Evie is a senior CCPA major working at Global Witness. This non-governmental organization is working to break the links between natural resources, conflict and corruption.
The end of six weeks seemed so far away when I first walked the hall and opened the door to the room that was to be my home, my haven, for my time in London. I was scared, confused, worried, anxious, everything that comes with first job jitters.
The only difference for me is I was working for the first time in a foreign country with only a few people I knew, in a place I was uncomfortable in, and away from my parents and friends for the longest time I have ever gone. I have traveled Europe with my family, gone to camp for 5 weeks without seeing my parents, lived in Argentina for 5 weeks with a family, but still all of this was done with either a small group of close friends, a long visit from my parents, or a close confidante having gone before me.
For the first time I was out on my own.
My father was the only person who really could help settle me and make me realize I had done the right thing coming and had done it right. He said this experience would change my life, and I did right because I went to a country where English is spoken, that I had been to once before, that I had loved, I was going through a program run by a professor I think very highly of and feel very comfortable with, and I was going with an open eye to meet new people and experience all of it. I had done it right, now all I needed was to live it up for the next six weeks. And boy did I!
My first week included bonding with the other eight interns, traveling to Leeds Castle, walking London through Trafalgar Square, down Downing Street, around Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben, and stopping in a little local pub for a pint. It only took two days for me to meet and bond with a girl I knew was going to be my friend during and after London. We traveled to Ikea (in the way far out outskirts of London) to help make our rooms more habitable. This experience set up what I knew was going to be an interesting and unforgettable trip.
Work on the first day was supposed to be a meet and greet, but mine turned into an actual day of work. For me, this was the perfect way to start. I was so nervous that having a day of work made the rest of my time at Global Witness feel like I belonged, like I had been there for years.
Working for an NGO such as Global Witness really opened my eyes to the world outside of the States and the UK. I knew of the issues they fought against, but I never really took the time to learn about them. I now know so much about natural resources that I want to know more.
I have such a deep respect for my colleagues and the dedication and devotion they have for their work, the people they are fighting for, and the messages they are trying to deliver to the rest of the world. The word can’t is not in their vocabulary. If it seems impossible, find a way, there is always a way.
I learned some of the most valuable lessons during my time at Global Witness. And not lessons that I could learn at SMU. I learned how to work with a team, how to pursue answers, how to call someone in a third world country! Without my colleagues, my supervisor, my friends, I would not have grown and become the driven person I know I am now. I am on a mission to find another job like Global Witness, but I doubt any other place will have the same impact that my first job experience with Global Witness had on me.
Besides work, I got to travel. One thing I don’t regret is not spending every weekend abroad. I came to London to experience London, not the world outside it. But I did get to go to Scotland and Rye.
Scotland was amazing. Everything is so green and beautiful. The whole place seemed ancient, like it was stopped in time. A group of us went to a local pub called Deacon Brody’s where two men in kilts walked in. It is just the norm there. It was so different and so awesome. There was a guy juggling axes in the street. The lifestyle was so different but so refreshing.
Rye is a little coastal town in the south of England. My friends and I decided we wanted to experience the coast and see a beach. So we got a hotel in this 13th-century little village. Our hotel, The Mermaid Inn, was built in 1100, and redone in 1402. It was like (again) time had stopped. Everything was so quaint and homey. It was unimaginable and awe-inspiring.
But of course, you cannot stay away from London. This city grabs you and puts a hold on your heart. I took in everything I could. I went to Portobello Road, Camden Market, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament. I walked the Thames and went to the Aquarium, I saw three musicals (Jersey Boys, Wicked, and Spamalot) and saw Romeo and Juliet performed outside in an amphitheater. I experienced all this city has to offer, and while I miss home and I am ready to venture back to the life I have grown accustomed to, I will never forget my time spent with my friends, my colleagues, my classmates, my professors, my parents. My time in London was a time of growth, love, and learning. I have become a different person, for the better.
All the while, I felt the spirit of my grandmother, my friends, my loved ones past whenever I stepped into a church. And I felt Nina with me the whole time. I kept imagining how proud she would be at all the sites her little students went and saw and how much we have all grown. Nina, if it hadn’t been for you, I would never have gotten to experience this. So, yet again, thank you. Thank you for all you have done and all you unknowingly have bestowed upon me. You have helped to shape me into the person I am, and have given me the summer of a lifetime. London is now part of me and I cannot wait to come back.