Mary’s Internship Reflection 2017: Bystander No More

Mary Abdelmassih

My internship was with the Arab American Association of New York. I was an intern for the Accompany Project. The Accompany Project started by accident, when the former director of the program posted a facebook request for someone to accompany her friend to and from work, because she was being harassed, for being muslim, on her daily commute. So many people signed up to accompany her friend, that now there are over eight thousand volunteers. I attended one training for adult bystander intervention and gained knowledge regarding an intervention training curriculum. I, along with my co-intern and trainee, Fatma, made a curriculum by youth,for youth, to train students to be able to recognize a violent, or potentially violent situation, and be able to act upon it.The project initially started for the Muslim population, but I’ve extrapolated it to, essentially help the helpless– to help intervene in a situation for anyone who may become a target.

I learned various things throughout my time as an intern at the Arab American Association of New York. I learned that there are people out there who are interested in helping and being ready to intervene in a violent or potentially violent situation. I learned that there is value in being on time. There is also value in confirming dates and times, as well as following up with things like such. There is value in being truthful and sticking to your word. I learned that the community thrives on opportunities to help out the needy. The community is ready to learn and be there for one another.

There were various difficulties I came across. Firstly, my internship supervisor was not as I had expected. She was the sweetest, nicest person, and accommodated me so well. Many weeks into the internship, she was not available. She had many meetings or other work keeping her from supervising us. I did not realize such an issue could come into play. It was difficult towards the end, after having started my internship late, to make up many hours, just to get half the stipend. It was difficult to balance my social and academic life with work. I had trouble with after-school activities I was already enrolled in to get in the way of my internship. I came across personal obstacles-especially laziness. Often, I felt that I would not benefit from coming into work and I wanted to just stay home. I became bored of the job very easily because I was not challenged. Now, after I have had enough experience, I am interested in actually extending my duties forward. I want to go forward, outside of the internship, and give trainings, on my own, if Fatma is willing. I want to continue this great opportunity to share with others. At first, I was bored of the internship and wished for another, more interesting and challenging internship. Now, after enough push, I have come to enjoy the idea of teaching and training others to intervene in potentially violent situations and want to continue to teach and share my knowledge. While adults are being trained by Rachel and Reem, my supervisors, I can train youth. Together we can help people become ready to intervene in a violent or potentially violent situation, and help make New York safer for each other!

I will take forward responsibility from this internship. I learned that I must push myself until I finally get used to things. I love trying new things, but being committed to them is difficult for me. This internship helped me push myself to learn and benefit from my efforts. I made sure to receive something in the end from what I put in and I feel that I received knowledge of real world experience. I also learned what it is like to step out of one’s comfort zone and get a bite of what life has to offer. One word that can sum up my entire experience at this internship is life. I have no excuses for anything that occurred whether it stemmed from me or not. This is life. Life is difficult. I will take forward the fact that I must deal with life and its difficulty, as well as whatever life throws at me, making the most of my opportunities.

In the future, I would like to grow responsibly and actually become a better team member and leader. I would like to be dedicated and motivated from the beginning so I don’t have to force myself to do things. Being dedicated and motivated will yield a better outcome and produce more efficient work in the future.