Thursday, October 16, 2014

Laughter is Key: My Internship Experience Thus Far

                  It’s hard to believe, but this internship program has officially hit the two month mark. Time is flying by and sometimes I feel like I live in a whirlwind. If you aren’t one of my fellow interns (and especially if you are a Dietetics major interested in the program) let me give you a quick run-down on what life is like as a UMD College Park Dietetic Intern.    

                   The 10 and a half month program allows each intern to experience 14 different rotations revolved around clinical, community, food service, and technology--which is a unique rotation to our program. Rotations vary in length of time.  Interns work full time in these rotations 4 days a week and 1 day a week we meet for class. Class days are what I like to call miscellaneous days; they can consist of many different experiences including but not limited to: technology training, clinical lectures, general lectures, conference meetings, group days with other internship students, and professional speaker presentations. Class days are also a day when we all get to be together as a group, catch up on each other’s rotation experiences, learn, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. Additionally, we are required to complete several projects and homework assignments during each rotation. So it’s a lot—hence my use of the word whirlwind.

                  Whirlwind could be interpreted negatively so let me clarify: I wouldn’t change a single experience that I have had since I started this program. If you want variety, a director who is there for you every step of the way, a program that challenges you and builds character, an opportunity to make hundreds of new connections, and a unique internship emphasis--this program is for you. A quote that I love by American Author Ken Kesey, “You can’t really be strong until you see a funny side to things” has really resonated with me over the years and especially during this internship. Stress, chaos, and hardship are inevitable (in this internship and in life) but if you can smile, laugh, and find humor throughout your day, you will be strong enough to handle anything that comes your way. Live, laugh, love! And don’t stress too much about that Biochemistry test ok? You’ll make it through!!

Here are pictures of some of my experiences so far!! 

My internship partner Chandler and I at a seminar hosted by the National Coalition for Food & Agricultural Research(C-Far) 
Seminar Speaker Sonny Ramaswamy, PhD and Director of the National C-Far

Promoting Healthy Corners, a program aimed at reducing food deserts in Washington DC
Helping RDs and aspiring RDs register at the MD-DHCC conference

Sorry for the bad posture Mom! It was really early and I feel like I can partially blame the wall here!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Working with Weebly: Making a Website Your Own

      Growing up in a world surrounded by technology, the idea of creating my own website and understanding HTML coding never crossed my mind. I simply thought Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were as close as I would come to having any sort of website attributed to my name. Throughout this internship, we (the interns) have the ability to be guided through creating a website based on our own professional experiences with multiple technology tools and techniques. We have been shown multiple tools to add creativity and organization to our website, which will be a great representation of all our hard work throughout the next 10.5 months. 

We began learning more about website creation by using HTML coding and designed a test webpage to see how different codes affect the webpage through font and paragraph structure. Then, we were shown a website creator called Weebly, and this is where the fun began. We had the opportunity to explore the website and check out all of the different features it has to offer. In order to have the most informative professional website there are some essential components to keep in mind.

  • Welcome page
  • Biography page
  • Resume page
  • Work Samples page
  • Pages for all experiences within each rotation
  • Conferences and Events attended page
  • Certificates page
  • Contact page
      More sections and subsections can be added, but there has to be one place to start! Weebly has a ton of great tools to customize your site including many themes, option to add pictures, change fonts, add videos, put in your twitter feed, add links to other sites from the original page, and so much more! With multiple options to customize, not one intern has the same website as another.

The finished product will be a representation of all of the rotations summarized, presentations given, certificates acquired, projects completed, and the overall experiences gained throughout the entire internship. The website is a great way to keep track of all of my skills obtained while being a dietetic intern. I can't wait to see the finished product of my website after I graduate! I will definitely continue to update my website after I get my first job and gain more skills and experience.
Visit my, or any of the intern's, websites for updates on our progress throughout the internship!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Flavors Of Morocco: Beginning, Middle and End!

Ashley and I began at Riderwood for our fist rotation site. Initially we were a bit nervous, knowing we had a “theme meal” to create, which had been talked about in great detail through orientation and conversations with past interns. Walking into Chef Victor’s office on the first day was a bit nerve-racking, not only were we starting our first day of our dietetic internship, but it was also the first day of our rotation. After talking with Chef Victor, we gained great insight about creating, preparing and executing our theme meal. Our first step was to brainstorm an idea for our meal. We looked through previous themes and decided that an ethnic theme was the most popular. We also decided not to reuse ideas from the past.  After many days of brainstorming we finally landed on Morocco, leaving us with our final idea, Flavors of Morocco! Following the creation of our theme, we quickly got to work researching recipes native to Morocco and learning about traditional foods and traditions. 

After finalizing our menu, Ashley and I began working in with the wonderful and friendly kitchen staff to practice using kitchen equipment and also learning new cooking techniques. After a bit of trial and error, Ashley and I made adjustments to our recipes and felt comfortable working with the kitchen appliances needed for our theme meal.

Time flies when you’re having fun; it was already time to promote our theme meal. Ashley and I began creating posters, flyers and handouts to encourage residents to attend our theme meal. We were able to promote the lunch by hanging posters all around the facility, crafting table tents at each dining hall and speaking with residents at dinner. 

Next, it was time to begin prep work for our theme meal! Ashley and I created a preparation schedule, which included times to cut and cook food items and decorate the dining hall. Our theme meal was scheduled on Friday, therefore we spent Tuesday through Friday morning preparing! With the help of the Chefs and cooking staff we were able to finish everything on schedule!

Friday morning flew by and it was time to plate our food for the buffet and greet guests! Sure enough residents were in line, ready to enter and Ashley and I were so excited to see such a great turn out! Throughout the meal we received great feedback and through talking with the residents we could tell the meal was a success! The clock hit 1:30pm and the meal had come to an end. Ashley and I could not have been more thrilled with the turn out of the meal and the amount of support we gathered from the cooking staff and residents!

Thank you to the wonderful cooking staff that helped us create this delicious meal and who gave us support throughout the entire process!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Welcome Class of 2014-2015!

Please welcome our 2014-2015 class of dietetic interns!   From bottom left: Rory Costigan, Megan Smith, Colleen Abbott, Rayna Herskowitz, and Ashley Spence.  From top left: Chandler Ray, Megan Solloway, Anastasia Maczko, Andie Lugg, and Andrea Belloli.  To learn more about our interns, visit the Meet the Current Class section on our website.

Our interns began the program at the end of August and are currently in their 6 week of the internship.  Please join us in welcoming our interns to the University of Maryland.  Please stay tuned to hear about their internship journey as they begin blogging!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Learning on the Farm

By: Christina Kalafsky, UMD Dietetic Intern  

During my rotation with the Wellness and Nutrition Services Division of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in D.C., my internship partner and I were given the opportunity to attend a farm field trip.

As part of the DC Healthy Schools Act, the Farm to School Program assists District schools in providing hands-on nutrition education experiences to their students by connecting them with community organizations and local farms. The farm field trips serve as a way to actively engage students in hands-on learning and draw a connection between plants on the farm and the food on their plates.

For our trip, we went to Common Good City Farm to observe and learn alongside 26 first graders. Located in the heart of D.C., my internship partner and I were a little confused as we walked from the metro to the address we were given. As we passed tall buildings, busy streets, and lots of concrete, we couldn’t imagine that it was possible for a farm to be nearby. But there it was, tucked away within an urban neighborhood.

During the field trip students were able to explore farm plants, investigate for bugs and pollinators, and even taste some of the fresh produce! It was so exciting to hear the kids voice how much they loved healthy foods!

The kids really enjoyed the experience and I was surprised by how much I learned as well!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

All Great Things Must Come to an End

This week has been bittersweet; not only have we had our last class day before we graduate, but it was also the last time we were able to present nutrition classes to FSNE Seniors. Throughout the internship, we have had the opportunity to present different nutrition education topics to seniors who are part of the Food Supplemental Nutrition Education (FSNE) Program in Baltimore. As partnered pairs, we have taught seniors about fruits and vegetables, reading food labels, and making wise beverage choices. This past Monday, my internship partner and I were able to teach the seniors about the importance of breakfast.

Starting our class with a few stretches and chair exercises, we quickly jumped into asking the seniors about their normal breakfast routines (what foods they typically eat for breakfast, some reasons why they might skip breakfast and some of the “consequences” of missing breakfast, etc…). We taught the seniors about Breakfast Trio’s in which we encouraged them to have a breakfast that incorporates at least 3 food groups. Not only did we give examples of good breakfast trios, but we also included simple and healthy breakfast ideas that were quick and easy to make if you are on the go. Next, we had the seniors participate in an activity in which they were given a variety of “healthy breakfast items” and “unhealthy breakfast items” and were asked to create 2 healthy plates and 2 unhealthy plates.  The seniors did an excellent job sharing their plates and remained very engaged throughout the activity.

After the activity, we offered a fresh fruit, granola and yogurt parfait for them to try. There was one senior that was opposed to trying yogurt because she didn’t like the taste, but after some light encouragement, she was raving about the snack. She was very grateful she tried the snack and gave yogurt a second try. She wanted me to know that she would be buying vanilla yogurt with fresh blueberries and granola to make a new breakfast option for herself and grandson; that was a memorable moment for me.

These classes have allowed us to get close with the seniors and practice our presentation skills in front of an older population. I will miss visiting the seniors, their enthusiasm and seeing their smiling faces. I am happy to have had to opportunity to present to them and was honored that they looked forward to seeing us and learning from us!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Armenian Summer: My prideful experience in producing a theme meal

Just like our Dolma and Zereshk Polo ba Morgh, my partner, Vehik, and I are fresh off our theme meal. Although we personally weren't baked, sauted or fried, we definitely felt the stressful  heat of the kitchen.
Our theme meal took place at a retirement community in Silver Spring, MD and was titled Armenian Summer. With Vehik's Armenian heritage plus the Riderwood residents' interest in travel and culture, we came to find Armenian Summer to be the perfect theme meal.

When the planning process began we were given a few parameters by the executive chef. We needed to have beef, chicken, fish, and vegetarian options, accompanied by one non-starchy green vegetable and one non-starchy non-green vegetable. We also needed  a salad, a soup, two different starch options, and at least one dessert. In addition, we were instructed by the restaurant manager to provide at least one no-sugar-added dessert, to accommodate the residents' needs. This list seemed daunting, but once Vehik began reminiscing about her favorite meals that she, her mother, and her grandmother prepared in Armenia and Iran, we created a menu in no time.

It was very important to us to maintain an authentic Armenian menu. This posed some difficulty when presenting our potential menu to the executive chef and restaurant manager; they worried whether the residents would eat the food or not due to its unfamiliarity. However, after some convincing and defending of our options and Armenian food culture, we were able to keep our menu. We used the "Authenticity" of the meal as our main marketing leg, and described each menu option with enthusiasm and wonder. Speaking with the residents about the meal and teaching them about Armenia, while learning their interests, life experiences, travels, and meal choices, was one of our favorite processes of creating a successful theme meal.

This is one of our Table Tents, which was placed on each dining table to advertise our meal. 

To be sure the theme meal would run smoothly we created a production sheet. The production sheet was a wonderful map, guiding us from Tuesday through Friday, without which we would have been terribly lost and unorganized. On Friday, the day of the meal, we arrived bright and early to begin chopping, mixing, and sautéing. All our efforts throughout the previous four weeks, such as creating  a detailed grocery list, pre-measuring ingredients, and befriending the kitchen staff, lead us to a successful theme meal that we were extremely happy and honored to present.

Although it was a long process, the four weeks of planning flew by, and the seven hours of the theme meal day felt like seven seconds. We were fortunate to have learned the depths of the planning process for just one meal and to have gained the experience of contributing to a fast-paced, successful kitchen. Best  of all, we experienced the joy and pride of commitment and dedication; to each other as partners, to the residents, and to the meal.

                     Annie Gallagher (me)             and            Vehik Nazaryan at the front of the serving bar.