As my summer internship at Pride Foundation comes to an end, I’ve had some time to reflect on what I have accomplished over the last three months. I wanted to put together a list of some of the things I’ve learned during my time here, before I head back to Whitman College in the fall:
1. Pride Foundation people are great.
This may seem obvious; people working for a good cause must be awesome, right? While I don’t know if this is true everywhere, here at Pride Foundation I have seen this assumption proven right. Everyone I have worked with—from the staff in our Seattle office to Regional Development Organizers, board members, and supporters—have been welcoming, giving, and kind. It has made me realize that these are the kind of people I want to surround myself with in the future, whether they are classmates, friends, or coworkers. Social environment is important.
2. Social Media is a powerful tool, use it wisely.
Over these past few months, I have been in charge of Pride Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages, delving deeper into social media than I ever thought I would. Because of this, I’ve learned a few main lessons. Through research and practice, I have discovered that social media is a powerful and wide-reaching tool that has the ability to change the way people think.
New online forms of social justice have arisen, one of them being hashtag activism. While it’s true that erroneous information can be spread through the internet, so can important truths. The enlightening #yesallwomen movement was a powerful response to the #notallmen argument. More recently, the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown campaign was an important reaction to the murder of Mike Brown, highlighting the disturbing way in which the media portrays black victims of police brutality. (I would recommend that you look these up if you haven’t seen them).
Working with Pride Foundation, I have seen the way information spreads and the way social media users can change narratives by sharing opinions and generating discussions. I recently started using a hashtag on Facebook and Twitter called #nonbinarycrushtuesday (credit goes to Zoey, our Administrative and Programs Assistant, for coming up with the hashtag). The idea was to expand upon the very popular #womancrushwednesday and #mancrushmonday movements. This new hashtag has gotten a positive response from our supporters, and I hope it works to broaden people’s concepts of gender and create new narratives of people who are gender non-conforming.
3. Always learn people’s stories and backgrounds. Don’t make assumptions—make connections.
One of the things I have enjoyed most about working at Pride Foundation is the opportunity it has given me to hear people’s stories. One of the first projects I had as an intern was to collect stories from Pride Foundation supporters. I enjoyed this project because I got to learn about people’s backgrounds, and also discover what they were doing to improve their communities today—giving me a more robust picture of who they are and where they came from.
I was also lucky enough to learn about some of our amazing scholars and hear more about their stories, including Brandin Smith, whom I talked with a few weeks ago. Many of our scholars come from remarkably different backgrounds, and it was illuminating for me to learn about them and their accomplishments. Hearing about all of these interesting people has motivated me to always listen to people’s stories and think about their experiences before making assumptions. It’s easier to make connections with people than you think.
4. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life—but I’m getting closer.
If you ask me today what my life plans are, I probably won’t have an answer for you (maybe ask me in a year when I’ve finally declared a major, and I’ll have more to say). However, even though I still don’t have an answer to this question, working at Pride Foundation has gotten me closer to finding one.
Here’s what I do know: I want to work somewhere where people believe in what they are doing. Wherever I go, I want to be putting something positive out into the world, and I want to make an impact—whether it’s through writing, actions, or even music.
So I’d like to thank everyone at Pride Foundation for imparting this important knowledge to me, and even though I’m excited to get back to being a student, a roommate, and a DJ again, I will miss working here immensely.
But as they say, all good things must come to an end, and I’m ready for my new beginning.
Kira Deshler is Pride Foundation’s Communications Intern.