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Mapping Our Community: Melton Foundation Internship

Cristina Mardones (a Fellow from UFRO campus in Temuco, Chile) recently completed a four-month internship with the Melton Foundation. The primary goal of her internship was to find out what we need to improve as a community and how to go about making the changes. She worked closely with staff members Patricia Ortiz, Lars Dietzel, the Lead Fellows of the different campuses, and 12 external agents of the MF community.

Drawing from her background in community psychology, Cristina approached the internship using the action-participant research methodology and keeping in mind different aspects like empowerment and social network models. To find out what might inhibit the highest performance of the Melton Foundation network, she used the problem-three diagnostic technique, which led her to discover the three main problems faced by the community – all of which were connected to communication, one way or another.

Problem #1. Melton Foundation goals are not explicit at an institutional level and at a personal level.
Solution: Cristina worked together with two members of the Executive Office to make the goals clearer at an institutional level. She also carried out a reflective activity at each campus to give insights into personal goals and paths in the MF.

Problem #2. Divide between regional needs and solutions.
Solution: Cristina mapped regional needs and solutions by creating five problem and solution trees (one per campus). She found that some problems are common to all campuses but some others are very specific to the region/campus. The Lead Fellows, who were the key participants in these activities, then decided to establish a “motor group” to follow-up.

Problem #3. Lack of openness and outreach
Solution: To increase the openness and outreach of the organization, Cristina connected with nine of the twelve agents identified – through the participation of diverse activities, trips and meetings.

My conclusion is that we need to increase interaction within the Melton community. That will allow us to work at various levels: across regions and across MF statuses. We need to revive the ‘Melton family’ concept through revitalizing our bonding, promoting our values, carrying out workshops and activities that are relevant to our specific needs, and maintaining balance between the adaptation to changes and the permanence of values.
– Cristina Mardones