I'm trying to decide how to approach this entry without making it a novel. I guess with basic facts. Part of my exchange is the Directed Studies course I mentioned in a previous post. Part of that class is a volunteer placement. I did my homework before I left and landed the most fantastic PERFECT placement for me that I couldn't have even dreamed up. When I suggested it as an option I hadn't even considered that I would get it or that it would fit me so well. But I did, and here I am. I am working as a volunteer (or, as I like to refer to myself because it is historically accurate, as an Indentured Servant) every Friday at Wormsloe State Historic Park in Savannah. Today was my third visit. The first two were sort of orientation. Taking tours, reviewing the information about the site (which conveniently is exactly what I'm learning in class all week) and getting to know people. Today, in anticipation of the Colonial Faire next week, I had some "get your hands dirty" kind of labour. A site beautification project (that makes it sound cool LOL) which essentially was raking an area outside of the visitors center and piling the debris in a truck. I filled that truck bed three times! I am SO sore now but it was incredibly rewarding work. I was able to spend some quality time with my supervisor John while we were riding in the truck. I am writing a research paper based on Wormsloe and he gave me some good information and resources to check out. The third time we went to empty the truck I went with a guy named Jesse and we had the unfortunate experience of getting the truck stuck. John and I had unloaded so many leaves that when Jesse backed onto them and then tried to pull forward, there was no traction. We tried putting boards under the tires but ended up having to have someone pull us out with another truck. Oops!
Anyway, even though I spent four hours raking and scooping debris I enjoyed every minute of it. Wormsloe is incredibly beautiful and peaceful. It brings out a poetic side in me that I didn't even know existed and just being outside in that wonderful space was amazing. I have already been fitted for colonial clothes for the Faire next week. I don't know if I can communicate exactly how excited I am with words. Being in costume at a historic site is something I have dreamed of for YEARS. It's my goal with my education and the type of work I want to do. Yes this is only a volunteer placement and it's only for a few months but it will go on my resume and help to get me a job like this full time. In the meantime, I'm going to live my dream at this amazing place.
One more paragraph. I mentioned in a previous post that I have "found a name for what I want to do". Essentially it's "Public History". That is the term I have been looking for. The best way to describe Public History is "history that is outside the classroom or academic sphere". It's a similar discipline but with a focus on making history more accessible to the public (pretty simple right?) This includes historic interpretation (where I am focusing for the most part) but also includes museum and curatorial work, some forms of archaeology, as well as documentary film making and even corporate or government historians. It's an incredibly broad filed with a ton of opportunities and I'm super excited about it. As I mentioned the professor that is serving as my advisor for the paper on Wormsloe and who got me the placement, is developing a Public History course at Georgia Southern for launch in September. He's really encouraging me to consider applying when I'm finished my undergrad. I have to admit I'm not stoked at the idea of more school but at the same time, I am freaking LOVING this work and I can actually see myself considering something like that. The fact that it would bring me back to Georgia and is generally funded, only makes it more appealing. But that's way down the road. When I finish in Georgia I still have two years of school. In the meantime I'm going to enjoy every minute of my time here, even if it is raking and getting trucks unstuck :)