My internship is over and I have to say, that was quite the experience. Something that I did often as a high school student was volunteering. As a teenager, I had A LOT of free time. Most of my community service involved public service/work with social justice. My volunteering with ACCESS is what got me this internship! I tried my best to stress that with the students that I was mentoring – community service is very important, and not for the short term. There are tons of reasons to do community service: Helping the community, building character, learning from new experiences, and most importantly (in my opinion) is making connections! I spent most of one my weeks in the internship guiding the students through volunteering opportunities, mainly through the TAKE ON HATE campaign, a social justice movement aimed at putting an end to discrimination again Arab Americans and promoting a positive stigma of who Arab Americans really are.
I figured that maybe getting these young teenagers involved in something that big may be a huge first step.. but it definitely was my end goal. At first we started with the community and local parks. Through ACCESS, I put together an event and invited the community (as well as my mentees) to participate in cleaning up parks!
It seemed like my mentees were a bit confused as to why they were doing this, of all things. Following the event, I brought them together and introduced them to my supervisor Rachid, to give them a better hint at everything else they could be doing: Trips to DC with the TAKE ON HATE campaign to protest in Washington; Volunteering at charity/fundraising dinners (and consequently getting free food!); and networking!
Ultimately, I believe my mentees understood the importance of community service and will come to appreciate its benefits.
Bonus: I’ve attached a picture of me throwing out a trash bag during our clean up!