2017 Mansbridge Internship takes student to Nepal
Myfanwy Jensen-Fellows (’18), the 2017 Mansbridge Intern, used her internship to support and advance the lives of women in Nepal.
Jensen-Fellows, who is completing a degree in religious studies with minors in women’s and gender studies and English, spent two months working with the Women’s Foundation of Nepal in Kathmandu, which supports women who have been affected by poverty or abuse, giving them tools and helping them build skills they can use to improve their circumstances.
The Foundation offers business classes and trains women in textile manufacturing. It also runs a childcare centre and a school for children in elementary through high school, which provides a safe place for women to leave their children while they work or attend classes.
Jensen-Fellows, of Acton, MA, helped edit and write grant proposals and worked in the children’s centre, teaching English in the kindergarten class.
“I was constantly impressed by the work that they were doing,” she says. “Even though we were dealing with really difficult things, there was still this hopefulness and persistence.”
Jensen-Fellows says she’s used to being part of a caring community, but the Foundation takes compassion to a new level.
“I really enjoyed being a part of the community that the Women’s Foundation has created — it is a whole new kind of compassion and warmth. People were so, so warm and welcoming,” she says. “It was really remarkable to be in such a place where everybody was so focused on their goal of eradicating violence and poverty and creating equality. Being with such devoted and kind people was really, really inspirational.”
The Mansbridge Internship, established by University Chancellor Peter Mansbridge in 2011, provides $10,000 to a Mount Allison student in their third year of academic studies to help defray the costs of a pre-professional experience with an international organization of the student’s choosing. Past Mansbridge Interns have travelled around the globe, including to Kenya, Indonesia, Greenland, the Arctic, Zambia, and India.
“The Mansbridge Internship allowed me to go and work on something I really valued, but it also gave me the freedom to travel and learn about the religion and culture of the area I was in, which is now influencing my honours thesis,” Jensen-Fellows says. “And being the Mansbridge Intern gave me a connection back to Mount A — I was representing my school and was trying to represent my best self, and it was also nice to have a community to support you.”
Jensen-Fellows plans to pursue a PhD focusing on women’s places in religion, but also hopes to one day return to Nepal to work with the Foundation.
“Being there reaffirmed many of my values. I strongly believe in improving women’s lives, however, I also recognized that I needed to be careful as to my role as an outsider to the community,” she says. “I learned so much from the women I met and am grateful for the experience.”
Jensen-Fellows will be sharing her experiences in Nepal in a community presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Ralph Pickard Bell Library theatre as part of International Education Week.
2017 Mansbridge Intern Myfanwy Jensen-Fellows, centre, with staff from the Women’s Foundation of Nepal, showing off an award they won for their work after the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal, particularly for their efforts to assist pregnant women.
2017 Mansbridge Intern Myfanwy Jensen-Fellows with the kindergarten class she taught in Nepal.