Two major events of my internship are over, and it’s time to thoroughly reflect upon what they have taught me.
(My realization that I’m reaching the end of this internship journey, illustrated by the pathway towards the Chicago Botanical Gardens)
The first skill that I’ve found to be infinitely useful in the world of social justice is adaptability. Situations can change quickly and you have to be able to quickly reassess what needs to be done. While at the Convening, there was one particular instance where I was forced to think on my feet.
The first one: At the Convening I was in charge of recharging the translation equipment and I learned the hard way that some of our charging equipment had broken and most of the batteries had not charged over night. Given the immediacy of the next bilingual panel, I found out how many receivers we actually needed, replaced those with batteries from other working receivers, and assessed which chargers were actually working so that they could be continually replaced.
As technology is continually developing and society is changing, the demand for particular jobs ebbs and flows. Being able to adapt to the circumstances presented before me will help me make an impact in a dynamic workplace.
Another quality that has proved to be important is that of patience.
(A statue of Mother Cabrini at the Cabrini Retreat Center. Her story is one of kindness, patience and persistence.)
I joke often that this manifests most apparently in the commute I take to work. While public transportation is overwhelmingly a net good, I’ve had my fair share of delayed trains and nosy passengers. Music helps.
But in the case of organizing, patience is realizing that most of the issues we are dealing with are systemic and well-rooted. One demonstration isn’t going to always result in change. I may have to call hundreds of people before one agrees to attend an event, or donates towards a certain cause. Those frustrations, however, is what makes the success all that sweeter.
When it comes to myself, I’ve found that beyond exhibiting these two qualities, I found great joy in listening, learning more and adapting my world view from the experiences of those around me. At this national convening, I was honored to make the acquaintance of organizers from New Mexico to Maine and learn their stories and I networked with the IWJ representative from Massachusetts in hopes of continuing my involvement once I return to Brandeis.
Furthermore, I’ve realized how important it is that I continue to hone my communication skills and continually think outside of the box like Kim Bobo did when she formed an organization to bridge the communication gap between labor and religious leaders. Sometimes one just has to take the first step in starting the conversation. That’s why I’m excited about Labor in the Pulpits encouraging religious leaders to talk to their constituents about faith and worker justice. That first conversation can change everything.
In the future, I hope to take these general and infinitely important skills to be a leader in my future workplace that will be attentive to my clients and always striving towards creative and efficient problem-solving.