About My Internship

Where am I working? What am I doing? Find out!

the INTERFUTURE project

I have the AMAZING opportunity of going abroad for the Summer 2015 and Fall 2015 semesters. The first place I'll be going to is the UK, specifically England, and the second South Africa.

The program I am enrolled in is called InterFuture. It is a program specially designed for students who want to perform intercultural research abroad. Since June of 2014, I have been working on developing and enhancing my research question. I originally thought I wanted to study the factors influencing Muslim youth to play street basketball. From there, my project molded into a study about the personal experiences of female Muslim youth athletes.

My program does not require that I enroll in a university abroad!! This means two things: 1. I don't have to attend classes and if I finish my project early, I can go backpacking across the country!

2. I have full responsibility for completing my coursework and conducting my field research on time.

I am not worried about graduating on time because Loyola will be allotting me blank university credit for my work abroad. I am especially excited about the upcoming semesters because they will be unlike any experience I have ever had. I am also very passionate about social justice, as well as the progression of the Muslim community via Muslim youth and policy work. This project is one that I can call entirely my own and reflects my own personal passions and ambitions. It also gives me the practical experience of an academic researcher.

The Context of My Junior Year

During the Fall 2014 and Spring 2014 semesters, I will mainly be preparing the necessary materials so that I may conduct my research abroad. A large part of my position as a cultural researcher is the off-site preliminary research I will conduct at home. This includes writing up a literature review and background, designing the appropriate tests and measures for the research, forming hypotheses and conducting a pilot study. Once this academic paper is finalized, I will be submitting it for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, with the help of my project mentors. Attaining the IRB would allow me to publish my data and findings. There is also a lot of informal research to be done as well. This includes exploring various mediums that will help acquaint me with the cultures and traditions found within England and South Africa. I am also preparing application for several scholarships to help with the funding of my research.

This experience highlights the reality of performing both cultural research and research within any discipline. I also have the pleasure of experiencing all the “what ifs” and fears a traditional intern might have. As an intern I can never quite gauge my mentors’ expectations and conceptions of me as a researcher. It is especially difficult since there are no other interns (i.e. students) enrolled in the program this year. I am not able to collaborate with peers or speak with someone other than my mentors about my project. This highlights the complications of a mentor/mentee relationship.I am in a place where I am juggling multiple identities and roles, each with its own responsibilities and expectations. My life context is composed of the stress of academics, employment, roommates, family and other commitments. The difficult part is not letting the stress take away the enjoyment of the things in life. I am finding that attitude, careful planning and a strong support system is key to unlocking the full potential of this experience.

My Action Plan

I am taking each of my responsibilities and designating a set time during the week to fulfill those obligations. This way my responsibilities don't run together and I feel rushed to do everything at one time. Since I know I have plans to complete that task at a later definite time, then I am greatly reassured. For example, I am the supply room manager of the residence halls in the Northside area. Part of my job is to keep the supply room in order.I was at first overwhelmed by the task, but I have now promised myself that the days I am on duty and have to complete office hours, will be the times I fix up the supply room and work on RA stuff. I also find a lot of support in my faith and in God. I am taking an Intro to Islam class where aspects of my faith that I have never thought about are being brought to my attention. This increase of knowledge allows me to better see God in all things and gives me a greater sense of purpose. It is also comforting to know that I will always have God to understand the struggles I am facing, even if those around me don't understand or aren't aware. In line with that, I realize that we can't know someone's circumstances unless we communicate. I have been better at talking with my roommates, family, and supervisors about my needs and not assuming they already know.

As an RA, I have weekly meetings with my supervisor that are all centered around me and my experience. I find it very reassuring to always have someone more experienced to speak with aobut my various issues. A lot of times I find that I can work out my problems on my own, but I process things verbally so all I really need is to say my thoughts out loud to another person. I have a couple friends who are both very organized and very invovled. When it seems like there is too much to do at one time, I look at them and take mental notes on how they manage everything. One thing I've realized is that I work better when I space out my work into small chunks of time. In the past I've always scheduled big plots of time to deal with big projects. I now take advantage of the small 30-40 minute gaps and am largely productive during those times. I have created a schedule for myself where I have identified the places in my schedule where I can get certain school work done and when I can relax. Just yesterday I turned down a really tempting invitation to hang out with friends I haven't seen in a long time because of a really important exam I had the next day.

Brace Yourself... for My Impact

The largest impact this internship is having is on myself. I also think that I am acting as a role model for my family and peers as well as an ambassador for the program. I am the first in my family to go off to college and live on campus. I felt that it was really important to prove to my family that I could manage my own affairs and free time in a responsible manner. In terms of my internship, I have been recommending the program to those who qualify for it and extending to them the opportunity to apply for the program. The rigor of this program has pushed me to recognize my own strengths and capitalize on them. While the internship is a research program, having interpersonal skills is crucial to the success of the project ( since most of my data will be collected via interviews). I feel my research has sparked my interest in the various components of a global citizen. I have been working with multiple deadlines, set not only by my internship but also my other commitments. The other impacts I have come from my other commitments. Through various RA programs that I have organized, I realize my own comfort levels with facilitating events that are both social and educational. Personal development: able to learn my talents and strengths, practice interpersonal skills, become more culturally aware and a global citizen. It is really important to me that I fulfill my responsibilities in both my internship as well as in my other commitments because I am also an ambassador for the Islamic faith. More than 50% of the time (not statistically accurate of course) I am told I am the first Muslim women who has participated in "X" event, class, program etc.While I know I am not the spokesperson for the faith, I still feel some level of responsibility for upholding the standards of my religion. This in turn also helps me stay sincere and grow in my commitments to my faith and my academics.