Over the summer, I volunteered at the Hoboken Senior Center. For an hour a day (for the days I was available), I worked to prepare meals, set up dining rooms, clean closets, and get a chance to talk to some of the seniors who go to the center often. Although I didn’t get to volunteer for as long as I would have hoped to, I was able to talk to the seniors and form good bonds with my co-workers and even the seniors themselves. Cosmo was one of the directors of the center, and I talked to him the most out of anyone. He came to Hoboken from Italy when he was seven years old, is a die-hard Juventus fan, and an all-around great guy. When I finished my summer service on September 4th, he organized a ‘going away’ ceremony for me (with the seniors), and they got me a baseball cap and sweatshirt! I was truly stunned at the number of seniors who thanked me for my work over the summer. I had an incredible experience volunteering there, and I promised them I’d be back whenever I had the chance.
This summer, I interned with Human Rights First (HRF), a nonprofit organization that identifies the U.S. governments’ and private companies’ legal and human rights violations. HRF initiates legal action to ensure reform and justice for disenfranchised populations in the U.S., including refugees and undocumented immigrants. Currently, HRF is focused on the eradication of family detention and separation, as well as alleviating the consequences of the refugee crisis. Their activities include improving the quality of life for refugees in the U.S. and abroad through social programs and legal services. I worked in HRF’s Communications Department, conducting research for projects and articles about higher education in refugee camps, social justice and human rights advocacy, and other countries’ legal approaches to incoming refugees. I also assisted with the development of video projects to raise awareness about HRF’s work. It was incredibly rewarding to intern at HRF. Taking action to help such integral causes made me feel like I was part of a greater movement to promote vital change here in the U.S. and abroad. I look forward to continuing my work at Human Rights First in the upcoming year!