Name: Emma Slonim
Class Year: 2022
Major: Growth and Structure of Cities
Hometown: New York City
Internship Organization: Greenfutures, School District of Philadelphia
Job Title: Intern
Endowed Internship Funding Award: Class of 1964 Internship Fund
What’s happening at your internship?
Currently at Greenfutures, we’re preparing for a three-day online workshop to develop how Philadelphia district school teachers educate around climate change and sustainability. Aside from that, I’m helping keep track of a registry for existing district school greenscapes/aquaponics, as well as a guide to help interested schools develop useful, educational greenscapes in their communities.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied for this internship because I’m extremely interested in green infrastructure, and was excited about seeing the avenues through which sustainability is incorporated into public institutions and structures—especially public schools. I’ve also done a good deal of work with urban community gardens, so working with school green spaces seemed like a new extension of terrain I’m somewhat familiar with.
What has been your favorite part of this internship?
My favorite part of this internship has definitely been the people I’ve found myself working with. Of course, with current circumstances, it was (and still is) a little hard to follow some of the current goings on when my main mode of contact is Zoom calls, but all of my supervisors and coworkers have been extremely helpful and understanding in navigating my work. It’s also very exciting to think about the kinds of work that can be done when (if) the school green spaces and gardens can safely open again, and that the work I’m doing now might support future efforts.
What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?
Maybe this isn’t entirely unexpected, but I’m learning a lot about the frustrations that come with working in a large public system like the school district. It comes with a lot of obstacles and stagnation, which seems to be a common observation among people who have been working there for very long. What I’ve learned from this is that these kinds of red-tape roadblocks are often inevitable, especially in a system with so many layers of organization, and such a large aspect of dealing with that is all in communication. Again, this is hard to do in a very layered system, but going through the process and finding people with similar goals, similar experiences, and other perspectives is extremely rewarding outright.
Visit the Summer 2020 Internships page to read more student stories.