The First Foreigner
If someone had asked me at the beginning of the USAC semester abroad, “what would be your ideal internship?” “If you could create the perfect internship for yourself, what would it be?” “Try to think of a place you would like to intern at, and picture yourself there. What does it look like?”
It would look like this position.
It is an honor to have been placed in an internship here at the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park Headquarters. This government office prides itself on the mission of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation.
This mission is to: 1) Conserve and restore forest and wildlife resources; 2) Research, develop, and provide academic services; 3) Manage forest and wildlife resources by engaging in the right technology; 4) Promote the utilization of natural resources, balances, and sustainability.
These ideals are consistent with my personal beliefs, academic endeavors, and career goals. The opportunity to dedicate my time and energy toward pursuing this mission enables me to practice my ability to serve as a steward for environmental prosperity.
With the utmost mentioning, it is overwhelmingly humbling that I am the first foreigner to work at the Headquarters office. The trust that has been placed in me to be a strong representative is a privilege, and I carry this integrity into the workplace and throughout every task I am assigned. I could not have ever predicted that I would be granted such a unique experience, even if someone had asked me to come up with the “perfect internship.” This is more than perfect. For me, this is unparalleled.
Thank you to the USAC program Director Chaidarun “Jum” Tippawan, the USAC program assistant Malisa “Mali” Boonruang, and my supervisor Narissara “Kun Noki” Chatwatcharakul for this opportunity.
The Zero Waste Project
The beauty of this internship position is in the unrepeatable times I spend at the workplace. Every day I can expect to be different from the last, every day I can expect to learn something new, and every day I can expect to be surprised. This sense of unknowingness is a luxury for many, especially in the United States, where typical internship positions are redundant and robotic. Here, I feel flow with my tasks, and it feels natural.
There isn’t a single task that hasn’t brought me joy at the internship. Since my first day of the internship I have increasingly felt welcomed, encouraged, and inspired. My supervisor tries her best to give me something different to experience every day, as well as maintain a sense of consistency and balance, and this is evident in my experience here thus far.
On my first day of the internship, I went to the Visitor Center for Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, and I was given the task to recommend park information for tourists. The following days have been full of a variety of experiences, including attending the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park Rangers Training and Exercise at Mae Sa Waterfall, where I participated in CPR training and rope rescue routines. I have also gone on a trails maintenance excursion to the Monthathan Falls Nature Trail, a 1.6km trek. During this trek I saw different species of plants, mushrooms, the flawless Monthathan Waterfall, and a breathtaking view overlooking the city of Chiang Mai. My supervisor has also invited me to attend meetings with the government superintendent. All of these experiences have enabled me to enjoy the outdoors, understand the different departments of the office, and help me practice my Thai while I help others practice their English. The personal project that has been assigned to me during this internship is to conduct the “zero-waste project” at the Headquarters office. Doi Suthep-Pui National Park has recently adopted policies to advance zero-waste practices, and I am working with the park team to create two compost systems for the treatment of wet-food waste. I will monitor and collect data on the systems we have built for the duration of my internship, and my reports will be given to my supervisor upon completion. These reports will help provide maintenance and upkeep of the compost systems.
How the Compost Processes
For the two zero-waste systems that we have created, the underlying goals of both systems are to initiate a program that the office can utilize in order to help reduce the amount of wet-food waste getting thrown away. This methodical project involves a number of materials which are required for effectiveness of the wet-food waste composting process and overall success of the project.
In order to establish the process of composting wet-food waste into organic planting matter, both systems will involve similar materials.
These materials are: 1) Planting soil; 2) Microbial cocopeat; 3) Tools for building the systems (a hand drill, tape measure, and marker); 4) Large durable bins
The first compost system will be above ground. Using the hand drill, holes are created around the entire bin about every four inches, this is in order to have airflow into the bin. Horizontal markings on the side of the bin indicate the alternating layers of soil matter and wet-food waste matter. Once the bin is full, a lid will seal the bin to keep rain and pests out of the bin, and it will sit in the sun for about four weeks. The aerobic process of heat flowing into the bin will naturally break down the material inside, and afterwards it will be safe to reuse for planting. This system will also be able to compost egg shells and fruit peels in addition to wet-food waste.
The second compost system will be halfway into ground. This bin will not have a bottom, it will be a simple cylinder that feeds directly into the ground. There will be no holes on the sides of this bin. Horizontal markings on the side of the bin will indicate depth into the ground, a layer for soil matter, a threshold for wet-food waste, and other materials in order to improve the composting process. This system will only be able to compost wet-food waste, and will require specific additions in order to keep smells at a minimum, as well as increase the nutritious value of the material feeding directly into the ground.
A Privilege to Continue
In the following weeks of my internship, I will be closely monitoring and collecting data on the “zero-waste project” as it unfolds. The success of this project will be heavily reliant on my ability to identify any needs to balance wet-food waste with soil matter, improve the systems, and create additional components to maintain a healthy and natural compost process within these systems.
Additionally, my methods of collecting data and monitoring the systems will be closely evaluated in order to ensure efficiency for future data collection and monitoring, system maintenance, and project upkeep.
For the rest of my time at this internship, I can continue to expect to learn something new every day. This exhilarating experience has provided me with insight into the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park Headquarters office, as well as a greater perspective on the beautiful nature that surrounds Chiang Mai. Every day, I am increasingly humbled and honored to be here.
In return, my supervisor can expect that I will continue to show up to the workplace with enthusiasm, intent, and dedication to producing a high quality of work. I remain committed to this internship and accomplishing my student project. My supervisor can expect that I will carry the mission of the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park Headquarters with a strong representation of integrity. This internship a privilege.
Thank you, again, to the USAC program Director Chaidarun “Jum” Tippawan, the USAC program assistant Malisa “Mali” Boonruang, and my supervisor Narissara “Kun Noki” Chatwatcharakul for this opportunity.