Samantha Pride interned in Costa Rica through IE3 Global Internships in Summer 2008. She graduated from OSU with a B.A. in Sociology and International Studies in Spring 2009 and since then, she’s been working in Philadelphia through the City Year program.
One of the reasons I chose to participate in the City Year program was because I liked the idea of working on a team in a community and school for positive change. Working with youth was something I’ve never done so I saw that as a challenge. Also, it was a great opportunity for leadership in project and event planning.
The challenges of the program included working on a diverse team in an underperforming, underfunded and persistently dangerous high school with a 36% graduation rate within a school district that has been struggling for decades to make audacious and sound changes without consistent leadership. As a mentor and tutor it was my business to not only make sure teenagers understand the material in class, but also to know and discuss their difficult home situations. I found myself doing all the little things such as help with homework, work resumes, calling the doctor, talking to teachers, etc. It tore my heart apart along with the rest of my team to see the challenges students faced.
However, gratification eventually comes. “Joys” and “Ripples” as City Year calls them are shared at the end of day, and could be something like a student pulled their grades up, avoided a fight or had made enough progress on their senior project to be back on track for graduation. At the end of the year my team went to see our seniors graduate, which many were the first in their family. It was a huge relief to see these students succeed.
My IE3 internship in San Jose, Costa Rica was at a small non profit organization working on social justice issues. The skills I learned there were very helpful with the City Year program. Being flexible was something I cultivated in San Jose, and that same comfort with constant change is necessary at my school. The Latino population there was 50% making my language skills from Costa Rica extremely useful. Additionally, while in San Jose, I worked with other interns from different areas of the United States. Working on projects together we learned how to use each other’s strengths to complete assignments. At City Year with a bigger and more diverse team, I continued to learn the importance of listening and consensus building.
Moving into my second year in City Year, I will now be responsible for eight people and their service in a school. My goal this year and something that I would encourage others to reach for is creating a welcoming environment wherever you work, and setting high expectations for yourself and your team. Even if your goals seem impossible, I can say that after every time that I doubted myself, or my team, I felt silly because we always pulled off events and difficult situations.