Two days after the official International Day of Peace (which the United Nations declared should be observed on Sept. 21), members of the campus community convened in Stokes Hall to celebrate the holiday by learning about the wide breadth of experiences that Haverford students had during their Center for Peace and Global Citizenship-sponsored summer internships.
In the CPGC Café, the interns presented “digital posters” describing their experiences and takeaways. The interns worked in places as nearby as Philadelphia and as far away as India, China, and Ghana. A few of the internships were self-designed by the student-interns, but most were born from connections between partner organizations around the world the CPGC, which aims to help students apply their skills and passions outside of campus to combat issues of injustice and build communities around the world.
Alondra Gomez ’18, who is pursuing a psychology major and education minor, worked with Philadelphia Futures, an organization that supports low-income students across Philadelphia from the beginning of high school all the way through college.
“I had never worked with high-schoolers before,” says Gomez, who had previously worked with elementary-school age children, but was not used to mentoring students so close to her own age. “They’re judgmental, but also fun and incredible and dynamic.” She and her partner intern, she explains, found themselves asking “Are we cool enough?”
Maria Padron ’19, Jacob Sweeney ’17, and Sarah Helin-Long BMC ’17 spent their summers with children and teenagers as well, but in a very different setting. The three students worked with Los Quinchos, an organization in Nicaragua that provides residential learning centers to children coming from unsafe or disadvantaged living situations. When working with children who struggle with pent-up anger or illiteracy, they explained, encouraging music and arts was particularly useful.
“Particularly for the boys, there was a noticeable difference in attention stamina,” said Padron, speaking about the benefits that the arts provided the kids. Helin-Long stressed the importance of having, “some ways to calm them, to let them relax.”
The three also talked about the effects of “volunteer tourism” on the children, and how it leads to attachment issues and the creation of unhealthy power dynamics. They hope to discuss such ethical issues as participants in the International Service Learning Summit at Kansas State University next month, alongside new CPGC Director Eric Hartman. (More below)
For many CPGC interns, their experience is not a one-and-done type of interaction. Many continue to work with their host organizations long after summer is over or use what they learned to serve the campus community or through self-designed projects funded through the CPGC.
Cooro Harris ’19 worked with the Asian Arts Initiative (AAI), a local Philly nonprofit that provides artists in Chinatown a chance to showcase their work and culture. Speaking about continuing to work with AAI, Harris said, “I get all the plethora of things I got over the summer, but in new ways.”
This showcase for CPGC-sponsored summer work was an appropriate way to mark the International Day of Peace because the Center’s internship program supports students in their quests to integrate their academic learning with practical experience in a way that fosters responsible engagement with social justice issues. Each intern was selected by the CPGC because they demonstrated an intellectual engagement with an important domestic or international issue and a commitment to understanding how global processes affect local communities.
-Michael Weber ’19
Photos by Rae Yuan ’19