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Bard Center for Civic Engagement Sponsors Global Student Internships Through Its Community Action Awards

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Bard Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) announces the winners of its newly created Community Action Awards. Community Action Awards support student efforts to engage with communities locally, nationally, and internationally by funding participation in internships that address issues impacting people around the world. Students independently pursue placements in their chosen field or area of interest and apply for stipends to defray the costs from unpaid internships at community organizations; local, state, or national government agencies; international NGOs; and other media, public policy, educational, and non-profit organizations or projects. This year, nearly 40 students have received awards through CCE’s program.

Internship funding is provided in two categories. Internship and Community Action Awards (maximum award is $3,000) support pre-professional experiences and community action projects that address issues related to the broad field of civic engagement—including education, government, justice, human rights, media, public policy, and social entrepreneurship. Research Awards (maximum award $500) support travel and other costs associated with student research projects related to civic engagement.

This summer, student internships include positions at the Paris Review, New Yorker, Ms. magazine, Children’s Defense Fund, PEN American Center, Planned Parenthood, and Open Society Institute. Nationally, students’ work will take them to Washington, D.C.; Maine; New York City; Los Angeles; and Iowa, while others will remain close to Annandale to work locally. International placements include internships ranging from direct action projects to research in Nepal, Brazil, India, Myanmar (Burma), Turkey, China, and Israel.

Pursuing work related to civic engagement projects in which they have been engaged for a number of years—such as Bard’s Palestinian Youth Initiative, a TLS leadership project which provides an academic and cultural exchange with youth in Mas’ha (a rural village in the West Bank and Red Hook’s Sister City)—four students will deepen their commitment to the challenges faced in Israel and Palestine. Ben DeFabbio ’13, a political studies major, will intern with the Organization for International Cooperation as part of their Foreign Relations Breakthrough Project. The project promotes peace and international security by working with foreign policymakers to address the nature of the tensions and conflicts in the area. As a diplomatic program associate, DeFabbio will work with local school groups, dignitaries, and officials to share information, coordinate efforts, and recruit volunteers. “I believe very strongly that the consulting work of the Organization for International Cooperation is central to the pursuit of a peaceful end to these tragic tensions which have endured the better part of a century,” he says.

Lauren Blaxter ’13, a human rights major, is working with the Palestinian Academic Society for the study of International Affairs, where she will utilize her language skills to work on research projects, roundtable conferences, and event planning. Blaxter says, “Dialogue and discourse aid the peace process by facilitating understanding in a conflict where political rhetoric commonly stops dialogue rather than creating it.”

Sarah Stern ’13, an anthropology major with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies, will be working on outreach with the Encounter Program’s Middle East Office. Her internship is specifically geared toward developing awareness and understanding among American Jews around the complex issues of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Nadine Tadros ’14, an anthropology major with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies, will be conducting research through Bard’s program at Al-Quds University in the Archeological Studies Unit. “I will be taking part in an effort to raise awareness of the shared heritage of the land,” says Tadros.

Students pursuing opportunities in Asia include Myat Su San ’15, an economics and political studies major, who will return home to her native Myanmar to work as a training and research intern at Myanmar Egress Capacity Building Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting civic awareness among young people by providing education and advocacy. “By conducting interviews and collecting data, I hope to connect with people from various socioeconomic backgrounds at the grassroots level to learn about their lives. The greatest advantage of taking this internship is being able to engage in a political environment and observing how economic and political knowledge is applied to actual progress in a developing nation,” she says.

Martha Orlet ’15 and Cassandra Settman ’13 are both interning with Independent Thought and Social Action in India (ITSA), an organization started by an alumna of Bard’s High School Early College in Manhattan. ITSA participants receive training from Bard’s Writing and Thinking Institute to run writing workshops for teens. Orlet, who plans to launch an independent community arts project says, “I believe I will gain very unique and precious insight into teaching painting and drawing to youth in India while gaining knowledge of Indian culture and experience . . . new ways of living, socializing, and learning.”

Leela Khanna ’15, a political studies and human rights major, will intern at the Center for Social Research (CSR), a women’s rights nongovernmental organization in New Delhi, India. She has previously worked at CSR as a media and communications intern. This summer, Khanna has been selected to intern for the research division. “Just knowing that my work has a potential to impact many lives and help [people] make important decisions will be a really rewarding experience. Through the fieldwork I conduct, I will be able to broaden my understanding of the complications women in Indian society face,” she says.

Many students are working in New York City including Mehdi Rahmati ’13, a human rights major, who is interning at the Open Society Institute in New York City where he has interned during his last three school breaks. Deeply committed to humanitarian causes, and especially education, Rahmati will continue his work with the Regional Policy Initiative as part of the larger Central Eurasia Project addressing key policy problems common to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the broader region. Originally from Afghanistan, Rahmati plans to return to Afghanistan someday to continue human rights work.

Arthur Holland Michel ’13, a history major, is editing for the Paris Review while pursuing academic research related to his Senior Project topic on Peruvian immigration into New York City and New Jersey from the 1960s through the middle 1980s.

Katherine Kenney ’13, an Asian studies major, plans to return home to Connecticut to work with the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH), where she worked over the January break.  She will conduct research and develop advocacy materials on homelessness for both state government and the public.

Closer to home, Jessica Lambert ’14, an environmental and urban studies major, and Violeta Mezeklieva ’14, a political studies major, will be community development interns for the City of Kingston. The program allows interns to connect with the community through citizens groups to better understand the workings of government administration. “As an active community member at Bard, these groups represent a sense of public concern and activism that I would like to inspire Bard students to hold on to after college life,” says Lambert. Currently, Lambert is researching and composing a guide on the Kingston waterfront. She hopes to pursue the 3+2 program through Bard’s Center for Environmental Policy, a program that combines undergraduate and graduate work into a five-year program. Mezeklieva will work with the Kingston’s Local Development Corporation conducting research on local service organizations and agencies to develop service strategies to address community needs.

A full list of student summer internships awards can be found on our blog at or on Facebook at

About the Bard Center for Civic Engagement (CCE)
Civic engagement is at the core of Bard’s identity. The College undertakes initiatives that reflect our belief in the link between liberal education and democracy, and further Bard’s mission as a private institution acting in the public interest. The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) supports students in Annandale by focusing on student-led initiatives and internships, developing community partnerships, and expanding science and sustainability efforts. Beyond the Annandale campus, the center works closely with Bard’s vast network of programs and partner institutions in the United States and abroad. We engage with important issues, whether with local service organizations, New York State prisons, public high schools, or in universities around the globe.

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This event was last updated on 05-23-2012