Acclimating to D.C. and Arlington House

Hello, everyone! This is my first blog post and first off, I am so excited to begin this adventure in a new part of the country. My name is Edrea Mendoza and I am 22 years old. I just finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. I received my BA in History with minors in Sociology and Political Science. Although I did not have a specialization, I wrote my thesis on the damaging and anti-feminist roots of the Mexican icon “La Adelita.” I hope to eventually get my PhD in History with a specialization in Gender and Power During Conflict in Latin America. I was born and raised in Concord, California which is about 20 minutes outside of Oakland. This summer, I am stationed at the George Washington Memorial Parkway, but my office sits at Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial. While I will be doing some work throughout the Parkway, most of my projects will be curatorial or deal with Resource Management here, at Arlington House. The view in the picture above is from the front of Arlington House which amazingly sits in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery. This first week was definitely a crash course in big city living. I’ve lived in suburbs all my life, even when I was doing my undergrad in a big city, I never had to live in the dorms and usually had access to a car. My very first night, my housemates took me into D.C. for dinner and to grab some essentials from Target. Riding the Metro was like nothing I had ever experienced. We have BART where I’m from, but this was a whole different monster. The people, the smells, and getting used to the system were challenging at first. Either way, I look forward to doing some exploring and seeing all I can while I’m here! I was nervous to start my first day this week after only having been in the area for a few hours. However, I prepared myself before bed and luckily got to my site with very few hiccups. Arlington National Cemetery is like nothing I have ever seen and driving through it on the way to my site was moving and humbling. I honestly consider myself only slightly patriotic, when it counts, but I felt a connection to these men and women who served their county and promised then and there that I would not take this opportunity for granted. At Arlington House, where my office is located, I was immediately welcomed by the rangers and my amazing supervisor. They were warm and friendly and assured me that if I ever had any questions, all I needed to do was asked. They were quick to include me in their days and although I am still a little shy around some of them, they continue to smile at me and ask me how my time has been so far. I look forward to working with these amazing people for the rest of the summer. My first week was full of meeting people, visiting sites, and getting used to what it takes to be a curator for NPS. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about it are the words my supervisor says to me everything something unexpected or crazy happens, “they didn’t tell me about this in grad school!” Whether it was cleaning exhibits or waiting around for the air conditioning repair man, the intricacies of my supervisor’s job were something to marvel. Cleaning stinks no matter what time of day you do it. At ARHO, it sucks even more when you do it in the morning. It isn’t all that much cooler but it’s nice to get it out of the way, even with the morning rush visitors telling you how much having to clean must suck. Yeah, I know that already. Despite that, I learned a lot about handling artifacts, cleaning exhibits, and remembering to tell a ranger you’re in a room with old rugs so you don’t set off the pressure mats and start an alarm. Other than that, I am excited for all the other projects planned for me. I have already been given free reign over ARHO’s Instagram account (make sure you’re following arlingtonhousenps) and have been part of the team putting together a new exhibit commemorating the 184th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s wedding. In the future, I have cataloguing, more exhibits, more cleaning, and other special projects to look forward to. I can’t wait!

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