Today is my last day at Shatil. I’m not sure I can describe what this internship has done to me, and for me.
I was a sensitive kid. I was the teenager who wore a black armband to school the day my country started bombing Afghanistan even though I couldn’t have exactly told you why; I was the petulant hoodlum who almost failed high school and scraped Shakespeare quotes onto bathroom stall doors; I was already jaded about how social services failed to protect my friends from homelessness and abusive parents. In the insular communities of my first two decades, I never met a single activist but I was allowed to read the news, and the news was bad.
Time passed and the news continued to be bad, but I grew into certain understandings—rules for my life. Try to be outside during sunset, treasure kindness, learn to care for yourself; go in hungry and un-jaded if you can. I’ve learned that the best response to the news is to do the work as best you can, forgive yourself, leave your eyes open and let the rest go.
“Do the work” is something of a mantra, a place to center myself in a tornado of bad news. When I see someone—parent, activist, grantwriter—doing what a person can against the unstoppable tide that is human suffering, I watch with reverence; they are doing the work.
It’s been a hard, confusing summer—full of adventure and sadness and growing pain. But Reader, for the first time in my life, my day-to-day world has been entirely about doing the work.
I’ve done a variety of things this summer, but I’d like to focus on this: now I know how to write project reports and grant proposals. It sounds so boring, right? But in a world with extreme wealth inequality that almost no one approves of, people who are trying to direct their resources where they’ll do the most good actually have an incredibly difficult job. How does a giver tell if this project is doing what they’re told it’s doing? How do they measure impact when a great number of these benefits are intangible? Skilled, ethical, and trustworthy grant-writers are an integral part of making change happen.
And the community of people I’ve been learning from is amazing.
So goodbye, Shatil; thank you for being a place to do the work.
All the best-