As we all shut down our computers and close our office doors to get ready for the holiday weekend, we at WEA are once again reminded of how so much of our work would not be possible without the support of our rockstar team of interns. So to kick off our gratitude-sharing festivities, we're sending warm hugs and tons of thanks to these ladies!
Thank you both for all the energy you're bringing to your time with us!
And we hope everyone has some time this weekend to take a moment, give thanks for one another and the planet we live on, and do a little something to show that appreciation to the world.
REBECCA OLSON – General Office and Research Intern
1. Tell us about yourself – Background / Journey to WEA. I grew near the Blue Ridge Mountains in West Virginia and moved to Northern California a few years ago, where I managed an inn for several years and took community college classes. Now I am finishing my bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at UC Berkeley with a self-designed research focus on feminist perspectives in international relations, considering how traits traditionally associated with femininity and marginalized in the political sphere could contribute to policies that support a more sustainable and equitable international system. In my research, I focus on the experience of women and marginalized groups. I've always worked while in college, but starting this summer I took a leap of faith and decided to prioritize valuable learning experience over income-earning, mainly because I wanted to start learning firsthand about the issues that are close to my heart. I spent the summer volunteering for an international organization based in Rome that supports sustainable forestry and agriculture. Then I found Women's Earth Alliance through an Internet search and joined the WEA team this fall.
2. What do you do at WEA? I help with general office tasks and donor support. I am also researching the effects of energy development projects on Native U.S. and Canadian women's reproductive health, as well as its connections to violence against Native women, and I'm excited to contribute a few blog posts in the coming weeks as I learn more about these issues.
3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know! I used to volunteer at a monkey sanctuary in Maryland, and I just started learning Argentine Tango.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment? One major challenge is grappling with our economic mindset that prioritizes short-term income or profits over long-term prosperity. Also, I think that our conventional understanding of economics needs to expand to include those things that truly contribute to human well-being, such as healthy relationships with each other and with the planet. Treating the earth like a commodity is obviously not sustainable. Additionally, I think that development projects will tend to replicate or even exacerbate existing inequalities in society unless they are rigorously examined and take into account the concerns of all those who will be effected.
5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why. Vandana Shiva, for her activism to preserve biodiversity and to support the work of women farmers. Many times I struggle with how to effect positive change in the world. I see Shiva's work as focusing on the regeneration of life, building life from the roots (in communities and working with small farmers), rather than coming down from the top with some big revolutionary idea.
6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA. On my first day, I was told that I could take the initiative in projects that I'm working on. I said, "Oh, you mean if I want to do something differently I should check with you first?" She clarified that I can just go ahead. I'm still getting used to this approach, and find that it makes me feel energized and excited about the projects I'm working on.
7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? I hope to learn about specific effects of environmental damage on the bodies and lives of Indigenous women and communities, and to learn about what these women are doing to stand up for themselves and protect their bodies, families, and communities. I am already learning so much, and wondering why I haven't seen more stories about these issues in the mainstream media. I hope to be able to share what I learn with family, friends, and others who I know.
KATALINA TORRES-GARCIA – General Office and Research Intern
2. What do you do at WEA? I’m the general office and research intern. I update and input donations and information into WEA’s databases, transcribe testimonies, help cultivate donor support and correspondence and assist with anything else the team needs help with!
3. Share 2 unique/fun/crazy/weird things about you that your co-workers do not know! I’m really fond of dogs, so much so that my attention span is temporarily suspended if I see one and I’ll only really be thinking, "Must pet dog..." When I’m not thinking about dogs I’m probably thinking about food, or traveling to different countries to eat food.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment? I see the biggest challenge in the intersections of women, indigenous issues and the environment as changing the embedded patriarchy within our systems. This challenge is exacerbated when corporations have their hands in environmental issues fueling injustices and are neglecting human rights. To create an environmentally sustainable future it’s necessary for women have agency over the environment that shapes their lives.
5. Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why. Many women inspire me, but my mom is always who comes to mind first. She set the standards of equality for my life, and I'm thankful because now I won't settle for anything less. She encouraged me to learn and to question and to not hold back my voice or opinions.
6. Tell us one thing that surprised you at WEA. One thing that surprised me at WEA is the volume of new information I am exposed to. Before I began I felt relatively informed, but after just my first couple of days I learned about issues that I knew little about and will never forget.
7. What do you hope to get out of your time at WEA? Throughout my time here at WEA, I hope to get practice and knowledge about how a non-profit operates to move forward and continue to work to improve the environment and lives of women, including my own. I look forward to learning and seeing how when we women connect to share knowledge and resources, change can occur on small scale to become widespread.
Meet the rest of the talented interns that have worked with WEA throughout the years here!