Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Internship Blog: Qianyu Mo Post #4

 Tour! Tour! Tour!

Doing internship in the municipality under the Local Government Academy program is an amazing and rewarding opportunity to get to know more about the local governments. It is important to know how the borough operates itself routinely, what the borough’s condition is, what problems largely arouse residents’ concern, and how to work out effective solutions. Thankfully, my dear manager gives me a lot of opportunities to get diverse experiences and to broaden my horizons.
Today I just arrived at the office as usual at 7:30 am. Surprisingly, after the short morning coffee time, the fire chief of the Borough was asked by my manager to take me out and have a tour about the Borough. Tours made me excited!!! I could get away from the ordinance paperwork for a while. Lol
First of all, we went to the fire department which was right next to the borough office. Borough of Churchill has twenty volunteers in total. They are all trained systematically and professionally by the State with fire certificates. Our fire chief Ralph taught me to recognize different kinds of equipments in the fire trucks. There were 65-pound draws of life, 30-pound manic, 150-feet pump panels, and cribbing. There are pipes in different colors and different lengths for different functions. On the right side of the truck, the equipments are used for the normal fire. And equipments on the left side are designed based on the seriously rescue situations. These are what we called pumper truck and pumper rescue truck. In addition, even foams that are used to put out a fire are divided into two types. One is for typical fires, and the other is especially for chemical fires.

Fire Truck- Pumper Truck & Pumper Rescue Truck

 Moreover, we also paid a visit to our compost storage place. Ralph introduced both the rock salt that we use to maintain the road in winter and the compost that we collect and sell back to borough residents in a low price.


I did learn a lot outside the office. They are out of range of zoning ordinance. But I gained the memorable experience not only for the knowledge but also an idea going that “ Love what you are working for!”

Monday, June 29, 2015

Internship Blog: Qianyu Mo Post #3

Casual Friday- Dress down!!!

As I mentioned in the previous posts, this three-month internship is my first formal “job” in the United States. The career life here can be totally different from the life of career in China including different cultures, customs and business languages. But still, I do agree that it is a precious opportunity for me to start over and learn new things having ideas in different cultures and habits.

 See, Casual Friday is just like a new term and a culture shock that surprises me a lot.
It was my last day of the first week and also the first casual Friday in my internship period. My colleague Sandy did tell me that Friday was a different day to dress in a casual way with jeans. But still, with an uncertainty, I wore a piece of denim skirt, and came to the office as usual. And I finally knew what the exact dress code on Friday was. Lol Well…Sandals and jeans should be the best couple on Friday. In this day, people usually do their works in an easier mind with less stress different from other weekdays. Casual dress makes contributions to people working in a pleased mind and the relaxed atmosphere in the workplace. 

 It is a new experience for me, a beginner of the workplace again. Moreover, I could not imagine that my first week was over so fast. I had already got my work started which is a twelve-week big zoning ordinance project for the Borough.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Internship Blog: Qianyu Mo Post #2

 First Day of My U.S Internship

Greetings all!!!

It has been a long time for me to write my internship stories down to you since the introduction piece. Here I am going to talk about the very special first day of my internship in Borough of Churchill.
Yes. It was a very special experience for me indeed. This internship is my first job in the United States. It is a brand new start for me not only to work with American folks but also to work for local government being an “official”. And I have to say it impressive for me that I was informed to have a workshop meeting in the evening as I got to the office at 8 am the first day. I didn’t even know any detail things in the Borough in the first day! How could I join the workshop?! What a surprise!
I went back from China on May 29, and spent two days adjusting the jet lag and making preparation for the first day on June 1. To be honest, time was limited. And I did worry a lot about I couldn’t understand what my manager and colleagues say exactly and the culture of the workplace. Fortunately, my manager Craig and my colleagues in the office Sandy, Donna, Ralph were very nice giving me warm welcome. “Here will be the place just like your own home. Be comfortable.” Sandy told me that and gave me some useful instructions of the office and its supplies stationary. 

My desk in the meeting room

As a zoning ordinance intern in Churchill, I started to read and try to get familiar with the code book of the Borough. I wasn’t assigned to some specific tasks in the first day but just kept reading. During the day, I was introduced to a lot of different people who came in the Borough office such as policemen from the police department next to our office, officer of code enforcement from TCVCOG, tax collector and so on. And around 7 pm council members came to the office for the monthly workshop meeting. There were seven people in total including the council president in the whole council. Council members have a monthly workshop meeting on the first Monday evening every month. In that workshop meeting, my manager introduced me, and then they discussed some issues such as the ADHOC committees update, pension committee update, meeting with school superintendent update, Garrick Drive residents concerns, property maintenance and bills. Actually, a lot of content they talked in the meeting were really new for me. It was not an easy thing to catch their words. But thankfully, I got the meeting agenda at advance. Doing some research before the meeting really helped.
With the workshop ending at about 8:30 pm, my first day came to an end as well. Way to go!!! Lol
Ready for the workshop meeting!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Internship Blog: Mike Duane Post #1

Getting Started

This first blog post is seriously overdue. A lot has happened already so I’ll do my best to recap in a way that is not too boring! Also, a disclaimer up front — I hate taking pictures in public. For some reason it makes me feel horribly uncomfortable. So what follows are some pictures of questionable quality. I apologize!

On the way to a beautiful park about an hour outside of Kryvii Rih, taken from the car window. Somehow I forgot the name of the park! But this is the Ukrainian flag and too good not to include.

 Where Am I and What Am I Doing? 
Thanks to the generosity of the board of the Ukrainian room who awarded me the Eugene Manasterski Memorial Award and GSPIA’s PDF funding, I’m back in Kyiv, Ukraine spending the summer interning with a great organization, VoxUkraine. VoxUkraine is essentially a think tank that analyzes domestic policy here in Ukraine. One of the founders is a professor at Pitt, Tymofiy Mylovanov. Most of my time is taken up with editing, researching, writing, and meeting interesting people.

This is not VoxUkraine. This is St. Andrew’s Church. But it sounds so much cooler when you say it like this: Andriyivska Tserkva. One of my favorite places in Kyiv -More about this later

 Shameless Plug of the Day
So while I do a lot of other stuff, my big focus is on corruption. It is hard to explain what a huge problem this is in Ukraine — it has plagued the country for years. My job is to learn as much as I can from talking to people, reading Ukrainian newspapers, and following key activists on social media. Then I translate this into a brief that analyzes the news for an English speaking audience.
The audience is mostly western journalists, government representatives, and NGO’s who need to know what’s going on without doing all the work themselves. I love the work and I’m learning a ton. It takes an enormous amount of effort to drill down into the details of boring stuff like the structure of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, but what I’m finding is no one else is doing it. It’s nice to do something that really seems to bring some value. So before my hand gets sore from patting myself on the back, here’s the link to the briefs. Hopefully you enjoy them!

Where I Work Part Two!
So much of the work that is done in Ukraine is done by civil society organizations. It’s really very impressive. Perhaps the most influential is Reanimation Package of Reforms. Don’t hold the name against it — just say RPR and call it a day. RPR has its roots in the Maidan Revolution. As former President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country and protestors finally declared victory, a core group of activists including journalists, non-profit leaders, lawyers and other experts were determined to continue carrying the torch of reform. Together they formed what became RPR — a group of over 200 experts comprising 26 working groups. Each group focuses on an area of reform ranging from elections to anti-corruption. RPR has been prominent in shaping the country’s reform agenda through writing and lobbying for effective legislation.
My role here is small. I do some editing and am working on a newsletter to recap their achievements. Honestly, I’m just happy they let me hang around occasionally. I meet great people and keep a pulse on what is really going on. Their office is like a hive of activity. Last week at a press breakfast I got to meet Daria Kalenyuk — which means nothing in the U.S. but she is one of the most influential people here as far as battling corruption.

Cool Places: First Installation
 It’s getting late, but I did promise to talk a little about Andriyivskiy descent in this post. It has a rich history, (Bulgakov lived there!) which I’m going to leave to my good friend, Mr. Wikipedia to explain. Andriyivskiy is the place to go for cool stuff. Years ago Marina got me perhaps the coolest camera ever there — a Moskva 5  — which I am still a little afraid to use. You can find tons of old stuff there from cameras, to army helmets, gas masks etc. Pretty much everything you need! But, it’s not all military paraphernalia!

 It is really hard to get a good picture to show just how much artwork there is here. There are at least a hundred vendors. And while you’re not going to find the next Munch (pretentious… moi?), it’s still a lot of fun to check out their work. What you see on the left goes on for a good 100 yards, on both sides of the street. And as you move down the hill, towards the church, the road splits and wraps to the right. And goes on and on with more and more vendors. I’ve never made it to the end. I always get nervous it will lead to a dead end and I’ll have to walk back up the huge hill I’ve been descending. Can it get any lazier?

 Signing off for Now
This was a lot more enjoyable to write than I thought it would be. Hopefully it was interesting to read — if you’ve made it this far! I’m going to try to make up for the last several weeks with more posts about places I’ve gone, conferences I’ve been to, what is going on at work. Strunk and White rail against affecting a breezy manner in one’s writing, and I feel like I may have let them down in this post, ol’chap. If so, feel free to let me know and I’ll channel some Herman Finer.

Photos That Didn't Fit

You can buy traditional shirts, plates, and crazy hats
Walking further down the hill
Then turning around

Monday, June 22, 2015

Internship Blog: Cynthia Caul, Post #1

‘Inclusive’ Community Development

First, the introductions: my name is Cynthia Caul, and I am interning this summer at City of Asylum. 

Me: I am a soon-to-be second-semester MID student, majoring in Nongovernmental Organizations and Civil Society.
City of Asylum:  City of Asylum: Pittsburgh is based in the city’s North Side. It is an organization committed to creating a community and platform for under-heard voices in Pittsburgh and around the world. The organization fulfills its mission by providing refuge to endangered literary writers from other countries, as well as by hosting art and community-based literary programs here in Pittsburgh that facilitate cross-cultural exchange.
City of Asylum and Me: This summer, I am assisting City of Asylum with their Summer on Sampsonia program. It is the second season of this program, which includes a number of free events (concerts, readings, theatre, etc.) designed to facilitate community development through thoughtful discussion and cultural understanding.
The first event of the summer just wrapped up last week: A (micro) history of world economics: danced. Beyond being a bit of a mouth-full to actually say, it is a devised, theatrical piece birthed out of the economic crises of 2007 by French playwright Pascal Rambert. It was written to illustrate, and arguably educate an audience, about our shared economic history—the timeline of events, concepts, and anxieties (or speculations) that led up to the crises.

Furthermore, the piece is designed to include and showcase the work of “real people” (i.e. not professional performers). This particular production included roughly 50 members of the disability community from all over Pittsburgh. They met daily for two weeks to write, learn choreography and lines, and ultimately create and perform a piece of art-- or perform hours of what Adam Smith would have classified as “unproductive labor” (Disclaimer: I would never have been able to make such a reference before seeing this play).

Photo credit: Brennan Maine

Community development is most effective when it’s inclusive—when it gives every community member equal opportunity to be involved in the planning and implementation. For this program, on the macro-level, this entailed efficient beneficiary targeting, effective communication, accessible facilities, and sufficient funding to make it all happen. On the micro-level, this meant ordering Ubers and Lyfts for participants without licenses or means of transportation. It meant providing dinner and cool refreshments for participants heading to rehearsals straight from work and stipends to cover parking and fuel expenses. It meant installing screens for closed-captioning, providing assistive audio devices and ESL interpreters. It meant listening and learning and adjusting accordingly. That has been the past two weeks for me.