I first stayed 10 days in a shelter for homeless in the Bronx run by Franciscan friars. The friars wore long monk’s cassock, a long beard and most of the time a baseball cap! The job they do is great: they welcome homeless for a period of 6 months, during that time they have to stop all their addictions and they take part to the choirs of the house. From 7am until 6pm they are not allowed to stay home and have the time to find a job. The 38 shelter men and the friars have dinner together every day as a family. They all are very grateful and willing to start a new life! The friars are very strict with regards to alcohol, drugs or late arrivals. The shelter men know that it is their only chance to start a new life. The family structure is what they need to be strong and enjoy their life.
After this experience I worked 3 weeks as a volunteer for the World Youth Alliance office in NY. The atmosphere with the other interns was very good, we have had many long discussions and debate about any differences we could find between our cultures. With a team of 2 Americans, 2 Lebanese, 1 Taiwanese, 1 Spanish and 1 Belgian, we had numerous spicy topics to debate on!
My main task was to work on the European Parliamentary sessions to vote the EU budget 2011. We supported an amendment to avoid that EU development funds support coercive reproductive health programmes such as forced abortion, non voluntary sterilization or infanticide in countries such as Vietnam and China. We sent multilingual emails and dignity alerts to our members, friends and Members of the Parliament. Our amendment was approved by a majority of the MEP. This was thus a great experience and I was very impressed by the fact that we may influence such important decisions!
Besides the great work atmosphere present in the NY Office, the city is amazing! This city never stops! One day our team even worked as extras for a high budget movie with famous actors!