During my internship, I learned a lot about the local food, language, and the overall culture of Iraqi Kurdistan. I expected to learn all these things while living in a new country, but here are a few things I never expected I would learn during my time there:
1) How to write professionally—I finished my college English courses as a first semester freshmen, not because I was good at English, but because it was my least favorite subject and I wanted to finish it as soon as possible. Since being accepted to the summer internship, I’ve written a lot for PLC and I really enjoyed it, much to my surprise.
I was dubbed the "press intern," which involves writing press releases for the intern's home town papers and networking with other larger publications. I saw a lot of rejection, but I also had some successes, which made all my effort worthwhile. All-in-all, I really enjoyed writing about PLC because I think what they do is amazing, so if writing is a great way to tell others about the amazing things going on here in Iraq, I’m all for it!
2) How to use Insta.gram for good—Insta.gram is a mobile application used to share photos. The PLC staff started using it this year to offer you a glimpse of life here in Iraq and to give you a picture of where all your support is going. Across the board, people are more likely to share, like, and comment on photos over links or pure text, and Insta.gram is a great platform to help us get you involved. When the PLC staff aren’t in their office working to get children heart surgeries, they’re out in the community and spending time with locals. We use the Insta.gram platform to show people what it's like to live in this culture in hopes of humanizing the people here. I was fortunate to be able to take over this task for the summer, and I even got to help mobilize the other interns and their camera phones so I was not the only person taking photos of our experience in Iraq.
3) How to write HTML—HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is an online language that is used to build web pages. I was expecting to write a little before I came to Iraq, but I was definitely NOT expecting to learn how to build web pages. Within a few weeks of living here I was learning not one but two new languages: Kurdish and HTML. I learned HTML to build landing pages for the Preemptive Love Facebook page in order to engage our Facebook supporters by inviting them to fund children's medical supplies. It has been fun to learn these two new languages, and I hope to continue to learn and use them in the future! So, using both languages, I'll bid you a farewell:
The summer of 2012 will always be a memorable experience for all of us interns who were fortunate enough to go to Iraq. We learned and sharpened valuable skills, we built long-lasting relationships, and we’ve had experiences that will continue to shape us for the rest of our lives.