City and Summer Livin’

Summer is awesome. The weather is beautiful, nectarines are in season, and the fireflies are enchanting. These lovely months also demand employment though; I’ve been lucky enough that my summer has been a trifecta of engaging work, great food, and regular firefly sightings (thunderstorms have unfortunately impeded on the weather requirement).

This summer I am working as an intern at the Philadelphia Public School Notebook through a Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) grant. I’m essentially working as a reporter, covering the… dynamic, let’s say… state of Philadelphia public education. I’ve covered community meetings regarding charter expansion, hunger strikes, and profiled laid off teachers. Needless to say, there is a ton going on right now in the Philly ed world, and I am really in the thick of it.

Let me back up about the CPGC quickly. The CPGC is one of three academic centers at Haverford, alongside the Hurford Center for Arts and Humanities and the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center. All three of them are wonderful funding wells for Haverford students, and students use that money for research, student-led seminars, art productions, and more.

The CPGC, specifically, provides students with funding for both international and domestic projects related to social justice; projects can be either self-designed or take advantage of an existing relationship between the CPGC and an institution. Defining “social justice” is really difficult. And it should be, because the phrase means something a little bit different to everyone. That means that students have a ton of agency in deciding what sorts of projects they would like to present to the CPGC, and the possibilities really are limitless. I have had friends teach English in Ghana, conduct medical anthropology thesis research in Brazil, and film documentaries with professors.

All of these projects are fully funded. CPGC grants include: travel and transportation costs, food stipends, and housing costs. If you are on financial aid, they also cover your summer earnings expectation, so you can get the most out of your internship without worrying about making money on the side. Also, when a place doesn’t have to pay you to work for them, getting hired at incredible places becomes much more feasible.

Quick recap of a lot of information: CPGC has a lot of money and they fully fund Haverford students to have incredible internships related to social justice anywhere in the world. This is awesome.

With my CPGC grant, I am living in West Philadelphia, just off of the University of Pennsylvania campus, with two friends from Haverford. The commute to work is simple – just a regional rail ride away. I’ve enjoyed indulging in the excellent taco shop and popsicle joint in my neighborhood, and exploring different nooks of the city. My favorite adventures have been noshing at a food truck festival, and perusing the Barnes Foundation and its beautiful artwork.

Ultimately, I could not have asked for a better summer job. As an English major, Sociology and Education double-minor, this internship presents opportunities to engage with all of my disciplines. I’ve interviewed major players in the Philly ed world, from district officials, to councilmen, to CEOs of charter schools. I’ve also talked with community members, and met with high school students who have formed their own student activism groups. I’ve been able to think and rethink about my own views of public education — the field in which I would ultimately like to work — on a daily basis, and expand my own network of possible professional endeavors.

And, when I come home from a long day of writing and interviewing, I can grab a nectarine, sit out on my porch, and watch the fireflies dance.