SummerWorks boosted my confidence

August 31, 2015

Kaw Kleh Wah worked as a photography intern with the Multnomah County Communications team.

My name is Kaw Kleh Wah, but I go by K.K. I am 20 and came to Oregon from a Thai refugee camp 8 years ago. I live in Southeast Portland with my mom and dad, two younger brothers and a little sister.

This summer I worked with the Communications Office at Multnomah County as a photographer through the SummerWorks program.

I learned a lot about photography and journalism.

Taking pictures has been a hobby of mine, and I photograph events for the Karen community - that’s the ethnic group that I belong to.  I never learned about how the camera works or about composition, and when I went to events I didn’t know what I should take pictures of. And I never thought I would have the opportunity to learn about journalism or writing stories.

I am a shy person and don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers. After doing this internship, I learned how to ask questions about things I didn’t  know anything about, interview people I had never met, write articles. It made me more outgoing.

Kaw Kleh Wah photographed summer events for Multnomah County global site, MultCo Global.
Kaw Kleh Wah photographed summer events for Multnomah County global site, MultCo Global.

I had the chance to go to many different events during the summer. One of my favorite was the Portland World Cup. I play soccer with a group of other Karen girls and I really wanted to go. But I had to work at my internship. Luckily, my editor asked if I would go and take pictures of the tournament, so I got to watch the games and had fun while working.

When I was taking pictures, it didn’t even feel like work. I felt like I was having fun with the camera, and learning.

I also learned how to edit photos. First, it was hard to understand the Lightroom software. But  it got easier as I edited more and more photos. I also learned how to edit audio using a free program called Audacity.

The hardest part was when I had to write stories, because I am not really skilled at writing. But I received a lot of help, and I was able to finish the stories successfully, including one about the soccer tournament, and another about a woman who came to Portland alone as a refugee when she was 18.

Now that my internship is over, I’m getting ready for college. I plan to start classes at Portland Community College this fall and study social work.