My name is Pryor Sohn, I’m from Vancouver BC and currently study Political Science and Quebec Studies at McGill. I’m interested in political theory and developmental economics and want to look for ways to make people feel empowered to meaningfully improve their lives through politics.
I wanted to do this internship because of its focus on community engagement and youth involvement in politics. I was hoping that this internship would get me more familiar with local politics and help me learn how to get people engaged in democracy, even when it seems intimidating, confusing, or simply overwhelming. I wanted to see what parts of the political process made people hesitant to engage or reach out to the state for support and how we could make avenues of state-support more accessible to those in need.
My host organization was called Youth In Motion (YIM). It served as a community house for many of the local kids and a base of operations for our Director, Michael P. Farkas, from which he worked with a number of other local groups like the urban mediation centre, BUMP, or Club Energy, a weekly summer camp where kids could come and learn art, breakdancing, singing and more. While official stationed at YIM, Mr. Farkas was sure to include us on every part of his work and so I was lucky enough to see many different facets of neighborhood politics in action.
My responsibilities as an intern focused on the Fête Nationale event that Y.I.M hosted every year. I had to help budget and gather donations, recruit artists to perform, and order large inflatable games for the kids. I also got the opportunity to MC the entire event, something that I was terrified to do not being a native French speaker. Besides the Fête Nationale, I also got to help with a number of other neighborhood activities, such as playing a weekly soccer game with the kids, giving a speech about perseverance during the Petit-Bourgoin Gala, and setting up the final show for Club Energy. The wide range of things we were asked to do meant that I got experience in both traditional office work, like organizing our budget through Excel and face-to-face work, like collecting donations and setting up events.
Getting to know and work with the locals was one of the major highlights of this internship. Our first week my fellow interns and I helped Mr. Farkas put together an event for Club Energy. The event was a great introduction to the people of Little Burgundy and really allowed me to build a good dynamic with them right off the bat. This was a bond that we managed to maintain throughout the course of the internship, and my favourite moments were when we would get to interact with the neighborhood kids or host barbeques for local families.
Some of our biggest challenges this summer were funding and organization. With so much on his plate, Mr. Farkas was not always the best communicator and I often found myself with little instruction for what to do with my time. We eventually managed to find a good rhythm that complimented all of our work styles but the first week felt like a slow learning curve. We also had some issues securing funding, as local businesses or politicians who had promised us money were being slow to follow through on their commitments.
I did not receive academic credit for this internship, but it has helped me narrow down what I want to focus on during my university career. Especially studying in as broad a faculty as Political Science it was nice to see what a career down this path might look like. After this experience I have grown a much greater appreciation for local politics