Aden in Dallas

Aden is a junior majoring in accounting in the Cox School of Business and markets and culture in Dedman College. For summer 2011, she was named a Maguire & Irby Family Foundation Public Service Summer Intern by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility at SMU. Aden is interning at DFW International Community Alliance.

Bringing leaders together

My fifth week at DFW International has been fascinating, as always. This week, I was in charge of organizing the African Leadership Luncheon that we are holding July 16 at Aggies Restaurant. I invited five speakers who are going to speak about ways to raise money for African organizations. Each speaker is going to provide guidance about how to write a powerful grant, how to engage corporate sponsors at an event, and how to fund-raise through 5K runs, cultural activities, sports / soccer events, silent auctions, program ads, etc. I also invited more than 100 African leaders and organizations to be a part of this great event and benefit.  From making so many calls, I have been improving my professional telephone skills and communication skills.

This week in our “culture” discussions, we discussed the birth of a new country: South Sudan, after years of genocide and civil war.  We talked about how the British united North and South Sudan, who are very different from each other, during colonization. The country has been ravaged by civil war ever since then. It is good to know that the people of Sudan can finally live peacefully, celebrating freedom.

On Friday, we will be visiting a Buddhist temple and Hindu temple. We will then go to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch.

Overall, I am really enjoying my internship and learning something new each day. It has been great interning with a diverse group of people. I am excited for what the next few weeks hold for me and sad that the end is approaching quickly.

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Support for refugee women

My fourth week at DFW International was very productive, and I learned how to write effective and powerful grant proposals. As usual, we started the day with what we call “culture”: our group discussion about current ethical issues in the world.

The one that stood out to me is Saudi Arabian women fighting for the freedom to drive. Just recently, women in Saudi Arabia have been openly driving cars in defiance of an official ban on female drivers. The ban is not enforced by law, but is a religious fatwa imposed by conservative Muslim clerics. Some women were arrested for driving, but they are still pushing until something is done about it. It made me appreciate the freedom we have in America.

Other than learning about current ethical issues, I spent the whole week planning educational classes for East African women. In East African culture, as in much of the developing world, women have less access to education and fewer economic opportunities. In their traditional roles they must be subservient to male figures. The social, political, and economic freedom granted to women in the United States often causes friction as men, who are accustomed to being dominant and exercising leadership in the family, have a difficult time accepting women as equals.

The difference in attitude toward women, combined with the poverty resulting from their newcomer status, has resulted in verbal abuse, battery and divorce for many Ethiopian and Eritrean refugee women in the United States. Therefore, we spend the week organizing Saturday classes that focus on financial literacy, health and wellness, parenting, family security and job preparedness for these women.

I contacted several organization and programs in the D/FW area that are willing to partner with us, such as Catholic Charities, HIPPY USA, Unidos program, WIC educators and African health professionals. I also completed two big grants that will help fund the project.

On Fridays, we have cultural enrichment trips, and this week we visited a Mosque and saw how its members pray. After that, we went to an Indian restaurant for lunch.

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Working on an international scale

My internship with DFW International Community alliance has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime. I am now in my third week interning and have gained many valuable knowledge and skills.

I work with six other interns, and we usually start the day with discussions on multicultural and international current events and issues related to history, culture and the economy. Some of our past discussions include the ethics of infanticide in India, illegal immigration and politics.

This past week, understanding the concerns of newcomers in the purchasing of a home, we held homebuyers’ workshop to introduce the basic steps in purchasing a home and addressed any questions they had.

We also went to an elementary school in Richardson and gave a presentation to 50+ immigrant mothers; providing them guides to economical health services, ESL classes, scholarships and where to access social events.

Now I am working on writing grant proposals and on planning a dinner with the mayors, which will take place June 14. At the dinner, we are going to discuses issues immigrants face in Texas and how to solve the problems. We have more than 20 Texas mayors as well as U.S. congressman/women and Texas state representatives attending the dinner. We are also going to have a speech by successful international leaders, international foods and entertainments.

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