Internship Spotlight: Hannah Block

Dear Dr. Robert M. Hurley,

As a recipient of Brenda and Morrison Hurley Arts Internship Award, I cannot thank you enough for your generosity. This award allowed me to focus on my internship, without financial stress, and gain firsthand experience in international economic development. As such, this internship was an unrivalled opportunity to learn and contribute.

I was fortunate enough to intern with the Elimu Evaluation Impact Unit. Elimu, founded by Professor Chemin in 2006, is an NGO, operating in Kianyaga, Kenya, that takes on the rigorous evaluation of development projects in order to identify the most effective ways to reduce poverty and support socio-economic development. Elimu uses randomized controlled trial (RCT) experiments to determine the effect and relative efficiency of different development projects.

Randomly assigning poverty alleviation treatments to a treatment group and comparing them to a control group (that does not receive the program treatment), allows for the establishment of a counterfactual. The counterfactual allows Elimu to then discern which development projects are successful and the most cost-effective methods to improve living standards.

Since 2006, Elimu has been involved in the impact evaluation of the Pamoja online tutoring project, the community-based microhydroelectrification project, the health insurance and stress project, and the legal aid project. Intern responsibilities primarily included running the remote tutoring program and supporting the randomized controlled trial experiments to determine the effect of different interventions.

I had wanted to intern with ELIMU for some time, having become involved with Elimu a couple of years ago as a volunteer Skype tutor. Connecting with the students in Kenya through this volunteer position was more rewarding than I ever imagined a remote interaction could be, which is why I wanted to further my involvement.

Additionally, my academic background in international development (economic stream) provided me with the knowledge base required for the successful completion of this internship. McGill courses and prior research positions prepared me in areas such as fieldwork support, data collection and organization, database management, statistical interpretation, report writing, and communication.

Moreover, with the focus of the internship on the Pamoja Program (skype-tutoring), my extensive experience working with youth, at non-profits and outreach groups, proved to be a particular asset.

I feel very fortunate in saying that there were many highlights of this internship. Above all, however, was being able to connect and build friendships with our colleagues in Kenya as well as fellow interns in Montreal. We were able to learn so much from each other and share in our successes and failures.

Although we were met with many challenges both in completing our internships as well as maintaining Elimu operations, in light of the current pandemic, the support and dedication of our donors, the AIO, Professor Chemin, and our Elimu colleagues enabled us to continue with the project and complete a most incredible internship experience.

In retrospect, interning with Elimu was one of the most important experiences of my life thus far. With the future looming, as a fourth-year student, this opportunity came at a pivotal moment, allowing for invaluable inspiration and personal development that will surely aid in my decisive next steps.

I am so grateful for this opportunity and all of the support I received along the way.

With utmost appreciation,

Hannah Block

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