Winter Break L-EARN-ing

This post is half of a two-part mini-series from two students who completed SwatWorks projects during winter break. One of the programs that Swarthmore’s Career Services Office offers (and completely funds!) is SwatWorks, a short-term, professional assignment. Some past SwatWorks micro-internships have included (but are not limited to) coding, website development, and research at a non-profit. If you want to learn more after reading this post, be sure to check out the first part in this mini-series on SwatWorks here.

As an international student, you are always looking for something to do whenever a semester break is drawing closer. For some who have family in the U.S., there is a need to stay in the U.S. with family and experience off-campus life. For others who prefer to count all the tree species on campus and perhaps hide in the shade of the arboretum, they stay on campus with assistance from both Swarthmore housing and the International Student Center. If you are a big baby like me and miss your family, friends, and activities back home, you are probably heading to the airport and finding your way home across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Three months before the 2022 winter break, I made the decision to go home – Liberia. Did I really want to get back into another eighteen to twenty-four hours airport experience? That’s something I really thought about. The fall semester went by and I booked my flight to go home. The next decision-making juncture was whether or not I wanted to spend my entire break just hanging out with friends without doing anything, spending money without getting a penny back, or the reverse. Well, I was spending the first week of winter break in the U.S., so that meant I had a full one week of just staring at my phone, sleeping enough, and chasing channels to watch Lionel Messi win his first world cup. 

I reached out to the International Student Center to ask what the process of getting a SwatWorks micro-internship was like. As an international student who hadn’t declared my major yet, the only opportunity to work on a paid internship was to work from my home country in order to comply with work eligibility. Everything worked out well. I was going to stay in Liberia for about 2.5 weeks and found a remote SwatWorks internship that was roughly 14 days. On the SwatWorks website, one can find all of these short-term internship opportunities. For about ten to twelve days, I was working with a Turkish non-profit organization called Education Reform Initiative (ERG). I was fortunate to have a Swat alum, Yaprak Sarıışık, as my project supervisor. I worked on the review of literature and best sustainable practices from different countries that were applicable to high school students in Turkey. Being a Green Advisor at Swarthmore, I was able to use my experience working on sustainability issues at Swat and transfer some of Swarthmore’s sustainability ideas over to another country. In addition to that, as someone who was into recycling initiatives and setting up high school environmental entrepreneurship clubs at home, I easily transferred some of my ideas to this project.

The best part of this experience was reading on what other countries are doing to both educate students and save the environment from destruction. Ranging from reading about children whose classes were held in the middle of the forest in some Kenyan schools, to students who led “litter less” campaigns, to students who undertook beekeeping projects, and students who led environmental magazines for sensitization on the environment, I became exposed to what other countries are doing around the world as it related to sustaining the environment in my SwatWorks project, while also going to the pool with my friends in the hot Liberian weather, eating good African food, and spending time with family. Even though I had not declared a major, the SwatWorks micro-internship program through the Career Services Office at Swarthmore connected me with a really nice alum who I am still connected with and hope to work with on their next projects.

About the Author

Prince U.D. Tardeh, ‘25 is an international student from Liberia who intends to double major in Medical Anthropology and Biology. He is a Green Advisor, an Inclusive Excellence Fellow, and leader of the poetry club called Our Arts Spoken in Souls (OASIS). Prince is also part of the I-20 board on campus and plays for club soccer.

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