Take Me Back

I was a VolunTEEN at the Aquarium of the Pacific the summer of 2014 and a VolunTEEN mentor the summer of 2015. The two summers I have under my belt at the Aquarium of the Pacific are absolutely everything to me. My first mentoring session coincided with my first job, at In-N-Out Burger, and a couple of online classes/AP summer coursework. It was a busy summer but not one I’d ever take back because my impacted schedule gave me hands-on experience at long-term multitasking – a skill which has long been impaired since the start of my junior year. I was able to exercise my bubbliness and enthusiasm during my VolunTEEN session at the stations. As a mentor, I carried over my engaging personality to create a family environment with my co-mentors for our VolunTEENs.

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My co-mentors and I demonstrating the two-finger touch

I started my first mentoring session trying to work independently but soon grew very close to my co-mentors and VolunTEENS. I found myself asking them about their opinion on Aquarium matters, like which project time* they find most informative, to more friendly topics, like what music they love. That’s what I’ve missed deeply about the Aquarium and I hope to regain – a group of initial strangers who put their hearts into a common interest to build a strong family of hard workers. Last summer, many of the VolunTEENs in my shift talked to me about how the program made a huge impact on their lives. (Changes ranging from being more educated, to being more responsible, to being more confident.) There is no better feeling in the world than hearing someone tell you that you’ve had a hand in changing their life for the better. This summer, instead of just educating people on how to protect our environment, my goal is to be directly involved in conservation and preservation efforts. Through Critter College and organizing project times, I’d love to expand my knowledge on all of the creatures that the Aquarium of the Pacific has to offer and what I have to offer them.

Project Time is a half hour of learning for the VolunTEENs through doing scavenger hunts, watching exhibits, or filling out little aquarium-based quizzes.

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Spontaneous group hug at our VolunTEENs’ graduation – we promptly were told to disperse directly after.

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