Name: Katherine Robinson
Major: International Studies
Year: Class of 2014
Visiting new neighborhoods. Meeting people with incredible stories. Supporting my neighbors and fellow new Baltimoreans regardless of their background. Networking with and learning from non-profit organizations. Attending festivals, outdoor movies, and Baltimore Restaurant Week. Mastering the MTA. Learning to love the Baltimore summer, because of (and in spite of), the ridiculously heat and humidity. These are a few of my favorite (Baltimore) things, all of which I have gotten to experience because of the Community Impact Internships Program. Thanks to generous support from an anonymous donor, CIIP is a paid summer internship program where 50 students are placed in non-profits and government agencies in Baltimore to help students become involved and invested in the Baltimore community and to support the vital efforts of change agents in the city.
What’s really exciting about participating in CIIP is that each student is matched with an organizations that fits their skill set and interests. I was excited to work with the refugee population in Baltimore, so I was placed at ERICA. Students interested in urban agriculture can be placed at an urban farm doing everything from awareness raising to planting to fundraising. Students interested in criminal justice can be placed at the public defender’s office. Students interested in the arts can be placed at an organization promoting art among youth or a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing Baltimore through the arts. The list goes on, allowing each of us to have a truly unique and rewarding experience at our placement site. And all of placements are hands on and extremely excited to have a summer intern.
I have been fortunate enough to participate in CIIP for two summers, once as just an intern and the second time as a peer mentor for the new cohort and an intern, as well as during the school year thanks to a generous donation for a CIIP extension program. Both years I interned at ERICA, the Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance, a small non-profit organization dedicated to serving refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, and immigrants through casework, workshops, family reunification and legal aid loans, and material support. While at ERICA, I have been involved in nearly every part of our operations and created some projects of my own. Some of highlights of my ERICA internship have been reuniting a Rwandan asylee with his wife and seven children, planning our first ever Around the World in 5K Fun Run/Walk Fundraiser (which was very successful!), designing the ERICA website, and planning a series of business workshops for immigrant women with a documentary photography piece to supplement them. I have learned so many valuable skills from working at ERICA and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.
Now that I am approaching my last semester, I am reflecting about my time here at Johns Hopkins. Certainly I have made friends, taken interesting classes, and participated in a lot of cool activities. But what I will remember the most when I look back on my experience is working at ERICA, hearing the powerful stories of refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, feeling like a made at least a little difference in the city I called home for four years. Participating in CIIP and building relationships with Baltimoreans who will be here long after I graduate has helped me fall in love with the “Greatest City in America” and made Baltimore feel like home.
Interested in learning more at this fabulous program? Check out the CIIP website!