Writing a blog post on my first week at my internship in Minnesota is a difficult task. I have jumped so many hurdles in one week, I can’t believe I didn’t trip up more times than I did.
My first hurdle was leaving Arizona. I know that might seem like not so much of a challenge, but it was. I have never been away from home any longer than two weeks, at least, not without my family with me. I am fiercely passionate about my home, I love Arizona, and I defend it all the time to people. Leaving it is always a bit of a challenge. What I wasn’t prepared for, was my emotional reaction to leaving my mother in the airport. As we said goodbye at the security check line, I started crying. I must admit, I felt a bit ashamed, but like my mother told me, there is nothing wrong with crying because it just means that I have a good home and love my family. On the plane, I kept reminding myself that, the fact that I cried meant I was lucky and blessed.
I jumped over and through numerous other hurdles during this week from having to buy my own groceries to getting up at 3:30 AM and driving to a site to watch Prairie Chickens. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone every day this week and it phased me at first. I had a rough start and couldn’t help but cling to my home, family, and wish that I was there instead. The dreary weather didn’t help; it rained my first day, and was very very chilly almost every day this week. Luckily, as the week went by, I was able to see things in a different light.
What made me enjoy my days, despite the fact that I was completely overwhelmed by my new surroundings, were the school groups we interacted with every day. As the public service intern, one of my duties is to help out with school groups when they come. Here was something I finally knew how to do, I can talk to children about animals, I can hang out with them and make them laugh. I was a bit rusty at first, though I threw myself into the work without being trained or really told what I needed to do. The school group was split into three groups where they migrated to different activities: birdhouse building, nature walk, and games. I started really enjoying my job when I got to do games and even learned the kid’s names in my group. One of the days, a group of kids came up to me and said, “You are beautiful” and they hugged me when they left. The next day I had kids chanting that games were their favorite part of the day and today I had two girls hug me, tell me they were going to miss me, and that they were going to come back during the summer just to see me. I have no idea why kids like me, but I am always happy they do, because I have fun spending time with them.
Hurdles I jumped this week: getting to Grand Forks North Dakota, figuring out where to sleep the first night (in the lower bunkhouse, which looks like a low class Outdoor Ed, or in the upper bunkhouse on the couch), how to open a shed and charge a golf cart, how to drive a truck out of a tiny garage, how to get to a small town in the middle of nowhere, waking up at 3:30 AM, and finding a little blind (a house with windows) for bird watching in pitch black. Fun things that happened this week: finally saw my first deer on the refuge, becoming better friends with Jacob (the other intern), seeing The Amazing Spiderman sequel at the smallest theater I have ever been to, watching Prairie Chickens display at 5 AM in the morning, getting to know the Rydell staff, and finally spending a day in the refuge when the sun was out for most of the time.
I already feel like I have learned soo much. Some things that are difficult to explain over a blog post. When I return to Arizona, I am sure I will be vocalizing all the lessons I learned to anyone who will listen. It comes down to this, I appreciate so much more, my home, friends, family, the Phoenix Zoo, the Phoenix Zoo staff, Arizona, Tempe, ASU, and to be completely honest technology. It is a bit isolated out here. The nearest town is about 20 miles away and has a population of 100, a Dairy Queen, and a gas station. I just know I have so many more lessons to learn this summer, hopefully less painful ones, but still valuable. Thanks for everyone who has been sending me well wishes. I will try and get some pictures up soon so you can see what the refuge looks like.
Just as a little addition, hopefully with some pictures to add, I got the weekend off, so I took advantage of my time and drove the golf cart around the refuge. I saw snakes, deer, ground squirrels, turtles, and of course lots of birds. It was a beautiful day, just the right temperature, with the sun out. I won’t get tired of walking around the refuge and taking in nature, no matter how homesick I may get.