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By Molly Douma
Legal Services Program Intern
Summer 2021

During my time as an Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates (LIA) intern, I learned what is possible when a group of people come together to place the well-being of their community above all else. Whether taking on the weight of someone’s story during a phone intake or performing a seemingly tedious task such as filing documents, each action in this office is done with the knowledge that this work is bringing a sense of security and stability to the lives of our neighbors. 

I applied to intern at Lighthouse last spring with the desire to learn about the United States immigration system, understand the nonprofit sector, and figure out what my place might be within these entities. It was also a great chance to apply my Spanish skills to the real world, however intimidating it was (and still is) to perform intakes over the phone in a second language. If nothing else, working professionally in Spanish has given me all the more respect for anyone in the United States who speaks English as a second language in a country that aggressively prioritizes English. 

I learned what is possible when a group of people come together to place the well-being of their community above all else.

This internship brought me perspective and clarity regarding the myths and misunderstandings of immigration I’ve consumed over the years. I now feel empowered to call out immigration myths when I hear them and share the knowledge I have learned when I inevitably hear a misguided comment about the system of immigration or the individuals affected by it. The book we read as an intern team helped me with this, too. Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas echoed many of the stories I have heard throughout this internship, and broke down the feelings and facts of being undocumented in the United States. I have since recommended the book to family and friends and cited it in conversations about the irrational mess that is US immigration law. 

I am sad to see my time at Lighthouse come to an end, but I will be forever indebted to LIA staff and clients for the knowledge, community, and perspective that I have gained this summer.

Molly Douma
Hope College


This post is part of a series of reflections by LIA’s Legal Services interns who served throughout summer of 2021.

In a world of “fake news” and fear-mongering campaigns, Lighthouse’s community education services are needed more than ever. To that end, our efforts include opportunities for interns to join our work to learn and work alongside our legal team. Together, we work to empower organizations and businesses with the resources and knowledge they need to best help the immigrants who walk through their doors. We are committed to play our best part in educating the next generation of legal professionals.

Learn more and apply here:

Post Author: David Lee

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This September and October, we are focused on empowering our community to take action for immigrants and refugees in West Michigan. Share your story, reflect, learn, and help build financial resources to fund high-quality legal services.

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