Kristina Wright ’18
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
My name is Kristina Wright. I am senior Anthropology/Sociology major and Psychology minor. On campus I am the president of Big Brothers Big Sisters, a member of SHARE, a research assistant in the Psychology department, and I work for a legal aid office in Newark. This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. I worked specifically with their summer camps and sleepovers. The summer camp had children ages 5-14, camp counselors called YTAs (Youth Teaching Assistances) ages 15-18, and instructors for each camp. The camp lasted a total of 9 weeks and each week there were about 10 new camps. The theme of the camps ranged from Ghostbusters to the Art of Recycling. The goal of camp was to get children excited about learning. Instructors would take students to various museums and relate exhibitions to their topic and help them in creating a project for the end of the week to show their parents. My typical day consisted of organizing classrooms for summer camp, making sure all the campers were checked in and smiling, applying band aids when needed and sometimes when not needed, handing out water bottles because 5 year olds forget that water is necessary and teenagers are too cool to drink water, and listening to all the amazing tales that children live to tell while I would sit with them at lunch.
Our theme of camp was inspiration. I was inspired everyday by not only the intelligence and energy of the campers, but my coworkers as well. All of the children had such varied interests that no conversation was ever the same. They cared so much about what they were learning and it was obvious during their project displays, or show and shares as we called them. I counted so many google eyes, sharpened endless pencils, and supplied too many snacks to campers that “forgot” their lunch, that at points my internship seemed like a never ending trip to the copier or Costco. All of this was worth it however when I went to the show and shares. Nothing can quite describe the sense of pride and accomplish that comes with seeing all your efforts and 12 hour work days being appreciated. All the long days, blisters, and permeant glitter on my skin seemed worthwhile when a 5 year old called my name from across the room to show me his frog project he created on the rainforest and used the toilet paper roll that I found for him. I was so inspired by the energy and drive of these children. Being a part of this helped me realize that I want to work with kids after graduation because I gained as much from them as they do with my help. I was also inspired by my coworkers. My boss developed the Smithsonian summer camps from the ground up. She was originally a theater director, but stumbled onto this career path and has not left since. She inspired me daily through her positive outlook, care for the children, realism, and awareness of the difficultly working with children. She allowed me to have hands on experience and trusted me enough to deal with issues I had never dealt with before, but she knew I can handle even when I did not think I could. It is because of her that I am looking into educational programing for children and I know that she will be there to help me whenever needed.
Camp is crazy, but inspiring. I miss waking up and metro-ing to work to see the faces of 200 children asking me to walk with them or hold their hand on the way to class or showing me this new book that they are reading. I miss my boss placing coffee on my desk because she knows I have not set down since check in. I miss the craziness and joy of working with kids every day. I was inspired every day and now every day I hope to work towards inspiring others.