After beginning her position as a Community Organizer for Force of Nature Alliance, third-year Asian Studies student Yadi Qu quickly realized that the internship was more than just a part-time job.
“The experience itself is more than what I expected, it is about building networks and strengthening your communication skills and all sorts of things,” she says.
Working at Force of Nature, an environmental organization that advocates for reduced carbon emissions in British Columbia, Yadi experienced what it is like to be on the front lines of a social movement. She canvassed for signatures, conducted phone surveys, and managed data, all while learning more about BC’s electoral system and environmental activism.
“I am specialized in religious studies, and there are many religious groups that are devoted to environmental issues,” she explains. “What I learned in school was theoretical, and what I did in the internship is to actually put those theories into practice.”
While many people recognize the issue of global warming, they may feel powerless to do anything about it, and Yadi values the opportunity to devote herself to the issue for five months. On the flip side, working for a non-profit also gives students exposure to the challenges of working for change, which can be a slow and arduous process.
Speaking to people from all types of backgrounds about environmental issues taught Yadi about how to engage respectfully with contradicting perspectives.
“I learned to listen to both sides. I met many people standing in other positions who are trying to argue with me, and I try not to engage in the argument,” she explains. “Because nothing is totally black or white.”
Although her internship has ended, Yadi stays in touch with Force of Nature and is currently signed up for volunteer shifts with the organization.
An international student herself, Yadi believes that fears over communicating in English can be a barrier that prevents some international students from participating in programs.
“Many people they don’t speak out because their English is not that good. They kind of feel shy and like they can’t speak out – especially when it comes to work where you have to speak more, they feel terrified.”
This summer Yadi is pushing herself even further, heading to Sciences Po on a Go Global study abroad program. She encourages other students to not let worries about language proficiency stop them from applying for the Arts Internship Program.
“If you don’t speak out then you will never improve.”