Arriving late to StoryCorps

by Sofia Anjum, FCLC ‘22

This fall I began an internship at StoryCorps, an oral history non-profit in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It’s a straight shot on the C, but I generally have to hop on the A express and transfer to the C local one stop early. I generally have to do this because I am generally always just a little bit late.

Friday October 18, I was late to the all-staff meeting. At such meetings we listen to StoryCorps’ weekly NPR segment as a team and discuss how the 3-minute cut was distilled from a 40-minute recording. I walked in as meekly as one could, tiptoeing in my pink flats just the two steps I need to cross from the hallway into the sixth floor common space. Then I leaned against the light switch and plunged the room into darkness. I want to die! I clicked the lights back on, and someone was smiling at me. He was older and had gray hair and glasses and looked very familiar. I work on 7. Maybe he works on 4?

He smiled at me and said, “Oh, I did that, too.” His posture was a little poor, his smile gold. I smiled back and whispered, “Thanks,” feeling a lightness disproportionate to his minute acknowledgment of me. Next time I’m on 4, I’ll make sure to ask how his day is going. He totally works on 4. Yeah.

Then this person moved through warm applause for the sixteenth anniversary of StoryCorps to the front of the room. I realized I didn’t recognize him from 4, I recognized him from his Ted Talk and his Wikipedia page and his picture on the StoryCorps website and his Genius grant and his status as one of my personal idols.

Dave Isay had smiled at me. The person who began StoryCorps in a little booth in Grand Central, a booth with two microphones. His vision was to turn documentary work upside down, to record two people (who typically know each other well) having a conversation for forty minutes. To record the conversation for its own sake, its value not contingent upon polish or distribution. Its value contingent upon knowing that every person has a story. 

In his own words, that day in October 2003, “Nobody came.” Until they did. All kinds of people. Everyone. And then they came with force of numbers to recording stations in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, hundreds of partner radio stations and hospitals, the itinerant Mobile Tour trailer, the StoryCorps app…. 

These hundreds of thousands of conversations are stored at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps has facilitated the largest oral history project in human history.

And StoryCorps has facilitated a renaissance in listening. 

On Friday, October 18, I leaned against the same light switch as Dave Isay and somehow, in the dark, he saw me clearly. I’m not saying I’m never going to wash my jacket again. I’m just saying that that is very cool to have almost literally rubbed shoulders with someone whose life work embodies my belief in integrity in communication. 

Communication is the comprehensive art and intimate love of coming to know one another clearly. Clearly means leaving your preconceptions, prejudgments, preferences at the door. Clearly means that when someone needs to speak, you are receptive. You’re there. You’re not looking for the crack in their story that will allow you to neatly insert your own premeditated bit.

Clear communication – human connection – can only begin by listening to others with undivided attention. 

I’ve always believed this in a removed, romantic way, in my little bedroom in Georgia, listening to music, running away in a book. I’ve always known genuine connection to be infinitely powerful. StoryCorps has shown me that it is immediately possible.

A Plea to Read Marketing Emails

by Natalie Grammer, FCLC ’21

*This is part 2 of Natalie’s story. Click here for part 1.

 

Hi (insert individual’s name), 

My name is Natalie Grammer and I’m reaching out on behalf of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation with an exciting partnership opportunity. 

After an amazing summer at my internship at Hope for Depression, I had the opportunity to stay on for the fall semester. HDRF felt like a kind of home to me. I grew really close with my coworkers over the course of the summer and my time there helped me to feel more ownership over my work and more comfortable in my cubicle. 

As the fall started, we turned our attention away from the race of the summer and towards our two large fall campaigns: the HOPE Luncheon Seminar and #GivingTuesday. A shift in the event type –– from an active event to an educational luncheon and online campaign –– meant a shift in my outreach. Instead of calling stores in Southampton, I began emailing stores, companies, and brands based nation-wide about our two fall initiatives, and this time, I had to ask for a donation. This new medium of communication brought an unfamiliar distance in the outreach process. I no longer heard the voice of the person I was contacting, and often I wasn’t addressing a specific individual but emailing a general “info@” address. 

Though I appreciated the fact that an email gave me more control over my initial outpouring of information to a potential partner, I found myself shocked that I missed hearing another person’s voice on the other end of the phone. This is not to say that I missed some of the aggressive or surprising reactions people gave me on the phone. I did not. Rather, I missed the feeling of making a request to an individual person. 

With my email outreach, I had to face the very real abyss of an email inbox. I cannot count how many times I’ve received a marketing email and either immediately deleted it or opened it purely to no longer have a notification in my inbox. It’s very easy to dismiss a marketing email as somehow not generated by an individual person, and therefore not worth my time. 

Email outreach this fall at HDRF has shown me the other side of this interaction. First, these emails are painstakingly crafted by individuals, often with several processes of drafting, checking, and collaborating with members of their team with the self-reflexive tagline, “Thoughts?.” Second, it can be very frustrating when I don’t receive a response; obviously, it can be disheartening when an individual or business you’ve reached out to in hopes of gaining a campaign sponsor declines your request, but it can be even more discouraging not to receive a response at all. 

My internship at HDRF has taught me empathy. Yes, sending outreach emails has helped teach me better human empathy. By putting me on the other end of communication, my fall outreach process has shown me the very real energy and care people put into something as seemingly small as sending an email. It has reminded me to think about all of the hard work people put into aspects of my life that I dismiss or take for granted. I have become a more mindful person (and am working to continue to become a more mindful person) in the types of communication I have with other people because of my time so far this semester with HDRF.

Now, instead of immediately deleting the mass emails I get, which I dismiss as spam, I take the time to respond. At the very least, I open the emails or take a moment to appreciate what team of people wrote that message before I delete it. I hope that everyone does the same, especially if the email comes from Hope for Depression Research Foundation because if so,  there’s a chance I am waiting for an email back.



Researching with the  Social Innovation Collaboratory

by Aidan Donaghy, FCLC ’21

In February of 2019, I began working as an undergraduate research intern for Dr. Marciana Popescu, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Social Service. Our research involves refugee and asylum-seeker integration in American higher education institutions, and we’re one of eight research teams funded by the Social Innovation Collaboratory, a program at Fordham that focuses on developing innovative solutions for social problems. 

Our involvement with the Collaboratory has made this a particularly rewarding experience—every few months, the eight teams gather for a quarterly research forum where our research progress is presented and responded to. As I plan on further entrenching myself in Academia—I’d like to eventually pursue a PhD in anthropology and teach at a research institution—this has been a really enriching and informative experience. Normally, my role at these forums is that of a silent but engaged observer. While even this is great experience, it was especially exciting to be able to assist Dr. Popescu in presenting our research progress at one of the forums. I mainly presented on our advocacy efforts: Dr. Popescu is dedicated to performing research that informs activism, and in pushing this goal, one of my chief responsibilities has been student outreach. Along with my co-intern, Olivia Quartell (a Junior at the Rose Hill campus), I’ve compiled an outreach list of student leaders and organizations with some social, cultural, or philanthropic focus to create a network of students educated about refugee and asylum issues. This is helpful in advertising various educational events that our team sponsors, and since we’re interested in fostering and tracking student awareness of refugee and asylum issues, there’s good potential for us to effectively spread our findings and message throughout the Fordham community. 

So, what are our findings? At the beginning of the project, the doctoral students on our team conducted a comprehensive literature review with the goal of finding out what is and isn’t already known about the barriers refugees, asylum-seekers, and undocumented students face in American higher education. This is an under-researched topic, and especially overlooked are the identities, subjectivities, and diasporic experiences of these students insofar as they relate to students’ ability to succeed in higher education. Because these groups of students face extra difficulties outside of the higher education setting, it is far more difficult for them to earn a degree. And to that end, universities can be enormously helpful in the integration process for these students—success in higher education increases these students’ capacity to contribute to the socio-economic progress of the receiving country, which means that universities should allocate special resources and develop special programs for these students. Often, this does not happen to a significant enough degree to make refugee and asylum-seeker student success common, so our team has written a survey to be completed by refugees and asylum-seekers to better identify the specific needs of this population. I had the opportunity to help revise this survey with a focus group of asylum-seekers, and we’ve now published the survey and are continually working to find survey participants. We want as robust a body of data as we can get, and I’m very excited to see where this research takes us as the project progresses.



Interning at the Fordham Law Clinic

by Joshua Somrah FCLC ‘20

During my junior year at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, I worked at Lincoln Square Legal Services, Inc., better known as the Fordham Law Clinic. I completed various tasks such as manning the front desk, doing rounds, keeping track of the daily messages and reminders, operating the console that transfers calls, verifying visitors, answering phone calls, taking messages, completing intakes, processing faxes and mail, scheduling meetings, maintaining inventory, monitoring simulations, filing motions in court, and working on special projects from time to time.

         At times completing all of my responsibilities seemed a bit overwhelming because people’s lives were on the line. For example, some of the phone calls I would answer were from potential clients who wanted the Clinic’s pro bono services, but other calls were from clients who were already utilizing the Clinic’s pro bono services for help with their various situations. I had to handle every call with care and provide everyone I spoke with on the phone with correct information.

         My favorite responsibility during my time at the Fordham Law Clinic was filing motions in court. This was an aspect of my job that put me closest to actual legal work because I was responsible for delivering motions to different courts around Manhattan and sometimes in the outer boroughs. Sitting inside the Fordham Law Clinic, it was easy to develop a routine, but when I was sent to file motions in court I felt excited to go to places where other legal work was being done. Filing motions in court allowed me to feel as though I was truly making a tangible difference in the lives of the clients of the Fordham Law Clinic.

Seeing the individual and personalized expertise that the full-time professors, who are the practicing-supervising attorneys, imparted to their students is something that will always stick with me from my time at the Fordham Law Clinic. Although I was only an undergraduate student working there, the professors in the Clinic still made an effort to talk to me and teach me whatever they could. Knowledge can come in various forms through various channels, and I was truly grateful for the chance to work at the Fordham Law Clinic. It was an amazing opportunity

Lessons in Cold-Calling

by Natalie Grammer, FCLC ’21

Hi, my name is Natalie Grammer and I’m calling from the Hope for Depression Research Foundation. How are you? (wait for a response) Is there a manager or store owner I could speak with? (wait) I’m just reaching out to see if you would be interested in participating in our upcoming Week of Hope, a mental health awareness campaign, which culminates in our annual 5K Race of Hope on Sunday, August 4th 

These words, shakily spoken on my end of a landline telephone, left my mouth at least 506 times in the span of my first 50 hours of work this summer. The script became so ingrained in my brain that I didn’t have to reference my initial training document to write the above paragraph. When I started to write: “Hi, my name is,” the rest of the script just fell into place. 

This summer I interned at the Hope for Depression Research Foundation: a mental health nonprofit based in New York City. At the office, I spent the majority of my 10:00am-2:00pm shift cold-calling the small businesses of Southampton, NY. Southampton hosts HDRF’s biggest fundraising event of the summer: our annual 5K race. Prior to this one race, we put on a series of community engagement and awareness campaigns consolidated as the Week of Hope.  My job was to recruit stores and businesses on the main streets of the town to participate by agreeing to let HDRF place a large yellow “HOPE” balloon in front of individual storefronts. No donation was required to participate in this campaign; the town of Southampton had approved it, the balloons were eco-friendly, anchored down, and reusable, and we would set up and take down the balloon for participating businesses. While this may seem like a win-win situation (we get participation in an HDRF initiative, we spark a conversation about mental health through a visual marketing campaign, and businesses merely have to offer agreement to participate), the conversational dynamic of the cold call complicated my task. 

Not many business owners and managers like to be asked, unsolicited, unprepared, to participate in a non-profit campaign. Especially, not when they don’t immediately know that you, the cold caller, are not asking for money. Naturally, this led to a wide array of responses on the other end of the phone. From screaming at me that I didn’t want people to be able to afford their rent (again, I did not ask for donations), to laughing that they didn’t believe in depression, to enthusiastically agreeing to participate and thanking us as an organization for doing important work, I was constantly surprised by each unique response to the same set of words presented in the same way. 

Cold calling –– a term which I learned to expand to include pitching the non-profit and our events to Southampton locals in person –– if I may be so bold, dishabituated me to fear. No matter who I called, if I had called them before, what time of day I called, if I was interacting with someone on the phone or explaining the race in person, I never knew what a person’s reaction to me would be. I had to live in anticipation and not let it distract me from my goal: getting people to engage with Hope for Depression. 

Before this summer, I was terrified of making a phone call, not to mention calling a stranger to ask them for something. I couldn’t call people. It got to the point that if my takeout food delivery order got messed up, I would make my roommate call the restaurant. Now, I can call people. In fact, I offer to make a call when someone else won’t. This change may seem small, but cold calling helped me overcome a very real fear that I had. 

Both the Race and Week of Hope ended with participation and fundraising numbers that exceeded our goals. The Week saw a nearly 200% increase in business participation, and the Race saw over 750 participants attend and raised over $280,000. Even though I felt my heart race for half of the summer as I dialed a new number or walked into a new store, I can’t help but feel like my cold calling made a difference to the Race and to me.

*Click here for the second part of Natalie’s story.

Finding a Job/Finding Yourself

by Gillian Russo, FCLC ‘21

To borrow an extremely over-quoted line from Hamilton, “There’s nothing like summer in the city,” but I no longer have to take the musical’s word for it. I lived and worked here full-time for the first time this past summer, having landed an internship at Mood of Living magazine. The publication is an online platform focused on stories of sustainable companies in the food, travel, fashion, and lifestyle industries. The job of editorial interns such as myself is to write these feature stories, copy-edit others’ work, attend industry events, and do organizational tasks — we are interns after all.

I was interested in the internship as a means of building my portfolio and gaining writing experience on a topic that interests me. I’m particularly passionate about theatre journalism (if my journalism major and theatre minor are any indication), but I also thought I’d be happy with a job anywhere within the soft-news “lifestyle” sector, as opposed to politics or economics.

Now, I had a fruitful internship experience at MoL. I built a great network, which is all I could have asked of my first position in the city where I want to settle once I graduate. I learned a lot from working there: in addition to honing my editorial skills, I dabbled in social media management, marketing/business, and web development. I can now take all these skills, which I would not have gained from a strictly editorial internship, to future jobs. But one thing I learned stuck out to me above all: “lifestyle,” in the broadest sense, isn’t my thing.

Attending industry events and talking to professionals in all these different fields was enjoyable. In fact, going to trade shows and fashion expositions was one of my favorite parts of the job. But when I sat back down in the office to follow up with these home-furnishing and fashion and travel brands to potentially write about them, well… I realized I wasn’t as passionate about it as I thought. I went into this summer believing I’d be happy in any at-least-somewhat editorial job even if it had nothing to do with the arts, as long as it incorporated other cultural, lifestyle sectors like fashion, home, or travel. Now I’ve found it’s the other way around — I’d be open to different opportunities in the arts sector, even if they’re not strictly journalistic. I never thought I would be interested in development or social media or marketing before entering MoL. While none of those became my top interest, I found myself enjoying that work this summer, but I knew I’d enjoy it more if it pertained to a field I had more interest in.

In the summer course I took in conjunction with this job, my professor talked often about “doing what you are”: that is, figuring out your strengths, passions, and personality style, and taking them into account when searching for a position. I figured out a lot about who I am between the job, the class, and my other summer activities — one of which was continuing my ongoing gig as a show reviewer. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. I don’t want to neglect opportunities that may present themselves. But I now have a better grasp of where I’d like to see myself going forward.

Sometimes you have to do what you aren’t to figure out what you are. I can’t say I fully know who I’m going to be yet. All I can say is that my vision got clearer thanks to my time at MoL, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. Who knows — maybe I’ll have to write about Broadway-inspired home decor someday, and I’ll be prepared.

Interning with ICE

by Anonymous

Since Homeland Security has been a popular topic of conversation as of late, you’ve probably heard a lot about the agency. That being said, have you ever wondered what it’s really like inside?

Well, as a current intern with the Department of Homeland Security, I can provide you with a bit of insight.

To start off, I’d like to give you a quick crash course on Homeland Security since you might not know too much about the agency and what it actually does.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began operations on March 1, 2003, making it a fairly new agency. The formation of the department was proposed in 2002 by President George W. Bush after the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The department was meant to unify multiple divisions that already existed within the federal government in an attempt to increase their overall efficacy (if you’re curious, here’s a list of the departments that were included: https://www.dhs.gov/who-joined-dhs).

22 different organizations ended up merging into DHS. To give you an idea of just how large that makes DHS, here’s a list of agencies that fall under the jurisdiction of the department:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)
  • United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
  • United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • United States Secret Service (USSS)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Management Directorate
  • Science and Technology Directorate
  • Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office
  • Office of Intelligence and Analysis
  • Office of Operations Coordination

I’m currently interning with ICE. ICE is comprised of three main branches: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which deals with matters involving immigration law; the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), which deals with legal proceedings; and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which is the investigative branch within ICE that deals with “cross-border criminal activity.” My internship is with HSI. HSI was created in 2010, seven years after ICE was first formed, and they employ special agents, analysts, auditors, and a variety of other support positions. Below is a list of crimes handled by the department:

  • Financial crimes, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling;
  • Commercial fraud and intellectual property theft;
  • Cybercrimes (fun fact: sharing illegal online content is considered an international crime since, for all intents and purposes, the Internet is borderless);
  • Human rights violations;
  • Human smuggling and trafficking;
  • Immigration, document and benefit fraud;
  • Narcotics and weapons smuggling/trafficking;
  • Transnational gang activity;
  • Export enforcement; and,
  • International art and antiquity theft

As you can see, HSI does quite a lot.

To better deal with these various crimes, HSI is divided into a number of divisions. Again, to show you just how large HSI is, here is the list of divisions and their descriptions given by the Homeland Security website:

  • Domestic Operations oversees all investigative activities of HSI’s domestic field offices
  • HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center conducts investigations related to intellectual property theft. It also combats trade practices that threaten the global economy
  • International Operations oversees HSI attaché offices and builds relationships with foreign law enforcement partners
  • Investigative Programs conducts operations in areas including cybercrime, financial and narcotics violations, transnational crime and public safety. It also supports law enforcement partners through training, technical assistance, computer forensic analysis and forensic services
  • Mission Support provides budgetary and financial services to all of HSI. It also provides information technology, human capital and record management support 
  • National Security Investigations investigates vulnerabilities in the nation’s borders. It also works to prevents acts of terrorism 
  • Office of Intelligence conducts broad intelligence operations. It also develops data for use by ICE, the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement partners 
  • Operational Technology and Cyber Division (OTCD) oversees initiatives that combine information sharing and technology across the Department of Homeland Security. It also oversees technical and business-related activities carried out by HSI

Beyond this, HSI is then further divided into various units. One of the most interesting and, quite frankly, surprising ones I learned about was the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit (CEIU). The CEIU, as the name suggests, deals with matters involving pedophilia and the exploitation of children. The people assigned to this unit deal with crimes involving child pornography, child sex tourism, and child sex trafficking, and they work in tandem with other agencies and organizations to save the children involved in these crimes and apprehend the criminals taking part in them.

It makes sense why crimes like this would fall to the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. But after all the immigration news of late, it’s easy to forget just how varied the matters that the department deals with are. And while this is hardly a comprehensive list of everything DHS does, I do hope I was able to provide some helpful information on the subject and that you leave with a more in-depth understanding of the Department of Homeland Security and the agency’s role in the government.

 

All the above information was taken from the Department of Homeland Security website: https://www.dhs.gov/