Caritas Westminster is hosting three interns from Notre Dame University in Indiana, US. They are supporting us in our work in a variety of ways, particularly in helping us assess our impact, but also spending time alongside students at St Joseph’s, our Lifelong Learning Centre for people with intellectual disabilities.
Here, Annie explains the impact that this experience has had on her personally:
When I applied to intern at Caritas Westminster, I didn’t know I would be spending every other week at St. Joseph’s. However, my time working at the centre has quickly become a special and unique part of my study abroad experience that I consistently find myself looking forward to. That said, the staff and students at St. Joseph’s never cease to amaze me; I am constantly inspired by the compassion the teachers demonstrate, the patience the caregivers show, and the drive and dedication the students possess.
By interacting with the students, it became obvious how much St. Joseph’s means to them. The school gives them a purpose, and it’s a place where they can be seen and heard without judgement. Not only do the students look forward to learning something new every day, but they also have the opportunity to socialize and make new friends in the process. When asked, ‘What is your favorite part about St. Joseph’s?’ one student simply responded with ‘Everything.’
Because I have a family member who struggles with an intellectual disability, I have always had a special place in my heart for those experiencing something similar. Whether it’s learning bits and pieces of sign language, assisting in pottery making, or fixing tea and coffee during breaks, I love every second of it. There is nothing more rewarding than a student addressing you by name or hearing ‘I love you!’ as you leave for the day. Considering this, working at St. Joseph’s really puts things in perspective and has given me a new outlook on finding the goodness in life.
I am blessed to be able to spend four months in London, and St. Joseph’s allows me to give something back to the community during my time away from the US. With that in mind, while I hope to make a difference in the lives of the students at St. Joseph’s, it can’t compare to the impact that they’re making on me. I know I will take their courage, kindness, and ambition with me in the future, and I am forever thankful to the Caritas team for giving me this eye-opening opportunity. Taking all of this into account, St. Joseph’s is something I never knew I needed.
You may also be interested in:
A Fruitful Partnership – introducing the Notre Dame interns