A Short Time; A Big Opportunity to Witness

by Grace O'Connor


5/9/2019

As a follow-up to my initial blog post at the start of my internship with CTUCC, here are some of my reflections on the past semester:

It seems hard to believe that a whole semester has already passed.  On one hand, it feels as though I am still just beginning, but on the other, I know I have gained a huge amount of valuable experiences and knowledge during my relatively short time here at CTUCC. 

Looking back on this time, I understand why I often felt so busy.  I attended many justice-related workshops both within and outside of UCC, including the Community Resettlement After Prison conference in Guilford; a Racial Justice Training; the New England Grassroots Environment Fund’s Catalyst Convening workshop; a youth-led Activism Bootcamp at Gilead Congregational Church; this year’s Super Saturday; an inter-faith Peace Symposium; the Interreligious Eco-justice Network’s (IREJN) Plastic Pollution Forum; the Ecumenical Advocacy Days weekend conference in Washington, DC; a Forum on the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling; the IREJN’s Annual Earthkeepers Dinner; and the 2019 Youth Revival at Bloomfield Congregational Church.

In addition, I was given the opportunity to organize a networking event for other young adult interns in the Hartford area, and to visit the Silver Lake Conference Center to assist with youth workshops during the RE-Center's retreat there.

I visited Connecticut’s Capitol and Legislative Office Building on several occasions, both with Pam Arifian for a Climate Action Lobby Day, and with Michele Mudrick for many legislative visits.  Throughout the semester, I have met with Representative Jill Barry, Rep. Geoff Luxenberg, Rep. Maria Horn, Senator Craig Miner, Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, and Sen. Derek Slap to discuss gambling expansion, environmental concerns, and other CTUCC resolutions.

My internship experience has taught me how to be involved in justice work and has allowed me to become a part of the CTUCC community.  With faith at its center, UCC brings the message of Christianity and applies it to the injustices in today’s world.  Having a chance to witness the justice work many of the CTUCC churches perform through their ministries, as well as the legislative advocacy happening at the Legislative Office Building about the same issues, I have come to understand that there is no reason to separate these sectors.  Bringing them together is much more powerful and enables bigger and stronger steps to be taken towards achieving social justice.

The lessons I have learned and the connections I have made are ones that I sincerely hope will remain and continue to grow as I move on from my time as an intern at the Connecticut Conference.  I am endlessly grateful to have had this opportunity, which has equipped me to continue working effectively towards social justice.

Anyone who finds themselves considering an internship or study abroad opportunity, I would advise to take it.  I contemplated applying for Urban Semester (the program I came to CTUCC through) for three years, waiting until my final semester as a UConn student to finally do it, because I wasn’t sure if it was for me.  Now that I have been part of it, I know I made the right choice because Urban Semester is for anyone who simply has an interest in learning through experience. 
 

Grace O'Connor



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