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Weaving Better Conditions

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fariya Syed-Ali's summer fellowship through Tisch College helps her make a difference in grils' lives halfway around the world.

Tisch Summer Fellow Fariya Syed-Ali

As a Tisch Summer Fellow with GoodWeave USA, Fariya Syed-Ali, A15, worked as an active citizen in the global community. Founded by Nina Smith, A89, GoodWeave seeks to end child labor in the hand-knotted carpet industry in India, Nepal, and Afghanistan.

“GoodWeave is a wonderful organization which utilizes both the marketplace and the law to end child labor,” Syed-Ali explained. “GoodWeave licenses certain carpet exporters as child labor free, inspects looms, and pulls out children who are illegally weaving and puts them in educational programs. In addition, GoodWeave works on adult working conditions, and has a very holistic approach to ending the cycle of child labor in the rug industry of its targeted countries.”

An international relations major, Syed-Ali says the experience has helped her clarify her interests while gaining important skills.

“I’m still figuring out what exactly I want to do, though I’m leaning heavily towards international finance,” Syed-Ali said. “There are a lot of financial, fundraising, and administrative aspects to GoodWeave, and those are what I work on. Interning there has allowed me to understand how nonprofits, particularly those with international objectives, work internally, as well as to see the financial elements involved, and how it all works within the DC framework.”

One of 21 students participating in Active Citizenship Summer: Washington DC (ACS) program this year, Syed-Ali said that it’s been extremely valuable to connect with Tufts alumni while working in the capitol.

“I have two alumni mentors, which is fantastic, and have been able to attend quite a few alumni panels and events,” said Syed-Ali, who has been participating in the CASE (Connecting Alumni and Student Experience) Network has part of her ACS commitment. “Being connected to alumni allows me to ask questions, even the basic questions I normally would feel uncomfortable asking about fields I’m only beginning to learn about and explore. All of the alumni are incredibly helpful, and willing to connect me to people who can answer my questions.”

Syed-Ali also had the opportunity to work with Jennifer Dann-Fenwick, A12. Dann-Fenwick worked at GoodWeave as an ACS fellow last summer, and now works there full time.

Syed-Ali added that her Tufts experience, both in and out of the classroom, has prepared her for success at GoodWeave this summer.

“Classroom knowledge has aided me in a very general sense, for example I understand how marketplace objectives and incentives generally work,” Syed-Ali said. “But the life skills I learned both in the classroom and in my leadership roles, such as Community Service Co-Chair for the Asian American Alliance, have proved especially valuable. The ability to be flexible, make deadlines, pick up on things quickly, and be willing to figure things out while communicating my roadblocks, have been some of the most important skills I brought from my Tufts experience so far.”

At GoodWeave, Syed-Ali has taken on a range of projects, including processing invoices, partner outreach, and helping to organize GoodWeave’s annual fundraising raffle.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but I love seeing what I do, even as an intern, have a direct effect on GoodWeave’s goals,” Syed-Ali said. “When I work on financial elements and help sort out fees which then directly benefit GoodWeave’s programs and provide educational opportunities to at risk child weavers, it feels wonderful to see my theoretical knowledge actually benefit children’s lives.”