As September gets underway, my year as CPJ’s public justice intern is taking off quickly. It has been two weeks since I first entered these hallowed halls, and I have been graciously welcomed by the CPJ team. Just a couple weeks ago I was still in South Korea where my wife, Erin, and I taught ESL for two years. It has been a fast transition from Seoul to Ottawa, but the change from Konglish and kimchi to Parliament and poutine is a welcome one. I have had my eye on CPJ (and this internship in particular) for a few years now, and I am incredibly excited to finally be here.
I’ve truly hit the ground running, and it has been great to dive right into some of the projects Simon and the team have for me. For the coming school year, we’ll be launching a new video contest. We have changed things up a bit this time around, and we are all excited to reveal what we have in store for you. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what’s to come!
Perhaps the most exciting part about this internship is the opportunities to communicate and meet with MPs and Senators. While I’ve just begun, there are already a couple events and meetings on the horizon to look forward to. The House is back in session and with that we’ll be on the Hill later this week meeting with Senator Don Meredith to discuss our Dignity for All campaign. The campaign is also preparing for its events on the Hill on October 17th which will line up with International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
I’ve set forth a rigorous blogging schedule for myself, and I trust you’ll hold me to it. I plan to post an intern update similar to this one on a monthly basis to fill you in on what’s happening at CPJ. I’ll also introduce a new series of monthly posts called “Glass Half Full.” In those, we’ll set aside the political obstacles we work so hard to overcome here at CPJ, and instead celebrate the successes and progress we’ve seen for our issues over the past month. I’m also hoping to incorporate more visuals and graphics into our blogging routine so be sure to look out for those in the coming weeks.
CPJ’s office environment is one of the most collaborative and encouraging I’ve ever been a part of. Whether we are discussing new projects as a team, doing weekly devotions, eating lunch together, or editing each other’s work, it’s an inviting community that works hard but never gets hung up on hierarchy or formality. The staff here practices well the words of Proverbs 27:17, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
As Erin and I visited churches in downtown Ottawa these past weeks, we were asked by one to sign its guestbook. After writing our names, there was a place for us to write in our hometown. It was unsettling how difficult it has become to fill in that line. Our home isn’t London, ON where I was raised, nor is it Ephrata, PA where Erin grew up. No longer is it Grand Rapids, MI where we went to college and lived for four years. It also isn’t Seoul, where we’ve spent the last two years making a home away from home. But Ottawa isn’t our home either. Not yet at least.
I’m currently reading through Beyond Homelessness by Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh, and it has helped me understand this form of homelessness we’re experiencing. It’s not a lack of shelter or want of family. Rather we are without what they call a ‘primal place’ which ‘has a profound sense of connection, identity, and even love.’ (pg. 4) If, then, we lack a point of orientation in one place, we are, in a mild sense of the term, ‘displaced.’ Bouma-Prediger and Walsh espouse a holistic view of homelessness, just as CPJ’s Living Justice devotional expresses a holistic view of justice. This experience of ‘displacement’ has helped me internalize, in some small way, the notions of emotional and community poverty.
This is not to trivialize the poverty and homelessness that is all too real for many Canadians, and we are incredibly grateful to have been blessed in countless way. But I hope to draw inspiration from this as I look forward to a year at CPJ of working hard to promote public justice in Canada.
Thank you so much for all your support!