14 August, 2008

Well, the internship concluded on Friday. I am back at home for now, continuing the job search. I am so thankful to have been a part of the PMA for a summer; I already miss it so much, especially my intern buddies and the Asian art collections!
We Education interns put together a nice notebook encapsulating our experience; we included photos, all the lesson plans we wrote, and info about our craft project. This is something we can take to job interviews to show what we've accomplished. We also each had to write a "personal reflection" to include. I thought I'd post mine, because it deals with what was one of the major things I thought about over the summer.....I think Messiah College gives its students a great concern for material needs, and teaches them to think that everything you do should be a service that meets those needs. These are not bad things, don't misunderstand me; but after four years in that environment I struggle to feel that working in a museum is enough. So...I'm glad to have worked in a metropolitan museum and to have seen what involvement in the arts can do for kids. You don't have to read this reflection, I know it's rather long. But for what it's worth, here it is.

I’ve heard it said that “your calling lies where your skill and the world’s great needs meet.” From the time I befriended “Anne-with-an-E” Shirley at age 9, I knew that I wanted to be an educator of some kind. I knew that I cared about people and wanted to inspire them. These instincts gained a clearer direction during my college years as my art history courses and professors transformed my view of the world; I realized that nothing excited me more than sharing those discoveries with other people.
I was ecstatic when I was offered an education internship at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; I had never taught formally, but I couldn’t wait to do my best to help the city’s children form life-changing relationships with art. Yet after a month of training and preparing and talking about how art could change lives, I found myself growing skeptical. Every day I rode the bus to the museum through crumbling, impoverished neighborhoods; I passed homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk; I saw people scrape together all their change for the bus fare. Signs of brokenness cried to me from every corner and made me begin to feel that walking kids around a museum wasn’t going to heal any of it. How important were colors and shapes when some of these kids couldn’t even afford to bring a lunch?
However, all of my doubts were hushed when we finally began teaching. I was astounded by children’s “Aha!” moments in front of “Ghost,” their breathless wonder at the other-worldly Japanese Teahouse, their gleeful promises to bring their families on a Sunday, their exclamations of, “Miss
Virginia! That picture has SYMMETRY!” Those moments have all been worth gold to me, because they have shown me that in this museum children are finding art’s relevance to their lives. They are seeing how architecture can affect our moods; colors and shapes can express ideas; visual symbols can communicate things about who we are. I have to believe that whether or not they remember my name, the children whose lives have briefly intersected with mine will carry home all of those truths about art…along with their gluey craft projects. I know I want to continue to facilitate such discoveries for other people. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced.
I want to quickly record my gratitude to our supervisor, Barry. He had faith in me when I struggled to have any for myself, and offered me an opportunity that has built my confidence and purpose. He also selected five incredible people with whom I’ve been honored to work. Thank you all for your humor, your selfless service in chaotic moments, and your beautiful perspectives on art and life. My life is richer from knowing you. Thank you, Barry, Louise, Cassie, Diana, Zach, and Teresa.

1 comment:

CFHeidel said...

My inner-English major enjoys your entries very much. My anemic, nay - atrophied art major has gained strength and may soon be one buff six pack of an art appreciator.My new roof does, on a very basic and aesthetic level, make me feel good. And I'm already planning the contour of my mulch beds. Art is EVERYWHERE!