patny ’18

Name: Meghna Patny
Class Year: 2018
Major: Psychology and Spanish
Hometown: Short Hills, N.J.

Internship Placement: Puentes Hacia el Futuro
Job Title: Tutor
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

At this internship, I am working with other tutors as teachers in a bilingual classroom with elementary school students. All of them are of Spanish-speaking backgrounds and are bilingual in English and Spanish. As a tutor, it is my responsibility to encourage and assist the students with their learning and design lessons in which their reading and writing skills are applied. Often, it is a challenge to get the students engaged in schoolwork, especially during the summer. For this reason, we try to add as many “non-academic” activities as possible. For example, we have art lessons once a week in which students are given an opportunity to develop a different part of the brain. Other days, we challenge the students with scrabble competitions. Overall, the kids seem to enjoy it and gain a lot from it. As one of the tutors in the classroom, I admit that it can sometimes be a bit chaotic working with so many young people, but in the end, I feel it is a very rewarding way to spend my time.

Why did you apply for this internship?

After graduation, I hope to work as a teacher with this population in perhaps a bilingual classroom. Therefore, when I read the description of this internship, I was immediately attracted to it! I am so glad that I did apply, as this is something that aligns almost perfectly with my long-term goals. In fact, working in this position has further solidified these goals; I feel quite certain that this is something that I would love to continue in the future.

Another factor that particularly interested me in this internship was the fact that the interns would be the lead teachers in the classroom. We are not simply teacher assistants, but rather the teachers themselves. This gave a unique experience of teaching that is often not possible to do during the school year and can only be done during the summer. Another factor that is only possible during the summer is the fact that we can go on field trips every week. Learning in a classroom is often limiting, but getting the opportunity to see what the students learn in the field is simply not an option during the school year with only one teacher in the classroom.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

As cliché as it might sound, my favorite part of this internship is the students. They are the reason that I am so excited to go to work every morning. The students are often eager to learn and that makes teaching them so easy. The days they are not active, it is so exciting to play games that make them energized. Sometimes they surprise me with the amount of insight they have on so many important topics, and I can forget that they are only nine or 10 years old. Other times, they act like silly preteens and that is just as fun! They remind me to have fun even as an adult.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

One thing that I did not expect to learn with this internship was how to collaborate with other people. I knew that there would be several tutors in each classroom, but I had not anticipated having so many disagreements in the methods we used. I learned about many different perspectives on several topics that had to do with the students. Because I have had a lot of experience working as a teacher, I thought certain aspects of the internship would be simple. However, working with the other tutors showed me different angles to the same issue, some of which I would have never thought of on my own. I am glad that there are so many people to learn from, as it is making me a better tutor.

A Postcard From: Connie Lam ’18

Name: Connie Lam
Class Year: 2018
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Malden, Mass.

Internship Placement: Boston University Medical Campus Ophthalmology Department
Job Title: Undergraduate Researcher
Location: Boston, Mass.

What’s happening at your internship? 

I currently intern at BU Medical in the ophthalmology department under a professor whose focus area is in glaucoma. The project that I am working on is a 3D reconstruction project, meaning that thousands of pictures are taken of each section of the eye and in each of the slides, I trace cells and giant vacuoles and mark pores in order to better understand how glaucoma exists through piecing together each of the slides together to create a 3D image.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because optometry was something that I was thinking about going into for a couple years now and this would be a way for me to learn more about the eyes and see if this is something that I could see myself doing in the future. I chose this specific professor because I knew that glaucoma was a specific eye disease that I wanted to focus on as my grandmother has glaucoma, and that was what had initially got me interested in optometry.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

The biggest challenge that I’ve faced in this internship is that coming in, I wanted to do something involving wet lab research but was told that I would not be able to due to the fact that 10 weeks would not be enough time to master the skill and have a meaningful project that I could start and finish. After talking to the PI of the lab, I was given a project that although does not have a wet lab component, is something that I understand the meaning of and see the big picture of, which in the end was what caught my attention and got me interested and invested in the project.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

So far, this isn’t the internship that I expected it to be since I had come into this thinking that I would be learning more on the wet lab research aspect of ophthalmology, but I actually really like where I am now. Even though I’m not doing wet lab, the things that I’m doing, even if it may get repetitive and boring at times, I understand why I need to do it and being able to see the big picture keeps me going. I feel like not doing wet lab has made me read more papers about what it is that I’m doing and allows me to learn more about the structure and problems of the eye more.

A Postcard From: Wenqi Wang ’18

Name: Wenqi Wang
Class Year: 2018
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Wuzhou, China

Internship Placement: Summer Science Research
Job Title: Student researcher
Location: Bryn Mawr College

What’s happening at your internship?

I am doing research about data analysis using nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF) under the supervision of Professor Dianna Xu in the Computer Science Department at Bryn Mawr College. For the past several weeks, I have been reading academic literature on NMF, learning about statistical methods, and working on a chemistry dataset to try to uncover patterns that govern the success and failure of crystallization.

Why did you apply for this internship?

One reason is that I want to experience what research is like, which will be helpful as I am applying to grad schools in the coming fall. This experience will also better prepare me for more advanced studies after graduation. Another reason is that I want to explore something that combines both math and computer science, which is what I am interested in doing in the future.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

I learned about this research opportunity in an email sent out by a Computer Science professor at Bryn Mawr. Although I was only a minor in CS and I have never taken classes with this professor, I decided to ask about this opportunity and express my interest. I did not have much hope as I applied but luckily ended up receiving an offer in the program.

 

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

I have worked on my self-teaching skills, as I needed to plod through academic papers and textbooks on areas that I was not familiar with. My problem solving skills have also improved as I learned to code in a new language and as I tackled the dataset from scratch.

A Postcard From: Heather Liang ’18

Name: Heather Liang
Class Year: 2018
Major: Growth and Structure of Cities
Hometown: San Jose, Calif./Beijing, China

Internship Placement: Department of Planning and Development — Policy and Analysis Division (Philadelphia City Planning Commission), Mayor’s Internship Program
Job Title: Planning Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

My summer has been extremely fast-paced, and even more enriching. I am working at the Philadelphia City Planning Commission—newly integrated into the Department of Planning and Development—as my field placement in the Philadelphia Mayor’s Internship Program. My primary project at the Planning Commission is a parking inventory of Philadelphia’s University City District. I am working closely with the city’s transportation planner, David Kanthor, to produce a report that will benefit policymakers, business owners, developers and community members in and beyond UCD.

I have been analyzing data that the PCPC has collected about parking facilities, and gathered more data through both onsite and virtual surveys. Using geographic information system software ArcGIS and CycloMedia’s Globespotter, I am able to compile, analyze, and visually represent parking data in the context of UCD’s built environment and existing infrastructure. We will be able to use details about parking location, capacity, occupancy, and rates, along with parking and transportation policy of UCD institutions, to make recommendations for the future of parking in UCD. One of the big assignments that I tackled was a virtual survey of on-street parking capacity in University City. For the first time, PCPC can use detailed on-street data for more in-depth understanding and analysis of parking.

In addition to this project, I have also had the opportunity to attend meetings about a wide array of planning topics, such as Vision Zero traffic safety, downtown freight and delivery, bike trails, urban agriculture, and more!

As part of the Mayor’s Internship Program, the Mayor’s interns come together once a week to hear from panels of city employees in different department, attend leadership development trainings, and visit municipal operation facilities. These sessions have been fun and informative additions to my role at the Planning Commission.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I knew that I wanted to stay in Philadelphia this summer, and really familiarize myself with and take advantage of the vast urban laboratory that has been a short train-ride away for the past three years. I learned of the Mayor’s Internship Program through my major advisor, and saw it as a great opportunity to aim for a position with the Planning Commission. Not only would I get to work with a department that directly aligns with my interest in planning, but I would also have the unique opportunity to hear first-hand from many city employees and officials, and receive valuable HR training (and meet the mayor!).
Additionally, I wanted to apply for an internship in municipal government as a step toward determining my post-grad career direction. I have worked with a few different nonprofits, so I was interested in seeing what the public sector of the planning world was like, and how it differed from nonprofit work. Working with PCPC has definitely broadened my knowledge of the options ahead of me!

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

One of my favorite parts of this internship has been the opportunity to use ArcGIS to conduct spatial analyses and create maps. I have been eager to practice and learn more about ArcGIS since I took an Intro to GIS course last fall. Applying the skills that I had learned to this parking project, figuring out more operations, and seeing that manifest in real, useful maps was very rewarding. This process has also helped me identify more GIS-related skills that I want to learn! For example, the next project that I want to take on is learning Python coding for GIS operations.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

Throughout my studies, I have not spent a lot of time learning or thinking about transportation. That has changed now that I have spent the summer working with the city’s transportation planner, and done in-depth analyses about car-use and transportation alternatives. I had not realized that there was a world of information, research, and debate about parking! Fun fact: the ideal daytime parking occupancy is 85 percent! It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this is something that planners had put a number on!

Also, unrelated to parking, but a great Philadelphia fact that I learned: the William Penn statue that stands atop City Hall tower is 37 feet tall — making him the tallest statue on top of a building in the world. Also, the statue is hollow: the top of his hat has a latch that opens to the inside!

A Postcard From: Matison Hearn-Desautels ’18

Name: Matison Hearn-Desautels
Class Year: 2018
Major: International Studies (major), Political Science (minor)
Hometown: Takoma Park, Md.

Internship Placement: The Global Fund for Children
Job Title: Programs Intern
Location: Washington, D.C.

What’s happening at your internship?

The Global Fund for Children (GFC) is an NGO in Washington, D.C. By partnering with innovative, locally-led organizations around the world, it aims to support and empower children at the fringes of society through grant giving and capacity building. I am one of two interns with GFC’s program’s department, which works directly with GFC’s many partner organizations. The other intern in my department, Nayanthi Peiris ’18, is a fellow Bryn Mawr student. Together, we work on joint projects which include data management, administrative tasks, and wellness consulting for the GFC team. I work on a number of individual projects as well, for which I have partnered with the program’s regional team for Africa and the Middle East, as well as GFC’s communications department. Specifically, I have written blog posts for GFC’s website, highlighting the work that GFC’s partner organizations do.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for an internship with GFC because I wanted to gain experience in international development, and because the organization’s model is one which I agree with and want to support. I believe that supporting locally-led organizations is one of the best pathways to achieving sustainable development, and so GFC appealed to me as an example of an organization that does so.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

One of the most exciting things about this internship to me has been tackling a project which aims to improve health and wellness for the GFC staff. Together with my fellow intern, Nayanthi Peiris, we have researched and are developing a program to encourage community-building, quality wellness practices and healthy habits within the workplace. We hope that our program could become a resource that GFC could provide to its partner organizations in order to help support these organizations’ staff. (Many times, front-line staff do not receive sufficient support to promote their health and wellbeing, which can be mentally, emotionally and physically damaging). Studies have shown that improved health and wellbeing in the workplace can not only have tremendous individual benefits, but also improves one’s work performance and even team performance.

 

A Postcard From: Tessa Haas ’18

Name: Tessa Haas
Class Year: 2018
Major: History of Art (minor: Museum Studies)
Hometown: Potomac Falls, Va.

Internship Placement: American Philosophical Society Museum
Job Title: Curatorial Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

I’m spending this summer at the American Philosophical Society’s Museum in Old City. APS is the oldest learned society in the United States, with the mission of promoting useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through scholarly research, publication, and community outreach. I’m conducting archival research on objects and manuscripts from APS’ collections, for their upcoming 275th anniversary exhibition opening April 2018. The breadth of research has been very wide, and conducting research each day has been rewarding. Aside from archival research, which takes up the bulk of our time, we are also learning how to use new programs, such as FileMaker, will be conducting a visitor study in the museum next week, and networking with various staff members at both the APS Museum and Library. As a “museum person,” it’s exciting to come into work each day with new tasks (whether that be on researching different subject-matter, or otherwise).

Why did you apply for this internship?

The opportunity to work on such an important, large show is an incredibly rare and unique one, especially as an undergraduate! I also wanted exposure to a smaller museum environment in Philadelphia. As a History of Art major, I absolutely love working with art institutions. However, I wanted to broaden my scope of knowledge within a unique setting. APS is an institution that values art within its collections, along with many scientific and historic objects and manuscripts.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

One of my advisors, Monique Scott, recommended this position to me. I’m a transfer student and began studying at Bryn Mawr last Fall (2016). Last Spring, Monique was my advisor as I completed a PRAXIS internship at Special Collections/PAFA. She advocated for me to get this position at APS, and I’m very thankful for her support in that. Starting off as both a first-year and upperclassman student was daunting at first, but professors like Monique helped me feel incredibly supported in my academic endeavors.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

I started this position assuming it would be like other curatorial internships that I’ve completed at arts institutions. However, the American Philosophical Society is an academically rigorous one; therefore, the scope of the APS’ 275th anniversary show is incredibly vast. I’ve conducted research using collections related to Anthropology, Paleontology, the Founding Fathers, Medicine, Terrestrial Magnetism, Industry, Exploration, Astronomy, and the Arts. We go through these collections and select objects that highlight the incredible contributions of APS Members across disciplines, from its founding in 1743 through the present. Sometimes there are also themes that come up when studying history, such as colonialism, ethnography, institutionally complicit racism and misogyny, and more. Learning how to talk about these subjects in the frame of a museum exhibit has been an incredibly interesting and rewarding experience, and one that was a happy surprise. In classes, I often study and discuss the theory of institutional critique. To go out into the field and curate an exhibit that tackles these difficult subjects is amazing.

 

A Postcard From: Amal Yassin ’18

Name: Amal Yassin
Class Year: 2018
Major: Biology and Psychology
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Internship Placement: Nationalities Service Center (NSC)
Job Title: Assistant Case Manager
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

My internship focused on helping refugees and immigrants through various important processes such as legal protections, community integration, access to health care and opportunities to achieve English language proficiency. I specifically worked in the health and wellness division of this organization in hopes of providing the health access that is critical for all newly arrived refugees and immigrants.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I knew I wanted to use both my Arabic proficiency and my pre-med background in order to help refugees transcend challenging situations. Throughout this internship, I was able to work with many Arabic speaking clients (making up 90% of newly arrived refugees and immigrants), which helped in overcoming the difficult language barrier that many refugees face when arriving to the United States. Additionally, since I was working in the health and wellness team, I was able to use my pre-med background to provide insight and understanding on many medically complex cases.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Three adjectives: Supportive, Optimistic, Understanding
Three nouns: Communication, Integrity, Hope

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

It is difficult to answer this question with a simple “yes” or “no” because in a way, this internship was exactly what I expected and in other ways, I was very surprised. For instance, the work and the services that I assisted with this summer are exactly what I applied for; I was able to combine and use my academic background in pre-med with my Arabic speaking proficiency to assist numerous Middle Eastern families. I was surprised with this internship because I did not expect to build such strong and caring relationships with my clients — many of them quickly became like family, offering me invites to their homes, food and gifts. When I initially applied to this internship, I did not expect it to be hard to say goodbye to my clients but it was one of the most difficult parts of this internship.