Humans of Zion: Hema Lochan

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.

Hema Lochan hopes to use her position as an intern in the Zion Museum to cultivate and revitalize a human connection with wilderness.

As an Indo-Caribbean-American, Hema Lochan is more than proud to be a triple hyphen. Her culture not only shapes her own identity—it works to shape her goals as a Zion Museum Intern. But as a millennial who grew up in the Bronx, Zion certainly posed many surprises for the 22-year-old Princeton grad.

“I’m from a big city in New York, and I think that, growing up there, I was always surrounded by different cultures—people of all walks of life,” Lochan said. “A really shocking thing when I first came here was when I saw the wall of [past] superintendents and there was just a lack of diversity—it was just a big wall of white males. I definitely didn’t expect it, because it’s the National Park Service and it’s the hundred years of the park service. Except that the employees are all really nice and I haven’t really felt discrimination, but I still did feel a little bit like a sore thumb—like sticking out—just because of the way I looked.”

Lochan recognizes that her unique role at Zion, where she’s working to make the museum’s digital artifacts available to the public, allows her to bridge the gap between 21st century urban culture and nature.

“I think that in modern culture—especially in Western culture—we separate it from the environment. Even in these cities, we’re still impacting and effecting the environment a lot and the environment is effecting us. But we can lose sight of that very easily when we don’t really see it happening right in front of us. I think that coming here and seeing the wilderness and actually looking in a deers’ eyes, like ‘oh my god, hi!’, it kind of bridges the gap. It at least makes me feel like the relationship we have with the environment is more visible.”

Click here for more stories from Kiki Serantes.