My Time at RIJ

Hello! My name is Anna and I have been an Intern at RIJ for the past three months.

As I go into my last day at RIJ, I look back on my time interning here. Before interning at RIJ, I only knew of the refugee crisis on a very basic level from the news and my classes but I did not how truly severe the crisis was.IMG_1042

RIJ has taught me many things that I could have never learned from just reading a book, or sitting through a lecture. This hands-on research that I did at RIJ is what made this internship so unique and rewarding.

There is no denying the fact that refugees desperately need the basic essentials to survive: food, water, and shelter, but once these goods are no longer being given to refugees, they are left dependent and with no skills to continue working towards living a stable independent life. This is where RIJ comes in; RIJ is aimed at giving refugees a life worth living through empowerment and education. RIJ has funded countless projects that offer counseling, rehabilitation, skills training, and education in order to provide hope for the future.

This is type of rehabilitation support is something I never really thought about before interning at RIJ. My immediate thoughts always revolved around the basic aid needed but in reality refugees are just like you and me and are looking to live fulfilling independent lives.

RIJ, being a non-profit organization is relies solely on donations, which is exactly why fundraising is so important. When I look back on my time at RIJ, two fundraising events really stand out: the Black Card Cabaret and the RIJ Pub Quiz. The Black Card Cabaret was an extremely rewarding experience because I saw it start to finish. I created the boards for the silent auction and then saw the silent auction live which was really gratifying. Volunteering at the Black Card Cabaret allowed me to interact with many new people with similar goals as mine and taught me many new skills. But the greatest part of the event was the ¥1.3 million raised that will go directly to benefit refugees worldwide.

Next was the RIJ Pub Quiz, which Crystal and I planned start to finish. The pub quiz was a fantastic night with friends, food, and trivia. It was rewarding seeing something we planned become a reality. The night was as informative as it was enjoyable. Many of the questions revolved around refugees which helped inform the players with more facts. Overall the night was one I will never forget and together we raised ¥56,000 to support Refugees and IDP’s.

My day-to-day work at the office was just as satisfying as working at the events. This is because of the freedom I was given at RIJ to pursue the many different directions I wanted to take my research to. Interning at RIJ was a brutal wake up call in the best way. Ignorance is bliss, but bliss doesn’t get solve any problems solved. The Junten School Run, a 5k run to support RIJ, is a great example of this. This run was difficult for me to finish without walking. This run was a wake up call because it made me realize how many refugees and IDP’s have to actually physically run for their lives to avoid danger. According to World Vision, “A family would have to walk more than 1,400 miles to get to Serbia’s border with Hungary. It would take about 50 days if they walked eight hours per day and were able to cover an ambitious 25 miles per day.” My short run was nothing in comparison to the amount that refugees have to walk or run each day just to ensure their safety and was a very illustrating of just how serious the crisis is.

When I think of a word to describe my time at RIJ, I think of the word rewarding. It was a rewarding experience to be more informed on the current refugee crisis. With the knowledge I have gained I can now inform others and the information can continue to be passed along. This knowledge gave me a new perspective to view the world in and allows me to think more critically about solutions. It was rewarding starting projects and seeing them to their ends. I created many documents that will be used in the future to help explain the crisis to others. It was rewarding to help with fundraising events and see the nights become huge successes. I am extremely grateful to have had this experience interning at RIJ and look forward to using my new found knowledge to continue on the mission. My three months at RIJ have really allowed me to grow as a person and become someone who wants to make changes in the world and through RIJ I have gained those skills to make the changes.

-Anna

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