It seems as though I can never say this enough, but UC Berkeley provides its students with so many resources and opportunities- sometimes with intention, but sometimes simply because of its great location. Due to Berkeley’s proximity to San Francisco, I was able to discover GLIDE. GLIDE is impossible to fully describe because you really have to be present in their space in the Tenderloin district to feel the spirit and the love that this non-profit organization provides to the community. The best way at attempting to describe GLIDE is an organization that provides services for the residents of the Tenderloin: from housing and employment help, to harm reduction, to legal aid, and more.
GLIDE’s values include: unconditional love, radical inclusivity, and for the people, amongst others. Needless to say, this was unlike any other workplace I had stepped foot into. They promoted and did their best to provide dignity to anyone who walked through their front door, no matter their housing status, income, or odor. I learned so much about the world and about myself. My actual role within GLIDE was working with the policy team. The policy team acted as a force for good and a representative of GLIDE’s many clients at various city hall gatherings, neighborhood task forces and meetings, and community organizing events. This perfectly catered to my interest in law and policy, and I was able to actively participate in countless meetings regarding policy changes that would eventually be proposed by GLIDE to City Hall.
One example of my work includes being a member of a traffic safety task force. While this might not seem like a pressing issue for many of us, in an area with as many people living on and walking through the streets at all hours of the day, especially considering the additional high proportion of people with mental illness, it is a critical issue. There are many traffic fatalities in the Tenderloin neighborhood; in one instance over the summer there were two in one weekend. Seemingly harmless ideas like commuters making the sidewalk smaller to increase driving space literally can mean something so different to a person who might call that sidewalk home.
It is safe to say GLIDE provided me with an entirely new perspective on how to look at the people and places around us, and how policy affects everyone. It is remarkable how different this internship experience was from my internship last summer at Capital Hill working in the Senate. But I am so grateful that both happened, as both have shaped me in distinct ways, and I’m further grateful that being a student at Berkeley has provided me with both of these opportunities. On my tours, I always end with sharing my Berkeley story, and how the passion of each and every student here is empowering and enlightening, no matter what the passion is about. I am 1 of about 31,000, and I have been fortunate enough to have these experiences and explore and further my passion. It is clear to me that my fellow golden bears are constantly gaining new perspectives through lived experiences like I did, and I vehemently believe that this is what makes Berkeley the incredible place that it is.