An Intern’s Reflections

     Currently, I am a student at the George Washington University, majoring in Criminal Justice. From the first moment of orientation, I heard that you can’t fully experience DC without being here for the summer. So far, this summer in DC has been an amazing experience. I was given the opportunity to finally see the various areas in DC and explore the sights without the stress of schoolwork hovering over my head. But I have also been given a chance to intern at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. Thus far, it is one of the enthralling parts of my summer.

     As one of the programming interns, I have the pleasure of assisting with programs that deal with adoption and foster care. At the moment, I am working on one of the most significant events pertaining to child welfare in the nation, Angels in Adoption. In order for Angels in Adoption to be successful, I have to help make sure that members of the CCA as well as other members of Congress nominate an “Angel.” Angels are constituents that have dedicated their life to adoption and foster care and have done outstanding work related to this field. Day by day and phone call after phone call, at the end day helps us increase the awareness of child welfare in this country, as well as around the world.

       Hailing from Worthington, Ohio, I completely understand the need to increase the awareness of child welfare. In Ohio, there are about 14,000 children in foster care and 2,500 are awaiting homes. I believe that every child has a basic right to a safe and loving home. To know that not every child is being brought up by a loving family they can call their own is extremely heartbreaking. At the same time, there are many people capable of loving a child and looking to build their family. It is this connection that CCAI also helps develop. Another issue of great importance is the need to improve the foster care system. Many that age out of the system, lack the tools and education to be successful and fulfill their goals. The Foster Youth Program allows a select group of those that have been in the system to hold an internship as well as voice their concerns from personal experience on the foster care system in the United States.

     My fellow interns and the staff here all share the same passion to improve the foster care and adoption policies and so far it has been an amazing adventure. Working downstairs and making phone calls or sending countless emails, all matters. I have never once felt like I was done tedious or pointless work because we are all together working toward the same goal. To know that I am part of something bigger than myself, is incredibly rewarding.

–Sabah Siddiqui

Intern’s Perspective: Reflections

Four months after starting my internship at CCAI, I leave having gained valuable experiences, stronger communication skills, more confidence, and a better understanding of my goals in life.

I didn’t know what to expect before visiting the office for the first time. The close-knit, special, and busy office has been better than I imagined. There is always some project to be done, and everything has a meaningful purpose to ultimately help children find safe environments and loving families.  The first few weeks at CCAI, I updated their website, answered the phone, and researched information to update our Country Updates pages. I was also assigned the fun task of searching through pictures from previous CCAI events, to put in frames to decorate our office walls with.  Very soon after starting, I got the opportunity to attend meetings in Senate offices, and listen in on conference calls pertaining to adoption and general issues in Haiti and Uganda.

When I reflect on the projects I have worked on throughout my internship, the most significant work was helping prepare for the Haiti Convening titled “Building a Strong Foundation for Children and Families of Haiti” that we hosted on May 21st.  I gathered contact information for our invitee list by doing research and calling offices to request a prospective speaker or invitee’s information.  Calling offices I didn’t know much about; to ask for contact information for a person whom I also knew nothing about, put me outside of my comfort zone. Eventually, it got easier. As I called more offices, and learned more about the convening we were planning, I gained confidence in my communication abilities and myself.  The convening itself was a great experience just being in the same room listening to these amazing, influential people present and discuss information to ultimately help Haiti and its children.

I have never worked with people so passionate and committed to the work they do. It’s very motivating, and even contagious. The staff members at CCAI begin projects with a flawless end in mind and do what it takes to complete the goal, even if it means late nights at the office, or bringing work home with them.

Interning here has been an eye-opening experience to the career path I want to pursue in the future. Despite a two-hour commute each way to get to CCAI; I wouldn’t have changed this internship experience for the world.

-Shari, Spring 2010 Intern

An Intern’s Perspective: Inside CCAI

This week marks the beginning of my third month as an intern at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

When I first began working here in mid-January, I knew exactly what I hoped to gain from my internship—work experience, exposure to federal policy, and a better understanding of the international adoption process that brought my cousin to the United States last year. However, I wasn’t really sure what would be expected from me. Coming into my internship, I had some knowledge of CCAI and its activities, but only a vague image of the role that I would play in the organization. Part of me was afraid that I would spend the entire spring doing menial tasks.

It didn’t take long for that to change. Within my first week on the job, I was taking notes at a State Department briefing on the state of intercountry adoptions in Haiti. Since then, I have done everything from updating the CCAI website, to researching pending foster care legislation for our bimonthly newsletter. A couple of weeks ago, I was on the phone all day alerting members of congress about an opportunity to sign on to a letter concerning adoptions from Nepal.

Of course, that isn’t to say that I don’t do my fair share of clerical work. As one of only two interns in the office, I spend a lot of time doing things like entering people into our database, editing spreadsheets, and answering the phone.

But while I used to think that stuffing envelopes and making copies was nothing but busy work, that has changed in the time that I have spent at CCAI. No matter how many envelopes I stuff, or how many copies I make—I have never once felt like any of the work I do here is meaningless. We have such a small office that the impact of my work is readily apparent, and such a close-knit staff that it is always appreciated.

The view from behind my desk.

A lot of things have changed since I started working here, but my personal favorite change has been to the wall in front of my desk. Initially it was pretty boring to look at, but I have started to decorate it over the past few weeks. Each sticky note has some words of wisdom or inspiration passed on to me from a member of our staff. At the end of my internship, I hope that I can look up and see an entire wall filled with notes.

And, much like I can say now that CCAI is helping me to change my wall into something that I can enjoy looking at, I hope that I can someday look back and say that I helped them change the world into a place where more children and families can enjoy living.