Internships Far Afield: Spotlight on London, Ghana and Ecuador

Many students this summer are working or interning in countries around the world. You can get a sense of the extent of their travels from the Bowdoin Summer 2016 map. Several of these students have funded-internship grants from Bowdoin Career Planning to support their work, including the three students we profile below. These donor-funded grants allow students to pursue internships that would have otherwise been unpaid.

Allisen Haggard ’17, Human rights on a global scale

allisen haggardMajor: Government and legal studies, minor in economics
Grant: Strong/Gault Social Advancement Internship
Internship: Amnesty International, London, UK

Allisen Haggard is interning this summer for Amnesty International at their International Secretariat in London. She is part of the Global Fundraising and Engagement team, focused on growing worldwide membership and supporting Amnesty sections in different countries.

After studying abroad at University of Oxford last year, Haggard said she wanted to spend the summer working for a global human rights organization. “Amnesty International was founded in the UK and with the global headquarters in London, it was a perfect fit,” she wrote in an email. “I wanted to work for Amnesty because I’m passionate about human rights and wanted to contribute to making tangible positive change in the lives of those suffering injustice.”

So far, she said she’s “gained a valuable understanding of how an organization like Amnesty functions on a global scale,” particularly the importance of the International Secretariat’s high-level management role. “I was worried that the work would feel disconnected from Amnesty’s mission. However, I’ve come to understand that when an organization has a presence in over 150 countries and such a challenging mandate, international coordination, fundraising, and management is imperative,” she said. “It has been really rewarding to learn about the impact of the International Secretariat on sections around the world…and to make my own small contribution to it.”

Haggard said two Bowdoin classes she took on international justice her sophomore year “greatly reinforced my interest in human rights and international justice, and helped me focus my career aspirations in the field of international criminal law.” Next year, she will write an honors thesis looking at the International Criminal Court and accountability for corporate actors.


Michelle Jeong ’18, Humanity and Development Projects in West Africa
Major: Sociology, minor in government and legal studies
Grant: Preston Public Interest Career Fund
Internship: Hospital intern and education intern, Ghana

Michelle Jeong is working with Ghanaian secondary school students this summer in two very different ways. She is interning with a nonprofit called Humanity and Community Development Projects (HCDP Ghana) that is selecting “brilliant yet needy” high school seniors in the city of Ho for scholarships, and she is also helping to provide clean water to students.”The Adaklu Senior High School, and community, struggle to have a consistent supply of clean water,” Jeong writes in an email. “As a result, most of the students are fetching water from the nearby stream, which does not provide clean water.”To provide potable water, HCDP is building the school a “massive reservoir” that can collect rainwater from the school buildings during the rainy season. This store of water can then be tapped during the dry season, Jeong explained.

In addition, Jeong is volunteering at the Volta Regional Hospital, working in the maternity ward, children’s clinic, and the operating room. She says she is interested in pursuing a career in public and global health, and wanted to travel to a developing country to compare the healthcare system she is familiar with in the US with another system. At the same time, she wanted to work with a community and alongside local people.

“The most rewarding part of my summer so far has been interacting with senior high school students who have a passion to learn,” Jeong said. “So many students want to continue their education and pursue amazing careers but financial instability prevents them from doing so.” And the most challenging part, she continued, has been her reaction to differences between the two cultures. “I keep reminding myself that I am the foreigner in Ghana and it is my responsibility to learn and understand the cultural norms of the country,” she said.

diyachopra2Diya Chopra ’18: English instruction with ecological awareness
Major: Anthropology
Grant: Preston Public Interest Career Fund
Internship: Arajuno Road Project, Puyo, Ecuador

Ever since she wrote a paper for her first-year seminar class on the conflict between the oil industry and Ecuador’s indigenous people, Chopra said she’s been curious about the country. After securing a funded internship grant, she’s living this summer in the rainforest of Ecuador and interning with Arajuno Road Project. This is a nonprofit whose mission is to support the indigenous children living along the Arajuno Road (which was built by Shell Oil), and to protect the area from environmental and socio-economic decline. The organization offers both English training and conservation and community development to indigenous communities in the region.

Chopra has been tasked with updating Arajuno’s volunteer orientation program to increase foreign helpers’ awareness of cultural differences. Because volunteers are often the public face of Arajuno, “this will help them understand the importance of building relationships in the community and help develop sustainable solutions,” she said.

Chopra said she emphasizes in her training the notion that volunteers are not “helping” communities so much as “serving” them. “The aim of the project is to challenge hegemonic narratives and make people realize that no one can tell the community they are serving who they are or what is good for them,” she said.

She is also part of a team organizing a Olympic-themed summer camp that will incorporate local indigenous sports. This will help to “provide communities with a platform to preserve their culture as well as introduce kids to the upcoming Olympic games,” Chopra said.

An Indian who grew up in Dubai, Chopra has observed some of the world’s greatest economic disparities. Because of this, she said she is inspired to tackle the “colossal” problem of poverty around the world, perhaps by pursuing a career in international development.

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