A Postcard From: Madeleine Maier ’19

Name: Madeleine Maier
Class Year: 2019
Major: International Studies in the Middle East, Francophone Studies
Hometown: Eugene, Ore.
Internship Placement: VITALS (Valley Immigration Training, Advocacy, and Legal Services)
Job Title: Extern
Location: Springfield, Ore.

What’s happening at your internship?

VITALS is a new nonprofit in the Eugene/Springfield area. They provide low-cost legal services to immigrants in the area, as well as clients all over the U.S. Another mission of the organization is the education of students in immigration law, so I have been very lucky to have an internship that is not centered around making copies or filing. Instead, I am getting the chance to experience many parts of the process: researching asylum cases, meeting with clients, filing out DACA and U-VISA paperwork, observing immigration court, and writing reports.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I was interested in doing some kind of work with immigrants or asylum seekers, so that I could understand the U.S. processes more and maybe have a chance to practice my Arabic, French, and Spanish. I also really appreciate the emphasis on learning for the student interns.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

My internship has been really hands on. Even in my first morning I helped to interview a client for her asylum case, and later wrote up the report. I really love getting the chance to do so many different things in the office and I’m happy to have the chance to work directly with clients, which also helps with my language skills. I’ve also really enjoyed doing research for asylum cases, which require lots of documentation of human rights violations in the client’s home country. For this, I read through newspaper articles, government reports, NGO reports, and academic studies to support our clients’ claims. I am learning a lot about specific human rights issues in different countries, and although it can be hard to read about, it feels very important.

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

The most difficult part of my internship is how emotionally taxing it can be. Asking clients to relive the worst memories of their lives, sometimes for the first time, can feel like a huge responsibility. It’s also difficult to see how few of the cases are accepted by the court—so much of it seems to be down to chance and the mood of the judge that day. The system is unfair and broken, and it can be hard to watch our clients struggle through it. There are no guarantees, as much as we wish there were, and so empathy and compassion are a huge part of the work that I am doing.

A Postcard From: Aldercy Lam ’19

Name: Aldercy Lam
Class Year: 2019
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Philadelphia
Internship Placement: Art-Reach
Job Title: Program Intern
Location: 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

Art-Reach is a tiny team of five, so my everyday responsibilities require assisting any member of the team whenever I’m needed. Because we are in constant communication with human service agencies and art partners (museums, theaters, and cultural organizations), my duties usually fall within that line of correspondence. For example, I process the ticket requests that the agencies send us through a program, and then email our art partners to make it happen. I also mail out thank you letters from our members to Art Partners and donors. Additionally, I get out of the office and assist in adaptive art workshops. This past week I went on a touch tour at the Philadelphia Theatre Company with the Associated Services for the Blind (ASB), where we were able to get on stage and feel the different props.

Why did you apply for this internship?

The initial reason why I was attracted to Art-Reach was because I was passionate in assisting them with their mission. Taking sociology courses opened my eyes to the way systematic inequality has produced real consequences on underserved communities. After taking these courses and declaring a sociology major, I’ve decided that I want to pursue a career where I can support the individuals and families facing these challenges.
At Art-Reach, we accomplish this by bringing art to members of the low-income and disability communities. I was especially interested in this organization because they are based in Philadelphia, where there are an abundance of art programs that are unfortunately often only accessible to wealthy, able-bodied people. At Art-Reach, we bridge this gap by connecting underserved communities with art partners using support from public and private donations.

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

By working at Art-Reach, I’ve learned to check my able-bodied privilege and make sure to be more inclusive by keeping in mind the different accommodations one may need. A common but harmful assumption people make is that a “normal” person is able-bodied. There are people with disabilities and they have to face barriers that those without disabilities do not even think about. I felt guilty when I first realized my ignorance, but now I’m learning how I can make things more accessible for everyone.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

The most rewarding part of my internship would be knowing that I have a direct positive role in supporting communities. Sometimes I can go on tours and live out these experiences with our members, but when I can’t I still know that I’ve helped in getting our members to the play or museum when I process the ticket requests from my cubicle.

A Postcard From: Elena Luedy ’19

Name: Elena Luedy
Class Year: 2019
Major: Growth and Structure of Cities
Hometown: Canton, Mich.
Job Title: Intern Assistant on the Oasis Project
Location: Detroit

What’s happening at your internship?

This summer I am working for a nonprofit organization focusing on the adaptation of their current aquaponic systems for urban use, specifically in the Great Lakes region. My work at the moment is primarily research-based, examining projects similar to this on local, domestic, and global scales. As my internship progresses, I will begin to assist in the generation of an economic report and model based on my findings, the application of grants for continuation of this project, and compiling materials for launching a crowdfunding campaign.

Why did you apply for this internship?

Growing up in the Detroit metropolitan area, the city of Detroit holds a special place in my heart. To be able to work on a project that supports the city has been incredibly important to me, and I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to not only give back to my community but to explore areas that I am interested in, for instance urban farming, the impact it has on food security, and what that means for Detroiters’ everyday lives.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship so far has been the ability to see how the simple act of starting a community garden has impacted so many lives. This internship really has shown me the power grassroots movements have in impacting local communities, something I think that often goes unnoticed in our day-to-day lives. Today more than ever I believe that it is important to show that you don’t have to be a major politician or CEO of a company; even just a small group of people can make meaningful change in people’s lives. To me, being able to witness this first hand has been the most meaningful aspect of the internship I’m working on, and something I hope to take with me as I continue with both my professional and academic life.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

This internship has differed slightly from what I anticipated, as I initially was going to be working on the specific systems to better understand how they reacted to the local climate. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances, the pilot system was unable to be created in time. This has, however, allowed me to pursue other aspects of the project which may prove beneficial to my future academic endeavors; for example, I am able to work on the research and generation of an economic model that will assist in the application of grants and other research opportunities. I believe this will be incredibly valuable information, especially for future professional opportunities. Additionally, this change was made at the beginning of my internship, thus making the transition easier.

Welcome Summer 2017!

Welcome to the Summer Internship blog!

With Bryn Mawr students interning across the globe, this blog will offer a glance at what they are completing throughout their summer break. We’ve asked them to send in “postcards” from their internship, highlighting the work they are doing, their experience working in the field, or even what it’s like living in a new city for a few months.

Enjoy your summer and this Summer Internship blog!