Letter From DC


Maral Tashjian, our third Geography undergrad to receive a National Geographic Society Internship in the last two years, just sent the following letter to the Department (Maral, second from the right, is pictured with all the other NG interns in front of the AAG headquarter in DC): 

Greetings from National Geographic! 

It has been an exciting 3 months in the capital, working away at this amazing organization. Like Katy Kontgis last winter, I was assigned to the Education Department. My supervisor, Patricia Norris, is producer of the Xpeditions website, a source of free K-12 geography educational material. The education department works on many levels in geographic education, not just classroom material development. It also works with a nation-wide network called the geography alliance in a campaign to increase geographic literacy (www.mywonderfulworld.org). Geography Awareness week was a very busy week for us indeed! 

There’s never a dull moment at National Geographic with all the lectures, screenings, exhibits and events going on. In October I volunteered at the All Roads Film festival and had a chance to watch films by indigenous and under represented minority cultures from around the world. In the courtyard there’s a replica of the sail boat, or shallop, that Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay in. And a few days ago there was a ceremony in the cafeteria to celebrate National Geographic’s new Guinness World record of 2,304 stuffed animals that NG Kids magazine collected for the Toys for Tots drive. 

One of my favorite perks of the internship is our brown bag lunches with some really interesting and inspiring people of National Geographic. To list a few, we’ve met the Jouberts, known for their wildlife documentary films and photography in Africa; journalist Neil Shea whose feature on Iraq appears in the December issue of the magazine; Pat Noonan, a leader in the conservation movement and currently leading a campaign to create the Chesapeake Bay historic trail; and we also met the former President of National Geographic, Gil Grosvenor. 

The internship is ending soon, on December 15, but I’ll be staying a little while longer as I’ve been offered a position to stay on the team. In anticipation of a new website redesign, I’ll be drawing on some of my cartography/GIS knowledge to work on expanding the online Xpeditions Atlas which turns out to be one of the most frequently visited resources on the National Geographic website! 

This internship has been a learning experience on so many levels, and I’m very grateful to Dr. Clarke, Dr. Montello, Dr. Goulias, and Dr. Fabrikant for helping put my application together. If any students at UCSB are thinking of applying next year, please feel free to ask me any questions (I still use my old umail account). As for the rest of the Geography Department family, I miss you guys, and wish you all the best. Happy Holidays!

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