Kevin Chen: Internship Reflections
December 23, 2014
Our Development & Communications Intern Kevin Chen just sent us some reflections on his experience with The LP this fall. Read on for more.
I remember my first couple of days interning with The Laundromat Project clearly. It was the weekend of Field Day, and, as expected, everything was hectic. A kind of hectic that refused to sit still and moved ahead of itself. At once, the excitement of the upcoming events spilled backwards in time and infused me with a peculiar mix of anxiety and eagerness. The energy of the office, however, channeled my uncertainty into unbridled enthusiasm. We had a lot to do, and we knew it. But at the very least, we were going to have fun. Within the first few hours, I knew I was going to like it here.
Interning here has been everything I expected. I initially said that I wanted to work with The LP because of its mission. I hoped to gain practical experience in art administration and community building through an organization that was active in neighborhoods across the entire city. Looking back, I can see how I’ve grown from that first day. Managing social media and the blog has taught me not just the mechanics of content creation, but also creative ways of broadening the organization’s reach through digital media. Assisting with the People Powered Challenge allowed me to envision alternative forms of fundraising centered on social networks. Working with an incredible group of people has left me with countless memories of laughter, joy, and Beyoncé.
But I think what’s equally important is what I didn’t expect to gain. I’ll admit that I harbor a considerable amount of anxiety over my academic and professional future, stemming from both general uncertainty and from forces largely beyond my individual control: race, class, sexual orientation, and so on. Hearing about the staff members’ pathways to working with The LP, however, reassured me that there actually are infinite possible trajectories to non-profit art administration and community building, and that mine can be anything but “traditional.” Furthermore, supporting programs that center on communities of color on modest incomes has allowed me to expand my notion of creativity and art beyond the institutional confines of four walls into multidimensional public spaces. On a personal, political level, working within The LP’s core values, engaging with various artist projects, and simply learning about community mapping by virtue of proximity to The LP has forced me to critically confront my own role in gentrification, especially as a student of an institution that actively transforms its surrounding neighborhoods. All of these things I’m still working on, but now with the experience of my internship with The LP.
As I move forward, I have no doubt that I’ll carry forth the insights I’ve gained here and continue to grow academically, professionally, and personally. And of course, I’ll come back when I can to help out, grow love, and jam to Beyoncé.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Chen is from Houston, TX. He is currently a sophomore at Columbia University, where he is studying anthropology. You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kxchen926. Read The LP Interview with Kevin here.