by Ikhlas Saleem, an intern in 2010
Before writing this reflection, I had to remember how long it had been since I was an intern at WATER—eight years ago, almost a decade, it doesn’t feel that long. 2010 was the same year of Mary Daly’s transitioning to the next phase of life. A couple months prior, I applied for an internship position at WATER and Mary replied back asking if I would be attending a remembrance program in honor of the work of Daly. I quickly responded something like, “yes, of course, how could I miss it?!” At that time, I had yes, heard of Mary Daly, but had no intention of attending the program and had no idea it was even happening. As all things go, it was Divine guidance.
During my summer with Mary and Diann, and my fellow interns–Nellie and Elizabeth–I learned a lot of things–the importance of showing up to work on time (it took me a long time to learn this), how to manage competing priorities and deadlines, but I think the most important thing I learned was how to make theology real, how to marry academic pursuit with the actual, lived experiences of communities in pursuit of social justice. I was, and am still, so inspired by the work of WATER. Working closely with Mary and Diann, I learned this isn’t something they just do. The intentional facilitating of spaces that seek to create and sustain understanding, healing and conversation come from a deep place of sincerity and yearning for the betterment of all communities. As a black, muslim woman entering WATER I didn’t exactly know what to expect but I know what I received: mentorship, guidance, healing, understanding, free meals (lol), community, a space to breathe and expand. Undoubtedly, WATER has played a significant role in shaping who I am and my work today. I am always in gratitude.