2020 Sealaska Interns Give Back to their Communities

Due to COVID-19, Sealaska’s 2020 summer interns worked from home and connected to their teams through video chats, emails, and phone calls. With the pandemic heavily impacting many of our communities across the country, there were opportunities to lend a helping hand. Interns had the chance to participate in a “Give Back Day,” which was a day of community service in the intern’s area with an organization of their choosing.  A few interns reflected on their day by writing about their work and the organizations.

Ricardo Worl, Archives intern

Aaní Perkins, an SHI education intern, chose to volunteer with the Outer Coast Summer Seminar and teach students common Lingít nouns. Aaní says she choose OCSS “Because they are deeply focused on creating decolonial academic spaces committed to student success. The Lingít language course embodies these ideas explicitly, and I wanted to contribute to creating this positive space once again, albeit through a virtual platform.” Ricardo Worl, an Archives intern, went subsistence fishing and hunting for elders in his community. On his trip, Ricardo says, “I learned how to haul shrimp pots and how to butcher and skin a seal. From doing both of those, I learned how skillful and strong our ancestors must have been to do the hard work every day.” Ricardo loved being able to support his community and connecting with “Haa Aaní.”

Interns were reminded to comply with state and local guidelines and encouraged to volunteer at organizations where they could socially distance. Allison Scrabeck, a research analyst intern, volunteered at a farmers’ market, usually bustling with crowds of people buying fresh vegetables, fruit, and homemade goods. This year, the new normal was masks, gloves, and social distancing. Allison wrote about her day as a “picker” (taking customers’ orders and collecting the items from vendors). Allison says her volunteer work “Helps keep the money flowing to small farmers and businesses during these challenging times.” For Allison, the most memorable part of her volunteer experience was talking to people.

Two interns sewed masks and donated them to organizations in their area. Hanna Hellen, a research analyst intern, made reusable masks out of donated fabric. She learned a lot about sewing and the mask-making process. Hanna said, “The most memorable part of my day was comparing the very first mask I made to the last one I made. I enjoyed sewing even when I fought with the sewing machine and had to redo bad stitches. It was a really fun way to spend my day, and I’m hoping to make more masks in the future”. Jessica Marshall, an accounting intern, saw that the Hunger Task Force needed handsewn face masks for staff and volunteers. With assistance from her grandmother, boyfriend, and two-year-old son, Jessica made twenty masks. Jessica says, “With such a busy life, sometimes, I do not take the time to slow down and enjoy my experiences or think of new things to try. People do not always think of trying to give back, especially during a time when it is hard to not think of yourself and your own safety.”

Olivia Jarman, IT intern

Matthew Smeltzer, an environmental technician intern, dedicated his time by cleaning a trail at Tolmie State Park. “I was tasked with pruning back bushes along the boardwalks on the two trails in the park. It was very relaxing to walk, prune, and listen to music all day, plus I was very glad to give back to the parks system, especially with how hard it’s been hit by the pandemic.”  Olivia Jarman, an IT intern, used her day to get rid of litter at a local woods. When talking about her volunteer work, Olivia says it “demonstrates to me that a small action or change, such as volunteering for a day, can have a tremendous overall impact. This experience makes me want to go and clean it up again soon.”

We want to say Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa, T’oyaxsut ‘nüüsm to these interns for giving back and making a difference in their communities.

If you or someone you know is interested in a 2021 Summer Sealaska internship, you can find more information about the program on our website.