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Sorensen Fellows Conclude Summer 2011 Internships

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Sarah Michael '12 with a camper at Children's Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) camp, Texas

August 17, 2011

The 2011 Sorensen Fellows spent eight weeks “in the field” this summer, grappling with conflict resolution, death, disability, education, migration, and poverty. They return to Brandeis in the fall to process their experiences in the seminar “Internship in Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies.”

Calliope Desenberg '12, worked with the Centro de Estudios para la Paz (Center for Peace Studies), in San Jose, Costa Rica. She wrote, “Running workshops on nonviolent conflict resolution this summer, I came to understand the program's philosophy that "the knowledge is in the room." As a facilitator, it was not my job to attempt to impart wisdom to the different groups I worked with. Rather, as I led the participants in different activities and exercises, I worked to help open a space where everyone could benefit from what was already there. The knowledge to be gained from the workshop was within each person, in their experiences, emotions, and thoughts. With room to reflect and share with one another in this incredibly human way, the possibilities became endless.”

Jessye Kass '13, worked in Ghana, as one of the founders of Attukwei Art Foundation, which brings art projects to students who are living in underprivileged areas, or who have been victims of forced child labor and sex slavery. Jessye wrote, “Throughout the summer I faced many hurdles and challenges to overcome, but the work I was doing with these children was so important it didn't matter what troubles I faced. I continued to learn how creativity helped not only the children, but also the teachers and the community. I dealt with the children’s painful memoir stories and beautiful clay pots and tacky spin art. Kids who didn't know how to open the markers by the end of the summer were drawing beautiful, large pictures of what Ghana looked like to them.”

Sarah Michael '12, was an intern at Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP), a summer camp in Texas for children and adults with special needs. Sarah wrote, “This past year a CAMPer who had been in a car accident five years ago, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, passed away. His famous quote continues to ring in each counselor's heart: ‘CAMP is the closest thing to Heaven.’ This summer, I have been working to find what makes CAMP camp so special for these kids and adults, and struggling with how to bring that specialness to the outside world. More than offering an opportunity to ride horses for the first time, go swimming, and go to the prom they missed out on in high school, CAMP offers the opportunity for volunteers and children and adults with special needs to become friends – to get to know each other apart from the medical diagnosis that often define these kids outside of CAMP.

Shani Rosenbaum ’12, worked with the Hotline for Migrant Workers in Tel Aviv, which promotes the rights of migrant workers and refugees and works to eliminate human trafficking in Israel. Shani observed, “The up-close encounter with both asylum seekers and the Israelis amongst whom they live allowed me to develop powerful connections with human beings, and helped me to think more broadly about a complex set of social issues. Returning now, I approach questions of global migration, asylum, and of Israel's Democratic and Jewish identities - and of my own identity - with a more solid foundation of nuance and experience-induced realism, as well as a heightened sense of empathy toward this vulnerable population.”

Piyawat "Paul" Sukijthamapan '13, was an intern with the Bairo Pite Clinic in East Timor, in South East Asia, which serves an average of 539 members daily in this resource-poor local community. Paul commented, “I continue to question what it means to be a doctor for the poor in a resource-deprived setting. Every day, we were challenged by complicated medical cases that arrive in advanced condition. We had to make treatment decisions based on availability of medicine and capacity of our staff. Under this small roof, there are plenty of successes and failures to learn from. As a pre-medical student, I could already play an important role in the clinical structure and contribute to conversations about ways to improve the existing system. All the effort that is put in here is to help the poor and sick people whose most of their lives have been neglected by their own government and victimized by the structural violence of the world.”

Sarah Van Buren '13, was an intern with Wildflower Home in Chiang Mai, Thailand: a shelter, clinic, and school for women who have been victims of sexual abuse and the sex trade. Sarah noted, “My students were from varied backgrounds, yet they had one aspect in common. Each individual possessed great strength and a great ability of both the women and their children to overcome adversity. They greeted each day with beautiful smiles and renewed vigor for their work and renewed commitment to their family, whether they define their family as their group of Wildflower Home friends or their small family of two: mother and child. Some days are easier than others, some days are very hard. But the eternal optimism of the people at Wildflower Home means you can never find a day where you did not smile at least once.