Internship Spotlight: Rebecca McFadyen - Centre de Ressources et d’Action Communautaire

My name is Rebecca McFadyen, and I am a U2 Political Science student. When I first entered university, I aspired to become a diplomat; I dreamed of a career in international trade. Now, though, halfway through my degree, I have a newfound passion for social work and community organizing. That is why this internship was such a spectacular experience for me; it connected my studies with my passion, and allowed me to be engaged in the field I hope to make a career in.

My internship was at the le Centre de Ressources et d’Action Communautaire de la Petite-Patrie (CRACPP). CRACPP is a food bank which aims to reduce food waste and poverty in the borough. The organization improves the living conditions for those in the Petite-Patrie and defends the fundamental human right of food security.

When the opportunity to work at CRACPP arose, I had two goals in mind. First, I wanted to understand more thoroughly the inner workings of a non-profit organization. Further, I wanted to improve my French and become closer with the Montreal community. I believe that I have attained these goals over the duration of the summer and have gained much more from this experience than I ever possibly could have imagined.

I attained these goals by participating in various parts of the organization, so that I may understand all aspects of running a non-profit organization. My responsibilities varied depending on what was most needed; a food bank’s demands change daily, and the team must be dynamic enough to adapt to these demands. My daily tasks involved retrieving donations, separating them by quality, preparing food baskets, and delivering baskets to clients. I also helped the organization find new potential partners for food donations, as well as helped them analyze their data from previous years so that they could better understand where their donations were coming from.

One of the most memorable parts of the internship were the vegetable markets that we held in local parks. As the summer grew hotter, and crops became more abundant, the amount of donations we received was more than we could redistribute to our clients. So, every Thursday, we would go and sell our vegetables surpluses. The stall was set up as a pay-what-you-want-system, and it was heartwarming to see just how much community members were willing to donate to their local food bank. This particular experience allowed me to visit new parts of the borough, meet members of the community, practice my French, and practice my salesmanship.

Another highlightable aspect of this internship was retrieving goods from Moisson Montreal, a large umbrella company that distributes to many of the non-profit organizations in the city. This experience directly allowed me to achieve my goal of understanding how a non-profit organization functions; I was able to see where a large part of our donations come from, as well as network with other people that work in the charity sector in Montreal.

This internship was not without its challenges, however. One of my greatest difficulties at CRACPP was the amount of French I had to speak on a daily basis. Although I consider myself bilingual, it is often difficult to express myself in my second language. As this was a French organization, situated in a francophone borough, I had to put myself out of my comfort zone. The French made it more difficult to integrate myself into the team, communicate with my supervisor, and connect properly with clients. The only solution, of course, was to practice, which I did. My French has improved drastically since the beginning of this internship, and I by the end I felt like a member of the team, regardless of the language barrier.

This internship has changed my university experience in a multitude of ways. First, I have altered my degree by adding a second minor in Quebec Studies. Next, I plan to continue to aid non-profits in the Montreal area, whether through another internship or volunteering. This internship has truly solidified my career path decision; I am surer than ever that I would like to do social work after my studies. Finally, I feel more connected with the Montreal community, thus making me feel at ease and at home at McGill.

This opportunity would not have been possible without the help of the Arts Internship Award; had I not received a scholarship from McGill, I would not have had the financial means to work with CRACPP during the summer. I would like to thank McGill’s Arts Internship Office for their generosity in funding this internship, as well as the Quebec Studies Program for providing this opportunity. It has truly been a life-altering experience.

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