Monday, October 24, 2016

Course Spotlight: Internship Seminar with Community Organizations

I loved my relaxing,25-minute commute
to St. Rita's, walking up Fordham Rd.
This fall semester, I am taking a sociology elective that pairs sociological discussion theory on cities and the built environment with a placement at a community organization. While we need to secure the internship on our own, Professor Rhomberg provided us with a list of local community organizations that other students have found worked well in the past.

Last spring semester, I started volunteering at St. Rita’s Center for Immigrant and Refugee Services on Fordham Road. I taught adult immigrants English classes for two hours, twice a week. I feel very lucky that I found this position through the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice’s Volunteer Fair, as it allowed me to experience another aspect of our community in this part of the Bronx. I realized that I felt really fulfilled working with immigrants, so I wanted to gain more experience with the legal side of things. Coming back to Fordham this fall, I decided to intern at Mercy Center for my seminar class.

Mercy Center is a multi-service provider located in Mott Haven, a neighborhood in the South Bronx. I work in the Immigrant Services department, helping complete naturalization applications for Legal Permanent Residents and applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. While the latter application means a lot more work (for example, we need to provide evidence in an organized manner, resulting in a large file), I feel that the work is more important because the undocumented immigrants it protects are so vulnerable. I love that I get to work with participants and learn about real immigrants’ experiences trying to make a better life for their families in New York, but I am also learning so much about the system itself.

Mercy Center also offers programs in Personal Development, Workforce Readiness, Adult Education, After-School Programs, Family Skills and Development, and general Social Services. 

I think that classes like this internship seminar, as well as the Service Learning classes offered across disciplines, are great examples of Fordham living out its mission. Students are encouraged to not just learn and stay inside the bubble of the university, but to complement their academics with real-world experiences. These classes make it so easy to do; I'm getting major requirements and credits toward graduation for the 14 hours a week I’m working an unpaid internship, while understanding my internship (and fellow classmates' organizations) better via class discussion and readings.  

My supervisor, Bridget (Director of Immigrant Services),
celebrating with one of our recently naturalized participants! 
My commute to Mercy Center on the Bx41 bus. It's so rewarding to experience another neighborhood in our borough.

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