Hello! I’m Sofia, an incoming second year at Whitman, that interned with Commitment to Community (C2C) this summer. Commitment to Community/C2C is a small organization in town that works with specific neighborhoods in the Walla Walla Community that are considered to be more low resource, and therefore more disengaged from the larger community. They do many empowerment initiatives in the neighborhoods. As part of one such initiative, I worked directly with Neighbors (what the C2C calls the people in the neighborhoods) to build their mobile technology knowledge and skills. The Neighbors will not be pictured in this blog as a concern for their privacy, but I can tell you that, though they are normal people like you and me, every one of them is incredibly hardworking and persevering.
Many people are unaware that there still exists a big need today to learn how to use smartphone technology, anything from email and the cloud, down to the basics of texting. By giving one-on-one, personalized classes to the Neighbors, I did not solely enable them to communicate better among their friends and family, and with the C2C. Neighbors learning how to utilize the most useful tool there is available to the common man (the smartphone) meant they could become empowered, and push themselves forward. So, in my internship, my main role was not that of a teacher, but of a mere dandelion flower keeper who gave the softest of blows and triggered the dandelion seeds to take off into the air, spread widely, and create growth where they landed. Progress seemed often slow, and I was on-call most of the time since my students led very busy lives with very different, but all grueling work schedules, but it was rewarding to observe confidence seep into their eyes. By tackling the task of utilizing smart technology, many of them also worked to take a hold on the tasks of dominating the English language, or reclaiming their time in different ways. A few faced bigger challenges, like illiteracy, but they persevered and, together, we found ways to acquire working utilization of mobile technology all the same. In fact, I would even say they gained more knowledge than the rest, as they had to learn to make use of text-to-speech, and similar, technology.
This project has taught me a lot of things. Through small successes, it has taught me to be humble, and to learn from those who have much adversity in their lives and still persevere and toil to overcome it. Most of all, in the failures, in the times that the program seemed to be running extremely slow, it taught me to be patient, and to not give up easily. I learned that simply, like in a lot of things in life, we must find a way to make it succeed like envisioned. That could mean realizing that the program timing is off. Some say timing is everything, and that does not mean that we lost our chance, but that we will have to catch a better time in the future to push on. I know that the potential still exists for the whole, revolutionary change throughout the whole neighborhoods to occur. I know it because I have talked to people personally, and have seen the insecurity in their eyes, but also a desire to try that has not left. As long as people are still wanting to try, I know it will be worth it for the C2C to fight with them, when the right time comes where they do not have the pressure of working the longest hours out of the year and taking care of their families at the same time. Summer is fun and games for some, but the time of both toil and strength for others.
Experiences like Sofia’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff.