And That’s a Wrap: My time at Lowell NPS

The concept behind HAF and the Latino Heritage Internship was quite appealing; I agreed with the need for a better relationship between national parks and the Latino community. My interest in museum studies really opened my eyes to the demographics of educational institutions, such as museums and parks. How was it that local minorities were not taking advantage of the natural, or in my case historical resources that were often times free and at their disposal? What drew me so much so to this opportunity was that I could maybe, in some small way, right an unintentional injustice. So, hopeful and a bit nervous, I entered the Lowell National Historical Park . My first day I was expecting to go in, receive a strict set of criteria, and deliver; instead, what I got was a “Hey, Daniela, what do you think?” “Hey, Daniela, how can we achieve this goal with you?”.  This environment was so open and as willing to learn from me as it was willing to teach me; it caught me off guard. So, I quickly realized it was time to adapt, and time to be creative, and solidify vague, floating  ideas. This job required me to put myself in everything I did. To start I took a bunch of steps back and assessed. Who was coming to the park?  What did Lowell offer? What did the park offer? , and was it appealing to Latinos? How would I introduce the neighboring community to the park? I was looking for something big, but in reality I needed to think small, like a single person kind of small. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. And it gets around quickly. How do you reach a community which does not even know of your existence- go out and talk to them and their sister and brother and twice removed cousin, show up everywhere, and get to know faces and names and kids’ favorite colors. A grand portion of the time I spent walking. Walking to the local hispanic travel agency, stores, restaurants, and health centers. Roaming the streets with a ranger waiting for some to say “Ay quién es ese?!” and point to at the person with the uniform and hat so, that I could follow with  “Sabes sobre tu parque nacional?!” and whip out an sky blue offering from my over-stuffed-with-flyers-and-pamphlets tote bag. There was a lot of walking,talking, getting to know people, even emailing and little to no time for shyness. As the weeks went by, I became increasingly more involved and familiar with the community, and it started to feel really good. Never would I have imagined that I would be so incredibly satisfied by seeing one person, a stranger I approached on the sidewalk, show up with her hazel-eyed curly haired four year old to the free arts and craft table at Your City Summers. Never would I have imagined that seeing someone nodding their head in understatement, as I translated a section of a boat tour, give me such a sense of achievement. By reaching people, one on one, I felt like I was preserving history and contributing to a larger story. Prior to this job, I never really had any experience with children, but there was something that would just warm my heart when I heard some small, almost inaudible voice rise from just under the crafts table saying “hola Daniela”. Individual faces, moments, and experiences really were what constructed my time here and it was absolutely lovely. I feel as if I really connected with my Latino community here in the beautifully diverse city of Lowell and built a relationship between a group of people and their park. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a fruitful, and lasting partnership between Latinos and the National Historical Park. Along the way, I was able to work with some truly fantastic people. The Lowell National Park staff is the kindest, most dedicated and fun group of people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. It has been such an honor working alongside them, most recently at the Lowell Folk Festival- the largest free folk festival in the nation!  Lots of celebrating and lots of good people. All in all, a really great time. Gracias HAF for the best opportunity! -Daniela

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Saying hello to my fellow Colombians at Lowell Folk Festival Parade!

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Marching with the rangers during the Lowell Folk Festival Parade. Can you spot me?

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