This is an article from the spring 2018 issue of LSA Magazine. Read more stories from the magazine.
“I think it was my first week working at the NGO,” says LSA senior Stavroula Kyriazis of her internship last summer, “when a little boy, maybe eight years old, came in. I asked what I could do for him, and he said, ‘I need home.’ I explained about the housing application, and he just kept saying ‘I need home, I need home, I need home.’ It was the only English that he knew.”
Kyriazis interned in Athens, Greece, at Solidarity Now, a social service organization that has created open-to-all solidarity centers across Greece that work to offer support to anyone who asks, including that eight-year-old refugee and his family. The organization offers assistance to immigrants and refugees from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and to citizens from down the street. The languages they speak are as diverse as their circumstances, but Kyriazis mostly translated back and forth between English and Greek.
“Opportunities like this internship at Solidarity Now allow students to deepen their language and cultural literacy through complex, authentic task-based learning,” says Artemis Leontis, a professor of modern Greek and the chair of the Department of Classical Studies. “Students get a chance to learn through their experience that language can actually be a bridge between people.”
The experience was a close collaboration between the Modern Greek Program, which initiated the internship, and LSA’s Opportunity Hub, which offers wraparound support for LSA students, including preparatory courses, coaching, and funding. Next year, when a growing list of positions in Greece will be listed as part of the Hub’s international internships, even more students will be able to participate in these kinds of opportunities.
“The Opportunity Hub provides resources and support through every stage of the internship experience,” said Paula Wishart, assistant dean of student development and career initiatives and the director of the Opportunity Hub. “We work with students to identify their goals, help them access scholarships and reflect during and after the internship on what they have learned. And by the end of an internship, students have applied their liberal arts education to solving real problems — which is really amazing when you think about it.”
“An experience like that really centers you,” Kyriazis says about her internship at Solidarity Now. “It’s easy to be awestruck by the size and the complexity of the problems that you’re facing at a place like that. It’s not just Syria or Afghanistan, it’s not just one country or policy causing all of this. Being in the office was really taxing, but whenever I felt overwhelmed I would think about all of the people we were helping, sometimes over a hundred a day. And even though the global problems are even bigger, I still felt good being able to make an impact on so many people’s lives.”