This week I began my first week as a Knowledge Management intern at Handicap International’s United Kingdom national office. Already having some experience with the organization as a result of work with the United States office when I interned on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee I had some existing understanding of how the organization worked and some of its practices. In order to get myself more familiar with the UK office specifically, my supervisor had me watch these videos. After becoming more acquainted with the specific work that the office does I was invited to attend the monthly meeting where all 15 team members share current projects and updates on who they are collaborating with on specific projects. This gave me a clear view of the specific roles of each person I would be working with and how each person;s duties integrated with one another’s.
After the meeting I was tasked with cross referencing the Source key lists with the existing information we had to ensure that there was a hard copy of all of the resources included in each of the inclusive education key lists. Since inclusive education is my area of focus, this administrative task was very interesting because it gave me the opportunity to look at the different international organizations and resources that deal with inclusive education that I will be connecting and working closely with during the duration of my internship.
The next day I was given the opportunity to attend the planning meeting for a conference that is being held. The experience of collaborating on a topic of interesting at such a great location – the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – was truly something special. I finished the day creating bibliographies and summaries of three new multimedia sources to be placed on the Source website at a later date.
Going into the international internship experience, I was confident in my skill set and the benefits that I could bring to the organization. However, I was hesitant about how I would react to and be perceived by my colleagues in this new professional environment. However, my qualms were soon put at ease when I was warmly welcomed by the staff. I was amused by the novelty of my geographic location in the United States. When I explained that I was from Minneapolis (the largest recognizable city near me) and about a ten-hour drive to Canada the fact was met by a couple of blank stares. i assume this is from the fact that it takes only 8 hours to travel the entire length of the UK. The amusement of my colleagues continued as I pronounced words with the letter “a” in them where my accent came out and was instantly recognized from the movie Fargo. I then felt obligated to explain that most of the movie was filmed in Minnesota, thus cementing my notoriety in the office not only as the American, but more specifically, the Minnesotan. The warm reception that I received from colleagues was met with equally as thoughtful questions that were asked of me relating to my course of study, interests, and goals for while at Handicap International. This outreach by my colleagues showed me that they truly care about me and want to see me succeed during my time working with them.