What makes the Up to Us community special is the steadfast commitment of our students and alumni to civic engagement and using their careers to make a difference on the issues that matter most to local communities. Whether it’s educating fellow students about the national debt, helping register peers to vote, meeting with local elected officials to ensure that their priorities are heard, or running for local office themselves, the Up to Us community understands that there is power in our collective action and that democracy only works through the active participation of all voices. That’s why each year, Up to Us invites current participants and alumni from our national Campus Competition to apply for our Civic Engagement Fellowship. We asked them to reflect on their experience and what they have learned. Hear what they have to say!
Civic Engagement Fellow: Daryl Mifsud
Up to Us Competition Year: Spring 2021, Earlham College
Role this Summer: Diversity, Equity Inclusion Intern, International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons (IOKDS)
What did your role entail at IOKDS?
During my time there, I worked on several projects as the first person with a DEI position in the organization. Some of my main responsibilities revolved around:
- Creating content for IOKDS to understand Native/Indigenous cultures, proposals, and recommendations to encourage more participation from diverse groups in IOKDS
- Researching and submitting information on land acknowledgment
- Creating training materials for administrators, branches, chapters, and circles on how to be a more inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible organization
What was the main project you worked on?
I created training resource materials for the IOKDS, which incorporated updates, revisions, and suggestions to multiple sections of the organization to foster a culture, practice, and system of inclusivity, equity, and diversity. This material will also be presented a the IOKDS Annual Conference.
What did you enjoy most about this experience?
One of my favorite projects was creating a land acknowledgment statement and process for the International headquarters of IOKDS, which was done by working and conversing with Native and Indigenous peoples and communities.
More than solely researching and procuring a statement, I worked to ensure that the land acknowledgment statement was the first step in establishing a healthy and sustainable relationship with Native and Indigenous peoples and communities.
What are your key takeaways?
I learned a lot about what it takes to work both in a DEI space and with NGOs - increasingly being the first person in such a position to build something permanent in the organization. I also grew and took away a lot when it came to navigating and balancing the project outcomes I was working on, and finding the resources available to implement the change needed.
The virtues of actively listening, mediating, and creating a comfortable and inclusive space to effect change were prominent during my internship experience.
How did being a part of Up to Us prepare you for your role?
Being a part of the Up to Us campaign helped me in numerous ways at my internship and in leading projects. Since my Up to Us team was made up entirely of international students, I was able to bring in honest and effective ideas as an intern in a DEI space, working on initiatives to diversify and promote inclusion in an organization.
During our Up to Us campaign, we organized a lot of events that included leading discussion panels, having guest speakers events, tabling and presentations, and informational meetings. All of the above aided in my internship with IOKDS as I had to connect with various people in the organization to develop a DEI program and lead discussions, work together with the other interns on separate organizing projects, and give presentations to the board of the organization.
In a broader sense, the virtues of teamwork, leadership, and tenacity were all qualities that I honed during the Up to Us campaign and thus aided me in my internship placement.
My name is Daryl Mifsud, and I hail from the island of Malta, being the first and only person from my country represented in my College and other institutions I have been a part of, such as Semester at Sea. I am currently on my way to receiving a B.A. from Earlham College, IN, majoring in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution and minoring in African/African American Studies, as I am graduating this December. Currently, I am conducting a study abroad in Tucson, Arizona, called Border Studies Arizona, which encapsulates homestays, my current internship with SOA Watch, and hands-on experience learning through studying transnational migration, the militarization of the Borderlands, language justice, organizing, activism, and movement building among others.
I am passionate about doing hands-on work in an environment where I can see the physical change getting made. I excel in areas that include a diverse setting and atmosphere, which would allow me to indulge in different social practices and outlooks in life, especially in spaces dedicated to decolonization, which is the area of focus I am most passionate about, alongside social justice, indigenous/minority rights, intersectionality, and refugee rights. I also enjoy listening to Music - especially conscious Hip Hop and dancing!