Blake Kappel, completing a BDP in Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies spent summer 2016 in Beijing as an intern with Starfish Project, a social enterprise working to empower exploited and trafficked women in Asia.
How did you find your internship?
I found it through an indirect means of Googling for organizations that fit my interest in women’s empowerment and were located in Beijing, where I’d be studying abroad. After reading through some blog posts, I found Starfish Project, and reached out to them on my own.
Describe the work you did in your internship.
I performed some cool jobs, like leading business outreach initiatives to recruit more retailers and sales partners for the social enterprise. I also helped carry out social media tasks and conducted side research on certain events of interest. What was great about this work is that the purpose was grounded in expanding the business side so the organization could in turn expand its services to further empower exploited and trafficked women in Asia.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
While at Starfish Project, I had continuous conversations with my coworkers and was able to interview the CEO and other staff members about the organization and the work they do. The insight I gained into specific issues surrounding the work provided me with a more nuanced understanding of the world of women’s empowerment. I was also very inspired by witnessing the positive impact their outreach and holistic care have on the women they serve.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
I am driven to keep contributing to the cause for gender equality, women’s empowerment, and other social issues. So whatever work I go into, I will keep this mission close to me. I plan to stay involved with organizations that do such work, and am currently looking for a position with one after I graduate.
Discuss the relationship you had with your faculty mentor and how they helped you during this Connecting Experience.
We communicated through weekly Skype calls, during which she helped me digest the work I was doing and connect it to my academics and professional future. We talked a lot about the elements of social work and counseling that are a part of the social enterprise, and the potential for exploring those fields as career options. My mentor also grounded me in central ideas of social work, like what it means to serve others and obligations to listen and project the voice of the voiceless