SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center
I had high hopes for my internship at Appleseed Legal Justice Center; I wanted to improve my Spanish, gain marketable skills, witness the political process first hand, and see how organizations function most efficiently. I can undoubtedly say that my time at Appleseed exceeded my expectations.
Appleseed was the prime example of an organization that effected real change in the political arena, but with a lot of behind-the-scenes effort. We sought government intervention when the market did not naturally cater to the needs of the most low-income people in our society, an idea that I first learned in my American Public Policy Class in the Spring of 2010. I often asked the executive director, Sue Berkowitz, how she could stand being so continuously busy, the face of the organization, and the point person for outside blame when anything that concerned the organization did not go as well as desired. Her answer both surprised and impressed me, “What I have to go through is incredibly less than what the low-income people have to face on a daily basis. It’s the absolute least I can do.” Every time I became discouraged about the real effect we were having on state politics, Sue Berkowitz encouraged me to stay grounded and keep my eyes on the goal. “Every positive interaction we are a part of counts, Anna. If you get so bogged up in the big picture, you will lose sight on what you can do on a daily basis to effect real change. It’s a process, but indeed there are shining moments when you witness its worth.” Thus the most rewarding aspect of this internship to me was the feeling I carried with me as I drove away from the office each day at 5:00pm: I was on the good side today
. That was the reward.
As far as my Spanish ambitions were concerned, I was extremely grateful for the opportunities this internship afforded me. I worked very closely with our immigration attorney, and she asked my opinion of specific translations of our publications and respected my level of Spanish proficiency. I went to multiple conferences and meetings with her and other interns, and they all focused on immigrant issues. I gained valuable perspective on the daily struggles experienced by immigrants in our state, those here legally and those here illegally. I appreciated the immense complexity of immigration law – and was constantly amazed when she was able to find detailed loopholes in the law to best help those immigrants in the low-income community. I was given the opportunity to be in the courtroom for DSS cases involving immigrant children, and was able to see the interactions between the Spanish parents and their interpreters.
So was the Appleseed experience exactly what I needed? With a resounding yes, I say that it was. I am better capable to handle the challenges I will face in the next few years. I am better prepared. I am better motivated. And I have the confidence to say that I will succeed.
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