intern reflection: water to thrive
Lars Anderson is a rising senior and Civil Engineering major at Valparaiso University in Indiana. This summer, Lars was placed in an internship with Water to Thrive (W2T) where he is putting his engineering background to good use, helping improve how water wells are more consistently and successfully established and managed in the African communities served by W2T.
Earlier this summer, Lars traveled to Ethiopia for two weeks with W2T leaders and donors to see the work first-hand and to make connections with their in-country partners.
Read Lars’ reflection on his exciting and eye-opening journey to Ethiopia.
When I accepted my position as an intern with Water to Thrive in Austin, I knew that a trip to Ethiopia would be a part of it. What I didn’t realize was how much I would learn about the country and how visible the impact would be that W2T has on rural communities there. Over the span of two weeks, our small group toured about 40% of the country and had the chance to visit twelve well sites sponsored by donors. W2T has been funding water projects in Ethiopia since it was founded in 2007 and in that time, numerous groups of donors from all around the United States have had the chance to travel there. Our group of nine people included W2T’s founder, executive director, another intern, myself, and five other travelers.
We traveled to six major Ethiopian cities, separate from the rural communities. In Addis Ababa, the capital, we saw the National Museum, which among many
International treasures, contained the skeletal remnants of Lucy. In Lalibela, we saw the incredible rock-hewn orthodox churches, with each architectural aspect symbolizing something biblical. In Axum, we saw the ancient obelisks which serve as markers of tombs of royalty. Near Hawassa in the Omo Valley, we met members of the Mursi tribe, where the women are famous for using lip-plates. We had a fantastic tour guide (who is pictured above) to show us all of this and much more throughout the trip.
As amazing as it was to see and learn the history of the beautiful country, it couldn’t compare to the opportunity to be with the twelve rural communities and celebrate the gift of clean water. Each of the wells we visited was recently completed or will be soon. And each one serves at least 200 people and often
many more due to the need in the areas. At some of the most recently completed wells, we were greeted with popcorn, coffee, dancing, and shouts of celebration. But at each completed site, we heard how much of a difference the clean and accessible water was having on the health and well-being of the people. Women no longer spent hours collecting water for their families and hurting their backs with the weight of the containers. Children, especially five and under, no longer fell ill or died due to water-borne diseases. The overall improved well-being of the community often brought more opportunities for education, women’s rights, and collaboration for further improvements. It was full of truly special moments as we celebrated with the communities on behalf of the contributions of so many.
On an individual level, the trip has already impacted me in numerous ways. Professionally, the experience provided a clear view of one way I can use my engineering degree and set me up to complete a difficult task this summer.
We met just a few representatives from W2T’s hard working local partners REST and DAASC. Without these organizations and their intuitive and skilled leaders, none of the projects we saw could have been completed with the same results described in the section above.
For me, it was really neat to see how these leaders, who each had technical backgrounds, had committed themselves to addressing the massive need of clean water supply in their country. I only hope I can commit myself in a similar way to a need and help generate results as visible and widespread. As I visited each well site, I took notes on the specific aspects of each project. This included site selection, well construction techniques, water committee organization, water source protection, as well as social and cultural concerns. These notes, in combination with research on water supply processes form the basis of the best practices document that Thomas, another ServeHere intern with W2T, and I will dedicate most of the summer to creating.
Personally, the experience has greatly influenced my perspective. Before the trip, I heard something that has stuck with me since. It was along the lines of
“All we can bring to a situation is our perspective.” I have thought a lot on that since. Ask anyone who’s traveled to a different country or spent time among those of a very different background, and I think this idea would resonate with them.
I think there’s something special about sharing your perspective and hearing or seeing a very different one. For me, it does at least two things. It first reaffirms the many similarities that exist between people and then it enables me to see how my own perspective and role may fit into a larger context. The first concept was most clear to me as I talked with a woman who owned a small shop in the city of Axum. The woman was 22 years old, and had three adorable kids with her.
She knew a little English and when I told her I was 21, she pointed out that “we are similar.” It was a neat moment because I realized that in spite of all of our differences, we were really more similar than different. The second concept is one that I think I’ll always be figuring out, one that will hopefully become clearer as I determine how I can serve and do my part in an organization.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel with W2T on this incredible trip to Ethiopia. It was an experience that will certainly continue to guide me in my life and professional decisions. I am excited to see how my time with Water to Thrive continues to challenge my thinking on how to best serve rural communities in Africa.
May 28th, 2015
After another very busy spring recruiting season, we kick off our ServeHere Summer 2015 program with a fine group of amazingly talented, diverse and Christ-honoring students!
Just a few of this summer’s best and brightest, from Texas and beyond.
At 14 students, this summer’s class is the largest yet — and winnowed down from 40+ applicants. More universities are represented than ever before, with students from the University of Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas State, Valparaiso and Winona State College. Their fields of study span from business to biology, economics to ethics, communications to community studies, and well beyond.
While a summer with ServeHere provides many learning opportunities, the most important is each student’s handcrafted internship placement with a local non-profit. This is their new classroom and a place where they are challenged to apply what they have learned in their field of study in order to make a real impact.
This summer, internship placements were made in eleven different faith-based non-profits around Austin. These organizations each serve populations that struggle with deep poverty. But their clients’ circumstances, are very different — spanning the homeless, underprivileged youth, refugees, juvenile offenders, recent convicts, African villagers, young mothers and more.
Our Summer 2015 Non-profit Partners
This week, we kicked off the summer with an intensive two day training session designed to prepare ServeHere students for success in life and in their new assignments. This crew wasn’t shy about studying themselves and engaging in challenging conversations about the world we live in. It’s going to be an awesome summer watching them grow while making an enormous impact on their organizations.
Addison Roden is a rising senior in the Business Honors program at the University of Texas, with a minor in Spanish. She was accepted by ServeHere and placed in a marketing internship at Side By Side Kids (SBSK) in the spring semester of her junior year. SBSK is a faith-based after-school program that now operates in three urban public elementary schools in the St. John’s area of Austin.
During the internship semester, Addie and two other McCombs students entered and won L’Oreal’s national Brandstorm Competition in NYC, topping 100 other teams. UT lit the tower to recognize the accomplishment and the team earned another trip, this time to Paris, for the international finals!
Addie is a great representative of her generation and the students that ServeHere seeks to attract and develop. She is an incredibly talented, hard working and humble person who sees the big picture in life. And her faith doesn’t take a backseat to her professional aspirations.
Read Addie’s reflection on the impact of her experience with SBSK.
There are a variety of ways to learn. You can learn by seeing, listening, and experiencing. Throughout my internship at Side by Side Kids (SBSK) and my time with ServeHere, I learned so many new things, in so many different ways.
I watched the staff at SBSK and learned how to rely on the Lord to supply what I need each and every day. Working in the same office as our Executive Director and Volunteer Coordinator gave me unique insights into the daily operations of a non-profit organization. I saw blessings come into our organization from generous donors, and I saw the staff rely on Jesus for strength when they were tired, discouraged, or worried that we wouldn’t have the resources needed to accomplish our goals. I saw how everyone encouraged one another with scripture and prayer, and when my internship came to a close, I saw how the staff valued the work I had put into the organization, and the time I was able to spend with them.
I listened to my mentors and learned new marketing strategies and how to best manage new projects. From the first time I interacted with ServeHere until my last meeting of the semester, I was instructed on a variety of topics that helped me in my internship, and that will continue to aid me as I move forward. I heard about different ways to get the most out of the time I had at my internship, marketing strategies for a digital platform, and ways to strengthen my writing skills. The one-on-one instruction that I was given allowed me to ask questions and glean information from people who had more experience and insights than I did.
I experienced new things and learned how to use the Adobe suite, write better blog posts and newsletter articles, and apply for grants. My first project at SBSK was to update marketing materials with new information. I had never used the Adobe suite before, and I was able to learn a new skillset through experiencing it firsthand. In addition, I improved my written communication skills through writing bi-monthly blog posts and newsletters.
When I began my time with ServeHere, I hoped to gain experience that I could use as I look towards graduating college. The experience far exceeded my expectations, and I am so grateful for the time I had to work alongside the staff at SBSK and ServeHere.
ServeHere has a paid summer intern opening for a Radio, Film & Television major to tell the stories of several of our non-profit partners. These faith-based organizations are doing amazing things for people in the community and have great stories to tell. We need a motivated videographer to help tell them.
Moving people with your storytelling abilities is certainly a key part of this internship, but the nature of this role means you’ll learn a lot more than that. Having control over multiple client projects means you will have to master these key skills:
This internship provides an opportunity to sharpen your skills and work on something that really matters in the big picture of life. You’ll be helping clients help more people by enhancing community involvement, inspiring volunteer growth and raising funds to support their mission.
Beyond the skills you develop and sharpen, this summer you’ll grow as a person too — because ServeHere provides a Mentorship and Development program to grow you spiritually as well as professionally.
Interested in learning more? Click here to apply in just three minutes!
announcing fall 2014 internships
After two very successful summer programs, we are expanding ServeHere to run in the fall semester!
There are two primary reasons for this:
As a result, we have SEVEN great part-time roles where we can potentially place ServeHere Fall 2014 interns who can earn class credit or a stipend. The internship placement will be coupled with a one-on-one mentorship program individually designed for each student.
The fall opportunities we have are appropriate for students majoring in: marketing, communication, finance, business, education, social services, and radio/film/television – or anyone who really wants to make a difference while gaining valuable marketplace experience.
If you, or a friend, are interested in learning more – please fill out the super simple application found here. It takes just two minutes to get started – but the impact can shape a lifetime.
field trip: mobile loaves & fishes
ServeHere has two summer interns working with Mobile Loaves and Fishes (MLF), a ministry dedicated to lifting up our homeless brothers and sisters, while challenging communities to live a lifestyle of service to them.
Marc is a Concordia communications and psychology major who has worked for Genesis Gardens leaders Steven Hebbard and Heidi Sloan. Genesis Gardens is a sustainable agriculture program that enables Community First! residents to grow healthy food for the community while learning to lead others.
Tim is a UT finance major who works for MLF’s CFO Katie Zunker. Tim’s big project has been to analyze, model and suggest improvements for the ROADS micro-enterprise program. The ROADs program is designed to create an income source that is manageable, flexible and sufficient to live with dignity. Opportunities stem from a range of micro-enterprise activities like vending carts, art galleries and woodworking workshops.
We have all enjoyed learning about the innovative ministries of MLF from our cohort meetings with Tim and Marc – so we were especially pleased when Katie invited the whole ServeHere team their offices on Bee Cave road.
Katie brought along fellow staff leader Nate Schlueter and they spent half the morning talking to us about their ministry, their careers, and the choices and challenges they have faced along the way. It was a thoughtful and inspiring time for our team – and a great opportunity to learn from two very accomplished business executives who made the decision to leave their successful marketplace jobs behind for a career with an impactful non-profit.
We so appreciate the opportunities that Mobile Loaves and Fishes provide to our two ServeHere interns – and the chance we all had to learn something from Katie and Nate this week!
field trip: water to thrive
In looking for additional ServeHere ministry partners this Spring, we were thrilled to discover Water to Thrive — a local non-profit with an international focus. Water to Thrive has an innovative and participatory approach for bringing clean water to communities in Africa that desperately need it. A great relationship developed between our organizations, and we are thrilled to have UT communications major Kemper Hamilton spending her summer developing marketing outreach and social media programs for Water to Thrive.
In our initial meeting, Water to Thrive’s founder and Executive Director, Dick Moeller, quickly caught the vision of ServeHere and came up with a terrific suggestion: field trips where our students can meet with the leaders of the various non-profits where their colleagues are serving. So, we were very happy to make Water to Thrive one of our first field trips of the summer!
Our gracious hosts provided a great perspective on how God turned an adult Sunday school class project into an impactful organization that has brought more than 500 wells to impoverished communities in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. Operationally, Water to Thrive has pioneered two innovative approaches that help set them apart from many other non-profits by:
In addition to the time spent with Dick and Lizzie, the ServeHere students also engaged in a thoughtful discussion about their summer book reading assignment “No Greater Love”. It was a fitting location for this exercise, because it’s a story of a young businessman and his family move to the wilds of Ethiopia to care for orphans in communities like the ones Water to Thrive currently serve!
There are many learning opportunities programmed into a summer with ServeHere but the most important is each student’s handcrafted internship placement with a local non-profit. This is their new classroom. It’s the place where each student is challenged to directly apply what they have learned in their field of study in order to make a profound impact.
This summer, ServeHere internship placements were made in seven different faith-based non-profits around Austin. These organizations each serve populations that struggle with deep poverty. But their clients, and their circumstances, are very different — spanning the homeless, underprivileged youth, refugees, African villagers, young mothers and more.
Our Summer 2014 Non-profit Partners
Having non-profit partners who enthusiastically open their doors and provide such meaningful experiences for our students is an enormous blessing. I know they care deeply about the mission of ServeHere and embrace the opportunity to invest in and develop this new generation of servant leaders. Together, we can make a lasting impact in His name and for His glory!
the summer class of 2014
Students have a lot of choices for how to spend the summer before their junior or senior year of college. Studying abroad, refilling bank accounts, F500 internships, that last camp counselor experience, or summer classes are just a few of the options that compete with what ServeHere can offer.
With that context, you might imagine that the person who choses to compete for the opportunity to spend their summer exploring God’s calling on their life, while intensely serving others, is a special individual. And you would be right.
By far, the hardest and most important part of my role at ServeHere is finding and selecting the right students for the summer. There is just so much at stake – and to make things even harder – this year we were blessed with a bumper crop of very qualified students.
In the end, God’s hand was very evident in bringing forward the 11 Concordia, UT and Texas A&M students selected out of the 40 who applied. Their interests and gifts are diverse — and their fields of study reflect that — from Education to Film Making; from Business to Biology; and far beyond. They are certainly successful in the classroom too — with an average GPA over 3.7. But most importantly, each of them is a mature believer who wants to pursue Christ’s calling on their life. So they are dedicating this summer to the challenge of better understanding that calling and how it might translate into their life after college.
Having spent weeks and weeks getting to know this amazingly talented group of students during the recruiting phase this Spring – and now having spent two more full days interacting with them in training sessions and in the field – I couldn’t be more excited at the prospects for this summer.
As the program moves along, we’ll give you a deeper look at the inspiring people of ServeHere’s Summer Class of 2014.
On a beautiful Sunday morning in Austin, what better way to start the day than serving and worshiping down at Church Under the Bridge (CUB)? After a full Saturday in a conference room, we were all glad that Day 2 of the ServeHere Summer Kickoff training weekend began in field!!
ServeHere ministry partner Mission Possible has several different ministries, but it’s original one is a vibrant Street Ministry that all started with CUB. When Mission Possible first started working with the homeless in Austin, they heard them say what they needed most was a place they felt comfortable worshipping and hearing the gospel. Years later, CUB continues to faithfully provide exactly that kind of welcoming environment under the overpass of I35 in the heart of downtown.
Serving at CUB gave each of us a chance to be productive helping with load-in and load-out. But more importantly, our students seized on the opportunity to personally connect with another group of God’s children who live very different lives. It was an eye opening and heartwarming experience for everyone.
After loading-out, we headed over to the Mission Possible campus at 12th and Chicon for the afternoon. Lunch was provided by a food truck that donated the proceeds to Mission Possible’s kids camp program. So, we chowed down while listening to Beau Hamner, director of MP’s Street Ministry, and our 2nd speaker in the series. It was inspiring to hear Beau’s personal journey — how God unexpectedly called him to minister to the homeless — and the obedient and sacrificial way Beau and his family have responded. It’s a journey that led the family from youth ministry in Charlotte, NC all the way to the streets of Austin, TX.
After a great Q&A with Beau, the afternoon training sessions were focused on preparing the students for success on the job. Tips, techniques and tools were shared to ensure that our students had the best chance of quickly fitting in and contributing as interns in their new environments.
Finally, each person wrapped up the day by carefully considering why they are spending the summer in this very unique way – and setting three goals that can be used to empirically judge whether our summer with ServeHere and our non-profit placement was a success.