Despite of the raging pandemic in NY State, the Greater Capital District Albany area is lucky that we entered phased re-opening in June. The Albany Chapter cautiously proceed with a streamlined but still robust internship program with 6 interns. At the moment, one intern, Maryam Ahmad, is now placed with the Town of Clifton Park Supervisor’s office and another, Ellen Yang, at the Center of Women in Government and Civil society, Rockefeller College of University at Albany. Both are able to work remotely and check in with their supervisors regularly each week on the progress of their work progress or research.
The major event in June was our internship orientation on June 27, 2020. In order to avoid large group gatherings per NY State Governor’s directives, we conducted the internship orientation via Zoom.
At the orientation, we invited Mr. Uyi Omorogbe as our keynote speaker to share with his stories of growing up as a black American in a predominantly white neighborhood and the racism he had experienced. Mr. Omorogbe was one of the speakers at a local Black Lives Matter March (https://dailygazette.com/article/2020/06/07/black-lives-matter-rallies-touch-all-corners-of-the-region-saratoga-springs-niskayuna-amsterdam-elsewhere; https://face2faceafrica.com/article/uyi-omorogbe-the-nigerian-designer-building-schools-in-rural-africa), at which event he spoke passionately about the need to reflect our own roles in racial injustice and what we can do to confront it. He also shared his inspiration to empower Africa and has been using his start-up business to help build school schools in rural villages in Nigeria. We believe this allowed the interns to see racism from a different perspective.
We also had Ms. Zoe Bevelle, a partnership specialist from the Albany County, NY Regional Census Center, to give us an overview and training course to our interns because they will either be volunteering or doing their internship with her office. Ms. Bevelle gave an organized and encouraging presentation on the mission of her office, the importance of the tasks our interns will be working on, and expectations of the interns’ involvement. The interns now understand the importance how accurate Census results can work into social justice and the resource distribution; they are all excited to start working on their Census project soon.
Dr. Lili Kuo gave a presentation on professionalism and office etiquette, so all interns know what the proper ways are to conduct themselves and to approach their responsibilities, even when they are working remotely. The orientation concluded with a “Q and A” session to give all interns an opportunity to ask questions and to get acquainted with each.
In addition to the orientation, we also started “Zoom Social” events on a few weekend afternoons to give the interns an opportunity to know each other better in a low-key setting, so they can build friendship and network.
The interns started their July with two major tasks- a joint research effort to search for local non-profit organizations to which we can give the large donation of face masks we received. The efforts are led by one of the interns, Ruchitha Arvapally, who organized the meetings and directed the research on potential organizations. She also wrote a final report on their choices and reasoning. We will now ask the interns to contact each place about their needs to start the donation process.
The other task they took on is to write personal essays for APAPA’s “the Future of Leadership Symposium” event to be held on July 20, 2020. Despite of the short notice, each intern spent many hours soul-searching and reflecting on the state of civic leadership in the age of COVID-19, racial discrimination, current issues facing our country, and the future of our democracy. Some of the issues they raised in their writings can be uncomfortable to face but their courage in sharing their views in public is truly inspiring. All their writings will be featured on the “Future of Leadership Symposium” webpage, and some will also be chosen to be interviewed at the event.