Jonathan Poser (MPP/REES '18) talks about his internship in Bulgaria working with minority communities and how he works to fight systemic corruption and social inequity.
So my name is Jonathan Poser I'm
a 3rd year do a master's student
at the Center for Russian East European
integration studies and
the Ford school public policy I've been
fortunate enough to spend about 3 years
of the last 10 studying working and
travelling in Eastern Europe and.
What started as a kind of general interest
in Russian language courses led to a year
or a semester studying in Moscow 2 years
teaching English in Kiev Ukraine and
a season recruiting in Ukraine Moldova for
an international educational exchange
program it was during this last experience
in 2015 when I interviewed a number of
Ukrainian teenagers who had been displaced
by the conflict in the eastern part of the
country as I reflected on that experience.
I and the effects of things like systemic
corruption conflict and just deep seated
social inequity I understood that I wanted
to develop the policy skills necessary
to assist people in Eastern Europe that
to the capacity of that I'm able and
leaving leaving some of the the adverse
circumstances that they face.
So this summer I had
an internship at the Trust for
social achievement which is a nonprofit
in Sofia Bulgaria that services.
Minority communities in Bulgaria and
tries to integrate them into Bulgarian
society specifically they target the Roma
the Roma commonly known by the pejorative
term gypsies constitute about 5 to 10
percent of the country's population and
are on average the poorest people there.
The organization works to
alleviate some of the most.
Significant challenges that they face
in areas such as prenatal health care.
Infant of care Early Childhood Education
Workforce Development and you thought and
here is I'm the Roma have been
typically marginalized and denied
access to many of these areas of society
for centuries in many European cities.
So using a holistic approach
to poverty alleviation and
social integration the trust for
social achievement partners with
international and domestic organizations.
In all of these areas so at the trust I
had the opportunity to work on a number of
different projects but primarily I was
tasked with writing a policy brief
that is going to be used as
an advocacy tool to lobby for
the elimination of fees associated
with kindergarten attendance
basically making early education free for
every child in Bulgaria.
The core of this report was based
on a recently published World Bank
impact evaluation of
a year long national study
conducted by the World Bank and
the trust for social achievement in how to
most effectively increase participation
in early education from the communities.
I combined the results of this report
which basically said Make it free and kids
will attend and mixed in a little bit of
information about the long term benefits
of early childhood education including
Ypsilanti zone Perry Preschool Study and
then also made projections about the long
term positive impact both socially and
economically that early education
would have on Bulgarian society so
the opportunity was phenomenal for
a number of reasons of all of the projects
that were proposed would require the
direct application of skills like policy
writing research sadistical analysis and
all of which I've been learning here at
the ford school and all of which I relied
upon during my time there I was
also eager to develop my experience
working with marginalised populations in
the Greater Eastern European region so
I came away from this experience
with one primary lesson was that
change is possible slow and incremental
and unsexy as though it may be.
Organizations like the trust for
social Cheeseman have moved the needle
on some really challenging issues it's
a very difficult political circumstances
I've also learned that poverty
is intersectional it's
there's no magic bullet there's no panacea
a multi-dimensional problem requires
a multi-dimensional set of solutions and
finally the opportunity to work for
the trust which shows that human has
renewed my desire to work in international
development and now I'm grateful
that I have this set of experiences
to draw from in the pursuit of that
ambition thanks very much thank.