I am sad. I am sad that I am sitting here writing my last blog post of the summer (also sad that summer is basically over?! Like what?... anyways). I am sad that this beautiful chapter of my life is coming to an end. I want to keep re-reading the last page of the book to make it last longer. I want to hold on to the last written word. I want to leave the pages open so I never have to put it back up on the shelf. But I know I have to, and that makes me sad. 


I am sad. I am sad but my heart is full. After completing the four day workshop with all of the LHIP interns, I am filled with love, inspiration, positive energy, and motivation. I was reassured that all of my hard work this summer had paid off. All of the beautiful words from other interns were more than enough to reassure me that my work was important, and needed, and inspirational. So, although it is the end of my internship, it isn’t the end of my work. 


I am sad. I am sad but I am exhilarated about my future, the future of my fellow interns, and the future of the National Park Service. I hope that NPS can continue to open their eyes and see the beauty in color, the creativity in diversity, and the passion in community. I hope that people who are in positions of power can be more than just an image to look up to, but also a person who takes risks for their community and their people when we need them most. I hope that we can continue to be brave and expressive. I hope that we never silence our own voices and opinions due to fear or rejection. 


I am sad. I am sad but I am happy. I am happy that I got the privilege to work alongside an amazing team at the Anza Trail, happy that I got the privilege to even have this internship, and privileged to be surrounded by other shining star interns. I am happy that I get to save these memories around the trail and my work in my mind forever. I am happy that I got the opportunity to have a speckle of impact on a deserving community. 


Estoy triste. Estoy triste pero estoy agradecida. Agradecida por los que estuvieron antes; las comunidades indígenas que sentaron los cimientos, mis abuelos por poner construir la estructura, mis padres por levantar las paredes y el techo, y mi comunidad por pintar el exterior con colores de orgullo, inspiración y amor. 


Adios. Por ahora. 

 

Last social distancing hike and selfie. Best team every. Thank you Naomi and Christopher, I'm going to miss this. -Rebecca 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Tuesday, 21 July 2020 00:47

A REFLECTION IN TIME - UN REFLEJO DEL TIEMPO

January 2020: The start of a new year, so many possibilities, so many new experiences awaiting, and so many life changing decisions to be made. One of those being the contemplation over a summer internship. Was I going to follow the traditional route and intern at an architectural firm or was I going to stray away from the path and apply to work for the National Park Service? 


February 2020: I received an email from Dalia to set up a pre-phone interview. At first I thought, what is a pre-phone interview? But then I got excited about receiving an update about the internship. And after talking with Dalia I felt inspired and hopeful, despite never working at a National Park or in the field of interpretation and outreach directly. 


March 6, 2020: On March 6th I had a phone interview with Christopher (my current mentor/ supervisor) and 11 days later I was offered the position of interpretive/ outreach intern at the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. He spoke with words of inspiration that colored my mind with the possibilities of projects I could explore and pursue. I quickly grew passionate about a field I had no idea about three months earlier. 


March 16, 2020: Berkeley sent out a city wide order to shelter in place due to the Coronavirus. Internal panic set in about whether or not I was going to get to keep the dream internship after just being offered the position. It was like receiving a bright fresh red rose only to watch it slowly wither moments later. 


May 2020: Despite the Coronavirus, I was fortunate to keep my position. My first day of teleworking began on May 26th. I began to learn more about the ideas of interpretation and community outreach and adjusted the definitions of what those meant during a global pandemic. I started training and read a lot about the trail, but I still felt like I was barely touching the surface of what interpretation was. Yes, I understand the basic definition; a teaching technique that combines factual with stimulating explanatory information (according to webster's dictionary). But the world of interpretation within the National Park Service was a whole other story. 


June 2020: Staying busy; video meetings in the morning, hikes during the day, computer work in the afternoon. The days go by, the work piles up and I can’t seem to get a grasp on one project. The feeling of not doing enough but doing too much kept creeping in. Trying to check in with myself mentally and physically while processing the state of the world around. Oh yea interpretation… what is that again?


July 2020: Wow two and a half months in and it feels like I just got off that phone call in February. The conversations, work and research I have done about the historic trail are starting to come to life in the projects I am completing. And the further along I get into my internship the more I question the idea of interpretation and what it means within the context of the National Park Service and specifically the Anza Historic Trail. 


When we present interpretative text, what is our goal? What are we trying to accomplish with the way we express ideas about the park or trail or historic site we are writing about? The whole idea behind interpretation is complex and curated. We can question the interpreter themselves and the intentions behind the curation of history for mass consumption. We can also question the style of writing and whether or not it is accomplishing the goals of interpretation and what those goals are. But at the end of the day for me, the goals in my interpretive writing is to get people to question the text I am writing and to think critically about what is being created. I want to provoke the reader to continue to ask questions about the content they are reading or listening to and not take it at face value.


So, what is interpretation? Maybe the definition itself can be interpreted (very meta, I know) but it is an objective form of presenting stories. And a lot of the time these stories are told with little written record or historical context. The little historical text or written records we have comes from the hands of the colonizers (specifically speaking about the Anza Trail). The Anza expedition documentation comes from Anza himself or Father Font, two men who ultimately wrote the story of colonization in the San Francisco Bay area. So, yes interpretation is complicated because there is more than one side of the story, and it’s our decision to choose which stories we highlight and which ones we let fade away. 

 

August 2020: Content not available yet.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Monday, 06 July 2020 23:25

HILLS TO KNOLLS - COLINAS TO LOMITAS

¿Cómo están? 

How are you? 

So, I definitely did not put on enough sunblock last week… the watch tan I have developed on my wrist is evidence enough. I think I underestimated the California sun. This is my first time spending the summer outside of the South Texas heat and I cannot complain. The 70 degree highs and the 50 degree lows have given me the ability to explore the Anza Trail at almost any time of day. 

This past week was filled with hikes on hikes on hikes. The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is over 1,200 miles long and spans over two states and two countries. To say the least, it is HUGE! It would take me over 20 days to walk the whole trail, and that is if it were flat the whole way and if I took no breaks (which you know I would). I have only hiked a little over 38 miles of the Anza Trail myself and mostly concentrated around the East Richmond area, East Berkeley, and some portions in San Francisco.  

Having the privilege to work outside and explore the trail, especially during the time of an ever looming pandemic, has been my saving grace. Being out on the trail has connected me to the ground I walk on within my new normal, that is California. Not only have I recognized the privilege I have to be working at a time like this, but I have also come to constantly question the idea behind access to this job and to this trail. 

Again, being from Texas, hiking on the little “trails” we had was never an option during the summer because of the extreme heat, but aside from that, the access to hiking trails near my home was non-existent. The effort it took to get out and enjoy the outdoors was tremendous, and I recognize that now that I am in a space where my options are limitless. 

But before I get ahead of myself, although I say that my options are limitless they are still not accessible. What do I mean by this? Well first of all in order for me to head out to the Anza Trail, I need to wake up, gather my hiking essentials, get on my bike, bike 5.7 miles uphill, lock up my bike, get out on the trails, start my hike, and hope that I save enough energy to bike the 5.7 miles back home. As for portions of the trail that can only be accessible via driving, are almost completely off limits to me. 

In addition to these struggles of access, the Coronavirus also brought another level of restrictions. On May 4th, parks throughout the Bay Area decided to re-open but with restrictions. The San Mateo County Parks Director Nicholas Calderon said that the parks should only be used by people who live close enough to walk or travel a short distance to. The Bay Area Park officials were asking people to only visit the parks that were close to their homes to aid in social distancing and to avoid large crowds. This was so unsettling for me. I immediately thought to myself, “What?! How can they make decisions like that about public spaces? How can they tell the communities that need the recreational areas the most and have the least amount of access to them, that because they do not live close to a park (because historically communities of color have been pushed out of areas with lush green recreational spaces) they may not have access to use it.” According to the Center for American Progress, new data shows that communities of color and low-income communities in the western United States have less open space, parks, and natural area nearby than the overall population in their state. The report was published during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and looks to examine the push for more inclusive and accessible public land. The Organic Act of 1872, which was the legislation that created Yellowstone National Park, has a statement that reads “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” This quote has always lingered in the back of my mind when thinking about the accessibility to National Parks, where at the core value was meant for “everyone” but as history has shown us, this isn’t the way it panned out. 

So, every time I wake up in the morning and open my laptop for a video call, every time I get on my bike and head out to the trail, every time I breathe in the fresh air while on a hike, every time I get to sit and write about my experiences, I am grateful and I am thankful, despite some of the small hills of adversity that I need to traverse. I can only hope that the natural world will become colorful again and that my work will turn these colinas into lomitas for those who come after me. 

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” - John Muir 

 

Hablaremos pronto… 

Published in EFTA intern blog

Mi mamma siempre me decía, “leave things cleaner than you found them”, before I left the house for a sleepover at a friends. I carried this mentality throughout my life whenever I entered a new space; when I would stay at a hotel room I would make the bed, after a party I would help clean up, or even as basic as washing my dishes when I was a guest at someone's home. Maybe this sounds like basic manners to you, but to others these actions never cross their mind. 


I started to think about this concept in relation to ‘natural’ spaces. We are constantly reminded to clean up after ourselves, to take out the trash we bring in, and to limit the physical harm and damage we do to the land we are using. Yet, these rules and regulations were not something that were originally part of the colonizers core values. They didn’t come in and leave things cleaner than they found them, in fact they did the complete opposite. 


In the bay area, before the Spanish colonizers entered the space, hundreds of indigenous groups nourished the land they were living off. One of the known tribes that resided in the present day bay area is the Ohlone Tribe. The Anza expedition was one that traversed these lands and the homes of not only the Ohlone people but many others. The more that I read and listen, the more complex my understanding of colonization becomes especially when thinking about the ‘natural’ environment and those living off of it. 


In a book titled The Ohlone Way, written by Malcolm Margolin, he writes “The Ohlone lived in a world where people were few and animals were many, where the bow and arrow were the height of technology, where a deer who was not approached in the proper manner could easily escape and a bear might easily attack -- indeed, they lived in a world where the animal kingdom had not yet fallen under the domination of the human race and where (how difficult it is for us to fully grasp the implications of this!) people did not yet see themselves as the undisputed lords of all creation.” While I was reflecting on these words and continued to read more, I couldn’t help but get frustrated. I tend to empathize too hard sometimes, I’ll be honest, but my mind couldn’t get a grasp on the fact that people lost their homes, their traditions, their language, their families at the cost of “new discoveries”. And I also started to reflect on the concept I previously stated, to leave things cleaner than you found them. Why didn’t the colonizers come in and leave it as they found it? Maybe because the need to overpower and conquer was larger than a basic understanding of manners. I know this is a simplification and there is more to the story, a lot more. But I sit here and I question if things could have been different and the longer I lingered in my head the stronger my urge to write words and express my feelings. 


Before I started to write any of this, two days earlier I sat down and wrote a poem. Well, I don’t really want to use the word poem because I wouldn’t consider myself a poet, but maybe more of a therapeutic word vomit session that I got the courage to share with you only after writing everything above. I figured, hey if writing this gave me some sort of relief then maybe it would do the same for others by reading it. Alright, don’t judge me but here it is…   

WHY?! 

Why was it okay to come in a take what wasn’t yours? 

I have the respect in my blood, in my culture, in the way I was RAISED. 

Why DON’T YOU!? 

Where was this privilege incepted? Where was it born? And why did you bring it here? 

No one asked you to, no one wanted to become a slave to your ideas. 


STOP. 


Let me go. 

Let me be. 


Don’t ask me again to get on my knees and submit to your ideas of perfection. 

Because I won’t do it anymore. 


I’m TIRED. 

I’m CONFUSED.

I’m CONFLICTED. 

I’m ENOUGH. 

I’m FIGHTING. 


I’m juggling more than you’ll ever have to in your whole life time. 

So don’t pretend to know. 

Sit down. 

STOP... and leave it as you found it.  

 

Bueno, I hope you enjoyed it.

Hasta luego... 

Published in EFTA intern blog

¿Cómo están todos?

How is everyone doing? 

I know times continue to grow more complicated and complex and at times overwhelming, so I hope everyone is doing what they can to stay healthy, safe, and educated. 

On June 9th, Deputy Director David Vela, of the National Park Service, issued a statement addressing the issues of equity, justice, and the fight against systemic racism. In the statement he writes, “The National Park Services commits to lead change and work against racism.” Reflecting on his words this week, as well as on those voices who have spent years being silenced, really got me wondering about the voices connected to the Anza Trail expedition.  

I began to question whether the work I am doing with the Anza Historic Trail is even relevant to the current events or am I just sitting in front of a computer screen shielding myself from the chaos happening outside my window? After much reflection, questioning and conversations with my team (aka my mentors Christopher and Naomi, shown in the picture below), I came to terms with the fact that my work is meant to highlight those hidden stories and educate about why they are even relevant in the first place. Sure, these are stories of colonization but they also hold stories of people of color trying to create a better life for themselves and their families through the journey, they hold stories of indigenous communities being transformed and land being stolen, they hold stories of how to move forward and heal while never forgetting what happened in the past.


 

And you might have just read all of this and thought, well none of that sounds positive or maybe why should I even care? And I can admit, I felt the same way a few weeks ago. But I do not want to let these stories go untold, I do not want our communities to continue to be overlooked, I do not want those voices to be silenced anymore. I care, because if not, who will? 

 

Imagine this, you’re at the beginning of a hike, you’ve passed the trailhead and you’re less than a mile in when you come across a trailblazer (or a wayfinding sign, or a pole with a bunch of arrows on it, whatever name works for you...) and now it is time for you to make a decision. Do you go right, left, or turn around and go back from where you came from? 

 

Hasta la proxima. 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 05 June 2020 20:20

TRAILHEAD - COMIENZO DEL SENDERO

¡Hola a todos! 

Hello everyone! 


Week one of my internship with the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is in the books. Sure maybe it wasn’t what I was expecting, but neither is the current state of the world. 


Maybe we should back it up a little bit, my name is Rebecca Flores. I grew up in the border town of Laredo, Texas; where the sun is always burning at a steady 100 degrees, the tortillas are hot off the comal, and there's always frijoles en la casa. Living in a city that is predominantly Mexican-American was unique in itself and influenced my life in every aspect. The ideas of family and community have always been at the core of my values and the older I get, the more I appreciate it. So, when I got the opportunity to combine my love for Latinx communities with my passion for the outdoors, I couldn’t say no. 


Okay enough about me, let's get back to the Anza Trail… 


Did you know that the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail stretches through California, Arizona and even Mexico!? Well it does. Week one has opened my eyes and inspired me to learn something new about the trail everyday and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.


I have been out on the trail a couple of times now and have only touched a small fraction of it. But my hiking shoes are laced up and my sunblock is on and it’s time for me to get back out there.

*backpack, phone, keys, wallet, mask* 


Hasta la próxima.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 24 April 2020 00:08

Rebecca Flores

I grew up along the U.S. – Mexico border in a small town called Laredo. In this Texas oasis, I nurtured my passion for community work. I was raised in a Mexican-American household where I learned the value of hard work and devotion. I received my Bachelor of Arts at Smith College where I double-majored in Architecture and Italian Studies. This experience expanded my understanding of the built environment, made me trilingual, and allowed me to expand a vibrant Latinx organization on campus with the help of close friends.
I am currently pursuing my Masters in Architecture at the College of Environmental Design at the University of California Berkeley. My work in architecture revolves around social and environmental issues. Through the Latino Heritage Internship program, I intend to build
cultural bridges from the National Parks to under-served Latinx communities.

 

Published in Intern Bios
Wednesday, 15 May 2019 14:15

Kimberly Becerril

My name is Kimberly Becerril. My first memories are from my days in Guadalajara, Mexico. I collected my most cherished memories of my family history during those years. I moved to South Gate, California in Southeast Los Angeles, a predominately Latinx community brought together by a public park in the middle of the city. South Gate Park was where my family and I spent our free time throughout the year and especially during the summer. I remember people from neighboring or even far away cities driving to South Gate for its park. After graduating from high school, I moved to Berkeley, California where I attended the University of California Berkeley. I majored in Geography with a concentration in Earth System Science, and minored in Geospatial Information Science & Technology and Forestry. In college, I learned to understand the complexities of my upbringing, like how most inner-city neighborhoods lack public green open spaces. I was lucky to have grown up with South Gate Park, but I do not believe luck should determine a person’s access to green space. Through the Latino Heritage Internship program, I intend to contribute to more equitable and sustainable environmental resources.

 

Published in Intern Bios
Tuesday, 12 June 2018 15:22

From Mexico to the Bay Area

I have just finished my first week of training  at the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail, with many new adventures. The week consisted of traveling all across the Bay Area visiting sites that had connections with the expedition that Juan Bautista de Anza led in 1776.

Published in Blog

Second week in the books, and many more adventures to record. This year we celebrate 50 years of the National Historic Trail System. The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail was one of the last to be recognized as a National Trail. So this year we are commemorating the trails by making programs and educational presentations to the audiences and informing them of the history of our wonderful trails. Many of our national parks in the U.S have these National Trails, but there is not much information about why they are so important.

Published in Blog
Page 1 of 3