It’s been only 2 weeks since 19 of us arrived in Panama to be a part of the Kalu Yala team, but it feels like we have been knowing each other for years. Spring 2012 Kalu Yala interns who are from all over the US, Canada, France, Finland, and Korea have brought various interests and strengths into the group just like their various backgrounds. I feel like all the different personalities and the diversity of the group have created a new culture called Kalu Yala. The Kalu Yala culture is fascinating to me. I like how we have all different skills and knowledge, but we turn those competencies into a variety of individual projects to reach our common goal: creating the Kalu Yala community. Some interns study and research for the business of Kalu Yala. Other interns study about the wildlife and plants of the valley to make sure that the community is developed in the most sustainable way. As an outdoor recreation intern, I’m going to work on designing outdoor recreation facilities such as a soccer field or ropes course. All these different projects might sound somewhat unrelated, but I know that strengths of each intern will play a big role in all projects. For instance, in order to find an appropriate spot to create a soccer field, I will need some help from Terra and Courtney who are in the Biology program to study about the environment so I can minimize the impact on the wildlife when creating the field.
Kalu Yala is definitely more than just an internship to me. Kalu Yala gives interns an opportunity to be in charge of implementing a project of interest whether the project is to research about agricultural systems or simply to build infra structures. Since I’m in charge of my own project and whatever I create for the community, I feel like I am working on developing “our” community, not someone else’s. And because this internship means a lot to me, I want Kalu Yala to be recognized more widely on the international level. I’m sure there will be a lot of students and professionals in other countries who will be attracted to Kalu Yala’s vision of sustainable development once Kalu Yala becomes internationally recognized. Numerous people might bring more diverse personalities, strengths and ideas into the group which may create a whole new Kalu Yala culture.
I was thinking about all this while eating dinner in the valley last week and I decided to carve “KALU YALA” in Korean on the table..
..hoping to see more “Kalu Yala” in many different languages one day… 🙂