WASH Program in Ghana

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by AnnaClaire Osei-Akoto, COL ’19

This summer I spent a month in Accra, Ghana executing a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) program in a local school.  The program was aimed in teaching children about issues pertaining to WASH whiles allowing the children to develop a project that they felt could help with some of the issues they discussed. The teaching style was done in a project based manner. Hence, the students did multiple mini projects to learn about the issues that surround water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The program was executed at Saint Martin de Porres school for four weeks. We had 30 students from 6th grade up to 9th grade participate in the program. Initially, it was intended to have high school students for the program. However, due certain circumstances, many of the high school students were unavailable. Thus, the age range was adjusted and we decided to include middle school students.

During the first week, the main focus was on water related issues. We started off by having a general discussion on the importance of water as well as general facts of what water is. This was followed up with a discussion on the importance of safe drinking water, how to distinguish between safe and unsafe drinking water, and how to purify water. After each topic discussion, we had the students write new things that they had learned. Most of the discussion involved proposing questions to the students and having them discuss with their peers. This allowed for them to think critically about the issues and share out the information to each other. This depicted that the students had some knowledge on the issues and by coupling the discussions with interactive presentations we were also able to provide more information. Additionally, we showed them a movie that discussed the importance of water and how lack of it and safe drinking water affected communities around the world. This forced the students to think of their home communities and how they may be affected and what change could be done in the slightest manner.

During the second and third week, we discussed sanitation and hygiene related issues. We had the students break up into six different groups. Each group was given a topic to educate the rest of the students on. For instance, one group was given the topic of good hygiene practices. Hence this group came up with a skit performance on what constituted good hygiene practices. The students were able to use what they had learned from the discussions and presentations to put together informative skits in which they performed for the school during an assembly meeting.

The last week was devoted to executing a project of the students choosing that would aid in solving WASH issues. The students decided that they wanted to create posters to put up around their school and in some of their neighborhoods that discussed these issues as a tool for educating their communities. This allowed the students to feel empowered with knowledge and give them a sense that they can be change makers.

A New and Improved PhD and Postdoc Careers Webpage!

One of the exciting projects that I was working on this past summer and early fall was revamping our webpage for PhDs and postdocs in collaboration with my colleagues. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our new Ph.D./Postdoc Careers page! This new webpage centralizes all job and career-related resources for Penn doctoral students and postdocs. It’s structured into three main sections to help you easily find the information you’re looking for.

Here’s a quick run-down of how you can use the webpage:

If you’re currently in a PhD program or postdoc and have questions about which career paths would interest you or how you should prepare for your career, check out the Making the Most of Your Ph.D./Postdoc page. It features a four-step career exploration process to guide you in identifying and preparing for careers that would be a strong fit for your interests.

Are you actively applying for academic jobs and/or jobs beyond academia? The Searching, Applying, Interviewing & Negotiating for Jobs page contains information on the entire job search process for postdoc/faculty careers as well as careers beyond academia. You can find resources on preparing your job application materials as well as preparing for job interviews and negotiations.

If you are looking to find out what Career Services can offer you, take a look at the Taking Advantage of Career Services page, which lists all of our services for doctoral students and postdocs—from one-on-one advising to workshops to digital career resources.

We hope you’ll check out our new webpage—you’ll see below some testimonials from your fellow peers on their experiences using the webpage in our focus group.

The Graduate Student and Postdoc Team at Career Services is eager to help you in all aspects of your career exploration and planning process, for jobs in academia and beyond, so make an appointment to see us!

“The breakdown of the four-step Career Exploration Process on the Making the Most of Your Ph.D./Postdoc page was helpful in clarifying what had initially seemed nebulous to me, and it allowed me to move through the steps systematically without feeling overwhelmed.” –Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English

“I found the Professionalize and Gain Experience page extremely useful because it lists several concrete ways in which one can gain work experience at Penn that extends beyond academia.” –Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics

“I gravitated towards the Making the Most of Your PhD page. I didn’t realize there were job simulations until now, and I am definitely going to play around with that resource!” –Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Genomics and Computational Biology

“I was really impressed with the Career Exploration Process information. That is a really concise, concrete and useful resource.” –Ph.D. Candidate, School of Engineering & Applied Science

“The webpage’s new step by step overview of how best to use your time in grad school is an invaluable resource!” –Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

CS Radio – Episode 73: “Dispatches from Austin”

Michael returns from Austin, Texas with a report on what he learned at the 25th Annual Austin Film Festival & Writer’s Conference.  Find out what’s new in the world of film, television and podcasting!  Enjoy!

Show Notes

Death of the Hollywood Middle Class(via Fast Company)
ScriptNotes podcast (Recommended listening: Episode 373: Austin Live Show)



Finding My Voice

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Luke Kertcher, COL ’19

When I first became interested in Asian American advocacy and activism, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) stood out to me as an organization that strives to represent my community on a national scale. It was both surprising and deeply heartening to see an organization actively supporting and advocating for those who identify with the Southeast Asian political identity, a minority community within the broader Asian American label. As a community facing unique issues owing to our origins in the United States as refugees and descendants of refugees from the conflicts in Southeast Asia during the 20th century, the Southeast Asian American community is made invisible for not conforming to the stereotype of Asian Americans as high achieving and wealthy. While our community struggles with unjust detentions and deportations, achievement and wealth gaps, health disparities, and an educational system that fails to account for our needs, SEARAC tirelessly advocates for equitable policy solutions.

Being able to intern with SEARAC with the support of Career Services was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to bridge my personal, academic, and professional interests. By living and working in Washington, DC, I was able to get a feel for the inner workings of the nonprofit and policy advocacy fields through the specific lens of Asian American communities. As their first field and outreach intern, I had the opportunity to help build an infrastructure for communicating with community partners around the country, shaping the internship program, and conducting national campaigns. For example, I worked with SEARAC’s director of field and outreach to develop a national campaign in opposition to the Department of Commerce’s proposal to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Together, we drafted a community action alert and reached out to community partners, collecting more than 850 individual and 50 organizational comments against the citizenship question and in support of disaggregated racial and ethnic data to make our communities more visible.

My most meaningful experience with SEARAC was finding my voice and empowerment as a Vietnamese and Southeast Asian American. As a participant in their annual Leadership and Advocacy Training, I learned how to advocate for my community on Capitol Hill by melding my personal experiences with policy and practice and visiting multiple Congressional offices on behalf of our Southeast Asian American community. I even found my voice in writing, publishing a personal article on SEARAC’s blog about my motivations for working in the community and an op-ed through PIVOT – The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization in defense of affirmative action policies in college admission processes.

Interning with SEARAC was truly a privilege and I’m so grateful to have been able to be in community with people like me, become a part of a caring and supportive team of staff members, and contribute my skills to their valuable work.