Internship Spotlight: Adriana DiSilvestro ’18, The International Rescue Committee

Adriana DiSilvestro ‘18
Major: Environmental Studies

Internship: The International Rescue Committee, Case Management Intern
BPIP Internship Fund: Laura Kinney ‘81 & Arthur P. Maidman

Describe your internship: I’m spending this summer as a case management intern for the Baltimore resettlement office of the International Rescue Committee. When refugees are approved by the government to come to the United States, they are assigned to an organization which will assist them in creating a new life here. The case management department of the IRC in Baltimore is responsible for helping new refugees to find housing, jobs, medical care, and for helping them to transition smoothly into life in the U.S. We serve as their support system for 8 months until they are ready to be financially independent and have developed their own community support systems. As a case management intern I perform a number of duties, including but not limited to driving clients to appointments, helping them to enroll in benefits, meeting with them to discuss problems, food shopping with them, translating, and navigating the piles of paperwork associated with immigration processes.

What is the most interesting or important thing you took from your Internship this summer? Currently, I am in the middle of my internship but I already feel that I’ve learned many different things from my experience thus far. First of all I never realized how difficult it is to come here as a refugee. A lot of the time is takes years to even be approved to come, and then after that there is medical clearance and state department paperwork and then placement. As a potential refugee you actually have to prove that you under no circumstances, can return to your home country due to reasons such as ethnic/religious persecution, government threats, famine, or war. We have clients who spent almost a decade in refugee camps before coming here. And even once clients get here, they have nothing. So getting enrolled in social security, and benefits, and health insurance is necessary, but also really difficult. Even as someone who is a native English speaker, I often have trouble dealing with the paperwork side of things so it’s hard to imagine how difficult it would be for our non-english speaking clients if they didn’t have someone to help them. Overall, recognizing these difficulties has given me a better sense of why organizations like the IRC are so important. However, it has also given me a new attitude about our nation and the opportunities that are present here. I am also really enjoying getting to know Baltimore and all that it has to offer.

How did the BPIP Fund help make your experience possible?Like all BPIP internships, my internship was originally unpaid. Getting BPIP funding made it possible for me to relocate to Baltimore without really worrying about how I was going to be financially independent. Oftentimes public service internships can be difficult because non-profits like the IRC don’t have the budget to pay interns, which is why BPIP is so important.

Why would you recommend the BPIP Fund?
I would absolutely recommend the BPIP Fund. I think there so much to be learned by choosing a internship in the public service sector. This summer I’ve been able to gain experience in a professional workplace while also serving a really vulnerable group of people in our country. Being in the field helping people every day is an experience that I think could benefit any student.

Any other comments to share?
I spent my Spring Semester abroad in Tanzania where I learned Kiswahili. Here at the IRC a large portion of our clients are from the DR Congo, so I’ve been able to put my Kiswahili skills to use, which is really exciting for me.

More about Adriana: Adriana is from Exeter, RI and loves to cook, hike, and spend time in Rhode Island by the beach. On campus she is really involved as a Buckwild Leader, Delta Gamma Sorority, Presidential Fellow, Environmental Studies TA, and an Op-Ed writer for The Bucknellian.

More about BPIP: The BPIP Internship Fund is a competitive summer internship program that provides $3,000 scholarship to selected undergraduate students who have secured unpaid internships in the nonprofit, and public service sectors.  Information sessions will be held throughout the academic year and the deadline is mid-March. Students must have secured an internship before the deadline. 

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