Published July 19, 2019 by Tom Porter

Accepting, Learning, and Helping

Rising junior Kiany Probherbs describes some of valuable lessons he’s learning over the summer break. The aspiring physician is interning with FACES NY, a community organization that works with some of New York City’s most vulnerable populations. Probherbs, the recipient of a Preston Public Interest Career Award, is one of about a hundred Bowdoin students pursuing funded internships over the break.

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Kiany Probherbs ’21 (seated) with a case officer 

My work with FACES NY entails tutoring clients working on GED programs, distributing food at pantries, connecting with in-house clients, shadowing case managers, doing outreach, and composting.

I chose to work here because I believed it would teach me the necessary qualities for being an effective and approachable physician, all of which it has done. On a daily basis, I am interacting with homeless and chronically homeless people, HIV survivors, people who are at-risk for HIV/HEP C, trauma survivors, the mentally ill, the physically disabled, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Case managers work with clients to make sure their homes are up to living standards, to ensure they attend medical appointments, and to teach them how to be functional people in society. Working here has taught me how to accept people for who they are by understanding that everyone walks a different path in life. It’s also taught me that I am such a small part of this world, so it is not my job to judge or discriminate against anyone. Furthermore, this job has helped me to become more patient and work with people beyond the first bump of adversity. 

To work here requires an understanding of peoples’ circumstances and of one’s own privileges. In the past month or so, I have seen things that I have grown up with in the South Bronx, and some things I hoped to not see, but I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences. FACES NY is extremely committed to serving disadvantaged people in the Harlem and Bronx communities and has helped me find my purpose in life.