Five Things I Learned Interning At Playworks

Guest blogger Samantha Gonzalez shares how her play internship helped her life and work.

Samantha Gonzalez grew up in California, and attended college at the University of Portland, in Oregon. She interned with Playworks February – April 2012, the last semester of her undergraduate career. She hopes to become a school psychologist and to work to advocate for children with the greatest need.When I first started my internship at Playworks, my primary goal and focus was on observing how children relate between each other. I now realize is that I learned much more than that. Here are five take-aways from my internship:

  1. Arguments Can Be Solved By Rock-Paper-Scissors. When I was told that we would solve problems using this simple game, I agreed to enforce it, but I didn’t think it would work. Yet, on playground I saw it being effective over and over. I saw how students respected the outcome, and instead of arguing, they kept playing and took advantage of their time. As adults, I think we could learn to keep playing and focus on the positive.
  2. A Little Positivity Goes A Long Way. As an intern, it was my job to have a positive attitude and encourage the same in the students. Unexpectedly, this positivity would transferred to the rest of my life. It was great practice both for days I worked with kids and every other day.
  3. Anyone Can Be An All-Star. Not everyone can be the best football player, or the best at tetherball, but I learned the importance of finding what individuals do well and encouraging that. By noticing out loud to a child who dribbles well, listens well, or plays a sport well, s/he began to see their good qualities on their own and becomes more confident. I started to use this in my everyday life with friends and found it would brighten their day and improve their confidence as well.
  4. Play Is Good For The Grades. I interned with Playworks the last semester of my senior year of college. Not surprisingly, it was a stressful time. However, I found that interning twice a week helped reduce my stress level and helped me understand how important recess and small breaks are for both kids and adults. These opportunities to release energy weren’t a distraction, as it may have seemed, but actually helped the kids (and myself) to focus when returning to their studies.
  5. It’s Okay to Be A Little Goofy. Probably the most important thing that Playworks and the children I worked with taught me was that it’s okay to let loose, have fun, and just be a little goofy sometimes. When playing games with kids, you really can’t be serious and poised, you have to let go of all that in order to have fun. Setting even a little bit of time aside each day to be goofy and have fun helps the rest of the day be more positive.
My internship taught me how to go through everyday in a more positive manner. I am honored to have interned with Playworks Portland. I know that the children learn similar lessons (and more) to the ones I described, and I hope that they continue applying these lessons to their lives as I apply them to mine.

View our current intern openings here.

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