Penn Internship takes Fels Exec Student to Ghana

September 04, 2012

By Kasey Meehan, Executive MPA '13

This is one of the many internship opportunities offered through Fels. Click here to access our career development page. 

This Summer I joined fifty Penn students, mainly undergraduate, working around the globe through Penn’s International Internship Program (IIP). IIP organizes opportunities for students to intern abroad for eight to twelve weeks over the summer.  Each student accepted into the program receives a modest stipend to cover internship costs and an orientation on the country and culture where they will be working and living.

Once accepted into IIP my current employer, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, granted me a summer leave to take advantage of the opportunity. Out of my leave came an additional internship opportunity for which Nathan Watchous, full-time MPA student at Fels, was the perfect candidate.

At the end of May I headed to Accra, Ghana where my placement organization, ILC Africa, was based. Founded by two Penn alumni, ILC Africa is a small development organization providing multiple services such as an admissions program to help students enroll in universities abroad and various monitoring and evaluation projects. This summer ILC Africa hosted three Penn students – two undergraduates and myself – and tasked us with plenty of thoughtful work to accomplish. During my eight weeks, I contributed to the Strategic Plan, developed a proposal on how Penn and ILC Africa can partner, and wrote two proposals for funding opportunities around improving health care and access in Ghana, among other responsibilities.

With excellent work experience as the foundation, living abroad also offered endless opportunities to travel. As a group we traveled to Mole National Park in Northern Ghana meeting elephants at their waterhole, visited a village built on stilts in Western Ghana, learned the art of Kente weaving and stood at the bottom of Wli Waterfalls in the Volta region. From living in Accra, I also left with a deep love for the city. Even though the chickens are loud, the sewers are smelly, and running out of water and losing electricity are a weekly occurrence, Accra is a bustling city with a welcoming disposition, filled with amazing people – mainly the women selling mangos on my walk to work – and delicious food. I cannot wait to return!

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