Concluding my Internship

As I have stated earlier in my blog a couple of times, this experience has challenged my ability to motivate myself to conduct research. I must admit I do not think I am exceptionally skilled at researching without much instruction because I am so used to being spoonfed through my research. It has been an effective crash course and undoubtedly preparation for my future career (as well as my Historical Methods course), in order to research for research’s sake, not just to complete an assignment. I have learned a great deal about Chicago’s complex history in the process.

Writing My Internship Paper

I have been working on my internship paper in the last week, which is challenging me to think about historians and their responsibility to the public. Public history has always been of great interest to me, and it has only been enhanced by this experience. For a great deal of my paper, I plan to focus on the importance of public attention and interest and education, particularly in secondary education. I believe with public interest comes an unique opportunity to make the content engaging and intriguing. In other words, while many individuals find public interest to be a negative thing, I think the interest in things such as programs on the History Channel can impact the way we teach and learn history.

Chicago History Museum Archives

I visited the Chicago History Museum archives, with some instruction from my fellow interns. I met with the employees and asked for information on Devon Avenue, whatever they had, just to immerse myself in the archive experience. I brought a notebook to take some notes, but did not feel excessively comfortable taking notes because I was unsure on what was acceptable to take notes. I did, however, look at historical maps showed the changing importance of this unique street. While the employees at the Chicago History Museum were nice and helpful, I have never been in an archive before so I did not really know what I was doing and did not stay long!

Classroom Connection 2

At Boone Elementary, I have a fabulous cooperating teacher that holds social justice at the same importance as the content and instruction of her history class. She explained to me that the school is very diverse, and in many ways that you could not understand simply from viewing a student’s file. According to the Chicago Public Schools website, 42.7% of the school is Hispanic, 23.6% is white, and just a bit smaller than the white population is Asian. The Hispanic students differ in their country of origin and their ability to speak English. Interestingly, the Chicago Public Schools website groups all Asians together, but there are very important distinctions between the group. There are many South Asian students at the school with majorly varying cultures. I think if I were to teach at a school off of Devon Avenue, I would take it upon myself to become quite involved with cultural experiences of the neighborhood, particularly Devon Avenue to understand the complex culture.

Rogers Park / West Ridge Historical Society

The Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society has great archives on the history of the area and many well intentioned historians and interesting events! The problem is, the events are not as publicly advertised as they could be. I believe that Loyola students would attend some of the events if they knew about the opportunities, but the only way I have heard of any events is via the website. It does not help that the business is almost always closed. At the moment, there is a drop-in series on Saturdays about the Devon icon, Clark-Devon Hardware. I have spoken to many of my friends that are interested in going, but had heard nothing about it prior to my mentioning it. I think it would be a good thing for Rogers Park for the Historical Society to broaden their horizons!

Starbucks on Devon & Broadway

There is much excitement on campus about the addition of an express Starbucks on Devon and Broadway. The location is actually quite convenient for me, at the location of my apartment, so I am excited as well because I love coffee. The only issue for me is the fact that Devon is ordinarily a sort of hub for interesting and locally owned spots. There is Ellipsis Coffeehouse (which has taken the place of Stella’s) just up the street, and at the moment it seems to have a great deal of business. I am nervous that the addition of this Starbucks will reduce the business of Ellipsis, which serves to reduce the culture of Devon Avenue by a little bit. As a result of the multicultural needs of the surrounding area, I do not think the street will ever completely turn into chain restaurants and shops, but it does work to threaten the business of those more interesting spots. It is important to note that this Starbucks is just an express, with no place to hang around or study, so that may reduce the threat to local coffeehouses.

Classroom Connections

I am working in a middle school classroom each day, Boone Elementary, which is just off of Devon Avenue in West Rogers Park. I was speaking with a few of my students yesterday about how they would define Devon Avenue culture. Most of the students simply responded that they think of it as the place they go when they need to purchase something small like groceries or clothes. The students did not seem to spend a great deal of time on Devon. However, one student stated that his Indian dad lectures him frequently about how Devon Avenue is the backbone of Little India, where businesses prosper and Indian people come from the suburbs to learn more about their own culture.

Complications of Internship

Lately, in my internship, I feel that I have not been preforming as much work as I could be, although I am very busy. I suppose I should make an effort to get in contact with my fellow interns, although they seem to be quite busy too. I have learned that an internship is a great experience in personal motivation based on interest, similar to studying as a historian. There is no professor or boss telling you what specific steps to take in researching. One must simply research.

Oral History Interviews

When I first thought of oral history interview questions, I feel that I was not thinking of conducting an interview the way people talk. While I think it is crucial to have topics in mind to discuss, you simply cannot ask specific, rehearsed questions, and expect the interview to be a seamless, authentic conversation. Instead, ask a question that will begin a discussion on the topic you want. After asking the initial question, allow the discussion to get off-topic, that is when you will find some of the most interesting answers. After the discussion is well underway, you might feel comfortable to ask more personal questions. To begin with a personal question is not how actual people talk. Until you feel comfortable, you must just ask questions one at time and wait wait wait for a response. Just allow the silence to linger while your interviewee thinks. It is most important to be a good listener, to take the body language messages of the interviewee, and to send the body language that you are interested and want to encourage the interviewee to share more. Just as you would in a conversation.

The Addition of Papa John’s

I find it interesting in my research of Devon avenue that Papa John’s has recently been built near the corner on Broadway. It seems that it will do well from business in the surrounding neighborhood because most cultures, particularly younger generations, enjoy pizza and Papa John’s is reasonably priced. The only other pizza restaurant in the neighborhood is Felice’s, which is owned by Loyola with Loyola students employees. The pizza is served by the slice and ends up being relatively expensive. Additionally, it serves as sort of a campus spot so neighborhood residents flock to it much less.