National History Day Internship … It’s An Experience
Wow. Who knew that one month could bring so many wonderful experiences. Having the opportunity to serve as summer interns for National History Day has been an incredibly rewarding experience. We met for the very first time thirty days ago after traveling from opposite ends of the country, California and South Carolina, and arrived in College Park, Maryland. Having only a brief introduction via Facebook and email, we had no clue what to expect of this unfamiliar, yet very exciting new experience! Here we were interns, roommates, and travel buddies ready for an adventure.
So many envelopes, so little time:
We have to admit, we were a bit shocked on our first day – we didn’t quite realize just how huge National History Day is. As former NHD participants, we had experience from the student perspective; but as interns, our eyes were opened to all of the preparation that happens behind the scenes. Amazed by the high energy atmosphere in the office, we dove right into packet stuffing and envelope labeling in preparation for the contest! Despite our backgrounds as history majors, we soon realized just how many numbers are involved in National History Day. Granted we are not mathematicians, so we made a few approximations: about 2800 students, 1000 teachers, 300 judges, 56 affiliates, 6 full time NHD staff members, and 2 interns (with countless paper cuts). After two weeks of preparing for all of the NHD participants to arrive in College Park, we packed up the majority of the NHD National Office into a moving van, and set up headquarters in the Stamp Student Union. Finally, contest week was upon us!
The best week of our lives!
Students lined the hallways. Volunteers manned the doors. We took our stances behind the registration and merchandise table. 8:29 am and all of our preparations came down to this. The doors flung open and soon envelopes, buttons, t-shirts, and lollypops were circulating the room at lightning fast speeds. Life was a blur for those first few hours of contest week. We may not remember everything, but there is one thing we know for certain; we were having a BLAST! We would catch glimpses of each other during slight lulls at our posts and smile in excitement. National History Day was upon us once again! All day Sunday there was something looming in the back of our mind. On Saturday, Dr. Gorn informed us that we will be speaking and participating in the Fifty Nifty at the Welcome Ceremony in front of everyone. Keep in mind; we had become very aware of just how many people were going to be there. Remember those numbers we talked about earlier? We could never forget!
The rest of week we enjoyed embracing the spirit of the contest. We met most participants at registration or merchandise sales, we loved working with all of the fantastic NHD volunteers, and were in awe at all of the incredible projects. Our favorite part about the week was getting to interact with all of the different people involved in National History Day. You wouldn’t believe how many people it takes to make NHD the contest that it is! Despite our long work days, we couldn’t even sleep at night because we were too busy discussing all of the wonderful experiences we had throughout the day. Culminating in the heart-warming Awards Ceremony, our contest week as interns is one we will never forget.
Location, location, location!
One of the best perks of interning for National History Day is having the opportunity to explore our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. The National Memorial Day Parade welcomed us to D.C. and jumpstarted our explorations! Visiting all of the D.C. hotspots, our camera cards quickly filled up and our postcard collections grew immensely! One of the most special parts was seeing all of the appreciation for Mr. Behring’s generosity. Every time we saw his name on a museum wing or plaque we pulled our cameras out and struck a pose. From museums, to monuments, and even the zoo – Washington D.C. was very good to us.
As we are writing this we have already had to say good-bye to 4/6 … oh wait … 2/3 (we are not mathematicians, remember) of the NHD staff. This good-bye is one of the hardest that we have ever had to do. We truly feel like part of the NHD family now, and definitely plan to visit soon and frequently for fear of getting homesick. We want to take a moment to thank everybody involved in National History Day for making this experience one that we will never forget. We came here strangers and are leaving as good friends. This rewarding opportunity has truly reminded us that National History Day is not just a day … It’s an experience that has only just begun.