The LitWorld Summer Interns have just completed our first weeks here in New York City. To say we are excited is an understatement! From day one it has been a whirlwind of activity; we are getting to know each other and the staff, learning about what exactly LitWorld does and how they do it, visiting LitWorld programs in Harlem, and we even got to hear Pam Allyn speak at a local conference.
During our time here this summer, we’re really excited to learn about how an international non-profit with such a wide reach functions so efficiently and effectively. We want to focus on incorporating LitWorld’s seven strengths - Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, Courage, and Hope - into our work and everyday lives. While it is crucial to bring these strengths out in kids, we believe it is equally important for adults to focus on cultivating these strengths as well. The staff asked us to reflect on our internship so far, and we were more than happy to share!
What drew you to LitWorld?
Talia: Thinking back on my first week, everyone here has been so welcoming and eager to help. It has certainly become clear how strongly everyone on the team believes in the LitWorld mission and core values.
These values are what initially drew me to LitWorld, and I am excited to continue conceptualizing and promoting literacy as a process that involves not just reading and writing, but also speaking and listening. LitWorld’s commitment to focusing two thirds of their programming on women and girls is very much in line with my own work and values, and I so appreciate this dedication. Additionally, I think LitWorld’s philosophy of partnering with grassroots organizations and bringing out the skills and strengths that are inherent in everyone, everywhere, rather than trying to force or bestow a new way of thinking upon them is so, so wonderful. I believe this method is definitely the best way to go about cultivating literacy both at home and abroad.
What was the highlight of your week?
Gabby: While it’s hard to pinpoint the highlight of my first week, I think one of the most rewarding moments was visiting the Children's Village Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem, one of LitWorld's Story21 programming partners. We were able to join the final celebration and wrap-up of the program, and watch as families came together to hear one final read aloud, receive their iPads, and obtain awards for participating in the program and for being an important part of the LitWorld story. I was asked to photograph the activities and the most memorable moments were those of candid enthusiasm and an overwhelming, reciprocal sense of appreciation between the LitWorld team and the families.
At various points during my first week, the term "serious joy" was slipped intermittently into most (if not all) meetings, articles, presentations and conversations. Being a part of the Story21 community, even just for a few hours, has solidified my understanding of this concept. I can confidently say that LitWorld is successfully serious about bringing joy to every individual who participates and shapes our mission.
What are you most looking forward to this summer?
Ilana: I think one of the things that will make this summer great is that the three of us work very well together, but also have differing interests in terms of what we would like to accomplish and work on during our internships. My main interest is in fundraising and event planning, and I am eager to begin working on these types of projects! I also have a passion for writing, and am looking forward to collaborating on more writing projects (like this blog!).
Additionally, I am excited to work in the synergistic environment of the LitWorld office. Everyone here loves what they do, is passionate about the organization, and really cares about us, our interests, and making sure we have the best summer possible. The atmosphere is super collaborative, which makes for an engaging and fun workplace. Overall, it is incredible to be able to spend my summer working with passionate female leaders in the non-profit sector, and realizing just how great spending my summer with LitWorld will be was definitely the highlight of my week!
Gabriella Rodriguez is a native New Yorker and has just finished her sophomore year at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where she is double majoring in Sociology and Environmental Studies. In her spare time, Gabby is an avid farmer and is also a Peer Advocate of Sexual Respect on her college campus.
Talia Nadel comes to LitWorld from Boulder, Colorado and just finished her sophomore year at Oberlin College, where she is double majoring in History and Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies. She is one of the chairs of Oberlin Students United for Reproductive Freedom, facilitates Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct workshops, and loves comedy in all forms, particularly long-form improvisation.
Ilana Solomon is a Master of Public Administration student with a concentration in Nonprofit Management at Binghamton University. She hails from New Jersey and is excited to combine her passions of reading and service at LitWorld! Ilana is an Assistant Residential Coordinator, a Graduate Assistant for the MPA program, and the Chapter Advisor for the Xi Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, a sorority she helped found on the Binghamton University campus.