Reflections on an internship-still-in-progress

Met today (well, yesterday now) with the Wadadli Pen intern – a meeting she requested (initiative). She wanted to see how I was doing given that I’d been having some medical issues (compassion) and she wanted to see where we were in the project, what was done and what needed to be done (commitment). We discussed adjustments to her tasks – she’d gotten a to-do at our briefing

intern orientation 2

Our briefing before the launch of the Wadadli Pen 2017 Challenge season.

before Wadadli Pen rolled out (listening and taking notes as she did at this meeting as well) and has been mostly (because life happens) on task without needing to be micro-managed (just guided and nudged now and again) and communicated well (reliable) while juggling school – you know I had to make sure that she was on task with that as well. As I’d come to expect, when I threw a new challenge at her, she caught it (always game to try new things). When I asked for her thoughts on another thing I wanted to try, she weighed in with why it might not be a good idea and made a solid alternative suggestion which she offered to take lead on and explained how she would approach (thoughtful, confident, and proactive). I should add here that this isn’t new. During orientation, she asked questions, made suggestions, and volunteered to take on certain tasks, and, just as important, when life happened and she wasn’t able to follow through on some of what she’d volunteered for, she communicated that (that’s more professional than some professionals). She spoke about how different it is being on the other side of Wadadli Pen. As a past finalist, she’s been there for the celebration day

teen writers

Michaela, left, at the 2013 Wadadli Pen awards feted as a finalist.

– the awards, but being behind the scenes helped her appreciate how much work and how much (let’s be honest) tedium goes in to creating that moment (learning). When we touched on her takeaways from the experience, apart from the bit of celebrity it had attracted to her (because we’re a small society and she’s been announced in the press and on social media as the project’s first intern), she more or less indicated that she was still processing  …and she smiled (diplomacy and honesty) and I dig it because that’s about how I feel at this point in the process every year. I love Wadadli Pen but it’s a trial, and I’ve been grateful to have the support of a team this time around. There’ve been bumps and misunderstandings, and some things haven’t worked out quite as I’d hoped, but things are working out. And having a team made this year, moreso than any year before, possible. Michaela, whose intern duties ranged from administrative to media and promotions (from clearing the e-mail and doing mailings to the more exciting stuff like a media appearance on radio programme Youth-ology), has been a good intern (as I told her today) in a lot of ways, right up to agreeing to stay on beyond the initial internship period when we needed more time and moved the awards ceremony from late March/early April to the Wadadli Stories Book Fair on May 13th – and I hope in the end she’ll find she’s gotten something from the experience as well.

So what I want to tack on here is that we have young people in our society who are about something and we can help them grow in to themselves by giving them something to be about (a lot already do this; I’m just saying kudos and more) – support their journey to become who they’re going to be.

Rupert K

Kids (including one of my nephews) who participated in the recent Rupert K. Henry’s Tennis 10s at the National Tennis Centre and the volunteers (including one of my siblings) who make that space for them to discover their potential.

Wadadli Pen has been doing this with the Challenge, giving young writers the opportunity to write, and in so doing discover their potential and the power of their voice. But this internship thing was a new thing for us, a new thing for me, I’ve volunteered with, mentored, and taught young people before but I’ve never officially taken on an intern before. So this was a learning experience for me as well. In some ways, having an extra volunteer on board helped lighten the load but because an intern is more than a volunteer but someone who is there to learn, it added a different kind of load – requiring monitoring and guiding. I had to learn to prep and delegate, I had to practice patience, I had to communicate, I had to balance giving the intern stuff to do with making sure she wasn’t taking on too much (because school has to be her priority), and I had to adapt – and I’m still on a learning curve. But I lucked out with Michaela for all the reasons already stated. Hopefully, if, knock on wood, Wadadli Pen is still here next year, we’ll be able to expand the internship programme. As my Tanty used to say, God willing.


As with all content on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Wadadli Pen 2017, Wadadli Pen News

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