An American in London
It’s 6:30pm on a Monday night and I am an American college student taking an unfamiliar form of transportation, commonly known as the ‘tube’. I am on my way to go to a local library café to meet a group of various people I have never met before. I have arrived in London but a mere three days prior and I am praying I am heading in the right direction. I get off the train at my stop, make my way to the “Way Out” sign, and eventually find the gentleman who arranged to meet me. Relieved to have found the correct location and meet such a welcoming face, I followed him as we made our way over to the hidden treasure of a café where my first meeting would take place. The street is nothing at all as I would expect London to be, it is not ‘old and gloomy’, but very much alive with the remnants of an Asian street market beginning to close shop for the night. As we walk the man explains how “Asian food” in England takes on a very different meaning than it does in American culture. We arrive at the top floor of the charming library and pull some tables and chairs together with a marvelous view of the city lights through the wide window. People begin to trickle in of all ages and ethnicities and I am intrigued to know their stories, and what brought them all here today to this very organization that I was now a part of. “What in the world are you doing here?”, the middle-aged man sitting across from me laughed as I was introduced to the group as a student from California. Funny, I had just been thinking the same thing about each of them but in a more curious and intrigued way rather than his sarcastic tone. I knew it may be an uncommon sight to see a seemingly “typical Californian sorority girl” working for a local nonprofit organization overseas, but I knew in my heart there was nowhere else I’d rather be.
The typical American college experience has a reputation, and not necessarily in the best kind of way. American students are known to binge-drink their way through school and prioritize their social lives and their affiliations with Greek organizations on campus over their studies. While this is definitely a generalization, there is an element of truth to it. I have been studying at a California State University for three years now and while I have gained so much knowledge and independence in my time there, I have been craving something deeper. I yearned to enrich my college experience and be a part of something bigger than myself, and bigger than the sorority I have been a member of for the past three years. I wanted to develop the skills and foundation to be able to help make a difference in people’s lives and help build a brighter future. I knew studying abroad would be an influential experience but first I had to decide where to go. London intrigued me as my grandmother had been born and raised there but was separated from her family during the second world war and eventually made her way to the United States of America. Growing up hearing her stories, I felt it would be an honor to visit her city of origin and make a life for myself and experience it in a way she had never been able to. Once I had decided on London I knew I wanted to find an internship to be involved in while abroad. I had been more and more drawn to work in fields such as nonprofit organizations and social justice work so it naturally felt like a perfect match.
I absolutely love the mission and message that Journey to Justice advocates for.
That night I saw first hand how every member of the team carried their own knowledge and strengths to bring to the table. It is clear that every person has a story and these stories can become a force of nature when used as a source of empowerment. People can choose to use the blessings and hardships they have faced throughout their lifetime as a platform to build a better future for those around them and a source of inspiration. I believe that Journey to Justice has an empowering mission and can help people who may have lost hope find their own stories and rewrite it into something beautiful; a work of art. In my time here working with this inspiring team, I also hope to find my own story and discover what I can bring to the table for future generations.