I have long been interested in working in politics and government. My interest grew as I have gotten older and paid more attention to current events. My interest solidified when I took a history course this past year, and learned more about how much of an impact governmental work can make. I have also grown up with a dad who works in a union and always heard about the work he did, like bargaining for a better contract and fighting for a childcare center where he works. Hearing and seeing how he was able to do work that involved the government was very interesting to me, especially because he is able to get a lot of opportunities through that. When I found out that my internship was at JALSA, the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, I was really excited because I knew that would be a way for me to pursue my interests.
Over the past few weeks at Teen JUST-US, my interest in politics and government has become more focused in the direction of social justice. In particular, my time at JALSA prompted me to think about work that I could do that would positively affect others. For instance, participating in the Common Start Lobby Day gave me an opportunity to go to the State House to promote Bill H.4795, a proposed law that would help transform the childcare system in Massachusetts. This bill would make childcare more affordable, provide raises for early educator staff, and increase stability for childcare providers. Even before my experience with the Teen JUST-US program, I knew that I was privileged and that I could use my privilege to help others. But reading people’s difficult stories over these past few weeks has deepened my understanding of how I can use my privilege to do work that would benefit the greater good, such as helping parents who don’t have the money to afford childcare and helping childcare staff who are overworked and underpaid, leading to a shortage of childcare providers.
While I do think that many people who work in government are focused on helping themselves, my experience at the State House gave me a view of what it looks like to do government work that is selfless. For example, when I spoke with representatives and their staff about the childcare bill, I could tell how much they genuinely supported and cared about it, not because of how it would help them personally, but because of how it would help the important work of providing proper childcare and helping childcare workers be paid the money that they deserve.
This example of an experience I had illustrates how my work and what I learned at JALSA has helped me realize that social justice can be the bridge between my interest in helping others and doing work in politics and government. I am very grateful for this experience and I know that I will be able to use what I gained from this experience going forward.