For Megan Soule ’15, one of this year’s recipients of the Charles H. Salisbury Summer International Internship Stipend Awards, there is “no such thing as typical work day.”
“I may think I will have a low-key week then Monday comes around and I have around five meetings to take pictures, a couple schools to visit and a teacher to interview,” says Soule, whose role as the communications intern with the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking International Consortium (RWCT IC) has her gathering, constructing, and refining content as she builds the consortium’s new website.
Working at the RWCT IC in the Romanian city of Cluj, Soule meets with colleagues in cafes and libraries, attends conferences and visit schools to interview teachers and to take video and photos of students and classrooms.
“Looking at the types of jobs I have done in the past with the HWS Summer Academy and AmeriCorps, I always seem to find the job where a typical workday doesn’t exist,” she says. “I apparently like this environment more but it does have it challenges of being prepared for absolutely anything.”
Since the late 1990s, the RWTC IC, a formalized professional development program for educators at all levels of schooling, has “witnessed educators from across the world come together to increase each other’s professional knowledge and skills,” according to their website.
With 20 participating countries, the RWCT reports that “by tapping into the best of professional behavior and the spirit of volunteerism, and by offering opportunities for research; dissemination of ideas through publication and conferences; and targeted professional development through project work that combines the above, RWCT IC provides a home to practitioners who continue to build, change, strengthen, and influence the original RWCT ideas, and thereby make a sizable contribution to the pedagogical profession itself.”
Soule’s Honors adviser, HWS Professor of Education Charles Temple, helped form the RWCT project nearly 20 years ago and helped create the internship for the organization, which until Soule’s arrival was without a communications staff.
The internship has Soule traveling from Cluj to Turkey to Kosovo to Montenegro, though the most exciting part thus far for Soule was “actually finally getting on that plane to Romania,” she says. “I had worked so long on the application for the Salisbury that it didn’t feel real at all until I walked on that airplane. The most surprising part was how easily I was able to figure out my way around the city. I spent my first week basically just walking around getting lost and trying to find my way home. Living in Cluj has begun to feel natural, and as I am taking Romanian language courses, it is easy to fit in.”
Living in Cluj has also helped Soule plan her future as she approaches graduation and considers graduate studies and job opportunities.
“For grad schools I have now made it a priority that I want to find a program that focuses on education policy but with a strong international focus,” she says. “For jobs I am looking for education organizations that are international or focus on international issues. This job (at least so far) has brought me to countries I probably wouldn’t have explored on my own but it has also shown me how much the international education world has to offer. Because of this internship I am getting more of a handle on where I see myself after graduation. This job has given me the contacts and experience I will need to reach that goal and get to where I want to be.”
The Salisbury Stipend is one of the most ambitious programs in the Colleges’ history. Created in 2007 by Honorary Trustee Charles H. Salisbury Jr. ’63, P’94, L.H.D.’08, former chair of the HWS Board of Trustees, the fund provides financial support for each of three students interested in pursuing an international internship experience in a location of the student’s choice. By supplementing classroom education with internship experience, students gain a practical understanding of the demands and rewards of future career opportunities as well as an opportunity to test their skills and realize their potential.