Working at Samasource this summer has really encouraged me to break the mold of how I usually approach strategic questions. I'm left-handed, and have always assumed it should be easy for me, as a right-brained thinker, to connect to my creative faculties, should I choose to use them. After some initial experimentation with design thinking at Samasource, however, I quickly realized that could not have been more wrong. Apparently the years I spent prior to Samasource in the for-profit world eroded any innate ability I had to think in abstraction.
This is my last week at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and it feels strange to still be here as a summer intern now that the sweaty D.C. days have finally cooled into fall. We've wrapped up two of the major efforts of the summer, which were reviews of one set of grantmaking policies and of one of the annual reports each television station is required to submit. The TV Community Service Grant discussions have been ongoing for several months, and I caught the tail end of them; I just helped edit the final report and recommendations today (putting those old editing skills to use!). This was the culmination of a lot of data analysis on our part, finding relevant performance benchmarks to guide policy requirements.
Secluded in the mountains of Montana for summer vacation, I was able to take time away from the hectic life of work, family, events, dogs, yard work, board work ... I needed a brain break.
Packed in my backpack was Tracy Kidder's novel Strength in What Remains. Kidder is an amazing storyteller, and I was looking forward to being inspired.
Since last writing, I completed my Education Pioneers internship with School of One at New York City's Department of Education. My internship was incredibly engaging and productive, as I had the opportunity to work with a great team on multiple interesting projects. Throughout the summer, I also attended several Education Pioneers workshops focused on various topics, such as school choice, human capital issues in education, and district-level reform initiatives.
I am leaving the Philippines as I am writing my last blog entry. I have had a lot of impressions over the last three months and made new friends in a remote part of the world. It was a privilege to experience developing country life for ten weeks, with all its attendant chaos.
My last week at African Leadership Academy (ALA) has been filled with the commotion and excitement of a new school year underway. Students and faculty are back on campus and ALA finally feels like a school! Second year students have already jumped into their A-level (akin to AP) classes and first year students are busy with new student orientation. I've sat in on a leadership and an African studies class, which were both phenomenal. I am generally taken aback with the level of engagement and thoughtfulness of the students, and with the poise and commitment of the teachers.
Back in the U.S. after two months in India and still getting used to the idea that water from the tap is safe again, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to see so much of the country. With more than a billion people, saying that India is a diverse country is pretty much a no-brainer. Yet experiencing that diversity is eye-opening.
Crisscrossing the country with a hectic travel schedule that took me to seven states in about as many weeks as part of my internship with D-REV gave me an opportunity to begin to appreciate that diversity:
As I readied myself for the 35 hour journey from our nation's capitol (SMIF internship with the U.S. Department of Energy) to rural Cambodia (GMIX with an off-grid solar developer), I had something that can only be described as aberrant at the GSB: a spare minute to think. Having just wrapped up my first ever stint working for the government and looking forward at the impending prospect of trading in a luxury high-rise for a mosquito net, I thought through how my SMIF experience at the DOE stacked up against my prior expectations and biases.
And just like that, it was over. The past ten weeks really have flown by, but I'm really delighted with how my summer as an Education Pioneer at Aspire Public Schools turned out.
My main focus this summer was on helping Aspire increase the effectiveness and efficiency of its central office teams. This involved analyzing internal feedback data, researching external best-practices, developing new tools and processes, as well as facilitating key management level discussions. Going into this internship, I set two goals for myself: to learn what it takes to build and sustain a world-class schools management organization and to help Aspire continue to do just that. Looking back, I'm happy to say that I achieved both.
I've been here in Washington, DC, working at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967. Briefly, CPB funds local radio and TV stations to develop and provide universal access to educational, diverse, non-commercial programming--programming that speaks especially to children and minorities.