When Neena first interviewed for an internship at 826michigan, it wasn’t clear from the onset that she was in fact a junior in high school (normally our interns are finished with high school). She blew her interviewers away and we just had to find a way to work with this upbeat, warm person with so much enthusiasm for the 826 Network!
Flash forward to more than a year later and Neena has contributed to 826michigan through programs, editorial work, workshops, chapbooks, the OMNIBUS, our retail storefront, the Robot Supply Co., 826 Day planning, work with volunteers, families, and so much more. Neena completed an internship during the 2020-21 the school year in which she supported our virtual Wee-bots program. She thoughtfully connected with volunteers and families on a weekly basis. She also single-handedly transcribed, meticulously edited, and proofread dozens and dozens of student pieces from Wee-bots and led students through editing their pieces for publication in Farm of Laughs. In the spring, Neena stewarded a relationship with the Michigan Quarterly Review in which three Wee-bots and Neena’s co-written introduction were recently published. Highly-engaged and reliable, Neena was a source of support during a year that was so uncertain for many of us.
When asked about her favorite 826michigan memory, Neena says, “There are so many. If I had to choose one, though, it would be the Wee-bots release party. I loved the celebratory robot hats and special robot Zoom backgrounds, and it was so gratifying to see how excited students were to read their newly published work aloud.”
Neena’s advice to volunteers is, “Find an 826 program or project that brings you joy, and dedicate yourself to it! Also, know how much you’re valued —- by students, fellow volunteers, staff. You are part of a family at 826, and you are appreciated!”
Even with all that she accomplished during her internship, she came back for a summer of volunteering with Wee-bots and an end-of-summer three-week independent study! We feel so lucky to have been able to work with Neena and can’t wait to see where life takes her beyond her senior year. As she applies to colleges and universities, we are (not-to-secretly) crossing our fingers that she winds up nearby in Michigan next year!