My Work as a SCRI Intern
By Mormon Hubbard, University of Baltimore
When I applied for the VSFS internship, I was not sure what to expect. I had no idea what organization I’d end up working for and what kind of work I would be doing. However, I feel that the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative was the perfect fit for me. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Human Security, with a focus on international environmental policy. My work with SCRI is directly related to human security through the interactions I’ve had with organizations to assess how they and their staff have been personally affected by Hurricane Florence. Often times, when interviewing a representative from an organization that was drastically affected by a disaster, the conversation naturally shifts to their personal lives and the devastation that has occurred within their neighborhoods and their own homes. The conversations I’ve had with disaster affected organizations ties into human security and international environmental policy because natural disasters like Hurricane Florence directly affect the security and safety of individuals. Displacement and illness caused by natural disasters are directly related to human security. Completing this internship while pursuing this degree has given me a lot of perspective and insight into the realm of disaster relief and aid, which will be incredibly beneficial to my career in the future. Although I had some insight into the inner workings of government both nationally and internationally in the aftermath of a disaster, gaining firsthand experience into the work that is done behind the scenes is an invaluable lesson that I will carry with me throughout my career.
Speaking with the museums and cultural institutions about the damage to the organizations put many things into perspective. For one, it has illustrated the importance of protecting our cultural institutions and artifacts in order to preserve human history and culture for future generations. It also puts into perspective the reality of climate change and what that means for the future of mankind. The disasters that have occurred so far this year, as well as the multiple disasters in 2017 that many communities have yet to recover from, have demonstrated that climate change is a serious, ongoing threat to humanity. The topic of cultural preservation is incredibly important right now as global warming continues to intensify. While we should focus our efforts on reducing carbon emissions and lowering the global average temperature, we also need to ensure that our cultural and historical sites are well protected and able to be preserved during disaster situations so that they may continue to exist for many centuries to come.
Overall, I am thankful for the opportunity given to me by the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative. Having the chance to witness firsthand the damage to cultural institutions as a result of natural disasters, and working with the organizations to rectify that damage, has given me a great deal of insight into the realm of disaster outreach. The knowledge and experience I’ve gained from working with SCRI has altered my perspective on the importance and necessity of cultural preservation.