ISS Summer Internship
The ISS student research assistantships are summer grants that provide funding for students to perform research under an ISS professors' supervision. Students apply for the internship by submitting a brief proposal, after having it reviewed by a professor. The topic should either be related to a subject that the professor is currently researching and/or teaching, or that the professor agrees to supervise. A report is due at the end of the summer, and the student is encouraged to present their report to faculty and to students of the program, as well as to the university.
Congratulations to the 2011 ISS Summer Research Award Winners
- Samuel Moody (International Development and Social Change '12) Investigation of the systems of waste management and disposal in El Petén, Guatemala.
- Mary Brigid Palcic (International Development and Social Change '11) Resources for Refugees in Worcester, MA.
Sample of ISS Summer Grant Proposal
Kate Holzman, BA '07 MA '08
I am applying for an ISS Summer Research Internship to continue my research on alternative schools and popular education in Argentina. I plan to travel to MTD La Matanza, an Unemployed Worker’s Movement community outside of Buenos Aires for 6 weeks. I will intern at El CEFoCC, which is La Matanza’s community center and home to a kindergarten, adult education classes, bakery, and sewing workshop, as well as a small clinic. I will live in the community and immerse myself in the activities of the community center, focusing on the school and the adult literacy classes. By working in the center, I hope to learn more about the challenges and successes of community education within social movements. As Worcester activists have already made a link to MTD La Matanza, I hope to strengthen the bond of international solidarity, as well as expand it, by spending a portion of my visit (approx. one week) in Buenos Aires, with my contacts and companeros from Bachillerato IMPA (see project background). Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I plan to bring my research home to Worcester and apply it to our new community center, Stone Soup, and particularly the Stone Soup School.
Last summer I chose to spend a month in Buenos Aires working as an intern at Bachillerato IMPA, an alternative school housed within one of the city’s oldest cooperatively-run factories. I arranged my internship through the Argentina Autonomista Project’s Graciela Monteagudo (see www.autonomista.org), although no interns had ever been placed in a school before. The IMPA factory is part of the National Movement of Recovered Factories (MNER), a social movement which exploded after the economic crash of 2001. As a project of a group of popular educators, the school provides high-school level classes to poor and working class Argentines ages 16-70. The school was recently designated by the government as being allowed to issue official high school diplomas. Throughout the entire curriculum, there is a strong focus on workers’ rights, cooperatives and histories of oppression in Argentina and abroad. As the first intern at the school, I helped to teach the English classes (using materials about historic workers collectives in England, and slavery in the U.S.), and translated the website from Spanish into English to reach more potential companeros. I also became a student, sitting in on classes in economics and radical history of Argentina, as well as a course on popular education. I had the opportunity to visit other alternative schools in the city, as well as to visit a cooperative printing factory, Imprenta Chilavert, on a fieldtrip with my classmates to learn in-depth about the Recovered Factory Movement. Combined with visits to the University of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo for discussions and documentary showings, this was my crash-course in Argentine social movements.
Upon my return to Worcester, I learned that a group was forming to attempt to create a “Free School” for children in Main South. I joined immediately and have now been closely involved with the process for 9 months. We are envisioning a small democratic school based on the model of the Albany Free School, where there is no set curriculum and where children are involved in making all decisions through consensus process. When a group of artists and activists purchased a building on King St. to turn into a community center, the Worcester Free School group was invited to participate. The building, now known as Stone Soup, is up and running, and includes a large space which will be the future home of the Stone Soup Freeschool.
Argentina’s Unemployed Workers’ Movement, like MNER, seeks to create jobs and lessen dependence on corporations and the state. It is separate from MNER, but was born of the same social and neoliberal political conditions. Thanks to the involvement of several Stone Soup members and Worcesterites, Stone Soup is linked in solidarity with the Unemployed Workers’ Movement (known by the Spanish initials MTD) of La Matanza, outside of Buenos Aires. People from Worcester have been to the La Matanza community several times and documented it (see relevant literature section) and Argentine activists have visited Worcester on speaking tours. The small community free school there is going to be the sister school of Stone Soup School, and recently MTD activist Soledad Bordeguaray gave several talks here, and had a special lunch discussion with the Stone Soup School committee.
This is where my proposed project comes in. I began to think about the many similarities between the issues in La Matanza Soledad had described, what I learned in Bachillerato IMPA last summer, and what we were now experiencing here in Worcester with the creation of Stone Soup. Though the contexts of the struggles differ greatly, at the crux of all of them is the desire for community autonomy and empowerment, and the need for non-hierarchical education which supports social change. I decided that I wanted to return to Argentina learn more about the social movements and popular education projects there, and to build on mutual solidarity. I hope to intern with the educational projects in La Matanza, and spend some time with my contacts from Bachillerato IMPA, and apply what I learn there to our work here in Massachusetts.
I want to learn more about the Unemployed Workers’ Movement of La Matanza, particularly
their childrens’ school and adult education classes. Some questions I hope to answer
with my research include: How do social movements impart their message to children
through education? What role does adult education (including literacy and job training)
play in social movements and community development? What are the challenges and
benefits of community-based education?
I also plan to re-visit my friends in Buenos Aires at Bachillerato IMPA to continue learning about the processes and challenges of popular education in a different context. I am looking to learn how to strengthen the bonds of international solidarity between the U.S. and Argentina, and how this can benefit both movements here (by applying what I learn at Stone Soup) and in the South.
Approximately 6 weeks:
I would intern with MTD La Matanza for 5 weeks, and spend the final 7 days in Buenos Aires interviewing and helping out at Bachillerato IMPA.
I am asking for an ISS award of $1500. Although this would not cover the full cost of the trip, it would pay for my plane ticket, transportation, and my food.
Round trip ticket Hartford CT-Buenos Aires= $1,079
Transportation Airport- La Matanza (taxi) = $40
Transportation Buenos Aires – Airport (taxi) =$30
Food ($30 a week times 6 weeks) = $180
Housing with local family in La Matanza = $200 *
Housing for 7 days in Buenos Aires (hostel at $10 a night) = $70
Transportation La Matanza –Buenos Aires (train), in Buenos Aires (subway) = $20
Travel Insurance (from STA Travel) = $165
Total cost: $1784
* I got this figure from autonomista.org, a group which I was in contact with last summer and which places interns with local families.
This does not include the contribution I would make to the La Matanza community. I would combine my own savings with fundraising efforts to hopefully donate $300-400, similar to what I contributed to Bachillerato IMPA last summer.
This would encompass readings in popular education, recent Argentine history and social movements, and democratic free schools, as well as several appropriate films.
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed- Paulo Freire (classic text on popular education)
- Learning All the Time –John Holt (focuses on alternative ed. for younger children)
- Deschooling Society- ed. Matt Hearn (children’s’ alternative ed. in the U.S.)
- Pedagogia de la Resistencia (Pedagogy of Resistance)- Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (popular education though an Argentine lens)
- Fabricas y Empresas Recuperadas: Protesta Social, Autogestion, y Rupturas en la Subjetividad (Recovered Factories and Businesses : Social Protest, Self-control and Ruptures in Subjectivity) – ed. Gabriel Fajin
- Argentine Grassroots Movements at a Crossroad – Marie Kennedy and Chris Tilly, Z Magazine, http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Oct2005/kennedy1005.html (useful overview, includes information on IMPA, La Matanza and Imprenta Chilavert)
- "The Take" – Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis. Documentary about the Recovered Factory Movement, with many details about the economic crash of December 2001, which gave rise to many of the Unemployed Workers’ Movements.
- "Work, Dignity and Social Change"- Matt Feinstein and Jesse Barnes, of Worcester Global Action Network. Documentary about the Unemployed Wokers' Movements, with a substantial section on MTD La Matanza. (I contributed to this project by doing a section of the voice-over narration).
By interning I would be using a participant observation method of research. I would also conduct informal interviews in both La Matanza and Buenos Aires.
Proposed Research Product
Upon my return I would produce a written report on my experiences, which will be refined and presented at a Brown Bag lunch, or Academic Spree Day.
This research would be integral for my final Master’s Paper in the Community Development and Planning fifth-year program.