Today is the two-thirds mark for SHA 2015. This is a bitter-sweet realization. I have already learned so much, yet there is so much more left to learn and the time is dwindling fast. The past two weeks have flown by and been filled with so many topics that are both thought-provoking and a little overwhelming at times.
The first week seemed be a series of non-stop activities and completely overwhelming. My head was spinning with all the concepts we had discussed and by Friday night, I was not sure how much more I could learn. However after a relaxing weekend spent exploring Indiana I came back this week feeling refreshed and ready to start again.
Now here we are; two-thirds of the way through and we have tackled topics relating to the need to change to meet the needs of our changing audiences, making sure our institution is relevant, interpretation, and how to create and manage change, and all that was just a glimpse of the first week. The second week was chocked full of more important topics, understanding the budgeting process, how to fundraise in both the political and public environments, how to create a participatory experience in your institution, and how to evaluate those experiences. Now that just takes us through Thursday of this second week.
Friday for me was a day I was dreading a bit. I had read online about the “Follow the North Star” program at Conner Prairie; and I had read the pre-readings that John had assigned us. This research and reading only intensified my weariness. I am not one who particularly seeks out any form of live interpretation and will almost always shy away from a participative form of live interpretation and that is what “Follow the North Star” is. But after a day of listening to Sarah Pharaon discus the International Coalition of Conscience and learning about creating exhibits that would open dialogue and create discussion, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give it a try. I am glad I did. I am glad I did. Since I went into the whole event with the mindset of this is not real and it is then I did not have an earth shattering moment when I could say it transformed me. I cannot say the activity even gave me a lot of insight into what it was like to be a slave. What ended up being the most enlightening to me was actually the result of a mix up. Instead of having two tours reserved for our group there was a reservation snafu and we ended up going through a few at a time with other groups. My group went through with some 7th grade students and I learned a lot from watching them. Much of what I have learned in the first two weeks was reinforced by just watching these students participate and become engaged in the experience as well as watching they process it.
On that note we finished the second week and brought us to the two-thirds mark. Now if I made it sound like it was all work I assure you it wasn’t. We had our fun to.