West of Boston, out in the suburbs, it’s easy to let the world pass you by. Demographics are more or less the same: largely white, middle to upper-middle class, mostly liberal, but conservatives aren’t uncommon. Every (general) election, the mood is more or less “we’re gonna go blue, what’s the use anyway?” With Democrats occupying every federal elected position in the state, there’s not much to worry about. Old northern elitism runs high. But while Massachusetts is certainly no Alabama, this state isn’t perfect; and my summer with Massachusetts Peace Action helped cement that fact.
I sought out this internship, really, in an effort to get out of Boston suburbia. It’s not a bad place to grow up by any means, but there’s something about being surrounded by only trees and privilege that starts to feel a bit suffocating. All I knew going into this was that I would do anything to just get out into the city and actually do something meaningful for once. And I got to do just that. I had the opportunity to attend rallies and protests, speak with prospective congresswomen, and even meet an actual congresswoman. While some days I just made flyers for events and edited the website, other days I’d be out carrying signs (in the picture above, I’m holding the “No War with Iran” banner) and protesting outside a senator’s office. The places I went and the people I met and the conversations I had with complete strangers honestly made my summer at MAPA one of the most transformative experiences I’ve ever had. To say I got out of the suburbia bubble I’ve been stuck in for so long would be an understatement.
One of the most important things I’m taking away with me this summer is the specific ways Massachusetts is tied to U.S. foreign policy issues, particularly in the Middle East. One of Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms dealers, Raytheon, is headquartered right here, out in Waltham. Some of our elected leaders still refuse to acknowledge the Palestinian people’s plight. And these are things I probably wouldn’t have known had I not had the opportunity to intern with MAPA this summer.
And so, as the summer comes to an end, all I’m left with is a feeling of gratitude. I don’t know where I’ll be after high school, or who I’ll be ten years from now, but I do know that the things I’ve learned and the experiences I had will most stay with me.