Internship Nurtures Citizens of the World

Faculty Spotlight on Albers’ Meena Rishi, director of IDIP

Written by Tina Potterf
Photography by Sofia Jaramillo
January 23, 2015
With Seattle University’s International Development Internship Program or IDIP for short, students get hands-on experience working for NGOs set up in Asia, Africa, Central America and Latin America, among other regions in the world.

Participants of this 20 credit, three-quarter undergraduate program—comprised mostly of juniors and seniors—also cultivate leadership skills through interaction and engagement with NGO leads.

Overseeing SU’s IDIP program is director Meena Rishi, a professor of economics at Albers and coordinator of undergraduate research. Rishi is the successor to longtime IDIP director Janet Quillian, who retired from the university last year.

During Quillian’s time, Rishi was a frequent guest lecturer for IDIP and well aware of the value of the program

IDIP is a unique and transformative program offered by the university that “instills a life-long commitment to global development among its participants,” explains Rishi. “Students experience a profound transformation in their world view as they work with local NGOs. 

As the new director Rishi plans to add additional NGOs and countries to the mix. “We want to expand our footprint in Asia,” says Rishi, who this past summer spent time meeting with potential NGO candidates in Guatemala and in India.

“I visualize IDIP as a bridge that can ‘operationalize’ the topic of international economic development for our students by leveraging input from international organizations, domestic and international NGOs, SU faculty and community participants.”

The program is the only one of its kind in the country as it’s an internship abroad rather than a traditional study abroad, says Rishi, who joined the Albers faculty in fall 2004. It requires is a yearlong commitment that starts in the fall with a rigorous lecture-driven course to prepare students for working with an NGO, which they do during winter quarter. When they return to Seattle U spring quarter, the focus is on students’ international internship experience. Seminar topics consist of re-entry issues, telling one's story, NGO project presentations and social justice advocacy.

IDIP has been housed in Albers for the past few years and Rishi says the fit with the business school is a natural one considering economics and economic development has long been a strong piece of the program. Alumni of the program have published papers on their work and others have taken roles with organizations in developing countries.

“Our students are not just thinking about a just and humane world,” says Rishi. “They are thinking about being an active participant in the operation of a just and humane world.”
Meena Rishi Longtime Albers professor Meena Rishi also leads IDIP, a popular global internship offering.