Category Archives: Internship

Internship Update #3

As of now, I have been working on the SCRI’s Culture Conflict project for nearly three months. Not much has changed since my last post, so I will briefly go over what I’ve done since and where our projects will go from here on out.

Since the beginning of the internship, I had been tasked with compiling a list of museums that are located in Puerto Rice and the US Virgin Islands. It was not always easy finding these museums. For Puerto Rico in particular, the sheer amount of museums in this small island was somewhat overwhelming. Adding to that, the lack of power that Puerto Rico is STILL experiencing due to the hurricanes that hit months prior, it was difficult to find information on museums as their internet servers were down.

In the end, I was unable to fully complete the Puerto Rico dataset. The last remaining areas that need to be completed are the descriptions of the museums, which I had trouble finding due to websites not working. But I checked with our internship coordinators and they were satisfied with the progress and understood that there would be issues because of Puerto Ricos’s lack of power.

The US Virgin Island list was easier to complete. For the most part, I didn’t run into the same server issues as I did with Puerto Rico. Though it was more difficult to distinguish between museums that were real cultural heritage institutions versus those that were made for tourists, I was able to track down and record information on around thirty museums in the US Virgin Islands.

Since we have hit a stopping point with the Caribbean museum lists, the GMU interns will be starting work on different museum sets in the next few weeks. I am excited to start working on the Polish museum list, as this is the country that I spend most of my time researching.

A future component of this project will be a discussion about how to create a digital space for the cultural heritage repository lists. Though our coordinators have mentioned that this is an end goal for our internships, we have not had much of a chance to discuss this yet. It will most likely be a project for the next semester. I am looking forward to these discussions. It will be interesting to see how we can use our digital humanities skills to help the Smithsonian with this project.

Two Months into Virtual Internship

It’s hard to believe that it has already been two months of working on the SCRI project. For two months now, I have been working on cataloging and documenting museums and cultural repositories in the Caribbean.

To reiterate, the general goal of the SCRI project is to create a list that includes all cultural heritage sites in the world so that in case of some form of disaster, people would be aware of what cultural repository sites exist in that region so that they could help save the cultural heritage within them. The George Mason interns (there are now four of us) started out tasked with documenting sites in the Caribbean. But when multiple large hurricanes hit the Caribbean, our task became amplified. We suddenly needed to work as hard as possible to immediately document the museums in the Caribbean. Our work would potentially help FEMA and other agencies determine where to send help.

I have been working specifically on discovering and documenting museums in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). So far, I have documented 133 sites in Puerto Rico and 29 sites in the USVI. There has been some difficulty in documenting and recording information about these sites that were unforeseen. The main issue I have run into is the fact that many servers in Puerto Rico and the USVI are down due to the loss of power that is still ongoing after Hurricane Maria. It seems that the longer the power is out, the more servers go down and therefore the more difficult it has become to find information on these sites. Of course, this problem seems minute when considering that power loss is still impacting over fifty percent of Puerto Rico. Much of this work has been humbling to say the least.

This next week will probably be my last week working on the Puerto Rico and USVI datasets. I will be finishing up the spreadsheets, working on finalizing the description sections and general “cleaning up” of the data. After this, the George Mason interns will be tasked with other countries. Because of my research interests in Poland and Eastern Europe, I have been told that I will start there. I am very excited to work on these lists, as so much of my studies and research are focused on these regions.

We have also been told in a recent conference call, that next semester’s work will be more focused on how to create a digital site that will incorporate all of the cultural repository data. This will probably be a very difficult task, but I look forward to the conversations and work that will go into it.

Beginning of DPH Internship

For the next two semesters, I will be interning with the Smithsonian Institution, specifically through their Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative. While this group is multi-facetated, I will be working on one of their projects in particular, the Conflict Culture Research Network. To sum it up as briefly as possible, the goal of this project is to document all of the cultural heritage sites throughout the world. Currently, no single list exists that compiles such sites. Our efforts will work to fix this. With such a list, we would be able to better locate sites of cultural heritage in events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, or even human destructions to sites were to occur. In these cases, a list of sites within a damaged nation, would help us assist these sites and save whatever culture heritage we could.

As our work with the Smithsonian began, the US and Caribbean got hit with three major hurricanes within a week. Suddenly, our project became imperative. The three George Mason interns were told to immediately focus on documenting museums in the Caribbean. As we got to work on this, I was tasked with focusing solely on Puerto Rico, as so much damage occurred to this island with Hurricane Maria.

My main project, currently, is to work on a spreadsheet that contains a list of museums in Puerto Rico. We need to record their latitude and longitude, along with other information about their cultural affiliations and holdings. While working on this spreadsheet, we received a spreadsheet from FEMA, listing the museums they believe exist in Puerto Rico. I was then tasked with comparing our list with theirs, and adding any sites that were missing from the FEMA list. This is the most recent task in the project that I have been working on.

So far, I am enjoying this internship. It is important work that has a very clear purpose, especially now with the recent massive hurricanes hitting the US and Caribbean. I also enjoy the simplicity of the task, though that doesn’t mean it is easy. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to discern aspects of the museums, which museum is which, and also specificities of the museums. This is especially true for the smaller, local museums.

I also feel very connected to the Smithsonian, even as a “virtual intern.” I was able to go to the Smithsonian for our initial meeting and meet some of the people working on this initiative. I may also get the chance to go into the Smithsonian more often later on in the semester.

I am very excited to continue working on this project and delve deeper into other components of the project.