Center for Community Engagement

Internship Postcards: Amelia Moore '14

August 2012—story by Jenny Morgan, photo courtesy of Amelia Moore ’14

Last winter, Washington, D.C. native Amelia Moore ’14 and her mother, Bradley Clements ’84, took a slightly unusual vacation. The mother-daughter team flew to Nairobi, Kenya, with the sole purpose of volunteering in Kibera— one of the largest slums in Africa. Moore was making good on a promise she’d made to Ken Okoth, her former high school history teacher and the founder of the Children of Kibera Foundation.

Okoth, who grew up in Kibera, founded the non-profit in 2006 to “expand access to quality education” for the children living in the slum. For two weeks, Moore taught art classes while her mother taught reading.

While in Kibera, Moore paid a visit to the Kibera-based Girls LitClub at the suggestion of Pam Allyn ’84, a classmate of Clements and the founder of the literacy non-profit LitWorld. Moore was immediately taken. “"The girls were so impressive and fun to be around,” she says. After Moore left Kibera, she wanted to find a way to stay engaged with the people she’d met— especially the girls in the LitClub. An internship was the perfect solution. “It made me really interested in LitWorld, and [the internship] seemed like a good way to continue what I had started."

Founded by Allyn in 2007 and based in New York City, LitWorld “uses the power of story to cultivate literacy skills in the world’s most vulnerable children.” Through book clubs, literary ambassadors, and a broad network of international organizations, LitWorld stops at nothing to share the joy and power of reading across the globe. Since 2007, the organization has reached over 40,000 people in 35 countries. Moore has spent her summer working closely with many of the international LitClubs, including the club in Kibera, and she’s also helped to create a book club for mothers in Rwanda. "The clubs are fun and empowering, and they improve confidence, self-esteem, and reading and writing [skills]," she explains. "They are really about getting people excited about reading whatever you're interested in, or even just looking [at books]."

An American studies major, Moore also has a deep passion for art— and an artistic skill set that LitWorld has put to good use. “They asked [me] what I was interested in, and have used those interests the best they can.” This summer, LitWorld has helped one of their local community partners, the Polo Grounds Community Center, move into a new space. Moore, along with an intern from Hampshire College, had the chance to design the new library. “This project has been really cool because we can't actually paint on the walls, so we [created] this mural with cutout cardboard pieces that we drew on to make them into book characters.” Moore has been pleasantly surprised by how much she’s been able to use her creative side, and it’s given her something to think about. “It's really cool how much a non-profit uses so much art. I wouldn't have known. I went into the internship thinking, ‘I love working with kids, I'll be doing that, and that's what I want to do.’ After doing all of this design, it's making me think that's more of what I want to do. This has allowed me to use my art in such a different way.”

Moore, who calls herself “pretty shy,” says she’s felt a bit awkward when the LitWorld staff “practices what they do with the kids, [like] singing and dancing. It’s not what I’m used to, but it's been really good for me to get out of my shell.” It’s hard for Moore to pick the single most exciting aspect of her internship. “It's all been so rewarding,” she says. “I’ve loved getting to know the staff. I’ve gotten to go to all of the meetings on Kibera, too.” Moore hopes to continue to combine art and education at Amherst. Last year, she created a mini graphic novel in the community-based learning course, Reading, Writing, and Teaching, and she plans to do more. “This internship has given me a new look at education. I think it will really apply to my future.”

This summer, 182 students interned in 13 countries, 12 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico through the Center for Community Engagement’s summer internship programs. Each day this week, we’ll share a different internship postcard. Today's postcard is from Amelia Moore '14. Moore is from Washington, D.C. and interned with LitWorld in New York, New York.

Jenny Morgan is  a staff writer for the Center for Community Engagement. She welcomes comments or questions at jmorgan[at]amherst[dot]edu.