Popping the SLU Bubble
The weeks are flying by: We just finished the 6th week of our internships--only 3 to go! I am really grateful for the time I have spent at the Public Health Department so far. Here is a quick update on what I’ve been working on!
Most of my time over the past three weeks has been spent on two primary projects. The first is the production of an intern handbook. Since the department has not had many interns in the recent past, I am working on compiling materials that I hope will be helpful to future students transitioning into an internship position here. The goal of the handbook is to streamline the orientation process because, as I have come to realize, this internship period is truly quite short. By having all of the orientation materials in one place available at one time, I hope this handbook will make assimilating into the office a smooth process, allowing future interns to jump right into projects.
The second project I have been working on is the new website. It’s been a little challenging working within the format and content regulations of the County, but we are waiting on approval to publish an external site I have been building, one that is free from those regulations. In the meantime, I have been reformatting, consolidating, and generally updating the current site and will be presenting my progress to a committee on Friday.
But in addition to what I have been learning at the office, the SLU PIC program has also supported my learning in another area: the North Country community. This may sound cliche, but I truly feel that in these past few weeks, I have gotten to know, explore, and participate in the local community more than I have in my past three years at St. Lawrence. I think that is an opportunity that is often unfortunately overlooked and underappreciated by many (though not all) students. There seems to be a tendency on campus for students to get locked into the “SLU bubble,” to spend four years in the North Country without really getting to know the area or the people here. There are a variety of reasons for this trend: students may lack transportation and therefore can’t travel to some of the more distant corners of the large county; busy schedules can cause the perception of a lack of time to explore; it can be hard to know where to go or what to do in the Canton area, especially as a new student.
All of these challenges, along with others not listed, are arguably very valid reasons for students to stay on campus instead of venturing out into our host community. But what I have found this summer is that the North Country is much more accessible, vibrant, and community-oriented than I had previously understood. (That being said, I definitely acknowledge that it is much easier to be active in the community during the warm summer months than in the long winter--I fully relate to the feeling of hibernation in mid-February.) I have explored farmers markets, discovered hidden waterfalls, and hiked trails I hadn’t before; I saw live music, attended a wine festival, and watched 4th of July fireworks! Through SLU PIC, I have the chance to become immersed in my own internship, but through conversations and events with other interns, I have also learned about other public interest organizations in the area. It has become clear that because of the strong sense of community here, all of our organizations work together (directly or indirectly) to support each other and the residents of St. Lawrence County.
I’m looking forward to my last three weeks at the Public Health Department and in Canton. There is still a lot of exploring to do!