Rafael Buerba ’08 worked as an operating room assistant in Barcelona, Spain. Christina Xu ’09 helped set up a record label and radio network in the prisons of Kingston, Jamaica. And Robert Ross ’09 tracked children in displaced person camps in Uganda.
The three were among 37 Harvard students who participated in the Weissman International Internship Program this past summer. The program, which is administered by the Office of Career Services, was established in 1994 by Paul (’52) and Harriet Weissman to help foster the development of Harvard College students’ understanding of the global community. Since its inception, the Weissman Program has enabled 329 students to work in 72 countries in fields ranging from public service to business, science to arts administration.
In their final reports, the 2007 Weissman Interns related the joys and challenges of living and working in another culture. Jessica Hightower ’09 wrote about helping out at a shelter for abandoned youth in Bangalore, India. Courtney O’Brien ’09, who worked at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, found that an unexpected bonus of her summer experience was her appreciation for the French emphasis on leisure and balance in life. Kristina Liu ’08 conducted many one-on-one dietetic therapy sessions with patients at an endocrine clinic in Melbourne, Australia, advising them on nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
The Weissman Program was deliberately designed to ensure that students return to enrich the Harvard community with their experiences. This year, as every year, the returning interns were welcomed back at a luncheon held at the Harvard Faculty Club. On Oct. 30, the 2007 interns met with Paul and Harriet Weissman, Harvard College Dean David R. Pilbeam, Tamara Rogers, vice president for Alumni Affairs and Development, and others, and spoke with them about insights gained, perspectives shifted, and worldviews broadened. In most cases, internship experiences had a significant impact on students’ personal, professional, and academic plans. For many, the opportunity has fueled a passion for further international experience. And that is certainly something to celebrate.