By Lisa Vromman

February 9, 2017

GOING ABROAD

One of the possibilities to do your internship and graduation project is to choose for a North-South internship where you combine the two, designing a product with the locals abroad.

I saw it as a challenge to have an international experience within this education program of industrial product design. To discover this study in a different way, to broaden my view on professional and personal level.

My focus in product design is user centered design. When designing products, the focus is set on the user to achieve an innovative product with added value for the customer.

We look at the needs of the user, the problems that arise. User centered design is the coming together of the social aspect and the product. With this focus, it is therefore a fantastic and interesting experience to do a north-south internship in order to involve the people, their needs, their problems within the product, that is also being designed in co-creation.

This internship gives the opportunity to go back to the essence of design, small solutions can make a world of difference locally and can lead to sustainable
progress and innovation.

A NORTH-SOUTH INTERNSHIP

North-South internships are organized and guided by Howest.

With Howest (for impact), the vision on southern stages is based on following topics:

Think global
We face global challenges such as poverty, migration and climate change. Its effects are felt locally, but the causes and solutions are global. These are challenges that all of us concern and which we can only solve together.

Go for impact
Because global challenges are particularly noticeable in the global South, it is important to look for solutions on the spot as well. By applying shared knowledge in an innovative way we can come to solutions that were previously unthinkable.

It’s a unique experience to do your internship in a development cooperation, to organize project work together with an NGO or an assignment for an NGO and/or to participate in awareness on campus.

While having an assessment moment with my organizations in the beginning, they asked me why this kind of internship is named a ‘north-south’ internship? I tried to explain, but while doing that I also heard the negative vibe in this name.

This name divides, it’s a negative thing to focus on the difference. There’s a north, because there’s a south. In history the south is exploited by colonies and greater powers what results in a north that is rich by all stolen resources and materials from the south.

It should be called a solidarity internship, because that’s what it’s about.

The goal of solidarity in this kind of projects is to encourage more students to use their profession and skills to help solve world’s problems instead of choosing the typical path of building their career to earn big money and get good positions.

MY ORGANIZATIONS

PSET – or Peoples’ Solidarity Education Tours – is a nongovernmental organization in the Philippines who’s vision is to strengthen international solidarity and support for the Filipino people’s aspiration for social change and genuine development. They do this by organizing a sustainable exchange program with international partners, such as HOWEST. They want to enrich people’s knowledge and understanding about the different socio-eco and cultural realities while seeing the beauty of the Philippines by giving the chance to experience this as one of them.

The role of PSET was to find a fitting internship organization that’s fits my wishes and type of internship I wanted to do. I explained that I wanted to do an internship that is linked to waste management and the struggles about this issue. In conversation, we tried to find an internship that could connect me to this theme and the people already working with this product wise.

Next to that they also have the role to mentor and guide the whole internship, me and my organization to make sure everything goes as planned, to evaluate and to help wherever needed.

It was PSET that made the connection with WRCV – or Women Resource Center of Visayas – that is also an NGO active in the Visayas islands in South Philippines.

WRCV was established in 1991. They started this NGO because there was an important need to raise awareness and help for the Filipino women. Their vision is to help Filipino people in general to be free from all kinds of oppression whether these are born of class, gender of membership in an ethnic group, to support the basic needs of grassroots women and to reach the goal of women to be empowered and active participants in determining the course of their development.

Their mission is to provide support services to the advancement of organizing and education work among grassroots (poor) women through awareness-raising, capability-building, resource-building and popularization of grassroots women’s concerns.

This blog summarizes my internship with WRCV and PSET,  my graduation project and experience through my stay in the Philippines.

I hope you enjoy!

Lisa

Lisa Vromman is a an Industrial Product Design student from Howest University. She’s currently in Cebu for her internship program with Women Resource Center of Visayas (WRCV). Read more of her internship experience at www.internshipinthephilippines.wordpress.com.