Spring is a busy time of year here at Team WEA as we plan for events and shift our programs into high gear.  None of this would be possible without our stellar group of interns who help us keep things running smoothly.  We are so grateful that these wonderful ladies have chosen to share their time and skills with WEA.  So without further ado, here they are!

KELLY YU – General Intern

1. Tell us about yourself!  What is your background and what has been your journey to WEA? I’m a third year undergraduate studying Biology and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. I stumbled upon WEA while browsing Idealist and once I learned about all the amazing things that the organization does on behalf of women and communities all over the world, I knew that this was the organization I had to be a part of!

2. What do you do at WEA? I’m a General Intern so my role in the office varies each day, but I generally provide support to the WEA team, especially during their fundraising events and through managing donations.

3. Share 2 unique things about you that your co-workers do not know. I’m a dual citizen as of April 2012! Though I was born in California, the majority of my family is Canadian, including my parents, so I felt it was necessary for me to also have Canadian citizenship because it was such a key part of my identity. I also have no tolerance for spicy food, but I’m trying to work on it.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersection of women and the environment? The biggest challenge would be for societies around the world to realize that women matter. More often than not, women are often neglected by the decision-makers of society. Yet, it is important to realize that women are not only the most unnoticed but also the most important stakeholders in society. Women are the ones raising families and taking care of the household, and in order for society to flourish and be able to tackle big issues such as population size and environmental degradation, women must be empowered and their opinions must be taken seriously.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why. As cliche as this may sound, my mother inspires me the most. I’m fortunate to have such a close mother-daughter relationship with her and be able to call her my best friend. Some people hide things from their parents, but I basically tell my mom everything going on in my life. She and my dad are my rock and support, and I have learned a lot about myself by hearing stories from them.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you about being at WEA. Everyone is so nice! I was so nervous on my first day and I did not know what to expect, but WEA is such a welcoming environment and the WEA family readily took me in with open arms. They are the best.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? I hope to learn more about the non-profit world and how organizations function as well as more about the interconnected relationship between women and the environment, as these lessons will definitely help me in the future.

LAUREN BELLENIE – General Intern
1. Tell us about yourself!  What is your background and what has been your journey to WEA? I am a Senior Environmental Science major at the University of San Francisco. I became fascinated with the idea of women’s empowerment as the route to improving quality of life through an internship I did in rural Rajasthan, India. In summer of 2012, I spent ten weeks with a grassroots NGO helping them start a women’s empowerment group. I learned so much about the beauty and pain of being a woman. When I found WEA, I realized it was the perfect way for me to continue learning about and contributing to groups of women similar to those with whom I had worked all summer.

2. What do you do at WEA? I am a General Intern and have only been with WEA for a very short time, so have not gotten too involved yet. Thus far I have been doing organizational tasks and helping tie up the loose ends for the End of the Year Fundraising by completing thank you cards and documenting donations.

3. Share 2 unique things about you that your co-workers do not know. I love to dance (anywhere, all the time!), and I wish I had been able to meet and talk with Karl Marx and Erich Fromm.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersection of women and the environment? One of the biggest challenges in the intersection of women and the environment is building the confidence in women and other community members that women have a unique intelligence and role in society that allows them to nurture people and the earth in a beautiful and effective way. Continuing to create that shift in consciousness, through organizations like WEA and its grassroots colleagues, will pave the way for women to hold power within the community that is recognized rather than overlooked.

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why. A woman who inspires me is my best friend, Gina Fountain. She inspires me because she embodies a slew of feminine characteristics and not only holds them proudly, but uses them to her advantage. She is empathetic, forgiving, and exceptionally intelligent and uses these qualities in all areas of her life. She always seeks to support and protect the vulnerable, forgotten, and voiceless. She approaches everything with love AND knows how to have a good time. She is a beautiful human being.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you about being at WEA. I’m sure I have many more surprises to come in my time with WEA, but one thing that particularly stood out to me was in reading the employee manual. There was an explicit emphasis of being ‘real’ in the workplace. WEA strives not only to do positive things in the world, but to accept the realities of us being flawed humans. In my time here, I’m very excited to work hard support all of the ongoing projects at WEA in any way I can, but it makes me feel more confident knowing that I’m expected to be human, not Superwoman.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? During my time at WEA, I hope I gain a greater understanding of how non-profits like WEA function. I greatly admire WEA’s emphasis on the idea that we are a network of women around the world, working as a team, not as a first-third world hierarchy. As such, I’d like to learn more about how WEA has created and maintained this network. I’m also looking forward to getting to know my co-workers as they all seem like really amazing women.

TORRIN MARQUARDT – General/Development Intern

1. Tell us about yourself!  What is your background and what has been your journey to WEA?  My name is Torrin Marquardt and I am in my final semester of undergraduate study at UC Berkeley, with a major in Peace and Conflict Studies with a concentration in Culture and Identity, as well as a minor in French. I grew up in various countries around the world, including France, Germany, Cameroon, Madagascar, and Australia. During my time on the African continent I developed an interest in women’s rights advocacy. This interest was then strengthened when I studied abroad in Morocco and interned at a women’s shelter called Au Grain de Sesame. This shelter took impoverished, uneducated women from the medina streets and taught them how to create art out of recycled materials, which was then sold in the shelter’s literary cafe. I was inspired by the organization’s emphasis on training local women and environmental sustainability, and am therefore incredibly excited to be working with WEA to assist other community-based organizations driven by strong women.

2. What do you do at WEA? I’m a General/Development Intern

3. Share 2 unique things about you that your co-workers do not know! 1. The scariest experience of my life was bungee jumping off a 134-meter (440-foot) suspended platform in the Nevis River Valley in New Zealand. 2. I’ve had my pants pulled down to my ankles by a Patas monkey in Cameroon.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersection of women and the environment? I believe a major challenge is installing long-term change, rather than simply implementing immediate yet unsustainable solutions. Often aid is provided in monetary forms, which can help in the short run, but does not benefit communities for their futures. Therefore, efforts must be made through training and capacity-building. It’s like that famous proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why. I know it’s the most cliche answer out there, but my mother is a major inspiration for me. She was very active in supporting women’s rights in our various overseas homes, and this attitude definitely rubbed off on me and is a huge part of why I’m currently interning with WEA. When I think of her work, what immediately comes to mind is the memory of her walking hand-in-hand with Cameroonian women at the front of the Women’s Day Parade. She is one of the most selfless and committed individuals I know.

6. Tell us one thing that surprised you about being at WEA. I was surprised by how loving and welcoming the WEA community was, from the minute I walked in the door for my initial interview. It’s refreshing to be in such a friendly and warm office setting, and I think this attitude definitely translates into how everyone at WEA communicates and interacts with the public.

7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? The kind of work that WEA does is something I want to pursue in the future, so I hope to gain an overall deeper understanding of how a smaller grassroots organization functions. Women and the environment are two areas that I care deeply about, yet are often neglected, and I see WEA as a great starting point for learning how to target these issues.

**Jami Fogelhut (not pictured here) was one of our amazing Fall/Winter General Interns.  We’d like to thank her for all of the hard work she’s done for WEA over the course of her internship!

Meet the rest of the amazing interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!

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