Hello All! Although my internship is fully virtual this summer, it is and continues to be great! To look on the bright side, I am safe with my family and have a good amount of time to spend with them, which might not have been possible if the internship was in person. Additionally, I have gained many technical skills to complete my internship tasks at a satisfactory level, including communication through multiple social media platforms. Overall, I feel happy to continue to do this internship virtually.
The World of Work, like the rest of the Brandeis faculty and staff, has been very supportive this summer, especially with its virtual aspect. Both advisors and mentors have made me feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings during my internship, from dropping in a friendly check-in email to virtual conversations through Zoom! It is good to know that I have a team of wonderful people who I can reach out to whenever I need a helping hand.
Like I said before, I have gained many skills while working for the Sapphire organization, and continue to strengthen them every day. For example, I am on the verge of mastering Adobe Software named InDesign, which is primarily used for illustration and advertisement purposes, along with the creation of long documents. Knowledge on how to use this software is crucial while I hold an active position in the organization, seeing as they will be using this software to create our publications such as our literary magazines and artbooks. I am very excited to start putting together our upcoming art book, “Black And…” which will highlight creations made by black and brown artists and writers. This artbook will be hosting a variety of art, including poems, prose, visual art, etc.
Another wonderful aspect of this internship is its flexibility. We usually meet once or twice a week virtually and discuss various information that consists of tasks for the creation of the artbook and keeping our social media platforms up-to-date while also engaging with our followers. Most of the time, I have 2-3 tasks assigned to me each week to complete, which to me is great because it is a large amount of time and I also really enjoy doing what I have been assigned.
With school starting back up in August, I just hope I can still carve out time and dedicate myself to the work that the Sapphire organization is doing to uplift black and brown voices through the creative arts. This is a thought that weighs heavy on my mind, but I have no doubt that I and the Sapphire team can figure something out. On the bright side, school is starting back up! As much as I dread the exams and essays, I miss my Brandeis campus and cannot wait to be back there in the fall.
Going into this summer, I had never done anything like this. I had never been a camp counselor, I had never worked in a team setting for an entire summer, and I had never been responsible for teaching coastal ecology and biodiversity to young students. It was an experiment. Much like the science experiments I am used to performing, I didn’t know what my final results or conclusions would be. But that’s why you attempt the experiment in the first place.
My learning goals for working at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center were as follows: I wanted to learn more about the ecology, marine biology, and environment of the New England area. I wanted to be able to use all of the science that I have learned at college and apply it to real life situations outside of the classroom. I loved the idea of myself promoting the preservation of our environment, as it has always been a cause that is close to my heart. Finally, I aspired to use my creativity to come up with exciting and interactive activities to inspire the kids to care about marine science!
I believe that all of my learning goals were accomplished. As a trained naturalist of coastal ecology, I can lead tours and school programs through the tide pools by myself, which is really rewarding! I know that most people my age could not say the same. I promoted and expressed my love for environmental conservation and taught children through my own creative methods. We were able to bring the animals and outdoors to the children–whether it was in our backyard, at the tide pools, on a whale watch, at the butterfly garden, in the salt marsh, or in a wildlife rehabilitation center. We taught the children so much about wildlife without ever lecturing to them. We explored outside, we played games, we created fun and interactive stations, all while learning! From stations on sharks to the food chain to puppet playhouses, not only did I get to teach the kids something that I am passionate about, I got to teach it entirely my way! For example, during young scientists, the camp for older kids (9-12) called Young Scientists, I chose to adapt science experiments I performed in high school and even college but made them age appropriate. We even guided the campers to create a real scientific hypothesis and helped them gather the necessary data to create a real scientific poster. Considering this was the first summer that this special week of camp existed, I’d say we left our mark on this summer camp program forever as the inaugural session was a great success!
I will build on this experience during the rest of my time at Brandeis, specifically with my last year of coordinating a Waltham Group program named LaCE (Language and Cultural Enrichment). I will use what I learned this summer to create awesome activities for the middle school children I work with, handle the kids with a new sense of patience, discipline the children effectively and appropriately, enhance the training of volunteers, and be able to think like a kid (so they can get the most out of the program). On the long term, I will use this experience because environmental science is something I am still interested in pursuing, but most importantly, I learned how to work in a team environment. Working with different people from different backgrounds with varied strengths and weaknesses is a great challenge. However, after many team building exercises and sufficient time working together, I believe that the summer camp interns formed a great chemistry. By the end of the summer, we were a true team. During one of our team exercises, we even had to discuss who we thought would be playing drums, singing vocals, playing bass, or playing guitar, as if we were a real band!
Having completed this internship, I really love the Mass Audubon Society and their efforts to promote environmental conservation! We already agreed that I would come volunteer for them during school breaks to lead school programs and continue my opportunity to continue educating the public of the local wildlife.
For a student interested in my internship at this organization or in this field, I would advise that they are very patient with children and that they have a strong enthusiasm for both education and wildlife. Also, be prepared for different types of children! The campers’ desire to be part of the program and their background knowledge vary but every camper needs to be treated equally. For the more disciplined and driven campers that really want to learn, it is very rewarding to work with them and make sure they get a lot out of the program. Similarly, for the kids who may have trouble getting adjusted to camp-life, it is equally as rewarding just to teach them something or make them appreciate camp by the end of the week!
If you want to see the rest of the pictures from this summer, check out the Facebook page!