by Lucy Vazquez
The past nine months at PJALS have been very rewarding. There were many times I doubted my abilities in community organizing and often thought that perhaps community organizing wasn’t for me. During my practicum experience I didn’t get the intern-to-client work experience that my fellow classmates did, however I do understand the importance of lobbying and the importance of being politically involved. I would like to continue working around changing policy for social justice. One of my professors mentioned to us, “social workers are the lobbyists of the poor.” At first I didn’t understand her statement but now after seeing all the work that PJALS does for our community, I get it. We as social workers cannot assist our clients if first and foremost we do not have the resources available to meet our client’s needs. All of the issues and campaigns that we work on are equally important and I admire the passion and drive with which PJALS folks work on them.
During my time with PJALS I experienced and learned new things; one of my most memorable moments was talking in “11 years of Afghanistan” event hosted in October. This was the first major event that I participated in as an intern. My job was to research and read the death toll for U.S. soldiers and civilians for each year of the war. I didn’t think that this would affect me so much, but realizing how many innocent lives were lost during the war really bothered me. However, once I started to reflect on the whole concept, what distributed me the most was all wars around the world and thinking about all the innocent people being harmed by them.
The highlight of my practicum experience was being able to be the lead organizer of the immigration reform march for Spokane. Even though this started as a M.E.Ch.A event, PJALS gave me the opportunity to use some of my practicum time to work on planning this event. PJALS gave me the tools and skills that I needed in order to be fully prepared for it. Comprehensive immigration reform means so much to me; after this march I discovered that my passion was working for immigrants and refugees, something that I hope to continue doing. At only a few days until graduation, I really want to thank PJALS for giving me the opportunity to be part of this team and especially to all my intern friends for all the laughs and memories. I will definitely miss you all! Best of luck to you in your future!