Friday, March 22, 2013

Travel, Learn, Transform: Summer Internships with FSD

Our Summer Session International Internship programs are a tremendous opportunity to spend your summer break making a lasting difference in a community. FSD interns work in ten global sites with one of our 300 partner organizations in local development issues such as education and youth development, environmental sustainability, appropriate technology, gender equity, health, human rights, and microfinance. In 2011, FSD Intern Catherine McDonald transformed her summer vacation into 10 weeks of community development work that inspired and strengthened her commitment to global health.

Catherine spent her summer internship in La Plata, Argentina, working with FSD community partner Arco Iris, a community center located in a low-income region that provides child-care and services. While working with the organization’s staff to provide art projects and educational activities for the children at Arco Iris, Catherine found that some of the children in the community were negatively impacted by a lack of mental health care and health education; being exposed to these health struggles “first hand”, she says, has inspired her to work towards being a physician who “truly makes a difference”.

Catherine chose FSD because the International Internship Program provides the “perfect balance of independence and education for interns looking to gain global development experience.” She remarks that the favorite part of her internship was building relationships with the partner organization and community members: “The teachers at Arco Iris welcomed me from day one, and incorporated me into their team.” On the last day of her internship, the children and teachers at Arco Iris threw her a farewell party, giving her gifts and performing songs. Says Catherine, “I had never felt so loved and appreciated by so many, and I will never forget that day.” Catherine is now a first year student at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, where she is an MD Candidate working to bring innovative change in health to her community.

This year, FSD opened a new site in Salta, Argentina, and we'd like to invite you to transform the communities in Salta.  Join Catherine and all of FSD’s influential alumni by being the change you wish to see this summer. The April 1 deadline to apply for Summer Session International Internships is quickly approaching. Apply today!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Why Clean Water Is Key to Keeping Girls in School

Starting menstruation is tough enough for most girls, but some teenagers have more than just their changing bodies to cope with. For many girls in Bolivia, the start of menstruation can mean the end of their education too. 
Rebecca Peters, an International Development Economics and Global Poverty student at the University of California, Berkeley, is on a mission to stop this from happening. Last summer, Rebecca spent 10 weeks working in Cochabamba, Bolivia, as a partner with the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Water for People to install water treatment systems in schools. 
"I saw the effects of improved water sources in schools, as well as what happens when there aren't any reliable water sources," she says. "One of the problems was that girls tended to stop attending school - or drop out altogether - because there was no safe running water for them to wash with when they were menstruating.
"There's a lot of stigma and taboo associated with menstruating, not just in Bolivia but all around the world. There are very few initiatives targeted at improving girls' education, health and access to safe water. Many girls drop out of school, particularly in neglected migrant and indigenous communities."
Rebecca's response is the Pachamama Project, which aims to improve health and education for girls by providing equal access to safe water and sanitation in schools. Pachamama will launch in Bolivia and Mexico this March in partnership with the Mexico-based non-profit Fundación Cántaro Azul.
"The basic goal of Pachamama is to engage groups who wouldn't normally be talking about Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) and to put the issue on the water sanitation and hygiene agenda," says Rebecca, who has worked on various water and energy related collaborations in Guatemala, Denmark, France and Mexico - always with an eye toward improving gender equity in the project's outcomes. 
So far, Pachamama has been funded by a grant from the Center for Race and Gender at Berkeley. The Pachamama Project is also a finalist in the human rights category of the Big Ideas at Berkeley competition, but her long-term goal is for the project to become self-sustaining. "I want it to be owned by the community and be something that people really want to continue once I'm not there anymore," she explains. 
It's not just about fitting clean water systems, though. Rebecca recognises that there are deeper cultural and social barriers to girls' education: "There might be some community push back to it, where people aren't willing to participate. Studies of MHM have shown that girls are really shy to talk about menstruation, so making things fun is really important. We need to create games and make things more interactive so it doesn't seem scary or taboo to talk about. 
"One of the initiatives we'll do is give disposable cameras to girls and boys and ask them to go round and take photos of places they deem scary. Previous projects that have done things like this have found that children often take photos of bathrooms and I think that sends a really strong message to development institutions to say 'OK, this is something that we really need to focus on.'" 
It's a big ambition but Rebecca is confident that it will make a big difference to girls' lives. "The goal is to create the girl effect," she says. "I hope that by putting MHM on the water and sanitation development agenda, and by tapping into the human rights discourse, the project can overcome the taboos associated with menstruation and really highlight that it's much bigger than that. It's about education and social justice as well as health."

See source here

The Pachamama website is currently being built but in the meantime you can find out more here or by following Rebecca Peters on Twitter.   

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

International Life with FSD- Internships Abroad

Young Workers Benefit from International Experience
FSD executive director Mireille Cronin Mather was interviewed by Military Times and talked about how international internships changed communities and the interns. 
For many young people, the economic downturn has been especially difficult because they’re often competing with more seasoned professionals for jobs once reserved for the less experienced.
Adding to the dilemma is that employers also often profess a preference for those who have international experiences. If you’re among those who haven’t had a tour overseas during the past wars, you may want to consider an international internship.
Unlike some internship experiences, where a company will pay the intern for the work, in many cases, such as that of the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD), the interns pay for the experience.
FSD executive director Mireille Cronin Mather says interns pay on average about $4,500 to participate in internships, which can range from weeks to months. There are 228 interns working in six countries, such as Uganda and Argentina. They tackle a variety of community projects, such as microfinancing, she says.
The key to the FSD experience, Mather says, is intensive training and immersion in the local culture to best enable interns to help with critical community projects. FSD has more than 300 community partners and 17 university partners. The program is aimed at students “who want more rigorous training.”
“You’re not going to be teaching English,” she says. “This is hard-core community development.”
Mather says the organization doesn’t just offer internships for young people, but also offers volunteering experiences of shorter times for professionals or groups.
“The professionals who participate find it renews their enthusiasm or just gives them a break from their regular jobs,” Mather says. “They make real personal connections with other people and make a real difference.”
Mather says that while many have criticized the work ethic of young people, she finds Generation Y “is not as jaded” as others and sees “everything with a fresh set of eyes.
“This generation sees the community in different ways. They’ve got a globalized perspective on life. While that perspective available to them has sometimes been negative, we’re very positive and give them that new perspective.”

See the interview here.