The Intern Experience: Milena Konig

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

Milena as Mali the elephant

Since I was a little girl, I have always loved animals and had a keen interest in animal rights, and I first decided that I wanted to stop eating animals when I was 10 years old. Fast-forward more than a decade, and I found myself arriving at the Manila airport, ready to start my internship at PETA Asia. It was a dream come true! After spending six years studying at university, I was looking for something meaningful to do that was close to my heart, and interning at PETA filled that role perfectly.

Arriving at the PETA office, I was immediately greeted by all the lovely staff and felt instantly welcome and at home. All the staff and the other interns are awesome people, and it is a great feeling finding yourself among a group of people who share your ideals and values. The PETA office is very multicultural, and the staff members are from around the globe. My fellow interns are from England, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and it was inspiring to be able to spend time and share stories with people from different corners of the world.

Life in the office is full on but infinitely rewarding. While at PETA, I worked on several blog posts, with the topics ranging from horse-drawn carriages to delicious vegan recipes to the ties between veganism and yoga—and everything in between. I also compiled lists of celebrities and their contact details, fishing tournaments in Australia, Australian café chains that offer soy milk, senators who are running in the upcoming Filipino elections, and many other research-based projects. Multitasking is key to completing the never-ending amounts of work—no one said fighting for animals’ freedom was going to be easy! In addition to desk-based work, I also took part in many outreach activities, such as leafleting and tabling events, and I even got to dress up as Mali the elephant when we went leafleting! Some of the most heartbreaking work that I did included visiting the Manila Zoo on two occasions to check on the condition of Mali as well as all the other animals who live there. As emotionally difficult as those visits were, they fuelled my desire to see Mali finally free and living a happy life with other elephants in a sanctuary. An important part of daily office life was the scrumptious vegan lunch, which came each day from different cafés around Manila, as well as the yummy vegan treats often brought in by various staff members. Grace, the rescued PETA dog who is definitely the boss in the office, was always keen for you to share your food with her, and who could say no to those beautiful eyes?

Milena and Blaize

Milena and Blaize

An activity that I always eagerly anticipated in was our weekly trip to the bus station and the slum next door to take care of some dogs (and cats) who are dire in need of some love and attention. These visits were beyond fulfilling, and even though some things were tough to see and process, it was always rewarding to see the wagging tail of the dog whose day you had just made that little bit brighter. Forever in my heart will be little Blaize—I hope your life from here on in is tick-free and as happy as can be. This doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten about the other dogs, Adik, Christmas, Billy Boy, Brownie, Lucky, and Mr. Unfriendly, who all firmly have a place in my heart, too. And I will never forget crazy little Saske, the dog with the biggest personality, endless amounts of energy, and a great love of ankles, who is now living the happiest life after being rescued from the bus station, thanks to the work of PETA staffers.

I feel beyond privileged—I’m the luckiest person in the world to have been given the opportunity to intern at PETA and to have worked on such a multitude of different projects, all for the cause of animal rights. Living in the Philippines for two months has been a dream, with so many beautiful islands to explore, beaches at which to swim, bubble teas to be had, jungles through which to trek, volcanoes to be climbed, postcard-worthy sunsets to be watched, countless street dogs to be fed and cuddled, karaoke bars to be visited, and mouthwatering vegan meals to be eaten, and all this while experiencing the endlessly generous hospitality of the eternally joyful Filipino people. I wish my time at PETA would never end. The eight weeks passed far too quickly. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for this experience, and it is one that will stay with me forever. Salamat!

Posted by former intern Milena König