My name is Anna Fairbairn and I am a member of the class of 2022 at Wheaton College. I am a double major in Anthropology and Hispanic Studies with a minor in Environmental Studies. This past summer I interned with a non-profit called Trash for Peace. Their work seeks to promote sustainability education for marginalized communities in Portland, Oregon. The fund that supported my experience was from the merit fund. My work for Trash for Peace included a range of responsibilities from grant research, to youth programming designs/leading, to community outreach. I experienced a wide variety of activities that challenged me and kept the work very interesting. This summer in particular it was important because Trash for Peace was in the midst of navigating the pandemic as many organizations were. This offered a space for me to help them rethink from an outside perspective how their programs can best serve during this time. A main theme in my work as well was to work with the community not for. This was the major emphasis of Trash for Peace and as an anthropology major and environmental studies minor, I valued this aspect a lot. Part of how I achieved this was by doing a lot of community outreach. I enjoyed this work a lot because it gave me the opportunity to talk with people which was really nice during such an isolating period of time.
One of my favorite memories was related to my work with youth programming. We switched to virtual programming which was a big adjustment in terms of spreading the word and finding useful and engaging activity for children during quarantine. The youth that did attend however, found it really enjoyable. We organized online scavenger hunts that related to sustainability topics. It allowed them to find items in their home and learn more about recycling, resuing, composting and other topics. As the sessions progressed the kids started to come up with their own ideas too of fun sustainable activities. One boy one day told us that he had so many old popsicles in his freezer and suggested we build bird houses using the popsicle sticks. Of course he suggested this after reading the jokes printed on each stick. It was really fun and great to see how the kids were starting to rewire their brains to see things with a more sustainable perspective. Overall, I am very grateful for my summer experience and the funding that made this possible for me. I was so happy to be able to work with a non-profit doing work that I truly support and especially I was happy to find an opportunity during this period of time when there were so many uncertainties. Thanks to Wheaton I was able to learn a lot and have fun doing it.