My experience at the Rockefeller Archive Center can be summarized with the innocent belief that when destiny closes a door, a window opens at the other side. On January 1st of this year, if I had been asked about my plans for the rest of the year, the most straightforward and simple response would have been to go about my routine of working, studying, and enjoying my free time. Although advisors had encouraged me to apply for some “beyond-the-classroom” experience, applying for an internship was not in my plans. COVID-19 changed things. During these difficult times, trying to remain sane, healthy, and continuing to move forward academically and professionally were critical needs in many people’s lives. On a personal note, it challenged my predisposed plans and ideas. I was placed in the position of rethinking my future. As a result, I reflected on my passions, needs, and goals.
If there is one thing that has stuck with me since my childhood, it is my passion for exploring and learning. Year after year, this passion bolstered my critical thinking skills. The gift of effectively communicating historical facts and stories seemed to come easily. However, I didn’t realize how much my knowledge of cultural institutions was lacking until migrating to the US. I was placed in the position of starting over, and museums symbolized that bedrock to nurture my passion for history while also granting me the space to become versed in teaching, research, and practical communication skills.
However, I wanted more insight into the management and preservation of historical documents, and archiving turned into a new area of learning and interest. I regularly wondered what techniques and actions were required to care for and use these documents to teach and do research. There was an urgency to dive into the behind-scenes processes and terrain of archives.
The RAC helped me understand archival best practices and learn more about profession. Even though a remote internship brings with it the challenges of meeting new people, communication, and productively familiarizing oneself with a new professional space: the RAC staff energetically overcame that challenge. They supported me every step of the way. Every week was crowned with the joy of acquiring new concepts, hearing jaw-dropping anecdotes, and being fascinated by preservation techniques.
One major project I worked on was researching the story of Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso, who worked with the Ford Foundation in the 1960s and 1970s. This project allowed me to expand my research and communication skills. It is also allowed me the opportunity to observe how rich the archival world is. Fernando Cardoso’s story encourages the ideals of justice and personal growth while also influencing a reevaluation of people’s influence in their countries. Thus, a call for continuing to support the path of education and its institutions. A path that I sincerely want to continue being part of.
At last, in my short life, many experiences could qualify as life-changing. For good or bad, each instance changed the course that my life has taken. One of the most recent and transformative experiences was my internship at the Rockefeller Archive Center.