Life is quite funny. I sleep in a bunk next to a large window that overlooks a backside row of South Kensington flats. A glowy pink window is plastered with worn-out glow-in-the-dark stars. They remind me of how far I’ve come and how things have changed. I’ve realised my thankfulness of not knowing the future. If 19 year old me had known that 22 year old me would leave Samford University to live and work in London, I would have lived in fear of what has been one of the best experiences of my life.
My mom and I were driving to the movies when she convinced me that spending a semester in London (as opposed to two weeks over the summer) would be so much more beneficial. I’m a feeler with an evolved awareness of the sporadic nature of emotion. The key is resistance of living at the whim of emotion. What my mom said made sense, and that peculiar feeling when you have just overcome the brink of making a decision, and know that it’s too late to turn back, bubbled over and stretched the corners of my comfort zone to accommodate for the decision that was always there, but newly unlocked.
The summer leading up to my departure from my beloved city, Atlanta, I checked my inbox in eager anticipation of my CAPA internship placement. I had just ducked into my car when my impatience was finally eradicated with the subject line, ‘Internship Placement’ Glory, glory, hallelujah, my request to collaborate on a publication with a small team was officially granted.
Next thing I know, I’m sitting in front of the Alliance magazine editor in chief, Charles Keidan, who is teaching me about philanthropy, via immersion via philanthropic pop quiz. I fought in vain to scrounge my limited knowledge of the topic as to concoct the appearance of knowing well the intricacies of philanthropy. A humble acceptance that I had a lot to learn was necessary. I immediately immersed myself in the September issue, on Human Rights, to catalyse my knowledge and to step into my role as the communications and marketing intern.
My supervisors created for me a journalistic laboratory. Freedom lent to me by professionals to interact with and explore varying media platforms sharpened my copy-write, design and research skills.
A project I thrived under was the production of an email campaign to those who did not renew their Alliance subscription. I intertwined the intention of the campaign with my love of family reunions to create a pun-filled metaphorical RSVP invitation, asking our old friends to re-join the philanthropic family. I also designed a landing page that coordinated with the email.
Thankful I am to have a space to commend my fantastic supervisors, Amy McGoldrick and Zibran Choudhury. They reflect exquisite kindness and have encouraged and mentored me in my writing and design to no avail. They gave me meaningful tasks such as news writing and ad design and regarded me as an equal member of the team. They inspired a confidence, in the work I created for Alliance, that I will take into my future workplace.
They also treated me to Five Guys (#homesweethome), let me tag along to the Trust Conference, entertained my Brexit and London queries, listened to me harp about Southern delicacies: Chick Fil A and Waffle House, and made me around 96 cups of tea (it’s a rough, conservative estimate).
My greatest take-away is this: Stories change everything. At least they should.
I graduate from my University in May and philanthropy is a field that I am now interested in. I have intended to go into ministry and will now carry with me the stories I have read. The ones that have fostered a compassionate rage. Stories of slavery and scavenging, of inequality and unbelonging.
I believe that my time at Alliance, and the knowledge that I have gained, have been in preparation to join in on the era that is re-defining human rights.
‘Anyone can be a philanthropist: it isn’t only giving money – it’s about contributing your time, skills and passion.’ Hannah Rothschild CBE
Anna Reeves McCutcheon