Garden Gnome Adventures…

I can’t believe the internship program is nearing its end! It has been such a fun and rewarding experience interning at Alliance for Smiles, learning not only the hard work that goes into running a nonprofit organization (especially a smaller one), but also the care taken to change children’s lives, one smile at a time. I also met some humorous and innovative coworkers, inspiring and charismatic leaders, and friendly and persistent interns. Through all of this bonding, I became not only more engaged in my work, but also more creative, organized, and thoughtful in communicating ideas or finishing projects. Additionally, receiving some pointers on my performance throughout the internship made me hone my skills even further and offer fresh perspectives on various assignments. With continuous modifications, even small ones, long-term projects such as a Wikipedia entry of the organization can be checked off. So, if you are handed a task that doesn’t particularly appeal to you or seems really daunting, you really need to throw yourself at it thrice as hard to get the most out of it. This persistence will open up so many new insights and opportunities. I also became more used to offering constructive criticism to my boss because open communication is the best way to move forward. Also, being not afraid to ask questions opened up learning opportunities and made me understand the ideal outcome of my work. There really was always a smiling face to help.

Plus, I would say my coffee-brewing skills definitely strengthened! (Hi Starbucks!)

Through careful observation and first-hand experience, the internship also helped me pinpoint my career goals, allowing me insight into what kind of job I want after college and what skills I have or need to succeed in the workforce. Witnessing the passion and commitment that each member dedicates to the organization, I was also thrown into a world of building bridges of love and international understanding for children with cleft lip and palate anomalies.

Balancing work with grocery-shopping, mountain-climbing (trust me, walking around San Francisco is quite a hike!), and sightseeing is actually rewarding in that I became more independent, proactive, and flexible in the process. Nothing beats doing everything by yourself!

I will definitely miss walking by Chinatown’s Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory as I breathe in its sweetly-scented air or strolling around Macondray Lane, with a row of quaint Edwardian cottages lined up on mini fairy-tale lanes. I will also miss Mission District’s colorful artworks hidden in alleyways and of course its famed burritos… But mostly, I will miss the vibrant city life…everything always on the move…never sleeping…lights never turned off…(Hey, isn’t that Innovation 101?)

This past weekend, I explored Yerba Buena Gardens, a massive green expanse that neatly blends nature in the middle of the city. It just so happens that the 2018 Yerba Buena Gardens Festival is taking place last Sunday on the lawn of the Esplanade, a serene place full of trees, flowers, falling water, public art, and cafes, bringing together world-class music, dance, and theater performances for all to enjoy and interact with nature.

As I entered the Yerba Buena Gardens, a beautiful walkway (as seen below), flanked by towering tree citadels, welcomed me and my thoughts of whether these garden gnomes are actually hiding behind these green shields…




This picture above is of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, with an imposing waterfall and glass panels inscribed with Dr. King’s powerful words. It’s the perfect place for meditating on peace and unity as well as experiencing a rare kind of a cultural pilgrimage.


This picture above is a spectacular view of the skyscrapers, a church, and gel-like waters on the walkway above the MLK Memorial. Say hello to gorgeous!


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is just footsteps away, as seen in the above picture as the red building to the left. Right now, there is a Rene Magritte exhibition, featuring his ironic and groundbreaking artworks.

Nearby is also the Metreon, which is a shopping center with the largest IMAX in North America. I did get to watch the expectedly fun and bizarre Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. As the young Donna said, “Life is short, the world is wide. I want to make some memories.”

The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre is also an amazing site to visit (just feast on this picture below!). It was originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition (to honor the completion of the Panama Canal), but it is now open for events such as private galas, trade shows, and weddings. With its intricate rotundas and a beautiful lagoon home to wild creatures such as swans, turtles, frogs, and even raccoons, this historic treasure still stands today–the shadow of a ruin celebrating the ephemeral human nature.


I will cherish my remaining days here in the city, scrambling to eat my way through the Ferry Building (don’t worry, it’s actually a maze of artisan food) or explore the Exploratorium at night (great way to see the interactive museum’s 600+ exhibits and do something if you can’t sleep).

Until I see you again, San Francisco! (Don’t get too crowded or too pricey in the meantime! 😉