SHA Class of 2015 – Welcome to Indy!
Hello, everyone! My name is Matt Cassady, and I’m from the Minnesota Historical Society and am an excite member of the 2015 SHA class! It’s been a busy first week so far, and I’m sure all of the alumni are interested in our progress, what we’ve seen, and our thoughts on the experience.
I can only speak for myself, and I must admit that when I first arrived on Saturday evening I felt overwhelmed as I heard from my classmates where they work and what they’ve done. Holy cow, I thought, do I really belong here? But very soon I began to feel right at home with my new colleagues as we shared stories of our own trials and tribulations, as well as our hopes for what we’d get out of our experience here in Indianapolis.
At a whirlwind pace, we’ve explored lots of important issues and topics and had great conversations, both in the classroom and over a pint at local eateries. Our keynote presentation was give by Burt Logan, the director of the Ohio History Connection. He challenged us to think about how we can be effective leaders, and to take what we learn over the next three weeks and apply it to make our work that much stronger.
Over the next few days we met with SHA faculty who really challenged us to think outside of our proverbial boxes. Susie Wilkening shared recent research on trends in our society and their implications for historical institutions. David Young challenged us to think of ways to make our institutions relevant and essential to our communities. We had lunch with staff of the IHA and learned how they got where they are, and the challenges and opportunities they face. Margo Carlock and Stephan “Zach” Zacharias of NAI joined us to explore ways to use interpretation to connect on a personal level with our guests. We were also joined by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko who challenged us to think about how colonization is not something that happened in the past, but continues through today, even in the language we use. We followed that up with a visit to the Children’s Museum to see their powerful exhibit, the Power of Children, and to the Indiana Medical Museum to see first-hand the challenges facing that unique institution. Finally, we spent today talking with Barbara Franco and Laura Roberts about how to strategically plan for the future, and how to effect change within our own organizations.
I for one am VERY excited to learn more and to share in this SHA experience with my fellow classmates. Now I feel as though I understand what my friends and colleagues back home meant when they said that SHA can be a transformative experience, because I really do feel different than when I started only a few short days ago. I can’t wait to see what happens next!