Sewa Summer Internship 2019 Report – Week 1
After a long process of recruiting – online registration followed by telephonic interviews - the Summer Internship 2019 with Sewa International (Atlanta Chapter) started during second week of June 2019 as scheduled. The interns were broadly divided into two categories – one group responsible for tutoring kids from the Bhutanese community in the Clarkston area of Georgia and the other group responsible for a survey that has been undertaken by Sewa in collaboration with Stone Mountain High School. This year the internship program has been broadened from Sewa’s perspective in that we are also working with Stone Mountain High School to conduct a survey which aims to understand the perspective of students and their guardians/parents on what services the school can incorporate in order to meet multiple objectives – increase graduation rate, make parents get involved in the students’ academic activities, and last but not the least, prepare students for after-school life.
In between the process of recruiting interns and the actual internship, Sewa conducted multiple rounds of conference calls with the interns and their parents. In addition, Sewa also conducted a face-to-face meeting with the interns and their parents, followed by an Orientation Program the weekend before the start of the internship program, which was also attended by the principal of Stone Mountain High School, Dr. Wislene John. The objectives of all these activities with the interns (and their parents) were to get them on board, get them to understand the internship process, what they are expected to deliver and also to be sensitive to what their expectations are from the internship.
Figure 1. Meeting between Sewa volunteers and interns’ parents
It needs to be mentioned here that the ground work for both the projects of the internship program started as early as mid-May. The volunteers of Sewa visited the different apartments where the Bhutanese community reside and also met with the principal of Stone Mountain High School. While visiting the apartments, the volunteers had completed the first round of on-boarding process for the parents of the Bhutanese kids, talking with them, explaining the benefits their kids would have by attending the tutoring program and also finalizing a common place where the interns could gather the kids and tutor them. The volunteers of Sewa also completed multiple rounds of meeting with the representatives and the principal of Stone Mountain High School to explain how Sewa could help them meet their objectives (for which they would probably had to otherwise hire an external agency) and to gather the survey requirements.
Figure 2. Orientation Program: Sewa volunteers, interns with the principal of Stone Mountain High School, Dr. Wislene John
On the first day of the internship, the interns arrived at designated locations at designated times. This was followed by going door-to-door to recruit kids. The process involved explaining how Sewa is working on providing free tutoring classes to kids from the Bhutanese community and how it would benefit them. Overall, it was a great turnout - with 20 and 7 kids turning up, respectively at the two locations– almost all of them students from elementary schools, with varied backgrounds, including but not limited To Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Burmese. They were given lessons on spellings and Math. This was followed by playing games. It was a fun-filled experience for the interns with most of them learning a lot – especially on how to be patient and how to deal with kids. The second day also turned up to be quite fruitful for the interns and the kids, with most of the kids turning up from the first day and also additional ones. During both the days, volunteers from Sewa were physically present at the locations to guide the interns.
Figure 3. Interns demonstrating a science experiment to kids
The other group of interns – who are working with on the survey project have mostly been working remotely till now. The first stage of the project involves designing the survey questionnaire – a highly technical job. The questionnaire needs to have the ability to address all the objectives, have reliability and validity, and last but not the least, should not be too long or short. The work on designing the questionnaire continued for two weeks – it started the week prior to the actual internship program and continued till the first week. Overall, there were four iterations before being sent to the principal of Stone Mountain High School for approval. While we wait for the approval, the group is working on planning the process of data collection.
In summary, the program leading up to and including the first week was a great learning experience for the interns. It goes without saying that they are doing their best in furthering their own interests and also Sewa’s in empowering the Bhutanese community in the US as a whole, and the Atlanta chapter in particular.
Plan for Week 2:
- 1. Bhutanese community tutoring project – continue the process of retaining and recruiting more kids, and tutoring
- 2. Survey project – plan on visiting neighborhoods around Stone Mountain High School to collect responses