It seems crazy that it has already been two months since I arrived in D.C. As I’ve lived here, I’ve come to love both the city and the Society that I have become a part of. When this blog entry is published, I’ll already be back in Vermont, but I wanted to share with you all the ways that I’ve been inspired–it’s impossible not to be–while interning here this summer in my final 5 for Friday:
1. To Travel
For those of us with wanderlust, National Geographic is the place to be. As I walked these halls, I would constantly see pictures from unknown places or magazine covers taken somewhere that I could only imagine going. Writing for My Wonderful World and working on the Geography Awareness Week committee have allowed me to explore countries and cultures that I was only vaguely familiar with. I’m leaving National Geographic with the desire to become more traveled, to explore the world and to see places in new ways. My list of places to visit is no longer confined to Europe and traditional trips. I want adventures (or eco-adventures) in places like Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Argentina.
2. To Learn
Despite my obsession with maps and cultures, I came to National Geographic knowing basically nothing about geography, short of country locations. Although a spring class on environmental sustainability taught me some basics, I regret to say that I do not get along with GIS. This society has inspired me to learn about the world and has given me the resources to do so. While I still can’t use GPS or GIS, I now understand the purpose of these tools and why it is important to understand climate and physical traits of the land. Geography literally shapes the world and how we look at it. And while I’ll probably stick to my road map when I travel (so much more fun!), maybe I’ll get someone to teach me GIS.
3. To Care
The Society offers so many great opportunities to
employees. During my first week I was able to listen to the U.N.
Refugee Day speeches from the cafeteria and last week I saw President
Arroyo (Philippines) speak about conservation of the Pacific Coral
Triangle. I left feeling part of something bigger than myself. When
I got here, I didn’t understand what it meant to be a global citizen (a
term used here constantly). The Society’s initiatives and programs
have taught me so much that it’s impossible to think of myself in any
4. To Become Active
Did I care about causes
before NGS? Yes. Did I want to stand up for them? Probably not. My
experience at National Geographic Education Programs (NGEP) has been
like Activism 101, with my final project being to write a floor speech
for a congressman. In preparation for this task, I read academic
journals, articles and bills to understand what the goal of NGEP really
is. Tying that experience to My Wonderful World, I was able to
understand the importance of enhancing geography education, while
creatively showing blog readers why it’s so important. At My Wonderful
World, I was able to show readers what I care about when it comes to
geography, and I had a great time doing it. I now understand that
while it is Congress that makes legislative decisions, it is we who
have the power to affect them. I feel like I contributed something
this summer, and hopefully, by 2025, geography will be mandated in all
schools across America so that “No Child is [truly] Left Behind”.
5. To Keep Discovering
Yes, it’s cliché, but the exploration society actually inspires
discovery and exploration. It is impossible to see the photographs and
magazine covers hanging on the walls and not to wonder about the
world. While there are better reference tools, Wikipedia has become my
best friend this summer. I’ve looked up everything from Somalian
history to Neanderthals, the formation of the Himalayas to the history
of cartography. Leaving this place, I have a much larger grasp of
geography, and I hope to keep learning more (I’ve even found myself
looking at UVM’s geography course list for electives). I want to
understand spatial relationships, cultures and even GIS. As I finished
my internship, I’ll be starting to discover my world in new ways.
I just want to thank everyone who’s been reading this blog all summer! It’s been so much fun to write for My Wonderful World. I would also like to thank Sarah Jane, the best blogger out there, for giving me this opportunity.
Melissa for My Wonderful World