Almost back to school…

It’s been a while since my last post, but not too much has changed. Now that I am working from home I am just working on finishing mailing our summer correspondences to donors from their children and approving e-letters. I was supposed to get access to the social media accounts so I can get some experience with that but nobody ever got back to me on that.
Though I would have liked to finish my experience in D.C., it has been nice to be home with my family and friends before returning back to school next week. I’m very excited to start my senior year! Despite this situation, I think that both my internship this summer and my internship in Europe last semester were great learning experiences for the future.

Happy August!

I am currently writing from my home in Windber, PA after a weird turn of events regarding my internship that I mentioned in my previous post. I am going to be finishing this internship remotely, which is okay because the major project I have been working on all summer has been through an online database and shared drive online, all of which I can do from my laptop here at home. And now I’m saving some money from not paying rent in D.C. and I’ve gotten to spend the past week catching up with high school friends and spending time with my family so it’s been really nice. I was sad to leave D.C. and especially my roommate Jackson whom I became very close with but it is always nice to be home since I am usually on the go. If nothing else, this curve ball thrown at me in the middle of my internship experience is a good lesson/practice in flexibility. I also think it’s a unique learning experience to work remotely because it takes a different kind of discipline to get your work done just like you would going into the office on a normal day.

Anyways, it was hectic in the D.C. office this week with the move and everything so I am just being patient with that. Nothing really new to report on this week though. Til next time!

What a week!

Wow, so lots has happened since the last time I posted!

Last Monday, I went and volunteered at Martha’s Closet where I have been volunteering most of the summer. I really like it there. They are currently remodeling their U Street location so there has been a lot to do there. And because I never did end up finding a part-time job, that keeps me busy on the days I don’t go into my internship. Then Tuesday, I usually don’t go into work but I did because I took off Wednesday so that I could attend The Make Progress Summit hosted by Generation Progress. It was at the J.W. Marriot down near the Metro Center metro stop. It was a GREAT experience that I’m really glad I took advantage of. I met a lot of really great people and got to listen to some really influential speakers including Vice President, Joe Biden, House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Thursday, I worked and had a visit from Darwin Kysor from the JC Career Services office in the morning and then had lunch at a great thai restaurant with him and two other interns from JC in the D.C. area. That night, I met up with my friend Cat for dinner so it was nice to catch up with her too!

I also forgot to mention in my last post that last week on Thursday I attended a film screening at Johns Hopkins SAIS Auditorium hosted by WorldAffairsDC. They showed a documentary entitled “Not My Life” which is a 2011 American independent documentary film about human trafficking and contemporary slavery. It was a great film, extremely moving. Afterwards, we had a discussion with a former CIA agent who had investigated human trafficking cases. I also made a good connection with a law student who was a Peace Corps member.

Anyways, Friday I went into work, but was actually able to leave early around 3:00 p.m. because not much was going on. I had been experiencing some issues with my eyes. They weren’t bad at the time and I just chalked it up to allergies because I have bad allergies that will randomly flare up. On Friday, when I got out early I decided to try to go to the Emergency Care doctor that accepted my insurance out in Vienna, Virginia. I took the metro out there, it was the absolute last stop on the orange line. So it took quite a bit and then I had a decent walk from the station to the office. Needless to say, with the normal office wait times and everything it took quite a while. I didn’t end up getting home home until about 8:30 when my friend Laura was supposed to be arriving to spend the night with me. I got back just in time and when I went outside to let her in, my two other friends Caitlyn and Arielle jumped out of the car! They had surprised me and I was so happy to have all of my best friends (minus a few) there for a night out in DC! It was a crazy, crazy night but I think we all had a lot of fun and got some IHOP in the morning on Saturday before they headed back home.

Side note, at my doctors appointment Friday they prescribed me some allergy eye drops which I picked up Saturday afternoon and proceeded to take as directed. That night, Jackson and I went down to Clarendon where we met up with our friend Nick and some of his other friends. We ended up spending the night at his place and when I woke up in the morning my eyes were SO swollen. They looked so horrible. Completely red, watery. So it turns out I had an ALLERGIC REACTION to the allergy eye drops I had been prescribed. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. So tomorrow, I am returning to an optimologist this time to get their opinion. My eyes are significantly less swollen now but still extremely red and irritated and I would like to figure out what exactly is going on. So Sunday, I had a pretty lazy day all day and same with today actually.

The other news is that I actually got a bomb dropped on me at my internship last week! My supervisor told me that we were going to conference call with her supervisor so that she could relay me some news. I was nervous at first but she said there was nothing to worry about. So when we finally called her she told me that DFN is going to be relocating their Washington, D.C. office to Virginia Beach. JULY 31. So I was like, uhmmmmm I’m supposed to be here until August 18? So Basically I am going to finish out my internship remotely and I am going to return home so I am not paying rent in D.C. for no reason. So this is not the most ideal situation, but it’s out of my control so I am trying to make the best of it. A lot of my work is via the computer anyways so it honestly shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Plus they told me that I can probably take on some more social media responsibilities which I would really like. It’s actually sort of a blessing in disguise because I haven’t really been able to spend a lot of time with my family since I got back from my semester abroad and I was just going to go from here right back to school. So it will be good to spend some time with them before starting my senior year.

So I guess that’s all the updates for now! Happy Monday!

Life at DFN Last Week

First of all, what a fun weekend! I had friends from school come stay with me and we met up with other JC’ers Saturday night and all went out in Dupont Circle. Too much fun!

Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and go volunteer at Martha’s Outfitters on U Street. It’s a thrift store where I’ve been volunteering on Mondays and Tuesdays for something to do. I really like it actually, but I have a new appreciation for retail workers. I could see how it could get annoying to continually be straightening up the store only for shoppers to come in and leave everything in wrong places, etc.

Anyways! Work was good this past week. I worked on my same summer mailing project and also had to update a list of sponsored and unsponsored children from each different school in India and that took quite a while. Also, I created an inventory of all of the t-shirts and different Indian goods that we had in the office. The missing box mystery is still unsolved. Still so confused about that one! This past Friday, I actually didn’t have to go into work because there was administrative meetings all day and Liliya told me I could have the day off which was pretty cool! So I did some cleaning and took the dogs I was dog sitting to the dog park and went to the grocery store and then at night me, my housemate Jackson, our friend Seth, and Jackson’s friend from home, David, drove to Baltimore to see The Neon Trees live! I also really liked the openers which was a pretty new band called Smallpools.

This week I am working Tuesday, Thursday, Friday instead of my normal Wednesday, Thursday, Friday because on Wednesday I am attending Make Progress National Summit 2014 hosted by Generation Progress! I found out about it through an intern network group I am in on Facebook and I think it is going to be a really great experience. And it’s free so that’s a plus! Here’s a link to the website about the event.

http://genprogress.org/about/national-conference/make-progress-national-summit-2014/

Also, check out the list of speakers:

Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Filmmaker Andrew Rossi
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sec. of Labor Thomas Perez
Vice President of the United States Joe Biden
Sen. Chris Murphy(D-CT)
More to come…

Uhm, the vice president of the United States is going to be there! That’s kind of a big deal to me!! Plus Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren are badass women in power so it will be an honor to be in their presence.

And other unexspected awesome news is that, originally, my internship was supposed to be unpaid. Which, isn’t the best…but I dealt with it because I thought it would be a great experience and I really wanted to do an internship in DC this summer. But just last Thursday, my supervisor called me into her office to tell me that she had been telling her higher up about the great work I have been doing and her higher up told Liliya to tell me that they are going to cut me a check at the end of my time here. I don’t know how much it will be for, nor do I really care since even $1 would be more then the $0 I am making now! So that was pretty cool and it will help pay for my rent at the beginning of the year hopefully.

One last thing.

Check out this article recently posted on the New York Times website about a recent incident in India involving a young Dalit girl who was raped in retribution for her brother’s actions. Yet another example of why the work of DFN is so critical for Dalit justice.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/world/asia/indian-girls-rape-called-case-of-eye-for-eye-village-justice.html?_r=0

WATCH THIS!

>> Lucy Liu’s Directorial Debut on Human Trafficking <<

Oh, and I almost forgot! I watched a really, really good short film today directed by Lucy Liu called “Meena.” I encourage everyone to take just 20 minutes of your time to watch this short film, which is based on the first chapter of the book “Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which I also recommend to read! This is exactly the kind of trafficking and oppression that the organization I am interning with this summer, Dalit Freedom Network USA, works to eliminate through promotion of education and social justice in India. It is a tough film to watch, but it touches on just one instance of a very prevalent issue going on still today in Indian society, and all over the world as well. In my opinion, human, and especially child, sexual trafficking is a serious issue that more people need to become aware of so it can be eliminated.

The film is embedded in NYT article written by Liu and one of my favorite paragraphs says, “We can’t back down when we hear “No, it’s too much.” We can’t give up when they say “Stop, it could be offensive.” We have to continually remind ourselves to push ahead for those who need a voice. Children need a voice when they can’t speak for themselves. Let’s not give up when meaningful change is possible and actually happening. Together we can help end violence, and protect children and their families.”

Educate yourself & spread the word!

 

Week 2 and 3 @ DFN

So I meant to do this Saturday afternoon and it completely slipped my mind! Today is the first day of my third week here at DFN and I am loving the experience!

So I’ve found out that summer mailings for sponsors is going to be one of the major projects I am going to be working on during my time here. It is a time consuming task and it seems like there should be a way to streamline the process but I understand that it would probably require an expensive software upgrade for that to be possible. So no complaints here! I have been using eTapestry to do that project. It is the main program through which everything for DFN is organized. It’s a pretty cool program and I think the knowledge of it will be helpful in the future. I have also been in charge of opening and cataloguing letters that are mailed through the post to the DFN office in D.C. I finished scanning all of the summer letters onto our shared drive and spent a whole afternoon sticking stickers on brochures that corrected the prices of sponsoring a child. Apparently they had printed a ton of these brochures and then the price went up from $28/month to $30/month and instead of reprinting they just printed stickers that I had to go through and stick to each one. So of course there is still some of the “menial” intern tasks to be done. But how I look at it, and the way I explained it to Kim, the pastor of the church I am attending this summer at after church lunch this past Sunday, there is limited staff here in the office. If I can take care of some of the menial, time consuming tasks that they would normally have to take care of, then that frees up these people, who are more skilled and/or knowledgeable than me to take care of “more important” or pressing issues.

There is actually a good amount of excitement going on in the DFN office at any given point in time. Last week, for instance, we had an issue with rats/mice that they had to call an exterminator in for. Apparently it had been a persistent problem but it seems to be fixed now! (Thank God) and then one day we had a new refrigerator delivered to the office and then a big issue has been that a box of letters coming from India to the U.S. has gone missing or has been misplaced. The postal service has receipt of delivery apparently, but we only received 4/5 boxes and online it says that they got someone at the front desk here to sign for the package. Except, we don’t have a front desk. So we’re kind of confused about what happened there, but it is pretty important that either way we find the box or we will have to have all of the letters rewritten and resent which will take quite a while.

Thursday was the USA v. Germany World Cup match and my supervisor said that the office was allowed to take an extended lunch to finish watching the game. So my and Bullaii who also works in the office walked to Chipotle and got lunch and then came back and watched the game with everyone. It was really cool! Yesterday was the USA v. Belgium game, which I didn’t take sides on because one is my home country and the other is where I recently got back from for study abroad. Belgium ended up winning.

This weekend is Independence Day and I’m pretty excited to be spending it in the nation’s capitol! I have a feeling it is an experience like no other. I plan on watching the fireworks from the Mall on Friday night. Last night, I met up with my friend and Juniata alum, Megan Russell at Bua Thai Restaurant in Dupont Circle. It was really great to catch up with her! Funny story actually, my first weekend here, my housemate Jackson and I went out on Saturday night on U Street and since we didn’t really know which bars were cool and not we just went to some random ones. So went into one and Jackson ordered a drink and I went to the bathroom. They only had one bathroom so there was a little line and I was waiting there and a random guy comes up beside me and says “Well while we’re waiting, might as well make small talk. Where are you from?” And I said “Western PA.” And he said, “Oh, I am actually about to meet a friend here, we go to school together now but she did her undergrad in PA. You probably have never heard of the school. It’s called Juniata College.” And I just stared and was like “No way, that’s my college.” And he was like, “Oh so maybe you know her, her name’s Megan Russell.” And I said, “Yes I know her! We went to El Salvador with Habitat for Humanity together!” So Megan showed up shortly thereafter and it was just a VERY “small world” moment. Crazy how things like that happen.

Also, in my spare time here I have been taking advantage of a lot of free fitness classed offered at Yard’s Park. It’s beautiful down there. I do Boot Camp classes on Monday and Wednesday, Yoga on Tuesday, Zumba on Thursday, and yoga in Georgetown on Saturday mornings. I have also gotten into doing a lot of yard work at the house I am staying at in College Park. I really enjoy it, but I have some serious mosquito bites covering my legs because of it. Anyways, that’s updates for now! Until next time… 🙂

 

First week thoughts and things

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FIRST OF ALL,

I wrote this post yesterday and posted it (so I thought) and I was really confused today when I got on and could not find the post anywhere. Then I realized I posted it under the blog I used this past semester to document my time in Brussels. WHOOPS!

So the first week of my internship with DFN is officially finished! It was a really exciting week. I arrived Tuesday and got settled into my house in University Park, Maryland (about 20 minutes outside of the city) and met my housemates Shelley and Jackson. They’re both super nice so I’m sure my housing situation will be great. 

Wednesday, I set out for DFN without really mapping my commute but I got there surprisingly easy! I think I can chalk some of that up to being pretty comfortable with public transit from spending the last 5 months in Brussels. Anyways, I take a metro into L’enfant plaza and another over to Eastern Market and then DFN and only about a block away from the Eastern Market metro stop so it was easy to find. They have a small office space that they share with a photography business. That day was set out as my orientation day where I watched a number of short films and documentaries about the Dalit cause and then DFN’s work and also watched tutorials on how to use ETapestry which is one of the main programs DFN utilizes to track donors and donations. Thursday, my supervisor Liliya returned from vacation and thats when I got into things. I prepared a number of “welcome” folders for new donors that tell them how to contact their sponsored children, etc. In the folders we stuffed the stickers that you can see in the picture above. I was a little too excited when Liliya said I could have one. In the back of the picture you can also see a small clay cup that is a symbol of the Dalits as well. DFN sells these cups as a fundraiser and the explanation is that “In 70% of India’s villages, non-Dalits will not eat or drink with Dalits. It is this societal distinction, and the discrimination that accompanies it, that has led us to adopt the Clay Cup™ as our symbol. Traditionally, when Dalits enter a tea shop and request a cup of tea, they are served in a clay cup rather than a glass or metal cup that other receive. After drinking their tea, they are expected to crush the cup on the ground so that no other person risks being polluted by their cup. Today, clay cups are commonly used in many parts of India and still convey Dalit “untouchability.”

i spent a lot of the past few days reading through letters to donors from their children and to the sponsored children from their donors. Although it’s my job to monitor the mail, I feel like a bit of a creeper reading through other people’s mail that isn’t meant for me. All of the correspondence that comes through the office has to be noted online in Etapestry and then forwarded on to DFN’s partners in India. I also spent a lot of time scanning letters and drawing from Indian kids into the computer. That is, until I jammed the scanner twice and we had to call it quits on the scanning for the day. It takes a lot of work to maintain the correspondence between donors and their children. I also spent some time brainstorming with my colleague Abby about this new “Fresh Start” campaign DFN launched and is continuing to push. I really believe in the DFN’s mission so I’m really excited to see what else is in store this summer. 

The weather has been extremely hot! High 90s for several days this week. On those days it was miserable to be outside, its gotten a bit cooler since then though. Tonight, my housemate Jackson and I are going to go out in the city and see what’s going on. It should be fun! 

And we’re off!

Today’s the day I head to D.C. to start my summer experience with the Dalit Freedom Network. I’m really excited (and also a little nervous) to once again have a new city to explore and tons of new people to meet and connections to make. A month ago today I returned from my semester abroad in Brussels, Belgium. I spent three weeks at home spending lots of time with my family and friends and then I spent last week in Lexington, Virginia, interning with Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society’s 49th Biennial Convention and Centennial Celebration. I had such a great week there! The weather was beautiful and everyone I met was wonderful. I spent yesterday visiting my grandparents and packing and now today I am off again!

Currently, the t.v. in this airport waiting hall is talking about a heat wave currently going on in the Northeast. Today it’s supposed to get up to 94 degrees in Washington by 3 p.m. and the newscasters just said it will feel like 99! Wow! Yesterday, I was just thinking about the fact that in the past 6 months, I have flown in airplanes more frequently then I ever had before in my life. I had the flights to and from Brussels, flights to and from Barcelona, Aix-en-Provence, and Florence. And now, I just flew to and from Lexington and now I’m flying to Washington. I’m getting to be a pro at all of the airport procedures and whatnot.

But anyways, today I’m flying into Dulles where my house director Shelley’s mom will be picking me up and transporting me to Morning Gate where I will be staying for the rest of the summer. I just have a room in a house there that is owned and rented out by the University Park Church of the Brethren. I hope that I have nice roommates! Today I just plan on getting settled and unpacked at the house and possibly trying out the metro that I will be taking every day to and from my internship since University Park is a little ways outside of downtown D.C. My actual internship is on Capitol Hill and I’m really excited to be right in the middle of all of that hustle and bustle. I joined a group on Facebook for interns in D.C. this summer and people are always posting events and conferences and things on there. Tonight there is some event at the Bipartison Policy Center called “Pizza and Policy” so I thought it might be fun to go to that and meet some people right off the bat. Tomorrow is my first day at D.F.N. and I’m really excited to see what they have in store for me for the next two months. I’m sure it will be a great learning experience and I’m really grateful for the Super Internship funding through Juniata to make this experience possible. That’s all for now!