June 26, 2010 - 9:30 PM
For the past week, I have been helping to organize The Carter Center's quarterly Board of Councilors meeting. The Board of Councilors is a leadership advisory group that promotes The Carter Center amongst the community. At the meeting, Carter Center staff and President and Mrs. Carter give updates on The Center's activities throughout the year to its board members. The Board of Councilors has many important business leaders and community members from throughout Atlanta and is meant to create a strong connection between The Center and the State of Georgia.
It was my job throughout the past weeks to deal with attendance and to make sure that everyone attending the meeting have a name badge made for them. We use the name badges to later take attendance after the meeting when they are returned. This gives The Center an idea of who is coming and if attendance is remaining high. Along with the board members, the meeting also invites various guests, donors, interns, Carter Center staff, and local summer associates of accounting and law firms.
The couple of days up until the actual event were all about the details and making sure that everything was in place for the Friday meeting. Come Friday, I had to quickly become the morning person I am not. I arrived at The Carter Center at 6:30am to set up for the event and to greet the law and accounting summer associates who were coming early for a presentation from one of our Center's staff members. After their presentation, I helped guide them to their area in The Center's Chapel room where the Board of Councilors would be meeting.
While waiting outside of the door going into the Chapel room, I was approached by none other than Mrs. Rosalynn Carter. She asked me if I was an intern and shook my hand. I managed to get out a, "Nice to meet you." It was definitely one of those surreal moments.
Next, I headed up to the balcony seating to watch the meeting with some of the other interns. There was a speaker from the health program who talked about a current health project in Ethiopia, then a man who talked about current issues with peace progress in the Middle East, and finally, a statement from President Jimmy Carter. President Carter talked a little about everything, but certainly focused his concerns on Israel and Gaza. It was definitely interesting to hear him speak and I could not get over the fact that he was right in front of me. He also answered a few questions from the audience and then called the meeting to end precisely on time. President Carter is very much into staying on time I have learned.
After the meeting, I helped to collect the name badges from people leaving and then headed back to the office to begin compiling them into an attendance list. There were over 200 people who attended the meeting. I got a break at lunchtime though when we all headed back over to the main center for the annual Fourth of July Carter Center staff potluck. This was a great event because it gave me the opportunity to meet with some people from around The Carter Center that I usually would not have much contact with. I also got the chance to chat with my supervisor a bit more, which was great. President and Mrs. Carter also attended the potluck and said a few words to the group. They are such sweet people and incredibly humble. I loved watching them leave the potluck walking hand in hand!
By the time I got home after this long day though, I was exhausted and certainly ready for a nap! This weekend is time for some well-earned relaxation.
June 25, 2010 - 2:00 PM
Last Friday, all of the interns got to leave work around lunchtime and drive to Buckhead, about thirty minutes from where we are working in Atlanta. The Carter Center arranged for all of us to stay the night at a hotel there for our intern retreat. It turned out to be a very nice night where I got the opportunity to get to know my fellow interns much more and also learn some more about The Carter Center.
We started off by doing quite a bit of mingling while we waited for everyone to arrive. Part of this included a Bingo game in which we had to mingle and ask certain questions of people in order to cross off a square on our game boards. I was quite impressed with some of the things I learned about the other interns. It is a truly impressive group of people. One intern speaks six languages!
Next, we moved into one of our conference rooms for some more organized team building activities and games. These were fun, although I picked the wrong outfit for the game in which we had to repeatedly sit and stand and run! After this, it was on to our speakers.
Our first speaker was the Assistant Director for the Health Programs of The Carter Center. The Carter Center focuses its health work on six different neglected tropical diseases. These diseases include the following: Guinea Worm, Trachoma, River Blindness, Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, and Malaria. Our speaker told us a little about each disease and what The Carter Center was doing to better the situation. All of the diseases are present in African countries where The Carter Center is doing work and some are also present in Latin America. She talked about the difference between controlling a disease, eliminating a disease, and eradicating one. Currently, The Carter Center is working to eradicate Guinea Worm. It has already reduced the number of Guinea Worm cases by 99% since it began its work. The final cases are in Southern Sudan and it is expected to become the second disease eradicated from the world by the end of next year. A video on The Carter Center's work with Guinea Worm can be found here: http://cartercenter.org/news/publications/health/guinea_worm_publications/kristof-052110.html.
Our next speaker was the vice president of the Peace Programs. It was really interesting getting to talk with him because he shared a lot about his personal experience and how he got into the position he is in. He has done quite a bit of traveling and it was really interesting to hear his stories about this. A good portion of his talk was devoted to answering interns' questions and he was very open to the variety of questions that were presented. It was a very informative and useful talk.
Our next event was to have dinner with some of The Carter Center staff. This was a nice, more informal way to get to know some of the people who have been at The Carter Center for a while. After dinner, they joined us for a question and answer session. They came from a variety of departments, so we learned quite a bit from them. To my surprise, many interns had questions about development work, so I got the chance to learn a lot more about the position I am in. We ended the night with free time getting to know each other.
The next morning, we had one more speaker. She was the senior associate director of health development and spoke to us about fundraising. She managed to make a sometimes dry topic interesting by engaging us in an activity. Two interns were chosen to be the faces of two different nonprofit organizations. They were given sheets with information about them. The rest of the interns were funders looking for a place to donate our money. The two interns had to give us a five-minute pitch on why we should donate to them and then the "funders" got to ask a few questions and then take a vote on which organization they would give to. Afterwards, we discussed why we had chosen which organization.
After our speaker, we did a few more teambuilding activities and then headed back home. It was overall a great event to get to know each other. It was especially good for me since I don't work in the same building that a majority of the interns do, so I got to meet some new faces.
June 13, 2010 - 10:30 PM
I am a product of the Pacific Northwest. I must say that it is quite nice having a roommate who is also from Oregon so that during times of southern culture shock, we can find solace in our understanding of the extreme beauty of the moderate climate we call home.
I have officially finished my first week living in Atlanta. The first couple of days weren't so bad weather wise. I was starting to laugh at all of the countless warnings I had received prior to departure. However, the past few days gave me a more proper taste of what it's like to live in 90+ degree weather with very high humidity. It rained once in the middle of the week. I thought this would be refreshing. Instead, the heavy rain just sat on the ground, slowly turning into hot steam. One morning I left my house to walk to work and I could physically see the air. By the time I reached the office, I had to go grab some paper towels to dry off. I find I have to change my clothes several times throughout the day as they become soaked with humidity and sweat.
I now understand why all of us Pacific Northwesterners are such weather snobs. We really do live in the ideal. However, despite the fact that it may seem awful to saunter around experiencing mild heat exhaustion on a daily basis, I am actually oddly quite enjoying it. Every part of this trip, including the weather, adds to the overall experience.
I am getting to know my neighborhood pretty well. It is actually a very cool part of Atlanta. I live right near the Little Five Points neighborhood, which is known to be the "hippie" part of Atlanta. Go figure that the two Oregonians would find their home there. There are so many fun little shops and incredibly tasty looking restaurants. Another nearby neighborhood with shops and more eating is Highlands. Highlands is right near The Carter Center, so it has also become the home of many intern meet ups after work.
Our neighborhood is also surrounded by tons of green space. My roommate and I went walking on this bike and pedestrian path throughout Pioneer Park the other day and it was very nice. It apparently goes on for several miles. It reminded me a lot of the river trail in Eugene that goes through Alton Baker Park and all over.
Once during the week, the interns also took a lunch break together downtown to the famous, greasy, world's largest drive-in restaurant, The Varsity. It has been featured on The Food Network and was quite the experience. There is a lot of yelling and a lot of fried things. The man who was my cashier was excited that it was my first time there and so put a Varsity paper hat on my head and forced me to add a large sweet tea and a frozen orange to my fries and hot dog order. It was all very intense.
I spent this weekend hanging out with some of the interns as well. Some of us attempted to go watch the USA vs. England game of the World Cup at a nearby sports bar, but it was so packed and hot that we ended up leaving for other adventures. We ended up spending the day festival hopping. We went to one called the Art-B-Que in Avondale Estates (suburb of Atlanta). It was very reminiscent of the Saturday Market. A lot of the art at the event was incredible. I could definitely notice a unique southern style to the various paintings and mixed media arts that we saw at the festival. I ended up buying some beautiful hand-painted earrings from a local artist named Afi Green.
Next, we went to another festival in Reynoldstown, which is down the street a bit from Little Five Points. It was the 2010 Reynoldstown Wheelbarrow Festival. This festival was a lot smaller than the previous one and was just tucked away on a couple of streets and in a little park in a neighborhood. I learned from some of the local interns that it is very common during the summer for there to be these types of small festivals throughout tons of neighborhoods in Atlanta. All of them bring great art, great music, and greasy foods. We listened to a lot of wonderful local bands play on the little stage set up there and it was great to sweat in the hot sun, people watching. One other intern and I even started a hippie dance revolution. No one seemed to be dancing, so the two of us went up there and flailed our arms about and spun in some circles and next thing we knew, everyone was joining. Hippie dancing in the South - priceless. There was an amazing sense of community at this festival that made me smile. One of my favorite bands was the Soulphonics & Ruby Velle. As for the greasy foods, I ended up trying deep fried pickles for the first time! I have to admit that they actually weren't bad, but that you can only really eat a couple without feeling too nauseous. I will train my stomach lining to eat anything fried by the end of this trip. The next few that have been recommended to me by locals are deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and deep-fried green tomatoes. I'll let you know how that goes.
After lounging on the grass in the heat, listening to some fabulous bluegrass for several hours, the interns spontaneously decided that a night out in Athens, Georgia needed to happen. Next thing I knew, we were on the freeway, headed about an hour out of Atlanta to Athens, home of the University of Georgia. We had a great night and got to walk around the city and campus a bit in the morning. It was definitely quite a college town!
I am excited to continue to get to know Atlanta and other parts of Georgia during the next nine weeks of my internship. There is definitely something cozy about the South.
June 10, 2010 - 7:04 PM
I am nearing the end of my first week interning with The Carter Center in Atlanta and am already amazed with the many directions this opportunity has presented me. I have learned things in terms of culture, socializing, nonprofit theory, on the job tasks, and many more. Therefore, I have decided that initially, the best approach to this blog is to split my internship up into the different learning points that create its entirety. I'm not always the type to be super into structure like this and, on general principle, prefer a more creative approach to my blog, but we'll see how this goes. First topic, well, the work.
I am interning in the Major Gifts division of the Development Department. The team that I am now a part of is in charge of researching potential and current donors, so that The Center can more easily cultivate relationships with them. Our group organizes our findings into reports to provide to giving officers and even President Jimmy Carter himself!
So far, I have completed one project and am beginning another. My first project involved doing some research on one of The Center's recent donors and creating a report on their relationship to different businesses, foundations, people, etc. I also looked at other places this individual had donated before and explored the history of The Center's correspondence with them. I learned right off the bat that this type of work involves a lot of potentially sensitive material. It is important to maintain high ethical standards when doing this type of work.
This was a very fun project for me as it opened my eyes to how much information is really out there and how so many things connect. I love doing research projects for my classes at the UO for similar reasons. Once you start looking into one topic, you easily find so many articles, books, websites, and more that are all interesting and all related. It gets to the point where you could just go on researching for days and be completely content! Or, maybe that's just me. Regardless, it was a very eye-opening task and I can tell that this position is going to help me, in general, become a better researcher. Any tidbit of information could hold the entire future of an organization's relationship with a donor. I also got to use a few new databases and new software during this project, which was a great learning experience.
The project that I am working on now involves doing some research on different corporate foundations. The Carter Center has a database of all of the organizations and individuals that have given to The Center before. There is also a list, however, of corporate foundations that have not yet given to the organization, but could have potential to. My job is to do the research to see how likely of a candidate they would be to do so and whether they should be added to our more permanent database. I look up information such as who the foundations have given to before, what geographic locations they give to, what their main focuses are, and what their business is about. I then take this information and compile it into a well-organized report to give to my supervisor to review.
Since I have just started, I haven't gotten to do too much work yet, but I have already gotten the hunch that I will be learning some really great skills this summer that I will be able to use in future careers as well. I am also excited because on June 25, The Carter Center is scheduled to have a Board of Councilors meeting. I will have a role in organizing this event - an event that President Jimmy Carter will be attending!
Things that still need to be covered in the blog: socializing with the other interns, orientation, extracurricular intern activities/events, Atlanta, The Carter Center building, the staff, ongoing fabulous stories and adventures through town.
June 9, 2010 - 7:07 PM
I know that everyone is expecting this post to be about how I made it to Atlanta, moved into my room in this beautiful, enormous, 100-year-old southern home, and spent my first day walking around my neighborhood and the grounds of The Carter Center. I assure you that all of that will come very soon. However, I have to make this post on something else. After this, my blog will consist of a summer of Atlantan adventure. For the record though, I made it safely to Atlanta and just got back inside to write this after lounging about all evening on the porch swing.
Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend one of the biggest events put on by my department, Planning, Public Policy and Management, each year. It was the 2010 Annual Awards Event. This event is held in the rather regal Gerlinger Alumni Lounge and honors distinguished alumni of the PPPM department, outstanding PPPM faculty members, and people doing amazing service in the Oregon community.
I attended the event with a friend of mine who is a business major. I think it was a really great experience for him, as he was able to see exactly what it was that I saw when I decided that PPPM was the major for me. He mentioned to me how inspiring it was to hear about the work done in our department and to experience the caring environment that the PPPM department creates.
Although the overall event was enjoyable, what I liked most was hearing from the recipients of the Distinguished Alumna and Distinguished Recent Alumnus awards. The Distinguished Alumna was given to Mariza A. Rogers. Mariza graduated from the Department in 1993 with a master's in public affairs, as well as one in international studies. Mariza interned for the U.S. Department of State following her graduation and then went on to work for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). I was inspired to hear about her humanitarian work throughout the world. She was unable to attend the event because she is currently in Haiti as part of USAID's Disaster Assistance Response Team. However, a dear friend of her's, who is also currently the PPPM Internship Director, read her statement to the audience as photos of her inspiring work appeared on the screen behind. Mariza is one example of the amazing people who come out of my department.
The recipient of the Distinguished Recent Alumnus was Wylie Chen and he was able to make the event. I even got to talk with him afterwards a little bit, which was a great experience. Wylie is currently in Washington, D.C. and I learned from our conversation that he knows many people there who are related to my field of interest, homelessness policy. Wylie got his B.S. in PPPM in 2000 and has been working at the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) since 2002. The work he has done to increase literacy rates among low-income children and to act as an advocate for addressing child poverty is inspiring. Wylie also went on to earn a M.Ed. in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Overall, the event was a wonderful way to recognize some of the fabulous accomplishments of this very unique department on campus. I encourage everyone to get to know PPPM. Many people remark that they have never heard of our department before, but I'm sure they've heard of our work!