The intern experience can be very meaningful for the young adults in our programs, even after they leave Project Transformation. Here, Larry, an intern alumni, shares how his time at Project Transformation changed his life in four powerful ways:
When asked “What has Project Transformation done in your life?” the only way I can begin to answer is to remember who I was before I began working there. I was struggling to pay for school, I had not held too much responsibility in my previous places of employment and didn’t have much confidence that I could, I was close-minded and conservative in my theology, and I held very little knowledge of how I could make a positive impact in my community outside of being a preacher or a teacher. I bring up those four points because those are the areas that have changed the most in me, thanks to Project Transformation. The first two are very much connected as are the second two.
I had made bad decisions early in my college career which ended in me almost dropping out of school. I had a huge debt and couldn’t take classes until I paid it back. Without a college degree and with few connections, my job options were usually reduced to entry-level labor jobs. Project Transformation was the first employer to actually invest in my growth. Starting as a year-rounder, Friday trainings helped me learn much about professionalism and the responsibility that we, as interns, had to be leaders in the community. As I went through the summer, I became part of a bigger team and received the responsibility of giving our Pleasant Mound youth an impactful summer. I did not take that responsibility lightly. The summer went well, and I signed up for another year. The AmeriCorps stipend helped me get back in school. Throughout my second year I found myself helping out my teammates and Site Coordinators a lot. I realized I was an important part of the organization and gained confidence in what I had to input. It was by this reasoning that I decided to apply to be a Site Coordinator. Project Transformation gave me that opportunity and continued to support me as I gave the best I could to the communities I served. Because of that last year, I am more confident in what I am able to do. Family members have even noticed a difference in the way I carry myself.
The other two areas I mentioned earlier (my close-minded conservative slant in theological matters and my lack of knowledge of how to make a positive impact in the community) changed gradually as I served in those three years. When I started at Project Transformation, I believed that only the small portion of people of who believed in God the way I did were right. However, Project Transformation helped me to celebrate theological diversity. Before I served here, I had never had any deep theological conversations with anyone outside of my own religious network which created a small view of God. As I served the communities, not by transferring Christian dogmas and rigid beliefs, but through love and compassion, my views slowly began to expand. This was the first time that I saw service as the center of Christianity as opposed to distant sermons. My service to God was directly related to my service to those in the community who needed it the most.
I could go on about how Project Transformation has changed me, but I’m pretty sure I’ve written too much already. I hope that Project Transformation continues to give opportunities to serve to more young people.
Intern Alumni, 2009-2012