Hiya! My name is Vanessa Guerra and I am a senior Criminal Justice major at Appalachian State University. I applied to be an intern for the Spring 2021 semester amid COVID-19, which inevitably changed how the internship would look like but even with some of the changes, it was one of the most important experiences of my undergraduate life.
My internship at Hospitality House was not what I expected but it was even better than I could’ve imagined. When I thought about internships, I always imagined an office and possibly making copies and coffee all the time but that was not the case this past semester. Instead, I had to lean into the unexpectedness that came with the Hospitality House, where the term of "no one day is the same" has more truth to it, but the unexpected is what was critical for my time here.
I vaguely knew about Hospitality House because I used to volunteer during my freshman year for one of my general education classes. It was an eye-opening experience because it showed me how widespread the issue of homelessness is, as well as the stigma surrounding those who are homeless. This was expanded upon when I became an intern, as we were told in more depth about services designed to help those who are vulnerable, as well as getting to know the clients and residents that stay here.
I wasn’t sure what to expect or how my time here would go and it left me nervous for when I first showed up on that Monday in January, however, it was different from what I learned from everyone here. Before interning here, I only knew about the stigma concerning the homeless populations but once I talked to the clients, as well as the staff, I learned just how wrong these stigmas and stereotypes are. I will admit that I wasn't sure how the clients would react to me or what they would think of me as an intern.
However, thanks to this new experience, I was able to make lasting friendships, and have found different perspectives from how I saw the issue of homelessness and the populations it impacts. This entire experience was most life-changing and I am happy to announce that I am staying to work for Hospitality House for the foreseeable future. It's always good to get out of your comfort zone and you'll be surprised about what you can learn from others. Always seek more knowledge and form your own opinions and make sure to always help when you can.