Have you ever wondered what exactly a muskrat is? How about how Enoch Pratt came to make his invaluable contributions to Baltimore and the State of Maryland? (Bet you didn’t know he started off selling mules’ shoes!) Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live in a war torn country—whether America in 1812 or Bosnia in 1996? You’ll discover all this and much, MUCH more getting involved with the Maryland Humanities Council (MHC). For, you see, Marylanders are passionate about these, among so many other subjects.
Working with MHC, as a summer intern, I was able to experience many of these passions first-hand. I contributed to the upcoming Literary Walking Tour app and in doing so I collaborated with citizens who lived for the city’s architecture, and those who lived in it; some who could recite Carl Sandburg from memory, while others could recite the history of the semi-colon. Whether writing, researching, or walking the city, each day was a new discovery. Although, I worked principally with the Maryland Center for the Book, my experience was not limited to my work on the tour. The Maryland Humanities Council, like the community it serves, is a tight-knit group—everyone eager to help everyone else. Therefore, in my short time at the council I was able to jawbone with Ecuadorian sailors while volunteering at Sailabration; contemplated resurrecting John F. Kennedy as part of next year’s Chautauqua; learned about Fortune and his bones through the grants program; travelled to and from Sarajevo through this year’s One Maryland One Book, The Cellist of Sarajevo; deliberated skipjack restoration while debating ecosystem maintenance with Eastern Shore residents at a sharing station with the Let’s Be Shore program; and much more.
As my experience illustrates, working with MHC, you’ll not only encounter countless unique passions, but also help Marylanders share their interests with one another, educating their neighbors and themselves in the process. Witnessing understanding, common ground, and friendship blossom from these disparate, unique, and sometimes even zany interests is one of the most rewarding experiences you can imagine.
Passion at the Humanities Council is not limited to the Marylanders MHC serves—quite the opposite! Each and every staff member, from the executive director to the weekly volunteer, has their own passions: a passion for life, a passion for their favorite nugget of the humanities, as well as for the humanities in general, and above all– a passion for serving their community. These passions invigorate their work, electrify the MHC office, and elevate MHC programs beyond their already superb level.
Whatever your passion, you can find it, support it, and share it through the Maryland Humanities Council. Where else in the course of a day could you edit an account of young Gertrude Stein’s life in Baltimore, address a letter to a baroness, learn the history of the Beltway thanks to a Maryland History Day participant, debate dystopian literature, see the bullet that killed Lincoln and the skeletal remains of the first monkey in space, all before lunch?
Amelia T. Grabowski is a senior at Gettysburg College studying English and History. She hopes to continue working in the public humanities after she graduates.