Monique Byro

Monique Byro

Monday, 10 June 2019 15:22

America's Teaching Garden


This past week I had the opportunity to engage in different cultural events around my park and was able to participate in applied, hands-on work. To kick off the weekend, my wonderful supervisor and I spent our Thursday morning clearing a space that will hopefully become a teaching garden in the next few months beside Fort Sumter. It was cathartic to watch a patch of land overrun by weeds become more and more uncluttered. I definitely enjoyed the tactile aspect of it. Being able not only to envision what we wanted the garden to be, but to then set out to make that vision a reality was very rewarding.  

Later that afternoon, I visited the Old Slave Mart Museum in downtown Charleston. I was taken aback by how little I actually knew of the slave trade. 40% of all US slaves passed through Charleston, right through the land that I now work on. All of the information presented to me made me question my place as a Latino woman in this new city, and what kind of change I would like to make here. Being a minority in the general populace can, at times, be very discouraging, although it should not be so. I began to doubt what kind of an impact I could make, solely because I felt as though injustice was to be rivaled by a larger group of people, rather than a small, 21 year old, me. Visiting the museum was a large catalyst in my project planning because it set into motion a passion to rally for change and inclusion.

Sunday afternoon, I went to a poetry reading at Mcleod Plantation. It was a part of a longer series of African American poetry readings that would be taking place on land where many African Americans had once been enslaved, abused, and killed. It was extremely powerful. I heard poet Roger Reeves, who works as a university professor in African American Literature, read his work. In the last poem he read aloud, titled “Children Listen”, the closing lines read “Children / You were never meant to be human / You must be the grass / You must grow wildly over the graves”. Reeves’ poem helped me to see that a general healing is in order.

Through several projects that focus on resource education that I plan on holding this summer, I hope to establish a stronger presence of inclusion for all that choose to partake. I will hold what I learned in the past few days close to my heart and keep in mind that the beauty of America is its people, diverse and equal. We are all the flowers of America’s garden and we must learn to bloom and grow side by side, wildly with fervor. We are the teaching garden.

Hasta la próxima.

Friday, 07 June 2019 22:00

Murals at Fort Moultrie

This past weekend I had the privilege of joining some folks from the South Carolina Audubon on a bird walk. We walked a good bit around my current project site (Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historic Park, specifically Fort Moultrie) and saw species of birds that I had never given much thought to. We made our rounds across the fort, then walked through a nature trail, walked a bit of the beach, and made our way back to a fishing pier on Fort Moultrie’s property.

On our walk, we were all very focused on finding one bird, the Painted Bunting. Normally heard before it is seen, the male Painted Bunting will sing its song, from inside a heavily foliaged area, back and forth between itself and the other males surrounding it. It is particularly pleasing to catch a glimpse of because of its beautiful colors, a combination of different reds, blues, and greens. Sightings are declining as the years go by. We do know that the migratory songbirds like to spend their winters in caribbean islands and parts of South America. While we were searching for them, I thought it was pretty cool that if we did see one, it might have spent its last Christmas visiting my family in Panama or Jamaica.

I learned on our walk that birds have a kind of SOS or warning call that they do to let others know that danger is near. Different species might drop in to make sure that the bird that made the call is safe, and they will all retreat into hiding. Even if the birds checking in are predatory, in times of danger, for the most part, the different species will band together for safety.

After our walk, I thought about how like birds, the people in the community I have moved into are all very diverse and beautiful. Although I have not seen a lot of co-mingling since I’ve arrived, I do know this. In times of trouble, or in times of need, it has been proven over and over again that this community bands together. Most people love and want to be loved. Although this is not always apparent, I believe that there is a communication lacking within the populace, and it is preventing people from sharing that love of life with each other. I am taking it upon myself this summer to bring our community together as much as I can through events at my site. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my short time here, it is that the resources at our national parks are meant to be enjoyed by all. Each park has a story to teach us, and each story is as unique to the individual as the individual themself.

A group of Painted Buntings is known as a “mural”. A mosaic of a community, the people of South Carolina are similar to something like a mural (of the best kind) in their hometown.

I’m really liking it here.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Friday, 07 June 2019 20:42

Between Sunrise and Sunset


My name is Monique Byro, and I’ve never not lived in Florida.

I jumped at the opportunity to move to South Carolina and work as a recreation intern at Fort Moultrie faster than I could think, and in the weeks leading up to my internship I got more and more excited with each passing day. When May 26th came around, I watched the sun rise in Gainesville, Florida, I packed up my car and drove a few hours, and then I watched the sun set in Charleston, South Carolina.

The time in between was a hodgepodge of emotions. Would I make friends? Would I like living somewhere I’d never even visited before? Doubt set in fast. I started to question whether I’d be able to make a new home for myself. Then I began to think about my parents. Both immigrants, they traveled from their respective countries to the US when they were young because they wanted to make better lives for themselves. Although they did not know exactly what they’d do, they had faith in that everything would be alright. And so, I figured that if they could relocate to America over multiple countries, I could move up a state or two. I resolved within myself that home is wherever I choose it to be.

During my first week at Fort Moultrie National Historic Park I was greeted by wonderfully passionate people. The fort is expansive, and explored by many, animals and people alike. Boxed in by a beach, a maritime forest, and a dock, it is an interesting meld of scenery. Jumping into work was exciting and only slightly overwhelming, but I know great things await. I really feel like together the staff and I can make great changes in the community. I hope to make the fort feel not only like home for me, but for others who live around it and have not yet experienced how wonderful the site can be.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019 14:19

Monique Byro

My name is Monique Byro, and I just graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Mass Communications. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, I have experienced the duality between nature and society my entire life. Being from such a bustling city has pushed me to reach out and explore the different avenues for sustainable balances in typical day to day situations. I enjoy reading, writing, and making music in my down time. My favorite national park in the U.S. is Joshua Tree. I hope to use my degree and experience within the Latino Heritage Internship Program to rally for social and environmental changes within the context of my community through different art forms.