Meet Our Summer Intern Daniel-Joseph Cyan!
Daniel-Joseph Cyan is a two-time Brooklyn Youth Fellow joining our Communications team this summer to learn more about storytelling and the work of Brooklyn nonprofits
I’ve always known I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. In fact, I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t fighting for a cause I believed in. As I grew up, I learned that activism can take on many forms. I’m excited to intern for the Brooklyn Community Foundation this summer, because of the amazing work that they do to spark change in Brooklyn.
I’m currently enrolled in Hunter College, and am majoring in Film. I’m passionate about the arts, and using the arts as a form of activism. Art is a medium that everyone can comprehend. What I love about film especially is that it’s a combination of many art forms—many of which I also take part of. Film, specifically narrative film, is a combination of literary art, performance art, visual art, and sound. It’s a medium that can change and mold culture. I want to focus my career in film on narrative film, because I believe there is power in storytelling.
What excites me most about working in film, however, is being able to bring trans voices to the forefront. So often, trans people are misrepresented in the media, and/or played by cisgender actors, and I want to work in media to change that. I want to normalize trans stories and trans individuals to initiate a bigger change in the way society portrays us.
I was introduced to Brooklyn Community Foundation through the Brooklyn Youth Fellowship. I heard about the fellowship through a nonprofit organization where I previously interned. This year was my second time as a Youth Fellow (I loved my experience the previous year so much, I decided to come back!). Through the fellowship, I was able to learn about the process of grantmaking and how important it can be in activism, and I was able to connect to individuals that were involved in social justice issues outside of the ones I was involved in, including people who had experience with the criminal justice and someone who had transitioned out of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
My favorite part of being a Youth Fellow, however, was selecting the winners of the Youth Voice Awards. Knowing that there were other youth that had a drive to make change in their communities too was inspirational and motivational. Being able to be part of the process that made their projects a reality was exciting. What was different about this cycle versus last year’s was that we were more involved with activism. We attended a rally in Washington D.C. for immigrant rights, and we had our first Youth Resist Conference, which was favorite of mine. Having to put together a conference, working on curriculum for workshops, and not knowing what to expect or how many people to expect was nerve-racking at first, but seeing the final project come together was what made it all worth it.
When I learned about all of what Brooklyn Community Foundation does, I knew I wanted to be involved further. The Brooklyn Insights Report is inspiring, because it made me feel as if Brooklyn Community Foundation actually cared for Brooklyn and its residents, and didn’t just say so. Asking the residents directly as to what they believed Brooklyn Community Foundation should focus on shows a foundation that is truly involved in the work that they are committed to, and it makes me excited to intern here.
As an intern, I’m hoping to learn the technical skills of communications. What I’m most eager to learn about, however, is how Brooklyn Community Foundation’s grants to nonprofit organizations in Brooklyn are being executed.
You’ll be hearing more from me this summer! I’m eager to learn about more nonprofits and see the work they’re doing to create change in Brooklyn.