ACOR Internship Program Helps Build Future Professionals

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Left to right: AMIDEAST study abroad students and ACOR interns Sarah Schweyen, Ronnie Zhu and Emily Sorkin Smith at Petra in October 2016. Photo courtesy of S. Schweyen.
Left to right: AMIDEAST study abroad students and ACOR interns Sarah Schweyen, Ronnie Zhu and Emily Sorkin Smith at Petra in October 2016. Photo courtesy of S. Schweyen.

During the 2016 fall semester, ACOR welcomed six American undergraduate interns.  They have contributed in various ways to our mission and to our community here in Amman—from increasing ACOR’s social media presence to assisting research fellows and supporting the USAID SCHEP project.  Each intern is a study abroad student with either the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) or American-Mideast Educational and Training Services (AMIDEAST), both of which have excellent and long-standing relationships with ACOR.  Throughout the semester, the students have worked alongside staff and fellows, learning more about research, development, communication, and web design.

From AMIDEAST, Sarah Schweyen, Ronnie Zhu, and Emily Sorkin Smith have lent their talents to ACOR.  Sarah Schweyen, a junior Psychology major at St. Olaf College, interviewed each of ACOR’s current fellows and published a biography for each of them to the ACOR blog.  She can also be credited with editing and posting videos of ACOR’s two Fall 2016 public lectures on YouTube.  Ronnie Zhu is a junior International Studies major at Kenyon College who has spent her time at ACOR as a research assistant to NEH Fellow Dr. Aseel Sawalha, who studies the art scene in Amman.  Emily Sorkin Smith is a junior Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies major at Brandeis University and she has been a major contributor to ACOR’s development and fundraising efforts over the past four months.

AMIDEAST student Ronnie Zhu (left) at work with NEH Fellow Dr. Aseel Sawalha in the ACOR Library (photo by S. Harpending)
AMIDEAST student Ronnie Zhu (left) at work with NEH Fellow Dr. Aseel Sawalha in the ACOR Library (photo by S. Harpending)

Intern Ronnie Zhu said, “My internship experience at ACOR was rewarding and educating. Through Dr. Sawalha’s research on the art scene in Amman, I learned so much about art in the region, and she has inspired me to pursue a career as a qualitative researcher.”

Interns Christine Ostrosky, Alex Green, and Michaela Coplen study at the CIEE center in Amman.  Christine Ostrosky is a senior International Studies and Political Science double major from Miami University in Ohio, and she has helped to re-design and build pieces of ACOR’s website, as well as assisting with development and fundraising.

ACOR’s internship program provides a platform for students to learn new skills as well as build upon the proficiencies they already have.  For example, web design intern Christine Ostrosky said of her experience, “I have been dabbling in building websites, WordPress, and HTML for years, but interning at ACOR gave me a chance to put those skills to use professionally.  I really enjoyed being able to contribute to ACOR’s online presence in a meaningful way.”

Left to right: Christina Ostrosky, Sarah Harpending, Miriam Saleh and Spring 2016 AMIDEAST intern Julia Schryver in the ACOR Library in October 2016.
Left to right: Christina Ostrosky, ACOR staff members Sarah Harpending and Miriam Saleh, and Spring 2016 AMIDEAST intern Julia Schryver in the ACOR Library in October 2016.

The USAID SCHEP program at ACOR hosted two interns: Alex Green, a senior International Studies and Political Science double major from the University of California at Irvine, and Michaela Coplen, a junior International Studies major at Vassar College.  Both Michaela and Alex contributed to SCHEP’s online communications, especially through social media, and have been instrumental in publicizing new SCHEP initiatives.

“ACOR is very grateful for the effort of the interns, and whenever possible we try to make it possible for them to join field work, trips, and visits outside of the Amman facility.  In December, two CIEE interns joined ACOR and SCHEP colleagues on a site visit to Bir Madhkur.” – Sarah Harpending, ACOR Assistant Director.

Interns gain experience working alongside ACOR staff in a professional environment and contributing to a variety of projects, with ample opportunities for brainstorming, drafting, and feedback.  Michaela Coplen said of her experience: “I learned so much from working with the SCHEP program.  One of the most important things I’ll take away from this experience is how to be creative with social media to achieve specific goals, and to refine and tweak those ideas to fit the needs of the program.”

Overall, the internship experience is an opportunity for students to serve the academic community at ACOR with their skills, while gaining professional experience and engaging with the staff of an important institution in Jordan.  Many thanks to the Fall 2016 interns for their enthusiasm, commitment, and effort.

This article was written by Christine Ostrosky, a student at Miami University in Ohio and ACOR intern in the Fall of 2016, with input from Sarah Harpending.

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