#ICANHELP is excited to announce the addition of Lola Bessis, our new Annual Lead Intern, to the Leadership team!
Lola is currently a junior at Skidmore College, where she is pursuing a double major in English and Sociology, along with a minor in International Affairs. She loves to read and write and is particularly interested in environmental sociology, radical feminism, and ecofeminism.
Lola first discovered #ICANHELP during her search for a spring internship. “I was looking up all the hiring companies on Instagram and ICH particularly stood out to me because of its well-crafted media presence,” she shares. “I then researched it further and was inspired to join the team and help with the mission in any way I could.”
Her love for event planning and organization motivated her to lend her skills to #ICANHELP’s seasonal events team. “I am kind of an organization nerd!” she says. “I love plans, schedules, to-do lists, post-its…In high school, I was lucky enough to have very trusting parents, who let me organize various events at home, and I loved it!” One such event was pre-prom, which was attended by her classmates in addition to their parents and siblings. “After months of planning, color-coded spreadsheets, collecting money, and hiring photographers and limousines and caterers, the event was a hit!”
The advent of the pandemic, unfortunately, made it difficult to hold in-person gatherings, so Lola was excited about the opportunity to help facilitate #ICANHELP’s virtual events. Hosted monthly, #ICANHELP’s Student Voice webinars give students a platform to speak about the projects they’re involved in to advance important causes and create positive change in their communities.
During her time as a seasonal events intern, Lola successfully organized four webinars for #ICANHELP. The experience taught her several key skills, such as team management, problem-solving, and effective communication. “Most importantly, I learned about so many new and inspiring projects from our various Student Panelists, which motivated me to keep working hard and to stay with ICH in order to help enact more change on social media platforms.”
With online threats and negativity on the rise, change is needed on social media more than ever. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 70% uptick in cyberbullying and online hate speech among youth.
“I have personally been harassed, bullied, and discriminated against on social media, but had no access to information or resources on how to deal with such issues,” Lola shares. “I feel strongly about growing [#ICANHELP] because I know teenager-me would have strongly benefitted from such a platform.”
Lola’s passion for building safer online spaces for teenagers, as well as her strong organizational and leadership skills, will be crucial to her new role at #ICANHELP. As Lead Intern, Lola will oversee the annual internship team and volunteer program, as well as the overall delivery of projects, quality control, management reporting, and planning.
“I hope to build a close-knit ‘family’ within my team,” says Lola. “Given that all roles are fulfilled remotely and asynchronously, I want to encourage communication so projects feel personal, connected and moving. I want to inspire our younger interns to promote digital safety and positive use of social media, and I want to grow ICH in order to impact more schools and more students.”
To date, #ICANHELP has reached over 2 million students through its training programs, workshops, curricula, clubs, annual summit, and internship. The ultimate goal is to grow into an internationally recognized nonprofit that trains and empowers students from anywhere in the world to be digital leaders in their communities.
Lola’s multicultural background and experiences make her well-equipped for a leadership role at #ICANHELP, whose interns and volunteers are based in nine different countries. “Being multicultural, growing up in Paris and Dubai, and now studying in the US, has helped me become a very open-minded, accepting, and well-rounded young woman, all skills that will help me communicate effectively with the team and with board members.”
Cyberbullying and online harassment aren’t just national issues—they’re problems that impact children and teens across the globe. However, with students like Lola using their passions and skills to enact positive change on social media, we’re confident that current and future generations of students can truly make a difference in today’s digital world.
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