Can you tell us about the Ya Basta Center and your internship?
The Ya Basta Center is a division of the SEIU-USWW labor organization that addresses the dangers that specifically immigrant women janitors face on the night shift. They raised awareness for a documentary called “Rape on the Night Shift” that was impactful for me.
At my internship, I asked how I can incorporate my mindfulness background into their work, and they saw a point there because the training can grapple with very heavy stuff. I’m currently more in the research stage and immersing myself in the center. I’m meeting people, doing online training and listening to promotoras as they practice for their audiences. I hope that [in spring quarter], I’ll be ready to impart what I learned.
Why do you think it’s important to incorporate mindfulness practices into the worker training curriculum?
Some people who are taking this curriculum have experienced some abhorrent things, and so it can be a very personal and emotional time for them. What I hope for adding mindfulness practices in the training is to provide a way [for participants] to stay present and focused.
Recently there was also talk of incorporating a mindfulness bell at the start of each session, because studies show that it helps you anchor yourself to a location better, as well as initiating break periods where you could get up and get a drink of water.
What skills have helped you to be successful in this internship?
I think that flexibility and eagerness are really important. I don’t think that I would have found as much success in this project if I had just tried to take control and do only what I wanted to do.
I’m really grateful that I’m able to feel the experiences that [the workers] are talking about. So empathy is also important. It’s very clear that every single person that I’ve worked with at Ya Basta understands the importance of what they’re doing, and doesn’t take [their work] lightly.
Any key takeaways from your internship experience?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask for support. I even Zoomed several people who I didn’t end up working with, but who were really interesting. They suggested, “You should talk to this person,” or “You should read this.” And then I would do it. It’s like, in going and finding something for yourself, the support is there. You just have to ask for what you want.
How do you think this internship helps your overall career journey?
It equips me with the knowledge, tools and grassroots organizing [skills] that I really just want to do for the rest of my life. The connections I’ve made are invaluable and the people I’ve met are so knowledgeable and effective leaders in a really inspiring way.