Graduate Studies Reflection Essay for JHR 584 : Internship for the Teachers Without Borders Peace Education Program (12/15/2011)
Over the past semester, I completed my JHR 584 internship as an intern for Teachers Without Borders (TWB), an international nonprofit organization based out of Seattle, Washington, that aims to “connect teachers to information and each other to create local change on a global scale.” I worked for Stephanie Know-Cubbon, who works out of San Diego, California, within TWB’s Peace Education Program (PEP). The PEP helps teachers promote peace in their classrooms and communities through offline workshops, an online peace education course, and several other online resources. Initially, my main goal was to identify funding opportunities for TWB’s PEP through foundation grants and other potential revenue streams. Over the course of my internship, the scope of my objectives broadened, including marketing the PEP to local teachers/schools in the city of Phoenix, interviewing past PEP participants to gather insights on the PEP’s strengths and opportunities, facilitating a “peace club” at a local elementary school and recording my insights, as well as participating in the online TWB PEP course to gain a better understanding of peace education. Overall, the internship was an excellent experience, providing me with a solid foundation in peace education, as well as some relevant, real-world experience in the field of peace education.
Identifying funding opportunities for the TWB PEP proved to be challenging. It was difficult to find foundations that offer grants related to “peace,” let alone “peace education.” In addition, many foundations that did offer funding opportunities that were related to peace stated that they were not currently accepting unsolicited proposals for grants. As a result, there were not many grant opportunities that we were able to apply for over the semester. Two opportunities that were identified were through the El Hibri Foundation and the United States Institute of Peace. We submitted grant proposals to each of these foundations, however, as the review process takes several weeks for each foundation, TWB had not received a response by the end of my internship term. In addition to foundational grants, I researched alternative online funding opportunities. While there weren’t any opportunities that provide a large amount of funding, there were several website that allow nonprofit organizations to generate a decent amount of supplemental revenue, such as Global Giving, Good Search, EBAY’s Mission Fish, Kick Starter, Network for Good, and Survey Monkey Contribute. TWB will be reviewing each of these organizations to see which opportunities are the best fit for the organization.
While the location barrier was challenging at times (Stephanie being in San Diego and me in Phoenix), the internship still allowed me to become involved in the Phoenix community. In the beginning of my internship, I spent a lot of time marketing the TWB PEP to local schools and teachers in the Valley. Initially, I thought this would be relatively simple, as teachers are required to participate in professional development periodically. As I contacted schools, I found that it was much more difficult than I expected. Many principals were unresponsive, and the ones that I was able to get in touch with typically stated that they didn’t have any additional funding for professional development, already had their professional development planned out for the next year, or simply weren’t interested in peace education. I did have a few school officials and teachers express interest, however, most of these opportunities fell through. One strong connection that was made was with the Director of Curriculum for the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. After a few meetings discussing collaborative opportunities between the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, Teachers Without Borders, and myself, we decided to design a peace education course for students in juvenile corrections, as well as coordinate a TWB PEP workshop training for teachers in juvenile corrections. We began working on this project in early December, just before the end of my internship, and will continue working the project next semester. I will be using this project as my SJHR Applied Project. In addition to this exciting project, I also made a connection at Cordova Elementary/Middle School through my marketing activities of the TWB PEP. This resulted in me starting a weekly afterschool peace club with 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at Cordova. TWB had been planning on developing some materials for a school “peace club,” so I documented my findings through each of the club’s sessions. I also began this club late into my internship, so I was only able to facilitate a few sessions before the end of my internship. I also plan on continuing this effort next semester, as I’ve really connected with the kids, and it provides an excellent opportunity to put peace education into practice.
Finally, my participation in the online TWB PEP course, as well as my interviews with previous participants in the PEP offline workshop, provided me with a solid knowledge base in peace education, and allowed me to capture some important insights to help refine the TWB PEP going forward. Through my SJHR studies, peace education has been a field I have developed a strong interest and passion for. This internship was truly a perfect fit for me, as it allowed me to assist an organization who shares this passion, put peace education into practice, and develop my network within the field of peace education. After obtaining my masters in social justice and human rights, I hope to begin a career in peace education, and this internship was an excellent starting point.