Before joining RIJ, I was interested in finding a job that would allow me to help less fortunate people. I always believed that I needed to give back to the world given all the opportunities I had in my life. Those opportunities go from the education I received, the clothes I could wear, my citizenship allowing me to travel the world to the simple fact that I could make wrong decisions in my life without those destroying my future. Also, I had the opportunity to live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from which my dad is from, for three years which deepened my understanding of how some people lived in truly desperate conditions. Seeing children sleeping and begging on the streets and general poverty restraining the options of so many others has always been one of my major concerns.
I found Refugees International Japan through my university as I was looking for internships to complete my degree. I immediately applied in hopes of making my first steps in the realm of humanitarian organizations. I was eventually offered an interview by our Executive Director Jane Best who gave me the impression that people at RIJ “meant business” and that I would learn a lot from the experience.
My first days at RIJ were as exiting as they were chaotic. I was a bit overwhelmed as RIJ was my first position in an office. I had to find my pace and quickly did thanks to the advices given by Jane and Naomi. Managing the social media platforms for RIJ was a bit challenging as well because I barely managed my personal accounts. I also edited and designed a few documents meant for the public eye which increased my self-confidence.
RIJ also hosts a couple major events that are pillars to provide financial support to refugees and IDP’s as well as those are key to sustain the organization. I had the chance to participate in 2 of those events and promote others through various ways. I had the chance to co-present an event to a crowd of 30 people which was my first experience in presenting in front of strangers. I also designed posters for a section of the March 8th Invest in the Future event which celebrated RIJ’s 40years and revamped some promotional documents for RIJ.
I believe I now understand the different tasks in humanitarian organizations such as RIJ better. I learned that it was not always easy to raise funds, and neither was it to get people involved in our work. Nonetheless, I learned that the atmosphere in the office could be relaxed and that volunteers are happy to help one another whenever possible.
The most important thing that I would learn during my internship was that I made lots of mistakes, tiny and big, and that it was okay. Whether in editing a post, choosing the correct format and font for some documents or designing a template, I was making mistakes in almost all assignments. Yet, Jane told me more than one time that it was the entire purpose of internships: we intern must learn from our mistakes in order to become assets in our future jobs. This reminded me of the Japanese saying Nana korobi ya oki which roughly translates in Fall seven times, get up eight. What I understand by that saying is that no matter how often one falls, one must stand up and keep going. I still have much to learn before becoming able to give back to the world yet, RIJ has encouraged me to go in that direction and I will continue to do so until I reach my goals.
I wish the best to refugees and IDP’s all around the world and hope that RIJ will continue to thrive. Thank you for everything.
– Jean Charles Zushi, 2019 RIJ Intern