I spent a month in Kolkata, India, with the Jeevika Development Society, a community-based NGO committed to working towards furthering the rights of women. I worked in the microfinance wing which provides micro-credit and savings services to women in the surrounding villages. Specifically, I helped design a brief questionnaire about loan utilization, helping to collect the data, analyzing nearly 100 reports, and compiling the results into a report on patterns of loan issue and use. In addition, I analyzed previously collected data about the social and economic impacts of the microfinance program as a whole. All of this was presented in written and oral form to Jeevika's members and board. I spent about one-quarter of my internship in the field, observing and interacting with the women, and three-quarters of my time in the Jeevika office.
What did she gain from this internship?
I think what I found most valuable about my experience was being thrown into a new environment and being forced to confront my own strengths and weaknesses. I interacted with so many different people and had so many experiences that would have been impossible to predict. I learned a lot about myself, and about how I deal with new challenges. The people I met had the biggest impact on me-their humor, grace, stories, and work will stay with me for a long time. Those conversations and experiences are definitely irreplaceable.