Blog Post #5 | Looking Forward

Having completed my internship and had some time to think over all of my experiences I know that my time at the International Rescue Committee has greatly influenced my career goals and prepared me for a field that I could likely end up in. Although working in Refugee Resettlement is not expressly considered social work in a lot of ways it resembles the field. One aspect of the internship I was not prepared for was feeling emotionally drained. Seeing up to three clients a day was great because I got to meet and learn about new people and a commonly misunderstood population, but the meetings were not without their hard conversations and problems.

Throughout my time at the IRC I was able to see at least five of the clients I worked with achieve employment, but the jobs they were got were not ones that I was particularly happy to see them being funneled into. Most clients would apply to be housekeepers, work in restaurants, or seek other entry level jobs. Although clients would be enthused most of the time they got employment, it was bittersweet knowing the ladder they would have to climb to obtain higher caliber positions. Other clients had a much more realistic picture of the job market after searching for employment. Many expressed frustration and remorse having been given a overly optimistic view of the American job market in the country they left. For many arriving in the U.S. was a rude awakening and some stated they were better off where they came from.

Even though I only worked in the office for three months I still felt emotionally drained and discouraged leaving the office throughout my time. Although that is the “nature” of the work, I found myself doubting the prospect of continuing work in the field of social work or non-profits because of the sheer heaviness of the work that is done. Now, having had the chance to reflect on my internship I don’t feel as disheartened. My internship provided me with one of the most meaningful experiences in my life thus far, but additionally reminded me that society is flawed and problems can’t be fixed overnight. Though I now see Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. as a flawed process, it is better to reflect on these issues and deal with the emotional aspects than cut yourself off. These heavy subjects demand attention and hopefully that attention can lead to concrete improvements in the system.


Moving Forward… |Blog #5

Looking back now at my summer, I reflect on how it has differed from the previous. Just 2 summers ago, I was sitting at home relaxing with my younger brother, probably playing some video game for the 3rd time that day, maybe working on AP summer homework later that evening.

This past summer was quite the opposite.

Everyday I woke up at 4 or 5 in the morning to have time to shower, eat a good breakfast (although not always), and get to work to start production at 6 am sharp. I would preform chemical experiments based on my own scientific research of previous publications of similar work, and analyze the results that evening or the following morning.

Although I have enjoyed the work I have done, I am in a position to move on to the next big journey in my life. Whether that be another internship, study abroad, or some other third thing, I cannot wait to see what awaits.

Formal to Informal | Blog #4

Throughout my 3 month internship, my favorite part was not learning about chemistry and working on interesting projects (although both were admirable), but was seeing and experiencing the change in relationships with my co-workers from formal to informal.

My boss is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, and the main co-workers I interacted with was a Post-Doctorate student with a PhD focus on radiochemistry. Super qualified individuals that I respect very much. But their names to me? Pete and Allen.

It was incredible to think that these men, who both deserve the titles Professor and Doctor in front of their names, preferred me to call them by their first names. It was as if I was an equal working alongside them, rather than working below them. This created a very welcoming atmosphere, one where we both worked, joked around, and forged strong relationships both professionally, and personally.


Blog 5 | Final Topic

As my internship with A2LP comes to a close, I’ve had a collection of different emotions. The first and strongest one being the realization that I’m nervous about my work. Even though I’ve spent hours revising my lesson plans, researching activities, asking for feedback, and putting a great deal of thought into every decision made, I wonder if these lesson plans will be enough to help the new LTAs teach Spanish. I wonder if I’ve prepared them to walk into the classroom and have confidence in themselves. I wonder if they will feel ill prepared as they read over the lesson plans. I wonder if they will despise how much explanations I’ve put in to help them. I wonder if they will think that what I’ve written is unnecessary.

However, the second emotion that followed nervousness was, surprisingly, a sense of acceptance. After thinking a lot about the whole feeling of “Have I done enough?” I feel as though I honestly can’t do anymore because, quite frankly, a good teacher can’t teach from a script. There are so many things that can go wrong in a lesson or that may take the lesson into a new direction. It’s up to the teacher to analyze and figure out where the lesson should go in order for the students to get the most out of it. I can’t be in the classroom teaching for every teacher, and the things I suggest may not work in some classrooms. I understand that no matter how awesome these lesson plans are (or how awesome I think they are at least) I cannot fully prepare a new teacher for that moment when, suddenly, a student decides they want to sharpen their pencil while they are speaking. Or that moment when a student falls out of a chair despite them insisting on them to sit down. Or that moment when a mentor teacher interrupts a lesson for snack time. Or any moment that isn’t in “the plan”.

These moments that create the unpredictability of teaching are the exact reasons I love to teach. The moments that aren’t part of “the plan” are the ones where a student asks me how to say something in Spanish and then uses it the rest of the class. Or when a student who’s struggled the entire class finally gets something correct. Or at the end of class a student comes up and asks you not to leave. I hope that all of the other LTAs have classes with unpredictability and spontaneous fun. I also hope that my lesson plans help them navigate some of the more problematic moments of unpredictability.

Blog 4 | Topic 9

Ann Arbor

While I have lived in Ann Arbor the past four years during my undergrad, this was the first time while commuting that I honestly started to miss living in the city. I live about an hour away from Ann Arbor, however, the traffic can be so unbearable that I often would stay all day in the city in order to miss it. After meetings with my partner or project manager, I would find a quiet place to study, usually Espresso Royale on State Street or the 3rd floor Asian library in the Graduate library and I would revise my lessons. During this individual work time, I wished I could just take the bus up to my apartment and just stay there instead of having to commute back home.

I’ve realized that over time I went from hating Ann Arbor as a freshman to loving this city and even recognizing it as home. When I finally completed my lease in August, I would sometimes just spend the night in Ann Arbor rather than commute home to sleep in my bed. I love being near so many people and being a part of such an amazing community of people.

Blog 2 | Topic 7 | A thought about my internship

When I think about my future, I can see myself in a variety of different situations after graduation. I could leave the country and practice my Spanish speaking skills. I could stay in the country, but leave Michigan to find a fresh start. I could stay in Michigan and go to graduate school for a few years. In all of the different scenarios I have one thing that remains constant; no matter where I go or what I choose to do in my life I want to continue teaching. I honestly don’t even care too much what I teach (even though I love Spanish, I could definitely see myself doing some ESL teaching). With these thoughts I realize that I’ve found my passion and I have steadily been working towards a career in education.

With this in mind, I realize that this internship with A2LP and the opportunity to create lesson plans as well as work with an experienced teacher as my program manager. I have enjoyed working with Claudia. She’s helped me learn more Spanish grammar, think deeply about lesson planning and overall I have enjoyed her understanding nature. Lastly, I am so thankful that I have had the chance to work all summer doing something I love to do.


Nicaragua’s teachings on trusting myself! Blog #5

Final Topic – When you finish your internship, take a moment to reflect on the impact of the experience.

This summer has been one of the most adventurous summers of my life. My internship in Nicaragua has shaped not only my intellectual capabilities, but also me as a person. Even now two weeks after my arrival back in the Michigan, I can still catch the subtle differences in who I was  before the trip and who I am after my trip.

The night before my departure to Nicaragua, I was in somewhat of a panic mode.  I was less than 24 hours from traveling to a completely unknown country, and had spoken to my supervisor only once in a 15 minute skype call. It was my first time traveling completely alone, and although I had been to other “third-world” countries before, I still felt the fear of not knowing what to expect. As I walked outside the airport, I was approached by many very persistent individuals asking if I needed a taxi, some even attempting to speak to me in English. I wondered what about me gave off the fact that I was coming from an English speaking country, since after all I was born in Costa Rica, so I didn’t think that I looked that different from them. But I soon learned that even my way walking differentiated me, I kept walking and finally saw a man who I later learned was named Jose Santos holding a paper with my name. We went to his car, and were on our way to what I would soon call my home.

Something I immediately noticed was how little small talk there is when you initially meet someone in Nicaragua; which made me (a very bad small talker) a little uncomfortable at times. I would have to learn to speak first since it was the only way for strangers to talk to you. We rode through the city of Managua, and I was reminded of what driving outside of Michigan was like… in Managua in particularly…. Absolutely no rules! We stopped at a stoplight and I was shocked to see  the hanging feet of two small children riding in the back of a pickup truck, something I had never seen be accepted to publicly. When we finally arrived at my “apart-hotel” I was introduced to the owners and security guard, and after passing various locks I was finally in my room. But to my surprise, there was nothing there waiting for…. No food, no water, no toilet paper. I asked the owner where was the nearest supermarket, and he gave me somewhat of an idea, but I was also introduced to how different directions were given: no streets, no addresses, only reference points. I decided to put on my big girl shoes and headed to the supermarket, at ten o’clock at night  in a completely foreign place.

When I look back, I have no idea how I made it back to my apartment. I am just thankful that I did. Being taken to a completely unknown place without any direction from anyone is something I had never experienced and I am glad that I was able to do this my first night there, since it definitely put me in survival mode. From the very beginning I realized that in order for me to get to places and not have the next ten weeks be completely miserable, was to learn to get out. I was going to have to learn to talk to strangers, ask questions, and step out of that comfort zone that I was so used to being in. Most importantly, I needed to learn to trust myself, and  walk confidently, even when I felt in complete fear mode.

During my internship, I was able to work in a children’s hospital, where I had the opportunity of learning the ropes of the different areas of a very busy and underprivileged hospital. I was able to see the tasks of different health care workers, and observe the different conditions they are expected to work in. I learned that as a future health care provider,  I am no longer as worried about making as much money as possible, but instead more worried about the people I help. After this internship I am more motivated to helping those  that are underprivileged in some way. I learned that coming from a low-income minority background, I myself am able to identify with underprivileged individuals and am motivated to work for helping others.  In my time there, I became more interested in the patient’s well-being than the research itself,  which is something that has had a  major impact in my future career goals. Surprisingly, I  no longer see living outside of the US as something I would never do, and instead can picture myself living a few weeks of the year helping those that need it the most.

Reflection | #5

Beginning my first internship experience was worrying. I did not know what I would be expected to do on a daily basis. Reflecting back to my first day I completed readings regarding LEAP programs. I thought to myself…for the next 6 weeks I would be reading/editing material for LEAP instead of having a hands on experience. But, I was totally wrong. The following weeks were packed with planning for LFS. A program in which 130 incoming high school students would complete before the end of summer. Lesson plans, schedules, materials and PowerPoints had to be finalized. Client meetings were arranged, face to face speech evaluations were completed, speech therapy sessions were observed and the LEAP app was in full swing. The whole summer was packed with events and opportunities. I was able to speak with grad school students and learn about their coursework and placement. It was bittersweet saying goodbye. But, I am thankful I was able to experience this hands on internship and I am excited for future opportunities with LEAP.



Blog Post # 5

My favorite this summer as an intern had to be me meeting more like-minded people. At U of M there is a large array of students and sometimes it is hard to find a group of students that are into exactly what you are. There was so many people that were chemistry majors and I was so surprised to see that.

Research opens up many doors for people and there are many networking opportunities. However , the summer has come to an end. This has been the best experience for me; I am glad I was able to go and explore other schools.

A pair of pink goggles, a fan to last through the heat wave, and 50 sticky notes later my internship has come to an end. Great memories, new friends and learning experiences.20160818_151146.jpg

Growing Pains| Blog #2| Topic #8

This summer was hard. In more ways than one, this summer placed me in some very challenging situations and circumstances that I never could have anticipated. I was forced to directly face the impact that trauma, identity, and pain on my ability to function in a workspace. Given the continued killings of black bodies by a militant and racist law enforcement, and the tragic murder of queer and trans people, specifically people of color, I was disrupted. I was shocked, in pain, and was reminded of my continued experience of grief in an oppressive system. I grappled with not feeling strong enough. For the first time in a very jarring way, I was not able to separate work and home. I was not able to dive deep into my productive refuge and pretend that everything was okay. These worlds blurred. My work ethic suffered and I struggled. In a workspace, I felt silenced. From a very young age, we are taught that a “great” worker is one that is able to put their personal struggles aside for the good of the team. These ideas reinforce that we can’t be our full selves in our offices, we need to leave portions of ourselves, our struggles, our identities at the door. As a result, experiencing grief, pain, and the myriad of emotions that are not deemed “professional” generated anxiety for me. I had been taught that there was not a space for me to share and process these feelings without feeling inadequate.

Though this struggle took place, in DSIP, I was always given a space to make sense of this. Every Friday, I had a space where the personal, the political, and the professional could mix, because if anything this class taught me that the reality is these three realms are in constant flux and are a part of our professional lives. I learned the importance of your personal and political values in the professional context. I learned that struggle is not the end. Failure is not a halt, but a moment of growth. I learned so much about limits, my self-care, professional development and myself. I realized that these questions were a lifelong process and that my faults were areas of growth. I pushed myself to discuss these struggles with my supervisor, who was overwhelming supportive and understanding. We shared similar experiences and perspectives about the issues that I was facing and together we were able to create a space where I could bring my full humanity to work, even when that wasn’t always my best.