My internship at the Red Cross ended a few weeks ago. Although I’m back at Brandeis, I still think about my internship a lot and still keep in contact with the Red Cross. As I reflect on this summer, I feel so grateful and honored to have worked with the Red Cross because it is a premier organization that has the ability to respond to many different crises at the same time. The ability to help out and respond is not something that every organization has the funds or volunteers for, so I feel very privileged that I had the opportunity to work and learn in the Red Cross.
A picture of the note I left the Red Cross before leaving. I also gave everyone a thank you card!
Before starting the internship, one of my main goals was to gain a deeper understanding of social justice issues in Puerto Rico because I felt that I had learned a lot about social justice issues in America, which is very different than my island. I think the direct field work that I did with the Red Cross, like going into low-income communities and installing smoke alarms, really allowed me to dive into some social justice issues in Puerto Rico. However, I understand that there are many more complex issues in Puerto Rico that I didn’t get the chance to tackle and understand. I’m also struggling to bring these learnings back to Brandeis, in other words, how do we continue doing the work we did during our internships? What are ways to still be an activist, while also a student, besides joining a club?
Picture of a volunteer at an outreach event we held at a shopping mall!
I have been thinking about how different or similar my internship experience would have been at an American Red Cross chapter not in Puerto Rico. For example, I felt very close to all the fellow interns and to my supervisors as well as the employees in the organization. We all had lunch together every day and joked between breaks. Since we shared a culture, we could all relate to each other and find humor in similar things. It’s also important to note that the work we did was mostly based in Puerto Rico, and so we were helping our people and that allowed us to get closer. I wonder how this “work community” would have been different in another area with people from a different culture. I’m also thinking about what makes us feel close to other people, especially in a work setting that can be draining at times since we are constantly helping others and responding to disasters. Would I still feel a “work community” if I had worked in the marketing department, for example?
I think the best part about my internship at the Red Cross is that I’m still thinking about it and probably will for a long time because it raised a lot of questions for me (as explained above)! While I still keep in touch with the organization and the friends I made, I want to volunteer there whenever I go back home. As cliche as it sounds, when you are doing important work and you are part of a community, you make a world a better place and you become a better person. This is something that I’ve also incorporated in my work as an activist at Brandeis. Here’s to many more wonderful and social justice focused summers!
- Claudia Roldan ‘18