Anthropology major shares internship experience on podcast

Kayla Stevens ’23, a senior at The College of Wooster

Kayla Stevens ’23, a senior at The College of Wooster, recently shared her experience as a Louise Lamphere Intern at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) in Washington, D.C., on an episode of That Anthro Podcast.

Stevens is an anthropology major and environmental studies minor and will also complete the Museum and Archival Studies Pathway, a program at Wooster that pairs coursework and experiential learning with reflection to help students make connections to their field of interest. As a part of her internship last summer, she spent two days a week at the AAA developing resources for “World on the Move,” a traveling exhibit on human migration, and three days a week at the CFCH analyzing the impact of the Earth Optimism program, which collects and shares stories about environmental activism and sustainability. She had the chance to interview participants at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival which she used in her research.

Gabriella Campbell, the host of That Anthro Podcast, reached out to the AAA to ask to interview Stevens and her co-intern, Jeannette Lombardi, a master’s student in Syracuse University’s Forensic Science program. Stevens was familiar with the podcast and excited to discuss studying anthropology and pursuing anthropology-based careers.

“Hearing the final result made me realize how special this internship was, and how it will certainly be a memorable experience in my exploration of the field of anthropology going forward,” she said.

Stevens said that her classes in anthropology and environmental studies at Wooster prepared her well for her internship. “In both my work at the AAA and CFCH, I appreciated how applicable my studies in anthropology felt to the experience,” Stevens said. “At the Folklife Festival, I felt particularly inspired by the participants’ stories and missions to promote sustainable practices around the world. As an environmental studies minor, I was genuinely interested in talking to them about their work and was touched by the meaningful collaborations and communities that were created through the festival experience.”

Stevens gained confidence in conducting interviews, which will be helpful for collecting data for her Independent Study this year. “I learned so much about how to craft effective interview questions, how to introduce and present myself to others, and how to make participants feel comfortable in telling me about their experiences,” she said.

Stevens had done a variety of experiential learning opportunities prior to this internship, including serving as the co-president for Wooster’s Sociology/Anthropology Club and doing a research assistantship with Beth Derderian, assistant professor of anthropology and museum studies. However, the Louise Lamphere Internship provided new insights for her.

“This was my first experience with exhibitions and public programming at large-scale institutions such as the Smithsonian,” Stevens said. “Approaching Earth Optimism and ‘World on the Move’ with a public educational impact in mind made me realize that this is a topic I want to continue exploring beyond my time here at Wooster.”

Image: Stevens analyzes visitors’ notes tied to a scrap fabric weaving from Around the World in 80 Fabrics, an organization that participated in the Earth Optimism program and is working to promote the use of more sustainable fabrics and fashion practices around the world.

Posted in Experiential Learning, Give EL on October 18, 2022.

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