As the summer comes to a close, our army of interns is slowly dwindling. At the beginning of the summer, we had so many interns we were sitting two to three to a desk; now, we have desks to spare. The office is quieter now, and it feels like things are moving a little slower, too. But even as my time here comes to an end, I am reminded of all the things we have accomplished as a cohort, and all of the work that still remains to be done.
As a group, we have submitted ten grant proposals, prepared materials for four trainings, hired staff for one new country program, created a new youth program, and developed the concept for an IBJ video game. We have left our mark on IBJ, and just like a well-trained relay team, a new group of interns will take the baton from us and run with it as far as they can go.
At times during the nine weeks I have been at IBJ, it has felt like I wasn't accomplishing anything. Much my summer was spent researching foreign laws and feeling like I knew nothing. I spent a lot of time sitting at my desk flipping back and forth through the Myanmar Code of Criminal Procedure and cross-referencing it to the Evidence Act and then checking it against the Myanmar Constitution, only to realize that I was more confused than when I started. Many times, I lost sight of what I was trying to find, wandering deep into Burmese law without a map.
But that's the thing about working at an NGO. As interns, we were all placed on projects that were well beyond our skill sets. We were thrown into the mix and entrusted with the responsibility and autonomy to figure it out for ourselves. And we did just that. We rose to the occasion and we came out at the end of the summer smarter, more resourceful, and more independent.
We rose to the occasion because the work we did this summer was important—because people were relying on us to do our best and to figure it out. We may not have always known what we were doing, but we were scrappy and we learned and we completed our projects because the work was worth doing.
My cohort of interns at IBJ this summer comprised law students, high school students, graduate students, and undergraduate students; thespians, graphic artists, neuroscientists, gamers, and dancers; people of American, Swiss, French, Peruvian, Taiwanese, and British descent. We ranged in an age from 17 to 25. Yet all of us accepted the challenges we were assigned, and we did work that will have a lasting impact on IBJ.
As excited as I am to go back home and see all of my friends, I will never forget my beautiful fellow IBJ interns, and I will always be amazed and incredibly proud of the work we managed to accomplish in these short few months.