The first thing I learned about this internship is that you must have tough skin. Democracy NC’s work is not designed for a one man/woman team. With that being said, I reflect on how you have to be open minded and adaptive with working with so many diverse groups and teams like the opportunities given this summer. I also learned how to become a better researcher and grassroots organizer. Democracy Summer internship program may assign you to work on one issue, but the system is designed to shape your work around communication, research, and organizing. I believe this is what I like most about this experience; it’s like a hot buffet – I got to taste a little piece of everything.
What surprised me the most about Democracy Summer was the support and unity from the headquarters office and from my direct supervisor. As I reflect on programs in the past where I was just thrown out there in the field and it was up to me whether to sink or stay afloat, I did not have reachable supervisors or anyone else who I could say “please take a look at this and make sure it is grammatically correct, or how does this sound, or how could I re-word this?” Democracy Summer Staff surprised me with their listening ears, hearts, and open minds. It also surprised me how well the older staff members worked with the interns. As a young adult I reflected on how it is always a challenge at times to have such a hug age gap but still get the job done efficiently and effectively and Democracy Summer did just that.
Thinking back of my proudest moment, it would have to be each time I marched; my mind reflected back to all my children with exceptional needs, my bloodline who was beaten and hung to do the same as I do, my elder parents whose social security and retirement is being threatened, Ms. Linda, my college tuition cost, whether I will be turned down to vote because my hair looks so different every week, my one and only 2 year old nephew being able to attend a good school and whether he will face the same challenges, et…the list goes on. Another proudest moment is each time I register a new person to vote.
In moving forward after this experience, I plan on continuing my work with Democracy North Carolina in the central part of the state. I plan on continuing to build on my relationships with elected officials and community leaders since I have learned that this work is never ending. I also plan on expanding my experience and knowledge of this summer program as I worked in our Tier 1 to regions in Tier 2 and Tier 3 counties as well.