This summer, Bryn Philibert ’16 participated in an international internship in London at Right To Play, a global organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. The experience provided Bryn with a deeper understanding of nonprofit organizations and work done throughout the world.
“Working with Right To Play was the perfect introduction to the field of development,” says Bryn, who is pursuing an international studies major (with a Latin American focus) and minors in Spanish and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. “I learned a lot about charities and how they market themselves, particularly with fundraising events. The experience has opened my eyes to so much more about the field I want to go into.”
Read more about Bryn’s Right To Play internship and her study abroad experience in Ecuador:
How did you learn about Right To Play?
I learned about Right To Play through the application that was available on Allegheny’s website. As I was on the soccer team at the time, I also found out from my coach.
Why did you decide to pursue this opportunity? Is this something you’ve always wanted to do, or something you learned about while a student at Allegheny?
I looked into the opportunity more and realized that it was the perfect combination of all my interests. For me, sports have always been an important part of my life, and I’ve seen firsthand the power that sport can have to change lives. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today were it not for years of soccer. Important lessons such as confidence, teamwork and perseverance are all integrated into healthy activity.
I’ve always wanted to work for an NGO (non-governmental organization), and working with Right To Play was the perfect introduction to the field of development. From my time at Allegheny, I’ve learned that there are often many different avenues into any given career. My international studies major is interdisciplinary, and therefore I’m accustomed to taking classes in many different academic topics and being challenged with new subjects. Allegheny’s moto of “unusual combinations” is very applicable to the work that Right To Play does with sport and development, and I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them.
What did you do while you were in London?
In the intimate office of 12 people at Right To Play, I spent a lot of time doing research about the programs and other development organizations. I learned a lot about charities and how they market themselves, particularly with fundraising events. Some of the highlights for me included writing an action plan for the sponsorship partnership with Chelsea Football Club, attending a meeting at Stamford Bridge (Chelsea’s Stadium) and working on and attending the launch of the Women’s Network with Billie Jean King.
I also spent a lot of time exploring London and all that its cultural diversity has to offer. One of the most amazing parts of my summer was that, although I was all the way over in London by myself, there was a sense of Allegheny community. I had the opportunity to meet and get to know a few alumni who live and work in London, and hearing their stories and learning about their careers and their time at Allegheny was comforting, especially since I was alone in a foreign country.
How did the internship benefit you? What did you learn?
I learned so much this summer. It’s almost hard to believe that it really happened, but I feel like I really got a feel for how NGOs work behind the scenes. When we study development work and when we turn on the news, we see the programmatic sides of NGOs, in foreign countries giving aid to those in need. While this is ultimately the part of NGOs I want to work closely with in the future, I gained an appreciation for the importance of fundraising and marketing.
I also saw how closely the two are connected, and my experiences have already opened my eyes to so much more about the field I want to go into. Living alone in Europe, commuting on the tube, navigating a city and so much more were nerve-wracking and brand new for me, but I have now learned that I can be successful in challenging situations, and that I should go for opportunities that I don’t think I’ll ever get.
What are you doing now?
This semester I am studying abroad in Ecuador, which is a program that not many students do. I decided to come to Ecuador because I am very interested in international development. In my mind, development is not something you can only learn in the classroom, which is why the program I’m doing, which also has an internship component, is perfect. I can build on all that I have learned in the classroom and combine development work in the field with what I saw last summer in London. I didn’t want a traditional study abroad at a large university. I am glad that I found an opportunity that combines language, culture and hands-on experience in international development.
What are you doing there?
Over the next four months, I will be studying and working. For the first part, we have classes in Quito. I am with a group of students mostly from Minnesota, and together we are taking classes in development, Spanish and Ecuadorian culture/history. I am also focusing on social services, which is the “track” for my development class and the area in which my internship will be in April.
How did you learn about this experience?
This experience is one of the options available for students looking to study abroad in Latin America. I looked through all the options and decided that this program fit well with my future goals and interest in development.
How long will you be there?
I will be in Ecuador until May 10. I’m in Quito until April, and then I will have an internship in a rural community somewhere.
What do you hope to get out of this experience?
I am very quickly learning that Ecuador is an amazing country. Although it is small, it has some of the greatest biodiversity, cultural diversity and geographic diversity in the world. I hope that when I return, I will have a better understanding of different cultures, development work and also a greater ability to reflect on our own culture.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
After I graduate, I am thinking that I would like to do the Peace Corps. I am very interested in international development, and I feel like that would be a good way to see the world and get some experience before getting a master’s in something related. Eventually I would like to work for an NGO like Right To Play in developing programs and working with local communities and governments.