I spent my summer working at Camp Harbor View as a group leader. CHV is a summer camp on Long Island in the Boston Harbor that offers 900 children from Boston’s at-risk neighborhoods the opportunity to have a true summer camp experience and participate in a four-week summer camp program. My friend Kiyanna and I started a Creative Writing Club, and had two campers sign up. One was Kayla, an 11-year-old girl who had a passion for poetry and self-reflection. She didn’t love everything about being at camp, especially the outdoor activities, but said club time was her favorite hour of the day. We began writing each other letters, and she opened up to me about her family life and how she struggles in school and with making friends. She wrote about the labels society puts on her as a woman of color. On the last day of camp, she wrote me a letter of advice, and at the end it said, “when there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” We hugged and tears streamed down her face. She had recently lost a family member and felt I was the only person she could honestly talk to, and she was thankful for our time together. I realized that working with young children is one way to make a real difference in one’s community. I am proud to say that during my time at CHV, I was able to influence my camper Kayla, and she was able to leave me with advice I will hold close forever.
This summer I worked for the American Heart Association as an advocacy intern in Austin, Texas. At the American Heart Association, we are essentially in the business of putting ourselves out of business. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America and the AHA works to eliminate heart disease as well as provide Americans with the knowledge and tools to live longer, healthier lives. As an advocacy intern, I worked mainly on Smoke-Free Texas, an ordinance that would ban smoking in restaurants and bars. This mandate would drastically improve the lives and health of Texans and ultimately decrease the amount of heart disease within the state. I think one of the most memorable parts of my summer was when I was able to meet some of the volunteers who had been working with us to make Waco Smoke-Free. It was amazing to hear their stories as to why they were fighting for this ordinance with us and how thankful they were for all of the work that we do at the AHA. It made me feel incredible knowing that even though I am just a small part of this organization, my work is meaningful in helping improve the lives of others. As a lobbyist for an organization like the American Heart Association it is your job to create positive change within the government, which ultimately creates positive change within the lives of American citizens. Hearing firsthand how much the work of the American Heart Association advocacy team has helped to improve the lives of so many families instantly showed me that this is something I want to do. I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing group of people and I hope to continue the work of the American Heart Association!
This summer, I worked in the Visual Productions department at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. The National Aquarium is a non-profit public aquarium that provides an opportunity to connect with the life that lives underwater, both in the oceans and the local harbors. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first accepted the position, but not even six hours after I arrived in Baltimore I realized that I was going to have an incredible experience. The night before my first day I received an email that said I would be helping to film sea turtles the Aquarium was rehabilitating the morning of the first day, and soon after that I was told I’d be going on a four day trip to Delaware to help film an educational camp the Aquarium provided to inner-city kids. Later, I helped to take photographs at a turtle surgery–I didn’t even know those happened. This isn’t even including all of the experience I gained with filming equipment and editing software. I had no idea how accommodating and incredibly helpful my mentors would be. My mentors hadn’t met me yet and I was already being offered these mind-blowing opportunities. This internship was invaluable to me, and initially, I wasn’t even going to apply. I didn’t feel like I had enough experience, nor was I completely comfortable living in an unfamiliar city. So, one of the most important things I learned was to just take a risk–maybe you’ll get a turtle surgery out of it.
My name is Eli Brick, I am a geography major in the class of 2017. My internship was with an education nonprofit organization called Bright Start located in Hout Bay, Western Cape, South Africa. As a Bright Start intern, I was primarily responsible for the management of the organization’s community workshop program, daily mentorship activities with the Bright Start students (boys and girls ages 4-13), and the management of various social media platforms. One of the highlights of my experience was the designing and implementation of a community workshop covering parenting topics for parents of children in Hout Bay’s informal settlements, Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu. I was responsible for coordinating workshop facilitators, nailing down a workshop location, and determining workshop topics based on prior feedback from the community members. After having spent several weeks getting to know the children from these two communities who were involved in the Bright Start program, it was amazing to meet some of the parents and see them come out to discuss parenting strategies to enrich both their own experiences and those of their children.
Working at InnerCity Weightlifting (ICW) provided me with something new every day. I was told I was going to work with Boston’s at-risk youth. I quickly realized that was a euphemism for gangsters and felons- many of whom make up a segment of the population that are most likely to shoot someone, or get shot. I learned about the world from which these young men hail, and how different it is.