Meet Brighid: our American Intern

Caritas International Belgium Meet Brighid: our American Intern
24/05/2022

Brighid Kowal, from the United States, has joined Caritas in the Communication & Mobilization department, working as an English translator for 12 weeks. Four questions to know her background, her experience at Caritas, and her best memories in Belgium.

I think that this internship at Caritas is an amazing opportunity for me, because it reflects the type of organization I hope to work at after graduation. Being extremely interested in immigration policy and refugee reception, Caritas provides the perfect environment for me to grow and learn.

Brighid Kowal, volunteer at Caritas International

CAN YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF?

Brighid: “I was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area in the United States. I live in an area just outside the border of Washington D.C. called Silver Spring, Maryland. Having lived in the same area my whole life, coming to Belgium and living here for an extended period of time was a very new experience.

I was very excited when I heard about the internship at Caritas International. I have some previous experience at a humanitarian organization, but only as a volunteer. I think that this internship at Caritas is an amazing opportunity for me because it reflects the type of organization I hope to work at after graduation. Being extremely interested in immigration policy and refugee reception, Caritas provides the perfect environment for me to grow and learn.”

WHY BELGIUM?

Brighid: “I choose Belgium for a couple of reasons. The first was that IFE[1], my program, offers three different locations for its French immersion/Internship program. Those locations are Paris, Strasbourg, and of course Brussels. I was not extremely interested in going to Paris, because it is a little overwhelming and big for me, and I was not sure if Strasbourg would have enough internship opportunities for my field of study. Since I am studying International Relations and French at university, Brussels seemed like the perfect city for me, due to the fact that it is such an influential city in international politics. I also did not know much about Brussels or Belgium in general before arriving here, and was interested in learning about a city and country that I did not previously know much about.”

Caritas International Belgium Meet Brighid: our American Intern

Ariane, Brighid and Constance in the office decorated to celebrate Ariane's 10th work anniversary with Caritas International.

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES AT CARITAS SO FAR?

Brighid: “So far, all my experiences at Caritas have been great. I mainly work with the Internal/External communications office, a smaller section within the Communication & Mobilization Department. I predominantly focus on translation from French to English. These translations include articles, official documents, the annual report, and checking over other English translations. Other than working in Internal & External Communications, I share an office with the Education team. Through this, I have been able to get to know all my colleagues, while also learning about the different offices and what they do here at Caritas. Everyone at Caritas has been so welcoming to me, which has made the experience all that more enjoyable.”

WHAT HAS BEEN YOU MOST MEMORBALE EXPERIENCE AT CARITAS AND IN BELGIUM?

Brighid: “My most memorable experience at Caritas has to have been helping organize a surprise celebration for my colleague Ariane, who was celebrating 10 years at Caritas Belgium. My other colleague, Nele, and I decorated her desk and the office to give her a nice surprise when she came to work the next week. At this point, I had just started at Caritas, and helping with this surprise really made me feel a part of the Caritas communication & Mobilization team.

As for my most memorable experience in Belgium, that would be having my mom come visit me. It was so fun to be able to show her the city that I had been living in, as well as my favorite places. We got to explore, go to the market, and eat good food. Being so far away from home can be hard sometimes, but being able to show her all I was accomplishing away from home was a really fulfilling and exciting moment.



Footnote :

[1]

Since 2015, Caritas International has partnered with the Institute for Field education (IFE), welcoming an American intern each spring. IFE is a French non-for-profit educational organization that engages American university students in 5 weeks of interdisciplinary coursework, followed by a 12-week internship that correlates with their studies. At the end of the program, students write a 30-page thesis in either French or Spanish, about a topic related to their internship. For more information about IFE, see their website.

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