by Deanna Drenga, High School Senior and Former WEDO Intern

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of working for a few days at WEDO to better understand how an international non-profit organization functions. As a rising high school senior eagerly anticipating my transition to college life and exploring different areas to study, I was excited about the chance to learn more about WEDO’s work. It may have been the world’s shortest internship, but in the three days I was there, I learned a tremendous amount about the organization- and myself! I discovered who they are and what they do around the world, and delved into some issue areas which I found truly fascinating.

Although I live only an hour outside of NYC, whenever I’m actually in the city I feel awed and humbled.  Riding the subway on Monday morning, I looked and felt every bit the callow, inexperienced youth that I often like to forget that I am. Trailing after Bridget, the Project and Communications Director at WEDO (and for full disclosure, my cousin) in Grand Central, I felt excited and thrilled at the hustle and bustle of city life surrounding me. I forced my feet to adapt to the fast pace of those in front of me; I sidestepped and jaywalked just as well as any other New Yorker immersed in the daily grind.  When we finally made it to the office, my brief affair with the streets had ended and my first days of work had begun.

Monday and Tuesday were very similar. Both days I scoured social media and news sites for articles on topics from Rio+20 and Millennium Development Goals to environmental sustainability and women’s rights. I have to admit, at first I was extremely confused. There were tons of acronyms and references to things I had no idea even existed. However, despite my initial confusion, I could feel myself becoming more and more interested. I was fascinated by the articles I was reading. They discussed issues I had always known about vaguely but had never really given much thought to.

I felt outraged  at the lack of women’s rights and sustainability initiatives in many countries around the world. I felt frustrated when I learned about the failure to make significant progress at Rio+20. Yet I still felt hopeful when I read about plans for a better future and the programs that organizations like WEDO are implementing to make that future a reality.

My third and final day interning for WEDO, I took a tour of the United Nations. Although it seems silly now, I felt like a pretty important person to be strolling around the UN. In my entire tour group I was the only person from the United States. The members of my group were from countries such as Argentina, Austria, Germany, and Japan just to name a few. The tour was nothing short of enlightening. In over an hour, I had learned more about the current status of human rights, sustainability initiatives, development goals, peacekeeping efforts, and poverty than I ever thought possible.

You will have to forgive me for sounding corny, but by the end of my short time at WEDO I felt inspired. I was inspired by everything that this organization works toward and I can’t wait to keep reading about the wonderful things they do. Although I’m not sure that I was of any real help to the women of WEDO, I feel so grateful to have been able to intern for them. This experience was not something I will soon forget and I hope that I can be of help to this organization in the future!

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