Learning Through Serving

My summer internship is with a small non-profit called Project Citizenship. The organization is dedicated to helping legal permanent residents learn more about citizenship and guiding them through the process of obtaining it. As I work with them to achieve their goals this summer, I find that I am drawing on the lessons I’ve learned at Boston College, both in and out of classes. On the academic side, I’m exercising my Spanish language skills in a professional, client-focused setting. I am also applying what I learned about immigration history and how it intertwines with the history of racism, classism, and exclusionism to this internship; every interaction with a client hoping to become an American citizen is one point on a larger map of our country’s history with immigrants. How this country interprets its own history changes the way it views those seeking to built a home within our borders. It shows those of us who are willing to look a lot about this nation’s character. What I’ve learned in BC’s classrooms helps me tackle the challenges present in this internship, and helps me place my work within a larger historical trend.

What I’ve learned at Boston College outside of its classrooms also proves incredibly useful in my internship with Project Citizenship. Most specifically, I am constantly reminded of the phrase “men and women for others.” Project Citizenship is focused on helping its clients achieve a goal that is often very personal, especially in this tense political atmosphere. It would be easy to view this internship as simply work to be done from nine to five, but I believe Boston College pushes its students to strive for more than that. By interacting and connecting with clients on a personal level, my internship becomes more than work; it becomes service.

Written by Cristine Oh, BC Class of 2017

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