The Virtual Smithsonian Classroom
By Emily Kate Mosley, Baylor University
As a college student studying Culture & Politics, I seek unique learning opportunities on my campus that would allow me to gain in-depth experiences of my field of study. These opportunities were hard to come across at my college, and The Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) was recommended to me by a friend. As I was applying, I was immediately drawn to the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative for its unique focus on the preservation of culture following natural disasters. This internship allows me to make direct correlations between classes like World Cultures and Museum Studies and the SCRI projects I work on. For example, one of our assignments was to collect data from Puerto Rican cultural institutions and compile them into a clean, uniform list so that they can be easily contacted following a natural disaster.
I had recently been studying the history of Puerto Rico from colonization to its place as an American territory, and how each country’s influence has left a unique mark on Puerto Rico’s art and literature. As I researched each institution on the list, I was able to see direct ties to the Spanish plantation influence, English financial influence, and American territorial expansion in the art. I brought this research to my professors in class discussion, and this unique perspective led to an interesting conversation about how art reflects the political landscape and democratic wishes of each time period.
The research projects I have worked on with the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative have been rewarding, and has also helped me develop time management, collaboration, and organization. Working on teams with students who share similar interests and dividing up the tasks lead to great friendships and rewarding work. I hope to work as an intern in the rest of my years in college, and one day work for the Smithsonian to continue my work researching cultural institutions in relation to politics.