Wednesday, September 16, 2015

[It's the Interns] People can change, people can still make change, and political apathy can be broken

It is always hard to say good bye!
Advancing Justice-Atlanta Summer Internship has come to a close. "it's the Interns" series continue with our interns who worked behind and in front of the scene to Build Power for Good in the South and their thoughts on the Internship.

By Esther Lim

·    What was your most memorable moment from the internship?

There wasn’t a single moment that stood out so much as there was a handful that made me more hopeful that positive change could and would eventually occur. My line of study can be disheartening when looking toward the future, so I most valued the moments in which I was given reason to believe that people can change, people can still make change, and political apathy can be broken. 

·    What was an eye-opening, unexpected experience, challenges, or knowledge gained from the internship?

I’m a part of a generation of voters and political activists who have lost faith in the legitimate power of presidential elections and of other ‘democratic’ processes, so recognizing that my vote has such weight in non-presidential elections was empowering to say in the least. In addition, I had always believed that to affect change, I’d have to climb my way into the upper echelons of American politics, but working here over the summer, I realized positive change could occur much more easily than I’d assumed. It’s simply a matter of getting people to care, to participate, to vote, and ultimately, to understand how much power they actually have.

·    Why do you believe it is important to be involved in Civic Engagement?

I think it’s important for a whole host of reasons that vary depending on who you are and what goals you’re trying to achieve. For me personally, civic engagement was and is most important because it dissolves what I describe as my activists’ paralysis - the paralyzing fear or premature exhaustion that sets in when thinking about what needs to be done or changed. It allows me to recognize that, though we may not be bringing about immigration law reform or stomping out systemic racism as immediately as I would like, my community and I are taking necessary steps toward these end goals. 

·    How do you hope to incorporate what you have learned this summer as you go forward?

I hope to use what I’ve learned this summer to beat off the negativity and sense of political nihilism that can sink in when circumstances seem bleak.

·    What advice do you have for the future interns?

If you intend to go into this field, use this internship as an opportunity to learn how you interact and deal with the work you’re doing, the people you work with, and the spaces you’re in. Working toward human equality can be emotionally and mentally tasking, so it’s good to figure out asap how you can cope.

·    What unique skill set did you developed from the internship?

The internship definitely helped me refine my graphic design skills as well as my legislative research & write up skills. Aside from that, however, I learned a lot about civic engagement - mainly how to plan and execute effective campaigns, programs, etc.

· What was the best Asian dish you had throughout the internship?

Perhaps not the best, but the most memorable and the most meaningful: Samosas, particularly those from Sri Krishna Vilas. 

·    Why are you proud to work with the immigrant community?

Most simply, because it’s the community my family belongs to and it’s a community I’m proud to be part of. More specifically, because the immigrants I know and work with have fought harder to survive and thrive than most people I’ve known, despite seemingly endless social and legal obstacles. Being part of an immigrant community fueled and informed my passion for social equality and human rights. The better question would be: Why wouldn’t I be proud to work with the immigrant community?

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