I may as well start off by explaining what it is that I’m doing in DC. I majored in Geography in college, met a fantastic professor that mentioned an internship at National Geographic’s Headquarters, applied for said internship during my last year of college, got it, bought a one-way ticket, and moved across the country.
Now before you ask me what kind of camera I shoot with, I will tell you that, yes, I have a beautiful, fancy Cannon DSLR, but I couldn’t tell you the model off the top of my head and unfortunately, I barely know how to use it. I am not an aspiring photographer, but I guess I can share some personal photos from my travels on this site from time to time. I am interning with National Geographic’s Education Programs Division—no it’s not Nat Geo film, Nat Geo television, or Nat Geo’s beloved Magazine. Oh yeah, I’m a geographer…oh nope, not in their Maps Division either. I applied to the NG Education Foundation, which is an organization within the larger entity of NG that funds programs for K-12 geography-related education in North America. It is non-profit work, and I sit at a large desk in a gray cubicle and attempt to learn about all that goes into running an organization that young girls and boys all across the country depend on.
Forgive me if I don’t sound enthusiastic about my workspace—I was actually thoroughly impressed with my desk, various lamps, giant Dell screen, walls covered in old maps, and lockable drawers. My biggest disappointment is that my placard with my name on it hasn’t come in yet, and I’m beginning to doubt if it ever will. I have an extension, a Nat Geo email, a chair if I have visitors! It’s all very… grown up—which is exciting at the same time horrifying, since the days of yore visiting my mom’s cubicle as a little girl still freshly linger in my memory.
Of course, it is a huge accomplishment to have been selected to participate in this four-month internship, but the biggest part of it all has been actively removing myself from my environment and all that I’ve ever known. Sure, I have done a fair amount of traveling. However the 2,698 miles I put between my little green room in Long Beach, California, and the old, brick house I now live in—to say the least—has been the most large scale action I’ve ever done. As a little girl, I dangerously followed my imagination—there was never a day I didn’t have dreams in my eyes. I made elaborate plans of having fabulous things, living in New York City, traveling the world with someone tall, dark and handsome. But being a wildly creative child, then growing into an adolescent, then reluctantly into a level-headed adult… all the while being pinned to my life’s map in one geographic location for 23 consecutive years, well? I guess it’s only natural for a person to doubt if picking up, leaving, and living in another place was actually plausible. But here I am. For Christ’s sake, I rode my bike passed the White House this morning! (It’s much smaller than I imagined, by the way. I mean, the Fresh Prince house most likely puts it to shame. Really?) I digress. Here I am, with my path paved in a pretty incredible way… headed right into the eyes of a nine-year-old girl.
I don’t know what’s next. I have a multitude of aspirations including but not limited to: getting a pilot’s license, writing children’s books, large-scale event planning, lecturing for a few courses at universities, somehow granting access to food to every living person suffering from hunger and poor health among the seven billion (and growing) population of Mother Earth—you know, your basic pageant queen aspirations. I would love to spend a few years gaining some work experience before thinking of going to Graduate school. Maybe live in another big American city. Travel more. I keep remembering what a past co-worker and dear friend told me during our last happy hour together—“This isn’t the biggest move of your life, it’s just the first.” I’m not sure where I’ll spend Christmas this year, but I know that I owe it to my childself to not be so fearful of this uncertainty. What would you say to yourself if you met nine-year-old you? Would she be left feeling hopeful? Excited? Disappointed? I guess that’s somewhat of a loaded question… Instead of giving myself anxiety over it, I’d like to think I’d just unroll a map on the floor, giggle over stories of places we’ve been, and ask her, “Where to next?”