Reggie’s Blog – Changing and Improving (DR Intern 2012)

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Going into a new experience you always wonder what to expect. That is how I felt going into a Hero Holiday this year, 2012, as an intern. Yes, I knew the outline of responsibilities, I read all of the emails, and I heard stories from previous interns, but I have never experienced it myself to bring it all to reality. Now that the experience has come to an end, I now know what it means to be an intern and it is amazing!!!

When I think about what it means to be an intern, there are many aspects, but a few stick out to me. Being an intern to me means self discovery. As an intern, you are away from many of the pressures you may experience at home and are now surrounded by people who are very similar to you. Just like you, these people want to make a difference. These people are understanding and exceptional listeners. During our time with LiveDifferent, the interns shared their life story with as much or little detail as they wanted. It felt great to see that each and every intern gave full attention to the person telling their story and each time someone finished there were no shortage of hugs to be given. Most importantly, despite the differences among stories, everyone has had their struggles and there is no reason to feel alone. Sharing my story allowed me to move on and further my own self discovery.
Being an intern also means being a leader and a responsible role model. As an intern, other volunteers look up to you for advice and information and use you as an example. It is always important to know what is going on and to follow rules. It feels great to be looked up to and to know the answer to a question when someone asks. Being a leader, a role model, and holding responsibilities gives you a great boost of confidence. This is important in improving your leadership abilities. When you are in a leadership role, you cannot avoid strengthening your leadership abilities. The Hero Holiday internship program with LiveDifferent ensures you have responsibilities that involve various leadership skills. You will face challenges in these responsibilities, but you will learn to quickly problem solve and hope you make the right decision, (or at least learn from your mistakes in handling it!) 
Lastly, and most importantly for me, being an intern means building countless relationships. This is what made the experience the most fun and appealing to me. I have made close, personal friendships with staff, volunteers, and the people in the communities we built in. I cannot explain in words how amazing these relationships are. Each individual has touched me in some way, whether with their story, an action, or just their personality.
Here is a little story that expresses some of the friendships I have made. This was my second Hero Holiday, my first was last summer, and both were in Dominican Republic. Last year I was on the trip that was just 10 days long, and I didn’t know anyone at all! I was a part of a team of about 18 volunteers, and before the first day had ended I felt like I had known most of them all my life. By the end of the trip we had created our own family. We had many experiences together and countless inside jokes. But, unfortunately at the end of the 10 days we had to leave each other. We all kept in touch over Facebook, texting etc., and the relationships remained strong. I know this because this year 13 of the 18 volunteers returned to the DR for a Hero Holiday this year. It was almost as if we never left each other. The bond we have feels amazing and never fails to bring a smile to my face.
On top of these friendships are the relationships you form with the community and families you work with. Working on the same home the whole trip allows you to get to know the family, have some fun, and talk to people. The feeling you get when the family hugs you and thanks you over and over for their new home is unbelievable. When you make a connection with that one child who remembers your name because you remembered his or hers, and comes running to you every time he or she sees you – it is beyond amazing!
Being an intern has meant so much to me, and it has been a big part of my growth as an individual. If you are interested in the LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Internship Program, or have any questions about anything I wrote about, or even just want to chat by all means hit me up on Facebook or shoot me an email at (LiveDifferent will forward the email on to Reggie to reply). You can also find a lot of info on the LiveDifferent website or contact one of the awesome LiveDifferent staff!
Reggie – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Intern, Dominican Republic 2012

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: August 15th, 2012