The time I have spent as the Whitman College Buddy Program intern has given me the opportunity to reflect upon my unique position as a link between the Whitman community and the local adult community of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Having the chance to serve as this important link has inspired significant personal growth on my part and (I hope) the part of our student volunteers and community participants. Additionally, it has helped foster a wonderful, mutually-beneficial relationship between Whitman and the local community from which I believe all can learn and benefit.
In reflecting upon my experiences thus far, I can see that I have moved beyond merely facilitating events. I now take a more critical approach to the work I do, and find myself actively questioning how the events I organize are strengthening friendships between buddy pairs, meeting the changing needs of the community, and positively impacting our participants. This thoughtful process has allowed me to form strong relationships with our participants, which has been critical for my role as a program intern. I am excited to continue refining this active approach to leading and event-planning over the remaining months I have as the Buddy Program intern, as I know that it will make me a more-effective leader and member of the Whitman community service staff (who, might I add, have been awesome to work with).
Back in December, I commented that we have so much to learn from working and interacting with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, especially with regards to their outlooks on life. I would like to extend this to also include working and interacting with their families. The level of unconditional love, support, and compassion that many of our community families demonstrate at all of our events is absolutely astounding, and I have learned to appreciate this positivity and incorporate it beyond my work with the Buddy Program. I hope that all participants, Whitman and community buddies alike, also find themselves learning and benefiting from their energetic, positive presence.
In taking the time to look back on my time as the Buddy Program intern, I can see that I have grown significantly from my experience. I am excited to continue capitalizing on all that I have learned thus far and to incorporate it into the four events we have remaining this semester!