Hi, I’m Effy. I’ve been working as an intern for Generation SERVE’s Youth Leadership Program since January. I came from South Korea through the WEST program, a culture exchange program that gives Korean university students an opportunity to learn American culture, practice English and advance their careers through an internship.
I can’t believe my internship is almost over! I’ve spent the best time of my life working for Generation SERVE. I’ve committed to helping others with our amazing kids and teens at various nonprofits around Austin through the Service Learning Program and Youth Leadership Program.
At times, I went through tough days. It was hard for me to find the courage to interact with new people and deal with situations that wouldn’t have been a big deal in my country, but were more difficult for me to face here. When I led my first activity at Austin Regional Science Festival, I was so anxious about making mistakes that I called and texted Jennifer throughout the event. Back then, I struggled with the fear that others might see me as incompetent.
That changed when I saw a note Jennifer had written for me. The Generation SERVE staff has a compliment jar where we praise our co-workers for committing themselves to the organization’s core values, and Jennifer had written one about me for the “trust” value. I never told Jennifer about this before, but that card meant a lot to me and changed my thoughts. I realized that I’ve been trusted, supported and loved regardless of whether I was making mistakes or leading an activity.
I don’t have to be a perfect speaker or a problem-solving hero. It wasn’t until I admitted this to myself that I could feel relaxed and comfortable. What I needed to do was appreciate and enjoy every moment with supportive people! Now I know that I deserve all the moments when kids made me smile or teens’ enthusiasm surprised me or co-workers motivated me. Those moments remind me of not only what I missed in the past, but also what I’d really love to do in the future.
I’m not going to conclude my story with an ending about becoming a better version of myself. Instead, I’ll say I’ve learned how to face myself fully through Generation SERVE. None of this would’ve been possible without our team. Thank you to Jennifer and Barbara for always leading, nudging and embracing me!
Effy (center) with the Teen Advisory Board and Youth Leadership Program staff.
Effy (left) with Youth Leadership Program Manager Barbara Lundquist and Youth Leadership Program Director Jennifer Himstedt.
Effy interacts with a rescued kitten during a service activity at Austin Humane Society.