Recent Grads Intern in Africa and Germany
While many recent college graduates reluctantly head home to their parents' house to pursue a job search, four former bi-co students have been given a unique opportunity to pursue independent research projects in Europe and Africa. Senior Bridge internships, funded by Haverford's Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, let recently graduated seniors investigate issues of peace and social justice in ways that will act as a bridge to what they intend to do in graduate school or the work force.
Since 2006, the CPGC has funded 23 international and 3 domestic Senior Bridge projects. This summer's interns are Eugenia Machado '10, Meghan McAllister '10, Deborah Ahenkorah BMC '10, and Abigail Higgins BMC '10.
Machado, a 2009-10 recipient of the Sondra Lee Spar International Student Scholarship, is using art for therapeutic benefits in communities with AIDS in Swaziland and South Africa. She has been working for Art For Humanity (AFH), a not for profit organization that specializes in producing fine art print portfolios, exhibitions, billboards and research projects that advocate for various human rights issues in South Africa and internationally. In Swaziland, she will be interning with Artfully AWARE (AfA), a global non-profit that implements a range of educational arts programs in order to promote empowerment, cultural understanding and enable sustainable development.
"As a psychology major and a dancer, my main interest is in learning how to use the arts as a psychological tool," says Machado. "I believe that the arts can be used to help those in suffering and to effectively educate others."
Machado's main objective this summer is to learn about AFH's School Banner's Project, which brings art, poetry and human rights advocacy to schools in Durban, South Africa in the form of art and poetry banners and workshops, and the AfA's Swaziland Theatre for Children and Young People (SWATCYP), which develops and implements youth theatre programs. She is assessing the flaws and strengths of these projects and identifying the most efficient way of creating an exchange program between the organizations for them to complement each other.
To revise the School Banner's Project, Machado is visiting schools that have participated before to see the installation of the banners and interviewing teachers about the effectiveness of the workshops. She is writing a proposal for a fund offered by the Nelson Mandela Children's Foundation for any South African Organization that works with children. "We have no money in AFH and we really need to get as much money as we can," she says.
Machado has also been collaborating with the AfA Community Book Project, the Real Stories Workshop, and the AfA Woman's Exhibition, by being a participant and by interviewing other women. She is documenting the development of these different projects through interviews, written analysis, and photographs.
"This experience is definitely helping me to understand what goes behind the typical photo that is sent abroad of someone hugging children and smiling as they are working in Africa," she says. "For the NGOs to really work without corruption you need a group of dedicated volunteers who skillfully work hard to try and put all the pieces together."
Machado has been getting a lot of insight into the international community involved in using the arts to help children. "This is important for me because Artfully AWARE wants me to create a partnership in Venezuela," says Machado, who lives in Caracas. "I need to be very well prepared to start a new branch of the NGO at home."
The two Bryn Mawr graduates are also interning in Africa. Ahenkorah, a political science major and international studies minor, is studying children's literature with Baobab Education in Nigeria and Media Pack in South Africa. Higgins, who graduated with a degree in political science and a concentration in Africana studies, is working with the Federation of Women Lawyers to research the effects of reproductive rights policy on young women in Nairobi's slums.
McAllister, who received a bachelor's degree in Growth and Structure of Cities, enjoyed a CPGC internship in Belfast, Ireland last summer researching the architecture of social housing for her senior thesis. This summer, the CPGC has sent her to Hamburg, Germany to work on an intercultural urban studio project with der UniversitÃ¤t der Nachbarin (UdN).
Coordinated by HafenCity University, the UdN is an international and interdisciplinary projectâ€”a laboratory, a construction site, a stage, an interactive learning space and a common spaceâ€”situated in the multi-ethnic neighborhood of Wilhelmsburg-Hamburg.
"Working from the UdN site, other urban design, urban planning and architecture students and I set out into the neighborhood and work with local residents to collaboratively define and pursue community development projects," says McAllister. "Unlike traditional urban development projects with a predetermined problem and the production of a final plan, we are exploring alternative models for design process, where a significant part of the final product is the process of engagement with community."
In addition to this project, McAllister is working for the UdN to coordinate, plan and translate texts for their International Summer School in August 2010. She is also helping to tutor in the first-year urban planning studio at HafenCity University. HafenCity, a project of city-planning where the old harbor quarters of Hamburg have been built on with offices, hotels, shops, official buildings and residential areas, is one of the largest rebuilding projects in Europe in the 21st century.
--Heather Harden '11