Classroom to Community
Four years of Sociology studies gives a student the academic background it takes to consider the world critically, question accepted norms, and make intelligent observations about the imperfect structure of society. And while textbook chapters and scholarly articles are undoubtedly valuable tools-- no resource is as lucrative as real life interaction. No textbook assignment has put my studies into context more than the immersive education I’ve received as an intern at Hospitality House.
I don’t feel like an intern here, I feel like a community member. I’ve spent my summer interacting authentically and forming relationships with incredible individuals I otherwise might not have crossed paths with. I’ve witnessed the impact of inequality on social, medical and economic levels and the resulting burdens faced by those dealing with singular and overlapping disadvantages.
The community here is comprised of diverse members with varied talents, abilities and experiences. While to some these discrepancies may seem divisive, at Hosp House they allow every person to settle into their own niche. Observing the interactions that play out between the residents, visitors, staff and volunteers here has truly demonstrated the power of compassion and acceptance. The expectation for everyone to play their part emphasizes the significance of each member of the team. Hospitality House is a bustling ecosystem made up of the people who keep the garden, kitchen, pantry, and administrative end of things flowing together smoothly.
Although the group dynamic sparks plenty reflection about sociological interaction, working at Hospitality House this summer has left me with personal takeaways as well. An ultimate goal of mine has been to recognize my status as an able-bodied, middle-class, college graduate and contemplate the ways I navigate that positionality in different spaces. My first couple of weeks as an intern I felt uncomfortably aware of my privilege. As time went on I realized the necessity to think about how I could relate and engage with people instead of tiptoeing around what set us apart.
More than anything, this summer has taught me that interpersonal connection is a huge part of illuminating the truths of the world around us, and that’s something you don’t get in a classroom. After this internship I am optimistic about continuing to work with those who have been marginalized and underrepresented towards a future full of possibilities and access. Although we are all bearing different sets of hardships, there is something to teach and something to learn in every connection we make. I think if more of us incorporated that mindset into our daily interactions, the impact would be universal.