David Engel

The most impactful moment of my internship this summer occurred the very moment it began. I saw how much there was to do and how much material there was to cover. I am very passionate about social justice so the idea of working this hard over the next six weeks was nerve-wracking, but exciting at the same time.

For as long as I can remember, I have been educating myself about political history. I have visited many important museums and landmarks of civil rights and political movements. I have traveled to Atlanta to learn about the civil rights movement and see Martin Luther King’s resting place, house, church, and museum. I have been to Washington D.C. and spent a significant amount of time there learning about our government. And of course, I have been a big fan of the Edward Kennedy Institute, along with other historical sites in Boston. I had thought of myself as fairly well informed of the way political affairs work. However, from my first day at my internship at the Edward Kennedy Institute, I learned about many new topics. I have explored a number of forgotten movements, and their influence on our society. One movement that I find particularly intriguing, the Love Canal movement, saved dozens of lives by convincing the country’s leaders to evacuate a small town in New York that was built on a toxic waste dump. Love Canal also led to the formation of the Superfund, a federal organization that cleans up toxic waste. Other political movements I learned about this summer included environmentalists, disability rights workers, and advocates for the poor.

Reflecting back to the first day of my internship, the workload seemed overwhelming. I realized I would need to grow as a person to meet this challenge. I became aware that I would have to see these six weeks as a real job and not just a “summer camp” program. While the first day was jam-packed with work, I began to slowly organize myself. I made calendars and improved my work ethic. In high school, I have a lot of different projects and due dates to juggle, and because of that I have experience and confidence in my ability to organize and get things done. I like to think I have succeeded in meeting the challenge of the workload and the organizational tasks and have learned a lot about how to rise to the occasion.

When I started with the internship at the Institute, one of the things that excited me immediately was seeing the many different ways I would learn about how to make an impact. There are a lot more ways to advocate for something than just protesting and marching. I started to see that activists also use writing, raising money, appealing to government leaders directly, and other tactics. I had already begun my journey of social justice after the election of 2016, when my classmates and I wrote to the President with suggestions we hoped he would follow. I am looking forward to taking part in the most important way to influence American politics:  voting for the first time this November. I understand that as a member of American society I have an obligation to try to make positive change and I have been happy to learn new additional avenues through which to do this.

Today, I can happily say that my internship was as exciting as I thought it was going to be on the very first day. I bonded with my supervisors and learned about new people, places and events in American history. Most importantly, I developed a strong work ethic and left my mark on the Edward Kennedy Institute. Considering that this summer has been a challenge for a lot of people due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I am very grateful for having this incredible experience.

David Engel
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