Maya Puffer

Over the course of this summer, I have been further exposed to so many social justice issues that the world is facing today. Though my internship specifically focused on climate justice, it has been eye opening to discover the interconnections among all of these justice issues.

My internship has been with the Jewish Alliance of Law and Social Action, where I am working with my supervisor, Eri Solomon, and another intern, Josie, to build a facilitator guide for a climate justice curriculum. This internship was definitely a new experience for me. I have been so used to being given a specific set of instructions to perform any school tasks, completing assignments to check off boxes, frequently with no creative liberty. This project, however, was completely different. We were given the resources that had already been created, along with an example, and sent on our way to create the guide. Though different from how I had approached projects in the past, I enjoyed the creative liberty and the deeper dive into how I would need to work in a new kind of environment.

My other primary task was attending a variety of coalition meetings. At these meetings, I would take notes and learn from groups all across Massachusetts about the political movements to combat social justice issues like housing, health care, and police accountability. One specific meeting that stood out to me was with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. GBIO members, many other Massachusetts based organizations, and storytellers who had faced the issues discussed, all met in an effort to convince a select few Massachusetts representatives to support their policies. Climate justice and global warming are both massive issues, but it has also been interesting to discover how interconnected climate issues are with other social justice issues like racism and housing. Especially in this time, issues surrounding racism, police accountability, and housing have skyrocketed in importance. These issues are gaining media attention, and it is becoming increasingly clear how prevalent they are in American society.

One issue I had prior to joining this program, is that I was never quite sure what I could actually do to combat these issues. It can be extremely overwhelming when presented with the enormity of these movements. Focusing weekly on issues ranging from ableism to hunger to homelessness during our JUST-US Boston cohort days, helped to streamline and clarify the amount of information in the media.  It showed me the best methods of service and advocacy and how to draw connections between my own strengths, principles, and these methods of repairing the world.

Another piece of this program was the opportunity to meet the other interns and learn about their differing perspectives. We learned about social justice issues and discussed them in depth with each other, connecting them with events from our own lives. I have met so many amazing people through this program and I am so thankful that, even with the pandemic, this program was able to carry on and give us a purpose this summer. I am so glad I was able to work on my project, and work with Tyler and Amy (our leaders), and fourteen other amazing interns to further understand our impact on this world, and how to use that impact to make it a better one.

Maya Puffer
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