This summer, CCEJ had the opportunity to hire three wonderful interns to assist our Building Bridges for Youth and Restorative Practices in Communities departments – Angel Roman, Jessie Sabree, and Caleb Zaldaña, This week, they are sharing their stories of their experience with interning at CCEJ and how the work that CCEJ does has impacted them. You can read their stories below:
I am a student at CSU Dominguez Hills majoring in Negotiation Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding. I learned of CCEJ in my mediation course when Case Manager Alejandro Haezaert-House gave a presentation on the work of CCEJ. I decided to choose CCEJ as an internship opportunity because the community healing and conflict resolution work inspired me to want to be proactive in my community with my future college degree.
My favorite project was being an active participant in the Foundations of Restorative Justice Training. I learned about hosting restorative circles, communication styles, and different perspectives on social justice issues. I was also able to see the impact of a restorative circle with a diverse audience. Participants left the training feeling empowered and united in the goal of improving community relations despite the current socio-political divides.
I have had inspiring mentors in the Restorative Practices in Communities department who have taught me about nonprofit work, outreach, and case management work. They have also taught me about leadership and have always allowed me to voice my needs. The CCEJ team has shown me the value of teamwork. My work has felt purposeful as I know that I was a big help to the team and overall mission of CCEJ.
In the future, I will be utilizing restorative knowledge in my school organizations and my business. I believe that all college students should be exposed to restorative work. I want to push restorative circles into professional settings because they create a more humanizing experience for people in the workplace.
I learned about CCEJ when I was searching for an organization that was facilitating restorative justice. I had just learned about restorative justice in one of my sociology courses, so I emailed my professor to ask if any organizations were doing it in Long Beach. She emailed me back saying I could check out a panel happening on campus; CCEJ’s Daniel Solis was there talking about all the work CCEJ does. After the panel Q&A, I decided to apply for the Building Bridges internship. I wanted to get involved with my community and help youth learn ways to challenge the systems of oppression that are present today.
Attending the Summer Youth Leadership Institute (SYLI) retreat at the Lazy W. Ranch in San Juan Capistrano has been my favorite part of the internship so far. I was able to help youth challenge their beliefs, develop their critical thinking abilities, and learn to communicate with each other for effective organizing. I have met some amazing young activists who are becoming stronger facilitators with every SYLI activity. I will always remember the feeling that comes with high school youth looking up to me and trusting me to help them through difficult conversations about race, gender, class, religion, politics, and privilege.
I am excited to apply the newfound sense of responsibility and independence I have gained to all areas of my life. This internship made me realize helping children communicate and overcome systemic oppression one step at a time is part of my calling. I’m hoping to take my developing facilitation skills with me as I graduate from CSULB and become a counselor or social worker.
– Jessie Sabree
I went through CCEJ as a camper, youth leader and now I am an intern. I learned about CCEJ through a friend in my sophomore year of high school. She invited me to CCEJ’S Building Bridges Racial Justice Camp because she thought I was very outspoken and had a lot to contribute to topics on social justice. I instantly fell in love with CCEJ’s work and wanted to be a part of it. Now, a high school graduate, I have joined CCEJ’s staff as an intern.
During my internship, I have worked on a variety of projects. My favorite project was called “Youth Activism Around the World” as part of our Building Bridges Club Alliance manual. It helped to highlight youth activism from different parts of the world, helping to inspire and support high school youth working on social justice on their campuses. It felt good to be able to show examples of what has been done and what can be done by youth now.
I especially enjoy working under CCEJ’s Program Coordinator in School Leadership, Cárol Rojas. She has taught me so many things such as how to design curriculum, facilitate meetings and conduct research for activities. Being here has definitely inspired me to explore more of the wonderful work that CCEJ does, such as restorative practices. My experience at CCEJ has been an amazing and unforgettable one; the staff at CCEJ make me feel at home and comfortable to explore topics around social justice. I’m thankful for the experience that I was provided with CCEJ this summer.
– Caleb Zaldaña