I hate packing. Not that I’ve started literally at all yet, it’s just mentally exhausting even knowing it’s something I’m going to have to do soon.
Parting is such sweet sorrow. I can already feel myself documenting little “lasts” here and there – trying desperately to check the last few things off of my checklist and constantly reminding myself that “I’ll be back.” The logical and emotional reminders compete for my attention. What thank you gift to get my supervisor? Who haven’t I seen for the last time without a proper goodbye? How many loads of laundry left? How many more happy moments of laughter amongst the Moxies until suddenly I’m back to life at Duke and they’re just a fond memory.
I’m desperately trying to make myself as useful as possible this last week at work – but I can’t help feeling I haven’t done quite enough. How distant the feeling of knowing I could’ve put more effort into a school assignment is from knowing the difficulties of the people I’ve met and worked with at BFDP will continue, for many, long after I’m gone.
A recurring topic throughout the Moxie Project has been comparing ideas of structural change to the symptom-treating “solutions” that are currently in place. At BFDP, structural change is a constant focus. I get to listen and watch lawyers put out little fire after little fire, helping clients who without forewarning are transferred from one shelter to another, who put up with levels of disrespect and distrust from any authority figure they come into contact with, and are expected to be the perfect parent after being forced to live without their children for months or even years. I realize how lucky I’ve been to work at a place so full of collaboration, kindness, and overwhelming amounts of compassion for others.
Even in the midst of doing this exhausting work, I still see lawyers writing legislation that might give more parents a fair shake a second chance. I see social workers planning and attending special events after work and on the weekends that will support and encourage the parents we serve. It’s a place where a very technical training on housing becomes an impassioned rant about how regularly the poor are mistrusted and mistreated by the unfair bureaucracy that runs the city of New York.
Looking back on what I expected out of my summer work, I know I hoped my internship experience would be formative, give me a glimpse into a future I might hope obtain, and help me make connections with people I could relate to.
Cool future? ✓✓✓
Folks I can relate to? …
I don’t know about that one. Some days I feel like I work in an office full of superheroes, and I’m just the stand-aside sidekick they allow to do some of the filing. Other days I’m given projects that make me want to ask: “Do these people know I’m just an undergrad with limited real world job experience? Do they really trust me to do this right? ” But they have trusted me, and they continue to. And from my perspective, if even one of the people at my job has ever appreciated anything I’ve done, if I’ve been useful to them in any way, I can rest easy. And maybe, if I work hard enough and let my experiences here continue to motivate me, one day I’ll be able to do something as great as what they do (both individually and as a unit) every single day.
It’s hard to walk into a place I’ve come to appreciate so much every morning with the knowledge that my hours are very quickly winding down. I’m already missing my life in New York before I’ve even left. But in a way, I’m grateful even for the end. When you’re confronted by the fact that what you see in front of you is a temporary view, you’re able to appreciate it that much more.
As I pack my bags (and boxes, I have 2 much stuff), I’m making sure I pack away little impressions of this place – what it’s like to work among these people in this office and how grateful I’m going to be to have ever been a part of this.