“The Full American Experience”

As a small Romani girl, I always dreamt about America, the land of dreams, adventurous movies, cool music videos and endless smiles on the happy people’s face. Later on, of course I realized that not all was roses in the US either.

Hence, I was very excited and glad to receive the opportunity to discover America on my own by interning at the Granite State Organizing Project through the GLC Professional Fellowship Program. During this adventurous journey, the whole staff at GSOP and my host family worked on giving me the “full American experience”, which was fulfilled in every sense. Besides exploring huge American cars, big food portions, ice in every drink and strange showers, I got involved in various GSOP activities, such as thought-provoking meetings, creative staff meetings, and the super useful Active Bystander, Leadership and Bird-dogging trainings.

The combination of these trainings and the refreshing meetings with Y.O.U. (Youth Organizers United, GSOP’s youth program) are the closest to my work with Roma youth: providing workshops to school students about Roma identity, culture and history in order to challenge stereotypes and prejudices regarding Roma. Thus, I was fortunate to share and gain individual first-hand experience on the similarities between the situations and issues affecting African American and Roma communities.

Although community organizing takes time, a bunch of energy, and a lot of patience, the result is very precious. We make mistakes, profit from our failures and learn to be happy about the small successes, celebrating them and keep going, because building relationships is building power. (This was one of my biggest takeaways – the sentence I have heard at least 10 times a day while in the USA.)

My journey is coming to an end, however I highly appreciate the openness of every person I have met, the inspiring conversations, as well as one-on-ones unpacking personal and professional issues and views. Despite the short amount of time, I had the chance to develop deep relationships, I found possible allies, coworkers, inspiring beautiful people, friends and family who will always have my back.

Therefore I would like to thank my host family, GSOP, WSOS and everyone for helping me grow professionally and personally. It was an unforgettable six weeks.