During my time as a student of the OU in Arezzo Spring 2020 program, I had the utmost honor of partaking in an internship with an organization called Oxfam Italia in Arezzo. At this organization, I was able to learn not only about myself and my abilities but of the cultural norms in the Italian workplace and an insight into a global organization. At Oxfam, I was working within the Education department with Claudia Maffei and worked mostly under the Walk the Global Walk campaign. Here I had the chance to learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals as well as how the school system in Italy works, gained two vital skills, and learned even more from this organization.
Oxfam Italia was first an organization called Ucodep that was opened in 1972 and later developed into Oxfam Italia in 2010 (Chi Siamo). Oxfam Italia, along with 18 other Oxfam offices (in different countries), are a part of Oxfam International and hold their personal goals as well as the overarching theme of ending poverty (Chi Siamo). Within each office are separate subdivisions as a way to tackle their personal goals. Throughout my time at Oxfam Italia, I worked under the Education office but also saw some of the global communications with other Oxfam offices. I cannot think of any weaknesses or threats to the organization at this time. Oxfam Italia has strong contact points and years of experience within the workforce that allows for a greater global impact. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, I’m sure Oxfam Italia has had to alter a lot of their previously set programs to maintain a healthy environment not only for its employees but also for those it works with.
My supervisor provided me with a wide variety of tasks that allowed me to truly see the value that this internship has. On my first day, I was already proofreading documents and powerpoints that had been translated from Italian into English. I was able to understand portions of the conversations throughout the office because of my skills in beginning Italian and worked to better by understanding a little bit more each day I was there. My Italian was also improved through the rest of the tasks I managed during my time there.
My biggest task was Oxfam Italia’s vast teacher database. This was an excel sheet with around 1350 contacts on it from all over Italy. My overarching responsibility was to make sure there were no duplicates within the excel sheet (two separate databases had been put together to form this one!). However, as I delved deeper into the sheet, I began to color coordinate the different cells to not only remove duplicates but also add missing information where found, highlight information I was unable to find (like the school or location), and find very similar (but not exactly the same) cells. This project took me a very long time as I attempted to learn how to navigate Excel as well as the sheer amount of data I had gone through. It was one of the most rewarding tasks I was a part of that also taught me a vital skill.
In addition to proofreading documents and organizing the excel, I also created a survey. I produced questions for the teachers Oxfam Italia is working with to provide feedback over the Teacher’s Briefing Pack 3 over the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16. This was a quicker task that allowed me to gain more knowledge over the SDGs and their impact. My last task as an Oxfam Intern was listening to the third online communications meeting with the Oxfam offices and writing down minutes. It was a very long process, but I had an insight into the interworking of the Walk the Global Walk campaign and helped me appreciate it even more!
While at Oxfam Italia, I had to overcome cultural and language barriers as well as my own personal fears. I was placed in a role that not only inspired me personally but allowed me to work through many of my own professional goals. I will always think of the skills I learned while at Oxfam, ranging from managing Excel, developing my Italian, and taking minutes and continue to build on them throughout the rest of my professional and personal careers. These fit well into my degree of Human Relations and my minor in Nonprofit Organizational Studies. I believe overall, the deep cultural and language involvement that I was able to be a part of provided me with the most valuable information. I adapted to this workplace and gained so much from it; I wish I could’ve been there longer. Arrivederci Oxfam Italia!
Chi Siamo. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.oxfamitalia.org/scopri/siamo-oxfam/