As my time interning with Iskashitaa comes to an end (for now), I look back and reflect on all that I have learned and am in awe of the growth and knowledge I have gained during my short time here. I can look back at my life up to this two month journey and summarize it in a short little phrase; small town mentality. I have always had large dreams of going out, exploring the world, and seeing it for all its wonder but have hardly left my small town in Northern California to do such a thing. To some, Tucson, Arizona, might not be the most diverse culture of the world, but through Iskashitaa I can say it truly is. Through a Food For Thought Dinner, harvesting, and working in the office I have been introduced to many different types of people from all over the world.
I have met numerous refugees from all over the world with stories that are both simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring all in one. I have seen many different ways to greet and interact with people and I have learned to open my heart and eyes to the many different things that are happening all around the world and within my own country. Not only has my knowledge in cultural awareness expanded far beyond anything I have learned studying cross-cultural communication, but my knowledge in healthy eating and taking care of oneself has expanded as well.
I have eaten things I have never heard of before and I have eaten them with an open mind. I have eaten lamb for the first time and loved every little bite; I've eaten strange fruits like loquats and saguaro cactus fruit - both of which I will gladly eat again. Through working with Iskashitaa I have learned that in Tucson, one in four children are “food insecure”. That means that one in four children are concerned about where they are going to get their next meal, what that meal will consist of, and/or whether or not it will be sufficient for them. For the past three years Iskashitaa has harvested an average of 100,000 pounds of produce that otherwise might have gone to waste. But Tucson is not alone in the plight of hungry children. In my home county alone one out of three children are food insecure and I could not even began to calculate the amount of food waste. Our orchards alone drop fruit by the dozens and we leave fruit to rot in our backyards.
Through working with Iskashitaa for the short two months I have been here I have been inspired to learn more about people in my own community as well as the eating habits we all have. So much good food goes to waste annually because people have no means to distribute it, but yet so many children and families could use it. Being a part of Iskashitaa has really opened my eyes to this issue and has further pushed me to look into my own community and how I can be a part of something as important as eradicating food waste.
I am truly going to miss working here with everyone in the office and the Iskashitaa community. I have had so much fun learning and growing, but still I cannot wait to be able to get home and start making a change in my own backyard. I have felt at home here in Tucson, thanks to the community and Iskashitaa, and I can’t wait to come back and once more be a part of something so important. So for now I say, “See you soon and keep gleaning!”
~Elizabeth Haase Office Intern