Summer internship paves way for future fieldwork

This summer, Margie Giacalone ’19 helped members of New London’s immigrant community access vital services and developed a learning framework for future student volunteers

Margie Giacalone ’19 helps clients fill out paperwork at an Immigration Advocacy and Support Center clinic in New London, Conn.
Margie Giacalone ’19 helps clients fill out paperwork at an Immigration Advocacy and Support Center clinic in New London, Conn.

Margie Giacalone ’19 spent her summer helping connect members of New London’s immigrant community with vital legal and social services. Her work, which was part of her summer internship, will also provide future Conn students with a template on how to meet new course requirements. 

Giacalone’s internship with the Immigration Advocacy and Support Center in New London was part of a new partnership between the agency and the College. A nonprofit social service agency, IASC connects the local and regional immigrant community with reliable and affordable legal and social services at low cost.

“I’ve learned how to work with clients on legal applications for citizenship, for permanent residency, for fee waivers, and more,” Giacalone said. “I’ve been given the opportunity to work one-on-one with clients who may not even speak English, and I’ve been able to make their assimilation to the U.S. easier.”

As part of her work, Giacalone focused on educating both healthcare providers and immigrant families on their medical and legal rights. The center will use the information to develop resources that will help health-care providers identify patients who may need IASC's legal counseling.

Giacalone also developed a written and visual resource that will give anthropology students and those who choose the Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway, part of the College’s new Connections program, an introduction to the IASC and its purpose. The material will also educate Conn students on the diverse immigrant communities served by the center. 

“The background material I created not only introduces students and volunteers to IASC and how it functions, it also teaches students and volunteers about the people they will be helping—and the legal, administrative and bureaucratic systems involved,” Giacalone said.

Associate Professor of History Leo Garofalo said Giacalone’s summer work exemplifies Connections’ unique and innovative approach to general education.

“Margie is integrating classroom learning into an internship with a community partner in New London, and she is using that experience to design ways for future students to best prepare to volunteer and intern at that same community organization,” Garofalo said. “She is linking the absolutely essential everyday tasks at an immigration center with the bigger picture issues and concepts typically covered in classes.”

Connecticut College student work at IASC and similar organizations will be a centerpiece of the Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway, said Garofalo. Giacalone is also helping faculty prepare related coursework.

“Margie’s work furthers the center’s mission with immigrants, but also prepares the center to receive more student interns and volunteers from Connecticut College during the school year,” Garofalo said. Grants from the history and anthropology departments helped make Giacalone’s internship possible. 

A rising sophomore, Giacalone plans to double major in international relations and Hispanic studies and minor in anthropology. Her internship with IASC ended in mid-August, but she already has her eye on future involvement.

“I’m looking forward to attending a Pathway workshop with IASC and faculty, staff and community partners,” she said. “I will also be drafting and refining grant applications and helping at the United Way mobile food pantry. And I’m really looking forward to assisting new clients with immigration applications that will change their lives.”

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August 23, 2016