Four days left.
With the internship winding down, I’ve been subconsciously trying to piece together exactly what I did this summer. I’ve worked with a dozen attorneys on tasks from researching country conditions, drafting motions, and interviewing potential clients to adding information to their digital case log, sitting in on hearings, and alphabetizing literal hundreds of paper files… I’ve done a lot this summer.
Still, since the work was so varied, it’s hard for me to articulate exactly what the product of my internship has been. I don’t have one big project that I’m about to finish, but instead I’ve been handling lots of small or mid-size tasks throughout the summer. Whenever I finished one, there was something else to fill my time.
Because of that, it’s hard to say I really completed anything big. Of course, I learned a lot about the complexities and failures of the immigration system along the way. But that knowledge, and the fact that each small success was followed immediately by a new task to complete or problem to solve, left with an overwhelming sense that there’s a huge amount more to be done.
Luckily, another thing I was exposed to this summer was the sheer number of nonprofits working with immigrant communities in Miami. Many, many people—both nonimmigrants and immigrants—are serving immigrant communities through cultural events, some through community centers, some through English and financial literacy classes, some through direct legal representation, some through policy advocacy, and surely many in other ways. I think the diversity and volume of efforts to both celebrate and uplift immigrant communities is especially visible in Miami. Still, we have heard from a few people (including University of Miami’s Office of Community and Civic Engagement) that Miami has one of the lowest levels of civic engagement in the country. The existing organizations here are making it work despite the relatively low participation in the nonprofit sector, on top of all the difficult issues they aim to tackle.
The strength, energy and diversity in the sector have inspired me to get more involved. I’ve been researching and talking with my fellow DukeEngagers about organizations in Durham and on campus that work with different immigrant communities. From El Centro Hispano to Church World Service to Define American, there’s no shortage of avenues to continue this important, and seemingly never-ending, work. After spending the summer seeing the way immigrants and immigration lawyers were affected by changing immigration policy, I’m interested in getting involved with immigration policy advocacy in some way. And as I consider study-abroad programs for the future, the availability of courses revolving around migration will play a big factor in where I choose to go.
So while I don’t feel that the end of this internship signifies the completion of any tangible product, it has certainly inspired me to keep engaging with the issues I’ve been learning so much about all summer.