Reflections, present happenings, and future plans

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Another semester of school has come to an end. In fact, the course work for the Winter 2014 semester has been finished for a few weeks. My Research Assistantship at Banting House is also over. But with all these endings, a new beginning is just around the corner. Only 12 weeks of internship to go, and I’m a Master of Public History. No longer a student, but a professional.

Much like the Fall, this past semester has seen the Public History group embark on many new and exciting ventures. For me, it felt like the overarching theme of the term was “museums,” since we designed a permanent exhibit for Fanshawe Pioneer Village, created mini exhibits for Interactive Exhibit Design, and discussed museums from the point of material culture, interpretation, exhibition, conservation, documentation, (identity) politics, ethics, theory, etc. Add a Research Assistantship at a museum on top of that, and you can see why there were days when I forgot any other kind of public history was even an option! The intense exposure to museum studies was helpful, though. It showed me that there are many ways one can be involved in museum work. And it showed me that I was wrong about myself.

A few years ago, I would have told you that my dream job is sitting in a basement by myself with some ancient books, slowly growing a layer of dust. Conserving ancient books would still be awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I now realize that I’m especially interested in learning about how ideas and information are communicated, whether this is through tours, exhibits, or virtual museums. I want to be someone that engages with the public directly. Good to know, especially since I went into the Public History program with the expectation that I would probably find a career in a museum.

As it turns out though, life never happens according to plan. At least, not for me. I was thrilled to find out yesterday that I had secured an internship, and it has nothing to do with museums at all! Instead I will be a Communications Intern for the Northern Ontario Research, Development, Ideas and Knowledge (NORDIK) Institute, based in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. It’s my first “real job” as a public historian. I’ll be researching historical, cultural, and ecological information, collaborating with community partners, and creating a trilingual guide, a website, an audio tour, promotional materials, research reports, and educational activities to get people excited about the John Rowswell Hub Trail. This trail winds its way through seven different regions in Sault Ste. Marie, meandering through beautiful nature conservation areas and past several sites of historical and cultural significance. It’s about as different from a traditional museum as you can imagine, but it’s an amazing opportunity to show people what the Sault has to offer.

The internship begins in just over a week. Soon I’ll be back in Northern Ontario, and you can count on fewer blog posts then – I’ll be living just north of the Sault, where there’s no internet access. Not that I’ve been blogging much in the past couple weeks. The lull between coursework and now was filled with my neglected hobbies, like drawing, photography, manga, piano, knitting, video games, Mythbusters, and reading. I also picked up a new hobby:

IMG_4251And I’ve been dreaming about how to program a cool music visualizer in Max that would respond to my keyboard as I play it. So between all of that, working, and keeping up with the blog, I should have enough to do to last the summer several decades. Although my degree will soon be over, and my career will soon begin, the adventures remain.

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