If you know me at all, you know my life has been a crazy hodge podge of experiences and a checker-board of interests and investments. I don’t believe any experience is wasted and you can learn something from every situation, even if it takes a while to figure out a few years in retrospect. Be patient with your life and yourself – you can’t always figure it out the first time.
Anyways, I interned last year for two organizations, both with worthy causes and purposes. My first internship was with iACT in Austin, which is non-profit for aiding refugees in the city become comfortable in their new home. This organization is pretty amazing. I got to meet with some of the founding peeps from it and see behind the scenes of what they do. It is a great group of hard-working, people-loving, men and women and I was proud to be a small part of their team.
They do a lot to help families, and one of the biggest needs is to teach English to people who are fresh from other countries and have little but their family, clothes on their back, and the papers to be admitted into the US – and that’s about it. That would be terrifying to me to have to be in that situation. And iACT does amazing work to work with translators and the systems in place to assist these men and women who start from scratch. In the name of bureaucracy and red-tape, there’s a lot of waiting around, paper work, jargon, and overwhelming stuffs these people have to wade through, trusting that their new English guides will help them, not only that, they bring their kids – lots of them. And those sweet kiddos have to wait, listen, and entertain themselves the best they can during the process. I can’t imagine having to be a child in this situation, when you look to your parents for assurance, but they can give very little than a “Hold on,” and “We have to wait our turn,” and not know themselves when things will come to pass. All that said, these kids need as much hands-on attention as they’re just as new as their parents to our country and need English assistance. And that’s where I came in.
For about nine weeks, I help facilitate English camp and activities educational and fun for kids ages 4-18 every day. The word “tired” doesn’t even scratch the surface of how I felt at the end of my day. It was exhausting, it was draining, it was hard, it was a mad house most days, it was 50 kids with 2 helpers, it was organized chaos, and it’s amazing not a single injury or lost child the whole time. Thank you, Lord. Seriously.
If I can be honest with myself, I can’t sit here and say, “It was the best time of my life.” Or anything so profound or pretty. If I am honest, it sometimes straight up stunk, to put it nicely. Not to mention (though I will) I also was helping facilitate an ESL camp for Russian orphans – ages 5-16 – oh my goodness. I do not think my patience, grace, mercy, compassion, and kindness have ever been stretched this thin. I even had the classic “kids made the teacher cry” moment, when I had rude remarks (in Russian) murmur throughout the room while my back was turned, then total anarchy one day with my oldest teen boy go AWOL and walk out, and me standing like an idiot not sure what to do. It was downright embarrassing and incredibly frustrating – teachers you totally get me, right? Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for my summer to be over. I cried most days after doing this.
I still say I am proud to have worked with iACT and overall, I am proud that I stuck through the ESL camp for my Russian kids – I learned a lot about compassion and with retrospect vision, I can see the good that God allowed for during my time for both. These kids needed a teacher, needed some guidance, needed to be loved on (and not in the cuddly warm way necessarily), and their parents and foster parents needed a break. I am not sure how God did it, but he gave me the strength to get through one of the most trying summers of my life, and I am thankful to have been the tool he used.
I was drained though.
I felt absolutely and completely used up emotionally, physically, and mentally. And there wasn’t a single molecule in me that had an ounce of desire to teach English anymore, especially to children.
It really depressed me. I just spent a whole year believing this was my calling, this was my pursuit, this would be my livelihood and stay. But now that was gone, and now what? I felt empty.
Enter internship #2. The Posh Chapter.
After my internship with iACT, I took a vacation on my first cruise, and I don’t think it could have been better timed for me. All the stress and tears of the summer melted in the Cozumel sun. It was literally the most relaxing trip I had taken – and I mean relaxing – food on demand – water, sun, and sand – drinks – romantic walks on the deck under the moon with nothing but water for miles. It was incredible. If you’ve been on a cruise, you understand. But once I returned, the “Now what?” Came down on me once again. I thought about it and over the years, the one thing that does bite at my ankles for attention is writing. And so, it was finally time to turn and consider my options for a writing career.
After many applications and rejections for various positions as admin assistant or various odd-end jobs, I got an unpaid internship offer to be a blogger for The Posh Bridal Lounge. Unpaid? Wait, hold up. No money?
Yeah…well, ok. So, that was the bitter part about it. But I didn’t care at the time. I just wanted a chance to test my wings in this new area and explore the potential. Unpaid didn’t mean not worth it. And sitting here, I cannot believe the year I have had as part of the Posh Bridal team.
I learned an incredible amount about so many things – weddings, planning, delegating, leadership, web development, analytics for social media, wordpress, SEO – I could go on a while. All the while, I have been able to write and improve my writing. My boss is a rockstar and I owe her so much, you don’t even.
It’s still hard sometimes feeling like I should be teaching, but that part of me is still a bit drained out of my system, but I can feel it rising up slowly. And until then, I have had a year with Posh Bridal, and I continue to learn and refine my skills and abilities. I know that it was a good move and if anything a break from teaching so that maybe one day I can return to the classroom for adults – and maybe one day – kids again.
Because of my position at Posh it’s opened up a whole new world to me that I never knew I had an interest for in marketing – content and social media (and don’t judge me and think that it means just playing on FB, well, sometimes), but for real, there’s so much that goes into it that I love learning. And at the core of my heart I am a student and I love to learn new things. I was that annoying one in college who asked too many questions, by the way – so you can throw paper balls at me.
More than the new skills and fields I have learned, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I am much more confident than I realized, I am lot more capable than I knew, and I can be brave, believe it or not (still working on that, see my previous post). But I would not have learned any of that without both of these internships last year. One was hard, and the other eye-opening. I value both experiences and I am thankful to be where I am. I forget that too often, and then God gently reminds me to spend some time with him and in retrospect, and I think, “Huh, God you know my little student heart gets excited when you remind me of those lessons you taught me.” And now I am just working on the new lessons he’s teaching me now in this time without a full time job.
No matter my experiences, I know they all bring me a little closer to knowing Him more, knowing myself a little better, and how I can use those lessons to love Him and others more.
Thank you iACT and Russian kids for teaching me about compassion and patience. Thank you Posh for teaching me about courage and confidence. Thank you God for being a good teacher.
(I do love kids, I really do, just not the best at teaching them English.)