Internship Spotlight: Alice Ishimwe

This summer, my internship was with Pulso ng Bayan, a community-based project that is gathering stories of migration of Filipinos who settled in Montreal over the course of 30 years (1992 – 2022). Despite this being a virtual placement, I gained tremendous knowledge on community research projects and team management. Surprisingly, I also acquired additional leadership experience with managing the team’s work schedules with people I had not even ever met in person.

I was assigned to be the coordinator of meetings which involved taking meeting minutes, scheduling Zoom meetings, and getting the agenda ready every week. I also had to follow up with each task to ensure it was completed within the specified time limits. I was at first intimidated with this task, but after a couple weekly meetings, I got a hang of it and felt comfortable within the team. I was then asked if I could chair project meeting and have started doing so with ease with the direction of my supervisor. My supervision meetings were the most enriching experiences; my supervisor sent me a list of reflection questions to discuss pertaining to what I would have learnt that week. Being a social worker themselves, it was easy to unpack professional knowledge on an academic level and compare it with community work.

We drafted a learning goal sheet together to ensure I got as much knowledge as possible in my internship. This helped me conceptualize the tasks I completed with the project and apply them to my social work experience. My supervisor delegated additional tasks to me when I had more free time, and this challenged me to learn how to handle bigger responsibilities. I felt privileged to have been part of the project since its early birth. We named it Pulso ng Bayan together and invited Filipino elders to consult with us and draft the project plan, funding request, and surveys together.

When interviews started, I was assigned to draft the outline of what a proper interview should cover, and my team found this resource to be useful. I was unable to be one of the people attending interviews with community members as I was not located in Montreal but I looked forward to learning about their journey from the Philippines to Montreal through recordings and team debriefing.

I also participated in planning two events together with the team: June 12 – for the independence of the Philippines, we hosted a virtual discussion that featured a live jamboard with questions on migration story sharing, pictures, objects that remind of home and general experiences of Filipinos in Montreal. The second event took place on July 4 and was a mapping art workshop to write up these experiences in person. Even though I participated virtually, the results were a rich experience I will always cherish.

Another aspect of my internship was to manage social media pages for the project. I learned a few more tricks on how to professionalize social media messaging on Instagram and Facebook such as creating linktrees, linking survey responses to our email, engaging through videos and citing work even on infographics.

I am again very thankful for the award from the Faculty of Arts Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism Fund to partake in this experience.

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