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My DukeEngage summer has helped me learn a lot about social impact and I hope to build on my internship by engaging in other experiences that help me learn more about social impact.

I’m a housing policy intern for Saath Charitable Trust, a non-profit based in Ahmedabad, India. One thing I’ve learned is the value of an intermediary in social impact. Through reading about Saath’s work and talking to Saath employees, I’ve seen that Saath often plays the role of the intermediary. Saath works with communities, governments, and companies to create programs that uplift underprivileged communities. For example, Saath worked with the Sankalchad Mukhi ni Chali community and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to organize a toilet construction programme that was affordable and catered to the needs of the community. Another thing I’ve learned is that in social impact work, it is not always clear if your work will yield direct results. This is especially true in policy when it could take years for a policy report to lead to a policy change and there’s a good chance that it won’t lead to policy change at all. I’ve learned that a lot of social impact work is like planting seeds that will hopefully grow.

By working for a non-profit and engaging directly with important issues, I was able to gain new perspectives on social impact. I hope to learn more about social impact in the future as well. One way I will continue to engage with issues that matter is through the RedeSIGn committee, a Business Oriented Women committee that is exploring the intersection between business and social impact. As a member of this committee, I will help plan events and discussions on the flaws and benefits of social impact through business.

One possible obstacle that I might encounter is that at Duke, I have more commitments that might take away from time spent engaging with issues that matter. Through DukeEngage, I’ve been able to dedicate most of my time to learning about housing policy and urban poverty. At Duke, I’ll have classes and clubs that are not always directly engaging with issues that matter. One idea I have to overcome this is applying my work in classes and clubs to issues that I care about. When given the opportunity to choose my paper topic or club project, I’ll choose to direct my time and energy to important issues. Another idea I have is to prioritize social impact work. While I will have more commitments during the school year, engaging with issues that matter is important to me so I will make time for it.