An Intern's Reflection on a Year of Growth at the Timebank

  • Posted on: 30 April 2021
  • By: Elizabeth Arco

For the last nine months, I have had the privilege of interning with the Dane County Timebank through my MSW program at UW-Madison. Prior to starting this internship, I had never heard of a timebank and my understanding and experience with restorative justice, contemplative practice, and abolitionism were very minimal. I was eager to dive into the work and soak up as much knowledge as I possibly could.

I quickly realized I had a lot to learn, and it was humbling to engage in groups such as Community Lab for Intentional Practice (CLIP), Restorative Antiracism Circle, and 100 Strong. I was continually impressed with the eagerness to learn among participants and the vulnerability they showed. These groups gave me the opportunity to think critically about antiracism and how to take action. It is not enough to just read books and watch films and these groups helped me to recognize the complacency in that. While working towards being an antiracist is a lifelong journey, I now fully recognize the importance of my daily actions in dismantling systems of oppression.

A highlight for me was joining the Just Peace Meditation Circle when it started in February. I have attended nearly every sitting during the week and have found adding contemplative practice to my daily routine to be useful to both my antiracism work and social work practice. It gives me space each morning to connect with myself and to be gentle and kind towards myself. As a form of self-care, it allows me to practice being well which supports an ethical social work practice and the ability to recognize the humanity in others. I highly recommend this group to others! You can find out more here: Just Peace Meditation Circle | Dane County TimeBank. In adding contemplative practice to our antiracism work, we can begin to recognize how deeply racism affects all of us.

Although I completed this internship entirely remotely and never got the chance to actually meet the staff of the Timebank face to face, I am so grateful to them for welcoming me to the team and supporting me throughout this experience. I also want to thank all the Timebank members I have gotten to know over the year. I appreciate your willingness and eagerness to engage in this work and to be vulnerable in your learning. You helped me to grow and challenged my thinking in so many ways. However, I especially want to acknowledge Dr. Damita Brown, who served as my supervisor throughout the year. I learned so much from Damita as she challenged and encouraged me to show up as a coconspirator. In social work, we talk a lot about having an anti-oppressive practice. Damita helped me to recognize the way towards that is to constantly strive towards coconspiratorship. While I still have a lot of room for growth, I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow with the Timebank.