By Salsabil Chebli, Policy Intern

Salsabil just outside Marrakesh, Morocco.

The day that had been anticipated for an entire year — May 31, 2016 — I finally began my long overdue internship at American Forests. American Forests was brought to my attention by a dear friend, Sofia Maia Goldstein, who interned here and had the most admirable experience. She told me almost every day how delightful the internship is, how amazing Rebecca Turner is and I knew I had to gain the experience myself (both of us environmental policy majors).

On my first day, I can already relate and apply so many policies and terms I learned in my classes to what I am involved in at the office. It is so refreshing to be able to make the connections from class to real life. I learn better hands-on, and I can’t imagine a more fulfilling internship to get me started on my career path. I truly believe this will be more than just an internship for me, I feel in my element at American Forests.

For me, experience is the most valued. How I can make the most out of my time and make a difference in the world are two aspects I live by.

I moved to the United States from Morocco when I was nine years old. About 20 minutes from my house is one of the most beautiful parks, Great Falls National Park. My best friend introduced me to it, and we would always find ourselves at our “secret” mini-beach spot where we had a view that overlooks much of the beautiful scenery, considering how low it is. Going to Great Falls became a tradition with her and our families. The proximity of Great Falls to my house made me love it that much more, I have to make little effort to enjoy what I love.

Growing up in Morocco, my family and I spent a substantial amount of time in rural areas where my father’s family is from. I grew to love nature and everything else that compliments it.

But, it wasn’t until my later high school years that I realized how significant nature is in my life. I decided I want to be involved in the protection and restoration of our beautiful, underappreciated surroundings.

What captures my interest the most are the crucial functions of trees in urban communities. Trees are no doubt some of the most important elements, and I learned that I am the happiest when surrounded by them whether it be in the city, or rural areas. Since I want to expand my knowledge of green cities and the tremendous role trees play in urban settings, American Forests is the best place to do that.

I am confident my experiences and background will help me excel at American Forests and in protecting our environment.