By Kate Huntley, Red Cross LA intern
When COVID-19 spread across Los Angeles and shut down schools, closing businesses and preventing social gatherings, our lives turned upside down. As an incoming high school senior, I missed my prom, my spring sport and the fall of my senior year due to COVID-19. For students like me, finding a silver lining in the pandemic has not been easy. Yet find it I did during a project for my internship with the Red Cross LA communications team.
To keep myself sane, I forced myself to look for the positive of this unprecedented situation, and I was surprised to discover that the pandemic has actually had positive effects on my life. Despite the obvious negative aspects of living in a COVID-stricken world, it has shifted my priorities and led me to appreciate small moments of joy.
I have to be honest, I was born and raised in Los Angeles and I have not explored the city nearly as much as I should have. However, during my internship, I worked on drafting coalition pages for each community of focus included in the PrepareSoCal campaign. I wrote brief descriptions about each coalition, chose a photo to represent each community and have to discover hidden information about these communities. Eventually, my work will be featured on the official Prepare SoCal website.
Because of this project, I got to explore more than 15 Los Angeles communities without leaving my chair. I wrote about the diversity and culture of each community, and I was surprised by how much I connected with each community. It made me want to get in my car and start driving.
Switching from tab to tab on my browser felt like driving down the 10 freeway through DTLA. Reading descriptions of local businesses and restaurants felt like eating at a restaurant from a country whose cuisine I had never tried.
I learned about everything from the culinary, linguistic and ethnic diversity of Koreatown to the long history of Wilmington rooted in the American Civil War, where the city served as a Union garrison. I learned a little bit of everything about these communities: their architecture, recreation, public transportation, museums, parks, local government and, of course, disaster preparedness. I found myself poring over maps simply out of curiosity, long after I finished writing the description of a community.
Before COVID-19, I might have taken this project for granted. But as I virtually walked the streets of these communities, I learned about my city and how much I enjoyed writing about it. I cannot wait to head to one of the restaurants.
I found a silver lining after all.
Applications for the Summer Internship Program are now open. If you or someone you know is interested, please apply here.