The Course of Reason

Summertime at CFI: An Intern’s Perspective

October 22, 2010

A reflection on a fun, busy, and inspiring summer internship experience in Amherst.

I feel rather fortunate to be able to say that this summer was not my first taste of the Center for Inquiry. I can distinctly remember, on a cold December day in 2006, driving past the Center while apartment hunting and being quite intrigued (confession: at first glance, the sign and the name had me leaning towards "must be some cult!"). Little did I know, a year later I'd be sitting around a table with the indefinable Debbie Goddard and Lauren Becker, listening to the virtues and glories of running a student freethought group.

Ever since then, as a leader of the UB Freethinkers I've had the chance to become well-acquainted with the organization. As we've worked tirelessly to push back against a culture of wanton religious proselytization on campus, so too has CFI's outreach department been unyielding in their support and torrential with their resources. The mere power of their copier alone has sustained a flyer campaign that for two years has kept us riding an (in)famous buzz on campus.

As such, my group and I have always made it a point to give back through volunteer efforts at the Center. Although that's been quite interesting on its own, as a political science major intending to involve myself in the non-profit world, I've always wanted to do more. So, after two summers of less-than-compelling classes getting in the way, this year I was able to claim one of the coveted summer outreach internships at the Center.


Presenting on improving the image of a campus group

It almost goes without saying, but the experience has been unparalleled. Along with fellow intern and Western New York ally Ben Isserlis from the RIT Skeptics, I've had a chance to get my hands quite greasy on the inner gears of the Center for Inquiry. To partake in an organization with such a prestigious history, and to be able to contribute at a time when its core mission is being reinvigorated for the age of Internet culture, is an opportunity I feel fortunate to have had.

Likewise, to help organize June’s 2010 CFI Leadership Conference (among other efforts), and see firsthand the future of this movement, was personally inspiring for me. There’s a natural myopia that comes with managing one’s own student group, and it can often be disheartening to sometimes feel like you’re adrift on a sea of pseudoscience and dogma at your campus. The opportunity I had to be in contact with leaders across North America (and even worldwide!) shattered that completely. One cannot help but be stunned and invigorated by the skeptics and freethinkers who are fighting the new battles and carrying the principles of clear-thinking and humanist compassion into the future.


Chris Hever, Joel Guttormson, and Ed at the Leadership Conference

Of course, when involved at CFI, one quickly realizes that for all its history and its on-paper resources, the power of the organization resides in the impassioned people who work there. In the outreach department alone, one simply cannot say enough for the tirelessness of Lauren Becker, Dan Riley, Adam Isaak, and especially Debbie Goddard—who Ben and I are still convinced is some sort of woo-fighting robot (with a voice of pure honey, as all of you Point of Inquiry fans know). To be around a group of people who so love what they do was a unique experience indeed. To next summer’s prospective interns, I cannot implore you enough: take part in this fantastic organization if you can; it’s truly like no other.

 

Comments:

#1 Amy Frushour Kelly (Guest) on Friday October 29, 2010 at 1:51pm

What a great post! And I do believe I took that picture! It was nice meeting you at the conference. Hope to see you next year!

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