Empowering Change: My Summer with Islamic Relief USA

Safa Elzanfali, COL ’24, Bayonne, NJ

This summer, my journey took me beyond the confines of a traditional internship. I had the privilege of joining the dynamic team at Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) as a Public Affairs Intern. As I reflect on the experiences that unfolded during these transformative weeks, I am excited to share the valuable insights I gained while working with this remarkable organization.

From the outset, I was entrusted with contributing to significant projects that amplified the impact of IRUSA’s advocacy efforts. One of the highlights was assisting in the orchestration of career panel discussions and networking events aimed at connecting interns across the greater DC region. These gatherings provided a unique opportunity for aspiring professionals to engage with industry experts and learn firsthand about the inner workings of influential institutions such as the State Department, the White House, and the Food and Drug Administration. Witnessing the exchange of ideas and knowledge among these bright minds was truly inspiring.

A significant portion of my internship involved collaborating on the creation of an “advocacy toolkit” designed to empower university students to take charge of the causes close to their hearts. This toolkit provided resources, strategies, and guidance for mobilizing communities, organizing impactful initiatives, and advocating effectively. The chance to contribute to a project that equips the next generation with tools to drive positive change was not only rewarding but aligned perfectly with my own passion for making a difference.

Another vital aspect of my internship revolved around research for IRUSA’s annual symposium, specifically focused on Islamic Charity and Zakat. I immersed myself in the intricacies of these subjects, unearthing insights that contribute to a better understanding of how these practices impact communities and individuals. The opportunity to delve into such thought-provoking research underscored IRUSA’s commitment to fostering knowledge and informed discussions in their mission.

Collaborating with the dedicated professionals at IRUSA not only deepened my understanding of public affairs but also broadened my perspective on the meaningful contributions that can be made within the realm of advocacy and charitable work. Reflecting on my time at IRUSA, I am reminded of the multifaceted nature of the organization’s efforts. The intersections of community engagement, education, and advocacy create a powerful force for change. From organizing enlightening events to equipping future leaders with the tools to champion their causes, IRUSA’s Public Affairs department serves as a driving force behind transformative initiatives.

In conclusion, my summer at Islamic Relief USA’s Public Affairs department has been a journey of growth, learning, and meaningful contributions. I am excited to take the insights and experiences gained during these weeks and apply them to my future endeavors, continuing to champion causes that resonate with me and making a lasting impact on the world around me. I would like to thank the gracious donors and Penn Career Services that made this experience possible.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services