I have to be honest and say that I did not have any specific expectations coming into ONE. I certainly expected to be doing daily “internship duties”, such as data entry and mailing materials. Yet I am still trying to figure out where I fall in the wide world of ONE. I have a sense that this internship will be what I make of it. I have already learned more about the federal budget and the government than I ever have in any Econ or Politics class, thanks to a wonderful woman named Maryamu, who works on the Government Relations team and focuses on House Democrats. The environment here is action packed and filled with eager minds. I must admit, it is perhaps my first experience in a real life work environment.
To that end, I spent the first week of my internship finding my way around. First, I had some difficulty in maneuvering the office. ONE’s office is like a maze, full of hallways adorned with photography of Bono in Africa or Brad Pitt sitting in conferences with various ONE staff. However, what lies behind all of these glossy photos and high profile celebrities are the roughly 75 staff members that work right here in an open office environment. From Annette, who sits across from me, who grew up in Columbia, Maryland and has an adorable four year old son, to Maryamu, who works in Government Relations and showed me her favorite act on “America’s Got Talent”, I am never at a loss to the human interactions that keep this place going. This is perhaps what I have appreciated the most my first week at ONE. There is a transparency and equality that I was not expecting. In the morning meetings with the whole U.S. Campaigns team, there is an air of happiness, of lightheartedness, and most of all, of friendship. These staff members, whether young or old, have something in common: they enjoy what they do, but most important of all, they enjoy who they are with. It is a simple lesson in human relations. But it is also a success story. Just this week, the US Campaigns team was thrilled to announce that USAID had promised $450 million over three years to GAVI, an organization that provides vaccines to the world’s poorest people (I will blog on GAVI later this month). There were hugs, there were shrieks, and there were smiles all around. The hard work had paid off. The long hours spent sending emails, placing phone calls, and much more had finally proved to be worth it. And in the end, there were others to celebrate with.
It is perhaps a stretch to say that this sense of community that provides the energy behind ONE’s successes is like the community that Dietrich Bonhoeffer sought to create at Finkenwalde. Or maybe it is not. What united Bonhoeffer and the various other theologians at Finkenwalde was a similar purpose. Their efforts in establishing the Confessing Church and banding against the German Christian movement were rooted in a type of social justice. What they saw happening in Nazi Germany was unacceptable and inhumane. Likewise, it is safe to say that every person here at ONE is united against the inhumanity of “stupid poverty”, as Bono calls it. It is an unacceptable form of poverty because we can do something about it. We can erase this type of poverty. How do I know this? I saw it in the faces of the staff members here at ONE when they heard about the success of the GAVI campaign. It was hope fulfilled. It was dreams fulfilled. It was lives saved. It was the result of a community working as one.