This blog will highlight Baylor students participating in 8-10 week summer internships with established non-profit organizations and civic groups. Students are chosen for their commitment to create systemic social change and for their ability to connect their placement to their discipline of study. These are the future movers and shakers of the non profit and for profit world. Join the dialogue.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Paul Baumgardner, July 25

This past week I was in northern California conducting interviews and doing research on a free exercise of religion Supreme Court case. In addition to working in Los Angeles to assist in constitutional literacy programs and service-learning practices in public schools, I have also used my BIPI fellowship to further my research of one of the most important, yet little known, free exercise of religion Supreme Court cases.

In 1988, three northern Californian Native American tribes argued that a proposed U.S. Forest Service road construction and logging plan would trample sacred burial grounds and also eviscerate the tribes’ most significant religious practices. The proposed plan would essentially eliminate the practice of Indian tribal faiths. The Supreme Court, however, ruled on behalf of the Forest Service.

So what happened after the case? Were the religions eliminated? Did the faiths evolve in order to survive (are they even adaptable faiths in the first place)? Over twenty years after the Supreme Court ruling, little research has been done to follow up on the aftermath of Lyng v. N.I.C.P.A.

Over the past three months, I have read as much as possible concerning the Lyng case. I have plowed through the majority and dissenting opinions of the case. I have read the transcripts of oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court, and I have read articles in federal Indian law journals concerning the precedents of the case. In addition, I have spoken with tribesmen and attorneys who were parties in the 30 year legal struggle.

My trip to northern California--a 16 hour bus ride--was motivated by my effort to better understand the territory at issue in the case and also to conduct interviews with Native American chiefs who were active in the legal proceedings. My trip was worth the multi-hour transport: I unearthed invaluable information from the interviewees and also from the local Native American library, which housed government documents concerning the case.

Jake Abell, July 25

This past weekend, AWF hosted a 50th Annual Celebration at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo. I didn't attend, but I had a big hand in preparing for it. Given all the levels in which I participated, the zoo event represents the most impact I've been able to have here as an intern. I was responsible for the social media push leading up to the weekend which involved reaching out to a variety of common interest groups in the Chicago area (where the zoo is located). I also drafted a press release, media advisory, and media listing for the event which was an awesome crash course in journalism. I also hand packed about 700 lanyards with various animal fact cards and an AWF info card, both of which I helped write. In the end, the different ways in which I helped prepare the event called upon and sharpened my skills in journalism, social media, and composition. I even got a brief exposure to graphic design when I worked with a colleague here on designing the animal fact cards. In sum, preparing for this event was a great exercise in synthesizing and developing skills in all aspects of media and marketing. It was a great way to wrap up the internship experience which is in it's last week.

Marissa Moschetta, July 25

It is absolutely insane that this is my last week of work; and it isn’t even a full week! I’ll be starting the 14 hour drive to Lexington on Thursday with the rest of my Shepherd Intern roommates. I am really excited to be hosting a community potluck tomorrow night, where I will be giving my presentation about the importance of summer and after school programming in child development. Just a few more little projects to wrap up and my time here will be done. This summer has flown by and the regrets are pouring in. Wishing I had gotten to know some people better, wishing this summer would decide my future career (it has helped me process through it, but no decision made), wishing I felt more prepared for my upcoming social work field internship at Talitha Koum (still nervous), etc. But I have realized that amidst all of my uncertainty, I really have had a fantastic summer experience. I have had the privilege of not only working at a multi-faceted non-profit, but I have been able to be immersed in the community that it serves. I may not feel like I am leaving here with a specific “skill set”, but I have learned things about myself and about community that I could never learn from someone else. Experience is everything. With every volunteer opportunity I have had working alongside the poor; more faces are added to my definition of “poverty”. With each face I meet, my perspective molds, changes, and further connects the issue to my heart. I truly believe that is necessary for all people, especially those claiming Christ. My summer experience has solidified that value in me-to never stop considering the poor in all that I do.    

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lindsey Warner, July 15

This summer has been one huge lesson on responsibility. Living in a city outside of Baylor world where I am responsible for being an active citizen and for paying lots of bills and for arriving to work on time and then making sure I get my work done once I get here. It’s all part of growing up and has been the most wonderful and safe way to dip my feet into Post Grad world. More than these responsibilities, I have also been learning what it truly means to be a “global citizen.” I first heard this term in May when I was studying abroad in Rwanda from my new friend Stephen who I met working at the hotel where I was a guest. He used the phrase throughout our brief conversation and when I had to run off, he shook my hand saying “we met as strangers but leave as friends.”
This instilled a new responsibility in me, the responsibility to be a global citizen. This is something I never really thought of until that meeting. I always felt the responsibility to be a good daughter and sister and friend, even student but never really thought of myself as a citizen of this much bigger place I live in. I have become pretty passionate about the responsibility we all have as global citizens. As trendy as it may be to purchase eco-friendly products or “go green,” it means a lot more when the decision to be a conscious consumer is because you have a desire to fulfill a responsibility as a global citizen, and to help your fellow man more than to buy into the latest trend. Responsibility like deadlines, meetings, goals to follow through with can sometimes be scary. But it’s so hard to remember in all of the busy-ness that we as interns are involved in that we are fulfilling a much greater responsibility to be a global citizen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Marissa Moschetta, July 18

I really can’t believe that my time at the BGACDC is quickly coming to a close. I only have eight days of work left! It really blows my mind that time can crawl and go by so rapidly all at the same time. Part of me is obviously ready to go home and see my friends and family, but part of me is really going to miss my time here. I have learned a lot about the world of non profits, a lot about community, and a lot about myself. One of my projects has been to help host a “Policy CafĂ©” run by the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families-basically a community meeting focusing on teaching the residents how to be better child advocates. Long story short, it fell through and I spent a couple days being upset and really wanting to contribute. One of the hot topics here at the BGACDC is the lack of parental involvement, and a pretty layered issue. Although I can’t fix the problems going on, I decided that it would be beneficial to research the effectiveness of summer and after school programs to make a presentation to show to the parents and community here. Hopefully we will be able to host a community meeting to discuss the issues, but attendance is the precise problem, so we shall see if it works out. Even if recruitment isn’t successful, at least they will have all the information to present at a later date.  I’m excited to get to contribute in a tangible way!

Rachel Canclini, July 8

ESL: Part of my job this summer is to assist in teaching ESL some weekday mornings at the church next to one of the apartment complexes where we settle refugees. I am also supposed to be teaching night classes this month but the organization of that has not been made clear to me yet. That is kind of the ways things roll around here. I love teaching ESL though, it is the highlight of my week, that and other than direct interaction with clients. If I could get paid to hang out with refugees all day I would do it. Social workers don’t actually do this, they are stuck dealing with paper work and government offices and so many families that they do not have time to sit down with one and drink chai tea and leave smelling like curry. That is the job of interns and volunteers I guess. Maybe I’ll just do a lot of volunteer work once I get a “real” job, something to pay the bills and something to feed the soul.
Anyways, ESL is the most challenging, rewarding, confusing, funny, and fun two hours three times a week. Some of the students went to college, some went  up to grammar or high school in the camps,and then some have never sat in a class room and are illiterate in their own language, which makes teaching them English even more complicated. So it is about 30-40 people on a full day with three to four teachers. The range of English levels though are so varied that we had to separate into an “advanced” grammar class and the basic class. But even in the lower level class  some of the students have been here for years and some just a few weeks. It is difficult to know what they understand. And lesson plans are so hard to come up with all the levels. The teachers always amaze me. And it is difficult not to treat the students like children. I only have experience instructing children, spending three years as a day camp counselor/semi-coordinater in Mansfield. When the class gets loud I want to hush them and when they all begin speaking in their own language I want to let them know they cannot learn like that, but they are not required to be there and they are all adults. Many of them so much older than me I feel silly teaching them. On Friday’s we do stuff with employment and we were teaching them how to shake hands and keep eye contact. It was only women teaching the lower level that day and although the men never expressed it, I felt  like we were breaking  cultural boundaries by going around and making each of them shake my hand and look me in the eyes. But then I also felt like we were empowering them.  Honestly,  I just got lucky to be born into a country that speaks English, so I teach people three times my age how to say simple phrases and use the bus system. Its weird. They are gracious about it. I would never know if I made them uncomfortable. They would never say it but as teachers we kind of wonder what they think about us and our silly teaching methods.
My favorite is when we end of having to act out charades to explain words. Example, we did a homonyms day…. which was on the difficult side for a lot of them. I have learned that worksheets are not effective with most of them because they cannot read or comprehend like an elementary school child could.They just don’t have the vocabulary. This makes worksheets so difficult. Anyways I tried to act out the difference between “bawl” and “ball”, they thought it was hilarious. I fell out of my chair today to try to explain “fall.”  We also do action words, like exercise, clap, brush teeth, etc.  in which they have to act out what we say. Those are always fun to watch. All of the students are so into it, except those who are completely lost and there are a few of those. With those students we have to use other students who somewhat understand to help translate. And the letter F is difficult  for the majority group( Nepalese speakers). Fifteen is “pipteen”, fifty if “pifty” and five is “pive.” It is incredibly endearing to hear, but at the same time it is hard to correct.
A big problem is that none of the teachers speak the native language of the students. This makes teaching and learning hard because nothing can really be translated unless another more advanced student does it, which only sometimes happens. I cannot imagine being in their place though. When I was an exchange student and thrown into a French public high school, people knew that my french wasn’t great and understood. I had also been trained to read,write, and speak french for three years and it took 3 months of immersion for me to really converse. Most of the ESL students didn’t go to  school and didn’t study English if they did. Most that is, a few of the younger ones have studied English and sit in on the “advanced” class, learning how to write correct verb tenses.( I don’t teach this. I hate grammar. I cannot imagine trying to learn English grammar). When I see the frustration on the faces of some of the students and I can somewhat relate. I know how frustrating it is to not understand, to be completely lost. But… I always knew as an exchange students I was going home eventually and for them this is their new home. And they all try so hard to learn it but it just takes a lot of time.
The students also keep me laughing. Sometimes I am trying to explain some term or phrase and a student will just look at me and shake their head in complete confusion and laugh at me because we both just can’t figure out how to express what we are saying. When they come in the class it is always the same “gooood morning! good morning!” they say it very loud and accented and then wait for me to being the pencil box, because they want the best sharpened pencils to use.  They must be sharp, even a little dull and they are no good and they want me to sharpen them. It cracks me up. Some don’t have notebooks though and then we use w/e resources we have which is usually the back of some old worksheet that was lying around. They get confused and try to do the worksheet sometimes when I give it to them and I have to explain that they should just use the back to write on. A few also say ” nice to meet you!” every time I see them. I am not sure if they do not remember me or if they think that is the equivalent of hello.
The older Bhutanese men are very proud and sweet. I love that many wear their traditional hats to class. They look kind of like Kwanza hats.  The older men and women also wear red dots or streaks on their faces. Today, while at the health department with a family , they explained all of the markings to me. A line of red for women in their hair-line is married, a red dot is fashion or hindu, and a line down the middle of their forehead is a symbol of a higher caste. Taking families to the doctor appts can be a long job, today took three hours at the health department, but it gave me a chance to talk with the family. I found out this family was Christian and we talked about the church in Nepal and when they became Christians. I asked about castes after he explained the markings and he told me that as Christians they had done away with that life. Really interesting. This family was lucky to be educated and the men speak fairly good english, which is how we talked so in depth.  He asked me also what it means to wear a ring on the ring finger. They always say ” Excuse me mam…” and are incredibly polite before every question. I explained the symbolism but it was kind of difficult because I wear a ring on my ring finger but I’m not married haha. They wear a lot of jewelry, both the boys are girls. I also found out that they pierce the little boys ears (both) because it is fashion a few weeks ago. I seriously cannot tell little Nepalese kids apart.
There is a lot to write about since I haven’t blogged in a while… but I think I’ll end on an interesting experience at the apartment complex. Me and Kate were passing out paperwork and passed by some construction workers. After we left one apartment one American (non refugee) man came up and asked what “forms” we had. I got pretty apprehensive at this point because I saw them watching us when we drove up.  We just told him we were with the agency and he said his friend is a refugee and wanted to ask us something. So he went and got his friend, another construction worker who with broken english started to ask us about going to school.  He said he was a refugee from Iraq ( and given his english level I could believe it) and he was a barber and wants to be a barber here but has to go to school and he doesn’t know how to do it or how to pay for it. We asked what agency brought him here and he said the Embassy and something with a V, which is either the Virginia state agency that provides core services (basic, less than ccc) to refugees or it is the SIV, special immigration visa program which brought Iraqis who helped US troops here and gave them the paperwork to work but , according to my sources, left them without very much support. This man had sad eyes, beautiful but sad. He looked maybe 30. I just wonder what he had seen before coming here. I always wonder that with the refugees and what it feels like to experience that, like my students from Darfur/Sudan, and then come here and struggle as well. We ended up giving the Iraqi man the agency # and honestly idk if they can do much for him. I hope so though.

Jake Abell, July 18

The most rewarding and unexpected perk of working in Washington has been the chance to buy all of my groceries at The DuPont Circle Farmer’s Market. Farmers from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia all come out on Sunday morning to sell local (“ish”), fresh, and natural produce. I discovered that I could live on 150-200 dollars a week for food if I bought exclusively fresh food from there and didn’t eat out. Doing so has turned out great for my finances, my health, and my taste buds that are happier than they’ve been in some time. It’s been empowering to realize that you can invest in local farmers, feed yourself nutritious food all the time, and save money all in one stroke. The whole experience has shown me how much power each one of us has to effect change across local economies, our own personal health, and our finances with a simple change like buying your groceries locally. Yeah local food!

Paul Baumgardner, July 18

My week has included great progress, both in Los Angeles service-learning and in my constitutional research. The new film is going well: me and two other CRF employees have scripted the educational video and are now preparing to shoot footage. I wrote the script, and made sure to include social studies benchmarks for California and surrounding states. Because of my knowledge of CAP, the civic engagement program that my organization is using to increase government studies across America's high schools, I have also been chosen to represent the Constitutional Rights Foundation at a nation's largest service-learning conference in April!

My constitutional research is going equally well. I just conducted an interview with the head archaeologist in the case that I am studying. Based on her recommendation, I have also set up two more interviews with Native American leaders. I am leaving tomorrow to do field research and conduct interviews in northern California!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Marissa Moschetta, July 12

This past week has definitely held some of my favorite memories so far this summer. One of my summer responsibilities has been to interview notable people in the Marvell community and write articles about them for a collection of works I entitled “The Heart of Marvell”. It has been difficult to get anything done for this project because people haven’t gotten back to us, but then my supervisor suggested I interview one of the founders of the BGACDC, Ms. Gertrude Jackson.  She is by far the coolest 87 year old woman I know! I spent the afternoon at her house looking at old pictures and listening to stories about her family, the community, and her grassroots civil rights advocacy. She has gone through some serious discrimination, and it was beautiful and humbling to learn from her deep faith and constant altruism towards all people. I could have spent all day listening to her stories and getting to know her sweet spirit. I am excited to write the article, although a little overwhelmed since there is so much meaningful information to narrow down to a page or two! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lindsey Warner, July 5

I don’t know if my sudden interest in yoga is the result of peer pressure from living in a slightly more alternative and health conscious city than Waco, TX (AUSTIN) but it has grown on me nonetheless. Most recently, I found the word, integrity, running through my mind. The instructor consistently emphasizes the importance of “holding the integrity of the pose” as other parts of your body are asked to do crazy things like clasping your hands together over your head, grabbing your foot and placing it in the fold of your elbow, etc. but all the while staying in the same pose you began in, maintaining its integrity.
While searching for the right option in where to print our new linesheets and lookbooks, we tried to look at this necessity in the retail world in a new way. What if we made them available to fashion magazine editors on a CD? Saving cost and trees and lessening Raven + Lily’s footprint on the planet.
And when we consulted with a PR professional on the “look” of our line, a suggestion was brought up on the models we chose to represent the Raven + Lily collection. They are beautiful African women, but do not represent the typical demographic that makes Raven + Lily purchases. A small dilemma arose: should we photograph models that may relate more and look more like the women who purchase the slightly higher priced jewelry we sell or models who represent the artisans behind the jewelry? Advertising and marketing is sometimes a smoke and mirrors show to trick a customer into feeling more OK about purchasing a product. I am proud to work for a business that maintains the integrity of its values in all decisions, no matter how small. Why would we employ models from the US who have an abundance of job opportunities when we can empower and employ gorgeous, talented models in Africa? That is our mission after all. By choosing to stand behind our decision of using African models to launch our Fall/Winter collection, we send a message of the importance of diversity in the fashion community and encourage our customer to look past the smoke and mirrors and think how the jewelry can enhance the lives of other women instead of only thinking how the jewelry can enhance their look. 

Jake Abell, July 11

A brief note on rhinos. I had the chance to talk with AWF’s Vice President of Marketing and Philanthropy last week about a rhino sanctuary that AWF helped start in Kenya. He’s a smart guy with a long background in African ecology as well as marketing. He told me about the successes of this sanctuary, how AWF was able to partner with Kenyan Wildlife Service to expand its size by about 50% a number of years ago. I asked him if the story of the rhino in east Africa is somewhat comparable to the history of the American buffalo, and he said it was; apparently, white colonists in the early twentieth century reported seeing enormous herds of rhinos that covered vast tracks of land. Now, they number much less than they did in those days. When I was in Kenya in May, I saw a lone rhino in the Maasai Mara, an even that I now appreciate for its rarity given the huge declines in rhinos since the reports of those early settlers. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Marissa Moschetta, July 4

This past week has been an absolute blessing to me and has really helped my morale. “Relator” is my number three strength (Sic ‘em StrengthsFinder!), and I was able to truly exercise it this week. Thursday was the Open House for the BGACDC’s Freedom School/Summer Day Camp at both the Marvell and Elaine campus. BGACDC’s summer program focuses on increasing literacy by running Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School  , along with providing nutritional and physical education through programs like SPARK. It was a blast being able to hang out with the kids, watch their skits, meet new people, and speak with different guests about the Shepherd program.  It was a joy to get to spend my day with one of the founders of the BGACDC, Ms. Gertrude Jackson. She is in incredible shape for being 87 years old, and is still full of passion and commitment. One the way back from visiting the Elaine site’s open house, we stopped by a housing rehabilitation project site to check on its progress. It was a joy to meet Mrs. Dawkins and her family, and see the progress being made on her new house. Friday was another day full of being relational since I went on a field trip with the kids to a water center in Tunica, MS. I have always considered children a passion of mine, so it was an absolute blast finally being able to invest in them. I have not necessarily learned anything new about myself, but I have definitely confirmed that I am called to have a highly relational career. That’s not to say that my career will not have its fare share of paperwork, but my constant yearning for meaningful interaction has shown me that my “relator” strength is even more prominent than I thought. 

Paul Baumgardner, July 4

Last week, I began making a video that explains the forms of youth empowerment engendered by civic action. I have been busy editing footage of students in the community, teachers' changing curricula in the classroom, and the mayor speaking about the importance of service-learning in Los Angeles. I just finished the video, and it is being posted online today. After I finished this video, I realized that much more needed to be done.

Based on student evaluations, I have learned that high school teens need help identifying the policy connection between viewing problems in their community and then creating sustainable change. This connection hinges on the students' knowledge of local government, so I am beginning my second video project. I will be making a student-oriented video, which will be given to each participating Los Angeles school. It will be a fun, interactive, multi-media film that outlines some keys to enforcing policy in their community.

I have also made headway in some personal constitutional research that I have conducted while here in California. I have been studying a fascinating First Amendment case that came before the Supreme Court in 1988. Three northern Californian Native American tribes were affected by the case, and I have been able to do several interviews already. I also plan on traveling up to northern California in two weeks to do further interviews. 

Jake Abell, July 4

Life at the African Wildlife Foundation is moving along at the same level of casual intensity it has since the beginning. The work is fast and involved, but the July 4th weekend has been a pleasant respite from a busy June. I've enjoyed the chance to get to know my fellow interns better, and to eat a lot of fattening and delicious food at Barnes and Noble where I set up camp on weekends to do work assignments along with some other research.

Leaving work on Thursday last, I realized I had only two more full weeks at my job. To reflect at the midpoint, one of the great challenges of social justice work in marketing and communications is that you don't often, if ever, engage the subject of your work. If you write copy, edit webpages, and design communication strategies for a non-profit, you have to perennially renew your vision and ground yourself in the utlimate goals of your work. I guess this is a universal challenge insofar as we can all lose contact with our deepest motivation for our work at anytime, but in a way this is the unique oppurtunity of non-field work- the chance to constantly reinvent and rediscover the things that motivate your work.Today's motivation? Funnel cake on the National Mall.