Hello! My name is Jillian, and I am a going into my junior year at John Carroll University—a small liberal arts school in Cleveland, Ohio. There I am pursuing a degree in Management and Human Resources as well as a minor in Spanish. John Carroll is a member school of the “Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty” (SHECP), which is an internship program focused on learning about and confronting poverty through work and civic engagement. There are 25 college and university member schools and over 100 interns currently in this program, working at agencies all over the country. SHECP and Blue Ridge Literacy are allowing me to expand my foundational base of understanding poverty that was set by my high school and cultivated throughout my first two year of college. I am so fortunate to get to intern full-time at BRL for eight weeks this summer.
After only three days on the job, I already feel a part of this organization and I have learned so much. When I walk in every morning, I am greeted with smiles and shy “hellos.” While observing classes, the women will look back with a warm expression, checking up on the other interns and me. And while working at my desk, I am offered the opportunity to design my own experience, getting to choose the elements I want to focus on. During class, I have learned about the culture of the women in the class, I have begun to learn how to teach ESOL classes, and I have even learned a few words in Dari-the native language of most of the women. The teachers’ passion and patience gives the learners the confidence needed to improve their skills every day. My supervisor, Sara, has been very supportive in preparing me for my first 1:1 tutoring session, teaching me the software BRL uses, and offering me the opportunity to share my experience. I feel so lucky to have been placed here, at BRL, and I am so impressed by how much Sara, the teachers, and the learners have already taught me. I am looking forward to all that I will learn in the next seven weeks!