Smithsonian Access to Opportunities Internship Blog

Photo of Raney Newman at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC

Raney Newman is a college student from Washington state who studied at Bellevue College. She was in Washington, DC this summer doing audio recording at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival through their Access to Opportunities internship and did a blog to share her experiences this summer with us.

This week has been a time of learning about DC and also learning about my strengths and weaknesses as an intern. The weekend was the final one of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. It tested my limits of enduring heat and crowds on the mall, and also of dealing with emotions raised while interacting with the people I worked with. When I get stressed, I tend to speak more quietly, worried that my words will provoke anger. I was doing this one morning, I guess, because my fellow worker said, “You need to speak up or I can’t hear you.” We had had a long hot morning running between stages, changing cards. (I don’t think we are similar because she is more organized and obsesses over details.) I don’t know how I responded, but it turns out that she said she has APD. I said I couldn’t process the new info, because was so busy dealing with own disability, but I think now that it was good she told me and although I have maybe heard of APD I also now want to learn more.

I feel that despite having some more stress the beginning of the 2nd week, it smoothed out and we got a lot done, and because we worked together so we could both be involved in the recording that we were able to take it a little easier, and divide up the workload. Also, although my boss was reluctant at first because it took extra time, he became more willing to write up written instructions for me to use. This not only helped me but also helped the other people who we needed to train to do the same work. I thanked him, but I also had to be assertive to make sure he realized that it wasn’t optional for me, even though he was talkative and preferred verbally giving instructions. He even said at one point that he hoped I was finding the instructions useful.

Also this past week, I felt more at ease at work. It was methodical and somewhat soothing work, editing music files. Compared with the Festival, it was much simpler and smoother. At the end of the festival, we were rushing, to do both the day before and also that day’s cards. Also the past week, my boss was distracted by other things, so we worked mostly on our own, which meant I didn’t have his full attention on me, making me somewhat nervous as I worked. I am glad of having learned, but not necessarily of learning itself, paraphrasing something someone once said about writing. It also takes a lot of effort to concentrate, when I am distracted because of ADD. Basically, I took the big music files and made them into smaller pieces by performance. I also did some editing out of audience or CD noise. I kept track of what they were in a spreadsheet and added useful descriptions. It’s hard work but I am glad to have challenges and to be learning new things.

Right now, I just have energy to write a bit about DC, its charm and the many events and places it offers. I don’t have a lot of money but many things are free. Also I’ve been told, though from getting lost 3 days in a row, it is a very walkable, or rollable, city. Also things are charming and you can walk into a simple place and have a new unexpected experience and be soothed and comforted all together. I won’t go so far as to say everyone is friendly, but despite walking fast, they seem able to stop and listen. I am always learning how to be more involved with people, but a sooth to loneliness, is also to experience places. I was at Gallery Place and could look one direction and there is the library where I do sign language class. The other direction is the grocery store where I saw the church people feeding the homeless. I am sometimes one of the aimless many who sit or just think on the gallery steps. This weekend there were several places where I went and felt at home, and though that was temporary, I think there will be more places like that in the future. I am learning not to live or love just the past or future, but to love the present.


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