Organization: Pro Mujer
Dates: June 18, 2018 to August 21, 2018
In Brittany's own words
How I contributed: The ultimate vision of Pro Mujer is the prosperity of all women in Latin America (Pro Mujer is primarily a micro-finance institution). They already have programs that address the economic, social, legal, and medical well-being of their clients, but nothing currently to ensure their mental well-being. I worked with the program directors and two local psychologists to develop a project about mental health which sought to strengthen and develop the emotional, cognitive, and social resources of the personnel and clients of Pro Mujer in order to recognize and confront stressful situations and promote mental well-being. I helped to plan and organize four workshops about these topics, create an agreement with the psychologists for a referral system, and create other educational materials about mental health.
What I felt most challenged by: I definitely felt mostly challenged by the language barrier because it was exhausting having to pay such close attention to what everyone said just so I could understand what they said. And it was frustrating not really being able to express and articulate what I wanted to say or do.
What I enjoyed most: I enjoyed forming relationships with my co-workers, going around the city to Pro Mujer's different centers, conducting surveys with the clients and analyzing and summarizing that data in order to inform the themes of the workshop. Additionally, at the end, my supervisor asked me and the other interns to write a summary of the workshops and analysis of the evaluation comments so that she could send the report to the national office in La Paz so they could possibly implement similar programs elsewhere. It was just really cool because about to create some informative material that would be used in real time.
Would I recommend this experience: I would definitely recommend this experience to other students. The program it's run through, Foundation of Sustainable Development, is not without its flaws, but I like that you're able to develop your own project and have a good degree of flexibility in developing it. And while challenging, it was definitely very rewarding having to work as the only American at the organization.
Organization: SIT: IHP Climate Change Comparative
Dates: 6-Sep-13 - 18-Dec-13
In Jessica's own words
How I contributed: The program was a comparative study in food, water and energy across the world. Being that we were only in each country for such a limited amount of time, we could not cover each topic extensively, however I felt that my greatest competition to this program was simply listening to the locals whom we met with and listening to their daily experiences. We met with farmers, fishermen, engineers working in renewable energy and the problems that they faced were in many ways very similar to the problems that people of the same profession in the U.S.A are facing. Listening to their stories put into perspective the greater issues at hand, and allowed me to gain perspective of how things need to change on a global scale, rather than viewing each country or profession as a different entity.
What I felt most challenged by: The schedule of the program was very rigorous and your independence is testing daily. At school you have the ability to gain access to almost anything that you want and need at nearly any time. On this program, many of the social norms were set up by the host family, with little room for adjustment, and there were many times when the internet was unavailable in the midst of a research project. It is not to say that these challenges were impossible, however it becomes apparent how much we have come to expect, and how such expectations are not the norm in every place.
What I enjoyed most: Experiencing the different cultures, cuisines and politics were my favorite aspects of this program. Although the program is focused on a comparative view of climate change, there is so much more that is necessary to digest beforehand. Learning about the politics of each country made the process of environmental policy evaluation much more interesting.
Would I recommend this experience: I would recommend it. I think that it is rare to experience so many different cultures, climates, economies and policies in such a brief amount of time, and although it is quite hectic, the comparative aspect of the program put many things that I learned at Cornell into perspective on a greater scale.