By Katie Greenberg – World YWCA Intern
As I walked into the three story house which serves as the office building for the World YWCA in mid-January, I had no idea what to expect of the internship on which I was about to embark on. I honestly did not know much about the YWCA and was nervous, and a little apprehensive, but excited to face a new opportunity and learn as much as I could. Now, as I prepare to walk out the door of the house I have come to love for the last time, I feel nothing but fulfillment and bittersweet joy.
My experience at the World YWCA has been nothing short of spectacular and I think it has a lot to do with the women I have been so fortunate to work with. From day one I have been made to feel like a colleague and not a subordinate whose only job is to get coffee. I have been challenged by my assignments and like any good job should do, I was allowed to grow into a better version of myself. It was during an all-staff envisioning meeting when I realised this was not an ordinary internship. Having only been at the World office for two weeks at that point, I was still learning about office dynamics, the work of the YWCA, and the role of the World office in the greater YWCA movement. Irrespective of my lack of knowledge, my opinions were welcomed and everyone was genuinely interested in what I had to say.
I think one of the strengths of the World YWCA is that it brings together women from all different countries, cultures, heritages, experiences, and ages and allows them to have an equal voice and participate in the conversation. Never once in my experience was I made to feel less important because I am still in college and have not had as much life or work experiences as my colleagues. I will forever be grateful I was not just asked to copy papers and take notes, but was instead challenged to draft policies, contribute to policy papers, and analyze trends in the YWCA movement. I leave the office feeling like I contributed to an organisation I have come to care so deeply about.
The YWCA has allowed me to spend the last three months surrounded by other women who are as passionate about women’s rights as I am. I have found a place where conversations about sexism in the workforce, contraception, and the rights of children are not only acceptable but encouraged. The experience has only reinforced my desire to do advocacy work when I graduate college. Before this internship I only had an idea of what advocacy as a career looks like. I have been given the invaluable experience of seeing the everyday work which goes into an organisation championing the rights of people around the world. I leave feeling more empowered and knowing I want to spend my life fighting for equality for all people.
I arrived in Switzerland and at the World YWCA filled with passion. I leave with the same passion with which I arrived, but also with the knowledge that I can make a difference. The YWCA has opened my eyes and allowed me to become a better leader, woman, and advocate, and for that I will forever be grateful. Now it is time to say goodbye to an office which has become a home. I leave keeping with me the lessons I have learned from the remarkable women I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by and carrying the message of empowerment embodied by the YWCA.
Filed under: Leadership