Hui E! Community Aotearoa has had the valuable support of two American interns over the last few months, who did it all from their dorm rooms in New York State.  

Jeff Wan and Olivia Parisi
US interns Olivia Parisi and Jeff Wan

Jeffrey Wan and Olivia Parisi, both 21 and students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been working with Hui E! since February this year.

The school’s study abroad office, working with University of Auckland, turned to online internships when COVID-19 travel restrictions hit to make sure students still had learning opportunities.

Jeff was meant to be in Greece, and Olivia would have preferred to have been physically in Aotearoa New Zealand, but both say they still got a lot out of the online internships.

Jeff was researching social movements, coalitions and alliances in the non-profit sector to scope the formation of an SDG Alliance in Aotearoa. He says the best bit was interviewing people working in the community sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“It has been great to have conversations with people across the world working towards creating a better world through charitable work… I’ve learned that many of the people who are involved in NGOs, alliances, and coalitions tend to be self-starters and very motivated individuals.”

For Olivia, who was analysing the data from the Time to Shine survey to look more in-depth at the impacts of COVID-19 on the community sector, the weekly Zoom meetings with staff were the highlight.

“Not only have they given me the opportunity to get to know Hui E!, but they have allowed me to learn and experience the New Zealand culture as much as I can from the United States.”

Both Jeff and Olivia say managing their time – and the time difference – was a challenge and a learning over the internship, but that these are important professional skills for them to have.

Olivia says her biggest learning though, was about collaboration: “I have learned the value of collaboration within the community sector. In order for the sector to be most efficient, organisations need the resources and funding to work together.”