21 Jul Making the best of Latino Conservation Week
The festivities for Latino Conservation Week started early for me, as I became naturalized on July 9th. Although the ceremony was not done at a national park, the communications team threw a surprise party for me, and this was not just any party. There was a U.S. flag beach ball, patriotic hats, Presidentbobbleheads and even a cake that had the U.S. flag on both the top, and the layers! The dual citizenship definitely made me reflect on the impact I’ve had in this country for the past 11 years, and the kind of impact I can have now that would serve as a legacy for future conservation advocates. Everything seemed to come together during Latino Conservation Week, and as Maite pointed out in an article, it was a great success this year. Over 50 events were created for LCW, and mine was to release the full interview with Director Jarvis. But there was much more to LCW than that for me, as I got to participate in three other events that broaden my connection to LHIP’s cause. First I joined a group of LHIPsters at the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation meeting held at the National Building Museum. I attended the Communications, Education, and Outreach Committee meeting, in which we discussed ways ACHP can be more inclusive and relatable to young generations. The highlight was that the chairman and expert members attended the meeting and were eager to hear what LHIP was about and what each intern was doing. It was the first time that week I felt like an ambassador of people with similar background, interest and age, and having a voice during these kinds of meetings where decisions are made was a great confident boost. The week seemed that it couldn’t get any better when a few days later I joined a group of LHIPsters and LHIP representatives for a 50-minute conversation with Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. Initially intended to last 30 minutes, Secretary Jewell moved her schedule so that all interns got to share their story and ask questions. I’ve met elected and appointed officials before, and she stood out as perhaps the most humble and honest person, dedicating more time listening than speaking. At a personal level, it was a great learning experience as I was tasked to film the entire meeting, having to improvise with the limited equipment I had. On Sunday, to wrap up a very fruitful Latino Conservation Week, Jose Gonzalez from Latino Outdoors and a volunteer from Theodore Roosevelt Island gave us a tour of the island as a way for us interns to share ideas and projects that would help narrow the current disconnect between NPS and the Latino community. As the internship comes to a close for me in the next couple of weeks, I hope to film interviews with other interns so that their stories and job duties can be accessed by future LHIPsters.