From one intern to another: “Help defeat compassion fatigue”

You might remember our March online intern Mariana for the inspiring video she made after challenging her community to imagine a world free from hunger. We asked her to write a letter of advice to our May online intern Joshua. Here’s what she had to say.

Dear Joshua,
March quickly came to an end and, quite unfortunately, so did my online internship with WFP Students. I would like to use this opportunity to thank WFP for giving me a chance to work in a team of extremely committed individuals determined to make the world a better place. I won’t exaggerate if I say that this truly was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.
Interning with the WFP helped me rediscover the indispensable role advocacy plays in the fight against global hunger. The simple truth is that, prior to achieving any results, comes engagement; and prior to engagement, come awareness and the overcoming of indifference. This is where advocacy enters the picture as the most imperative of a series of activities aimed at finding a sustainable solution to hunger.
If I am to give a piece of advice to the next online intern, it would simply state: break free from the bubble of conventionality. Being a two-way activity, advocacy is not something whose impact and outcome can be easily predicted since we are trying to influence the attitudes of people and change their behavior. Therefore, we need to make sure that there’s going to be traffic in the opposite lane. Try to come up with innovative ways to help defeat compassion fatigue and make people truly engaged. Do not simply give out information; ask questions, request opinions, and get feedback in any possible manner. This way people will be more likely to feel part of your cause and to get involved in it.
Another extremely important thing to take into consideration is the message itself. As advocates, we need to make sure that what we are transmitting carries the right meaning. We have to emphasize that helping human beings caught in the trap of hunger and poverty is not a matter of compassion, but of justice. People should realize that we are not asking them to engage in charity – instead, we are teaching them to take responsibility. When you think about it, it all comes down to making everyone aware of the fact that we are the present upon which the future is built.
If you are part of this internship program, you are already on your way towards making a real difference. Try to get as much as you can out of this amazing opportunity. The highlight of my internship was the online challenge, and I would like to recommend that you plan it well in advance and come up something creative, inspiring and unconventional. However, as important as this coming month can be, you should also keep in mind that another crucial part of your work will come afterwards because advocacy can only be effective if adhered to consistently.  Keep up the great work well after your online internship is over in order to achieve maximum results. Until then, get ready for an exciting month in which you are going to team up with amazing people fighting for a great cause!


March online intern Mariana Petrova