How is it nearly August already? It seems like the summer has just flown by as we've been preparing for our annual Gala taking place on September 19th in San Francisco. None of what we've accomplished these last months would have been possible without our team of talented interns! These ladies have been an absolute joy to work with, and have contributed in so many ways to WEA's success! Here are our summer interns:
CELIA GREENE – General Intern
1. Tell us about yourself! What is your background and what has been your journey to WEA? I'm a student at George Washington University in Washington DC, heading into my second year. I just declared an international affairs major—woo!—and am hoping to concentrate in international development as well as anthropology. I came into WEA more focused on the women's and community rights side, but became super interested in and intrigued by the connection between women's rights and environmental justice, which I think WEA does a fantastic job of exploring.
2. What do you do at WEA? I am the general intern at WEA! I help out Kahea with things like processing donations and working in the donor database, and also do bits of super interesting research for the North America Program. I also got to work with Angela, the Director of Development, for a little bit, and everyone in the office has been pitching in with the Gala planning, including me!
3. Share 2 unique things about you that your co-workers do not know. There is always the small possibility of me quitting everything and becoming a full-time interior designer. I am also super interested in clothes and style and runway design.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersection of women and the environment? The biggest struggle in the intersection of women and the environment is, I think, the layers of structural violence inflicted upon the local and indigenous communities that bear the brunt of environmental degradation. Women face discrimination as members of groups that face further discrimination, but what I find so inspiring is that in spite of this they are often the ones raising their voices loudest in struggle, protest, and attempts to change the system.
5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why. I had a professor in my intro to sociocultural anthropology course who had been a part of many mainstream, large scale development projects, the kinds of things that are well intentioned but often massive and prone to failure. She noticed the recurring failures that massive organizations faced in their inability to understand and respect community wishes, traditions, and specific issues. She left the development world and is now writing and studying anthropology in an attempt to resolve some of these issues. I don't agree with all of anthropology, but admire her for sticking to her guns and doing what she felt was right.
6. Tell us one thing that surprised you about being at WEA. WEA is such a close-knit group of amazing and inspiring women that forms what truly is a family and I am so grateful that I am able to be a part of this family!
7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? I'm young and early on in my career and unsure where exactly it will lead me but WEA has shown me a model of working in the environment in a way that recognizes, supports, and lifts up local solutions rather than employing a top-down, one-size-fits-all model. This collaboration and exploration can be applied to a range of different areas of human, women's, and community rights and I hope to continue learning about WEA’s unique model through my time here.
EMILY ESPINOSA – Development Intern
2. What do you do at WEA? I am the Development Intern for the summer so, I'm assisting Angela Mason, WEA's amazing new Director of Development, in everything fundraising-related. This includes lots of interesting research, working on mailings and communications, donor relations, and supporting the rest of the staff as the organization prepares for the WEA Gala in September.
3. Share 2 unique things about you that your co-workers do not know. I love to hike and go backpacking! I am crazy about cooking (and eating) and worked in a kitchen supply store during grad school.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersection of women and the environment? I think that once women are empowered to address environmental issues in their communities it is extremely clear that they can make a major impact. I believe the biggest challenge is making this potential known, especially in different cultures around the world in which women play different roles.
5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why. I have always been inspired by Jane Goodall because she has been able to create such a widespread impact in her animal welfare and conservation advocacy. This has especially impressed me since she began her work in Africa on ambition alone, without a formal education in science.
6. Tell us one thing that surprised you about being at WEA. How close the staff is to one another! This family-like environment creates a very collaborative and creative space that is exciting to see.
7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? Along with the more specific goal of gaining more fundraising experience, I hope to learn how the WEA staff has been so successful in making a major global impact as a relatively small organization. I am also eager to learn about the journey of each amazing individual in WEA's staff and their roles in creating social change.
SERENA YUKO MALKANI – Event Intern
2. What do you do at WEA? I am the event intern, supporting logistics for WEA’s upcoming Gala on September 19th.
3. Share 2 unique things about you that your co-workers do not know. I share so much with them already! One thing that they may not know is that I love to sing and am secretly ecstatic to be part of such a musical team. I’m also a complete nerd and am constantly reading about topics that are brought up in the WEA office—I have bought more books on indigenous rights as a WEA intern than I ever did as a student!
4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersection of women and the environment? I think one of the biggest challenges is recognizing the interconnectedness of all issues and people globally to women and the environment. It is definitely easy to ignore issues that don't directly effect us and I think the challenge lies in broadening our scope of what it means to be human—not only that we create and effect the limited environment around us in this present moment, but that our actions and values also effect people distant from us into the future. It will become increasingly more crucial that more people around the world examine their relationship to the issue of women and the environment. Although there is a lot of amazing work being done towards women’s rights and environmental justice, I think this wave of transformation will only be sustainable when individuals around the world, working in various sectors of society, also realize the role they play in this crucial intersection.
5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why. Ever since I learned about the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya, I have been inspired by Wangari Maathai. At a young age she made me see that true transformative and resilient power emerged from courage to take action for other people. As I became more intrigued with the feminist movement, her presence continually reminded me that women, regardless of race or class, are never victims. I am currently reading her biography “Unbowed” every morning on my way to the WEA office. In a dialogue she states, the future does not exist in some far off distance, but exists in the present, and therefore, anything to be realized in the future must be rooted in one’s present actions.
6. Tell us one thing that surprised you about being at WEA. The work environment, definitely! Everyone is incredibly compassionate and is always willing to share their lives with each other, which makes WEA a genuinely exciting and inspiring place to be. But what has surprised—no, inspired me most, is the conversations on what change means and what WEA’s role is in the process. In no attempt to “save” women, WEA recognizes grassroots women leaders as allies-- not only through language-- but also through the organization’s design, and actions.
7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? I hope to get amazing training, learning from each one of the staff members about their work and personal journeys in this field, and gaining the confidence to continue trailblazing my own.
**Lauren Bellenie (not pictured here), one of our impactful Spring interns, stayed with us through the summer and offered us her incredible research talent and calming presence. Read more about here here.
Meet the rest of the talented interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!