This week Jocelyn Martinez, a programs assistant at WorldTeach, talks about service as well as her experience interning with us in Boston.

As an intern at WorldTeach, I have the opportunity to grow and build up my skills. My name is Jocelyn Martinez and I am a junior at Lesley University. I am majoring in Global Studies with a minor in Environmental Studies. As a third year student I have practiced my leadership abilities on campus but WorldTeach has taught me what this looks like in a professional global setting. A lot of my work revolves around policy reform, social justice, and gender & racial politics; ultimately with the goal of applying this towards international humanitarian aid reform. It is a fine line but my goal is to work both within social change and social service.

There is a need for assistance and there is a need for change and with limited resources to do so, it is dangerous to focus them all in social service or social change. To not recognize there needs to be a change perpetuates the system created which keeps people oppressed and marginalized. But to also focus strictly on change puts people at risk of not receiving assistance at all. To do both is very challenging and is in the process of improving everyday. WorldTeach works in this way to show there needs to be a change by being the change while still provided resources to underprivileged communities.

At WorldTeach I am the Programs Assistant and I work to gather resources for volunteers. They will be travelling abroad to teach in other countries for a year or for a shorter term. WorldTeach works to make sure volunteers have a cultural and social understanding of where they are going and how to be responsible in unfamiliar settings. Volunteers will not only help, but they will also learn how to be a global citizens. In such a globalized world these skills are necessary for volunteers to apply both abroad and at home.

In my perspective, to be a global citizen is to be someone who is interconnected with the world around them from micro to macro settings. It also means to know this and apply inquiry, empathy, and other indicators of standing in solidarity with people of different backgrounds from all around the world. Volunteers practice this understanding in their respective volunteer sites and hone these skills to make an impact everywhere they go. Without the resources to have these experiences myself, I choose to intern at WorldTeach to involve myself in the process in any way that I can.

I learned about WorldTeach through my university’s career and resource center which works to gather internship and career opportunities for students. I was immediately intrigued by WorldTeach when I began to learn about their mission. I quickly resonated with their morals and ideals because it’s the kind of impact and change the world needs. It’s the fine line of social service and social change. In underprivileged areas of the world, there is a need for assistance in education. WorldTeach provides assistance to these communities while preparing people to be as helpful and respectful in the process. It is easy for a volunteer to sign up with numerous programs and head straight into the classroom but it is not easy to teach them the awareness they need to be a part of the community and to live in another country very different from the one they are from.

I had become familiar with these processes when I experienced these uneven structures through my own personal experiences. I heard about stories from my family members in another country and I felt it myself. While in the states I had worked with an international aid agency and it appalled me how much they were harming the communities they were supposed to be helping. It had become even more personal when I found out I was not qualified to receive aid from them if my family signed up. We did not meet a certain tax bracket, we did not have the educational requirements, and we did not have the documentation status they were requesting. But here I was, allowed to volunteer for an organization which helps families more privileged than I. As a volunteer I was not properly vetted into the process. Organizations have the responsibility to prepare volunteers for their service every step of the way. This experience drives me to be a leader and drove me to apply here.

My leadership roles vary, but my positions in Lesley University’s Office of Community Service has taught me what it means to serve and what are disparities we should be aware of while serving. I learned there is no regulation in the world about the kind of micro negative impacts volunteers make in foreign communities. What gets misunderstood about the negative impacts created is the backing that it was all meant with good intentions. In underdeveloped settings intent does not make a difference when the repercussions are unraveling. WorldTeach does not do the work it does because it is easy, they do it because it matters and should be adopted by other agencies. I seek to continue this work in my own career.

I feel very passionate about educating people to become more aware of the different privileges and oppressions our identities hold. I believe if we do not recognize this we will create a more harmful instead of healing space. There are a lot of uneven processes in the world which have been occurring for centuries and they have not shifted passed that phase. As a global community we must be there for eachother and must take accountability of what is not being done to improve the living conditions of underprivileged communities. I feel that I am learning more about taking action at WorldTeach and actively making a difference.

The importance of service is how quickly it can build a community. Everyone involved in WorldTeach has already taken a step to building a global community and should not refrain there. I have learned so much already and I am more excited to learn more throughout my Internship.