Brielle Bonetti: Empowering Women in India through Internship

Her Campus was lucky enough to be able to talk with Brielle Bonetti, a junior at the University of Michigan, about her summer internship with Ankuri, a NGO in a rural village in Northern India that aims to empower women. 

Her Campus: What led you to pursue this unique internship in a country so far away? 


Brielle: In addition to doing a study abroad the summer after my freshman year in Belgium, I have also traveled many places with family. However, my travels had mostly been limited to Europe. This internship seemed like a good fit for me not only career wise, but also because I had always wanted to go to India. I had taken two Indian culture classes while at Michigan, and one of my best friends is from Delhi. 


Her Campus: What is the main focus of Ankuri and what was your role there this summer? 


Brielle: The mission of Ankuri is to help empower the rural village women living in this region of the Himalayas through giving them financial independence and their own income. The women can earn money through three departments: farming, education, and knitting. I was a media intern at the NGO; in this position, I managed all of the social media accounts, took all of the photos on those accounts, and made three short films to showcase all of the work that Ankuri does. The NGO founder, a woman named Rachna, was amazing and gave me the creative freedom to do whatever I wanted with these three films. 


Her Campus: Tell me a little bit more about these films. What did you choose to film, and why?


Brielle: For the first film, I chose to highlight the education program which was a summer school for the women’s children of the NGO. I was actually asked to be a teacher in the program since they needed an extra hand, and I’m so glad I agreed to take on the job because I absolutely fell in love with all of the kids. Making a film about this program was so easy for me since I was so passionate about the work I had done for it. The second film I made was an interview with one of the managers whom I was fascinated with; she had been with the NGO for approximately twelve years, and we mainly discussed how she got involved in the organization. Lastly, my third film was a music video starring one of the female knitters in the village. She had a very good voice and I wanted her to have an outlet through which to showcase that talent.


Her Campus: It sounds like you did some really great work this summer. What would you say are your main takeaways from this experience?


Brielle: As a film and international studies double major, I was able to really get a sense of the type of work I will be doing in the future through being able to produce international films first hand. I had the experience of interviewing people and editing films in a language I did not understand and was able to work with a translator in the village to conduct the interviews and generate subtitles for the film; this cultural experience in film definitely opened my eyes to the type of work that I will be involved with in my career.


Her Campus: Are you still connected to Ankuri in any way and do you plan on keeping the relationships you formed with the women of the organization?


Brielle: Absolutely. Actually, towards the end of my internship I fostered a relationship between the organization and my sorority here on campus, Zeta Tau Alpha. Ankuri had to cut their main order of knitted items this year due to the fact that there is not much demand for knitted items in India. So, I suggested that my sorority place an order for knitted hats and the women of the village were thrilled. Zeta Tau Alpha ordered 250 hats, and I was able to choose the colors for these hats and film the women as they made them. I hope that there can be a continuation of this connection between Ankuri and Zeta, as they are both organizations that really support female empowerment. 


Her Campus: Do you have any advice for girls looking to find internships in this field?


Brielle: My main piece of advice would be for anyone questioning whether or not to work or study abroad. My answer is: just do it. Even though the idea of traveling so far from home may be terrifying and far beyond your comfort zone, the benefits you will gain from being abroad far outweigh the negatives that you could experience. I miss India and the people I met there so much. I would go back in a second.


If you want to see any of Brielle’s videos, the links can be found here:


For anyone who wants to learn more about the NGO, the link to the Ankuri YouTube channel can be found here:


 Images courtesy of: Brielle Bonetti