Each semester, IJPC opens its doors to interns from a variety of universities and colleges in the area to expand our capacity as a small office. Our interns become a vital part of our work for the semester – helping us research, write, build better presentations, develop toolkits, and more. Our summer interns started in late May and we invited them to share some of their story as well as their impressions of the work at IJPC. Welcome to Lauren and Seth this summer!
Although there are many reasons why I love going to school in Cincinnati, one I am most thankful for is the ability to become involved in my community, while also diving deeper into issues impacting our neighborhoods. As a social work student, I am frequently asked, “What do you want to do after graduation?” After recovering from the initial anxiety that the question provokes, I am quickly reminded of the reason I chose to study social work to begin with. I have a deep conviction that we are called to stand by our brothers and sisters until we all are standing side-by-side in a just and fair world. I can attribute nearly everything I know about solidarity to the Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ) at Xavier University. One program the CFJ offers each year is the Summer Service Internship. This program provides 20 students with the opportunity to intern at various non-profits throughout Cincinnati. While previewing the agencies available to intern with, I stumbled across one that was working to educate and advocate in order to challenge unjust systems. A couple interviews and a few months later, I am officially an intern here and so begins my journey with IJPC!
Even though I have only been with IJPC for little while, I’ve been gifted with an opportunity to receive knowledge from mentors with years of wisdom. This past week was home to many revolutionary moments. I don’t know if it was her abundant hope, or her incredible passion for change that made my meeting with Samantha regarding human trafficking and immigration so transformational, but I can say with great confidence that I learned more in that hour than I could have imagined. Immigration and human trafficking are two issues that are easy to avoid if you so choose, but it is important that we educate ourselves and pursue this knowledge because it is only through education that we can effectively proclaim our beliefs.
Human trafficking and immigration both directly influence my life – and everyone else’s too. If you begin to doubt this, think about how many friends you would lose if we got rid of everyone who did not have a family ancestry leading to anywhere other than America. Would you even be here to notice their absence? Just as directly as immigration impacts my life, so does human trafficking. One of my pre-reading tasks was to take a quiz that told me how many people experiencing human trafficking work for me. The results were horrific. Because of my comfortable lifestyle, at least 45 people are falling victim to modern day slavery. I would encourage everyone to take this quiz because in order to begin seeking justice for these individuals, we must first become aware of our role in maintaining the status quo of the system. In today’s society it is crucial that we speak up for what we believe in and demand change. I believe this is what IJPC is working for, and I am honored to be here to witness the process.
I’m excited to be learning about each of the areas we focus on at IJPC. I pursued the opportunity here at IJCP because I wanted to do something new, and gain new perspectives. When I started I had very little knowledge when it comes to topics of peace and non-violence. Already, in the little bit of time that I have spent here, I have already learned so much.
One thing that really stuck out to me is that only 7% of executions are done justly and fairly according to the 2007 study by the American Bar Association. This makes me think of the people and their family who have to interact with this system. Families are losing loved ones to an unjust system and that is very hard for me to come to terms with. Topics like immigration, the death penalty, and human trafficking tend to only be looked at on the macro level. Our society often takes out the people who are actually going through it. We forget about the individuals, their family’s and loved ones. I hope to contribute to lasting change in these areas and advocate for policies that are just and compassionate.