Summer at BMC

Sun-soaked postcards from Bryn Mawr College

July 28, 2014
by Joanna Birkner

Joanna Birkner ’16: Türkiye’den merhabalar!

My CLS advanced Turkish class and Halil Hoca (Teacher)

My CLS advanced Turkish class and Halil Hoca (Teacher)

Hello from Turkey! I am now at the halfway point of my State Department Critical Language Scholarship in Bursa, Turkey. It’s hard to believe that I have been living in Bursa for a month, but as they say in Turkish -zaman su gibi akıp geçiyor- time is passing like water.  While I’m sad to think about leaving this city that has quickly become my home, I am proud of the progress I have made with my Turkish.

I came into the CLS program with good Turkish conversation skills but very little formal grammar training. Now, most of my daily Turkish classes consist of debates and in depth discussions about social issues such as immigration, religion, and politics in Turkey and the United States. It is satisfying to be able to understand the jokes made by my Turkish peers and to pick up on some of the nuances of this beautiful language. But, the most rewarding thing is being able to engage in conversations with Turks on issues I really care about.

Defying gender roles as a lady sultan!

Defying gender roles as a lady sultan!

I’d like to devote the rest of this blog post to discussing the role of women in Turkey. Unfortunately, sexism is a part of daily life in Bursa. I wear long skirts or pants every day, but still get heckled and sometimes touched by men on the street. Even my Turkish grammar book is riddled with examples of sexism (one subjunctive exercise shows a slightly larger woman who says I wish I was thinner so…men would talk to me, I could wear cute clothes, etc.) Last week, our group went to a BursaSpor soccer game that was 98% male. We had to leave at half time because a colossal fight of 40 or 50 men broke out. Why did they fight? Because there were women in the audience and some of the men were yelling derogatory chants our way. Others felt like they needed to defend us and began screaming and shoving. Soon it became a mosh pit of angry Turkish men.

Being abroad can be one of the best ways to find out which identities you hold the dearest. Never have I been more proud of my identity as a Mawrtyr. Life in Turkey is very different from living in the beautiful Bryn Mawr bubble, where our College newspaper calls for Death to the Patriarchy (D TO THE P!) and it is perfectly normal to engage in conversations about gender, inclusion, and equality. That is not so much the case in Turkey.  These sorts of open expressions on gender and sexism are not entirely welcome.  In fact, in the Turkish language, there is no differentiation between the words ‘gender’ and ‘sex’. Turkish family culture traditionally tends to be a more patriarchal (the founder of the Republic is Ataturk “father of the Turkish” for goodness sake!).  Men are typically head of the households while women usually perform all domestic duties. Little boys are often treated like princes, while young girls are taught to be quiet, modest and of service. Of course, every family differs and I have been fortunate to live twice with families where females have a high degree of respect—even though they still do all of the household work.  On the plus side, Turkey has a very high rate of female literacy and openly welcomes women in the workforce.

Before the fight broke out at the football match

Before the fight broke out at the football match

I’d like to close this post by observing that of the 14 women CLS participants in Bursa; three are either current students or graduates of a Seven Sisters College. I am proud to be part of this statistic. Living in Bursa has put me more in tune with the challenges that face women all over the world, as well as helped me better appreciate the privileges that growing up in the United States and attending Bryn Mawr have afforded me. ­

July 28, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Kirsten Adams ’16

Kirsten_Adams3Name: Kirsten Adams

Year: 2016

Major: Anthropology

What’s going on? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! I have been teaching 22 incredibly smart, motivated, and determined 6th graders English Language Arts! Their creativity and intelligence makes me smile everyday and I am touched by their commitment to their education. They are all going to be the first in their families to go to college, and it is an honor to have this role in their journeys!

How I heard about my internship: I found out about this opportunity from the Teach for America website!

Why I applied for my internship: Education is my passion; I believe that every child deserves a quality education, regardless of their social economic status. Breakthrough reaches these underserved populations and has specialized programs that support students from the moment they start 6th grade until they graduate. Being a first generation student myself, I wanted to give back and help students reach the same opportunities I have been fortunate enough to have.

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July 25, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Shamial Ahmad ’15

Shamia_Ahmad1Name: Shamial Ahmad

Year: 2015

Major: English

What’s going on? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! I spent the month of June as an intern at Cooley Law School’s CLEO program in Auburn Hills, Michigan. CLEO is a pipeline summer program for college students who may possibly be interested in pursuing a future career in law. As an intern, I was able to meet with and interact with different kinds of lawyers, attorneys, and judges. I was also able to get a taste of what law school would be like by taking classes taught by faculty at the law school. I even got the Ethics award for Most Professional Conduct! I met so many wonderful people and really learned so much, I am so glad I was able to have this experience!

Shamial_Ahmad2How I heard about my internship: I was looking for summer programs and internships that would allow me to explore future professional avenues. I always have been interested in law but I just didn’t know much about it. My friend suggested I apply to the CLEO program.

Why I applied for my internship: Being at Bryn Mawr has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and explore new avenues and interests, even if it’s a little scary. I didn’t know much about law or the law profession and that was a little intimidating, but I’m so glad I applied for this program and went to Michigan for such an amazing experience that really gave me insight into something new.

July 24, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Amanda Cline ’16

amanda_cline1Name: Amanda Cline

Year: 2016

Major: Biology

What’s going on? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! My internship has just picked up in the last few weeks! Initially it was getting familiar with the laboratory setting and typical protocol for a normal day of work. Now I have much more liberty to work on projects without direct guidance. My research in particular is regarding the isolation and characterization of wild yeast populations in the area. Our goal for this summer is to obtain statistical data regarding the frequencies of local yeast strains; eventually, we would like to expand our work into characterizing wild yeast strains found by students and faculty from UPenn that are shown to be reproductively isolated from the two common strains of yeast found in Eastern PA.

How I heard about my internship: I heard about my internship opportunity originally from Dr. Tamara Davis in the BIO dept. It was not until I took Dr. Shapiro’s genomics course that I secured a position in his lab this summer.

amanda_cline2Why I applied for my internship: There are numerous reasons to join the summer of science research team. First, its a great chance to gain a one-on-one connection with professors in your dept, which will in turn help with letters of recommendation for grad school. Not to mention a sense of comfortability going into upper level classes with professors you recognize and know your learning style. Secondly, its a chance to learn about lab safety and protocol. I originally applied for the internship in the hopes of determining whether or not research was what I wanted to pursue, or if I wanted to look more into patient care after Bryn Mawr. Either path I choose however, will benefit from spending the summer developing my own research that I find interesting.


July 23, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Linda Yean ’15

Linda YeanName: Linda Yean

Class Year: 2015

Major: Anthropology

What’s going on? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! What a wild ride the last few weeks have been! As I write this virtual postcard, I am unable to encapsulate all of the experiences that I have had since traveling to Cambodia at the end of June. For now, a brief overview will have to do.

linda_yean2About two weeks ago, I started the Junior Resident Fellowship Program with the Center for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap with fourteen scholars from the United States, France, and Cambodia. With this program, I am able to study and research alongside undergraduates of different backgrounds who have an interest in Southeast Asia or Cambodia in particular. With my interest in medical anthropology and the health of Khmer refugees in the United States, my personal research in Cambodia will consist of researching public health initiatives before the Civil War and Khmer Rouge eras to explore the potential influence upon adherence to biomedicine in the United States. As such, the bulk of my research has not occurred yet as I have only started my fellowship recently, but as I write this post, I am preparing to depart for Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, to search the National Archives of Cambodia for the appropriate sources. With the four weeks that I have remai ning in the program, I will juggle Khmer language classes to improve my Khmer (and hopefully learn the script), a course in contemporary Southeast Asian culture, as well as my personal research.

linda_yean3Other than my academic endeavors, my trip to Cambodia has allowed me to meet family members for the first time in Battambang Province, explore all of the wonders of the Angkor Archaeological Park (its most famous complex is Angkor Wat); see Phare (in the picture above, I am fourth from the left), an NGO-supported Cambodian circus that provides economic opportunities and skills to otherwise disadvantaged individuals, have English conversation classes with local Khmer students, and discover the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Cambodia. I cannot wait to see what the next four weeks will have in store for me!

How I heard about my internship: I discovered the Center for Khmer Studies while searching for an opportunity to conduct research in Cambodia…on Google, of course!

Why I applied for my internship: Beyond the reasons that I mentioned above, I applied for the Center for Khmer Studies’ program because Cambodia is a country that is continuing to rebuild itself from the atrocities of the 1970s. It is in need of scholars whose research is pertinent to the area or its descendents. Also, it enables me to go abroad since I was not able to spend a semester abroad my junior year. Finally, I wanted to discover for myself the country from which my parents fled almost thirty years ago as refugees and to get in touch with one part of my identity.


July 22, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Yilun Tang ’17

Yilun Tang '17Name: Yilun Tang

Class Year: 2017

Major: Physics

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! I am working on photolithorgraphy in Professor Cheng’s lab under Bryn Mawr Physics Department this summer.

Nanostructured materials are materials with one or more dimensions at nanoscale. Our lab focuses on magnetic properties of nanomaterials and their possible applications in digital storage and sensors. By applying photoresist to silicon wafers and using Mask Aligner we are able to grow patterns on samples in UV light exposure.

The picture shows how silicon wafers look like after applying photoresist.

We are now working on the sample fabrication and optimization. We are also measuring the thickness of photoresist and develop different patterns. Next week we are heading to Argonne National Lab to do some experiments!


July 21, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Bomi Hong ’17

bomi_hong1Name: Bomi Hong

Year: 2017

Major: Undeclared

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! Through Summer of Service, I’m interning at Kids Smiles, a non-profit organization that not only provides children with dental treatments but also educate them on the importance of proper oral hygiene. By having kids realize the importance of adequate oral care, it’s also empowering them to take control of their personal health behaviors and be responsible for their actions. I’m part of the education curriculum group at Kids Smiles so my task is to educate the children while they are in the waiting room. There are many lessons I can teach the kids, which vary from demonstrating how to brush properly using puppets to playing the interactive “happy tooth, sad tooth” game. I really try to get as many kids participating as possible because knowledge is key and by providing children with information related to teeth, they can then make informed decisions about the choices they make, even a simple one such as brushing teeth twice a day.

How I heard about my internship: I was searching for some summer internships on the Bryn Mawr website and found Summer of Service. I thought the description of this program, that a group of BMC students will live together and volunteer somewhere in Bryn Mawr/ Philadelphia areas, would be a great learning experience.

Why I applied for my internship: When I applied for this internship, I didn’t know where I was going to be interning. It was only after doing a bit of research that I found Kids Smiles, the perfect internship site for me because becoming a dentist has been my goal after realizing my passion for both the sciences and drawing. Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect, but the fact that Kids Smiles was a non-profit dental clinic let me see the distinction between private and non-profit dental offices. At Kids Smiles, the dentists actually care about the well-beings of their patients’ teeth, providing tips and reminders of flossing and brushing, whereas dentists in many private settings only care about earning a profit so don’t inform their patients as much or as effectively.This internship was truly an eye-opening experience, letting me experience first-hand that the real world is truly unfair, as money is a huge factor in deciding what people can afford or can’t have. This internship solidified my goal of not only becoming a dentist, but a dentist who can try to reduce that disparity between the rich and the poor by working for a great inspiring organization like Kids Smiles.

July 18, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Syona Arora ’15

syona_arora2Name: Syona Arora

Year: 2015

Major: Anthropology/Gender and Sexuality Studies

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! At AWARE Singapore (the Association of Women for Action and Research), I’m working in the Research and Advocacy department. Specifically, I am working on AWARE’s Shadow Report for the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). I am researching stereotyped gender roles in social and cultural contexts in Singapore. Additionally, I am arranging local workshops and national conferences for collaboration between different organizations who will attend a UN CEDAW Session in 2015 and organizing a lobbying and public campaign to raise citizen and government official awareness about CEDAW.

Working on CEDAW is my main project, but I have also assisted with research for Singapore’s rationale for both ratifying and placing reservations on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Of course, working at a gender equality advocacy group also means smashing the patriarchy on a daily basis (hence the Death to the Patriarchy printed t-shirt made at SHATTER, an event hosted to shatter gender stereotypes and take a stand against gender-based violence).

Why I applied for my internship: I have always had an interest in women’s rights and gender equality. Applying to this internship gave me the opportunity to put practical research skills to good use.

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July 17, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Miranda Canilang ’17

miranda_canilang1Name: Miranda Canilang

Year: 2017

Major: Physics (prospective)

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! This summer, I am interning at Asian Cinevision for the 37th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) in New York City. I am their Social Media/Website Manager and am in charge of the film festival’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, etc. In addition, I invite student organizations to the film festival, advertise the festival on event listing outlets, and design promotional posters for the film screenings. I also write the weekly e-newsletter and post on the Asian Cinevision website.

Unfortunately, my internship is unpaid so I waitress and telemarket on the side (to be saved for another postcard/I regret not applying for LILAC funding). Apparently, interns get reimbursed for subway fare expenses, but I had heard that we were extra tight on budget this year so I’m not sure if that is happening… Regardless, the memories I am making compensate.

Everyone I work with is very friendly, and I enjoy meeting more of the NYC Asian American community. Pretty much everyone there studies/studied something related to film, so I’m the misfit physics major. I am the youngest intern, but I must admit I like being the “frosh.” Must be my inner Mawrter feelings about being replaced by the new Dark Blue Class of 2018.

Asian CineVision (ACV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media arts organization devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American film. We are based out of Dumbo, Brooklyn, which I can now say has great food trucks (i.e. Korilla) and a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline. Our office is in the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, which is converted warehouse space home to many other small film companies. AAIFF is the first and longest running festival in the country devoted to films by and about Asians & Asian Americans. I think our film festival is special because it’s on the East Coast, and producing an Asian American film festival on the East Coast is a heck of a lot harder than in California where the Asian American community and the film business thrives.

AAIFF14 will run from July 24-August 2, 2014. Visit for more info.

miranda_canilang2How I heard about my internship: A friend (and fellow Mawrter) interned here last year.

Why I applied for my internship: A big part of my first year of college was exploring my Asian American identity. Asians are still underrepresented in American mainstream media, so it is important for Asians to showcase our different and unexplored colors at opportunities like AAIFF. I currently serve as Publicity Chair for the Bryn Mawr Asian Students’ Association, so I’ve had experience with social media and Asian American social justice to apply for this internship. I knew I wanted to get more involved in the community, so I accepted this offer when other plans fell through. I also felt that my summer after freshmen year should be spent having a little fun. At first I wasn’t much of a film person, but now I am!


July 16, 2014
by College Communications

A Postcard From: Joanna Birkner ’16

joanna_birkner1Name: Joanna Birkner

Year: 2016

Major: History, Middle East Studies Concentration

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! This summer, I received a State Department Critical Language Scholarship to intensively study Turkish for eight weeks. I arrived in Bursa, Turkey’s fourth largest city, a little over two weeks ago and have been very busy ever since. Every day consists of 5-6 hours of Turkish class hosted by Ankara University TÖMER and a cultural activity or free time in the afternoon. Cultural activities include Iznik ceramic painting, cooking classes, and visits to local museums and Turkish bathhouses (hamams). CLS is primarily an intensive language learning program and my Turkish is improving every day. I live with a Turkish host family, have Turkish friends, and had to sign a pledge on my first day of class promising to speak only in my host language. It has been challenging but incredibly rewarding so far. I’m eager to explore this beautiful city for another month and a half as my language skills progress!

How I heard about my internship: From my Turkish Professor at UPenn. Bryn Mawr also offers a CLS info session in the fall.

Why I applied for my internship: I have been studying Turkish in and out of the classroom for the past three years but I was looking for a comprehensive program to improve my grammar and speaking skills. CLS fits an entire year of college level language coursework into one summer. I am a history major with a focus on late Ottoman studies and I hope to conduct research in Turkey. I am also interested in working for the State Department one day, and CLS has opened many doors for me. Best of all, costs of airfare, tuition, room and board, visa fees, and a living stipend are all covered by the program!

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