My name is Eduardo J. Chaidez and I’m from Oakland, CA. I just spent the last two years living in Chicago getting my M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ll be back in the Bay Area this summer for my third internship with LHIP at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

It’s a small park that I didn’t even know existed until I became an intern, even though I’ve lived so close my whole life just across the Bay. The park’s focus is on California maritime history and is home to a number of historic ships and boats that connect visitors to different aspects of that history. The park provides first hand experience to visitors who can board these vessels and learn about the shaping and building of California, the West Coast, and the nation.

Although initially hesitant about working here because I felt a lack of connection to the resources and histories, I have grown to understand that the reason I am here is because of this lack of connection. This ties back to my academic work in grad school where I was thinking about the production of knowledge and what, and who, counts as valid. Here we have the story of innovation, progress, entrepreneurship and wealth: all narratives that are stitched into the fabric of this country. But what gets passed over are the individuals whose labor and sacrifice were essential to these narratives. The park has helped bring some of these stories to the forefront by dedicating space to the Chinese workers, known as the “China Gang”, who were discriminated against and exploited in the commercial fishing industry. The last two summers I conducted research looking for further connections to Latinx populations and histories, scouring old newspaper articles at the library and looking through government records based on a small lead.  I found out that Mexican workers boarded fishing ships in San Francisco were sent to Alaska to work in fish canning factories. From this research the interpretation rangers can piece together these histories and present talks and other programs to visitors who can gain a deeper connection and better understanding of the shaping of this country and the hand that migrants had in building it, along with the hardship and adversity they have historically faced.

This summer I will be working on a strictly hands on intern in the park’s Small Boat Shop as a Preservation Intern. I was lucky to be awarded the position that is a Direct Hiring Authority (DHA) designation that can be of great benefit. We will be working on preserving and restoring some small boats in the park’s collection. Also, I will be helping the staff document this preservation work and create a log for each boat we work on that details the history of the vessel and the work done to preserve it.

Follow me on instagram and see my progress: @chimichanga_jones

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