From an Outsiders Perspective

Although I was born in Southie, I have lived outside of Boston my entire life, primarily in Pittsburgh.  Upon graduating highs school, I had two paths laid before me. My options were to either continue with a post-graduate year at Phillips Academy Andover to pursue an athletic career or accept my acceptance to Elon University to study business.  I chose to attend Elon.

For my search of a summer internship, I was drawn back to my city of birth.  An opportunity arose with a nonprofit organization based out of Northeastern University called Sport in Society.  I eagerly applied, and a couple of Skype interviews later I was offered a position.  After twenty years of calling somewhere else my home, I found myself back in Boston.  As excited as I was, was also anxious to start fresh at a somewhat unfamiliar place I had so long been away from.

All of those concerns were quelled shortly into my first day at Sport in Society, and my feeling of nervousness turned into excitement for what was to come.  Each and every one of the incredibly nice people involved with the organization welcomed me with open arms and encouraged judgment free dialogue throughout the orientation.  It created an open and comfortable environment and allowed me and my fellow interns to bond with the team and with each other.  Two ice-breaker filled days later, we were already traveling to our first anti-bullying training session at a school in Dorchester, which really helped our budding intern relationship and forced us to cooperate in an effort to convey an important message to the children.

As far as integrating the new interns into the program and providing insight into how things work, there could not have been a better group of co-ops.  The four operatives, whose time at Sport in Society expired mid-June, gave us a crash course on what to expect and how to behave, and did not allow any time for nerves to creep in.  They were great, and the overlap between our term and theirs, although brief, was extremely positive and memorable, and they set the tone for us.

In the short five weeks I have been interning, we have shared a vast many experiences and, through the collaboration and constant dialogue, become very close friends.  We have been a part of a number of trainings, scoured the city on a very expansive scavenger hunt and taken part in the Mentors in Violence Prevention Institute, all of which promoted teamwork and positivity in an effort to bring us together.

My time with Sport in Society has been incredibly rewarding in every conceivable way.  I have learned a lot, gained considerable experience and created several great lifelong personal and professional bonds.  I could not have chosen a better summer internship, and the skills I have and will acquire over the duration of the time I spend here will serve me well in the future.  My transition from small suburban town to big city has been smooth sailing and every single nervous feeling I ever had has been extinguished by Sport in Society.

I am he as you are me and we are all together

These last few weeks I have been exposed to a new side of society, the philanthropic side, that I didn’t really think existed except in the government’s welfare offices, or in the fairy tail lands Disney movies. It seemed like people cared more about cats and dogs than their fellow man. I was beginning to lose faith.

My last co-op at an economic research firm was on the flip side of SIS. Their mission statement: Make a profit. Don’t get me wrong I met lots of nice people while working there, and learned many things that will help me get to the next level in my professional career, but I needed something more wholesome. I truly believe that your work defines who you are as a person. I would rather spend my time working for the empowerment of other people than for the empowerment of a corporation. It just feels better at the end of the day.

This week I had the opportunity to go to a professional development seminar taught by Sport in Society’s very own Jarod Chin. All the YMCA teen directors, and SIS co-ops were there to be educated on violence prevention, and the power of the bystander. Jarod is a great facilitator. I can tell because he hardly ever speaks or comes up with a ground breaking idea. He intentionally steers the conversation one direction, and lets us come up with the epiphanies and examples that are great take-aways.

We have all witnessed a fight in our lifetime. (I know me personally, I saw about one a day in middle school, especially while playing sports). It was usually a fight over a basketball game that escalated into physical violence and punches being thrown. What did the rest of us do while this was happening…? We gathered into a circle and watched, oooooing and ahhhhing as our friends tried to kill each other. Living in a society that glorifies violence as an essential attribute in being macho dilutes every kid that receives Mentoring in Violence Provention (MVP) training. I feel like for every person who sees the real problem in settling arguments with violence there are 10 more that are watching playground fights on youtube, or playing the latest GTA video game. This just makes it harder for those kids, teachers, and YMCA staff members who actually are able to react positively when a fight breaks out, and defuse the situation.

On Thursday night I went to the AltrUHelp event in this swanky building along Marina drive on the wharf. I was with my friend Brett who was a co-op at SIS last cycle. This event was cool. Lots of people had set up tables to explain their non-profits and causes. Brett, Caitlin and I spent the majority of the night meeting other people in the industry, and explaining our experiences at SIS. I was amazed at all the different ideas that people had for their start-ups and non-profits, and the different ways they went about attaining resources they needed in a heavily capital driven society.

Drinking free ‘Gansett, eating free Boloco is every college kid’s dream right? But it was the people I met that stole the spot light in my mind. I now understand how important networking is for my future, and last night i got three business cards (I’m currently ahead in the co-op biz card competition) from people I talked too who were interested in our cause as well as interested in me for future job openings and volunteer opportunities.

It’s funny how you don’t really realize there’s a community around you until you are actively helping the people of the community. Then all of a sudden you meet tons of other people who are also on your side working towards a common goal of economic and racial equality. You also get the chance to interact with the participants who you are trying to reach out to in order to provide support for them. Most people are grateful, friendly, and heedful when you lend them a hand. Sport in Society gets lots of positive feedback for the work they do in the community, and I bet if you asked any employee here they’d say it’s worth it to continue their work. As the weeks go by here, and I attend more meetings, events, and training sessions I get a better sense of how everyone in the community comes together in faith.

By Charlie Pioli