I'm back from New York. Here is one last blog post about my time in New York and a summary of the things I learned while living there.
If asked to summarize my experience of living in New York City and working for Hope for New York this summer, I would say this:
Working at Hope for New York equipped me to better understand social justice needs, to see solutions, to communicate clearly, to adhere to schedules and to challenge myself. Living in New York City for two months showed me that I am independent and headstrong, that I enjoy a challenge, and that New York is an extreme environment to be immersed in.
In learning to better understand social justice needs, Hope for New York gave me wonderful resources and space to explore my own justice interests. I was given time to interview affiliate staff, volunteer in nonprofits and spent hours reading about social mercy and justice topics.
My work at Hope for New York definitely included the typical “intern” duties, but also a diverse mixture of other assignments as well. I was given summer-long projects and weekly tasks and allowed to allocate my time as I saw fit. In that way, I feel that I learned how to prioritize effectively.
In addition to the typical communications internship work, I was able to spend time researching and compiling reports on several interesting and worthwhile topics. My fellow intern and I researched millennial trends and ways to target them in nonprofit communications. Spending time researching a generation and demographic that I not only belong to, but also am constantly surrounded by was both eye-opening and valuable in predicting the future impact of my generation. I was asked to spend time researching and reporting on common practices for creating surveys and was included in the brainstorming and preparation of the HFNY Volunteer Survey. It was such a fun project to work on and by the end of my internship, I was asked to prepare a presentation on the data. I learned a lot about my work ethic through that project and was able to demonstrate knowledge about surveys that I had learned in my college coursework.
Along with the presentations that I was able to complete before the end of the summer, I was also given freedom to research and understand two core populations that HFNY serves. I chose vulnerable women and immigrants. Spending time researching each population and their unique needs and struggles was extremely beneficial for me as I grew to better understand the complexity of human rights issues in the world and in our own country today. By allowing me to research and cast a wide net, but also staying close enough to help me hone in on specific needs and a concise written message, my supervisors helped me take all of my new knowledge and write it in a thoughtful and direct way.
By living in New York for two months, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I like to be surrounded by things and people that are familiar to me. Because that is true, living apart from my family and friends for two months in the largest city in the U.S. was a huge personal challenge. I know that by pushing myself to complete it and perform my job well, I have grown as an individual and will be prepared to make that step in a career in a new place smoothly next year.
New York City is a wonderful place. It will amuse and excite anyone who visits. New York is also a dark and needy place. There are deep wounds that exist and that must be addressed. By being exposed to both perceptions of New York, I feel that I came away from living there with a rich perspective on the city. I experienced the light and life of New York as a young person living there for the first time, but I also experienced the heaviness of working with an organization that strives to lift up the poor and marginalized- I saw both sides. I am grateful to have been exposed to both.
New York City is a worthwhile and extreme place and I think my experience served to educate me on the true nature of the city and those that call it home.
I am back in Alabama now and senior year has begun. It will bring applications, interviews, lifestyle changes and general anxiety about making a major step toward adulthood at the end of this year. I believe that working and living in New York for the past two months has made the year ahead look a little more manageable. I am equipped with a new experience to glean wisdom from, new peers and mentors to collaborate with and a fresh perspective on my future and the work I hope to do one day.
I am filled with thankfulness when I consider the past two months in New York. I know that God was weaving together a beautiful picture of His love and provision for my life during my time there. I discovered that my need for the Gospel is just as real in New York as it is back home.
The God who lives in New York is the God who lives in Alabama and the God who lives in me.
I saw Him there and I see Him here.
Now that I am back, I see the full scope of my time in New York City. I will continue to think through the experience over the coming weeks and months. God was so faithful to me in New York and I have confidence that He will be the same here.
God is the constant- the continual presence of same in my life. As I learn and grow, He remains beautifully close and wonderfully steady. I can read and know more about Him, but each revelation only reveals more of what He says is always true:
He is there, He loves me and He will never leave.
I'm thankful for that truth and the blessing to call it mine, in New York or in Alabama.