For the first time at Whitman College, the Student Engagement Center has distributed six internship grants to Whitman students pursuing internships abroad this upcoming summer.
“This group of international interns [are] really pioneers in some way. They are really launching a high-level experiment because the quality of their placements are so impressive and significant,” said Assistant Dean for Student Engagement Noah Leavitt.
First-years Haley Case, Joretha Houiles, Georgina Dadson, Saahitya Uppalapati, sophomore Charlotte Mugisha and junior Anastasia Greeley received grants for their international internships.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity. I really appreciate the fact that Whitman is going above and beyond to have me do something that I enjoy and want very much. It could potentially be a part of my future,” said Dadson, whose internship is located in Accra, Ghana.
Case will be going to Mae Sot, Thailand; Houiles will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa; Uppalapati to Uttarakhand, India; Mugisha to Kigali, Rwanda and Greeley to Valparaiso, Chile.
By expanding the possibilities that student internship grants offer, the SEC believes that students will bring back new, valuable experiences and insights. The internship grants are designed to have students build upon previous experience and knowledge.
“The project was set up for people who already understood another country or another city or another place where they wanted a deeper connection. It wasn’t generally an exploratory kind of initiative like the summer internship program,” said Leavitt.
Dadson hopes she will be able to bring the experiences she gains over the summer back to Whitman.
“I hope to gain my communication skills and learn how to interact with different people. With that, I hope that I will better my communication skills with different cultures. I want bring back the different cultures back to Whitman, informing them about what is going on in third world countries,” said Dadson.
Uppalapati will work in Uttarakhand, India with a program organized by the International Fund for Agriculture and Development. The IFAD is an organization that works with the United Nations.
The project Uppalapati will work on focuses on integrating sustainable livelihoods for people who are unemployed or need better employment.
“The place I will be working is very touristy, so there can be a possibility of creating jobs through ecotourism. I’ll be dealing with ecotourism, small-scale enterprises, skilled labor and making sure that they have sustainable livelihoods,” said Uppalapati.
Although similar to the domestic internship grant, the international internship grant requires more extensive planning on the part of students and the SEC.
“It was a very difficult application process in a sense that somebody needed to already have a connection with an organization in another country that they had some contact with and also that had some kind of connection to Whitman as a community,” said Leavitt.
Students’ safety abroad is a priority for Whitman College. When considering the international internship grant applications, the SEC focused on finding good sites and placements that would be low-risk, high-value and relevant to the Whitman student’s education.
“They had this balance. They were like â€˜Okay, that place needs to be safe, you need to know people there. You just cannot go land up there. Make sure you know contacts, what the emergency action plan is, what [to do] if you lose your passport.’ They had this really nice integration between safety, security and intellectual growth of the person,” said Uppalapati.
Because this is the first year for the international internship grants, future expectations are to expand the program so that more students can receive the grants for their projects.
“It would be great if this goes well this year. This is a pilot project, and if the college is able to allocate resources for the grants and the travel costs for additional ones next summer, it would be great to expand that number. I don’t think we maxed out what students would want, in terms of having the chance of going somewhere else and having a significant professional experience,” said Leavitt.