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This blog post is a part of a series of posts written by two Global Neighborhood Interns. The goal of these blog posts is to highlight some of their story as interns at Global Neighborhood. Our interns have spent countless hours “rubbing shoulders” with our employees, learning the practice of building relationships across cultural, linguistic, and gender barriers. Interns play an important and integral part of our work at Global Neighborhood, and serve as the “hands and feet” of our organization in matters of training, English tutoring, driver’s education, and more. “Rubbing Shoulders” tells the story of what it means to invest time building relationship alongside former-refugees, learning from them, and working right alongside them in their jobs.

Give a Man a Fish

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;

teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

As is often the case with organizations of its nature, Global Neighborhood is currently in a time of transition. Last week one employee left for a new job, and this week two more will be going as well. Their time with us has come to an end and they will soon be moving on to other great things, thanks (in large part) to the start they got here at GN Thrift. A few new employees with be hired to replace them soon, but the three who are leaving will not be gone from the minds, hearts, and lives of the Global Neighborhood community. Even in the short time that I’ve been interning here, I’ve seen the true depth of investment and relationship that comes with employment at GN. This is very important and unique, and I have come to learn that it is one of the greatest aspects of what the organization does.

For my internship with GN Thrift, we are reading a book called “Toxic Charity” by Robert D. Lupton. It is a thought-provoking analysis of the large-scale charitable giving and service project movements that have swept the United States in recent years, and the real effect that our aid can have on those we are trying to help in other countries. I have only read the first few chapters, but already the author has hit on a very important main theme; the best way we can help others is by empowering them, not enabling them. With many aid organizations, the people on the receiving end learn to depend on their benefactors rather than develop methods to support themselves long-term. They become discouraged and can even feel incompetent, as if their only option is to accept aid from others.

In contrast, Global Neighborhood’s model instills hope and confidence in the people who work here. It is particularly successful because they are investing in their employees by helping them to get an education, develop valuable occupational skills, and build long-term, supportive relationships. Like the old proverb says, we must “teach them to fish”. This way, employees don’t only receive support from their employers, but also from each other. Since GN employees develop valuable skills in their time here, they can eventually become the ones who will train and support the new hires. It’s great to see these things happening at the store and know that when our employees finally do move on from this job, they are well equipped to succeed in the next phase of life.

By Sammy Skinner, Spring Intern 2015

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