Two Minutes to Describe a Life-Changing Experience
By Michael Samuels 09F
Acting President Marlene Gerber Fried says she has been to every Annual Fall Intern Dinner, an event where students who received financial support for summer internships get to describe their experiences.
At this year’s dinner, she told students: “You who are interning are acting on ‘To Know Is Not Enough’.” The students, who attend Hampshire, UMass Amherst, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, Greenfield Community College, and Holyoke Community College, “are the brightest stars” in the Pioneer Valley’s social-activism community, she added.
The organizations that support internships were recognized and thanked—Hampshire’s Career Options Resource Center (CORC), Community Partnership for Social Change (CPSC), Global Migrations Program, and James Baldwin Scholars Program, and the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps (RRASC), a national program supported by Hampshire’s Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) and Population and Development (PopDev) programs.
Before the microphone was passed to students, Dana Finkelstein 04F, Hampshire alumna and CPSC coordinator, explained how to use the stopwatch. Students would have two minutes to talk about their summers—a challenge, it turned out.
“I had five things going at any one time, so it’s really hard to pick one to talk about,” said Hannah Elliott of her CPSC-supported internship with the Rural and Migrant Ministry in Poughkeepsie, NY.
Celine O’Malley tried to say as much as she could about her internship (funded by Global Migrations) with Global Youth Connect in Rwanda, working with Rwandese, Americans, and Canadians, “using the arts in human rights promotion” and aiding child-headed and youth-headed households in that country. “It was just really incredible, and I can’t say enough in two minutes,” she said, out of time.
The difficulty was not just in describing the incredible amount of work done, but also the huge transformations along the way. Smith College student Annum Khan worked at Parkmed Abortion Clinic in New York, in an internship funded by RRASC. “I wanted to be a midwife before this internship,” she said. After seeing the kind of “specific, very complicated surgeries that some of these women need,” and few doctors can give, she changed her plans. “I want to do those complicated surgeries,” she said confidently. “I decided to become a gynecologist.”
Many students said they will continue the work they started in these internships. “I’m actually going back tomorrow,” said Maya Berkowitz, who interned at Tewa Women United, an organization created by and for Pueblo women in New Mexico.
“Last year I was standing here speaking about Project South, and deciding that I was going to return the next year,” said Monika Martinez. “I’ll be going back again this summer.”
Matthew Gonzalez described how he spent the summer with the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Teen Health Initiative, going all over New York City doing “Know Your Rights” workshops.
With a minute left he stopped and asked, “Am I going too fast?”