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Volume 8, No. 3WINTER 2005

Internship offers glimpse of programs,
leaves lasting impression

By Arianna Rondos

Photo: Nicole Minor - The Pangea Network

Jerusalem/West Bank (IOCC) — Upon arrival at the IOCC/Jerusalem office, I was immediately involved in a number of aspects of a non-governmental organization’s activities. Collection and storage of donations, project visits within the field, reports verifying such activities, and the day to day workings of an office with the full responsibility of so many communities’ livelihoods, were part of my daily routine.

Reflecting on my internship experience, I am struck by my impressions about the implementation of projects and successes, particularly within such a strict cultural framework. As experienced in the West Bank town of Jenin, as well as in Nablus, the classes for women’s health have allowed for a level of honesty and discussion on subjects that have, until now, been taboo in a society where women are expected to remain within the house.

Along with the visits to project sites, the experience of attending inaugurations and graduations of the completed project activities left a lasting impression. These events best articulated the great many levels of involvement necessary in accomplishing a project. After witnessing the inauguration of the information technology center at At-Tayba in the Ramallah Governate, I noted that “the ceremony was an expression of cultural heritage, traditions of both dance and dress, as well as a celebration and example of the activities that have been brought to the community through the creation of the center.” These ‘expressions’ I refer to led me to conclude that the pride communicated through these children served as a clear indicator that the activities provided through the IOCC-supported center have helped to develop and enhance a growing community.

The influence on those in the communities, particularly women, who have taken part in the activities such as health education classes and computer skills programs, will prove to be the strongest and most significant in subsequent years. As stated on an IOCC poster, “Sometimes knowledge is the best way to prevent exploitation.” Knowledge, and access to it, is the most empowering and beneficial tool that can be offered a society. Thus, IOCC’s projects which target such matters allow for development, in its truest form, to be both applied and realized.

Coupled with my experiences at IOCC was my day to day life while living in the Old City. Encompassing the religions, traditions, and politics of a divided city, the Old City is a complete enigma. Once beyond the walls though, I was immediately struck by the juxtaposed worlds that make up the vastly different East and West Jerusalem. The cultural taboos change, the dress code differs, and, most obviously, the language is completely different. Therefore, it does not surprise me anymore when I hear people describe Jerusalem as “the strangest place I have ever been.”

I cannot be sure that I will follow a career path in relief and development, but I take from this a greater understanding of the intricacies it involves, the difficulties that can be faced, and the reward of its successful implementation.

Editor’s Note: IOCC intern Arianna Rondos served at the IOCC office in Jerusalem/West Bank this past summer. In 2006, IOCC will offer two 3-month internships designed for current college and graduate school students. For more information on the program, please click here.

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