Four words to sum up this summer: Intimidating. Eye-opening. Educational. Impactful.
On my third day in Washington, DC and first day at the American Red Cross (ARC) National Headquarters (NHQ), I walked into the Hall of Service, which was filled with incredibly qualified individuals from around the world. These individuals represented organizations that included the United Nations, UNICEF, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross societies and many universities. I ate lunch with a Norwegian professor, a Red Crosser from the Netherlands, and two staff members from World Vision. We talked about their experiences all over the world in different humanitarian missions and shared ways in which we could improve services for the future. This information will help me as I enter the humanitarian field after graduation and has already provided me with ideas as to what direction I would like to take with my life, but this event marked just the beginning of my incredible growth as an ARC NHQ intern.
Following this conference was the Youth Leadership Summit for the top 5 IHL Action Campaigns throughout the nation.
Last year, I was able to attend the Summit as the Team Leader for Segerstrom High School, and it was an awesome experience. This year, I not only served as Program Coordinator for four IHL Action Campaign teams (including the winning North High School team) in the Los Angeles Region, but I also helped plan for the Summit as an intern here at NHQ. Seeing the Summit as a planner rather than attendee helped me understand the sheer organization, cost, and effort it takes to pull it off successfully. It gave me a newfound respect and appreciation for all of the behind-the-scenes work that NHQ staff does.
After I bid farewell to the Youth Leadership Summit participants, including my volunteers from Los Angeles, I delved into the work that I have been doing all summer. Most of my internship revolves around developing resources for the IHL Action Campaign teams to use next year, particularly concerning next year’s subtopics: torture and health care in danger. I was given access to tools like Guidebook, Piktochart, and WordPress, with which I was able to make educational and informational infographics about torture and health care in danger; create trivia games about the two subjects based on the San Gabriel / Pomona Valley IHL Action Campaign; think of fundraising ideas; contribute blog posts about my intern experience and about the two subtopics; and find links to articles and videos about torture and health care in danger that teams can use for their research. These tasks provided me with an opportunity to be extremely creative, and the lack of micromanagement allowed me to run with any ideas that I had.
I have had a positive experience with the internship program here. If you are the type of person that is comfortable without constant direct supervision, is comfortable with trying new things, and who enjoys jumping head-first into activities, then an internship at National Headquarters might be the perfect fit for you. I have learned that coming with an open mind, as many ideas as possible, a desire to enact change, and a passion for the Red Cross will help you get the most out of what can be an incredible experience.
— Hetal Shah, IHL Public Education Intern