I count myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of the Cleveland Foundation summer internship. I am placed with The City Club of Cleveland where I am exposed to all aspects of what the organization does. I have taken on a variety of tasks such as special program planning and building a social media plan, but perhaps the most exciting aspect of what I get to do at The City Club is partake in the programs themselves.
Just the other day I sat in on a panel discussion about Cleveland’s newest and greatest chefs. This was exciting for two reasons: first of all, there were delicious samples. Secondly, and most importantly, I got a first-hand account of the Cleveland culinary landscape. Each chef spoke with such passion: passion for food, passion for quality, local food that comes from our local farmers, and passion for the people of Cleveland and the state of Ohio. Anyone sitting in the room that day was sure to walk away feeling a little bit prouder to be part of the Cleveland community; I know I did. The thing is, this program and its contents are but one of many reasons to love this city.
Initially, when I first came to Cleveland with my parents several years ago, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find. I wasn’t sure if I would even like it here. Slowly, I became acclimated to area, and I began to discover what I initially thought of as sporadic treasures here and there. It wasn’t until I graduated from college, moved back permanently and received an internship with the foundation that I realized how inaccurate my perceptions were. I began my internship, and I was immediately awakened to the wealth of culture, innovation, activism and passion that resonates from this city on the lake. It is only the third week of my nonprofit internship, and I have already been exposed to so much of what makes Cleveland such an amazing city. I imagine I have only seen the tip of the iceberg, which is why I look forward to the many City Club forums ahead of me this summer.
The other day at a professional development seminar I was touched by a simple, yet profound statement made by a panel of community activists. When asked why young Clevelanders should consider staying in Cleveland at a time when so many are leaving, someone replied, “Because right now we as Clevelander’s are in the unique position to define our destiny as a city, define what we want our community to be, and create it.” How awesome is that? This concept is so inspirational; to think about it gives me chills. Of all the skills and experience I gain this summer, I believe it is this idea that may prove most valuable to me in the future.
In conclusion, this summer is proving to be much more of a profound experience than I had initially anticipated. I learn something new every single day, and I get to be part of Cleveland’s stellar nonprofit community. I can’t wait to see what the next eight weeks have in store for me!
Each week we will use this space to give each of our interns a chance to reflect on their internship experiences. Nicole Velasquez, a recent graduate of Clarion University in Pennsylvania, is placed at The City Club.