Summer 2016 Intern Reflections – Emily Ratté

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My time at JASH was not what I expected it to be—in the absolute best way possible. As a college student, an internship at a non-profit organization most often means doing grunt work: spending the day filing or filling coffee orders in busy offices whose employees don’t have the time or energy to give you more substantial work. And that’s not all bad; nonprofit employees have high-stress jobs and receive little thanks for the work they do to improve our communities, and with ever-limited funding, every minute counts. However, viewing interns as the next generation to lead nonprofits like our own, JASH staff dedicates time and effort to training interns as staff members, with the conviction that spending the energy now will better serve the organization, and its purpose, in the long term. As a recipient of this care and education, I could not be more thankful.

Under the supervision of Educational Program Director, Liz Stanton-Barrera, I have had the chance to experience all which make possible JASH’s extensive student-geared programs, like Japan in a Suitcase, Japan Wizards Competition, Japan Day, and others. By assisting with grant proposals and reports (key steps in organizing such events) I have learned valuable skills in persuasive writing that will be vital to my future career in the nonprofit sector, and by helping to boost JASH’s social media presence, I have become aware of all that it takes to keep JASH and its various programs in the public eye. The summer internship at JASH also allowed me to meet influential members of the Japanese community in my hometown of Honolulu, dedicated civil servants to the mission of promoting intercultural relations, as well as a number of young students with whom JASH is working to foster interest in Japan and its culture. Facilitating workshops for these students has given me a chance to take the role of educator, and working with the JASH staff on everything from event set-up to budgets and expense reports has allowed me to see the complicated process of funding community programs through grants and donations.

As I continue in my studies as a Sociology and Asian Languages/Civilizations double major at Amherst College, the experience I have gained at JASH will help me to ground my studies within real-world applications: while studying Asian societies and the way they function, I will keep an eye toward applying it to international relations and cultural exchange; while studying abroad in Kyoto during the Fall 2016 semester, I will work to improve my Japanese language skills so as to become proficient enough to utilize them in my future career; and perhaps most importantly, as I continue to meet Japanese and Japanese-Americans, I will remember that interacting across cultural barriers is the first step in “building bridges” between the peoples of the world.

Thank you to JASH for everything and more!!

Emily Ratté