This blog will highlight Baylor students participating in 8-10 week summer internships with established non-profit organizations and civic groups. Students are chosen for their commitment to create systemic social change and for their ability to connect their placement to their discipline of study. These are the future movers and shakers of the non profit and for profit world. Join the dialogue.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jake Abell – June 20, 2011

Working at a DC non-profit quickly dispels lots of myths about the NGO world. With movies like Dave, The American President, and a collage of West Wing episodes in my head, I had some romantic expectations for the daily life of social justice work in Washington. I imagined people bustling around at break neck speeds in elegant offices making witty repartee as they passionately fought the forces of evil on to see justice win the day. In reality, life at African Wildlife Foundation is pretty levelheaded and calm, though no less exciting at times. My job involves several disparate duties, but my most consistent duty is to craft social media updates for facebook and twitter that highlight news in the organization and in the larger world of African wildlife conservation. It's a rush when you make a post about the birth of twin gorillas in Rwanda which is viewed thousands of times before the day is out; it's made me acutely thoughtful about what I write when realizing that these updates, though small, represent the organization in such a public way. While social media posts only accomplish so much, it's been exciting to feel like I've been meaningfully contributing to the work at AWF by keeping folks on the web informed about the happenings of the african conservation world.

One of the things that's been unexpectedly fun about this internship has been the awareness that what we all of us do in this DC office is in the service of AWF's staff on the ground in Africa who are implementing the organization's conservation projects. Every new marketing strategy, every phone call with a donor, every newsletter that's created, and every social media update is crafted to increase exposure to AWF, broaden it's donor base, and win the support needed to do the work in Africa. There's something very special about that, knowing that you are ultimately working to enable scientists and field workers to help people and wildlife all over Africa. Each day when I sit down at my Macintosh for another 9 to 5 day, I think about those people and dedicate my work to them. In this way, a twitter post becomes my small (very small!) act of service, my way of doing what I can to facilitate the work that AWF does overseas. 

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