Dearest Community!

Hello from afar! We hope you are safe and well, adjusting to the new world of social distancing, or as I’m calling it: distant socializing. In that spirit, we want to hear and see how your days are unfolding and being shaped in and by this global occurrence. This blog will have an ongoing project, the Quarantine Chronicles, where we will archive photos and short reflections or poems about your experience. We want to see where you’re having remote classes, or taking your daily outside time, hear about who you’re living with and how your relationships are affected and how you’re consuming media that makes your happy. Or not. We want to hear about small wins, see any stress baking/cooking, and of course keep a list of book/podcast/binge recommendations. You can message us on any of the social medias, or email us at humsoc@mmm.edu

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We are sending all manner of positive vibes, and want to say how proud we are of the students and faculty that are continuing to learn and grow as a community, even while adjusting to new systems and routines. New normals. Be well, stay safe, and be kind.

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Shout out to the best #humsoc work study a division could as for, Madison! Enjoy the below post submitted by her about her experience interning at the United Nations. Learn more about MMC’s amazing programs with the UN here.

Seven Things I Learned as a United Nations Intern

  1. You have to go through a huge security process to get in the building.

The United Nations doesn’t play around with security. There are several different entrances that are used to get into the main building. There are separate entrances for diplomats, the press, faculty and staff, and NGO representatives. I was an NGO intern, which meant I had a very low security clearance. Every day I had to remove my bags and coat, and take out my laptop like I would in an airport. Sometimes if my metal water bottle was too full they would flag me down for a search.

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  1. Any art pieces in the UN are donated by member states.

If you ever take a tour of the UN, which I highly recommend, you will see beautiful pieces of art hung on the walls. Each one of them is donated by a member state in an attempt to make their generosity and presence known within the institution. There is a plaque next to each one that displays who donated it and when it was donated. It can be really interesting to look at an art piece in the context of global history!

(get some info about the art here.)

  1. Don’t take the stairs!

One time I took the stairs instead of the elevator. A rookie mistake. I was locked in there for about a half hour and it was HOT. I thought I might die alone, sweating to death in the UN headquarters. I managed to call the front desk and they directed me to a back exit. Don’t take the stairs!

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  1. Negotiations for only one document can go all night long.

I was working during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is one of the biggest events of the year. The Commission lasts about two weeks, and includes hundreds of different sessions on the rights and struggles of women across the world. At the end of the two weeks, member states are asked to sign a set of resolutions that signify their support of certain issues. Member states stayed long into the night (4am I think?!) to negotiate the tiniest details of the CSW resolutions. I hope they had coffee breaks because I would need some serious caffeine!

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  1. The Executive Director of UN Women will pause for a photo.

In case you didn’t know, the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, is AMAZING. She has a way of speaking that both lightens the room and commands attention. I couldn’t think of anyone better to represent the women of the world. One time she was speaking in a meeting I was attending, and I followed her out into the hallway and asked for a photo. Don’t worry, I wasn’t the only one asking for a quote or a photo, she’s practically a celebrity! My boss was super excited that I got the photo and I posted it on my NGO’s social media right away.

  1. You have to have prior internship experience to apply for this position.

To be accepted into the MMC United Nations program, you need prior internship experience on your resume. Along with submitting a formal application, an interview with the International Studies department is also required. If you are accepted, the department will place you with an NGO based on your interests and qualifications.

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  1. If you are asked to speak at the podium, GO FOR IT.

This will forever be a regret of mine. Early in my internship, I was in a civil society meeting in one of the giant conference rooms. The room split into groups based on geographic representation, so as an American citizen, I was in the North American group. I was asked to take notes and was typing as fast as my fingers could go. Because I had all the notes, the group leader asked me to represent us on the podium. I PANICKED. I didn’t feel prepared to speak, so I quickly turned down the invitation. Now I regret it. I could have a photo of me speaking in one of the biggest conference rooms at the UN! So…if you are asked to speak at the podium, go for it!

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(Thanks to Madison for sharing her experiences, and thanks to you all for reading. Be nice to yourself and everyone you encounter doing fun festive activities this weekend!)

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Today’s spotlight is on an option meant for the most intrepid solo artists among us: the independent study. From the course bulletin:

Independent Study encourages the experienced student with high academic standing to design an individual project with a faculty mentor. Such projects typically may not duplicate existing courses in the curriculum. Independent Study projects range from independent reading, guided fieldwork, clinical practica, and creative endeavors.

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As she approaches graduation (and excels in her duties as #humsoc’s own work study student), Madison W. embarks on an independent study with Prof. Hernandez. She shares about this week’s reading assignment:

For the past several weeks, I have been studying a doughnut. No, not the Homer Simpson pink-with-sprinkles kind of doughnut, but rather a circular diagram that lays out some of the most important economic, social, and ecological goals of our world. Some of the goals mentioned in the doughnut include climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, gender equality, and education. In chapter two of Doughnut Economics, author Kate Rowarth speaks about the doughnut saying that it provides us with a “twenty-first-century compass.” She emphasizes the need to make visual diagrams that lay out how certain goals and aspirations will be met. Visual tools reach a part of the human mind that words cannot stimulate. By laying out priorities in this way, we more easily make decisions about where funding and resource allocation should go. Rowarth’s doughnut diagram was used to make important decisions at the United Nations that are impacting millions worldwide.

Professor Hernandez is himself a fan of Independent Studies, commenting that “[they]  are a great option for self-motivated students who want to take the time to dive deeply into area of interest – or even better, an area of passion. The time and space of this format allows students to investigate, and even savor, a realm of knowledge.” And he speaks from personal experience:

In my own undergraduate studies, a parting of waters occurred when I did an independent study on ecopsychology my junior year. Suddenly, I found myself in ecstasy in the University of Washington library. I had no idea so many interesting folks were out there thinking on these topics (this was pre-internet, lots of card catalogs)!

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Madison herself is enjoying her project and excited about how it’s adding to her overall educational experience at MMC.

Taking an Independent Study was a great way to explore some of my favorite topics with more depth than I would in a traditional classroom. I have the ability to direct the course where my curiosity is sparked, revealing concepts and avenues of research that get me really excited. After all, education isn’t about filling buckets, it’s about lighting fires. …This course is fueling my passions and generating a new level of expertise in my field. I’m having a lot of fun and feel more prepared to speak in job interviews next year.

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Prof Hernandez matches Madison’s enthusiasm:

Madison’s project is perfect for her. She is examining the economic dimensions of sustainability. Whereas she has developed extensive knowledge and practice in other areas of sustainability, she felt weaker here. She is spending the semester reading various takes on environment and economics from Marxist, Green and other perspectives. I am confident these will make her an even stronger and more creative social and environmental justice actor.

Hooray!

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If you are interested in designing an independent study you must have a declared major, completed at least 30 credits, and have an overall 3.0 GPA or above. You must have a sponsoring faculty advisor, and complete a proposal. Check the bulletin for further details, and start thinking outside of the class offerings box! Be creative, be kind, and as always thanks for reading.