Ejolee Mitchell

Ejolee Mitchell is originally from Philadelphia and is currently a student in the Graduate Program in International Affairs. Before coming to The New School she interned with a non-profit in Philadelphia focusing on international development via women’s empowerment. During the summer of 2014 she participated in the Turkey IFP program where she interned with Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfı also known as TOG, a civil society organization focused on youth improvement and personal development of young people via community involvement.



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Why did you choose to attend The New School?
[While interning in Philadelphia] I realized the importance of a graduate degree, especially in international development. After
researching various graduate schools across the country I realized that the New School had what I was looking for in a graduate program; the opportunity learn and gain professional work experience in the field, locally and internationally.

What were your responsibilities while interning with Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfı/TOG in Instanbul, Turkey?
I researched National Youth Policies and National Youth Councils of various countries and produced a report for the Youth Affairs Department for TOG. TOG wanted to understand the current situation of youth around the country and use my research as a reference for a National Youth Council for Turkey. [My work] help[ed] TOG understand how other countries have established National Youth
Councils and National Youth Policies.

What challenges did you face during your time in Turkey?
While I have interned at other non-profits before this experience was quite different, mostly because of the language barrier. I wanted to
be involved in the program aspect of the nonprofit but after spending one day at a project site I quickly understood why that was not anEjolee Mitchell option. The programs were conducted in Turkish and my command of the langue was basic which created a challenge. Even though I
wanted to help I couldn’t because I didn’t understand and needed someone to translate for me. I think that experience was the most eye opening for me especially since I aspire to work abroad in the future. It brought to my attention the importance of language and what we hope to achieve isn’t always possible without it.

I also dealt with a lot of racism from Turkish people in various degrees. People would automatically assume I was from a country in
Africa, no one ever thought I was American right off the bat. They would always question my nationality saying, “Yes but where are you really from.” People asked to take pictures with me and asked to touch my hair. This made me uncomfortable and was definitely not the easiest thing to deal with while I was there.

What advice do you give to students interested in participating in the 2015 IFP?
When going to different parts of the world it helps to be open minded to various cultural differences and to be respectful. We are a guest in their country and how we carry ourselves as foreigners will leave a lasting impression upon people.