On the internship

It has been two months since I started my internship at R4D in Washington, D.C. I can’t believe that I have only one month left here! It has been great to intern in the city that I am so familiar with because I never experience the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)! I am fully focused on the internship and job applications. Now, about the internship. I was given the opportunity to participate in the following projects:

  • I am assisting with the re-launch of an education website. R4D has partnered with a leading EdTech firm to give one of its online education initiatives a new virtual home, one that is more collaborative. While working on this re-launch, my extensive experience in EdTech came in handy. I produced helpful feedback on increasing the user-friendliness of the new website. I was also tasked to develop a workshop for the moderators of this new online platform. I developed a step-by-step guide on how to use the website, build a virtual community and moderate it. The workshop was conducted over Zoom and there were six participants from five countries. Currently, these moderators are testing the website, which is expected to go live in early 2020.  
  • I am developing two communications tools for small nonprofits working on literacy issues. This is where Dr. GK’s and Dr. Strong’s (QMI) readings were very helpful! I have drafted Guidelines for Ethical Production and Use of Images, and Guidelines for Storybanking. I’ve never heard of the term “storybanking” until I started working on this task. It turns out that storybanking is a system for collecting, organizing and sharing stories of your organization. Nonprofits usually start looking for stories only when they are needed for something (a grant application, newsletter, etc). During this last-minute search, good stories can be missed or communicated ineffectively due to time constraints. For this reason, a storybank is a must. Does your nonprofit have a story bank? 
  • I am conducting a literature review on the political economy of scaling early childhood development policies in low- and middle-income countries for our very own Dr. Neuman (she has told me that I can call her Michelle, but I just can’t do that. Old habits die hard). ECD has been one of the areas in the field of education that I didn’t have much experience in and knowledge about. That has changed now. I have learned (and continue to learn) plenty about childcare, early childcare and education (ECCE), early childhood intervention and pre-school policies and programs in the developing world. Here, I would like to stop and say that IEDP should work on emphasizing Heckman’s work in its core classes (maybe Prosem and M&E?). For those of you who didn’t take any economics of education or ECD classes like myself: Heckman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist, who has shown that quality investments in early childhood development (0-5) yield 13% ROI. 
  • I helped a tiny bit with organizing the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (ECWI) conference in early November. The conference brought together ECD practitioners from around the world including three people from Kazakhstan. One of them was a vice-minister for health with whom we had an interesting chat about maternal mortality in the U.S. The other representative from Kazakhstan was an officer at UNICEF with whom we briefly talked about the nurse home visitation program. 

On life

In October, I was invited to speak at a child rights conference at Yale University. I was referred to the organizers by one of my Penn classmates. I presented my policy research on preventing child sexual abuse in Kazakhstan and received very positive feedback from the audience. After the conference, I walked around the Yale campus. It is painfully beautiful.

I’ve also met up with a couple of IEDPers in DC including folks from previous cohorts. One of such get-togethers was Anum’s birthday. Anahita and the IEDP adoptee Leonard came all the way from Philly to celebrate the special occasion. The four of us even snagged free dessert at a ritzy French bistro in Bethesda! 

Overall, life in DC is great. I spend weekends walking around the city and nurturing my insatiable appetite. I’ve met some new people but have been mostly reconnecting with some old friends whom I haven’t seen in three years. In six days, I leave for Azerbaijan and then to Kazakhstan, where I will be celebrating my birthday. I will be back in DC in early December to wrap up my internship. Till then, IEDPeops!