By Leela Khanna
As my summer in India is quickly coming to an end, and I’m beginning the transition back to life on the Hudson Valley, I think it’s important to reflect back on the past three months keeping CCE’s purpose in mind. In many respects I’m happy with how I’ve spent my summer, and on paper, it was the ideal internship. I worked for an organization that was relevant to what I’m studying and to me personally, I met new people from different backgrounds, I learned many new things about NGOs, I had a chance to explore Delhi, and I actively engaged in the community and with civil society.
Yet, the question that is most relevant to me, at the end of this experience is whether three months of commitment to civic engagement in enough towards CCE’s larger cause: to use our education to support the public interest. As relevant and impactful as the people, their stories, and their struggles are to me now, will they remain impactful when I go back to the scenic woods of Bard?
I think as CCE students it’s important for all of us to reflect back on our experiences and rather than find satisfaction in closing the chapter of work we’ve done this summer and move on, continue to somehow, in our own personal ways, stay connected to what we’ve done, and the causes we’ve supported. Our dedication to civic engagement shouldn’t be turned off or put on the back burner for another summer as soon as we get back on campus. In fact, I think that would go against the very foundational purpose of CCE.
Rather, in order for the work we’ve done this summer to really have a lasting impact, it’s important for us to continue reflecting on the experience as we reassume our roles as students. We should use our continual educational growth to add further meaning to our internships. For me personally, I plan to remain connected to the events and on-goings of gender rights in India, and stay in touch with the people I worked with. As happy as I am with this summer, I also realize that civic engagement can’t be a responsibility taken in small bursts when I have the time. It’s a full-time commitment that needs to be a priority for every citizen.