Some info about myself: I am a rising junior at Florida State University, majoring in Editing, Writing and Media and minoring in Communications. I live in Baltimore, Maryland and happened upon Global Peace Youth online last year when searching for summer internships. When I applied, I sought to fulfill a digital communications position for the nonprofit and nothing more. I had no idea what I was getting into.
Early 2016 rolled around and the internship connected. I was interviewed over the phone and landed the job, an unpaid position of course. I’m elated, never concerned about the money. If I learned anything from my English major, never be concerned about the money. Fast forward to summer, and the internship began. I am tasked with everything from Photoshop to Facebook posts to WIX edits. It is made clear from day one that this internship isn’t merely getting coffee for superiors and copying documents. Chairman of IYLA, John Dickson regarded us as a family and firmly stated that we were not to refer to ourselves as “interns.” This is a collective group, working together to ensure IYLAs success.
As the months moved along, the experience broadened. Forums were held at the World Bank and Brookings institute, tastes of what was to come. Congressmen addressed us on North Korea. The Peace Corps discussed their progress worldwide. Affirmations and assurances abounded and the “interns” were there to document it all. It was becoming apparent that in the place of money, we were being rewarded with not just experience, but connections. Other “interns” reached out to various embassies and other nonprofits. As IYLAs partnerships grew, so did our population of delegates to come.
The way IYLA works is straightforward: People from all over the global apply to become a delegate, someone who is interested in the full ten day program. The program includes forums, leadership training, and think tanks spanning three cities (2016 saw Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City). On top of which, delegates engage is a wide variety of activities such as a hike at Great Falls, sightseeing in all three cities, various meals and free time, and opportunities for personal input on the program itself. The internship functioned in a similar fashion. “Interns” were not merely confined to their office tasks, but were taken on excursions to Washington D.C. and Great Falls as well. We applied for Library of Congress cards. We toured the Capital and the Supreme Court. We received special training for various websites, and were alerted to issues outside of our organization.
Working for IYLA allowed for a greater understanding of how our political system works, both physically and metaphorically. There are a lot of policies manifesting into reality, seeping into our daily lives. Benefits are had. Experience is gained. The people and the parties responsible for them both grow and achieve desired goals. But looking back there are a lot of questions, some of which have yet to be answered. How strong is the communication between the higher ups and the people? If we function as a cohesive unit, how are some things still kept from us, and even worse, should we even care? Isn’t identifying as a family in a hierarchical organization kind of oxymoronic?
For us, none of these questions were apparent. The internship was moving along smoothly, and as IYLA was fast approaching toward the end of summer, I was approached with an unexpected offer: to join in on the full ten day program, all expenses paid. I couldn’t refuse. On August 7th, 2016, the ninth annual IYLA came to a head.