Students spend summers serving, learning and modeling
August 31, 2007
__From modeling at Hollister to consulting in Iraq, here are the stories of five students who made the most of their summers.__
**Consulting in Iraq**
p. While other students read about day-to-day events in Iraq, Scott Parks ’09 witnessed them while working as an economic consultant for the Kurdistan Regional Government.
p. Kurdistan is vastly different from the Iraq with which most Americans are familiar. “The Northern provinces of Iraq that comprise Kurdistan enjoy relative peace and prosperity,” Parks said. “[The Northern provinces are] much more conducive to economic growth and poverty reduction than the rest of Iraq.”
For nearly two decades, the Kurds in Iraq have been working to spur foreign investment in order to rebuild the country and work toward a goal Parks describes as “the chance to become a fully functional liberal democracy.”
p. Earlier this year, Parks met with a representative of the KRG, and the meeting led to Parks’ job as an economic consultant. He was hired to help develop a plan to increase foreign investment in Kurdistan.
p. “I worked with several ministries to collect key social and economic data of interest to investors, develop a statistical authority for the KRG and draft an Investment Climate Assessment,” Parks said. He worked primarily with the KRG Ministers, but also with the Prime Minister, the Board of Investment, the United States Agency for International Development in Iraq and other international organizations.
p. His stay in Iraq included many cross-cultural experiences, such as Kurdish feasts. “Imagine the biggest table you have ever seen, then picture that entire table filled with Middle Eastern food,” he said.
p. Parks got to visit the oilfields of TaqTaq, where reminders of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime are still visible.
p. “It sounds a bit cliché,” he said, “but my trip to Iraqi Kurdistan really broadened my ‘worldview.’”
p. **Learning silently**
p. Instead of taking her academic interests outside the classroom, Kira Allman ‘10 explored her fascination with linguistics in a highly unusual setting: a quiet one.
p. Allmann attended sign language classes at Gallaudet University, Washington D.C.’s University for the Deaf.
p. She has always had a passion for linguistics and has studied Spanish, French, Latin and Arabic. During her freshman year at the College, Allman decided that “linguistics was a versatile major that could reconcile [her] varied language interests.”
p. At Gallaudet, the elementary sign language classes were taught by a Deaf professor.
p. “The entire environment living at Gallaudet was startling and enlightening,” Allman said. “Imagine eating three meals a day in a silent cafeteria… It was holistically a very eye-opening experience.”
p. Besides an elementary knowledge of American Sign Language, Allmann returns with an increased understanding of the importance of communication across both linguistic and cultural barriers.
p. “Communication, in my opinion, is essential to better cultural awareness, so the communicative avenues that we pursue are particularly fascinating,” she said.
p. **Modeling for Hollister**
p. For Jonathon Abramson’10 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, finding a summer job as a model at Hollister & Co., the national brand clothing retailer, was easy.
p. “I walked into the store and this woman, the manager, came up to me and asked if I wanted a job,” he said. “I’d never modeled before, except when I was 10 I did some little boy’s suits for Macy’s.”
p. For about 20 to 25 hours a week, Abramson modeled for photo displays and greeted customers at the Fort Lauderdale store in Sawgrass Mills Mall, one of the largest malls in America.
Everyday he would go to the back of the store, clock in and find an outfit laid out with his name on it.
p. “Either they photographed me or I would stand there outside the store and girls would come take pictures with me,” he said.
Although the pay was minimal, Abramson did receive a 40 percent discount on clothes and got to keep one item of clothing from every outfit he modeled—in total about two shirts, a pair of shorts and a sweater.
p. “It was okay; I’m not a huge fan of Hollister clothes, so it’s not like I was trying to stock up,” said Abramson, who has no plans to quit his day job at a public relations firm where he also worked during the summer. When asked if he sees a future for himself in modeling, he replied, “Fuck, no. It’s just something fun and social. I meet more people my age than I did in the office.”
p. **Working in Ireland**
p. For eight weeks, Anna Broussell’10 lived and worked in Ireland with two friends from her hometown of Brandywine, Delaware.
Broussell, who had been to Ireland once before, started researching for the trip last March and found a house to rent in the coastal town of Drimoleague through the website daft.ie. The girls obtained work permits, which are good for up to four months, before they left. Their landlord helped them find jobs.
p. Broussell worked as a waitress at a restaurant while her two friends worked at nearby pubs. “When I started work they had promised me 30 hours a week, which would have been very good with the exchange rate between the dollar and the Euro, but when I got there it was more like 15 and I couldn’t really afford to live there,” she said.
p. Nontheless, that left her plenty of spare time to tour the country on bicycle, visit pubs and make friends with locals.
p. “[The locals] took us everywhere, to villages, sightseeing. One thing I found in Ireland was that there are no age gaps. Everyone hangs out and is up for anything all the time. In the same pub you may see 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds and that’s normal,” she said.
p. “I definitely learned a lot—how to work with other people and communicate when they have accents, how to run a household and use a bus system and how to budget,” she added.
p. **Serving in two different countries**
p. Shay Jannat ’10 decided to utilize lessons learned about service by making a difference in two countries.
p. A double major in international relations and economics, Jannat spent a month-and-a-half volunteering with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
p. “I worked with a team of Grameen Bank researchers to implement a new early childhood development project, doing field work, evaluating such issues as development sustainability, community mobilization, gender issues, resource allocation, capacity building and training, etc.,” Jannat said. She also volunteered with several programs, including a sexual education program for women.
p. Her work in Bangladesh, however, was not just a trip abroad. Jannat, who is originally from Bangladesh, said one of her main motivation for the trip was to witness her childhood friend, Sonia, being married.
p. Jannat took the job at Grameen Bank as an opportunity to make a difference for women much like her young friend. “Service is one of the most important aspects of my character,” Jannat said, “because to this day, I feel the closest to feeling truly accomplished … when I am impacting the life of another person.”
Jannat also volunteered for Project Mexico in May in Reynosa, Mexico, and hopes to return as a trip leader next year.
p. “My experiences in Bangladesh and in Mexico have made me realize more than ever how much work there remains to do in the world,” she said.