Every spring semester, Internationals has a student intern from one of our New York schools. This post was written by Sharon Lungrin, COO and CFO of the Internationals Network for Public Schools, who works closely with each year’s intern. In this post she talks about the internship program in general and one intern, Mariama Bah, in particular.
The ultimate goal of the Internationals Network for Public Schools is to ensure that all recent immigrant English Language Learners have access to a quality high school education. As a staff, each day we use our diverse expertise to work to this end. We organize professional development events for our teachers, maintain our knowledge management system and advocate for the Internationals approach at the district and national level. All of this work is rewarding but does not put us in direct contact with our ultimate customers, our students.
Each spring, I look forward to having an Internationals’ student intern in our office. For me, internship is a chance to directly connect with our students. Our interns bring fresh, new energy to our office and allow us to collaborate as a team to directly impact one student. During internship time, routine tasks take on new meaning as they are explained to a young person who has never worked in an office before. Interns usually work across functional areas. Since we know that internship is an important opportunity for students to make connections to what they are learning in school, we work hard to find a balance between routine office tasks and projects that will provide opportunities for students to communicate with staff and engage in deep thinking. Interns have helped us to improve our IT infrastructure, update our knowledge management system, plan professional development events and of course, answer the phones, file and make copies.
To date, we have had six wonderful interns (Ibrahim, Astrid, Jean, Yurij, Mohammed, Jack, and Ricky) from four of our schools. All of these students have brought something special to our team. And of course, there are always the unplanned connections that develop along the way. For me, this is the mentoring relationship that I have developed with Mariama Bah, a graduate of Brooklyn International. Marima and her family fled Sierra Leone when she was eight years old and lived in Guinea for three years before coming to the United States. Back in 2006 when I met Mariama she was working hard to learn high school academic content while developing her literacy skills. (Mariama missed a lot of school due to the civil war in her home country.) She was determined to continue her education beyond high school even though at the time this was not what her family thought was best for her. Mariama’s story touched me personally and I have been delighted to help her to reach her goals.
Today, Mariama is a student at Kingsborough Community College. She plans to transfer to the Fashion Institute of Technology to study fashion merchandising. Mariama and a few classmates from Brooklyn International have also started a mentoring program for African girls at two International high schools. Here is what Mariama has to say about her life-long learning experience at Internationals:
I did not do my internship at Internationals. My formal internship at a fashion boutique was not great. One day my friend Ibrahim Diallo, who was interning at Internationals, asked me if I would like to help him at his internship. I asked him what he did there and what type of help did he need. Ibrahim told me that there was a professional development event coming up and they have a lot of paper work to organize. I decided to help. In the process of helping Ibrahim, I met a lot of well educated and friendly people like Claire E. Sylvan, Sharon Lungrin, Daria Witt, Janine Martyr, Anna Krasowski, and Thomas Thomson . Ever since my junior year in high school, I have worked part-time for Internationals. All of the staff at Internationals have helped me in so many ways in my time of need and I am grateful to all of them. Working at the International Network is one of the great experiences I have had. I am learning a lot about using Excel, being organized and filing. In the future, I know this will benefit me, no matter which career I end up choosing.
I would like to close with a special thanks to all the internship coordinators for finding internship sites and ensuring that our students have a meaningful experiential learning experience. Thank you!!