By Gianna Mautone
At the end of my three month internship at The Vegetarian Resource Group, I remember my first days here very clearly. I remember my online internship search prior to returning to Loyola University this fall, when I discovered that there was an opportunity available at the VRG, just minutes from my school. I had learned about the VRG from a professor, and upon searching the website and blog, reading articles and descriptions, I began to realize just how fitting this internship would be for me. My passion for health, vegetarianism, writing and activism fueled my interest in continuing to learn more about these topics while applying my skills to the organization. I came into the internship comfortable with the fact that there was a lot I did not know about these topics, but was excited to learn more from the VRG staff and community.
From the start of the internship, my personal interests and goals have been recognized and valued. Charles and Debra compiled a list of projects and tasks that I would be working on throughout my time at the VRG, all of which related in some way to the personal experiences, interests and goals that I had expressed involvement and interest in. I am most grateful for the opportunity to have expanded my knowledge and experience in areas that actually apply to my interests and passions, rather than participating in mundane tasks in the office.
My first project, for example, was to write a recipe article for the Vegetarian Journal on Vegan Ecuadorian Recipes. For the past two years, I have traveled to Ecuador with a delegation of students and staff from Loyola University, for a faith-based immersion trip. My experiences in Ecuador and the relationships I’ve built with individuals there are very close to my heart and have shaped who I am today. That being said, I was thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to use my experience in Ecuador and my knowledge of the Spanish language (as well as my love for food!) to create vegan recipes inspired by traditional Ecuadorian cuisine. After developing these recipes and writing the article, I translated it into Spanish. This was a fun and challenging way to kick off my time here at the VRG.
Other projects I have worked on throughout my time as an intern include writing for the blog about vegan and vegetarian food available at Loyola, compiling research for vegetarian/vegan senior care, updating our national Restaurant Guide, working at the VRG table at Baltimore’s Vegtoberfest, and informing local newspapers and media sites about our annual Vegan Thanksgiving potluck dinner, as well as, of course, attending the delicious potluck. I even converted an article into HTML – at a very basic level – but am impressed with myself, nonetheless!
Among these tasks and projects, I have learned a lot in less concrete ways throughout my time as an intern. Daily talks with Charles and Debra about life and my future have been very encouraging and inspirational. It means so much to me to have been able to learn from the experiences of individuals whose job reflects their passions in life. This is something I aspire to!
I leave my VRG internship feeling grateful for the opportunities I have encountered, the welcoming people I have met, and the useful information I have learned about vegetarianism, non-profit and advocacy work, as well as the encouragement to foster passion in my future endeavors.
For information about Vegetarian Resource Group internships, see: http://www.vrg.org/student/index.php
To support VRG internships and other projects, please donate at: www.vrg.org/donate