A quick hello from Washington D.C.!

Hello all! My name is Tomás Deza, I’m 22 years old, and for the next 10 weeks I will be working as a communications intern at the National Park Service’s headquarters in Washington D.C. This internship is an exciting challenge for me because I will be working closely with both the NPS and the Hispanic Access Foundation to meet their mutual, and individual, goals for this summer. Many of my tasks will involve reaching out at a national level to promote the outdoors, communicate NPS and HAF news, and share all the great work the Latino Heritage Internship Program will be producing this summer. It is a challenging task for me, knowing that I will be having access to social media capabilities with over a half-million followers on Facebook alone plus the necessary media connections to reach every journalist in the country, but I am convinced I will leave a positive impact and will grow as a person and a professional as a result. It is also an interesting time for me because this year I have reached a point where I have lived as many years in the Washington D.C. area as I have in my native country, Argentina. Taking this internship with the LHIP has brought me back to all the things I have learned, all the people I have met, and all the places I have been since my move to the United States 11 years ago. It is during high school in the Washington D.C. area where I first had contact with the outdoors as I began to volunteer with the Student Conservation Association building and fixing trails, removing invasive species and cleaning the various national and state parks in the area. During high school I also began to grow aware that I could also call myself Latino, Hispanic, Latin American, etc. and that my experiences, good and bad, when immigrating to the United States were very similar to those of my classmates and conservation partners. I began to notice the socio-economic gaps within my neighborhood and my school, the growing injustices done to immigrants like myself, and decided to volunteer and intern for various human rights organizations in D.C. The B.A. in film studies from the University of Maryland I earned recently has also given me the tools to produce materials that can be of help to the different causes I care about. So the communications internship with both the NPS and the HAF seems to be the perfect time to stop the ball and look back at how much ground I have covered (soccer analogy necessary here considering my Argentinean background!). But it’s also a good place to put things into action, and give back to all the people that have helped me be where I am today. I hope that helping spread the word out about the different projects the LHIP will embark on this summer will reach people with a similar story as mine, will get them excited about the outdoors, and will make the places we will be talking about more accessible, inclusive and diverse as possible.

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