The Intern Experience: Olivia Ladinig
I knew for a while that I wanted to devote my life to helping animals, but I had no idea what my options were. I was also rather insecure about which of my skills I could employ. So in order to find answers, I decided to think big. Rather than applying for an internship with an organization that is focused exclusively on one particular aspect of animal advocacy, I applied to intern with Asia’s largest animal rights group, which seems to have a finger in almost every vegan pie! Do you want extreme professionalism paired with controversy in one word? PETA!
The whole experience was thoroughly enlightening, and as I was hoping, I got to try on many different suits to see which ones fit or could at least be tailored with some effort.
I was a writer, investigating a subject and then composing blog posts, letters, book reviews, and action alerts. I was a street activist, honing traditional skills such as tabling at a concert and leafleting, either in PETA T-shirts or dressed as an elephant. I was a researcher, reading in-depth and scientific information on various subjects, extracting essentials, and trying to understand the bigger picture. I was an undercover investigator, visiting animals in zoos while trying to appear inconspicuous and documenting any evidence of animal abuse. This last role is one that I am definitely not going to pursue because uncontrollable tears and bitter glances at anyone treating animals without respect would give me away instantly. I was a philosopher, discussing with my fellow interns whether pragmatism or fundamentalism might be the shorter route toward total liberation, over bottles of vegan red wine and until the sun tinted the nightly skies anew.
I was also a friend to two dogs. I feel enriched by having been given the chance to bring a few moments of joy into the lives of these dogs, who are permanently tied to short chains, without receiving a minute of comfort, companionship, or distraction, except from kind PETA employees. I hope that they know just how deeply they touched my heart. I will never forget their strength, candor, and ability to love, despite what they are enduring. Together with the PETA foster dog, Grace, they represented the first regular acquaintance I have ever had with dogs. (I had always thought I was more of a “cat person.”) I am so grateful to them for having shown me how immediate and profound a connection between humans and dogs can be and that, after all, I am a dog person as well.
As you can hardly miss, my blog post is oozing with gratitude for the experiences I had and the inspiration that I found in the course of this internship. Even though I went through some of the hardest times I have ever had—and no day went by in which I was not silently crying for a moment at my desk for the loneliness, pain, and despair some earthlings have to endure for our fleeting pleasures—my time with PETA Asia-Pacific was much more empowering than disheartening. Overall, I am extremely confident that it made me a great deal stronger and a little wiser.
Posted by former PETA Asia-Pacific intern Olivia Ladinig