Friday, June 10, 2011

Thoughts from Conference

At my placement, three other interns from different programs and I research for a public policy team. The information we find is used in drafting future legislation proposals. While incredibly neat to work on, it is slightly unfortunate for blogging, as the issues we study must remain confidential.

However, this past week, I was able to attend sessions from the conference my placement plans and facilitates. Simply put, it was fascinating. I figure I’ll share a few quotes that really touched me.

“Labels are for jars, not people.” This comes from a gentleman who has a developmental disability. He shared the story, among others, of fighting to remove the word “retarded” from pieces of legislation.

“He had lost so much hope in the foster care system that he actually requested to stay in prison.” This quote comes from a poignant story demonstrating the difficult situations our youth face when participating in both the juvenile criminal justice system and the state foster care system. The speaker emphasized that life in a juvenile correctional facility for this individual was not easy, but rather that the child no longer trusted the state to place him adequately outside of the prison walls.

“It is overwhelming to stand before you all, who are my personal warriors… and when I am tired… and can’t bare the cross, I know that you will carry it for me for the day.” This quote is part of a speech that a mother gave, detailing her appreciation for the work of the employees gathered at the conference. She spoke with such emotion, and, though I am not an employee, I think her gratitude humbled all of us audience members. It also made me proud to intern with a placement that affects such change.

The conference provided so much powerful information about both general legislation and litigation strategies, but also about people’s personal struggles, successes, and concerns. It was a joy to meet so many people from many different states, and, of course, to have some quality time with my fellow interns. Yes, the seven A.M. staff meetings were early, but I am so glad to have gotten to observe such useful sessions.

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