Hello, my name is Ka Mwee Paw and I am a refugee from Mae La Oon. Mae La Oon is a refugee camp located between the border of Thailand and Myanmar (previously known as Burma). I am currently a third-year Biology major student studying at San Diego City College and San Diego Mesa College. My summer internship gave me the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge in Marine Biology. When I heard about the program from my professor, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to explore, learn new things, and get an experience in the different Biology fields. The summer was truly an experience due to everyone being amazing and welcoming. I am grateful and thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I had the opportunity of working with my mentor, Lauren Strope, an SDSU graduate. Her project is to understand the physiology of Olympian oysters in different habitats. We used a program called Arduino to detect the heartbeat of the oysters. When I first learned what I was going to be working on, I questioned myself, “Oysters have a heart?”. Then, after I told everyone else what my project was, they questioned the same thing. This project I worked on in the summer was pretty interesting. I get to attach the heart rate monitor on oysters and the gape sensor. The hardest part of attaching the heart rate monitor to the oysters was searching for the heart location. It was an obstacle because searching for the heart of one single oyster can take up to 3-6 hours if you’re not used to it. Also, upon finding the heartbeat, it may disappear and you may have to relocate the heartbeat once again. After finding the oyster’s heartbeat, we superglued the sensor to the oyster and the gape sensor. The gape sensor was the easiest part to attach to the oyster. My project was mostly lab work, so most of the time I’m in front of the computer searching for the heartbeat of the oyster; however, it was still a fun experience. The mentor I was working with was pretty chill and relaxing. While doing my project, I watched some shows on my phone and caught up on Strangers Things which both I and my mentor were interested in.

This summer, I learned a lot and experienced things I never thought I would. I learned a lot about Marine Biology and how it differs from other Biology fields. I’ve been in the United States for 11 years and never come close to pronouncing the names of different sea creatures before until this project. I ate sea urchin for the first time and I can say that I did not like it because It tasted like medicine which I’ve never been a fan of. I kayak for the first time with Gabriella Kalbach who was leading the trip and met up with two of the other interns. I am not a strong swimmer so so having a life jacket was really helpful. We paddled along Mission Bay at Bahia Point Beach. We learned what to do if someone capsizes and goes overboard. It was a fun very experience. I also went on a boat trip to help Venessa trap lobsters with another intern. I loved the boat ride but when we arrived at our destination, I could not help her. I got seasick and almost threw up. I realized that boat rides are not for me. Overall, the internship for a fun and amazing experience that I’m glad that I didn’t let this opportunity pass.

It’s been amazing working with Lauren Strope and she’s been pretty patient with me while she’s teaching me about everything and introducing me to her project. She’s the best mentor anyone could ask for. It has been an honor being chosen as one of the interns. I had learned more about the marine biology field. I’m surprised that people are having fun in doing their research and everyone is enjoying their time together. I honestly thought it was going to be like an office job. Everyone is out and about doing their things and finishing their projects. If anyone is interested in the Marine Biology field or just want to get an experience of what or how things are like, this is a great opportunity.

I would also like to take the time to thank Jessica Griffin, Lily McIntire, Lauren Strope, the interns and the Miller lab for this amazing opportunity to work in the Marine Biology field. Without these people, the internship would not be possible. Thank you for the amazing summer!