Ari W. – Diversity & Pluralism, Summer 2016
“This summer I have had the opportunity to work for an organization called MESILA, whose Hebrew acronym stands for Aid and Information Center for Migrant Workers and Refugees. MESILA functions as a resource center for members of the migrant worker, refugee, and asylum seeker communities. From my first day interning at MESILA, I’ve had the ability to work on a few different projects that have allowed me to see and understand how MESILA functions, who benefits from their work, and how they devise new projects based on the community’s wants and needs. Most importantly, interning here has required me to take on a lot of responsibility and independence in every project I work on. I am never sitting on the sidelines or doing menial tasks to simply help out around the office.
My inclusion in real, hands-on work at MESILA has not been limited to research done in the office. On my second day of my internship, I accompanied one of my supervisors to a conference (conducted entirely in Hebrew) on mental health issues pertaining to members of the refugee, asylum seeker, and migrant worker communities, and specific mental health care and therapy in response to the trauma undergone by those populations. Two days later, when I had been at my internship for three days total, my supervisor sent me to respond to an emergency situation outside of the office. MESILA encounters situations like these frequently, as members of the community (most often women) will come to the organization’s intake and reception hours with social, economic, and familial crises, and they work to provide appropriate solutions to these crises as quickly as possible. In the emergency situation I encountered, my job was to work with the other American intern to help a woman and her young children move from an apartment in Tel Aviv to a women’s shelter in Haifa (by train). This was honestly an incredibly difficult process in many regards, but I am very grateful that my supervisors trusted me and my fellow intern to take the reigns on this. A few days ago, I was able to travel with a group of full-time MESILA staff members to that same shelter in Haifa, where I was able to get a better sense of where women from the foreign community live when they’re relocated to somewhere outside of Tel Aviv, and also had the chance to reconnect with the women and children I helped move to the shelter. I’m very grateful that I had an opportunity to see firsthand who benefits from MESILA’s emergency response services, as well as the ways that these emergency responses can improve the quality of life of women and children.
Overall, my experience working for MESILA has been amazing because of the amount of trust my supervisors have put in me and my ability to directly work on projects and initiatives that will have real results. I am looking forward to spending the rest of my summer polishing the family planning program and healthcare information program so that they’re ready to be launched this fall, as well as continuing to translate the end-of-year report and respond to emergencies when needed, and I’m very grateful for the chance to work as part of the team at MESILA this summer.”