1. What is your internship and why did you choose it?
I am doing research on mass incarceration for the Cornell Cooperative Extension, looking for correlations between economic trends and incarceration rates. I chose this internship because it is an opportunity to do real, substantive work on a devastating social problem, and relates to my intended career in social justice and law. It’s also conveniently in Ithaca, which was great since I wanted to stay here for the summer.
2. Tell us about a friendship you’ve formed in APO.
I met Joanna Hua when she was a pledging co-ass and I was still unsure of my purpose and unaware of how service would change my life. We first bonded over being the only two government major-premeds in APO and probably the world, although I soon yeeted out of the premed life because I found my purpose in social justice and politics. We had barely known each other for 2 months before we were sending terrible memes back and forth and crying together in the Asia library on a regular basis. Since then, she has continued to inspire me everyday with how hard she works, how much she cares, how outgoing and nurturing she is. She helped me integrate into APO and has become a close friend and mentor, and I’m grateful for APO for bringing us together.
3. What is your favorite service project at Cornell? Why?
I really like Prison Express Book Packing! It’s always interesting to see what kinds of books each person requests, and I also enjoy flipping through the book selection for my own to-read list. I was surprised by how many people request law textbooks or STEM books; it’s also inspiring to see how determined they are to further their education and expand their knowledge even while incarcerated. One thing that struck me but also made sense in a sad way: the one genre that almost everyone requests NOT to receive is true crime.
4. What is something you’ve learned from service?
I learned that I love doing direct service on the ground, interacting with community members, being immersed in the community culture. For me, that’s hands down my favorite part of being in APO. However, I have also witnessed the limits of direct service: it’s not suited for making widespread, lasting change. My time doing service has shaped how I understand the way I can make a social impact and has informed many choices I’ve made for my professional development.
5. Have you been volunteering this summer? If so, where and how has it been?
I’m still in Ithaca for the summer and volunteered at Loaves and Fishes, and as usual it was a lot of fun working with the other volunteers and staff! Since it’s an off-campus event, volunteering in the summer isn’t much different than volunteering during the school year. The people who come in for the meals seem to be in a better mood though, probably because of the wonderful summer weather.