White Bird worker in one of the CAHOOTS mobile crisis unit vans. (Photo from White Bird Archives, 1975)
I’m writing this as I’m coming to the end of my internship at White Bird, a multi-department crisis clinic in Eugene, Oregon. Founded in the late ‘60s as a response to droves of tripping hippie kids who descended on the town following the Grateful Dead and Ken Kesey (more or less), the clinic’s evolved over the years along with the population they work with. (Which, for three hopefully sunny and revel-filled days in May locally known as “Renn Fayre”, is the Reed community. If you’ve ever had a bad trip/sunburn/mental health crisis and been brought to a white tent between the SU and Eliot, you’ll recognize White Bird’s rock medicine department.) From a collection of cohabitating volunteers who provided 24 hour crisis service to trippers and street kids into an ever growing “collective of collectives,” White Bird has grown to be something of a household name in Eugene and continues to strive actively to improve and expand its services while retaining its status as a collective.
I spent my summer as an intern for the Saturday Academy, a non-profit organization that offers hands-on classes, camps, and apprenticeship experiences for youths in Oregon and southwest Washington. The ten weeks I spent with the Saturday Academy involved observing and facilitating its summer offerings as well as assisting in its behind-the-curtains operations at their office in the University of Portland. I came to this internship thinking it would make a worthwhile use of my math and science background as well as give me preliminary experience in teaching. However, it was a experience with much more variety than that. The task of finding a specific anecdote to illuminate a larger lesson I learned this summer is pretty tough actually.
I did enjoy some opportunities to be a math major for the Saturday Academy. For a programming class I taught a miniature lesson on modular arithmetic to help students understand the “mod” function in their coding language. During an algebra prep course, I had to explain myself a little after nominating a seemingly erroneous candidate for a favorite number, “e”. But I think the more rewarding parts of the internship came from the moments where I had little use for math. Based on the textbooks I’ve read, no theorem deals with LEGO sorting and no corollary presents a surefire method of keeping children out of areas populated with hornets.
Enter my lair... This is the door to one of the rooms my tanks were in, with a daily tasks list so I don't forget anything!
As part of the President’s Summer Fellowship program, I spent my summer in a lab at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB, Canada. My project there was to breed adult fish and raise the fry in different pH conditions (neutral and acidic) in order to investigate the mechanisms of this species’ pH-influenced sex determination. I took fry from each family for DNA and RNA samples three times during the first two months of development to produce a timecourse view of the changes that take place in the young fish. While working on my own project, I also helped take care of the fish stocks and fish for other experiments in the lab.
I’ve been exchanging letters with a friend who is working on a farm this summer, and in his last letter he said something that made me think: that every job has its unusual tasks, which other people wouldn’t necessarily know about or think of. His comment made me think about all of the things I do every day, which I knew very little about before I started working in a research lab studying fish. With that in mind, here’s a brief “day in the life” of a fish lab:
Isabel in Kilarney
The Kalem Company, which made nearly thirty silent films in Ireland from 1910 to 1915, was one of the first American film companies to shoot abroad, and the first to make silent fiction films in Ireland. In movies like The Lad from Old Ireland and The Colleen Bawn, Kalem director Sidney Olcott and his crew enacted stories of brave immigrants abroad and historic rebellions at home in scenic County Kerry.
Olcott and the rest of the company chose Beaufort, also in Kerry, as the base for their operations. Beaufort was also the hometown of Christie Sullivan, my great-grandmother. I came to Ireland this summer with the dual intention of researching and writing about life in Ireland during the early 20th century, when Christie was young and before she immigrated to the United States, and of investigating the Kalem company and filmic representations of Ireland by American filmmakers.
In County Kerry, I visited the Kerry Library’s Local History room, where I read issues of The Kerryman and other local newspapers from 1908 (the year Christie was born) to 1924 (the year she immigrated). I looked through folders full of photographs of the towns of Beaufort and Killarney. I walked the Gap of Dunloe, saw Kate Kearney’s cottage-turned-tavern, and stopped by the Muckross Estate. I visited Ross Castle, the former home of the Earl of Kenmare, converted into a tourist destination in the 19th century. All these places figured in Kalem films, and Kalem actress and scenario writer Gene Gauntier mentions them in her memoir. I peeked into the Beaufort Bar where the Kalem company stayed while in Ireland. Christie likely knew these places, and she likely heard stories of the Kalem visits from locals who had known the company, perhaps even acted as extras in their films.
This summer with the support of the McGill Lawrence Award, I had the opportunity to work with the science education staff at Portland’s own Oregon Museum of Science and Industry . As a Science Education Intern, it was my job not only to manage volunteers, maintain safety and coordinate with other parts of the museum, but also to act as an educator myself.
At the beginning of my internship, I thought of teaching as a challenge to prove ideas and concepts to my students. When I used this teaching style, a handful of students would walk away being able to recite a few facts I had given them, but overall it did not seem like many visitors had learned something valuable. As I progressed in my internship I learned that effective teaching is not about reciting a monologue, rather creating a dynamic conversation. Every students wants to, and can discover on their own and it is my role as an educator to guide a student to their own understanding.
During my time at OMSI I developed a few tricks to engage students:
1. Watch and listen. If you pay attention, most students will show you how they want to learn. Some students want to talk and do not want to listen to a single word you say. These students, are often better engaged by questions. They want to tell you what they see and what they think! Other students, however, are absorbers. They want to know a little about what they’re looking at before they try to understand how it works. For these quieter students, asking too many questions can feel like a quiz, and end up deterring them from staying to learn. It is my job as an educator to understand how each student will best be engaged, and to adjust my teaching style to fit an individual.
Daily economics class as SUFE, Shanghai.
In the past summer, I spent two months at the research and training program at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE). The education of economics has undergone significant reform during the past thirty years in China -- students used to study the political philosophy of economics, whereas now, the neoclassical economics becomes the mainstream among Chinese universities. The economics department at SUFE ranks among the top in China and it has been a pioneer in the economics education reform. The summer program attracts students from all over China. During the two months at SUFE, we had a chance to take advanced economics classes, attend academic conferences, assist professors with their research projects, and so on.
For four weeks during the program, I took advanced microeconomics and advanced econometrics classes, which were taught by Professor Du Ninghua and Professor Tao Ji, respectively. Professor Du obtained his doctoral degree from University of Arizona, and Professor Tao from Ohio State University. Both classes were taught at a graduate level and each had forty hours of teaching within four weeks. Although it was quite difficult to master all the class material under such an intensive teaching style, it was really worthwhile because the classes allowed me to have a clear sense of what I will encounter in my future study and they reminded me again of the importance of mathematics in the field of economics.
In addition to studying the theoretical side of economics, I also learned how economics can be applied in solving crucial real world problems. As part of theprogram, I had a chance to attend academic conferences and talk to economists on a one on one basis about a variety of topics, including the education of economics, Chinese economy, experimental economics, etc. In particular, I learned a lot about experimental economics from Professor Du Ninghua. From his lectures and our conversations, I realized how useful experiments could be in exploring any potential causal relationships. This reminded me of the book, Poor Economics (Banerjee
, Duflo, 2011), which I read in the Development Economics class at Reed. In the book, the authors make an extensive use of natural experiments to explore policy that could improve the wellbeing of poor people. The summer program stimulated my interested in this fast-developing field and I look forward to learning more about it in my future study.
“Where is Nomuhle?”
I was stressed. I was in the middle of organizing meal logistics for a weekend camp, and it was Thursday with roughly 24 hours to go. My head was swimming with “4 kilos of chicken,” and “Who will really show up for a breakfast shift at 7:30.” But for one hour I was supposed to go and meet Nomuhle in the township (she’s a community coordinator). Ten minutes late already, I fast-walked from our office: out past the tall barbed wire fence that runs around it, over the piles of stray litter that mark the edge of the township, and through the township streets to the Ubuntu4All container.
A photo collage of me on the front porch of Copper Canyon holding a rock with the logo on it, in front of a wall of our books
When I started as a production intern at Copper Canyon Press—which is probably the most acclaimed, completely independent, nonprofit publisher of poetry in the US—I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing. The staff told me that I had been selected to take on more responsibilities in the department of PRODUCTION, but I didn’t know exactly what that would entail. What I came to realize is that, although I had some specialized tasks, Copper Canyon overall offers one of the most holistic publishing internships. Unlike interning for one of the “Big Five Publishers” (conglomerates like HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and MacMillian), where one would have to specialize in a specific department, interns at an independent publisher like Copper Canyon receive hands-on experience in all departments.
I, like many young people interested in books, thought that the most important step was in editorial, that most of the exciting work of poetry publishing happened during intimate work with author and language. And my assumption makes sense: I came directly from completing a Reed research thesis on poetry. Most of my immediate experience with poetry was as someone who engages intellectually with the text. But this isn’t what publishing is all about.
A beautiful photo of my coworker's daughter showing off her beautiful hair during a work retreat at Mbezi beach
“When we designed microcredit, the purpose was to help people get out of poverty, but some people moved away from that motivation.”
These words by Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance, have stayed in my mind the whole time during my internship in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania over the summer. Working as a Marketing and Loan Officer intern at African Microfinance Limited(AML) gave me a whole new perspective on how to approach the literature on microfinance in developing countries. Here is a list of things I learned from my experience.
The riverside neighborhood of Abandoibarra, before and after Bilbao's transformation. Photo credit: Bilbao Ría 2000.
* “El Botxo” is a nickname for Bilbao, or more specifically the river valley that cradles the city. “Tx” makes a ch sound in Euskera (the language of the Basque people), so “Botxo” is pronounced “Bocho.
“The Bilbao you see today has nothing to do with the Bilbao I grew up in,” said the woman. “Nothing to do.”
Being a “real superhero” (with a really cool cape) and working ComiCon 2016 to inform the public about the realities of Human Trafficking
Anti-Human Trafficking work is not one of those jobs you can just shake off when you get home. The facts and figures, the faces of victims and survivors, the ever-looming problems of running out resources even as more and more victims are identified - they’re like gnats constantly buzzing around your face. It’s hard not to get emotionally invested, to not want to lash out at people who seem like they’re indifferent. I came home emotionally drained and fuming from ComiCon this year, despite what my smiling face might show in the picture above. The blatant indifference, the callousness people treated me with when I tried to share my message infuriated me. When you find yourself a part of a powerful and global movement, you want to share that with the world. When they don’t listen, you want to scream.
I wanted to intern with the Senate to get an inside look at our federal government, and dip my toes into real-life policy work. And thanks to a Summer Internship Grant from CLBR, and a grant from Senate’s SOS program, I’ve gotten to do all that, and more. But here’s all the stuff I didn’t expect.
To me they look like tiny robots from a futuristic film made in the seventies. But these are the TEG machines, diagnostic instruments that help analyse bleeding and thrombotic risks through a whole blood assessment. It measures for example, how long blood takes to clot, how strong the clot is and how long the clot stays for. TEG machines are invaluable in the ICU because it helps the doctors and caregivers know whether a person is prone to too much blood clotting or thinning and will give them the necessary medication to counteract the condition.
For two months now, I have been participating in the Trauma Research Associates Program (T-RAP). The program is part of the Trauma Research Institute at the Oregon Health and Sciences University, OHSU, and is a yearlong commitment. I first heard about the program from my Chemistry professor Arthur Glasfeld, who mentioned that other students he had recommended for the program had found it a very good preparatory program for careers in the healthcare field. I am interested in public health, nursing, and environmental health and I hoped by participating, I would gain obtain valuable insights about these three fields and hopefully narrow down to one field that I can follow in Graduate school.
The research I am involved in focuses on traumas, people get seriously injured in car accidents, falls, or by gunshots etc. and are brought to the Emergency Department and ICU. These patients are at an increased risk of developing infections, blood clots, post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) among others, these on top of very severe injuries or diseases that brought them into the hospital. We obtain information about their stay, and that will allow the team to determine factors that place people at higher risk for developing complications. For example in the PTSD study, we are investigating proteins involved in triggering the development of PTSD after an injury rendering some people more at risk than others.
There are people of diverse background in the team, ranging from chemistry to former art majors to salespeople. Thus besides the research opportunity, I was very excited to start because I knew that not only is the team involved in groundbreaking clinical research, they also have nurtured many individuals like me who have gone on to become medical students, nurses and other health professionals. I felt that I was going to be in a good environment to be tutored, and could not wait to be exposed to both the hospital floor and the research front. My expectations were far more exceeded by what I actually experienced at OHSU.
I am a little over halfway into my stay at CERN (organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire). CERN is the largest particle physics research laboratory in the world and it is spread over two countries - France and Switzerland. There is a main campus that straddles the Franco-Swiss border and there are other facilities above ground, at certain places along the 27 km circumference of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which runs between 75-175 m beneath the French and Swiss countryside. The aerial picture below should give you an idea of the size scale of the LHC. The underground tunnel that houses the LHC is approximately 4 meters wide, accommodating many tens of thousands of pieces of equipment. This includes magnets for focusing and directing the particle beams, and cryogenic systems needed to maintain the temperature at about -456.25○ F, which is colder than outer space! CERN is famous for a number of the biggest particle physics discoveries over the past thirty or forty years, at the different experiments that were conducted here, and the creation of the World Wide Web, among other things. In recent times, it has also come into media prominence for the discovery of the Higgs Boson, at the LHC, and misplaced conspiracy theories that generally involve CERN scientists secretly planning to destroy the world.
However, CERN is more than just the investments in researching physics phenomena, and constructing, improving and maintaining the particle colliders, accelerators, and other laboratory facilities. The people here are just as fascinating as any of the science that they are working on. In the summer months, a large fraction of the 13,000 or more people – users, students, research fellows, etc., associated with CERN are on site for work at the LHC and other experiments. These are some of the very best physicists, engineers and computer scientists in the world, and some of the smartest, funniest and most unpretentious people I’ve ever met. While it does get a little crowded in the summer months, it is a good time to be at CERN because of the huge influx of people from different countries and cultures, and the diversity that this naturally implies. Just sitting in the main cafeteria and talking to other summer students and researchers (including the occasional Nobel Laureate) is such a privilege because of how much you can learn from each conversation. I had never really appreciated the scale of the human endeavor that CERN is until I got here. During my time here, I have realized that no matter your title or rank, you are simply a cog in the giant machine that is CERN. However, each cog is really important! Irrespective of your age, gender identity, nationality or ethnicity, what you say and do will be taken seriously because if you are granted the privilege of working here, it is usually expected that you are capable enough to make a difference. It has been a humbling experience to work in such an environment.
Jasmine Williams, senior english major and recipient of the President’s Summer Fellowship, reports in from Mingaladon Township, Myanmar, where she is spending the summer teaching English at a monastery and learning Burmese language and culture.
I've been at the monastery for a month or so now. I don't really know simply because I do not keep track of the date here. School in Myanmar begins during monsoon season in June, and ends before the summer in March. So I arrived at the perfect time to begin my teaching with my students' new school year. Learning English is a part of Myanmar's education standard, so I am here to work on the students pronunciation and conversation--they can read and comprehend written text quite well. I brought many books from America to start an English Language Library the the monastic school, and so the students who take an interest in pursuing the language further have the resources to do so.
I teach one class a day for about an hour, fourth to eight grade. I tutor twice a week with fifth and sixth grade students, and daily, I work with the novice monks to improve their English. As a man who has himself learned five languages, Sayadaw, my monk and mentor, is very intent on enhancing his students' English education in order for them to succeed in the new Democratic Government of Myanmar (yay Daw Aung San Suu Kyi!).
I've learned many things through my living and teaching here. Teaching ESL is very different than what I've done before. I think my biggest challenge is my lack of a Burmese vocabulary. So in the beginning or my teaching, I used many hand signals, props, and charade like gestures to communicate with my students. Now that my vocabulary is slightly larger, and now that my students are more adjusted to my American accent, I am able to better adjust to my students needs. The education system here is quite different than it is in The States, and some practices have been around since my mom was in grade school. So as my students adjust for me I must also adjust for them. In my spare time, I observe the other teachers and have conversations with them on what they think is lacking in the Myanmar education system. The teachers tell me what works best for their students, and what they would like to do to enhance their teaching. It has been a privilege to be able to talk with these teachers and to get to know them--I feel like I have really grown as a teacher and as a person, for our conversations help me expand my world view...I am learning to be a better teacher. I have been tutoring and teaching since I was in middle school, and currently I am a lead teacher with Reed's Science Outreach. It has been an amazing opportunity to further my pedagogical learning here--to see how other teachers teach their subjects in a place so different from The States.
I also visited Yangon university, and stepped inside the office that my grandmother used when she was a professor of history. I feel like I understand my family a little bit better. I feel like I understand myself better.
My days at the monastery are quite peaceful. When I'm not working with students, I read for my upcoming thesis--which, hopefully, will focus on literature written in or about Myanmar. I attempt to read and memorize Pali, and to work on my Burmese vocabulary--learning a second and third alphabet is quite difficult. My students like to make fun of my Burmese accent, and the other day I said "butt" instead of "lazy," but you know it's a process.
I was incredibly excited when I learned of Reed’s Winter Shadows program. I would describe the program as a take on ‘take your child to work day’, where Reed students shadowed different jobs with the intention of getting a better idea of what it would be like to work at said job. It’s a great way of understanding what career path you’re interested in. A great Winter Shadow is one in which you learned something significant: whether it be that you want to pursue said career path or that you definitely do not want to pursue it. Tableau was an amazingly successful Winter Shadow, because I discovered a place where I definitely, absolutely, want to be. Culture is an important part of what people look for in a potential employer. Culture, however, is so much more than just whether a company is fun or if the people working there seem cool or whether or not there are free snacks in the kitchen. Culture is whether or not the employees enjoy working where they work, are personally fulfilled by it, and believe the work they are doing is important and valuable. This was true for everyone I met at Tableau. Furthermore, the employees were happy, but not complacent, satisfied, yet free.
Tableau exemplifies a lot of what I’m interested in. It’s the perfect combination of art and technology with a dash of positive feelings. It’s a nurturing work environment that encourages its employees to pursue what they are interested in, and recognizes the hard work they do. Tableau Desktop is intuitive, beautiful and very powerful. We spent the week watching tutorials on Tableau, shadowing product consulting calls, talking to employees from different departments, and creating data visualizations using Tableau. We took rows of data in excel and found what was interesting or hidden in the data. We learned to come up with the right questions when presented with data. The employees at Tableau seem happy. Not just happy, but fulfilled- not something you encounter regularly. Tableau almost seems too good to be real, but I’m ready to believe it.
I participated in a two-day shadow with Moira Tofanelli, a school psychologist at two different public schools in Portland. As an art major completing a thesis that draws heavily from the field of psychology, I was excited to see where a career in psychology could take me in Portland. I will be graduating in May and I am thinking about what kind of job I would like in the near future, and teaching seems to be an obvious next step for me. It was a great exercise for me to think about what kind of school I want to be a part of and see how the public schools in Portland vary.
It was interesting for me to compare the two schools I visited, as they were very different in terms of philosophy and educational goals. In the developmental psychology class I am taking this spring, we have been focusing on different models of human development and the kinds of guidance and parenting strategies that support each model. The first school I visited, the Creative Science School, uses a constructivist educational perspective. Jean Piaget, a psychologist influential in the 1970s, is the best-known proponent of this philosophy. Constructivism values learning through experience and independent problem solving. In general, Piaget viewed child development as a series of stages, and children as tiny scientists who learn about their world through experimentation and add new information to existing mental schemas. In the classroom, a constructivist approach often manifests as lots of group work, experiential projects, and integration of different classroom subjects.
To me, Creative Science seems big and colorful and full of movement and the evidence of children. There are art projects all over the hallway walls, glitter-covered handprints, and photographs of the students. I had forgotten what it is like to be in an elementary school. Everything is kid sized and chaotic in the way things are when tiny humans spend six hours a day in an enclosed space.
Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had been looking forward to my shadow at the Northwest Woodworking Studio all winter break. I did some research on the studio, and found some YouTube videos of Gary Rogowski, the Reedie English major turned expert woodworker who was to guide me and Emily (a fellow Reed student and new friend) for the week. I soon realized I wouldn’t learn much about woodworking on the internet.
Entering the studio didn’t change my feelings of total ignorance. Emily and I talked with Gary briefly about his nonlinear path to becoming a premier woodworker and teacher, and we quickly got started making dovetail joints. Gary gave a demonstration and explained the mechanics of the tools first, but he didn’t want us to learn by listening. We had saws and chisels in our hands within minutes of first entering the studio. We hit the ground running, and the week didn’t slow down.
After going to Gary’s house and grabbing some lumber, Emily and I were assigned to construct a door for the studio office. Gary gave us an idea of what he wanted, but he left us to figure it out for the most part. We measured, cut the particleboard, made mistakes, and measured more. We had to frequently ask for help and guidance, but we eventually got it installed. It wasn’t the most attractive door, but it was a fun project and (hopefully) Gary won’t have to replace it any time soon.
Really… law school? That’s almost always what I end up hearing after I tell people that I have decided to apply for law school. As a thesising senior the two questions I am almost always asked are: What is your thesis about and what are you doing after Reed? Usually I smile, talk about my thesis for a bit but then reveal that I want to pursue law. The reactions are usually pretty polarized. Some people are excited and talk about a relative who’s a lawyer, or they look me in the eyes with genuine concern and ask why. They ask me why like I am about to voluntarily inject myself with some terrible disease. Why law school? After spending some nights working on Logic problems at my thesis desk and silently freaking out about all the debt I am about to accrue I started to understand the concern. When I heard about the Externship in the Oregon Bar, I knew this would be great opportunity to learn and ask others the same question: why pursue law?
I spent a few days as an extern with the Oregon Bar. I was lucky to have a fantastic and generous host, Amber Hollister, a former Reedie and General Councilor at the Oregon Bar. My goal was to learn about the dynamics of the legal profession here in Oregon but also the resources and opportunities available to me in the upcoming years as I work on my application materials. That I did, and also was able to meet a variety of inspirational and fascinating individuals who shared personal experiences that made me far more comfortable with the decision to pursue law.
For the first day, I shadowed different members of the Oregon Bar, learned how the bar regulates the legal profession, and about the services it offers to its members. I was really impressed by the work happening in the Diversity and Inclusion Division. I was able to meet the director and talk about the struggles that many young lawyers coming from marginalized communities often face and learn about the resources available to increase diversity in the legal profession here in Oregon. I felt like I was able to very honest with the director about my concerns and he even shared his own experience as a participant in some of the programs he now coordinates. I left feeling more optimistic about the prospect of pursing law school as well as enlightened about the difficulties I would likely face.
On the first day, he had us build a door. I had no idea what I was doing.
I don't mean that I was unsure of how to build a door; I unquestionably did not possess that knowledge. I mean I really didn't know what I was doing—that I was building a door, that this door would be the entrance to Gary's office indefinitely, that I would not sever a fingertip in the process. (Don't worry, Gary Rogowski '72 had us sign waivers.) But at the end of the day, after several hours of foggy instruction following, Jacob and I did have a door in front of us (and lo, one that barely creaked, certainly opened, and practically closed), and twenty fingers between us.
Over the next few days Jacob and I would build more wooden things, culminating in the execution of a real live chair prototype. We designed and chiseled and sawed and swept. We went out to lunch with the Master Woodworking students at a Cuban restaurant in Northeast. We were privy to the same assignments the Master students received, if not the same skill set.