Guest post by Sydney Boral
As the intern for The Freedom Story, I come to work armed with my laptop, my handwritten to-do list, and my wonderful sense of humor. I come into the office three times a week to work alongside our president, Rachel, as well as Dan and Alaynah, our US Team. However, our “team” is constantly evolving because sometimes our Thai staff fly in to collaborate in person, or other times, some of the US team will be in Thailand.
This is just a glimpse of what interning at a small, international non-profit looks like.
Like many recent college grads, I chose to get an internship to start building my resume, with hopes of walking away with some experience and one or two reference letters. I quickly realized that interning with The Freedom Story would not be an ordinary internship. I don’t get coffee, nor do I file paperwork. Instead, interning here is an “all hands on deck” affair. Most days I am involved in conversations that will have direct effects for our students in Thailand. For example, Dan has been teaching me how to write grants applications that will help fund our human rights programs. During my stay, I am in charge of social media for our organization, which requires global communication with our Thai team to stay up to date on everything happening at our two Resource Centers. All of the content on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds is posted by me. Each week, I search for the latest news on human trafficking, upload photos from our programs, and highlight our current projects and campaigns. Social media is crucial for small nonprofits that want to grow their network. At the end of each month, I look over all our analytics to see which posts generated the most engagement or had the farthest reach. This helps us understand who our followers are and how we can grow our relationships with them. In theory, the more engaged our followers are, the more likely they will talk about our organization with their personal networks. These conversations will generate more awareness about child exploitation prevention.
we rebranded our entire organization
Being the primary team member involved in social media became especially exciting when just two months into my internship we rebranded our entire organization. When I began my internship we were The SOLD Project. However, in January of 2017, we became The Freedom Story to have a name that more accurately reflects our mission: freedom. Social media was the primary platform we used to alert our followers that we had changed our name, our logo, and our website. It was a thrill to finally release our new brand and then receive such encouraging feedback.
It has been incredible to experience rebranding, an end-of-year campaign, donor relations, grant writing, and a new network of human rights activists. I can see how all of these things might help me move forward in my career goals and open doors to new opportunities. While majoring in Global Studies, I realized that I wanted to work in an industry that empowers young girls. Through personal experience and interning at The Freedom Story it has become abundantly clear that if we invest in girl’s education and encourage them to dream big, they will blow us away with how brilliant and powerful they are. The greatest thing about interning for The Freedom Story is witnessing how wonderfully and significantly our work impacts hundreds of students in Northern Thailand. We don’t get to work with every at-risk child, but we know that lasting change occurs from supporting one student at a time. Every person on staff, regardless of what country they are living in, cares deeply about their work and how it will change the lives of highly at-risk students. They don’t let language barriers, funding needs, or the horror of child exploitation deter them from our organizational goals. Because we work in the preventative side of child exploitation, we get to hear a lot of victory stories. These stories serve as motivation to continue striving towards the eradication of modern-day slavery.
Our mission statement concludes with a commitment “to empower creative, compassionate people to act.” I believe that I have become one of those people. I’ve learned that an individual doesn’t have to solve the entire problem. Instead, each of us is responsible to bring whatever finances, time, or skills we have to the table. When my time with The Freedom Story does end, I won’t leave as someone who learned the realities of human trafficking, but feels hopeless over the statistics. No, I’ll leave here thankful for the experience, but also passionate and more equipped to keep fighting for freedom.
After graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 2016, Sydney Boral started splitting her time between interning at The Freedom Story and at a church. On the side she coaches high school lacrosse and wants to pursue a career in girls’ empowerment.