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Students Tell Stories of Internships


Akira Cespedes Perez
List of summer internships by agencies and sponsoring campus organizations

Whether they spent the summer promoting peace initiatives in Israel, researching how religion and culture impact the environment in India, working on a feature film at a production company in New York, or spreading information in New Orleans about reproductive health, the 63 students speaking at the college's Annual Intern Dinner at the Red Barn on September 16 had plenty of stories to tell.

While the majority were Hampshire students, students also spoke from throughout the Five College consortium, Holyoke Community College, and Greenfield Community College.

The evening was presented by a number of Hampshire programs and organizations: the Career Options Resource Center, Community Partnerships for Social Change, Global Migrations, the James Baldwin Scholars program, Civil Liberties & Public Policy, and the Population and Development program

"If I had to pick one highlight, it was that I learned so much from the program itself and the people I met," said Akira Cespedes Perez 06F, who interned with the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies in New Orleans through the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps. HIV prevention was one of the main issues she dealt with. "I was happy with the reactions of the people I worked with, and the trust I gained. I saw that it doesn't take much to get to know somebody, to give them support and teach them self-value," said Cespedes Perez.

Intern Dinner
Hampshire administrators, faculty, and staff—eager to hear the interns' stories—also attended the dinner. "Students can see that a number of people, from all parts of campus, are here to [show] support," said Community Partnerships for Social Change director Mary Bombardier, who served as emcee for the event.

The microphone passed from student to student, each given about a minute and a half to encapsulate what they had done over the summer.

Amelia Andersen 06F interned with the American Friends Service Committee and Project VOICE in San Diego, through the Global Migrations program. She was involved with everything from assisting people at the Mexico/United States border in getting health care to creating a manual on border patrol checkpoints.

"I had a big realization [about] what it means to choose to be an activist for a cause when a lot of people are born into a cause," she said of working with a Latino population that often had to struggle for rights most Americans take for granted. "I want to be a lawyer, and I saw ways that law can help people."

Pema Dorjee 06F traveled to Dharamsala, India, to work for the Tesi Environmental Awareness Movement (TEAM). He stayed in two Buddhist monasteries and discussed local environmental concerns with the monks. TEAM has been working with Buddhist monks and nuns to get them involved in conservation and environmental education work.

Two Hampshire students who remained in Massachusetts for their internships provided some artistic inspiration for dozens of children. Damali Jackson 08F worked with ImprovBoston, and though responsible for more mundane tasks like answering phones and making copies, she also had the chance to do lighting for the improvisational comedy troupe's shows and teach a class on improvisation.

Maya Gounard 06F worked with Amherst Community Television. She taught three classes on animation software Blender to local children.

Intern Dinner
"The concept was to provide access and information on how to use Blender. The most exciting thing was to see how different children approached the program. Everyone went off on their own tangents," she said, noting that she was actually surprised by the demographics of the classes. "I actually taught more girls than boys. I wasn't expecting that, but I was very happy to do it. It helps to try and expand the diversity in the field."

Joshua Truitt 04F spent his internship in Washington, D.C. with Choice USA, a youth reproductive choice organization. He spoke proudly of organizing a lobby day on Capitol Hill, where students were able to talk with senators and representatives about issues affecting youth reproductive health.

"A number of the students told me it was one of the first times they felt they had gotten their own power," said Truitt.

Anthony Thomas 08F, a South Bronx native, returned home to work with Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, an organization working to rebuild neighborhoods. Thomas said getting involved with the discussion about cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield areas was exciting, but what he remembers most was teaching 15 youths in a free writing class: "Their personal essays really touched me."

Such experiences are why the internship program is so important, said Civil Liberties and Public Policy program coordinator Corinna Yazbek. She closed the evening's presentations with a statement of hope that the internship program will be available to students for many years to come, thanks to the collaborative support of so many departments and offices throughout Hampshire College.

Story and photos by Michael Medeiros


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