IMG_2256-1024x768When first arrived at EWI, I had just begun the process of recovering from a multitude of painful issues. I felt extremely insecure in my own abilities – as a writer, as a creative thinker and as a mobilizer for positive change. But, as I was enveloped by the warm and welcoming atmosphere of EWI, I began to regain some of my inner strength. One of my first major tasks was to help assist in the 2014 Artisan Marketplace, held in the Silver Spring Civic Center. This day-long event was the best possible introduction to the incredible power of EWI’s programs. I was in awe of my surroundings, and felt inspired by the beautiful women selling their artwork, jewelry, books and services. The initial magic I felt at the Marketplace never dissipated, as I experienced the EWI staff’s kindness and generosity every day. As the months went by, I became keenly aware of how lucky I was to work in a place as special as the EWI office. Every single intern, staff member, volunteer, mentor, trainer, alum and board member was passionate about empowering women. Their confidence in EWI’s important work helped me grow more confident in my capacity to be a leader and a changemaker.

My five months as EWI’s Development Associate Intern has taught me a countless tiny lessons about respect, compassion and support. But, in addition to these teachings, there are a several EWI tenets that I know I will carry with me always.

  1. Life is a gift that should be cherished and celebrated. EWI never misses an opportunity to celebrate. Whether it is a birthday, a holiday, a welcome or a goodbye, the EWI staff infuses the atmosphere with their joy. It’s infectious, and I hope to bring some of this energy into all aspects of my life.
  2. There is no limit to a woman’s potential. I had the opportunity to participate in many client interviews and hear ideas from potential EWI students. These women came from all over the world, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the table. Listening to their stories and hearing about their creative initiatives inspires me to be bold with my own actions.
  3. Don’t rush! Often, the most important moments occur during the journey, not after reaching the destination. This was a huge realization for me that I am still putting into practice. But thanks to Marga, Hanna and Deborah, I know that I can overcome my tendency to speed through tasks by practicing mindfulness. As a result, I am much more motivated to do my work diligently, be open to constructive feedback and give a project the dedication it needs.

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As I leave EWI, I look forward to my new position in the Executive Office of Population Services International. PSI is DC-based nonprofit that uses social marketing to improve the well-being of women and children by focusing on contraception, HIV/AIDS, malaria, gender-based violence, water sanitation and hygiene, as well as respiratory illnesses. While I am excited to begin this important work, I am grateful to EWI for allowing me to grow and thrive in such an inspiring environment. Thank you, EWI! I look forward to seeing staff and alumni at many wonderful events in the future.

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Emma Kaufman – Looking Back on an Internship of Celebration and Growth
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