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.