The UPS Community Internship Program (CIP) expanded to San Francisco's Chinatown beginning in 2004. Home to the oldest, largest, and most recognizable Chinese American community in the world, San Francisco's Chinatown serves as a historical symbol of opportunity in the West. While providing a community of familiarity for Chinese immigrants coming to America in pursuit of their dreams, Chinatown was a home away from home for the four UPS managers who took part in the San Francisco session of the UPS Community Internship Program.
The community outreach, awareness, and education of the interns began and ended at Chinatown's Cameron House. For more than 130 years, Chinatown's impoverished and underprivileged have sought refuge here. While initially established as a shelter for deprived and vulnerable young Asian immigrant females, the scope of Cameron House's services has evolved over the years to its current role as a comprehensive family service organization, serving low-income Asian immigrants and families residing in the Chinatown area.
In some of San Francisco's harshest urban environments, interns experienced firsthand the challenges and social roadblocks that face the multitude of people cast into unfortunate situations by no fault of their own. By playing with small children and helping them with their homework, mentoring troubled teens, feeding the hungry and homeless, and sharing warmth and kindness with the sick and elderly, the interns gained an enlightened view of the diverse and challenging world in which we live.
Four weeks after the interns' spirited excursion began, the sun set behind the Golden Gate Bridge like any other day; the sun's orange glow reflecting off the rough waves of the San Francisco Bay, peeking beneath a cloudy fog. Returning home to the familiar faces of friends and loved ones, these interns took time to do their own reflection. Through their warmth, tenderness, patience, and understanding, the experience provided the interns with the satisfaction of knowing that they had struck gold in the hearts and minds of the many thankful, smiling faces of the people they touched.
Package Division Manager
This has been a great experience and one that will influence me in my future in many ways. I truly appreciate the opportunity to participate and learn how we can improve and help in the communities we live in. We are blessed to work for a company like UPS that provides its managers this type of flexibility and support and lives up to its commitment to the communities we live in and serve. CIP enhanced our leadership skills and caused us to think and act differently. It made us better leaders who are sensitive to the needs of the communities we serve. This experience will improve my patience and my commitment to my family, and I will be able to better lead by example.
Region Learning and Development Manager
I have learned a great deal about myself and my relationship to the community around me. Being actively engaged with real-world issues and social problems and working through and with community organizations to become part of the solution has given me a greater understanding of my civic responsibility. I realize that my responsibility is beyond giving money. It is about committing time, energy, and passion. I understand myself better and I have used old skills in new and different ways. I understand that citizenship is about more than voting or paying taxes and I understand that leadership is a process and not a characteristic associated with an individual or role.
As I look at the lessons learned from these agencies I realize that I have never made such a significant impact on a person’s life, even though I thought that I had. Ultimately, I understand that people are just like me, only their opportunities and choices were different.
Human Resources Project Manager
I am more aware and appreciative of the sacrifices made by those who dedicate their entire lives to helping others. I am aware of the terrible injustices and oppression the Chinese immigrants faced when they came to America. I now know that I cannot change someone with my words but can make an impression with my actions. I have learned that people are good and beautiful when they are able to really see themselves and find out how to be.
I was reminded that ideas coming from a group of smart and dedicated people are better than ideas I come up with alone. CIP gives managers an opportunity to experience firsthand the hardships that others often have to experience simply to exist. I have been much less quick to judge. I believe it will help me be a more understanding and tolerant manager throughout the rest of my career. The impact on my personal life has been almost identical as my professional, with one addition: I have made it a personal goal to include more volunteer hours per month to my weekends.
I have been given the gift of being brought to a higher level of awareness and understanding as a result of the CIP. My eyes have been opened to social situations and circumstances that I would have otherwise never been exposed to. The knowledge, unending dedication, commitment, and compassion of the extraordinary internship coordinators, nonprofit organization directors, volunteers, staff, and clients of the agencies has motivated me to turn my passive community involvement into a more active role. I want to make a connection and in whatever way, big or small, try to make a direct difference in the lives of people in need.
The CIP is not only for you to change your way of thinking, but also to feel, handle, and live in unfamiliar and different situations. I started to realize how small the world is by looking at the realities that others experience. It was not easy or joyful at the beginning, but very worth it at the end. I was able to cross my boundaries and expand my capacity to care and serve others.
Learn More About CIP at Cameron House