Emily J Booth
Intern name: Emily J Booth
Major(s)/Minor(s): Psychology major and Music minor
Title/place of internship/fellowship, etc.: Youth Programming intern at the National Conference for Community and Justice St. Louis (NCCJ-STL)
How did you find out about your internship/fellowship/etc.? I was looking for positions in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity work but was struggling to find any that would allow me to save money by living at home until Matt Lindstrom sent me a list of St. Louis non-profits to look over which happened to include NCCJ-STL. When I went to their website and looked it over it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for so I solicited my resume to every email I could find on their website--their board of directors, their program director, their two programming coordinators, and their secretary. A few days later I had an interview set up with their Youth Programming Coordinator!
What were your responsibilities at your internship/fellowship/etc.? I was responsible for reviewing their curriculum materials, suggesting edits to the materials, moving materials to a digital common space and reorganizing them, compiling a virtual facilitation manual, working on a manual for discussions on racism, attending train the trainer sessions and facilitator training programs, and providing support to facilitators within sessions.
What was the most beneficial aspect of your experience? Knowing that the work I was doing was so relevant to the current events of the world was both heartbreaking and empowering. As an organization, the heart of the mission at NCCJ (from my experience) is to foster discussion, create safe spaces, and train people to lead those difficult discussions. I'm leaving this internship feeling like I am better able to be a voice of activism because I have learned ways to approach speaking up for others without feeling as though I am speaking on others behalf. Prior to this experience I had a lot of reservations when it came to being outspoken in public. Difficult discussions with people I knew would be frequent but with strangers or acquaintances I worried that I would come across as sharing words that weren't mine to share.
What was the most surprising thing you experienced or learned during your internship/fellowship/etc.? The most surprising thing I experienced was this unique sense of belonging in my own identity. I have always felt too white to be considered Asian and too Asian to be considered white. NCCJ is the first place where I entered the space and was able to just be. To have my border identity be recognized, welcomed, and given space. The nature of the work they do is so welcoming and nurturing and judgement free that I wish I could explain how to establish that environment everywhere I go. I have also learned a lot of academic history on racism, sexism/gender oppression, ableism, etc. that show the ways in which these discriminatory systems have established themselves within society. It has inspired me to go forward being an agent of change and acceptance of people for who they are in the moments I am with them rather than who I perceive them to be as a whole.
How can you apply what you experienced at your internship/fellowship/etc. in the future? I can take what I have learned to bring forth discussions of identity and combating all of those "isms" that many people ignore or try to ignore from day to day. It needs to be talked about and there is so much to do to break down the walls that have allowed them to continue to exist as the status quo. It will also be beneficial as I pursue a career in psychology!
What advice would you offer to future students interested in this experience? In terms of general advice, I would say take the leap. It's better to be bold than to wonder what would happen or how you could've gotten somewhere. The least you can do is ask and ask with a purpose so that people know why you are going after something. I wouldn't have been part of SLF or a Jackson Fellow without following that advice. In terms of advice for internships I would say to pick what your passionate about so that it is never boring and always fills you with purpose. If you're conflicted about your interests, then pick one and see if it's the one that fits you best. Your best work will come from what you're dedicated to. In relation to working with NCCJ specifically, this is the most welcoming group of people I could have ever asked to work with and the freedom you have to determine what you want to accomplish in social justice work is unmatched.