For a long time, I have wanted a meaningful career in which I can work, even in the smallest of ways, to leave the world a better place. The first career aspiration I remember having was to work in human-rights law. I had seen Legally Blonde and was inspired to follow in Elle Woods’ manicured footsteps. (Just to clarify, I was an easily influenced pre-teen when Legally Blonde was released.) While studying politics in college, I began to notice that my peers—who were caring, compassionate, and not willing to accept social injustice—did not seem to care very much about or even acknowledge the rights of non-human animals.
I searched for volunteering and internship opportunities in animal rights and found PETA Asia’s internship program in Manila. I was a little daunted and kept my hopes low. What could I offer to an affiliate of the largest animal rights organization in the world? To my surprise, I was accepted and soon found myself in Manila.
I was very anxious on my first day. Between nearly not being able to board my flight and the airline losing my luggage, I did not feel in a good position to be starting an internship! But I needn’t have gotten myself in a panic. The staff members were all lovely, warm people who made me and the other interns feel instantly welcome.
The staff members are very dedicated and devote much of their free time to promoting animal rights and helping animals directly. The official office hours are a mere formality. I, too, found myself arriving to work early, carrying on with projects in the evenings, and volunteering on the weekends, not because I felt I had to but because I wanted to. The work was interesting, and I wanted to help as much as I could in my short time with PETA. I have gotten up at 3 a.m. to table at three events, gotten in past 10 p.m. on another occasion, dressed as an elephant in the midday Manila heat, and spent hours typing signups into our mailing list. The results? In just four weeks, the petition to free Mali has gained hundreds of signatures and the PETA team has educated many more people about the campaign to transfer Mali to an elephant sanctuary.
I haven’t seen my canine best friend in nine months, so playtime, cuddles, and walks with the office dog Grace were a highlight for me. My supervisor and Grace‘s mummy, Ashley, dedicates every Saturday morning to feeding, bathing, loving, and providing much-needed medical care to the chained and stray dogs that call an impoverished area of Pasay City home. The difference made to the lives of these dogs is unbelievable and invaluable. They, in turn, have made a difference to my life. They are the first dogs I have ever met who were not fed every day, taken for long walks, and part of a loving family. Despite this, their desire for love remains insatiable. Their giddy faces and wagging tails as we approach say it all.
Four weeks, seven research projects, 14 blog posts, hundreds of e-mails to the media, countless other tasks, and lots of doggie cuddles later, my internship has sadly come to an end. I can’t adequately express my gratitude for this opportunity. I feel inspired and empowered to spread the message about animal rights, which I plan to do at every given opportunity. I understand now the incredible impact that dedication and perseverance can have, and I am very proud to have played a small role in providing animals with a voice. The only regret that I have about my experience is that it could not last longer. I would urge any budding animal rights activist to apply to intern at PETA and to stay as long as possible, because you will not want to leave.
Post written by former intern Briony Thompson