I have had the great opportunity to work at Nebraska Appleseed this past semester as an intern for the immigration and racial justice program. As a student at UNL, I had some familiarity with Appleseed and their involvement in the Lincoln community, but as an intern, I came to understand the full extent of Appleseed’s involvement in the state of Nebraska.
What seemed like an especially active legislative session made for an exciting few months here at Appleseed. It was with great pride that I watched the Legislature make thoughtful policy decisions this session. Senators often voted across party lines in the non-partisan unicameral and LB239, the voter ID bill, was defeated. Senators also passed LB599, the prenatal care bill, over the Governor’s veto. It was a great pleasure to work with the passionate people around here as they helped make these events possible. I really enjoyed being so involved in the democratic process, and it was an even greater pleasure to see civil rights defended.
I was also involved in other aspects of Appleseed this semester. I helped bring to Lincoln Luis Argueta and his film abUSed: The Postville Raid, I worked on organizing and formatting voter information for the upcoming elections, and like any good intern, did whatever I was needed for on any specific day. What was most influential for me was understanding the philosophy behind Appleseed and the good work they do here. Some social injustices are obvious; they require advocacy and policy change to rectify. Some injustices are more resistant to this process and are embedded in the very fabric of our society. Appleseed works not only on policy changes, but also on these cultural changes which seem so elusive. The many people here working within many different areas are slowly changing the conversation of our society and slowly building consensus between traditionally marginalized groups in an attempt to make things right. This is a cause worthy of your support, and a process I hope to remain involved with moving into the future.
My desire to learn more about making wrongs right has led me to my next experience, interning for the Haitian Timoun Foundation (HTF) in the country of Haiti. HTF is based out of Georgia and is driven to “create a future of hope, sustainability, and dignity for the children of Haiti.” I am headed down to spend 11 weeks working with this organization alongside the Haitian people. This will be my second time in Haiti; the first time was two years ago after the earthquake. As the President of Compassion International said, “Haiti was the scene of one of the worst disasters ever; then, an earthquake happened.” The issues in Haiti are large, and what I plan to do this summer is learn more about them and to become immersed in Haitian culture. Education and understanding, as those within Appleseed would surely agree, is the first step toward righting social injustices. I am very excited for the education that I am sure to have this summer as I interact with new people in a new place with a new language. Hopefully I will be able to bring back lessons learned about power and resource inequalities and apply them to the next stage of my life. Whatever that will be, I am sure that it will include participation within our democratic process, and I am thankful for the guidance Appleseed and the wonderful people here have provided and will provide me, and many others, in this area.