Friday, February 15, 2008

London Calling! by Margaret Hartley, BU Senior & Research Assistant, Women's Studies Program

It feels so strange to be back in the United States, hearing American accents, not carrying an umbrella around EVERYWHERE, and taking the T instead of the Tube…. I just returned from spending four months in London. I was studying abroad on a Boston University Internship Program. My experience was not quite as exotic as Kassia’s described below, yet I did get to have a wonderful opportunity to use my communication skills to help non-profits throughout the world.

The first half of my semester was spent taking classes, getting to know the city and travelling throughout Europe. I had quite the whirlwind tour of Western Europe. In mid October, I began working at MySpace UK. Yes THE MySpace, Tom the founder and all. On my first day, I was told that I would be spending my time helping find content for MySpace UK’s new non-profit initiative. I was psyched! In November, Impact would launch, it is designed to enable non-profits, civic organisations and politicians to connect with the online community, in turn enabling the community to learn about the issues and organizations relevant to their lives. The goal is to empower MySpace users to make a difference in the world. I helped create a database of all UK-based charities on MySpace and reached out to organizations not on MySpace to encourage them to create a profile. The plan is to change the theme of the non-profits on a weekly basis. Themes include: Sexual Responsibility, HIV/AIDS awareness, environment, racism, drinking responsibly, homelessness, cancer, hunger issues, and women’s rights.

MySpace is the number one social networking website worldwide Social networking websites have changed the way the internet works. They have the power to change the world, and finally one is doing just that. One of Impact’s first feature partners was UNICEF. Using MySpace helped UNICEF spread the message about HIV/AIDS transmission. Over 12,000 people have joined the Impact profile. It’s amazing to see how many people social networking websites can reach. It is really inspiring to see a multi-billion dollar company, like MySpace, reaching out to make a difference. It felt great to be part of such a worthwhile initiative!

Now that I am back I have had some time to reflect on what a great experience it was being abroad. I think it is imperative that people take the opportunity to learn about what is going on in other countries. For some people it’s having the opportunity to live there, for others it might be reading about places on the internet. We are lucky to have multiple ways to see the world and everyone should!