This summer, I am interning at an organization called Galaei.
Galaei is a queer, Latinx social justice organization that works to empower the community through grassroots organizing, sexual empowerment services, and leadership and economic development. Galaei has three major programs currently running. The first is the Testing Program, which offers free and confidential HIV and STI testing, prevention services and referral to treatments, and sexual health services and counseling. The second is the Youth Program, which offers empowerment and leadership services for youth ages 13-24, as well as opening the office for drop-ins on weekday afternoons, where queer youth can come in and be social in a safe and affirming space. The third is the Trans Equity Project, which focuses on providing support for all individuals who do not identify as cisgender. They provide sexual health counseling, mentorship with transitioning, help with name changes and referrals for housing services, and legal advocacy. Galaei also offers cultural literacy trainings for other organizations on how to provide affirming services for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Working at Galaei this summer has been a very educational and humbling experience. Since my major concentration in the International Studies department is Global Social Justice, it is important that my work in the social justice field doesn’t only focus on dismantling systems of oppression, but on simultaneously providing opportunities and services to uplift communities that are regularly marginalized. As an organizational intern, my job involves all the programs in the organization and providing any support necessary to do the work that our community needs. I answer calls, create documentation and promotional material, help manage the organization’s social media profiles, and oversee youth drop-ins in the afternoons. I have participated in tabling and outreach for the organization, as well as hosting gatherings. One of such gatherings was a vigil for the second anniversary of the Pulse shooting, the names of whose victims are on the wall of our reception area.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the job has been working with the youth. One of my tasks in the past month was to organize and facilitate a workshop for them, and I was able to have a fruitful, engaging discussion with them about Intersectional Theory and its application in activist spaces.
For an organization focused on queer communities, June was a very busy month for us. We attended the Pride Month Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall. Our major focus for the month, though, was organizing the longest running gay prom, the 23rd Philadelphia Alternative Prom, whose theme this year was “Purple Rain.” My fellow intern Auri and I were put in charge of budgeting, ordering and putting together decor and centerpieces, checking out the event venue, and creating and distributing tickets to some organizations in Philly that we partner with, such as The Attic and Taller Puertorriqueño. The event turned out to be a success, with many youth in attendance.
Working at this organization has been a way for me to learn more about social justice work while simultaneously giving back to a community that needs support now more than ever. It has also helped me to develop some unexpected but necessary skills, such as event planning, social media management, digital design, marketing and communication in a professional setting.