-Taylor Morgan, Volunteer Coordination Intern
I first got involved with the Peace & Justice Center in November 2018, when I applied to their internship on Handshake [the UVM job board]. I had little to no knowledge of the center prior to applying, only that it was down by the waterfront. I didn’t realize the immense impact the Center has, and the levels of passion and dedication the staff, interns, and volunteers possess. I was interviewed and then offered the position of the Volunteer Coordination Intern. I accepted, thus beginning my relationship with the PJC.
The atmosphere at the PJC is comfortable, relaxed, and accepting of anyone who walks through their doors. Everyone is approachable and willing to help. It was this friendliness and acceptance that made me feel at home in the center. I appreciate how receptive the staff is to my questions about certain tasks and events, and I never feel as if I was alone in accomplishing a task. Working with the volunteers was a wonderful experience, and through this internship, I was able to meet countless incredible volunteers who strongly identify with the Center’s mission and contribute to the Burlington community.
An opportunity I highly cherish is the ability to learn and be educated on topics on which I have little knowledge. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve learned valuable things about the three main pillars of the PJC’s work: fair trade, peace work, and racial justice, with a larger concentration in fair trade. I knew prior to the start of the internship that our free trade system had its faults and that many industries are corrupt, but not to the extent which I know now. Many agricultural industries such as the banana and cocoa industry have thinly veiled secrets involving slave labor, harsh conditions, environmental degradation, and child labor.
The educational programs the Center offers in addition to the plethora of local, educational, and fair trade goods in the store, helped educate me on fair trade brands and what changes I could make in my life to promote fair trade. The presentations at the center do an excellent job informing the public about the three main issues the center works to resolve. Fair Trade 101: Global Trade and Racism was my first presentation at the center. It shows the history and current trends of globalization and free trade at the expense of native, marginalized peoples. When I’m in the store, it feels like I find a new product behind every corner, each with their own story and way of promoting the values of fair trade.
I’m proud of all the work I’ve done over the past several months, but recruiting new volunteers for the PJC takes first place. The most rewarding thing for me to see as a result of my internship is getting to meet and see the volunteers that I helped recruit in the center. Now that my time interning for the Center is coming to a close, I foresee myself returning as a volunteer, to keep making an impact and sustaining the relationships I’ve built at the Center. I’d like to thank the staff of the Peace & Justice Center, all the amazing volunteers, and my fellow interns for this experience for the past five months!