From the Atlantic Slave Trade to Lahore: a Summer with CyArk

Amelia DeSnoo, from Pomona College, talks about her experience as a CyArk intern

by Amelia DeSnoo
August 10, 2015
This summer I had the unique opportunity to work with CyArk on a series of projects ranging from the Atlantic Slave Trade to the Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. My experience at CyArk allowed me to improve my basic research and writing skills and informed me about certain sites and their historical importance. However, my greatest take away from the internship would have to be my new-found sense of direction. As a Middle Eastern Studies major and Chinese minor, fluent in Mandarin and proficient in Arabic and Spanish, I have been barraged with questions about my post-graduation plans. My answer has always been a dissatisfying “I don’t know.” Before interning with CyArk, I knew that I wanted to make use of my cultural and linguistic skills to promote intercultural understanding, but I didn’t know how to go about doing this. My experience with CyArk gave me the how I was looking for – namely by preserving culture and disseminating history. 

Perhaps the most rewarding project I worked on at CyArk was Anqa, which is an Arabic name for a mythological phoenix. Still in its early stages, the Anqa project is a large scale initiative designed to preserve sites across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). My role at CyArk was to draft a list of “priority sites” in the region. During my research, I found that many of the sites that made their way to the top of my list due to their rich historical and cultural significance had been subject to arson. “Why hasn’t more been done and why isn’t more being done?” was the question that rang through my mind. Nonetheless, this eye-opening work was as rewarding as it was disquieting and stands to be the most impactful work I have ever done. Working on Anqa gave me a sense of accomplishment because I was interning with and contributing to a leading organization in its field that was truly making a positive impact on the world.  

As I prepare to leave CyArk to continue my studies this fall, I am well aware that the smallest contributors, even an individual such as myself, can have a lasting impact. I now know that after graduating I want to contribute to historical preservation of the Muslim community, whether it is in China, Iran, Indonesia, or other regions.
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Aam Khas Bagh