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Lessons from a Calvary Intern

July 10, 2012

by Lizzy Appleby

My name is Lizzy Appleby, and I am Calvary’s Health and Wellness Intern!  For a little background, I’m originally from just north of Chicago, and next year I will be a senior at Elon University in North Carolina. I am a philosophy major, with minors in Women’s and Gender Studies and Human Service Studies. While at school, I co-lead SPARKS, our peer health education group, and work in the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement as the Leadership and Development Intern.

While searching for internships in DC online, I stumbled across the Health and Wellness Internship at Calvary and thought it seemed like a great fit. I’m extremely passionate about health education, and believe that life skills education like Calvary provides is extremely important for everyone to learn. I started at Calvary in early June, so I am now just past the halfway point of my 8-week internship through the Exxon Mobile Community Summer Jobs program. As the Health and Wellness Intern, I work primarily with the Life Skills program, scheduling volunteers, leading classes myself, and preparing the program for the (exciting!) move to the new building. I also work a little bit with the volunteer program, updating documents and assisting where I can.

For this blog post, I thought I’d share with you the most important thing I’ve learned at Calvary for the past month…

Everyone has something to teach: staff, residents, volunteers, other interns, and even me. While this may seem obvious, it’s taken on a new meaning for me since being at Calvary. Since a large part of my work is scheduling Life Skills classes, I’ve been jumping in and teaching classes myself once or twice a week. This can feel odd for several reasons. First, I’m a student and intern, so I’m used to being taught (rather than teaching), and spend a lot of time at Calvary learning from staff how things work. Second, most residents at Calvary are around twice my age and have experienced at least twice as much life as I have. They are mothers and grandmothers, have had many years of work experience, and have often survived significant personal traumas. And I’m supposed to be teaching them? So I’ve come to see my role in Life Skills classes as more like facilitating the collective teaching and learning of everyone in the room.

We all have something to share with others, so my job is to just start the conversation rolling, and make space for the residents to share what they have learned about life and living with each other, and with me. This has been my favorite part of my internship with Calvary, getting the opportunity to learn from the residents themselves because they have so much to share. I look forward to learning more from everyone at Calvary as they continue to teach me.

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