May 30, 2021

Learning, Experiencing, Growing: Reflections of an Outgoing Intern

Applying for the intern position at MGA was one of the best decisions I’ve made! It has been a year of learning, experiencing, and growing, and my heart is filled with gratitude as it comes to an end.

Here are my top five things that I’ve learned during my internship with MGA:

  1. Having a supportive team around you is so important

From the very start of my internship, I was welcomed with open arms and smiles by Angela, Colleen and Cecilie.  The MGA team cultivates a compassionate, joyful, and supportive culture that fosters the voices, ideas and participation of all team members. The world of international justice work and the United Nations was completely new to me, which meant that the MGA team’s wisdom, guidance and support was critical to my understanding and development. I was encouraged to work both autonomously and as part of a team on a range of projects related to mercy and justice, and knowing that I had the MGA team behind me boosted my confidence and self-esteem greatly.

  1. Poverty is definitely not a fate!

I decided to apply for the internship at MGA to gain first hand and practical experience of Mercy’s justice and advocacy work addressing the root causes of suffering. I was swiftly introduced to this during my first task as an intern, participating in the MGA COVID-19 Response Task Force. Joining the task force was one of the many wonderful opportunities that I had to connect with Sisters, Partners and Staff from around the Mercy World, to learn from the experiences of Earth and people, and to contribute to MGA’s advocacy efforts. I strengthened my research skills exploring the social, environmental, economic, and political crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. This project was just one of the many advocacy initiatives undertaken by the office to highlight the oppression caused by power, privilege and systemic silencing. MGA is continuously engaging in advocacy to dismantle the discriminatory institutions, structures, and norms that are embedded in society. Their commitment to challenge these systems of oppression and injustice, and to lift up the voices of those suffering is truly inspiring, and it affirms Catherine McAuley’s statement that ‘poverty is not a fate’.

  1. Adaptability is key

Adaptability and flexibility have been key to successfully managing the changing circumstances brought on by the pandemic during my internship. Since we’ve been in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, I was unable to travel to MGA’s office in the Church Centre at the UN in New York. Instead Angela, Colleen, Cecilie and I have been working under a virtual roof that extends from Australia to the USA, pit stopping in Ireland in between. Last July, I began my internship working from MIC on Baggot Street. Unfortunately, this didn’t last very long due to new lockdown measures that were introduced in Ireland last August. This resulted in me carrying out the remaining nine months working remotely from home. Because of this, I’ve developed a deep gratitude for technology and its ability to connect the world. The time difference between the USA, Australia and Ireland meant that mastering the art of late night Zoom meetings was essential… and I’ve actually come to enjoy them if I’m honest!

  1. If the opportunity is there, grab it!

Although I was over 4,000 km away from New York,  I was still able to learn so much about the complex system that is the UN.  MGA collaborates with Working Groups and other NGOs at the UN on a range of justice issues related to migration, water and violence. Having the chance to participate in these virtual working group meetings provided me with opportunities to network and connect with people, while growing in understanding of intersecting global justice issues. I joined a Subcommittee on Children in Migration where I learned about the importance of providing Early Childhood Education and Care initiatives to migrants and refugees in order to promote social cohesion, gender equity and peace. Additionally, one of the highlights of my internship experience was the opportunity to present the findings of my MELF research project ‘A Home is Dignity’ to the UN NGO Working Group to End Homelessness.

  1. Enjoy yourself!

Finally, enjoying your work is a blessing! It’s been a joy working with the team on meaningful projects that drive my passion for justice. Being motivated by passion has inspired me to maintain a curiosity to learn and bring enthusiasm and a positive attitude to the MGA team.

The internship has prepared me to go back to university this September, to pursue my Masters Degree in International Relations.  In addition to this, I’ve gladly accepted a position as Programme Coordinator at Mercy International Centre, Baggot St, which I’m excited to begin this Summer. I can’t thank Angela, Colleen and Cecilie enough for giving me the chance to learn, experience, and grow, both professionally and personally. I hope we can sit around a table in-person for a ‘cuppa’ in the not so distant future!  And to the many others who contributed to my journey as MGA intern, thank you! It has been a journey I will cherish, always.

Messages to: Siobhan Golden - MGA Intern

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