At the halfway point of my internship, I have already accumulated more inspiring, constructive, and practical information than I could have imagined. I have been processing my experience by exploring my learning and making time to reflect and finding space to write and to read and to ramble.
This whole experience is still so fresh new me, and I have many unarticulated questions. I could spend a year just gathering stories and tidbits on CRJI, and still feel engaged as an observer. I could… but with the base of knowledge, questions and observations I have already built, I am ready to pitch into a new phase of exploration.
I was very intimidated thinking about conducting interviews with folks at CRJI, even very informal interviews. Even two weeks ago I felt like I would not be able to ask meaningful questions, I also felt like even if I did, I didn’t know enough to be able to tell quality questions from duds. And even if I could, I was not sure I would be able to recognize the most meaningful responses. I suppose I was floating in a pool of uncertainty and self-doubt. To be completely honest, I pretty much chickened out and dropped the interview idea. To veer away from complete honesty, I will say that some inner wisdom told me to hold off on the interviews until I had learned the ropes a bit.
I quite surprised myself last week when I declared that I was planning on conducting several informal interviews with members of CRJI. In fact I had not been “planning on” this until, well, the moment I said it. Nevertheless, I will begin these conversations with individuals next week. I hadn’t realized just how much I now know, not just about the organization and the context of their work, but about the individuals involved. I have naturally developed queries and I know who might best address them.
I have been practicing a rather sponge-like method of information acquisition. I hope to wring out this information and actively further my understanding by channeling my learning into productive informative conversations. My first focus will be on the great importance of consistency, structure, and communication of a growing organization from an administrative perspective. Perhaps this topic sounds a little dry, but I think it is absolutely crucial and often overlooked in considerations of effective social justice work.
I will then hopefully look at some of the key moments in CRJI’s development from a volunteer-run community service, to becoming an accredited organization by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate, to the still growing organization I am experiencing today, all in the past fifteen or so years.