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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Social Fabric Initiative Intern Reflects on Successful Program Launch Event

Written by Kroc School

Social Fabric Initiative Intern Reflects on Successful Program Launch Event

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The following post was contributed by Kroc School MA in Peace and Justice student and Social Fabric Initiative Intern Molly White.

On June 20 at 7:30 a.m., 10 spunky Interns met at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice to begin setting up for the Social Fabric Initiative’s (SFI) inaugural Launch Event. After months of planning and an intense round of final preparations, it was finally time. I can say that we were all overflowing with nervous energy. We were as prepared as we could be for the upcoming day, but we still didn’t know what to expect. It is that same feeling anytime something new is about to happen, where after all the prep, all you can do is watch as the outcome unfolds.

My first job of the morning was to greet each of the incoming high schools students who have joined the program as Volunteers and direct them to the registration table inside. This was a big responsibility because I would be the first face they saw for the event and maybe even their first impression of the program as a whole. I greeted each of them as they walked up to the building. Some were obviously just as nervous as we were, some seemed to be ready to start their project that day, and others were somewhere in between.

After the Volunteers had arrived, we led a few icebreaker activities to bring up our energy and confidence for the day. Afterwards, fellow Interns Alexa Withrow and Max Hammond gathered everyone together for a welcome. While they were speaking, I observed our Volunteers. They had divided themselves into groups based on who they already knew. It was obvious that while this program had piqued their interests, there were still a lot of unanswered questions.

We moved into the main part of our day as the Mentors arrived, and some of our Interns gave short introductions. The Volunteers were going to have speed interviews with different Mentors to begin to narrow down which topics they might want to work on this summer. Each Mentor was set up at a table that allowed them to talk in small groups with the Volunteers. The first round included 10 rotations, each lasting five minutes. Watching our Volunteers, it was evident how enthusiastic they were and how much passion they were bringing to this experience. At each table, they had questions that revealed their insights into the various issues in which they wanted to make a difference. They were ready to delve into their summer projects. Their energy was contagious, and the Mentors and Interns were catching their excitement.

After lunch we continued our speed interviews, but this time they had five interviews, each lasting eight minutes. This allowed our Volunteers to speak with new Mentors or re-interview them in an effort to begin selecting which topics they might want to work on. As this set came to a close, many of the Volunteers had picked out their favorite Mentors. As we said goodbye to the Mentors, it became clear that they were just as inspired as our Volunteers! We are grateful to all the Mentors who generously offered their time and energy to be with us that day.

Tina Medina, program officer for SFI, gave our Volunteers a space to share ideas and discuss what inspired them, and also to ask questions they had about the future. It was here that it began to sink in that these Volunteers were going to be in the driver’s seat this summer. You could see it in their eyes as they realized that they had the power to decide what would become of their summer and, in essence, the program as a whole. This realization sparked interesting ideas. One I heard came from a girl who wanted to rebuild sex trafficking shelters to have more beds and space to protect the victims. While this idea may be too ambitious for the summer, the passion and scale in an idea like that is impressive. When we went over some of the questions from the day, it was clear that a lot of the questions involved how to gain power, initiative and agency. As these relate to SFI's goals, it was encouraging to see our Volunteers already considering these themes — evidence of a confident first step on their summer journey.

When looking back on the Launch Event for SFI, there were many chances for it to go wrong. There is always risk when you are starting a new program, but the passion, heart and enthusiasm of all those involved was the key to the success of this event and ultimately the launch of SFI. Our hard work and belief in the importance of this program contributed to a successful launch but I think that the real heroes of the day were our Volunteers. They are an amazing group who will help shape this program, and they give me hope for the future. The future of this program and this world will be better because of their passion and strength. I can’t wait to see what this summer brings.

For more information on the Social Fabric Initiative and the work we will be doing this summer, please visit our website and follow our stories through Instagram and Facebook.


Kroc School

About the Author

Kroc School

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies' mission is to equip and empower innovative changemakers to shape more peaceful and just societies.