Originally, I thought that the work being done this summer would be creating curriculum for local middle schoolers about environmental education. The creation of curriculum is a job that I am comfortable with and have experience doing, so I was excited to complete this task. I knew that I would be able to do the job well and contribute greatly. However, with the pandemic, the needs in Chile entirely shifted and this is no longer the central goal of our projects. The goals have shifted to projects for which I have less experience, such as data analysis and website design. At first, I was disappointed in the fact that I would not get to use the skills that I had expected. However, now I have learned so many new skills that I do not think would have presented themselves to me in other points in my education. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to expand my skill set under an instructive advisor and am thankful for this change in goals. I have learned that even though it takes longer and more instruction, I am still able to contribute to the project efforts. While, originally, I thought I would take initiative as a leader of projects, I now have to take initiative to ask questions and ask for help.
The need for flexibility and adaptability was expected when entering a summer that looks like no other. It has been easier responding to change with everyone around me also responding to change. However, when there is change, I think it is easy to not complete a task to the best of my ability because there are so many questions and uncertainty. In these moments of uncertainty, I have grown to know that my best is still expected to be achieved through asking questions and seeking help. I think there is still room for growth in my communication with people of authority in expressing my concerns and ideas for solving problems. It is easy for me to shy away and “figure things out on my own,” but I know there are so many benefits from being taught by an expert on the topic. There are many opportunities for me to ask questions to my cohort, advisor, and community partners rather than solving things on my own, so I aim to grow more comfortable in doing so throughout the rest of the summer.
My community partner has adjusted so much to the pandemic. As a foundation that is supported by ecotourism and donations, they have had to show great amounts of resiliency. Instead of being passive and just acknowledging that they are not going to have tourists currently, they are taking action to improve their reserve for future visitors. I have learned a lot from their proactive work and desire to better the whole foundation.