Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. This week is the last week of my internship, and in this blog post, I describe my experience here at the ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer here at the Museum.
This week’s full day camp at the Austin Children’s Museum for ages 7-10 was titled ‘Get a Clue’, and the half day camp for ages 4-6 was ‘Passport Adventures’. Each day, I photographed the camp’s field trips and activities, and filtered, edited and uploaded the photos that I took onto the Museum’s Flickr account.
On Monday, July 22nd, we walked a few blocks with the full day campers to The Driskill hotel. There, we were given a tour and were told of it’s history; We learned that for well over a century, historical benchmarks have been crafted at The Driskill, such as, when Former President Lyndon B. Johnson awaited news of his successful 1948 Senate run and his 1960 election to the office of Vice President, and 1964 election as President. We also learned of the ghosts that have reportedly been seen at the hotel! Colonel Driskill himself is said to wander through the original side of the hotel and the spirit of Samantha Houston, a senator’s young daughter who was chasing a ball when she fell to her death on the grand staircase, has been seen bouncing a ball along the corridors in the hotel.
On Tuesday, July 23rd, the full day campers took a tour of the Texas State Cemetary. The Cemetary is the burial place for soldiers and founders of the Republic and State of Texas, elected state officials, jurists and other prominent men and women. Culturally, the Cemetary is unique because it represents every aspect of Texas history from European Colonization to modern day Texas politics. The Texas State Cemetary is the burial site of Stephen F. Austin, Ed Burleson, Bob Bullock and many more historical and cultural icons.
On Wednesday, July 24th, I photographed the half day camp, ‘Passport Adventures’. The continents of topic that day were Asia and Australia. The children participated in various activities, learning about kangaroos, origami, bamboo, and the Sydney Opera House. One specific activity of the day that I thought was pretty neat was where the children could create their own Moai statues out of clay, and decorate it with beads and feathers.
On Thursday, July 25th, I had my community outreach portion of my internship; Each Young Ambassador must hold a children’s story-time at a local library in their area. I traveled to the Little Walnut Creek Branch Library here in Austin to read Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Castaneda. Abuela’s Weave is the story of Esperanza, a young Guatemalan girl, and her grandmother who grow closer as they weave some special creations and then make a trip to the market in hopes of selling them. This story shows the importance of family pride and personal endurance, and introduces children to the culture of Guatemala through the eyes of little Esperanza.
In the latter half of the day, I traveled back to the Austin Children’s Museum to be the photographer for the Museum Career Ladder & Volunteer Appreciation party. MCL participants and volunteers brought their friends and families to show them what they do at the museum and to have some fun! MCL is a volunteer and employment readiness program that offers opportunities to Austin area teens (12-17 year olds) to engage in fun and meaningful work at the Austin Children’s Museum. This year, there were over 1,100 active volunteers at the Museum. The youngest volunteer is four and the oldest is sixty-six.
On Friday, July 26th, the full day campers took a trip to the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin. There, they toured the ceramics and painting studios, and learned about kilns and easels. They also visited visited the art galleries in the building.
Sadly, this is my last week at the Austin Children’s Museum. This four-week internship has truly been a great experience! Never having a job before, I was skeptical that I would not successfully fulfill what was expected of me…but at the conclusion of this month, I feel that I have done everything I’ve been asked to to my fullest potential. Throughout my internship, I have learned various skills, such as, time management, patience and team work. In a museum, there’s so much team work that goes into running a successful learning institution and I really do appreciate what every employee/volunteer at any museum does. Along with the Museum, I do believe that the most important skill we can give children is the ability to learn, and that the diversity and interactions among people from different backrounds enrich and strengthen our community. I am eternally grateful to have been selected as a Smithsonian Latino Center 2013 Young Ambassador, to have met many amazing individuals along the way, and to have been blessed with this amazing opportunity to work with the Austin Children’s Museum.
If you haven’t had the chance, check out my blog posts from the previous weeks of my internship!