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  • Gray Panthers NYC Board

Reflection on My First Day as a Gray Panthers Intern by Clare Gillis

Yesterday, May 20th was my first day as an intern for Gray Panthers. One of the things I was most excited about when learning more about this internship through the onboarding process was the possibility of going into the United Nations, to learn more about how countries around the world are addressing their aging population and what can be done globally to address the various gaps in elderly care. It was such a shock to hear that I would be able to go into the United Nations on my very first day as an intern, and throughout my entire first week as well! Prior to arriving in New York City, I had finalized my application to attend the Open Ended Working Group on Aging (OEWGA) and was approved to attend through the Gray Panthers organization. Upon my arrival, I presented my printed approval and received a pass before going through security and entering the United Nations. It was very surreal to be inside this building on something other than a tour at just the age of 20. I met with Jack Kupferman from Gray Panthers, who I was with throughout the entire day. Jack told me that his goal for this internship was to “blow my mind every day”, and he delivered on my first day!

At 10am the OEWGA began with statements from the delegates of numerous countries. I was able to learn so much from these delegates speaking for their nations regarding the growing problems nations are facing as a result of increased older populations, and what they are doing so far to combat these problems and grow as a country. It was such an incredible opportunity to hear from these different representatives and to learn more about the problems that need to be addressed globally to help older persons. 

Even on my first day, I was able to learn so much from Jack and his colleagues. It was very visible to me the impact Gray Panthers has had on these discussions and the discourse surrounding ageism globally and what can be done to combat this. Jack was able to introduce me to amazing individuals who are so valuable in the conversations regarding ageism, and I was immediately welcomed into these conversations. Despite being an intern, working with Gray Panthers immediately made me feel as if I could make a real impact and change as compared to just being a lower-level employee. 

Jack also took time to introduce me to the delegates from Malawi and begin a conversation with them regarding possibilities for helping with the long-term care system in their country. Jack felt so motivated to have this conversation and begin this spark after visiting Malawi earlier this year, which really demonstrates the dedication and ability of the Gray Panther organization and those working for them. Jack also expressed that he would like me to work closely with these Malawi delegates, and both of the representatives handed me their business cards. It was amazing to see how much faith Jack had in me to put me on such an important project, and how welcoming the distinguished representatives were when it came to having this conversation.

Throughout the day we also attended panels regarding the possibility of a United Nations Convention for older persons. It was also visible to me in this room just how much of a voice Gray Panthers had after Jack spoke and was able to start valuable conversations with the panelists present. Throughout this day Jack was able to introduce me to so many amazing individuals, and I learned so much. It was so surreal to have a conversation with somebody and Google them after and see a plethora of results showing how impactful this person has been in the fight against ageism. 

Despite running out of time for the day, Jack even signed me up to deliver a statement to the delegation as well. It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to sign up to speak in front of this distinguished crowd, and such an honor for Jack to have such faith in me on my first day to deliver this statement. 

Overall, Jack absolutely delivered on his promise of blowing my mind on my first day! As a young person, I recognize that one day I will be an older person and this conversation regarding the elderly population is so important. To be able to learn from such amazing people under the guidance of Gray Panthers was so enriching, and going to the United Nations was something I never thought I would do, never mind on my first day! I am so excited for the rest of the summer, and the amazing work I will be doing with Gray Panthers.


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