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The past two weeks have been a whirlwind introduction into the world of non-profit work and the plight of immigrants in the United States. The learning curve has been sharp.

While it took a few days for assignments to start pouring in, once they came, they came in full force. The wonderful employees of Catholic Legal Services (CLS) sent research questions about laws and statutes, they sent us official documents to be translated, and they sent us technological problems to solve.

Foreign language skills are crucial with this organization as they work primarily with Cuban and Haitian immigrants in Miami, who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole respectively. As a French speaker, my language skills are useful but less so than some of my cohort. This means that I have been delegated to a lot of the legal research tasks. These have proved to be very interesting, but also quite challenging as someone who is completely new to law, especially the specificities of our intricate immigration system. While I’m still working through some bumps in the road, I am reassured by the encouraging and open attitudes of all of the people I have interacted with at CLS. While they have incredibly busy and demanding jobs, they are always willing to spend some time to help and provide advice so that we have a positive experience as interns.

Even with only a brief glance at immigration law, I have learned some about how immigrants often find their lives in flux as laws and regulations are complex and can change drastically as the government administration changes. Reading through some of the cases can be really disheartening to see people who call the U.S. home (sometimes for several decades) feel their livelihood threatened.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this experience, where I’m sure I will continue to learn, gain valuable experience, and gain valuable friendships. While I wish I could be in Miami and have the interactive experience that can’t be replicated virtually, I am sure that this summer will continue to be an enriching experience.