Justice Internship Program for
High School Seniors
This summer Berkeley High School students, Sanam Rozycki-Shah and Annika Miles-Wang, collaborated with the Ahimsa Collective and the Law and Social Justice program at Berkeley High to co-create a six day intensive internship for 12 High School Seniors.
The intention of the internship is for young adults who show a commitment to social justice to understand the impact of violence, the prison system and mass incarceration on people and communities. In this intensive, interns interacted in a meaningful way with survivors of severe harm, formerly incarcerated people, leaders in the field of restorative and transformative justice and criminal justice reform, and community based organizations deeply entrenched in these issues. They learned about philanthropy and how to support this kind of work.
Some questions driving the internship were:
'How can survivors heal and find justice outside the criminal legal system?’
‘What are the physical, spiritual, and daily barriers to people coming home from prison?’
‘Why does this matter to me and how can I engage authentically as a young adult in these issues?”
This was an experiential internship – where the students listened to stories, interacted with leaders, interviewed professionals, reflected together, engaged in art practice around these issues, and completed some service projects. Specifically, they engaged in a somatic social justice session with the Embodiment Project; conducted research on reentry, healing, and accountability articles and curriculum and found materials for 80 incarcerated people in our programs in four different California prisons; visited Valley State Prison and met in circle with 20 incarcerated men; and secured substantial donations to support two events at the prison – a July 4th BBQ for 500 incarcerated men and a blood drive for over 300 prison staff. Finally, they had a meaningful service session with the Prison Literature Project (PLP), where they read letters from prisoners across the U.S., selected books to meet their requests, and mailed them out. At the end of the service there were 6 tubs of packages to ship out. PLP wrote about the internship in the news section of their website.
The internship was very successful. Three students continued to work for us for the rest of the summer. The high school students led by Sanam and Annika plan to continue the internship over the 2023- 2024 Fall and Spring semester – they have already scheduled quarterly sessions and a book drive for the Prison Literature Project, and will create a new club at Berkeley High School to engage more students. This intensive summer internship will be offered again in subsequent summers to come.