S(END) Off Part 1

This week we have special series- a  three part reflection of an intern’s experience at the PRC. A new installment will emerge on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

Soon after I started working, I realized that the People’s Resource Center is interruption-driven. It’s nearly impossible to finish one task without being interrupted by another request. 

My first interruption, A., a student, comes into the literacy office requesting help completing a housing application.

It is not easy. I know it won’t be easy, but somehow it’s still harder than I expect.

The application is simple enough, but our interaction feels precarious. There is too much between us — feelings, judgments, preconceptions.

Things like:

I am here to help. But needing help can make people feel big emotions.
I am young. Sometimes people are are dismissive of me.
I am in a position of privilege. I don’t want to flaunt it, but I do want to wield it.
I do not want any client to think I pity them.
I want to be gentle. I want to be kind.

I notice that all of my worries are rooted in myself.

My worries worked themselves between us, and distorted my view of A. I saw him as refugee and English language learner and client. I forgot to see him as human being. 

Here is the truth: A didn’t care that I felt unqualified. He just needed my help and the best I thing I could do for him was give it. Kindness is not as complicated as we sometimes believe.

I took this job because it met the requirement I had for a summer internship—helping people. College has revealed many of the injustices of the world; it has taught me to get angry. I wanted a chance to use that anger, to make it productive.

Sometimes, I have grand ideas about what it means to help people— marches and protests and policy.

But more often than not, helping people looks a lot like sitting down at the computer and submitting the housing application.

Grace M.

Part 2 to follow on Wednesday.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Bill Archer says:

    Beautifully well said.


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