One of the many things I confirmed upon completing my first week interning at the Anti-Defamation (ADL) League was that you can learn a tremendous amount in just one week. Although I knew that I would leave this internship feeling more inspired, educated, and passionate, I hadn’t anticipated feeling all of those emotions so early on. In this blog post, I’ll share glimpses into the short, yet prolific, time I’ve spent interning at the ADL. Before I dive into what I’ve been doing at the ADL, allow me to paint a picture:
I walk into the South Florida ADL office bright and early on a Monday morning. I’m immediately taken by the aroma of altruism in the air. I can already sense that there are intelligent, passionate, and kind people in this office. The Anti-Defamation League, one of America’s leading civil rights organization, works vigorously to combat anti-Semitism, racism, and all forms of bigotry. Given their strong efforts to promote understanding and diversity, it makes perfect sense that driven and dedicated people are steering the ship.
The morning was devoted to orienting me on the computer systems, teaching me the best way to delicately handle phone calls with victims, and introducing me to the ADL staff (my intuition was right: they are all intelligent, passionate, and kind individuals). The majority of my first day was comprised of following up on incident reports, which means that I communicate with victims or witnesses of discrimination, who have filed or wish to file reports. Initially, it was incredibly disheartening to hear about the terrible incidents that occur on a daily basis (not to mention, in my hometown of South Florida). However, I’ve chosen to use this discouragement as fuel, empowering me to take the lessons I’m learning at the ADL and bring them back to Brandeis.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed attending and participating in ADL staff meetings, where I get the latest scoop on how the organization is working towards attaining social justice. It has been truly inspiring to witness important decisions being made, and new ideas being shared, and to be in the presence of such idealistic people. I also went on an out-of-the-office field trip to assist with a presentation highlighting anti-Semitism on college campuses. As a college student and a Jew, it was disconcerting to learn how often these incidents occur. However, I’m committed to converting these uneasy feelings into ammunition, and choosing to peacefully fight against all forms of bigotry.
A part of the WOW application asks participants to identify the goals we have for our internships. One of the three goals that I listed was “to challenge myself to stretch far beyond my comfort zone and prove that I am indeed capable of successfully handling matters of great importance.” Although it’s only been a week since I began interning at the ADL, I really believe that I’m on the right track toward achieving the goals I’ve set for myself. I’ve already learned that it takes motivated people to make a true, lasting difference. I’ve learned that, unfortunately, bullying and discrimination are still very much present. I’ve also learned that we still have a long road ahead of us in regard to social justice, but that we can make tremendous strides when more individuals step up and take action.
I want to sincerely thank Brandeis University and the incredibly generous donors who have made this experience possible. I promise to ensure that your generosity – both in time and in funds – is worth every second and every penny.