By: Aghadeer Alhreirat, Mikva DC International Fellow

My internship experience at Mikva Challenge DC was a very fulfilling, memorable and rewarding experience, one that will forever resonate in my heart.  I instantly felt welcomed in the office. Robyn, Voncia, Machee, and Justine are such a great and impressive team, a wonderful group of women. After each day at Mikva I felt a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I could not imagine volunteering for a more worthy cause.

I truly learned what the statement, “Democracy is verb” means, and that the youth deserve to fully participate in democracy.  Young people know what’s happening in their community, and they understand the strengths and challenges of their society. The idea that young people are experts on issues affecting them, their peers and their communities, is beyond the truth at this office. 

In my country, I work in political empowerment. Currently, I’m the Regional Coordinator for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Jordan. In 2014, I began leading dialogue sessions at Jordanian universities on human rights, civic engagement, and political and social issues through Ana Usharek (“I Participate”) program which enhances youth political participation and promotes a national discussion on democratic values and human rights practices. I trained on various topics including developing advocacy campaigns and lobbying in Usharek + (” Participate +”).  From 2013 to 2019, I worked as a News Presenter with a local radio station, Radio Swat Alkarak. I provided news coverage on local and national current events.

I believe in youth voices and in involving youth and university students in addressing issues that affect, not only because they are valuable members of community, but because they also come up with ingenious and thought-provoking ideas. Youth can work side by side with adults and community members to identify community concerns and take action to address issues that matter to them. They can advocate for our political, civil, economic and social rights, and be the voice for the voiceless.

I began my internship in August 2019, and for two months I felt as if I was part of a tight knit family. There wasn’t anyone in the office who wasn’t willing to help me when I needed it. I had many different tasks, and learned quite a lot from each one of them. Throughout those two months, I gained valuable and transferable experience that I can now proudly speak about to future employers. I was able to improve my time management skills, and I have a better overall appreciation of teamwork. 

Finally, my internship was the most valuable, life changing opportunity I have had, because it took me out of my comfort zone and helped me to learn what working life is about and constantly tested me to overcome problems and build my confidence. I was trusted with responsibilities that challenged my skills and creativity. I was encouraged to think big and work independently.  Mikva Challenge DC gave me a chance to attend the first episode of the documentary, “America to Me,” the play, “What the Constitution Means to Me,” and various workshops at the Congressional Black Caucus Conference to see the face of democracy in America. For my work projects, I helped prepare for Mikva DC’s new Elections in Action Youth Leadership Team by creating an outreach database of contacts at various DC high schools.  I am also helping support the Elections in Action Youth Leadership Team weekly meetings, through curriculum planning, co-facilitating sessions and documenting the students’ progress through pictures and social media posts. It has been wonderful to see that I am contributing, even if only in the smallest way!

Thanks Robyn, Voncia, Machee, and Justine 

Thanks Mikva Challenge DC!