Misericordia regularly sends our students out into the community to build their professional experience and serve others. In 2016, MU sent several students to internships in Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; and Eckley, PA. Read more about our students’ work in area historic sites, museums, and other related public history endeavors below.
During my time in Washington I studied at American University’s School of Professional and Extended Studies, focusing on International Relations and U.S. Foreign Policy. This was an interesting time to be in D.C., as the Obama administration left office and a more controversial one took the reins. My colleagues and I attended various briefings at embassies and think tanks. We would go to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), The Korean Economics Institute, the Brookings Institute, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and many others. These briefings were mostly televised and gave students an opportunity to network with the D.C. wonks in our field of study. These briefings also presented opportunities for students to pose challenging questions to panelists. The International Relations and U.S. Foreign Policy students and I were from Colombia, Germany, Japan, Norway, Rwanda, Egypt, Tunisia and many other countries. The program truly widened the scope of my understanding of the international system, while allowing me to engage in a cultural exchange with students from all over the globe. I took two (4) credit seminars, one (4) credit internship class and internship itself, and one (4) credit research thesis project that involved conducting interviews with professionals and culminated in a 35-50 page paper. I interned all day Monday and Tuesday, and half a day Wednesday. The other half of Wednesday was classes and Thursday and Friday were classes and/or briefings. I interned at the Truman Center for National Policy. In the little spare time I had, I made some great friends and explored the historic parts of D.C. If students wish to get a real taste of the professional world, D.C. is the place to do it. This semester undoubtedly added variables into my geostrategic calculus and the way that I view events and trends that are affecting the international world order.
–Wyatt Scott, April 2017
Recently, Alex Lester published an essay in the online journal, The Braille Monitor, an organ published by the National Federation of the Blind. Alex served as the inaugural intern in a collaborative partnership between MU and the NFB. He is a philosophy major and will graduate from MU in 2017.
Today is my last day here at Eckley, and I can honestly say I am going to miss it. I have had such a great time here, with many opportunities that will help me further my career. This past week I have been finalizing the paperwork for the Dr. Office, and finishing the project for the educational coordinator. I am organizing all the information I have on the Dr. Office project, so I can give it to the museum director when I leave today. I will not be able to see the project being worked on, but I plan on coming back when it is done, so I can see that all my hard work paid off! I have given all of the tours this week when I was here, so that hindered me from getting as much work as I could get done, but I enjoyed it. I found myself reallly enjoying giving the tours; they are especially good when the people are asking questions and generally interested in this type of history. Today, I am waiting on the educational coordinator to look at my information I gave her for the project, so we can go over it to see if it is everything she needed. This project was interesting for me because I do not know much about rotary phones, so it was interesting to find out all different kinds of information about it. I really enjoyed working on the Dr. Office project, as it gave me an insight on what it would be like if I did work in a museum and things needed to be fixed or anything. I have an idea of where to start and who to call with certain things. This project took up most of my time here at Eckley, as it was a big job. I think I would have gotten it done sooner if I did not constantly have to give tours. I could have saw my hard work being brought to life, instead of having to come back after it is done. Overall, I really enjoyed my time here at Eckley and I am so thankful for this opportunity. Hopefully next year and the future will be bigger and better things!
Last week at Eckley I focused on last minute things that needed to be done for the Dr. Office project. On Monday I went out to the Dr. Office and put individual patches made of paper on the sections of the panels that needed to be done. I cut pieces of paper to fit each section of the panels, and hung them on so we would be able to see what the panels would look like with the patches. After that was done, I took some more measurements. I took measurements of the text itself to see how big the font would be so I could let the printing companies know. When I got back from the office, I finished up the bid document for the printing companies and sent it to the museum director. He took a look at it and sent me a totally finished document on Wednesday when I came back. Once I looked at that and made sure everything was correct, I then sent that document to all of the printing companies that we have narrowed it down to. I sent them an email letting them know that if they are still interested in the project to let me know as soon as they can, because of the fact that I am done with my internship this coming week. On Friday, I had two emails from two of the printing companies. One of them declined the bid because they could not guarantee that their products would last 10 or so years, and the other company is fully on board. Today, I emailed the other two companies to see what was going on since I have not heard from them, and only one of them emailed me back saying they are on board. I have yet to hear from the last company. In between all of this I have been trying to finish up my project with the education coordinator here. Our 1940s weekend event is this coming weekend, so I want to make sure that she has everything that she needs before I leave. I, unfortunately, am not able to attend the event this weekend due to work, but hopefully next year I will be able to go! Hopefully by the end of my internship this week, we will have a deal with a printing company and can get started on redoing the Dr. Office. I plan on coming back on a tour after the office is done to see that my hard work paid off!
Last week I completed the bid package for the printing companies, for the Dr. Office project. I emailed it to the museum director, and together we went over what needed to be added or changed. On Friday I started working on making patches out of printer paper, that way we can get an idea of what the patches themselves would look like and if they will be big enough for the sections. I plan on going down to the Dr. Office today to take pictures of the patches on the panels and make sure that they will be big enough. Hopefully by the end of the week, we can send out the bid package to the printing companies that we have selected. On Friday, I also did some curatorial things with this project. I had to look through old files that the director had in his office, to find some notes and artwork that I could not find on the computer. It was very interesting to go through these files, as I got to see how the Dr. Office exhibit came to be and all of the original planning. This project that I am working on has taken me longer than I thought because of the fact that we do not have many volunteers that are willing to do tours. On the days that I am here and we do not have a tour guide, which is most of the time, I have to go out and give the tours. I do not mind this at all; I love giving tours, but it frustrates me a bit that I am limited to the amount of work I can do here. The tours are about an hour and fifteen minutes long, so if I give them twice a day, that is already 2 and a half hours. I am only here for 5 hours so that leave me three hours to do research and work on things, that is just not enough time. At Eckley, there are not many volunteers, and there are only 6 people who actually work here. Eckley does not get as much funding from the state as it should, if we want to keep this place alive and all the history behind it, it should be better provided for. Interning here for the summer has brought to my attention the difficulties that non-profit organizations go through everyday. There is not enough help here, and the people who do volunteer here only come on certain days of the week. If there was more funding at Eckley and more volunteers and workers, then I think that this place would be the place to be during the summer. It is honestly so beautiful here, and I am glad I had this opportunity to be here this summer, despite some set backs. In between all of this, I have been working on my project for our 1940s weekend in August. I have developed an outline of what we need for the rotary telephone, now I have to work on developing a demo for the actual rotary phone itself. I plan on getting this done by the end of this week, so the educational coordinator can look over it and make any changes she needs to in time for the event in August.
Much to my dismay this blog marks my last entry for MU Local History Projects: Interns Corner. As I head into my final year of studying at Misericordia I am reflecting on my time working in the library at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). From the very first day I have been exposed to a whole new world. I started this journey by learning both NFB philosophy, and history. I have learned the long history the NFB has had in fighting for disability rights and the importance of fighting for them.
The NFB has taught me so much about the world and my place in it. It has taught me about the privilege I have as a sighted person, and it has shown me that as a sighted person there are things I can do to further their mission, such as advocating inclusiveness–both by political action as well as making choices to promote inclusiveness everyday, taking a few moments to be mindful of my day to day actions, photo captioning, and not using language that is divisive in casual conversations. None of these are too hard in practice, and can go a long way in the fight for equality for all.
While here in Baltimore I have become to believe I am morally obligated to do this. I have learned about this obligation through the research I have conducted and the experiences that I have been exposed to, but most importantly, through the friends I have made.
My heart is breaking having to leave my fellow interns; they are all such great people. We have become a weird dysfunctional family. These people have made me laugh, they allowed me to worry, and be my goofy, geeky, insecure self without holding judgement. To Julie, Michael, Danielle, Luisa, and Jerad–and of course the one and only William Robert (Bill) who is Julie’s guide dog and my new best friend–I am going to miss living with you guys. I hope you know it is partly because of you that I am leaving Maryland with a better understanding of both the importance of The NFB and what blind people are capable of.
So one thing this internship has done for me is it has allowed me to explore a variety of things that I would not have done, from fantastic restaurants, to concerts of bands whose genre is labeled “Art Pop.” My internship has not just taught me about Blindness but it has exposed me to other aspects of our culture. Recently there was an event called Art Scape which is the nation’s largest free art festival. During this festival there was a bunch of art exhibits one of them was called Celestial light (See below) when you walked through there was nothing but the roof, and it was placed so that when you came out you were bathed in natural light. As a way for you realized that the celestial light is all around you. I have to say that it was quite interesting. Reading the reactions on people’s faces who left after me, I don’t think many saw it the way that I did; still, others not seeing it as I did didn’t diminish its brilliance.
Picture of Celestial Light Exhibit (A giant cloth moon you walk through)
The reality that Summer 2016 is my last summer as an undergraduate student has gotten my mind craving experience and I have to admit that I had been craving this experience before it had even started. Back in May I knew I wanted to travel this summer. In fact, I had a plan of places I was going to go to before I even left for Baltimore, but of course those plans did not play out as they had in my mind. Still I can’t deny how amazing it has been to travel around as much as I have and how fantastic it is to have been blessed to live here in Baltimore for two months. Sometimes I think we forget to realize where we are in our lives; we are constantly trying to obtain happiness when happiness is right here. We don’t have to go search for it, but when you can, it’s that much more sweet.
The art exhibit entitled Celestial Light grounded me and reminded me I am here, right where I am meant to be. I admit it is a bit new agey. Still I am a firm believer in this construct, however, in no way do I find it as an excuse to stay stagnate, but rather as an encouragement to embrace the moment. This is what I did later that night, when I was at a free The Mighty Mighty Bosstones concert. While the band played their music, a mosh pit formed and right before the song “The Impression That I Get” I had jumped in and moshed; people who know me know that I am a pretty uptight guy who doesn’t believe in taking “unnecessary risks” (even high water-slides are on my “been there and done that” list) – but being present I was feeling inspired so I jumped into this mosh pit with a bunch of people who had contagious smiles, and to be honest, it was freaking amazing. It wasn’t a violent pit like the ones depicted in angst filled 90s teen movies and at no time was I in danger. I was off hours so there was no reason to not have fun and it was awesome. I totally got to check something off my “never in a million years” bucket-list. Both this art exhibit and the act of jumping into a mosh pit acted as a wake-up call, putting things that were floating around in my brain in order so that when I jumped in, and being present, my heart softened. As a result, I feel a lot more humble.
So with that said I have a message for the next person who takes on this intern assignment. Opportunity will appear to you because you are in a city, and I implore you to not take those moments for granted, in fact I urge you to go seek these opportunities out because life is short and you only live once. Even though I am uptight normally I always have sought new experiences (just not such dramatic ones) because I know we are better for experiencing them. For every time you step outside your comfort zone be it trying new food or jumping into a mosh pit you will find more empathy for your fellow man. Before moshing I didn’t know that it could be actually fun. I broke down a barrier and realized that these people were just having a good time and that’s not a sin or something to be frowned upon.
Picture of a rainbow at the Bosstones Concert
Howdy readers. Last week I was able to attend the National Federation of the Blind’s National Convention in Orlando Florida (NFB 2016). This convention is a gathering of over two-thousand blind people all with different backgrounds, from Stanford and Harvard Law graduates, to factory workers. I was introduced to so many brilliant people and was told so many different stories.
During NFB 2016, one of these stories came in the form of panels that were being held, and one panel I attended was on blind factory workers. As a millennial who faces job offers that pay non-liveable wages, I find the minimum wage to be extremely dehumanizing; so when I got to this panel I was horrified — going into it I thought they would be discussing unionization of factory workers, but I found out these factory workers were trying to organize not because they were getting paid minimum wage and deserved more, but rather to have a support group and a think tank for people who were being paid sub-minimum wage. Sub-minimum wage is defined as a wage that is lower than the established minimum wage. Up until this point in my life the only position I knew about that got paid this were servers, but I knew that chain restaurants were required to pay them minimum wage if servers didn’t make enough in tips. During this session I heard a story about a man who was a victim of this cruel and usual treatment, he was involved in a lawsuit and all he was seeking was minimum wage.
As somebody who likes to believe he is socially aware, my stomach turned when I became aware of “Section 14(c) of the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) which authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay sub-minimum wages – wages less than the Federal minimum wage – to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed” (Department of Labor). How on earth were there people getting paid to do work for as little as 20 cents per hour? If you think this is uncommon, Forbes ran a piece where they showed that Goodwill Industries commonly known as Goodwill (the thrift shop), a company who “call themselves leaders in providing opportunity for the disabled” allows this practice in their franchises; one of these franchises wanted to pay a blind woman in Montana just $2.75 an hour.
Proponents of the law argue that this is fair because at least it gives the disabled employee a sense of giving back to the community. I argue that is bull. We need to address an issue and clear something up quick: if we continue to think blindness limits a person’s worth and ability, we are seriously mistaken. Blindness doesn’t define a person, or their skill set. Paying them sub-minimum wage encourages blind people to believe they are broken, when in reality, the people who think it’s okay to treat another human this way, for something the person can’t control, are the ones who need fixing.