From the beginning of my internship, I never expected to have an astronomical impact on the youth I’m working with. In the time I have been with Transition H.O.P.E., my impact has been my ability to be a positive role model, mentor, and overall influence to at least one of the teenagers in the program. I was lucky enough to connect and develop a strong friendship with one of the young girls I worked with. I’m grateful for the fact that this could be the impact I have on the program I worked for because that impact has more value than any of the logistical or administrative work I did for my boss over the last few months.
I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the work I do because this summer was incredibly unpredictable and COVID has been the primary cause of that. Therefore, if I could go back in time and tell myself absolutely anything, it’s that COVID-19 will play a much bigger role in the work I do than I think, and will undoubtedly make my work more difficult. The pandemic will dramatically affect the lives of black and brown folx, especially those who come from low-income backgrounds for years to come; and we are just only seeing the beginning of the consequences of COVID. The most outward disproportionate effect I see in the context of the work I did was my students adjusting to online school. A lot students already struggled in school without the imminent stress of COVID due to their own personal impediments they face on a daily basis. You can tell that these students, and probably millions across the world, will not be able to survive academically in this pandemic, thus perpetuating the cycle in a system that is objectively designed for them to fail. Words can’t express accurately enough how frustrating it is to feel this way as I ended my time in my internship.
Finally, If I could leave one piece of advice for working with system-involved youth it’s this: don’t give up. Something I struggled with a lot during my time in my internship is that I would find myself frustrated with the youth because they wouldn’t want to do certain things that were essential to the function of the program as well as would be incredibly beneficial to their personal wellbeing. Even though there were plenty of times where they probably expected me to give up on them, or be upset with them, I didn’t. I refused to do it. The kids are used to being a part of a school system that has given up on them or a community that has given up on them, and it is so important to be a person in their life that will not give up. If you are not comfortable constantly struggling to achieve your goals or to “get through” to the youth you are working with, then it simply is not for you.