Jacob Jones ’25, a Westover Honors Fellow at the University of Lynchburg, spent his summer working with immigrants and refugees from all over the world at the New Arrivals Institute, a charity in Greensboro, North Carolina.The Appomattox, Virginia, native met people from Afghanistan, El Salvador, Syria, the Congo, and other places.
“I was able to travel outside of my home community and positively benefit a community I was unfamiliar with,” said Jones, a history major with minors in sociology, law and society, and Africana studies.
In addition to being involved in honors, Jones also is the president of Man2Man, an organization that focuses on the development of successful men of color at Lynchburg.
Jones completed the eight-week internship through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, which assigned him to his role in Greensboro. SHECP coordinates with different community organizations throughout the country to provide opportunities for students to get involved in anti-poverty work.
For his internship, Jones set out to become involved in the lives of those most impacted by poverty to grasp its intricacies. Serving breakfast, giving basic English lessons, planning outside playtime, and handling administrative duties every day were not simply routine; they became daily challenges.
“It can be hard to maintain that high level of energy, especially when you feel like you aren’t doing your best, but you know you’re on the right track when you see them smiling,” Jones said.
Interacting with over 70 children daily, each with a unique linguistic background — Dari, Pashto, French, Arabic, and others — Jones had to quickly master an understanding that transcended language barriers.
“Body language is severely underrated,” he said. “The body is a universal language, so if you understand how to properly conduct your body, you can speak to virtually anyone.”
Jones added that his summer in Greensboro reinforced his commitment to positively impacting communities beyond his own.
“One cannot overstate the importance of mutual aid,” he said. “These were new members of the community who needed support. I’m glad I was able to …build ties and strengthen those relationships.”
The eight-week internship program is available next summer for qualifying Lynchburg students. To apply, visit the SHECP internship application page.
For more information, contact Cindy Ferguson, director of the Center for Community Engagement at Lynchburg, at email@example.com.