22 Aug Reflections from our summer 2019 interns
This summer, we were fortunate to have two talented interns, both from Wake Forest. Leah Rodman, a rising sophomore, joined us through Wake Forest’s Summer Nonprofit Immersion Program (SNIP) and worked with us 30 hours each week. Maddie Zehmer, a rising senior, interned with us while working a summer job on campus and completing coursework. Their individual talents and willingness to learn were welcome additions to our team, making this summer one of our most productive!
As a first-year student at Wake Forest University, I spent the majority of my time engrossed in my academics and the so-called “Wake Bubble” that is oftentimes all-consuming. I was constantly in search of bridging the disconnect between my life on campus and my place in the Winston-Salem community. However, until my SNIP internship and my position at a/perture cinema, despite my efforts, I was unable to develop my role as a student and community leader.
SNIP, the Summer Nonprofit Immersion Program, is an eight-week long summer internship through Wake Forest University’s Pro Humanitate Institute that partners undergraduate students with community organizations. The purpose of this program is to augment the learning of the student, while at the same time enhancing the capacity of the nonprofit.
My time at a/perture has exposed me to a side of community engagement and enrichment, so unique from traditional non-profit work that I was not aware existed. Similar to the other students in my program working at social justice mission-based nonprofits, I have worked at organizations with the focus of providing immediate relief or enrichment to the lives of individuals in the ways that we deem essential. As an arts-based nonprofit, a/perture serves the community by focusing on enriching the lives of individuals through film, a format that is often not prioritized, despite its necessity. I have had the opportunity to develop new skills and to immerse myself in an organization that values the arts as a fundamental tool for community building and development.
Before working at a/perture, I had limited exposure to art-house films and their ability to enrich people’s everyday lives and encourage powerful and meaningful dialogue. Working here has shown me the simplicity in creating community and forming connections between individuals based solely on the things that we have in common. The most rewarding moments that I have gotten out of this internship were hearing and seeing first hand the way that a/perture serves Winston-Salem and its residents. For example, after attending my first Dialogues screening for The Souvenir and spending days struggling with understanding the film, running into an a/v society member days later at Bookmarks, we discussed the film and he explained to me how he was still examining it in his mind and looking at it differently. While bringing popcorn to the Lewisville Library for Art House in the Burbs, I met a former member who told me how much she enjoyed being able to come to her library to watch the art house films she loves when she can’t make it to downtown.
Throughout my internship, I spent the majority of my time working on the new street side cinema series. I learned how to communicate with filmmakers from around the world, design marketing elements in Canva, create web pages, and curate and organize programs for viewing. I was able to witness as the idea to share films with a wider audience transformed into a tangible project that is now accessible to everyone. I have loved being able to bring films from around the world together that had no obvious visual connection, in an effort to maximize their influence and shape each other.
Furthermore, working at a/perture has taught me how to bring my creativity into the work that I do every day. My tasks have included illustrating and designing the monthly calendars and chalk news boards, creating advertisements and newsletters, designing study guides for field trips, and brainstorming creative ways to work with organizations and other community partners on future projects. Working on these tasks have allowed me to think about things differently and form new perspectives.
As my internship comes to an end and I reflect on what I have learned, I am incredibly grateful for the role I was able to play in a/perture’s continued mission to enrich the lives of community members and create community connections. I will carry this experience with me, and use it as an informative tool to shape my continued involvement with the community throughout my next four years and upcoming semester.