By: Marta Olmos
As I get near the end of my internship, people have been asking me “what is your favorite experience from this summer?” This question is difficult to answer because I have done a lot of amazing things this summer! I worked with some wonderful interpreters, I wrote content I was passionate about, and I made my dream video project. But when I think back on the past few months, the experiences that stick in my mind the most are the many small, informal interactions I had with visitors in the park.
I applied for this internship because I am passionate about interpretation. When I applied, I thought I would be doing lots of big flashy interpretive programs and living history events. But because of COVID, we had to strip our interpretive operations to the bare bones. In full honesty, this terrified me. My previous experiences had relied heavily on costumes and props and historic houses to drive interpretive experiences. I had no idea how to engage visitors without a scheduled tour or activity!
But now, looking back on the experience, I am so glad that it happened this way. This summer forced me to peel away all the layers and get to the core of interpretation and visitor interaction. It proved to me that I can engage with visitors without all those props. That I can foster meaningful experiences with just my own informal storytelling techniques. And most importantly, it reminded me why I love this work in the first place. I am passionate about helping visitors forge a meaningful connection with the cultural landscape, even during a global pandemic. Even wearing face masks and shouting at each other from six feet apart! Even without all the flashy props, I love this work. And I am so glad I was able to focus on the core of my interpretive craft this summer. I would not change it for the world.