Tea anyone? This is what most people think about when it comes to interning. Yet, here I am at JRS UK learning that is not the case. ‘A tea for you and coffee for me’ is simply one of many unique qualities about JRS. The loving, welcoming, and uplifting energy this organisation gives is something I have not experienced before. From Boston originally, I feel excited and grateful for this study-abroad opportunity and experience.
Having previously interned at a humanitarian non-profit refugee organisation in Israel for six active months, I can honestly say I never had the opportunity to carefully explore, learn, and develop a collaborative working experience with refugees. Nor did I think I would be brave enough to call a community choir for JRS’ summer party on the very first day I arrived in London. I thought to myself: “this place, this community really stimulates me, and I am motivated and driven to make social change.” The team, volunteers and refugees of whom JRS serves are helping me to come out of my shell, embrace other cultures and fully utilise this unique and rare opportunity to support those in need. My interaction with others has shown me the true meaning of social justice, hospitality, compassion, and community advocacy. I am more driven now to demonstrate the importance of why we must treat everyone with respect and dignity. It is not only our ethical responsibility but also our civic duty to properly support refugees and asylum seekers.
I will share some examples of my learning experience with JRS UK:
The Community Kitchen allowed me to apply my own skills and knowledge in supporting efforts to empower refugees. The Community Kitchen has helped me to come out of my comfort zone and learn more about our refugee friends, their cultures and foods. It has provided me with an insight into what it is like to be in a community that cherishes working and being together.
Another example of learning came from working in the Communications and Fundraising Office. Here, I learned how to multi-task; juggling different projects such as mailing out reports, whilst supporting staff with day-to-day desk work. I particularly enjoyed researching the background ethics of various organisations and supply chains to ensure that JRS keeps people at the centre of their mission – be it through direct services to refugees or in the t-shirts printed to show our support for JRS’ work. Working alongside this team contributed to my positive learning experience, and really helped me to broaden my outlook on how to spread awareness about the plight of refugees in the UK.
Overall, this internship has widened my perspective and demonstrated that we can all learn something from each other regardless of our backgrounds and the obstacles that we face.
In JRS is an opportunity to explore different viewpoints and how to relate to those in need, and reflection is a practice that is emphasised, especially during the Day Centre. The first time I attended a reflection session was at a Day Centre Volunteers meeting. This was amazing and uplifting even for me, as someone who has travelled across the world to work with Sudanese refugees. Due to these experiences, at the time I was unsure as to what was meant by Joy in this context. However, the JRS team explained the reasoning behind joy, how it motivates them and reflects in the work that they do. It was great!
In JRS, I’ve been able to find an organisation where I can be more open-minded and actively listen to what other people are looking for in themselves – knowing that there is always room for improvement and overall growth.
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