It’s incredible to me that I already have to say goodbye to my time here at IARS, when it feels like it just started. Through the past ten weeks, I’ve had an excellent time getting to know London better while making a positive difference in the city which has been such a gracious host. Although my time here was excellent in countless ways, but what sticks out to me most is what a real difference I made. Although I didn’t quite know what to expect with my time at IARS, I had a certain idea of what being an intern would mean: namely, that I’d be doing all the grunt work. I never would have expected that almost every piece of work I did would be the “real deal” so to speak. When I was first given the task to write a press release early in my time here, I was blown away by how much responsibility I was essentially immediately entrusted with. In point of fact, that level of responsibility was consistently given to me throughout my tenure. Blogs posts I wrote were put online, calls I made actually mattered, and my work helping with research may well end up in actual published reports. Now, as my time is ending, I feel like I was really a part of the IARS team, not just a temporary pair of hands.

The work I got to be a part of was also incredible. I had the privilege of working on both the Care 2 Work program just as it was finishing up and the St. James Street gang activity prevention project. The Care 2 Work program focused on meeting the educational and employment needs of young BME carers across Europe, an issue which I had never thought of before but quickly learned is quite important. This was a particularly cool project for me because I got to be involved the wrap-up conference, an international event which drew people from a handful of European countries. It was held in the stunning Middle Temple, an absolutely gorgeous building, and the presenters and panels were interesting and informative.

The St. James Street project, which I’ve been working on for the past few weeks, is still in its initial phase. Still, it’s been one of the more eye-opening things I’ve ever worked on. The area faces significant challenges. IARS has been tasked with evaluating possible solutions to the issue, and as a part of my duties, I listened to and summarized interviews that our research had with residents of the St. James Street end of Walthamstow’s high street. It was absolutely fascinating to hear them talk about the problems they have and what they think might be done to solve it, because I’ve never been in that situation before. Problems which I just hadn’t thought about, and certainly hadn’t seen around London, were illustrated through the words of the people living them.

And, of course, I can’t forget the people of IARS, many of whom I’ve gotten to know in the ten weeks I’ve spent here. Although I unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to meet and get to know everyone, those that I have had the pleasure of talking with have been incredible. I couldn’t have hoped for a more welcoming, helpful group of individuals, especially as a foreigner new to the area. They all helped me get acquainted with the area, explained the local issues and structures which were important in working with IARS, and overall were very friendly. Chatting with them between tasks was always a pleasure, and the working environment with IARS was light-hearted and relaxed.

So yeah, I’m definitely sad to have to leave IARS. I can’t thank the IARS team enough for giving me such a great opportunity and being such a great group of people.