From Jordan to Việt Nam to the United States of America, six May 2023 International Development M.A. (IDMA) graduates spent their spring semesters interning with local deaf and disability-focused organizations. 

Karina Baker, G-’23, and Samantha Hoeksema, G-’23, interned with PARD Vietnam (Psycho-Education and Applied Research Center for the Deaf) in Hồ Chí Minh City, Việt Nam. PARD provides skills training, capacity development, youth project initiatives, information and resource sharing, and critical news reporting for the deaf community in Việt Nam–all while promoting awareness of Hồ Chí Minh Sign Language. Operating since 2018, PARD’s overarching mission is to provide skills that support the agency and self-development of Deaf people in Việt Nam, while operating under the model of “Nothing About Deaf without Deaf.” Karina and Samantha facilitated skill-building workshops, researched grant opportunities, developed surveys, created social media content, and designed critical media projects. Karina is now working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while Sam is working as a freelance ASL interpreter while pursuing inclusive education roles.

Emma DeCaro, G-’23, and Elias Henriksen, G-’23, interned with Martha EDU in Amman, Jordan. Founded in 2019, Martha EDU is a social enterprise committed to designing educational tools for d/Deaf children and their families to increase communication and literacy. Martha EDU’s innovative flashcards with AR technology were created through continuous research and learning on the best educational methodologies in Arabic-Jordanian Sign Language. Emma and Eli wrote a six-article blog series to raise awareness about the Deaf community among Jordanians and their allies, facilitated meetings with the U.S. embassy about economic barriers to theJordanian Deaf community, developed social media content, and edited grant proposals. Emma and Eli are now consulting with IREX on a pilot interpreter training program within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Jenilee Marques, ’18 & G-’23, interned with Deaf Worlds and the D.C. Office of Disability Rights (ODR) in Washington D.C. Founded in 2006, Deaf Worlds advances the self-determination of signing Deaf communities through local capacity building in developing countries. Jenilee supported planning and logistics for a Chinese Deaf leadership training program and developed a toolkit for project cycle management. Established in 2008, the ODR’s mission is to ensure that the programs, services, benefits, activities, and facilities funded or operated by the District of Columbia are “fully accessible to, and useable by people with disabilities.” Jenilee attended emergency management workshops, supported recruitment and policy efforts for future interns, and shadowed executive leadership. Jenilee is now operations manager at the National Association of the Deaf in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Sydney Johnson, G-’23, interned with Disability:IN in Alexandria, Virginia. Established in 1994, Disability:IN drives disability inclusion and equality in business worldwide. More than 400 companies trust Disability:IN to achieve and activate disability inclusion across their industries, provide comprehensive disability inclusion benchmarking; best-in-class conferences and programs; and expert counsel and engagement. Sydney confirmed company partnerships, updated the organization’s resource library, and reviewed and created profiles for 1,500+ people with disabilities in a resume database. Sydney is now a Research Analyst on Disability Inclusion with the United States Institute of Peace.

Six IDMA graduates standing and smiling together wearing graduation
regalia. In-person, back row: Samantha Hoeksema and Elias Henriksen. In-person, front row:
Karina Baker, Sydney Johnson, and Emma DeCaro. Pictured on a laptop Sydney is holding,
Jenilee Marques. A world map hangs on the wall behind them.

IDMA program director and associate professor Dr. Audrey C. Cooper said, “These students embodied the best of Gallaudet University by their active engagement with intercultural and inter linguistic learning, commitment to working alongside global Deaf communities on their development initiatives, and creativity. It has been an honor for theIDMA faculty to collaborate with these students for the past two years. We are excited to see where their careers will lead them, and we know that this is only the beginning.”

One of Gallaudet University’s eight institutional core student learning outcomes is “Global Citizenship: Articulate knowledge of intersectional identities within a global society and demonstrate intercultural knowledge, cultural competence, and skills in the constructive civic discourse on the local, national, and global levels.” 

The Gallaudet University International Development Master of Arts degree program (IDMA) prepares students to advocate, design, implement, monitor and evaluate social change activities in collaboration with Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing people, and people with disabilities, at local, national, and international levels.

The IDMA Program extends deepest thanks to our partnering organizations for their commitment to student internships, Gallaudet’s Office for Career Success for their support for internship planning and funding, and to the Experiential Programs Off-Campus (EPOC) Stipend Endowment Fund for helping make the four international internships possible.

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