At my last week of Culture Project, I tried three times to post a blog that really summed up what I was feeling as all the strings came together to tie up my internship experience, however, I left it open on my computer too long and it got deleted each time. So now, after sufficiently getting over my frustration with my computer and myself, I have the willpower to sit here and write one really great last blog.
After a few weeks away from Culture Project, and after explaining to many people what I did this summer, I have a really great sense of how this experience benefited me, as well as how it did not. One piece of advice that has become a recurring theme in my head is that all experiences are advantageous because if you are not learning about the things you like, you are learning about the things you don’t like, and forming those opinions can help a person better understand him/herself and their desired work environment. I realize that many of my comments about this summer had to do with my annoyance at the fact that I had to do remedial tasks such as mopping the floor and painting the walls. However, preceding and following each of those comments came a positive aspect of my summer and my time at Culture Project. I believe it is important to focus on all the great things that came out of this summer, and then talk about all my “peeves” and how I worked to view them as part of the learning experience.
If I think of the whole summer, there are a number of experiences I can highlight in my mind as being exciting projects which enticed me to come to work each day. The first was our task to come up with human rights/social justice issues we believed were prevalent in modern day society. Once we chose three topics, we began to research them. The three topics were: the inequality in education based on socioeconomic status, the injustices at the US-Mexico Border, and the stigma against those in poverty. There were three interns in total at the office this summer, and while we each did a bit of research on each category, we mostly each worked on the one specific issue which concerned us most. For me, it was the injustice immigrants face at the border patrol detainment centers. Researching these issues was informative and interesting, however, I lacked a structure or a goal for my research…I suppose that is what made the research a bit more stressful since I did not know what exactly our final project was going to be with this research, and for that, it made it a bit more tedious to research these topics than interesting. However, that is still a positive because I learned how to make a structure for myself when such things are not given to me.
Another exciting project I was tasked with, was to read two plays that Culture Project was to put on in its upcoming season and analyze the two and write a synopsis for them and an analysis of them. It was a really great experience to be in contact with some theatre at this theatre internship (since their season stopped for the summer, there was no opportunity for me to work on or see any of their productions) and it was great to read the play before it even went into a simple form of a production stage. Reading the plays really inspired me to continue to have these aspirations of writing plays based on social justice issues because you really can use your voice to reach so many people in an entertaining way, and I would love to send messages that I believe are important to our society, and I would hope that others can do the same with issues they believe are important, so that in the end, we have a cohesive display of knowledge of these issues.
One last really exciting project was that I got to go through all different “theatre/human rights” related posts on kickstarter and take notes on what those organizations were doing to get supporters, and then file that into a plan Culture Project could use to get supporters. So it was really cool to see how people go about advertising themselves, and it was really a valuable experience for me to see that it isn’t just a whimsical decision, or a “to-do” task, but it actually requires a lot of research before hand!
The few peeves in the office that I learned to use to my advantage were: the lack of communication, the lack of organization, and the lack of consideration for our knowledge/ to make us feel welcome.
I understand that if you work in a theatre, someone will have to mop the floor, but I did not see that as the intern’s job, and when I mentioned that to my supervisor, she explained that someone has to do it and by giving the responsibility to us, we could further understand all the responsibilities that come with running a theatre. I guess that was sort of valid and painting the walls fits under those responsibilities as well, but I believe my knowledge could have been used for something other than mopping the floor and painting the walls. However, what I did get out of this experience is learning how to openly express my concerns and feelings. I may have waited until our “debrief” phone call, but I did still express my concern about this task and I am glad I was not afraid to do that.
As far as the lack of communication and organization, both faults gave me better insight into what not to do and better ideas for how to run my own organization (should I ever create something similar to this) by looking to this environment as one I was happy to learn from, but would not want to recreate.
Lastly, there was no feeling of warmth in the organization. I wasn’t greeted when I walked in every morning, I barely conversed with anyone in the one room office we all sat in all day, and my questions were answered with a condescending tone. While I understand these people are not my colleagues but rather my superiors, I still believe a bit of warmth would have been conducive to the working environment. However, one thing I learned from that is that such warmth does not radiate from everyone, it will not be in every workplace I work at, and if it’s not there, I know how to deal with it and make the best of the situation anyway! Hey, I did that this summer! So, no worries there. I learned that I can handle a bit of the cold-shoulder and still do my work effectively.
The last project we did where we created a documentary based on interviews we had with experts in each field really helped solidify the Culture Project experience for me in a positive light, and while the editing may be a bit shaky on the documentary, I am very proud of it and would love to show it to anyone interested. The goal was to put it on Facebook, but I don’t really think many people will watch it. However, it’s a great end product I can look back to and say, “hey, my summer at Culture Project was really educational and rewarding, and I’m glad I did it.” And hey, I had the best of both worlds! I got to work in New York City at an organization that does exactly what I’m interested in, and I got to be home with my family each and every day. Who can complain about that?! Definitely not me, that’s for sure.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,