Meet our 2019 Interns!

The UU College of Social Justice offers summer internships for emerging young adults (ages 18-25) who wish to deepen their engagement with social justice and discover new ways to put their faith into action. Our goal is to offer young adults a first-hand experience of grassroots justice work along with framework that helps them explore potential career paths as well as their own spiritual development. Our team of 12 interns is working with 8 amazing grassroots organizations!

Casa Alitas/ Tucson, AZ:  Emily P.

Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal/ New Orleans, LA:  Derrick G. and Mackenzie B.

Engaging People in Change (EPIC)/ Millbrook, NY:  Jazmin C. and Niah T.

FM4 Paso Libre/ Guadalajara, MX:  Olivia T.

Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative:  Amnah K. and Julia K.

Rural & Migrant Ministry/ New York State:  Mel P.

UU College of Social Justice/ Cambridge, MA:  Alex W.

UU United Nations Office/ New York, NY:  Malama T. and Danieh F.

Congratulations and the best of luck to our Summer 2019 team! We know you will use your skills and talents to do amazing things and deepen your spiritual connection to social justice along the way.

Love Made Visible

Love Made Visible

The UUCSJ office does not feel like an office. Perhaps it is better described as a plant haven with desks, or a living room/library hybrid.  A splotch of green adorns every windowsill and table. Colorful photographs, posters, and cloth hang on the walls. A bilingual bookshelf filled with poetry, biographies, manifestos, meditations, and more sits between two walls of windows. Whenever I look up from my computer, I am greeted by a print of a large sunflower beneath bright green letters spelling out “GROW”. Indeed, the physical space CSJ occupies provides an intentional foundation upon which the organization can truly act out its values. For example, everyone talks through cubicle walls, standing up and walking over  to offer feedback, or share toffee. People play informative videos out loud and casually give book recommendations. Meetings are moved around, created, and cancelled depending on the flow of the day. I’m consistently impressed by the flexibility of the organization and its ability to critically look at itself, rethinking goals and processes until they are in line with CSJ’s mission. I had no idea that a room with cubicles could feel so cohesive & cozy.

A constant reminder to GROW!

My favorite days at CSJ were Tuesdays, when we would have a staff meeting. Every staff meeting began with a ‘grounding’—a reading (or a song!) to center everyone. The act of grounding, in my experience, actually extended into the next ritual—a check-in. Each person checks in with the group—not just an update on work projects, but insight into how you are feeling, what big things are happening in your life, what you might need this week, what you are excited about, how it felt to spend a weekend in the woods. And it is not just a simple summary—it is also a critical analysis and emotional interpretation. You can share about big ideas that are floating around, and how they have manifested themselves in your work and your personal life. From my first Tuesday with CSJ, it was clear that the staff functions well as a team because they take the time to listen and understand where everyone is each week. This sense of community was integral to my time with CSJ. Regardless of the work I was doing, I was uplifted and inspired by the people around me.  

Though most of my days were spent in the office, I was able to go on a few ‘field trips’ to deepen my understanding of immigration justice, one of CSJ’s big areas of focus. In mid-July, I was invited to attend a rally at the State House to encourage legislators to pass the 4 Key Protections as part of the FY19 budget, thus making Massachusetts into a sanctuary state. As soon as I stepped inside the State House and joined the security line, I could hear singing echoing through the hallways. Upon turning the corner I was surrounded by people of all ages, gathered around the grand staircase, singing: “We shall not be moved / Just like a tree that’s standing by the water side / We shall not be moved”. I was touched by the gentle persistence the song and the power of dozens of voices joining together in harmony. Before we ascended up the staircase, three religious leaders representing different groups joined together and invited everyone into prayer. We held hands, bowed our heads, and let the words of hope and resistance wash over us. The rest of the rally was filled with speeches, chants, and more singing. This was the first time I had experienced a level of spirituality within justice work.

Speaking with the press at the State House rally.

The mission of CSJ is to inspire and sustain faith-based justice work, and true to form, this internship has both inspired and sustained me. Even when I’m spending an entire day researching best practices for social media outreach or combing through spreadsheets or looking for the perfect article to retweet or re-writing a section of the newsletter ten times, I know that the work I am doing is tied to many larger goals. And I know I have a community of people to support me. None of the work we do would appear on a “How To Change The World” brochure, and yet, we are changing the world in our own way by making that brochure in the first place.  This summer has shown me a new side of justice work: the not-so-glamorous part. Throughout the past 3 months, I have been reminded of something I heard in high school, when I was on an immersion-learning trip to India with my school: “Invisible service is love made visible.” With every meeting attended and email sent, each person working at CSJ is making love visible. I feel immensely grateful to have seen all the love flowing out of CSJ and into the world this summer.

 

Julia was the UUCSJ intern for summer 2018. She will be a sophomore at Scripps College in the fall, and hopes to study environmental analysis with a focus on race, class, and gender.
Insights from our RAICES Interns

Insights from our RAICES Interns

This summer, two of our Global Justice Interns are working with RAICES. In the past few weeks, RAICES has been in the national spotlight for the work they have been doing to help reunite separated families. Thanks to a viral Facebook fundraiser, they have raised more than $20 million dollars to continue fighting for immigration justice. We reached out to our interns to see how they are feeling about working with such an important organization at such a critical time. Here is what they had to say:

“The opportunity to work for RAICES when they are essentially on the front line of many immigration issues has been an extremely humbling experience. On a daily basis we interact with moms fighting for their children’s right to a better future. I feel blessed to be able to help these families in any way possible. The work we do is hard, but it is essential. Immigrant rights are human rights and we must always fight for humanity. La lucha siegue!” – Diana

“As someone who is already passionate about immigration rights and the immigration movement; I was blown away when I arrived at RAICES. The attorneys, legal assistants, and others are equally as passionate. They commit to long hours, and work through nights if something needs to get done. It’s amazing to see a group of people equally committed to making a difference. It just fueled me to run with what I love – the immigration movement. When I arrived at Karnes Detention Center, I was nervous. However, I was greeted by women and children who are grateful for our work. It’s difficult to listen to their stories, however these women symbolize the every parent. Every parent would do anything to give their child love, security, and a future. It’s incredible to see these women and their resilience. The children are also so kind and joyful, despite it feeling like the world is against them. Like Diana said, the work we do is hard, but it needs to be done. Immigration is about family and it always will be, and I am grateful to be in the front lines of this movement. Let’s fight the good fight!” – Jamie

 

Diana (center) poses with two other RAICES interns at the San Antonio Families Belong Together Rally on June 30.

Summer Internships with UUCSJ

Summer Internships with UUCSJ

For the seventh year, UUCSJ is thrilled to partner with organizations across the country to offer summer internships to individuals ages 18 to 25 who want to explore the relationship between social justice and their own spiritual development.

Interns don’t just spend their summers learning the in’s and out’s of a grassroots justice organization – each is connected to a Liaison – one of our amazing 21 Program Leaders who support interns in creating an intentional experience. It’s not left up to chance; interns create personal goals as they relate to spiritual growth (as defined by each intern) and professional development. In addition to the individual support, interns are invited to use the internship study guide to reflect on their experiences.

CELSJR Intern with Activate New Orleans participants

CELSJR Intern with Activate New Orleans participants

UUCSJ intern tasks included, but were not limited to:

  • Preparing women and children detained at the Karnes Detention Center for the “Credible Fear Interview”
  • Coordinating participation in summer Pride events
  • Creating a professional press kit
  • Serving on the planning committee in support of Indigenous events
  • Facilitating arts and social activism workshops

But enough about the UUCSJ perspective! What do past interns have to say about their experience?

The opportunity to get to work with people in expedited removal and immigrant detention and have the sort of impact that work at Karnes has is incomparable. Having on-the-ground perspective on immigration in the United States was incredibly enlightening both in terms of the situation and how to take action about it. – RAICES Intern

I was able to learn a lot more about different social justice issues through people’s lived experiences as well as valuable conversations with people who I met. A lot of people inspired me to focus on my spirituality, especially as I was doing social justice work – this has really helped me find my internal happiness, which I carried with me into this school year and has helped my experiences in college become a lot more positive. – The Sanctuaries Intern

 I really felt like I was receiving support and mentorship that were important for my growth and also felt like I was building a relationship that I will be sure to maintain going forward! The other thing that stood out was the level of responsibility and trust I was given and the opportunities that created for me to really get a sense of what it’s like to work in the community organizing/labor organizing field in Boston. – Restaurant Opportunities Center Boston Intern

The application for summer 2018 internships is now open – until January 31, 2018. Visit https://uucsj.org/internships/ to learn more about the internship program, current opportunities, and to apply!

Interning at Rural & Migrant Ministries

Interning at Rural & Migrant Ministries

Melissa Rodney was a summer 2017 intern with Rural & Migrant Ministry and is a graduate of American University (Class of 2017). If you are interested in interning with UUCSJ, fill out out 2018 Internship Interest Form.


This summer I had the wonderful privilege to sit down and say, “If I could run a summer program for youth on issues pertaining to social justice, what would that look like?” I don’t think I have ever held a position with so much freedom and creativity and I enjoyed every minute of planning (well-maybe not very minute . . . . I am human) and I certainly enjoyed every minute of being with the students as a counselor and seeing how they reacted to my lesson plans and activities.

Youth Art Project

Youth Art Project

My summer internship was with Rural &  Migrant Ministry in Lyons, New York. Rural & Migrant Ministry is a non profit organization that supports members of the rural farm worker community through advocacy of fair and just labor rights in New York State. They also provide educational services and host a variety of youth empowerment programs throughout the year. The youth empowerment programs at RMM are truly unique. They are designed to challenge a child’s perceptions about the communities they grow up in, to teach students to identify injustices within their community and to come up with solutions they can argue for as youth passionate about improving their community. With this wise doctrine by RMM, I  sought to create a program that would be well rounded offering stories of people addressing injustices from all around the world that could be used as examples for actions the students could take in their own community. For example, in the summer program, our older age group looked at graffiti art and murals used to protest the World Cup held in Rio in 2014 and they learned how the art  in essence captured the frustrations of  Brazilian citizens over the reality of where the wealth was being invested for the world’s most famous game. Our younger age group debated challenging the school system and created quite a few compelling arguments about the importance of teachers having an adequate salary, the importance of having a good education and even the importance of homework. These were just a few topics discussed during the lesson portion of the program

Youth Making Art Project

Youth making art project

While these lessons were incredibly important to me, I also knew that I wanted to give the students a well rounded “camp” experience. Summer camps are not affordable for every child and we wanted to offer a program that students could participate in for free and they could still get that camp experience that is full of fun activities. Some of the more camp like activities included sport challenges, workshops with local artists, daily trivia questionnaires, a designated lesson time called “Reflections”, field trips to the Women’s Rights National Convention and Sodus Bay, a scavenger hunt and even a  talent show!

UUCSJ By The Numbers

UUCSJ By The Numbers

The UU College of Social Justice was jointly founded in the summer of 2012 by the UUA and UUSC, so this year we are celebrating a big anniversary. We are grateful for all of our alumni and supporters who have made our work possible!

In honor of of all of you and our anniversary, here is CSJ by the numbers (as of October 2017).

 

 

UUCSJ has been inspiring and sustaining faith based action for social justice for 5 years!

 

During our 5 years, we have run 39 immersion journeys for adults, with a total of 470 participants (78 of whom were ministers, DREs or seminary students).

 

Through 18 week-long youth focused immersion learning journeys and training programs as well as three one-day offerings during General Assembly, 392 youth have experienced how Unitarian Universalism can inform their work for justice.

 

We have placed 65 interns in summer-long immersion internships in over 15 different grassroots justice organizations.

 

We have sent 53 skilled volunteers to placements with partner organizations for between one to 8 weeks. Most of those placements were lawyers and Spanish speakers working with RAICES in San Antonio Texas to help the women and children detained in Karnes.

 

Total participants across our programs totals 1,063. This number does not include collaborative training programs like the UU-UNO Spring Seminar and the Goldmine Youth Leadership program which extend our reach even further!

 

Of the participants who have completed an impact assessment form, 88% said that, as a result of their journey, they have a deeper sense of the connection between their faith and the role it can play in social justice.

 

Participants – both those who came as individuals and those traveling in a congregational delegation – came from 260 congregations representing nearly every state in the country.

UUCSJ COVID-19 Update

As news of the  COVID-19 virus unfolds, we at the College of Social Justice are assessing next steps. While we are all in a state of uncertainty, we are acting with caution for the well-being of our participants, partners, staff, and most vulnerable community members.

With the guidance of the UUA, UUSC, and recommendations from the CDC, and in communication with our friends and partners, we have decided to postpone all CSJ in person programing (youth visits, journeys, etc) through May 2020. Those participants have been notified and we are grateful for the understanding, love, and support we have received in response.

These are the only programs that have been postponed for now, but things may change as we receive more information. We are also thinking of creative ways to bring more of our programming online and would love to hear ideas from you!

 We are all in community together and we are grateful for the ways in which you choose to show up, bear witness, and take action for the communities and partners we serve. Please be safe and if there is anything that we can do to be supportive of you, don’t hesitate to reach out.