It is always a great pleasure and honor to work with well-intentioned, highly-motivated, curious, and sharp students from a variety of schools. Every year I am impressed by the maturity and dedication of these young people who are developing into citizens of meaningful contribution.
The Shepherd Alliance, by design, challenges its interns to experience and internalize resource limitations that are a reality for many citizens. We all know that resource limitation is only part of the picture of poverty, but feeling it on even a modest level, paired with building personal relationships with a broad spectrum of people, leads students on the journey towards understanding the long-term impact of poverty on families and individuals. It also provides a better understanding of the importance of access to education, safe living space, transportation and healthcare, to name a few. Through this experience, students gain empathy and a more accurate understanding of how to effectively mitigate and address complex issues that define "poverty." It is with humility that we gently participate in the lives others in an effort to become better educated and better neighbors, advocates, allies and friends. We are grateful to our community partners who open their doors to our students year after year. Our students are fortunate to work with wonderful mentors who are making a positive impact on the lives of and give a voice to valuable and vulnerable members of society.
Fran Elrod is the Associate Director for Community Based Learning for the Shepherd Program on the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability at Washington and Lee University.