What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
This summer working for the Wahine Project, I worked to bring more environmental education to their summer programming. Throughout the summer I was able to design mini lesson plans (at the beach!) and present them to the campers. These lessons included the importance of kelp forests, how climate change is impacting the ocean, the issue of plastic pollution, and the importance of indigenous land acknowledgments. We also did lessons about female empowerment, mental/physical health, impacts of social media, menstruation, LGBTQ+ representation in surfing and more! It was incredible to talk to campers about such important topics. The overall impact of my work was educating girls ages 6-17 about marine related issues and topics, and hopefully empowering them to become ocean stewards. Also empowering them to be confident, self-loving and kind people. To love their bodies no matter what society tells them! I also wanted to show the campers that it is possible to use your career to help our ocean. As a young girl, I wish I had a role model who did this type of work! I always began lessons talking about what I am studying in graduate school and how I got here, to serve as a role model for them. I hope my time at the Wahine Project will also lead to more environmental education within its camps after I leave!
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?
Professionally, I was able to gain direct hands-on experience working with youth and coming up with my own lessons which I had never done before. Environmental education is my passion, so it was amazing to have the freedom to craft my own lessons and also to learn and grow from mistakes. Throughout the summer, I was also able to improve my lessons to make them more engaging for the students. I could also feel my confidence grow as an educator as the summer went on. I remember at the beginning of the summer, I didn’t have the confidence to lead my own lesson, and I was even too nervous to ask to lead a lesson. By the end of the summer, I was expected to lead a lesson every week, and I was not nervous to do it; I was excited!
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
This experience working for the Wahine Project made me realize how much I enjoy working with youth and empowering them to make changes in their own lives and also be stewards of our planet. I looked forward to going to work every day; I truly loved it. I felt motivated to teach the campers about subjects I wish I was taught in school, so they can go on to help make the changes this world needs! This job made me realize that the work I do can be both empowering and impactful. Every camper I met this summer made a huge impact on me. Honestly, I probably learned more from them! Youth give me hope for the future and I now feel even more motivated to play my role in raising awareness for all young people in this world! I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work for such an amazing organization, working alongside amazing individuals. The Wahine Project is making this world a better place through ocean sports and I feel lucky to have been able to help grow this mission for a summer. I will miss this job dearly!