Classroom Application

Doing an internship for credit means writing paper where theories and concepts from the classroom are applied to the real world experience. For me, however, I have to get creative. American studies is not about non-profits or rare disease communities. Its about approaching American culture with a frame work that critically examines relationships between institutions and individuals, and between individuals and  of different social groups. Most American studies classes look at socially constructed groups like race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality. Not disease.

So how is this even an American Studies internship?

It’s an American studies internship because I can see the same power relationships between institutions such as insurance companies and PH patients. Having a rare disease comes with more disadvantages than just poor health. Having a chronic, life altering disease like PH, can limit employment options. Patients face being dropped from their insurance, they face challenges getting coverage because of their pre-existing condition, and they face denial of treatments. For unemployed PH patients, getting Social Security Disability benefits is difficult as well.

Aside from it being interesting to see how these social power relationships shape and reshape lives, it’s exciting to be part of a team working to face and overcome these hardships. Every week, I value my internship more and more.