I’ve spent the past ten weeks as an intern for A Place At The Park, in which I got to do so many amazing things and meet many incredible individuals. At the first few meetings, I was a little nervous since I’m pretty shy and didn’t know anyone else in the program. But fast forward to now, I can say without a doubt that this internship has been the highlight of my summer.
I have never been in a community where I felt so accepted by others and happy to be part of. Each meeting was filled with intriguing learning opportunities, captivating experiences, and bonding with the other members of the program.
One of the most memorable moments that I experienced during my time with A Place At The Park was when I was approached by the program assistant, Amanda, who told me she loved my blog post about coming out as bisexual. This was the first blog post I wrote for the internship (which isn’t posted publicly for now, sorry!), so I was really uncertain about how others would react to it, especially since it was about a personal topic and I was still getting to know the people here. Talking about this writing with her and even some others from the group made me feel so much more welcome and proud to be in the LGBTQ+ community than I have ever felt before.
Another memorable experience I had in the program was connecting with my Asian heritage. My mentor, the program assistant, and one of the interns were all Filipino. I had never been around this many Filipinos before, other than my own family. Talking about this part of myself and learning some amazing things from my mentor about the Philippines, which I haven’t been to yet, was so impactful and meaningful to me. I never felt very close with my culture before since I have never visited my mother’s home country, don’t speak the language, and haven’t learned much about it. Visiting the Wing Luke Museum and learning about the experiences of Asian-Americans, biracial individuals, and children of immigrants – both in the past and from the members of APAP/IMBY – also made me feel understood in a new way.
I honestly can’t think of anything about this program that I didn’t like. But if there was one thing I wish was included in the internship, I would have to say visiting one of Washington’s national parks for a hike, to volunteer, and/or to learn about its ecology and history. I think this would help to show the interns more about what the NPS and encourage them to go to National Parks by having them be more interactive and involved.
Adding on to that, I think it would have been great to have an overnight camping trip sometime during the internship, especially at a National Park. We could utilize the skills we gained from the Outdoors 101 week in a real-life situation. This could strengthen the abilities of the interns and help to create closer bonds between all the members of the program.
In the future, I would love to stay connected to the National Park Service, especially at the Klondike National Historical Park. Since I’m hoping to attend the University of Washington after I graduate high school in 2020, perhaps I will be able to be a mentor for the program that I’m currently an intern for. The time I had with APAP was unforgettable and will continue to impact me for the rest of my life, and I would love to help give others this experience as the IMBY interns did for me.
I’m so grateful to have been part of something so incredibly special. I learned countless invaluable things about the environment, personal and professional development, life, culture, history, myself, and much more. I will never forget the amazing people and experiences from this program ♡