by Kiki Serantes, SCA Intern, Cultural Resources
Kiara “Kiki” Serantes, SCA Cultural Resources Intern, is interviewing the people she encounters in her work at Zion National Park to explore how the park and its broad cross-section of visitors, staff, and volunteers are continually building and shaping each other’s perceptions and identities. The series was inspired by Humans of New York, so she’s calling it Humans of Zion.
Swiss-native Helena Looser has only lived in the United State for two years. While being away from her family is difficult, she says that Zion’s wilderness opportunities have helped her become more mindful of her own dreams and goals.
Finding a sense of identity is difficult for any person, but for Helena Looser—who hails from Switzerland and has only lived in the United States for two years—it might very well have been impossible if it hadn’t been for Southern Utah’s wilderness and the friends she’s met along the way.
“I never really experienced wilderness in Switzerland, we don’t really define it as wilderness,” Looser said as we hiked along the West Rim Trail, one of Zion’s less crowded routes. “You go out and you basically always see people out there. The zion wilderness showed me how quiet it can be and how it can help me to just switch off for a second and have time for myself, think about my goals and dreams. Quietness—it can change you.”
Although it’s been more than difficult being away from her brother and father, she said that Zion helps because it keeps her busy and she has “awesome roommates with whom I can go out and enjoy nature.”
“I’ve learned about the leave no trace behind principle, and I haven’t heard of this before in Switzerland,” she said. “Now every time I go hiking in the wilderness, I pick up trash. It really helped me, considering that I really just want to have nature how it used to be.”