Descriptions of Past Internships

Vignesh Ramachandran (Spring 2017, Middlebury College), UNRWA

This spring semester I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant at a United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency Preparatory School in Jabal Nuzha. UNRWA serves the educational needs of Palestinian refugee children enrolled with the Agency at several school across Amman and Jordan. In my time at the preparatory school not only did I have the opportunity to hone my teaching skills with the 8th, 9th, and 10th graders, I also had the opportunity to attend classes with them in Arabic - mainly history, science, and Fusha. I also attended several events that occurred at the school with the students, like lectures about mental health, student led discussions about fighting the presence of drugs and gender-based violence in schools, and competitions that the students were involved in.

This internship exposed me to the Jordanian education system and more specifically UNRWA’s programs in education. Moreover I developed friendships with both students and teachers, enhancing my cultural understanding of Palestinian refugees in Jordan.

Daniel Buchman (Spring 2017, Middlebury College), Mabarrat Um el Hussein

Mabarrat Um el Hussein is a home for at-risk and orphaned boys founded by Zain el-Sharaf (HM King Hussein's mother) in 1959. The Mabarrat currently operates under the patronage of HRH Princess Basma and serves a total of 70+ boys between the ages of 6 and 18 years-old. Some live at home but take advantage of the Mabarrat’s services while others (a little over half) spend Saturday through Thursday at the Mabarrat and return home for the weekend. 

My internship had two aspects to it; the first was administrative work. The Mabarrat is constantly looking for funding, so much of my job was to either write, edit, or translate potential proposals using a variety of media. I would work with the Mabarrat's general supervisor, who is a wonderful hard-working woman named Hanan Gammoh, to locate potential funding sources and work with her to assess what in the Mabarrat needs development or funding. I also translated press releases, wrote donor thank you cards, and made a film showcasing for board members all the Mabarrat’s annual activities. Preparing for the annual Diplomatic Corps Bazar fundraising event was also a large part of the job.

The second aspect was locating volunteers and teaching courses. I was tasked with finding volunteers and supervising their work with the students while setting up other activities throughout the semester. I brought a storyteller and a stage magician to the Mabarrat and organized a visit to King’s Academy. I also taught an English course to a group of local community women, who rely on the course to secure work and improve their quality of life, in addition to establishing a film production course using our newly renovated video lab facility. Throughout this time, I lived in the Mabarrat, so that the boys could get used to me and I could get to know them. 

Cassandra Wanna (Spring 2017, Middlebury College), CARE Jordan

CARE Jordan is an international non-governmental organization, and one of its many roles within the country is assistance to refugee populations.  My work with the organization was within Azraq Camp which is currently the second largest camp in Jordan and provides shelter to almost 55,000 Syrian refugees.  CARE has a Community Center within each village of the camp that provides activities, Case Management offices, and from which Outreach Teams are dispatched to meet with individuals within the camp from the comfort of their own caravans.

During my time with CARE, I was involved with all of these activities and was able to work within every village in the camp.  However, the majority of my time was spent in the after-school activities program for children. I was charged with planning and implementing activities for the children and leading a team of Syrian refugees who also worked with the children.  Most of my internship was physically spent within the camp, but I also worked on revision of documents in English, translation of documents from Arabic to English, drafting of proposals, and donor mapping.  Overall, this is an amazing organization, and the work although challenging will be most beneficial for the right individual.

Katie Preston (Spring, 2016, Middlebury College), Humanitarian Reseach Services

Humanitarian Research Services (HRS) collects vital information on humanitarian conditions across Syria to share with humanitarian organizations working inside the country. Focusing on Opposition-controlled areas, HRS gathers data on the realities of life in different Syrian villages, and tracks the movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) for wider use.

My work at HRS focused on the northwest province of Idlib. I was responsible for compiling daily updates of events occurring in ‘my’ province, via different open-source resources. These events ranged from daily bombardments by Government and Russian forces to rises in fuel and bread prices. The bulk of my work at HRS was comprised of translating reports coming directly from Syria. Reports were often standardized site assessments of different villages written in MSA, but also included transcripts of analysts’ conversations in Syrian dialect. Reports dealt with the demographics, healthcare needs, aid distribution, and physical safety of cities and towns throughout Idlib. After translating reports, I would enter them to a larger HRS database. HRS’s interns would also catalog conflict events across all of Syria and enter them alongside the humanitarian data we were collecting and translating. I assisted analysts in their research projects, while conducting independent research. My research project focused on the string of protests that took place in Maarat al-Nu’man in the spring of 2016.

Daniel Peña (Spring 2015, Middlebury College), ARDD-Legal Aid

Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD)-Legal Aid is a Jordanian independent non-governmental organization that seeks to increase access to justice through legal and capacity building, and advocacy programs. The goal is to empower marginalized communities and contribute as a civil society organization to a just and stable society.

My internship at ARDD-Legal Aid has provided me with a much widened understanding of the role of local NGO's in Jordan and their effectiveness in implementing change. While at ARDD-Legal Aid, I was entrusted with a variety of tasks that ranged from donor research and development work to helping plan and execute the first International Women's Day Conference that was held in partnership with Princess Basma bint Talal. Specifically, I assisted with ongoing data collection for projects; translation of surveys from the programs beneficiaries; a mapping system of Jordanian based civil society organizations; an in-depth analysis of Zakat and Waqf and its relation to humanitarian assistance in the MENA-region, and the first Quarterly Gender Pulse that provided an analysis of the regions media coverage of gender-based issues, specifically in regards to Arab women.

Working with ARDD-Legal Aid, I have had the opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge that transcends the walls of this organization to the hearts of those thousands of refugees living in Jordan. Their stories, which I have heard through reporting, stories discussed within the office, or personal interactions on site visits to Zaatari or workshops, has provided me with a holistic image of the Syrian refugee crisis, the challenges facing Jordanian youth, and the ongoing issues and challenges that women in Jordan face. While these stories may have brought heartache and questioning about the future of these individuals within the context of Jordan, ARDD-Legal Aid has proven to be an outlet and source of empowerment. The organization has provided the most vulnerable populations with support through a variety of outlets, units and programming. The projects and events that I have had a privilege to participate in and contribute to at ARDD-Legal Aid, have only furthered my hopes and perspective for prosperity and justice within the region.

Will Brennan-Arffmann (Spring 2015, Middlebury College), Akhbarek

This spring semester I was fortunate to work with Naseem Tarawneh and Mariam Adas on various projects they began this past winter. I helped launch various websites and social media platforms under their supervision, but primarily focused on creating written and visual content for Akhbarek— a website focused on sharing stories surrounding the topics of women’s issues and gender/sexuality in the Arab world. Weekly activities involved meeting with fellow writers and the graphic designer for brainstorming sessions, which typically occurred every Sunday. After deciding on which stories we wanted to write, each person would take on certain responsibilities to complete them by the proposed deadline. I partook in completing different aspects of the story depending on my interests in the subjects; sometimes I wrote an article, while other times I was assigned to photographing or filming content that complimented the written portion of the story. We would prioritize assignments according to their deadlines, and throughout the rest of the week we travelled within the city of Amman (and sometimes explore its surrounding areas) to document stories through photography, film, and recorded interviews.

Another part of my job was to develop Akhbarek’s presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. My primary responsibility was to provide images that either advertised written content on Akhbarek or highlighted accomplished women around the world. I wrote captions for each image in Modern Standard Arabic and English, and sometimes would include phrases in the Jordanian dialect if the post addressed an issue within Amman and/or its surrounding areas.