PBS Internship Explores Media and the American Experience

Ally Troy

When the year began, I – like everyone else in the world – had no clue where it would take me. As we entered January, I was very hopeful in what the new year would bring me and was ready to dedicate the time and effort in finishing my last year in school. After coming back from a successfully planned trip to Europe for a close friend who also had graduated from Kennesaw in the fall, I had the motivation to get through the next two semesters, graduate, and transition into a new phase of my life and career. I had my course schedule set for the spring 2020 semester and was excited to learn for my last semester of fall 2020, I would only need to take a couple of anthropology courses and an internship. Since it was only January, I decided that I didn’t need to worry about finding an internship at that moment and I had time to find one for the upcoming semester. But little did I know that the state of the world would be flipped entirely in just a matter of weeks that would affect everyone including me.

By the mid-point of the spring 2020 semester, the conditions of the country and the world was drastically changed, and the new way of life began to bring challenges for everyone. Seemingly overnight, we went from a normally functioning world, to a world that was experiencing a global pandemic that left majority of the population to quarantine in their homes for an undetermined amount of time. This lockdown required many non-essential businesses to close down and large institutions to also shut down to keep people from spreading and contracting the virus. As expected, Kennesaw decided to close their doors for the rest of the semester, leaving all the students and faculty to facilitate school via online. At this time, regarding my next semester, I was still confident I would take my classes and find an internship by the start of August, if the world would ever get there. So, I went through the rest of the spring semester dealing with the transition to online school and guaranteeing good grades while enjoying the extended stay at home. Once I finished the semester with acceptable grades and realized I had the summer off, I decided to focus on working and relaxing through a time of global uncertainty.

But as I entered the last half of the summer, the simmering heat of responsibility began to rise as August was approaching us. By this time, I knew I had to start looking for an internship since it would be a lengthy process of searching, applying, going through the acceptance process and then registering it with Kennesaw. The only problem was that due to the unexpected lockdown, most of the institutions I initially wanted to apply for were closed for in person contact and was unsure of when they would be open. Because of my major, I originally searched for internships that were focused on anthropological work such as museum positions to do various jobs such as archiving, historical research, and curating. But since all of the positions were located in public institutions, I begin to feel hopeless as I received emails from applied positions explaining that their location was closed, and it was unknown when they would be opening back up for the public as well as the staff. The frustration and stress to find an internship during a global shut down resulted in me spending countless hours on handshake and other internship-finding platforms, scrolling through positions that met the expectations of myself, the school, and the no-contact state of the world.

With my handshake updated and minutes away from falling asleep, I decided to end one of my nights in early August by scroll through handshake and quickly apply for things that piqued my interest. By this time, the roles I were looking for changed from my original plans, and I was now looking for positions that were remote and involved work in either non-profit organizations or media. In my anthropology courses, since I always had an interest in cultural anthropology, specifically ethnography, I decided that I could look into finding a position in the media entertainment field that required a lot of culture and historic research for content creation or media production. With this in mind, I immediately stopped scrolling when I saw the position of “Outreach Production Intern” for an unheard company called RadicalMedia LLC and because it said I met all the requirements, I decided to look more into it since I had nothing else going for me.

As I started reading what the role would involve, I began to get curious as to why and how this opportunity fell into my lap. The overview of the role immediately began with asking if anyone was interested in storytelling and helping this company tell the stories of Americans across the country. After this, it informed the reader that the intern would be involved in the outreach productions of a new internet and tv special called American Portrait, and the intern’s job would include reaching out to people from across the country and get them to participate for the special, as well as other roles such as editing and content production. The more I read into the description, the giddier I was becoming. I had finally found an internship that looked promising from every aspect, and all it required was for me to apply for it. That night I sent in my application and hoped I would get a response in the following days.

While waiting for a response, I decided to do some research on the company that I had recently applied for. Upon looking at the RadicalMedia website, I realized that I stumbled onto something unheard of and extremely amazing. Of course, RadicalMedia was a media production company, but I had no idea what type of media they actually produced. But by looking at the website, it seemed that RadicalMedia had produced everything and anything. They had work with major fashion corporations like Nike, Adidas, Vans, collaboration work with celebrities and Google products, music videos, documentaries on National Geographic, helped with the production of the internationally known Broadway show of Hamilton and even created a heartwarming ad for Dial soap that I had seen on tv weeks before. The list of their work was endless and unmatched and by this point, I was dying for them to accept my application. And not long after looking into the company, I got an email from Steve S., one of the Intern supervisors informing me that he had looked over my application and wanted to set up an interview to talk more. Hearing this, all of the stress that built over the course of the unpredicted past months were wildling away, each day.

In my interview with Steve, he began by asking me why I had applied for the position and why it interested me. I explained to him that being an anthropology major had caused me to love ethnographic practices such as storytelling and documentaries, and ethnographic journalism for media productions was a role I recently found out existed and wanted to learn more. After a quick conversation about why producers at RadicalMedia wanted students that were involved in social science fields like anthropology and entertainment fields like film for their new project, Steve began talking about the project the interns would be working on. The production was called American Portrait, and it was a collaborated project with RadicalMedia and PBS to conduct informal interviews with Americans from across the country about what it was like to be an American today. The project would involve people creating media content such as videos, photos and writings to answer prompts of various humanistic topics like community, work, family, and social issues, and for interns, we would essentially be the middlemen, contacting people from different parts of the country and getting them to participate. Steve explained that this project was in the early stages of production and the interns would have an amazing time participating because their work could potentially be put on tv when the special was aired on PBS in the following year. After we talked, Steve told me that he would email me the rest of the details and when the internship would start. From that point, I was officially an intern at RadicalMedia, about to start working on an amazing project that would greatly affect my career.

So now, as we are entering the last month of my internship, I felt that it was a great time to reflect on the experience I had with working with RadicalMedia on the PBS project. Overall, I would say I had an amazing time working on this project and I will forever remember my time as an intern. Entering the internship, I had no previous experience with any entertainment industry company, and it was my first time working on a media project. Regardless of this, Steve taught us about our duties equally and reassured us that whatever educational background we were pursing, it was vital for the overall need for the role. Jumping into the deep end, our duties were to find 10 stories each month on the three topics we were assigned, and have participants create videos answering prompts about our topics. To do this, it would involve us in heavy outreaching through email, phone, social media platforms and anyway we could think of. We would also have opportunities to submit our own stories and work on other parts of production if it was needed. From the start, Steve expected us to fully commit to finding our stories and overall embody our roles, something I was definitely willing to do.

Typical workday for me.

But soon after starting I realized how big of a challenge it would be. Because I didn’t have any past experiences of outreaching, I was unaware of how hard it was and quickly got a reality check on the time and dedication I had to spend on my internship. When outreach is involved, it requires heavy acts of contacting lots of people. This meant endless searches on google, Facebook, Instagram and other web platforms to find people and convince them to participate. Before this, I had never experienced much rejection, but within this internship I found out I would constantly be told no or get no responses from people I contacted and eventually I had to learn that the key to this internship was to keep reaching out, keep convincing people that it was an amazing opportunity to be a part of this project, get over the rejection and if you do, you will eventually get people to want to participate. I had troubles dealing with this in the first couple of weeks and the constant rejection was causing me to doubt myself and if I was able to do it. Luckily, after talking to Steve and him reassuring me that it was normal to feel frustrated with the rejection, I decided I would continue my outreach with more dedication to finding stories. 

From then, the enjoyment of my internship began to grow as well as my love for what I was doing. Though the rejection was hard to deal with, the greatest thing was when people were interested in participating. From their enthusiasm to be on the project and realizing that it was a great way to help individuals express who they were and what made them unique, I started to love reaching out. I reached out every chance I got, at work, at home, on the weekends, at night, with friends, friends of friends, coworkers and distant strangers. I enjoyed getting different topics each month and having to figure out how I would go about finding individuals that fit the story. It has given me the opportunity to look into different groups within different communities that I didn’t know existed, and how people approach the same topic differently. Plus, by having Steve show us how our participants’ submissions were going to be involved in many internet specials and tv specials for American Portrait, it reconfirmed how important my work was for the production and it was that satisfying feeling that kept me going.

Check out the trailer here! https://www.pbs.org/american-portrait/series/preview/preview-10-pbs-american-portrait-trailer

Also, from working on this project, I have been in contact with crewmembers on the show who are involved with other parts of production and they have offered more ways for interns to get involved further into the project. I have gotten to record extra footage that will be used for the show, which I will be credited for, and I am currently working with the content production group helping them sort through all of the videos to create featured collections on the website and for the television specials. Personally, I love how engaging seasoned staffers who work with RadicalMedia or PBS are with the interns and how willing they are to let interns be a part of other areas of the show to teach them what goes into a media production like American Portrait. From being able to participate in outreach as well as content production, I learned how much work is involved in content making and how many roles are crucial to producing something that will be enjoyed by millions of people.

It has also made me more aware of how necessary anthropology is within a field like entertainment. The entirety of the project is centered of the humanistic view of America and how people from varying backgrounds view the world in different perspectives but ultimately have similar experiences. Like in anthropology, it is a way to learn about the lives of groups, communities, and individuals, listen and record their stories and reflect on the human experience. It’s a non-traditional but new way of practicing ethnographic methods such as informal interviews, cross-cultural referencing, and research though the advancements of technology. This experience also causes reflection on past anthropological courses since we are dealing with a country-wide population of potential participants. Our topics let us reflect on a particular communities’ societal past and how they’ve been overall shaped by society. I have definitely relied back to the teachings in classes such as Cultural Diversity in the U.S., Human Variation, Methods of Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology when I am writing about how my work is related to my degree.

Check out my own submission to American Portrait here! https://www.pbs.org/american-portrait/story/17620/alexandra-t-loganville-ga-a-days-work-is

My time at my internship was unmatched to anything that I would have ever thought I would be doing. At the beginning of the year, I was sure that I would be in an anthropological internship that involved museum work, and at the time, it was what I wanted to pursue. But from the twist of fate, the pandemic and having to work remotely has led me into another career path that includes new and innovative anthropological practices in the fields of visual anthropology, journalism, and media production. My future career goals now involve getting into media production research and being able to work on an array of entertainment projects to provide an anthropological perspective on film, tv, and internet content. I am very grateful of what this internship has done in the long run of my career and has steered me to a path where I would find fulfillment in pursing,

I would recommend this program to anyone that is interested in looking at a new perspective of cultural anthropology. This was very different from what I was originally looking for, but in the long-term I am grateful that I found it. It’s perfect for students who would enjoy adding an anthropological view on entertainment and media content or those who like film, documentaries, and talking about current social issues. Like any intern, I am hoping a job offer does come from this opportunity but if not, I will still cherish how this internship how grown me both professionally and personally. During an uncertain time in the world, this internship has brought much joy, confidence, and skill building to myself and my career, and I will be forever contented with my experience in with RadicalMedia, PBS, and working on American Portrait.

Putting on My Anthropology Hat in the Home Health Care Industry

Sunny Sewak

When I think back to when I began at KSU as a Anthropology major, I really did not know what to expect or how the internship process worked.  I knew what the word “intern” meant but at this point in my life I just couldn’t see myself doing it.  I knew I was going to probably end up doing it at the end of my senior year so I really did not worry or put too much thought into the whole thing.  I knew I had plenty of time before I had to worry about it.

            Eventually my internship caught up with me and before I knew it I was registering for summer semester internship 2020 which was also my very last course I needed to complete to graduate from KSU with my bachelors degree.  I felt very nervous about what was to come of this internship experience and felt that I was not prepared at all.  I realized later on that my personal anxiety about my internship was lack of knowledge of even knowing how the whole process worked or how much work was involved.  Its natural to be scared of the unknown but for me personally there were other concerns that may not plague the regular college age student.

            My worry was not just what I was going to do for my internship but how will this mix in with my personal home life and my real job.  I’m not your traditional college age.  I am in my early 40’s with a family and a job.  Supporting my family is the number one responsibility in my life and is the main reason why I am completing my bachelors degree right now.  I knew that there were some internships that may pay  some small amount but most of them do not pay anything so the thought of having to work somewhere for my internship without pay was terrifying to me.  Plus the thought that I would have to do this around my real job full time schedule drove me insane.

            Once I was in the position where I had to finally do my internship, I spoke to my department internship advisor about my options and explained my own personal position.  That conversation let a big weight off my shoulders.  All those past few years of wondering and worrying ended right there for me.  I was advised that my actual job could possibly be my internship if my supervisor would approve.  The business I was in which is elderly in-home care can work out as a cultural anthropology internship.  This totally made me look at what I do every day in a completely different light and I immediately realized that there is all sorts of cultural anthropological things going on in the in-home care world.  Needless to say, I was not worried anymore about what I was going to do for my internship.

            Before the internship began I thought about how I would relate my internship to my major.  I knew there was a lot of cultural anthropology type stuff going on at my internship site but I didn’t really know what or how I was going to focus on any of it.  I tried hard to put it all into perspective.  I also did not know yet what was going to be asked of me from the curriculum.  Once the internship officially began and I saw what was on the syllabus it became much clearer on how I was going to get through this.  Now I just needed to put on my anthropology hat on while at work rather than just another day to day employee going through the same day to day motions.

            When the internship began, I made sure that I read all the assignments on the syllabus.  I wanted to have a clear idea of what was asked of me while I was at the site.  I had to make sure that I was thinking in a different way while there at work and how I would relate it to my assignments.  I learned this was very important to do because I never thought of what I do for work daily, I never viewed it in a cultural anthropological light.  I had to stop thinking as an employee and start thinking as an anthropologist while working.  I had to view things from a different lens which, at times, was not as easy as it sounds.

            I am certain that if I had done my internship way back in my younger college years, I would have done a more traditional internship.  I think it was a little difficult for me to really get into the way of thinking in an anthropological way because a majority of my work is in an office atmosphere.  There was not much hands on type stuff going on in my situation so for my internship, I had gotten involved with other areas of my workplace to gain proper information for my assignments, and that made it easier for me to gather information.  Gaining the proper amount of information for my assignments was also difficult but I eventually got through it by referring to my readings.

            Viewing my workplace internship site from a different lens was the single most important thing for my internship.  I had to really try hard to view and analyze things as an anthropologist which can prove hard when you get stuck into day to day activities.  It was very easy to get back into an employee state of mind which showed in my first initial paper and journals I wrote.  I had to write as an anthropologist rather than tell the story of my job and day to day tasks.  I had to delve deep into the reasons why certain issues were happening and how they tie into the anthropology world.  Tying the readings together with what I do really helped open the doors for a lot of every day issues I deal with and made me think of them from an anthropological angle which I had never done before.

Office staff working hard.

            I feel that many Anthropology courses at KSU I completed definitely helped me with doing my internship, especially the cultural anthropology classes.  While I was doing my internship I often thought about certain classes, papers and assignments I completed that directly correlated with my internship.  I can honestly say they helped me with my focus and view of what I was doing at my internship and without having completed those classes, my internship assignments would have been difficult to complete.  Those classes helped shape the understanding of what exactly was being asked of me while doing my internship as an Anthropology major.

            In the end I feel that my experience with my internship was a good one.  It really made me open my eyes in a different way and focus on things I never really thought about before.  I learned there is so much cultural anthropology involved in what I do every day.  Anthropology courses I have taken at KSU really prepared me for my internship and I am happy that I had them to refer back to.  I feel it is important to understand what the internship experience is about early on in college so that it isn’t such a shock when you finally have to do it.  I am happy to have had this experience with my internship and workplace and I feel that it has made me a better employee as well as opened up my anthropological mind to other areas I may not have thought about before.

Clients and staff happy to help out with my internship pictures.

Internships are a MUST!

Anthony Calloway

For my final semester I chose to do an internship. From the very beginning of my course work I have always been interested in doing cultural research, I was given the opportunity to work with the homeless population in the metro Atlanta area this summer. I was able to work and perform ethnographic research at Must Ministries a nonprofit charitable organization located in Marietta, GA that operates a homeless shelter and outreach program. From the very beginning of the semester I was very excited to begin doing my first ethnographic study where I could begin to apply what I’ve learned during my course work at KSU, by studying and analyzing the behavior of the homeless (clients) through interviews, participant and non-participant observation in the hope of better understanding  this particular sub-culture.

I began my internship working in the intake section of the Elizabeth Inn shelter, which was at first overwhelming and exciting at the same time. In the intake section  I was able to conduct structured interviews with many of the clients, which went surprisingly well, since I didn’t have considerable experience conducting interviews, the structured interview did not require extensive training but it assisted in improving my overall interview technique as well as being an excellent way of building confidence for future unstructured interviews and field work. Working with and interacting with the homeless population helped me to gain a better understanding of the daily life of this sub-culture of our society by spending significant time studying their behavior. Later I worked in case management, where I was able to build rapport with many clients and conduct more extensive interviews with the clients which gave me a broader view of the homeless and what’s more, while working in case management I realized that each person’s situation was unique.

This internship has not only provided me with an  invaluable experience it  has also allowed me to have an one a kind experience not only from the stand point of applying what I’ve learned during my course work in the form of observations, interviews, fieldnotes all used to form conclusions based on data, but also by broadening my perception of the homeless, and obtain a more complete depiction of this sub-culture of our society.

Interning at WonderRoot, or… How to Find an Answer to “So what are you going to do with that major?”

Averi Waites

Going into my last spring semester as an Anthropology student, I knew my anthropological interests- cultural research, art, and social justice. Needing an internship to graduate, I used those key interests and found the nonprofit organization WonderRoot. WonderRoot works directly at the intersection of art and social justice through using creative initiatives and community partnerships. Their programming includes artist fellowships, public art initiatives, and community dialogues. The opportunity could not have aligned more perfectly with my interests so I immediately reached out. I was taken on as a Programs and Events Intern working under the Programs and Events Coordinator, Nina Dolgin. I really enjoyed my time with the WonderRoot team and always felt that my questions, ideas, and opinions were wanted and taken seriously.

Through my intern program project and conversations with some of the WonderRoot staff I was really able to development myself professionally and focus into what I wanted my career (and life) to look like after graduation.

I had the opportunity to create my own program with the end product being a formal program proposal. I really loved the idea of community members being a part of the art-making process, so I decided to create an intergenerational community-based art program that would pair an older participant who was present during the 60’s Civil Rights Movement, and a younger participant who supports the current Black Lives Matter Movement. Together they would create a new piece of social justice art that incorporates themes from both participants experiences. Research on intergenerational programs showed that programs like this produced confidence in participants, reduced age-related preconceptions, created community, and stressed the importance of connecting art and narrative. With this research I was able to clearly set goals that stated what I wanted the participants to get out of my program. My evaluation methods for successfulness included qualitative methods, much like anthropological research, such as pre and post evaluation, interviews, and participant observation. Assessing the successfulness and whether the goals are reached is important for final reports that need to be given to any funders or stakeholders in the program. I also had to include a program schedule and budget, which my internship coordinator helped me realistically frame and break down. After completing the final document, I felt very accomplished and proud of my work. I always consulted Nina with my ideas, but the program is my program that I get to take with me after the internship. I genuinely enjoyed brainstorming ideas for a program, as well as fleshing the idea out into a detailed proposal.

While I am still finding my place in the social justice journey, interning at WonderRoot really helped me focus my career pursuits. Many anthropology majors know what they love about Anthropology but do not know how to translate that into an actual job. Before my internship, if people asked what I wanted to do with my major (which all anthro majors are used to being asked) I would say something general and unclear, like cultural research at an organization, museum, or academia. Of course, no one really knows what that means and I do not think I really did either. Being at WonderRoot helped me translate my “cultural research” answer to a more confident answer that is much more clear and concise for professionals. WonderRoot showed me that I wanted to conduct qualitative research in underserved, minority communities in order to create meaningful and impactful programs for that community. Focusing and clarifying my career desires has really helped me when searching for jobs, and I was able to very quickly find potential jobs in which I was able to market myself because of my time at WonderRoot. If you are an Anthropology student who knows your passions but has no idea how to make that into a career, I highly suggested taking an internship. Find an organization that closely aligns with your passions, apply, and learn more about yourself- professionally and personally.

Community Relations Leads to Full-Time Relationship

Landis Guy

My internship at Sterling Estates of West Cobb Senior Living Community has proven to be the best decision I have every made. In January 2019, I started my internship, excited to work with seniors. I got hired on as a Community Relations Intern, learning the ropes of the sales process. At first, I wasn’t sure if ‘sales’ was going to be for me. But, after seeing what an impact the Community Relations Counselors, Martha and Sherry, were making, I wanted learn every bit of the process that I could.

As an intern, my main responsibilities were the daily tasks like making sure we had enough copies, keeping the conference room tidy, and going on tours to learn as much as I can about the selling process and community. Slowly, I started handling more tasks, such as working with the Director of Maintenance in order to ‘flip’ rooms on time. In February, I was offered a full-time position as a Community Relations Counselor with my main focus in coordinating the move in process with new residents.

I want to thank the Department of Geography and Anthropology for this opportunity, because without the requirement for an internship, I wouldn’t have the career I love today. I also want to thank Dr. Alice Gooding for all of the help she has been in helping me to achieve my goals this semester.

Study Abroad: Understanding Human Ecology in Guinea-Bissau

Rachel Langkau

All of us with our two Kriol teachers Falarim and Sana along with one other student outside Tchicote

The broad goal of the summer study abroad practicum with Dr. Lundy was to attempt to understand human ecology in Guinea-Bissau, specifically how millennials (in this case defined as students enrolled in university in Guinea-Bissau, ages 18-38) perceive their environment. We spent a majority of our time moving between universities and meeting with students, faculty, and administration. Apart from collecting data, much of our summer abroad consisted of meeting with government officials, government and non-government organizations, and groups involved in environmental projects and conservation efforts around the country. We also spent time traveling to different regions in order to observe the differences between the different environmental zones and to see as many historically and culturally significant sites as we could in order to learn more about the history of the country, particularly its ecology and its peoples. The primary data collection techniques, which were employed, included keeping field notes from direct and participant observations, group community mapping exercises, Likert-scale surveys, content analysis of student artwork, and semi-structured interviews. In addition to students, administration, and faculty, participants of the study also included environmentally focused civil society organization managers, government officials, international and domestic
businesspersons, and community members.

Me numbering and labeling surveys at Catholic University
All of us with Ambassador Mushingi and one of his colleagues

On a typical day, we would be up and eat breakfast at our hotel, which usually consisted of bread and Nescafé. We almost always left by 9:30 am if not earlier depending on the events of the day. We would take a taxi from our hotel to Tchicote most of the time, the country’s teachers’ training college. If not Tchicote we were likely going to either go to University Lusófona or the University Amilcar Cabral. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (if we had no other meetings scheduled), we had Kriol lessons (a Portuguese-based Creole language spoken as the lingua franca in Guinea-Bissau) with Sana and Falarim (two recently graduated English teachers) for about two hours. Once we got to the schools, we would set our stuff down in a room where we could work. We then would recruit students by walking around the campus and asking students to “ajuda par pesquisa” or “help with research” in what was for me especially, broken Portuguese. Kamran was by far the most helpful when it came to addressing whole classes or groups of people because he was the most fluent. Sami was by far the most outgoing, she was the best at rounding up students, and from there Kamran and I could break down the general instructions. Recruited students, faculty, and administration would generally follow us to the room where they could sit down and if they had questions, Dr. Lundy was in the room, or they would just fill out the surveys in the hallways or classrooms, wherever we could find space. We would often have lunch at the university if we could. Tchicote had a cantina/cafeteria where a woman who also had a restaurant across from the school also ran the kitchen. After a solid day of collecting data at the universities, if time was permitting, we would explore and walk around the small city center or we would keep ourselves busy with meetings, museums, and card games. We pretty much always had dinner close to the hotel; we would walk to find a restaurant and back. Before bed we all did some journaling and reading before getting to bed to start it all over again in the morning.

Me with some kids at Dr. Lundy’s friend Tchoca’s house
Sami, Kamran, and me at the IFAN Museum in Dakar, Senegal

We learned a lot about the history of Guinea-Bissau as well as its environment from our trip. On one day a biology professor that we first met at Tchicote drove us around and he showed us different “humid zones” (wetlands and flood zones) within Bissau and spoke a lot about ongoing pollution and other environmental concerns affecting the capital city of Bissau. One of the things that surprised me the most from the trip was just how passionate people are about protecting their environment and diversifying agriculture. When we were at Tchicote for the 2nd National Convention for the English Language Teachers Association, I spoke to a classroom of students and teachers who talked about their concerns for their natural environment. We also learned a lot about the importance of biodiversity and conservation when we went to IBAP, which stands for Instituto da Biodiversidade e das Áreas Protegidas (Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas). We learned that it takes about four to five years to establish a protected area and they take into consideration the people who live in those areas, imposing regulations that align with traditions as best as they can. They actively promote ecotourism in the protected areas, which also serve as national parks.

Overall my experience in Guinea-Bissau was amazing. We were lucky to have so many opportunities to speak with environmental and social organizations and government officials like Tulinabo S. Mushingi the U.S. ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. It was really cool to learn so much about another country’s culture and to be welcomed into it. As much as we loved learning from students in Guinea-Bissau it really felt like they enjoyed learning form us too.

Sami, Kamran, and me in front of IBAP
All of us with Raul Fernandes, our host, and Justino Biai the director of IBAP

International Rescue Committee, Atlanta, GA

Sami Andreas

For my internship, I worked at the International Rescue Committee in the Northlake Parkway location. I worked as an Immigration Caseworker Intern; my roles varied, they ranged from dealing with administrative work, to processing LPR (Legal Permanent Residents) I-485 applications for refugees and N400 applications for LPR for Naturalizations. The job was challenging and it required me to learn immigration processes. I was tasked with learning all the different forms and how to use the organization’s database. Along with processing and interviewing clients, I was also tasked with interviewing clients, and translating documents. The most interesting part of doing this type of work is interviewing clients and helping them develop the most accurate application for citizenship status and LPR status. This part of the job was very personal to me because I also went through the process, except now I was on the other side of the desk, providing assistance to those hopeful applicants. Although the job required a lot of time, the satisfaction it brought me was unmatched. Because I know personally how hard and trying the process can be for a refugee, I was more than honored to be part of a team that allowed me to take part in the process.

The Immigration Department at IRC is mainly composed of interns, who are students from Emory, GATech, UGA, and GSA. The Department also has a handful of caseworkers and

legal representatives such as paralegals and lawyers. My typical day consisted of processing Biometric Notices, Receipt Notices, RFE (Request for Evidence) sent by USCIS, Approval Notices, and Oath Ceremonies. On some occasions, I was tasked with creating brochures for citizen workshops and also correspondence with the USCIS and DHS (Department of Homeland Security). The IRC works to provide services to clients and is tasked with vetting for clearance and eligibility. From my observations, most of the workers are immigrants who felt a great desire and sense of duty to clients. This is reflected by the amount of client transfers that the organization gets from other organizations. The employees, within their right, operate at full capacity at times working after hours to process late applicants, and fix problems. It was a real pleasure to work with the IRC, and I hope to continue working with them in the future.