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Program helps interns like ‘Captain Planet’ make impact

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Vince Isner

Ethnic Young Adult interns gather on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
March 7, 2006

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Erick Veliz — sometimes known as Captain Planet — doesn’t look like a superhero at first glance.

Talk to him for a while and you begin to believe he probably could save the world if given a little more time. After all, he’s only 23.

Veliz, a native of La Paz, Bolivia, is working for the Tennessee Fair Housing Council. In his spare time, he is helping establish English as a Second Language classes at his local church, the United Methodist (Nashville) Hispanic Fellowship; working for Amnesty International USA; and looking for any opportunity to advance his three top priorities: working for the rights of indigenous people, promoting equal rights for women and stopping torture.

His passion for human rights grew stronger and more focused after he spent two months in the 2005 Ethnic Young Adult internship program sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society in Washington.

March deadline

The internship has been sponsored by the board for the last 20 years and has at least 200 participants who either now lead the church in some capacity or influence society in their vocations, says the Rev. Neal Christie, a board executive. The program is open to young adults ages 18-22 representing the five ethnic caucuses of the United Methodist Church — Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander. Deadline for applying for the 2006 program is March 15.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Vince Isner

Interns take a break while working for social concerns in Washington.

Interns live together and are assigned to work in organizations addressing social justice concerns. The work is supplemented by evening intern-led devotions, Friday seminars on topics of timely social justice concern, area field trips and Sunday worship in area United Methodist churches.

“Most internships in D.C. are very European-American. You can see that just by looking out the window of 100 Maryland Ave.,” Christie says, referring to the address of the United Methodist Building at Capitol Hill. “To my knowledge, this is one internship that in its own small way has had a lasting impact on an intentionally multi-racial group of young people gathered from across the country to work not just on mercy but to do advocacy with the Hill and the United Methodist Building at the center.”

Details on the internship are available by contacting Christie at or (202) 488-5611.

Audio Interview with
Erick Veliz
“It helped me put a vision to my purpose.”
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