Yahel Delgado-Diaz

Yahel Delgado-Diaz

Saturday, 18 July 2020 15:21

Learning how to "work and play"

As might be aware, I am not at my site this summer. Following my work plan, I was instructed to visit a park with the goal to see its attractions through the eyes of a visitor and as a professional. It was clear to me what I was looking for, from educational signs, to interviews with interpretation and education staff; all while having the experiences the park had to offer. I coordinated the visit to Toroverde Adventure Park located in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. It is recognized for having the longest zip-line in the world (2.5 Kilometers). I interviewed a staff member who identified himself as "Jose" who was very helpful telling me about the history of the park, their mission and their goals. I appreciate they want to promote ecotourism in the center of the island. You can visit their website here http://toroverdepr.com/.

That was the work part, now comes the play... I arrived at 9 a.m. and after preventive Covid 19 measures were taken, I was received by an interpreter (Jose) and proceeded to jump straight into action. They lead us to a tent outside the visitor center that was dedicated to gearing up visitors with harnesses, helmets and gloves. At the first zip line, my group, composed of only 3 people, was carefully instructed on the correct and safe ways to travel. After that, there were 8 zip lines- each with an average distance of 850+ feet ) had us ricocheting off the mountains! Let me tell you, after pumps of adrenaline filling my body because I was continuously being pushed off ledges I thought I'd mastered my zip line skills, until I realized that the final 2 rides (main attractions) were not only high-speed but also had the highest launch points. So, as I walked to the top of a tower, I think it's right to say I was underestimating the situation. When reality took over, I was next in line to be hooked up. Unlike the first 8 zip lines, the way to ride the "Monster" was head first, face down. My only sense of safety was holding on to the harness dangling on the cable and the dude that was securing my gear-not Jose! I didn't dare look towards the ledge or I would've been in the border of a nervous wreck.  I received the"go ahead" signal and was pushed off the ledge, for a second I forgot EVERYTHING the interpreter had said to me. For about two seconds I was 30 feet above the ground... after I passed the visitor center, and this is a rough estimate, I was about a thousand feet above the ground! The sensation of the rapidly increasing speed and my eyes watering made me laugh out of excitement. With that same happy feeling I started to tilt my upper body forward in hopes of increasing the speed-as if I wasn't already going 60 mph! Nearing the end, as instructed I extended my arms outwards, like a plane or bird, to decrease the momentum. I was essentially flying from one mountain to another and it was an unreal sensation. My day at the park ended at 2 p.m. and I was starving, I went to a local restaurant and ate delicious plantain dish "Mofongo". This experience was not only insightful and educational but also fun; learning how to work and play. I am really grateful I had the opportunity to have such a great experience during these "interesting" times.


Monday, 29 June 2020 15:42

My first step into a larger world

Hello there! I have completed my first week officially as an LHIP intern for Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site! Training week! Well it has not been all fun and excitement- I have been doing a lot of reading (A LOT) about NPS and its network. I would have liked doing this at the park, but we all know due to recent events (Covid-19) most interns were limited in this years' experience. Many of us are working from home and only a handful just recently started to get to their sites. Nonetheless, this has not made me unenthusiastic with my work. To add to that excitement, I met my supervisor virtually! I can honestly say the interpretation and Education Division at Hopewell Furnace is in the care of an amazing supervisor, Neil Koch. He sent me a package in the mail, with many materials I needed for my first week of training. He even sent me a Junior Ranger badge that made me feel like a true park ranger! He has been extremely organized following a work plan and has provided me with the resources and much-needed guidance with my upcoming assignments. He also coordinated a call with the site manager, David Blackburn, an experienced supervisor, leader, and communicator. The takeaway from this first week: the importance of "small" but mighty park. From its history to the culture that it harnesses, Hopewell Furnace is a gem among others, its small community and "skeleton crew" preserve its main attractions including a small animal farm, charcoal making, natural resources and historic buildings. Hopewell is a snapshot of history itself; it is one of the first territories that helped Americas Industrialization process. 

You may think "its just history" and that's exactly what it is. I recognize an unexposed person like me could not see the actual value of a park like this. I appreciated it but did not have the tools to value the history, the people, and the experience. I have made it my new mission to relay what I have learned and reach out to smaller and diverse communities, offer the opportunity to spark the interest of history in the children of Latino communities. As obvious as it may sound, there's a lot to learn in Hopewell Furnace. I think now more than ever people should get out of their daily routines and explore what is often overlooked and taken for granted. I want to go out there and talk about the pillar of iron-works in America, about the village, the history of the Hopewell Furnace Historical Site!

p.s. This is my first internship and I would like to highlight the amazing support I've received from my supervisor. This has made a world of difference in my experience. Not only as a mentor, also in a spiritual level he has encouraged me to express myself and be the Educator I am destined to be. I am starting this journey with fresh eyes and an open mind and my primordial goal here is to learn. Learn about the system and how it works, learn about the people and how they manifest themselves, about the world and why are some wonders hidden from the conciseness of society. I am taking my first step into a larger world and I cant wait to let my presence be known with a guide like Neil. 

Friday, 24 April 2020 00:07

Yahel Delgado-Diaz

I would like to become a teacher, a coach and a mentor for kids like me. Show them the opportunities that I came to experience, sometimes late. I'm also planning on studying long-term with the goal of a Ph.D. in sports management. The reason behind all my efforts is my never-ending passion for education and hopes of creating a generation full of capable people with the potential to become athletes and to guide them to a better future. I believe we should all have the same opportunities to succeed and become what we want in life. I come from a long line of educators, and this is a calling for me. My goal is to be an inspiring educator in any environment, and I think experiences like this internship do that - prepare students, aspiring professionals, with the skill set needed to achieve that. I have never worked in an internship before, and I think this is a great moment for me to start. Puerto Rico's educational system does not encourage other methods of work but is a maintain and settle type of mentality. I aspire to change that.